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  • Writer's pictureOnce Upon A Mommy

Mommy Tips to Help Keep Your Sh!% Together…

By Cris S.

January 25, 2024

What can fill your heart, fry your brain, make you smile and make you cringe all within a 2 minute period? It's motherhood!! There are so many amazing and proud moments while raising children... and yet... Sometimes it feels like we are losing brain cells that can never be replaced.

Here are a few tips I've learned along the way that I have sworn by for many years to help me keep at least some of my sanity on any given day...

  • MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS HAVE A BEDTIME... And stick to it! I love my children dearly and absolutely love spending time with them... But at the end of each day, there is this glorious time where the kids start to brush their teeth, get on pajamas and GO TO BED... And then with any ounce of luck, my husband and I can enjoy a nice, peaceful evening alone(ish). Or I can take my husband out of the equation all together and take a hot bath or just sit on the couch watching TV and eating cookie dough (Yes, that is something I actually do.. Don't judge!) Past 9pm has become one of my favorite times of the day. It allows me to unwind my mind from all the toddler tantrums, tween and teen drama and parental responsibilities. Not all my kids have to go to sleep before 9pm. But after this time all older kids are expected to either go to their rooms and watch TV, read or find some other quiet activity until it's their bedtime. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when we do a movie or game night together as a family, but for the most part we stick with it. Even during the summer months when we find ourselves steering away from strict bedtimes, I will still have nights where I insist on our "kid deadline" of 9pm. After dedicating almost every single moment to our kids, from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, the least we can do is give ourselves a little time at the end of each day for ourselves. Not much of a night owl? Try waking up an hour before your kids and enjoy getting ready and having a cup of coffee in peace.

  • GET AS MUCH READY THE EVENING BEFORE AS POSSIBLE! This is an old rule, but it certainly makes a world of difference on a busy morning. The more you are able to prepare, the less chaotic the start of the day will be. Making lunches the night before, having the kid's outfits picked out for the day, and having backpacks packed and ready are essential. (Don't forget all the other "things" that a kid may need for school the next day: Show and tell items, hat and gloves if it's cold, signed forms, etc). By having outfits ready, you eliminate the morning "battle of the clothing" that some kids just insist on having. Make sure shoes are ready to go by the door. I can't even count how many times we have had to run around the house like crazy people looking for the lost shoe of Atlantis! (Honestly, where do they even go sometimes?!?) If needed, set a timer for 10 minutes before the bus is set to arrive or before it's time to leave for drop-off. That way everyone knows when the timer goes off, it's time to hustle and get out that door! You can also up your game by having breakfast decided on the night before. Set the bowls, spoons and cereal out so it's ready to go. Toaster ready? Check! Fruit cut up? Double check!

  • KNOW WHEN TO STEP AWAY FOR A FEW. Sometimes, being a Mom can be a LOT to handle! Whether it's a screaming baby, arguing teenagers, tornado-like toddlers or temperamental tweens, there are times when we just feel a bit... Overwhelmed... We need to recognize those moments when we feel like we are ready to LOSE IT! That's when we need to step away and take a breather. Did you feed, change, burp and cuddle your baby but she is still screaming and crying despite all your efforts? Set that baby down in her crib and take a few minutes to yourself. Breathe, have a glass of ice water, and calm your mind. The more stressed out and tense you are, the more the baby is going to feel this, and that can result in a baby who's even more unhappy then before. This little "breather break" can apply to anybody in your house who is heated. If the kids are fighting and acting like they're ready to put on a UFC match in the middle of your living room, send each one to their rooms until they cool down. (Unless they share a room. Then that's probably a bad idea!) Recognize that when a person is maxed out, they likely won't be able to be productive in their actions or their words.

  • TEACH YOUR KIDS TO HELP OUT AROUND THE HOUSE. Why not? We all live, sleep and eat in the same house. Why shouldn't everyone help to maintain it? You should teach them this early in life and explain to them why it's expected of them to help out. (This is one of the fundamental rules I discuss in my post "Yes, you can spoil your child without the BRAT part"). If you have a large family it is especially important to teach the kids how they can contribute. There are plenty of things they can do, and even small things getting done here and there can add up to a lot of your time being saved for more important things, like spending quality time with your family. Here are some examples of what my kids do on a regular basis according to their ages: Elementary aged - Empty garbages, clean sliding glass doors, use disinfecting wipes on door handles/switches, help pick up toddler toys. Tween - Dust, vacuum, clear table after dinner, do dishes/empty dishwasher, wash/dry load of towels, pet duty. High School - Clean bathroom, help make lunches for the next day, assist with making meals, sweep/mop floors. Honestly, when you break it down and do the math to figure out exactly how much time these kids are putting into doing chores, it averages out to about 30 minutes a day, 3-4 days per week. (Yes, we did the actual math one time because one of my younger kids was throwing a fit). That's not too bad for them... And it makes a substantial difference in your chore list!

  • HAVE YOUR DINNERS PLANNED OUT FOR THE WEEK. Many people do the whole, "What do you want for dinner tonight?"... "Uh, I don't know.. What do YOU want for dinner?" Ugh. Just the thought of this stresses me out. On Sundays, I plan out our meals for each evening and write them down on a Monday through Friday dry erase board that is hanging up in the kitchen. Posting it helps to remind you of your plan throughout the week, but also saves you a lot of "what's for dinner?" inquiries. You can take it a step further and meal prep if you would like. (I'm not quite that good yet, but maybe someday...) Knowing that our meals are preplanned for the week seems to take a big burden off my shoulders. It also makes the grocery shopping go smoothly, because I prepare my list as I'm making our menu.

  • TRY TO KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE. It's hard these days not to compare ourselves to others, especially in the wake of social media. People love to flaunt all the amazing aspects of their lives online and leave out the knitty gritty. (Of course, who wants to read about bad things on social media? Not most of us..) This leaves our eyes to take in wave after wave of nothing but everybody else's awesomeness, and it can leave us asking ourselves "why don't I have what that person has? Where did I go wrong?" If you find yourself getting jealous and insecure due to social media feeds, it may be time to remind yourself about what you have, instead of focusing on what you don't have. Sometimes people can get to the point of obsessing over what they don't have. There is a healthy balance that needs to be struck here: It's important to have goals and work hard for things that you want. But if you find yourself getting angry or upset when you see someone on social media who just bought a new Suburban, or is taking a lengthy vacation to Mexico for the summer, it may be time to step back and get yourself in a different mindset. Those thoughts can make a person go nuts! If you are having a hard time putting things into a better perspective, make a list of all the wonderful things and people in your life. Look at that list every night before bed and be thankful. Some things to be thankful for that sometimes get overlooked: The health of your children and family, the home that you live in, jobs, income, food and schools. (And thank goodness for those schools!)

Now keep calm and parent on!

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