Raising children is ALL CONSUMING. By the time #3 came along in our house, there was no room left in my brain for any more information. I used to be really great with comebacks and funny one-liners. After my 3rd was born, I can remember trying to figure out what other people were saying and then long pauses while I pieced together an awkward response. I got strange looks.
Being organized (or trying – desperately) in a few seemingly simple areas maintained whatever sanity I had (read: have) left. The following are just a couple of ideas to help you stay on task while trying not to lose it when baby has yet another blow out.
If there is anything worse than coming to the end of the day with no ideas for dinner, tell me. I honestly can’t think of anything I dread more than 4:45 pm and no kitchen appliances whirring away. For most of us, this is a crucial part of the evening so here are some ideas to make this time of the day go as smoothly as possible!
1. Meal Plan
We are so lucky we have Pinterest. You can literally type in “meal plan for the week” and a million posts will come up on what meals to make, shopping lists and how much it will cost you. This is SO BRILLIANT. Ok, there are a LOT of variations of lasagna out there but no one is competing for foodie awards. We are filling bellies while trying not to cry. A few of my personal favourites? The Food Charlatan, All Recipes & Mark Bittman – these three sites alone have made me a better mom-cook.
2. Shop online
This is relatively new for us in Canada. I started doing this with Superstore when I was pregnant with #3. The thought of going across the ¼ mile span of the store to find milk sent me into full sweats. Y’all, there is nothing better than purchasing your food online and then getting it delivered to your trunk. This means 3 things: no hauling children in, no impulse buying and NO HAULING CHILDREN IN.
3. Meal Prep
Personally, I don’t do enough of this. But I know so many people that do and will never go back. If you have little ones in your arms and also little ones headed to school, it’s a great idea to use your evening to plan ahead. Wake up, dress the children, pull out the lunch bag and boom – 20 minutes saved. One of my must-have lunchtime items is a Thermos. Fill with boiling water for 10 minutes and heat food up until it’s extra hot. Pour out the water and fill and lunch will stay warm up to 5 hours.
You’re already laughing – I hear you. You think it’s impossible. I have been there. But if you have the courage, try to implement these habits until you are ok knowing you will never go to the bathroom by yourself again. Ever.
1. Ask for help
I mean this with every fibre of my being. I am one of those people that likes to help. Honestly, I have dropped everything I’m doing to help another mama in the parking lot. So if that’s how I feel with a stranger, imagine how your family and friends feel! If people offer you help – take it. Even if you don’t think you need it, you will. Naps, coffee, groceries, rides to school – whatever it is, accept the help. We live in a strange culture that tells women they need to be all and do everything all by themselves. Let me just clarify – this is an enormous lie from the pit of all things rotten. You do not, you cannot and you will not succeed without help. So don’t feel ashamed or guilty – your tribe is dying to step in and lift you up.
2. Date Swap
This sounds weird…let me explain. There are a few close friends who live in my area and we “trade” date nights. When one couple wants to go out, one parent from the other couple comes to babysit. There are only 3 rules:
- Kids must be fed, bathed and ready for bed
- No money needed
- No cleaning allowed
Hiring babysitters is expensive and sometimes asking mom or dad-in-law again feels…hard. But I guarantee there are other families around you who are dying to go to the movies so ask a friend! Then return the favour. Simple as that.
3. Find a community
Whether it’s a church, a moms group, a craft night, a gym – find people who love what you love and stick with them. It’s hard not to get lost in the 2-hour feedings, diaper changes and meal making routines of motherhood. So don’t forget who you are. Keep doing what you love so you remember that you are still you. Maybe your single friends don’t FULLY understand sleep deprivation. They do, however, have the energy to catch you up on all your favourite shows while filling you with caffeine. The world still needs you, so don’t give up on what makes you, you.
1. Sync calendars
I wish I lived out of a day planner, but that doesn’t work for my family. What does work is a calendar on my phone that both my husband and I have access to. Whenever we have an appointment, meeting or event, it shows up in both of our calendars immediately. This is SO lifesaving. It also stops those “I told you about this today” fights because…it’s in the calendar. Right there, babe.
2. Prep your day
I’ve become that mom who always has too many snacks. When I hand people my business card, I inevitably pull out a granola bar. I won’t apologize. There are so many times I have been on a playdate and when my kids want a snack, another pair of hungry eyes searches my face to see if there is enough for them. Of course there is. Having snacks, water bottles and fresh fruit at the ready has been crucial for me. I believe it’s saved me from numerous melt downs. Correction: saved me from meltdowns becoming worse.
3. Keep your adult space adult
Toys and kid paraphernalia are not allowed in my bedroom. It just isn’t cool. My room is the one space in our house that is kept neat, calm and kid-free. It isn’t because I don’t love my children. It’s because I love ME and I want to remember me at the end of the day. If this becomes a rule and a habit, children will respect it. You will be able to sit on your made bed and light that candle while NOT looking at Paw Patrol anything. Trust me, this is vital.
We are never the same after having children. Of course, we are better(ish) for it. We don’t have to be steamrolled by motherhood. We need to face it head on. Remember – the world still needs you, whether you are a mother or not. You are a beautiful creature who brings value to her space. Embrace this time, find your rhythm and please, friend, don’t do it alone.