Call it mommy brain, scatter-brained, whatever; but, I have a tendency to overlook some seemingly obvious parenting solutions that could make life a lot less stressful. Recently, however, I have discovered some helpful tricks for handling life with four children under the age of six.
Many, if not all, of these tips I share below are plain old common sense ideas (hence, the “Duh” in the title), but if you’re like me, it may take a little help from someone else at times to clue in to these helpful, frustration prevention tips.
1. Set a TIMER as a reminder:
I cannot tell you how many times I burned a simple grilled cheese sandwich because I was distracted helping one of the four kids do something (use the restroom, break up a fight, change a diaper, you name it). I always tell myself I won’t forget that I’m cooking something but, ultimately, the only way I end up remembering is because I smell something burning on the stove.
For obvious safety reasons, the timer has now become an essential part of my grilled cheese making process.
2. Do not leave a toddler unattended around an open cup:
I mean…you can and I have, which is why I am now sharing this little nugget with you. Toddler + open cup = huge mess! Now, if it’s water, that’s one thing but if it’s, say, coffee or wine (heaven forbid my precious wine ends up bathing our couch…for the 100th time), you’ll dearly regret that you ever thought you could leave your glass on the end table within your toddler’s reach.
If you do leave open cups around, make sure it’s ALWAYS plastic (red solo cup wine glasses anyone?). Glass all over the floor is a huge nightmare, duh! Been there, done that more times than I care to share.
3. Close all doors when little ones are around:
This especially includes pantry doors, bathroom doors, dishwashers, and refrigerator doors. Again, duh, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the pantry door slightly cracked and next thing I know my toddler and infant are having a “snow” party with the flour and it’s all over EV.’RY.THING!! Let’s just say, I was still discovering flour in crevices of the pantry weeks later.
When the pantry door gets left open this is what happens.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff:
For example, today at lunch two of the kiddos decided to eat without using their hands. They said they want to pretend they were dogs. Now, I could have gotten mad because if we were in public I would never allow them to do that. But, we’re not. We were at home and they don’t try to do this every day. Plus, it was grilled cheese (which I managed not to burn because I used my trusty timer), so it’s not very messy
I chose not to fight that battle with them (plus, it was kinda funny). Guess what? They made less mess than when they do eat with their hands. Hmmm….
5. Involve the kids:
My husband is brilliant in so many ways and one of those ways is that he always involves the kids in what he’s doing, whether it’s a chore, fixing something, or cooking dinner (yes, hubby cooks, too). If laundry has been folded, he has the older three take their own clothes upstairs. The two oldest have to put theirs away and the 2-year-old just needs to get the clothes into the right room.
Part of my own hesitation with involving the kids is that it takes more time and isn’t done “just right”. But, I’ve learned to let go of this perfectionism and enjoy the process. We get to spend time together (like when they help measure ingredients for a recipe we’re making) and it’s not only teaching them responsibility but also how to do things themselves.
(This was a video we made of us cooking together. It accomplished two great goals: 1. we made delicious homemade Larabars, 2. The kids love watching videos of themselves so they were motivated.)
I could probably rattle off several more “Duh” tips for all of you but, for now, these are probably my top five that, when I follow them, prevent a lot of anger and frustration. I hope this helps you, too.