Looking for creative parenting tricks you didn’t know you needed to know? This entrepreneur and mother of 7 shares her secrets.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while raising seven kids over the last 25 years, it’s that moms need help. Whoever said raising kids takes a village really knew what they were talking about. I’ve learned to lean into and grow my community of parenting villages so I can show up better as a mom and in other areas of my life, like as the co-founder of the Internet’s favorite photo book, Chatbooks.
Here’s a counterintuitive tidbit: Admitting that we can't do it all and then getting the help we need allows us to be better mothers, simple as that. This concept works outside of the home, too. For instance, at work I delegate some of the more tedious parts of my job in order to focus on what I do best and enjoy most. When I get the help I need, ‘am actually more productive, experience way less mom guilt, and my whole family seems happier. I’m learning how to part with my old idea of perfect parenthood and recognize that a happy life is so much better than a “perfect” one. Here are my tried and true tips for how to master motherhood...
Delegate Chores to Your Older Kids
Kids can learn so much when we give them age appropriate responsibilities and I love having the help around the house. It takes a bit of time to teach how to perform a job well done, but now it’s an investment that will pay off big time. Today my kids help with so much--cooking, laundry, vacuuming out the cars, cleaning the bathrooms, and mowing the lawn. They understand that we are all part of “Team Quigley” and that we all need to do our part. And to this day, I think my proudest mom accomplishment is that all my kids know how to fold a fitted sheet!
Create More One-on-One Time
One day, years ago, my son told me that he felt like I didn’t care about him. He was on an elite soccer team and that year I’d arranged carpools and hired an afternoon helper to do all of the driving everyday to and from practice. After talking with him, it became clear that he was really missing our one-on-one time chatting together in the car, and so was I! This experience made me reconsider how I spent my time and found ways to use the help I had already hired, and rearrange my priorities so that I could spend more one on one time with each of my kids. As the oldest of 12 children—my mom somehow carved out time to be with each of us kids. Often it was while running errands or working on dinner or in the garden, but I cherished that uninterrupted time with my mother.
Hire Extra Hands - Literally!
Every mom needs an extra set of hands, eyes, ears -- you name it, it’s probably helpful! I am a huge advocate for literally hiring extra hands - from neighborhood girls to friends in my church congregation. These are a few of my favorite ways to get extra help for a reasonable cost to make you a better mother.
The Afternoon Helper
As a young mom, I hired an afternoon helper to assist me with after school carpools, homework, and making dinner. One advantage of an afternoon helper is that there’s less pressure on finding the right person since they’re not alone all day with your children. We would work together tag teaming with the kids and all that needed to be done, and we’d take turns doing any of the driving. Sometimes I’d stay home to have some time with the younger kids playing games, swimming, or going on a bike ride, and sometimes I’d drive the big kids. Honestly I loved the time one and one with my big kids in the car when I could get them talking and really find out what was going on in each of their lives.
Playing with slime, building Lego castles, or going to the park isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but your 12 year old neighbor would probably love to come over and do those things with your kids for you at a very reasonable rate. A mother’s helper is basically like hiring a mini camp director for your family and the right helper can totally keep you from losing your mother-loving mind.
Every family should have an experienced babysitter that they can call on when they need. But according to my sister Leah (also a mother of 7) you should also have a ride along babysitter--usually a younger babysitter that goes with you and your children to run quick errands like making returns at a store, dropping off a bill, or picking up a prescription, etc. Instead of dragging the kids in and out of every. single. stop. the ride along babysitter stays in the car with your littles keeping them occupied and entertained and safe. Genius!
Find Screen Time You Can Get Behind
We have strict limits on screen time at our house to keep the kids from mindlessly watching hours and hours of Youtube videos or Netflix. But one way that my family enjoys spending screen time together is using Reel Time, an app developed by Chatbooks that plays an endless stream of the videos on your iPhone to an AppleTV for hours of family fun. Our kids love when old videos pop up that they haven’t seen in years, if ever! We also love playing The Emoji Game, another game developed by Chatbooks. Check them out—you won’t be disappointed!