Have you ever wandered through the aisles of Target, with your toddler grabbing and tugging on your stained t-shirt, exposing your nursing bra to all onlookers and wondered, "How do all the other moms do it?" When your eyes meet with another mom in the diaper section, do you connect -- maybe share a knowing glance -- but later think, "She seemed so together. Why can't I be like that?"
You are not alone, dear mom. Rest assured, the other mom in the diaper section felt the same way about you!
We are inundated nowadays with how to do it all, and be it all -- at all times! A hands on mom, a doting wife, an attentive friend, the best housekeeper, chef, launderer, chauffeur, and so much more! Our exterior may have shiny hair (but who can tell, it's in a bun), a coat of lip gloss, and skinny jeans (it doesn't matter that you're still wearing maternity shirts to cover the muffin top), but on the inside, we're falling apart. Most of us don't live in communities where we have a "village," and nowadays a lot of us live far away from our families -- or maybe they're not able/willing to help. Lack of sleep thrown into the mix just makes things feel so much more hopeless.
So what's a frazzled mom to do? Here are five ways to limit your stress and enjoy your role as Mom (aka SuperMom)
1. Be Zen. Take notes from your kid(s). Even after the most trying of tantrums: with tears, sweat, and rolling around on the floor, they can be so happy. They know how to be in the moment, and let go of whatever was bothering them and move on. Next time, instead of harboring any guilt/anger/resentment, try to be present in whatever is happening and see if that makes a difference in your mood. Notice your baby's smile, the smell of the newly budded flowers, or maybe the funny meme your friend just sent you.
2. Don't separate the colors from the whites. When my older two kids were young, I used to not only wash their clothes separately, but I would sort the colors/whites. It was so overwhelming and time-consuming! Now I limit the amount of white clothing I buy (kids are dirt magnets…this might be the best piece of parenting advice I ever give: Don't put them in white!), and just toss everything into the wash on COLD. It saves time, energy, sanity, and you'll notice a difference on utility bills, too.
3. Plan your meals. Nothing is worse than wondering what's for dinner, feeling too tired to make something, and end up eating unhealthy food. This is a double whammy, since when we eat low-nutrition-high calorie food, it has a direct effect on our mood. There are some fantastic online tools to use to plan weekly menus with shopping lists included, or do it the old-fashioned way, like I do! Whatever method you choose, it will help reduce the stress of yet another chore.
4. Bend your own rules. I used to be an environmentalist. I still am, in a way. My kids know, "If it's brown, flush it down…If it's yellow, let it mellow!" and happily walk away from an unflushed toilet. I also wait until I have a full load of dishes to start the washer (ditto for the clothes in the machine), but sometimes, the thought of washing more dishes is just too much, so I use disposable. And I'm okay with that. If I've had a particularly hard day, I let the kids watch t.v. for longer than their allotted time. I'm okay with that, too. It's not going to tilt the world of its axis if I bend my rules once in a while, and it won't happen if you do it, either. So don't worry about being late for nap time because of the party. Just go and have fun!
5. Don't let it go too far. If you feel like you've tried everything, and are still feeling helpless, talk to someone or ask for help. It doesn't help anyone when you're stretched so thin that you can't stay calm or enjoy yourself. Confide is someone you trust, or if that seems to overwhelming at first, go online and find a community of moms. I find it incredibly hard to admit that I can't do it all, but the support I've gotten from my online friends has been monumental -- and we've never even met!
When all else fails, I turn to clichés. "Little kids: little problems, Big kids: big problems." "Don't sweat the small stuff." "It'll pass." But my favorite one is this: "The boiling water that softens a potato is the same boiling water that hardens an egg. It's all what you're made of that counts, not your circumstances."
You're doing a great job, mama! That's all that matters at the end of the day!