Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home parent, or a parent who works outside the home, it can be difficult juggling all the responsibilities of daily life, your overall workload, and to find time for the fun stuff that your heart (and kids) thrive on.
As a working mom of three who also writes on the side, I’ve had tons of experience feeling overwhelmed and like I wasn’t juggling ANY of it sufficiently, let alone all of it. Today, I’m sharing some ways that I make it through the highs and lows (and I’d love if you could read to the end)!
Sometimes survival mode is all you need. Now, don’t get me wrong. If we constantly feel like we’re juuuuust keeping our heads above water (and never get that side stuff that’s hounding us completed), that’s far from ideal. But when your family has been constantly on the go, super busy, and you (and the rest of the family) are feeling exhausted and rundown, that’s the time to go with the flow.
So, grab pizza for dinner. Skip bath night and do it tomorrow (unless it’s, y’know, ESSENTIAL). Watch a family movie or play a game. Make a family day by escaping to do your favorite local things (for us that would probably be hitting the farmers’ market, taking a quick road trip to sight see, and hitting up my parents’ house on the way back). And if you have kids at school, let them buy a lunch on an unexpected day. Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, do it…then get back to the business at hand when you feel renewed.
And if you still don’t feel even a bit renewed, seek help – from your partner, your friends, your family, or your doctor. Don’t brush it off.
Lists, lists, and more lists. I’ve touted the miracle of lists before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Just the act of writing a list allows yourself to heave a sigh of relief and to rest soundly, knowing that at least your thoughts are organized and the likelihood of juggling all the balls is better for the next day.
I can’t count how many times I’ve found an old to-do list and I reread it casually to find that, “oh, I actually finished all this stuff!” Lists are a game changer, seriously.
Fill your own bucket. You know how they tell passengers (especially parents, ahem) to put on their own oxygen mask in case of an emergency before tending to the others around you? We’ve all heard it, but how often do we actually live by this rule? It’s really not a bad idea.
While you can take this to mean self care with bubble baths and massages, it can also just mean finding balance in your service. Don’t just “serve” your family (I think that term feels weird but is still kind of appropriate) and work, but serve your own needs, as well.
What helps you get through the day? Is it a simple coffee (that makes you somehow feel luxurious)? Is it 15 minutes of quiet time before the craziness of the day begins? Is it the guilty pleasure of scrolling through a social media feed during your lunch hour? Is it making a healthy meal for yourself with intention? Do what you need to feel human in order to bolster yourself up; it will make you less apt to snap at your kids or feel quite so drained at the end of the day.
And TRY not to feel guilty over getting a sitter while you go on a date with your partner. I recently did this with the husband and while it was weird to find the flow in our conversation (without the interruption of kids every 10 seconds), it was wonderful to feel like a wife as well as a mama.
Don’t fall into complacency. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to get down in the dumps when it feels like life is on repeat, like Groundhog Day. But I have a couple of ways (aside from filling my own bucket) that I use to dig my way out of complacency.
Every day, no matter how busy it may be, I try to share a happy moment with the kids. Sure, it’s harder than others some days, but even a game of “what was good today?” at the dinner table or taking 5 minutes to play with the kiddos (or, in all honesty, even taking a simple moment like bath time or laundry folding to sit with one of them and talk about anything) can work. It also helps me to de-stress and forces me to be more intentional.
Another thing that works is to do just one chore. Ugh. But even one small chore is better than none and gets you closer to being done. So, while I’m still behind in my spring cleaning, each of my kids’ rooms got cleaned (bookshelves and toy purges notwithstanding) this weekend and I’ve got enough momentum to do my own room after work this week. The benefits of momentum can’t be understated.
Know that someone always has it worse. This is pretty much my life philosophy. As a person who tried hard not to be a victim after my father died when I was small, I learned that a lot of people are suffering. While we all experience lows (very low lows, some of us), we should remember that someone always has it worse.
So, on those days that things go laughably wrong, I DO allow myself a laugh at the ridiculousness of it all…and remember that someone has it far worse.
Hug your kids every day and every night and hope (or pray, if you’re religious) that your troubles remain only so simple that you can still do that simple act – a hug and a kiss for your kids – since that’s the only thing that matters in this life, anyway.
Know when it’s time to lighten your load or change your focus. Sometimes we parents have the tendency to just keep going and going, enduring a crazy level of stress (particularly with newborns) just because we think we must. Kids, home, work, hobbies (if there’s time), etc.
We find ourselves getting jealous of the sitter or grandparent who gets to snuggle with your little one while you’re at work. Or shaking your head while wiping away tears when you realize that your little ballerina grew up in what feels like the blink of an eye. There are countless moments that open our eyes to how fleeting the moments of childhood, the moments of neediness really are.
We really only have 18 years with them. Sure, our relationships don’t go away after that time goes by, but the requests for advice, the ability to hang out, the day-to-day sharing of personal lives disappears, as maybe it should. But it makes those little years all the sweeter.
So, that being said, I’ll mention my own connection to writing this list. I’ve decided to step back from writing my “Written by Mama Monday” posts here with Thirsties. I cherish the opportunity I’ve had to share my family, thoughts, and experiences here with you all. I will greatly miss the love and support, not only from the amazing mamas who share in the comments but from the Thirsties team as a whole – they are some of the best people I’ve ever “met” virtually and I honestly can’t say enough good about them. I’m biased, but when you buy a Thirsties diaper, know that there is pure love, care, and joy behind the creation of that product. Second to none.
I can never fully say “goodbye” to writing (I’m a school librarian by day and a writer by nature), so I hope to focus my attention to my own blog a little more again as well as picking up the odd writing job here and there, but the ultimate point of saying goodbye is to bask in the joy of my almost 6-year-old son, my two-naged daughter, and my almost 7-month-old daughter. I’m looking forward to summer vacation, day trips, picnics, movie nights…and reclaiming our weekends a bit! 😉
As a punctuation mark to this point, realize that it’s okay to say “no thanks” or step back from responsibilities (no matter how positive they may be) if you realize that your juggling act is getting too unwieldy. There may be sorrow or guilt in saying goodbye (I write this with tears running down my cheeks), but if you make the decision with your children in mind, it’s rare that you will regret it.
I wish you all the absolute best in your lives and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight – as amazing parents, as cloth diaper advocates, as all-around good people.
Oh, and feel free to share what struggle you’re currently facing in the comments! Maybe we can help you or we can come up with an action plan to get through it. You’re never, ever alone.