We’ve all been there: tired, emotional, and wondering how the generations of women before us not only managed motherhood, but succeeded in it. While I’m only 18 months in, I think I’ve learned a few things along the way. What follows are my go-to tips for staying sane through this crazy journey called motherhood.
Make peace with the clutter and/or mess
Growing up, my mother kept our home immaculate. I can’t say the same for my housekeeping skills. At the end of a long workday, the last thing I want to do is scrub the kitchen sink, fold the laundry, and pick up the living room, so sometimes often, I don’t. Sure, having a clean house makes me happy, but having time to relax after my little one goes to sleep makes me happier. Our lives are jam-packed with responsibilities; the least we can do is gift ourselves with a little down time. The house will be cleaned…eventually..
Tell your partner/family members/friends how they can help
Before my husband and I got married, I made it very clear that I wouldn’t be his chef, housekeeper, and/or mother. He handles half, sometimes more, of all the household responsibilities. If I need help with something, all I have to do is ask. I think, sometimes, we (women) take on too much, for fear that it won’t be done the “right way” if we don’t do it ourselves. Yeah, I let that one go longgg ago… If he’s cleaning, that’s all I care about.
If your partner doesn’t do much around the house, have you discussed your desire for help with him/her in a non-confrontational way? The dynamic between each couple is different, but I find it useful to tell my husband exactly why I need help, and how much I would appreciate it. If this strategy isn’t effective, refer to previous tip.
I recently purchased a nice crockpot, and let me tell you, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was a little fearful at first; growing up, my dad used to unplug everything when we left the house (to prevent a fire), so the thought of something cooking all day, while I wasn’t there, freaked me out. Eighteen months into motherhood, I was singing a different tune. A grumpy, hungry toddler + a tired, hungry mommy does not equal a happy, meal-making experience. Coming home to a warm, balanced meal (my favorite is beef, vegetable, and barley stew with wheat beer bread) makes this frazzled mama very happy (and the little one, too).
Have you ever wanted to punch your partner in the face? Yeah, me too…
It’s easy to get into a routine: greet your partner in the morning, talk about to-dos for the day, in the evening, inquire about your partner’s day, discuss to-dos for the night, bed, repeat.
When my husband and I haven’t spent alone time together (outside of the house) for a while, it’s obvious: we just get on each other’s nerves. Our date nights aren’t frequent, but they are much appreciated. Some time conversing at our favorite wine bar, or even a stroll around the mall, eating soft pretzels, refreshes our relationship in ways that hanging out at home with our daughter can’t. It reminds us of the qualities we love about each other, of why we chose to be together in the first place. And, as a bonus, I typically don’t want to punch my husband in the face for at least a few days after date night.
Plan and Organize
I am self-proclaimed procrastinator. Instead of making my daughter’s lunch in the evenings (when I should), I often wait until the morning. I then have to juggle getting myself ready, getting my daughter, ready, and making her lunch; it is quite a sight, which may or may not involve my daughter crying, and clinging to my leg while I straighten my hair and brush my teeth.
With that said, I do aspire to plan better, and be more organized. Our mornings would go a lot more smoothly if I showered and dried my hair, made my daughter’s lunch, and laid out our clothes the evening before. Perhaps less chaotic mornings would set the tone for better days. Here’s hoping, anyway!
Nix the Comparisons
Your best friend packed her children grilled chicken pitas, hummus, carrots, whole wheat crackers, and coconut water in their lunches. You packed your kid a frozen black bean burger, a granola bar, an applesauce pouch, and chocolate milk. Mother number two may see mother number one’s lunch handiwork, and begin to question her mothering skills, but she shouldn’t. Both mothers are providing nourishment for their children; isn’t that the important thing?
Mother number one may have sacrificed all of her free time the evening before to make those lunches. Maybe she bought them from the store? Maybe her partner prepared them? Who knows.
The point is, you and your friend are two different women, with two different sets of demands and supports. Comparing yourself to her or any other mother just doesn’t make sense.
Whether you enjoy time out with your girlfriends, going to the library, blogging, or running, find and do something you love, without your partner and children. We grow everyday as partners and parents, but I think once that first child is born, we often put our wants, dreams, and desires on the back-burner. Taking care of our children and partner’s needs is essential, but we must not forget about ourselves. For me, blogging feeds the creative part of my soul. Because I feel happy and fulfilled in this area of my life, I am able to pass that happiness onto my husband and daughter. It’s win-win for everyone.
I really don’t think any explanations are necessary here. Am I right, mamas?
8 thoughts on “Motherhood: Tips for Staying Sane”
My favorite sanity saver is to treat yourself. Personally, I like manicures and pedicures. But there are many ways to treat yourself, not all of them cost money. Do something nice for you, on a regular basis.
Susan, I’ve never had either, but maybe I should start? Just need to get over the whole stranger touching my feet thing.. 🙂
Thanks for the tips – always good to have a reminder and I definitely love a glass of wine while I am relaxing after the kids go to bed! It is especially reassuring to me to know that others have messy houses too. Before I had kids, my house was always clean. After my first, my goal was to keep it clean enough that I would not be embarrassed if someone stopped by. Now that I have two, I just hope no one comes over without notice!
Thanks for reading, Jillian! I am also glad I’m not the only one with a less than perfect house. Honestly, inviting people over is one of the only things that really motivates me to get the house clean!
Great post Kristi! We all know what it’s like to feel the (unnecessary) guilt of a messy house, scrappy lunches, and dare I say scrappy appearances! If we could all let that guilt go and know that we do our best every day, that glass of wine would taste so much better. I just read a quote that applies: Sometimes good enough is good. Enough.
Thank you for sharing these sanity savers!! I am also a procrastinator!! I’m glad that I’m not the only one that has a crying small child clingy to their leg while trying to fix my hair my hair in the mornings! One way I am able to keep my sanity on the crazy days is to remind myself that this is only temporary and that one day my kids will be grown and I will be able to keep my house clean, relax and be able to get ready in the mornings in peace, and that I will miss these days of sleep derivation and chaos!!!
Thanks for writing such a refreshing piece! I’m sitting here nursing my sleeping little and contemplating returning to work. I read this and get to ‘do you ever want to punch your partner in the face? Yeah, me too’ and I had to hold my breath to not laugh. God forbid I wake her up now. Hilarious and heart warming. Thanks again.