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?