Parenting. It sure has a way of sucking the life out of you, does it not? There are days as glorious as all get out, then there are days where you think if you hear "MOMMYYYY!!!!!" one more time you might lose it. It certainly is the most stressful, best job in the world, is it not?
One thing that I have found to be true over my almost 9 years as a Mommy is that if you don't nurture yourself, you lose yourself. You lose your sanity, you lose your mind, you lose your marbles, you just plain lose it.
So, I figured since I am absolutely no expert whatsoever in parenting or being a Mommy, I would offer some advice to all you gals out there that are blessed to hear "MOMMYYYYY!!" 6,487+ times a day. Without further adieu.....
These are just some things that I have found to be useful over the course of being a Mommy that have helped here and there. Do with it what you wish, just know that what works for me might not work for you, and that I am not an expert :)
If you are anything like my husband, you want things put away, cleaned, tidied up. If you are anything like me you're like eh. I'll get to it. Ladies, it's ok if the dishes aren't done. They will still be there later after you play Guess Who for the 8th time with your little one, after you take a nap while your kids are napping, after you catch up on This is Us on your DVR.
If you are one of those Mom's (I am not) that feels the need to always be doing something when the kids are napping, or at preschool or at a play date, CHILL. The laundry will get folded (will it, though? If you live in my house that's up for discussion), the dishes will get cleaned, the floor vacuumed. If you are always, always, always cleaning, putting away, tidying up, you are going to burn the eff out and start to resent your spouse and the fact that you feel as though you do it all.
So the next time you drop that little one off at preschool, or put your baby down for a nap, take those minutes to SIT. Just sit. Forget about the damn dishes. They will be there. Forget about the toys that need put away and just freaking SIT. If you aren't used to doing that, the first time or two may seem weird. You may feel guilty, even. I promise you, it goes away. No really, it does. When I am off on Monday's I feel no guilt leaving a mess while Charlotte rests in her room so I can take a little nap on the couch, or binge watch Felicity. I've earned it and deserve it, just as my husband does, too. My husband can attest to that- he walks in from work every Monday with my FA in the same spot on the couch. And you know what? I feel ok about it!
CHECK IN WITH YOUR SPOUSE
The last part I just mentioned about my husband walking in to find my laying in the same spot every Monday-that's ok. I don't feel like I need to hurry up and make sure things are clean before he gets home, or justify what I did with my time while he was working and I was home with Charlotte napping.
Why? Because we talk, we communicate. Are we perfect? Nope. Do our communication lines get crossed sometimes? You bet. But we talk.
Ryan and I have been married for almost 12 years, parents for almost 9. I feel like before we had children we chatted here and there about how we would parent, what we would do, etc. But it wasn't until we actually became parents that we sort of just fell into a nice routine of who did what. I am lucky in that I would say its pretty darn close to 50/50 with us. We each put one of the girls to bed every night, we both give baths, I cook dinner, he cleans up, we both do the cleaning (I will say sometimes he does it more, because messes bother him more than they bother me).
If you are a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) or even not, you may feel obligated, or feel like it's your 'job' to do all the work-cooking, cleaning, wiping the butts, bath time, putting to bed. Maybe that's how it is in your house, and that's what works. If it is, and you're down with that, great! What works for one, isn't necessarily going to work for the other.
Regardless of what you feel is your "job" to do around the house, check in with your spouse.
Feel like you're doing too much and they need to lend a hand? Tell them. Need an extra hand on bath night? Ask them. Check in with them. Make it a regular thing if needed and put it on the calendar! It doesn't need to be a loooong, lengthy sit down. This "check in" doesn't have to turn into an argument, nor is it meant to lead to one-that needs to be clear from the get go. If you check in on a regular basis, it won't become a huge ordeal, but if you let it sit, and build up, it could most definitely turn into blowout (of the argument kind, not the poop kind).
Maybe just a quick "are we good?" and that's that! Sometimes for us it's as simple as this: Charlotte is four and still has trouble wiping herself well after she poops. When we hear "I POOOOOOPED!!!" from the bathroom neither of us has a problem saying "your turn!" which to us is only fair. If I've already wiped a poopy butt twice that day, I'm maxed out! Same goes for Ryan, too! Sometimes our "check in" is as simple as a "your turn!"
ASK FOR HELP. ASK FOR HELP. ASK FOR HELP.
Let me say it again. Ask for help. Seriously, don't be too proud to ask for help. As a parent it can be really easy to feel overwhelmed or get stressed. Ask for help. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have a spouse like mine, in that I can say "I need 30 mins to myself" or just simply ask for an extra hand.
I also know I have a great group of friends that I can lean on when I need to. Lean on your friends. Asking for help doesn't need to be for anything huge, either. Ask your girlfriend if you can drop your kids off at their house while you run to the grocery store (who would have ever thought going to the grocery store by yourself would be so amazing?!), or heck go home and take a nap while your kiddos play! Call on your neighbor-send your children next door to play while you clean the house if that is something you want to do. Don't feel like you are being a burden by having your kids play at your girlfriend's house...it all evens out, and I am sure there will be a time where she will call on you.
Just because you ask for help does not make you any less of a Mom. Really, it doesn't. For me personally, I think it makes me a better Mom. When I feel like I am reaching my snapping point, and someone steps in to help, and I get a breather (whether it be a few hours or even a few minutes) I feel like a better Mom. My girls don't get lashed out on for no reason, my husband doesn't get the brunt of my stress, and I can just breathe. You are a great Mom, even when you ask for help. Do it. I promise, it will make you feel better.
KNOW & ACCEPT SOME DAYS MIGHT SUCK
This is so much easier said than done, isn't it? There are some nights that I go to bed wanting to do it all over. I was quick to yell with the girls, I wasn't as patient as I should have been, the TV did the parenting for the day, I didn't pay enough attention, the list could go on and on. There are days where I literally have to walk away from Ella and/or Charlotte because I will say or do something that I shouldn't and will regret. I know I am not alone in that-it's all a part of parenting.
I, like most Mom's, have spent so much time and energy worrying about the bad days instead of focusing on the good days. Will they remember the times I yelled more than the hugs, kisses and I love you's?
I feel like I sleep so much better at night and wake up in a better mood when, at the end of the day, I just admit and accept "well I sucked as a parent today, but I don't have to suck tomorrow." It's always when the kids are sleeping and looking so darn precious and angelic that all the bad crap that happened just seems to disappear and you realize tomorrow is a completely new day and you're the only one that can make it different than the day before. Am I right or am I right?
Just know, that you aren't the only one that has bad parenting days. If you ever feel that way, just think of me! Unfortunately, I am pretty certain I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the days I have screwed up as a Mommy. It's ok-it happens to us all!
HAVE AN OUTLET
Honestly, it doesn't matter what your outlet is, just have one. It can be reading, going to the gym, scrapbooking (do people still do that?), getting a manicure, shopping, a church life group, whatever. Have one. Don't have one? Get one. This goes back to checking in with your spouse. Have a talk about it. It's good for both of you to have our own thing. Make time for it, make it a priority, and DO.IT. Having an outlet ultimately forces you to make yourself a priority, and...dare I say, a TOP priority?
For me, it's blogging and reading. In the past, I have asked Ryan to give me 30 mins so I can just lay in bed and read. Those 30 mins do wonders. Although I typically blog either at work or after the girls go to bed, it gets my mind off of my to-do list and can de-stress me.
I realize it may not always be feasible to have an outlet that takes you away for a couple of hours-that's ok. Just give yourself 20 mins of alone time. Heck even 10! Can't do that? Tell your kids you have to poop and lock yourself in the bathroom with a good book-if they're anything like mine they will leave you alone. Guaranteed 5-10 mins of alone time. (I may or may not know this from experience...)
Again, I am no expert and what works for me might not work for others, but these are just things I have found to be helpful over the past several years to help me not lose my sanity.
Give them a try...talk to your spouse, load up your Kindle, make a standing play date with your girlfriend(s) to give each other a break! Whatever works for you, do it, and know you are an AWESOME Mom.