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Tips to Help Survive the Insanity of Parenting Young Children
At my last appointment with my doctor she asked me what I do to reduce stress when I feel too anxious. I didn’t have an answer, but after thinking about it later I came up with a few things. Most of these tips are probably pretty obvious; however, as parents we don’t always remember things that are simple but necessary to help us with our daily lives.
As a new or stressed parent we may tend to stay indoors more often than we care to admit. It is much easier to find activities indoors than to get young children ready for the outdoors: in winter there are layers, snow pants, hats, mittens, scarves, and so on; and in the summer there’s sunscreen (have you ever tried to rub into your squirmy 2 year old while your 4 year old steps on your feet, pushes you, and ‘ make the child 2 years old?).
And then, of course, there we are. While we were probably the hottest ass shaking in the nightclub back in the day, at this point we probably hadn’t showered for 3 days straight and looked like someone that our hotter and hotter selves would have accepted that we had just given up on. .
All of the above doesn’t matter when it comes to living with young children. It is absolutely necessary to get outside every day, even if it is just for half an hour. Let the kids run in the backyard, go to the park, or just take a walk around the block. If your baby is young, a walk is a wonderful opportunity for some quiet time just to think and enjoy your neighborhood, and maybe reconnect with your neighbors.
I don’t know any kids who don’t love to be outside, even if it’s just to walk the dog with mom or dad. A happy child is a happy parent.
Discover an Unknown Hobby or Talent
As a mother of 2 young children, I understand how difficult it can be to commit to a hobby or creative endeavor, especially a new one. It’s a good idea to start simple projects that won’t take long to complete. When my first born was still a baby I liked to sew; however, as she got older and more difficult I found it difficult to complete projects because of the time it takes to measure, cut, pin, etc. the kids play and easily put anything I’m working on down if they need anything. When I have time to get back on it all I have to do is pick up where I left off.
Other ideas include joining a book club, scrapbooking, gardening (I find it very therapeutic to weed while the kids play in the yard!), a ‘ keeping a diary, blogging, taking pictures, running, cycling, playing a musical instrument, and much more. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to feel a sense of accomplishment through something you really enjoy.
Friends + Wine (or Coffee, etc.) = Happy
In my previous life I enjoyed socializing, dancing, and drinking (I’m not talking about juice here, folks). I spent most of my weekends out at bars/clubs, enjoying delicious drinks while I turned my little booth side to side on the dance floor. I LOVED it! Those were my happy days where the only thing I was worried about in the morning was sleeping with a bad headache.
I’ve definitely been a lot more responsible since having kids, but I do enjoy wine and beer sometimes. Spending time with my friends while relaxing with a nice glass of wine is definitely a tactic I use to keep the grudges at bay. I especially like to take advantage of my childless friends in this regard because it’s almost guaranteed that there won’t be much talk about children. Not that I mind bragging about my genius, but it’s nice to still have friends who know me as “Friend” and not “Mommy-Friend”.
I’m not talking about a 2-hour-long-sweat-it-out workout – who has time for that?
When my first born was about 8 months old I fell and hurt my hip to the point where I had trouble walking for a few days. I went to a physiotherapist and was given exercises to do in conjunction with the physiotherapy I was receiving. After I felt better I kept “forgetting” to do my exercises until I finally stopped doing them altogether. Fast forward 3 1/2 years and another baby later and at that point a pair of high, impractical heels landed me back in the physio. This time it was much worse and I had to go for months longer than before. I was better enough to stop my trips back in February this year with the agreement that I would continue my exercises at least 3 – 4 times a week. And this time I’m proud to say I’ve stuck to it.
I find that the 20 minutes I spend strengthening my core muscles makes me feel in control to prevent my body from going down and causing me more pain and discomfort. Focusing on my physical well-being for a little while every other night makes me feel empowered. Yoga is also wonderful for this as it helps to strengthen the body and mind, which most of us parents need in abundance!
Find a Babysitter / Day Caregiver
Even stay at home moms need a break. When I was working in an office I was able to relax, including a nice one hour lunch. What I wouldn’t give now for an hour to myself in the middle of the day! My husband and I have no family where we live so we rarely get time away from the children. To compensate for this, we have decided to put our youngest in daycare two days a week when our 4 year old starts JK part time in September. We have worked out a schedule where I get one day a week only with each child and one day for myself. I am excited to have some time to myself as I believe it will be very helpful in my journey towards happiness and recovery from the depression/anxiety I have been experiencing. to get
I also consider having the 13 year old across the street watch my kids from time to time. She offered her services last year, but at that time I was not ready. However, a friend of mine suggests taking her over to watch the girls while I’m at home and I need someone to help with the kids while I do other things. Then maybe after that I could babysit her for an hour or two at a time during the day (until she goes back to school, obviously) while I ‘ run quick errors. I really like the idea of that!
It’s important to get the holidays you need to recharge your mind, emotions and body, and it’s a great experience for children to be away from their parents once in a while and being with other children and adults.
Go to Long Drives
Driving is one of my favorite things to do. I love listening to music (and yes, I sing along!) while driving, but when my kids are in the car we usually listen to the Muppets, Annie Soundtrack, or whatever else they’re in, over and over again. over and over…
When we go on a long journey it is a completely different scene. If I catch them at the right time, they both fall asleep and I get about 45 minutes to myself. I once took the kids to a park that was an hour away just so they would stop screaming and I could get some peace and quiet. It was wonderful! They had a nap (which helped reduce the screaming) and we had fun at the park which even included some ice cream for good behavior (from all of us).
Take a Course
There is no better way to use that mommy brain than taking a University/College class, or whatever type of class you might be interested in. back!). It’s been slow because I can only take one class per semester, and one class is hard enough since I barely have time to eat let alone study. The challenge makes it worth it, though, and I love the sense of accomplishment I get with every test I write, every assignment I turn in, and every class I complete. And best of all it allows me to focus on myself and work towards a career change when I’m ready to return to the workforce.
Whatever your reason, taking a class can be enriching and fun and introduce a new social atmosphere than you may be used to.
Make mistakes easier
And finally, I have a few tips to make your life easier when you have to run errands with the kids:
Park near the cart corral in the parking lot. This makes it much easier when it’s time to leave as you can put your children in the car, then put the card back without going too far from your parked car with children inside.
Park underground if you can. There is a grocery store near us that has underground parking. This is our store in the winter and on rainy days.
Figure out what day and time of day the stores or places you need to go to are less busy. I can always count on our grocery store to be pretty empty on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so this is when I try to go and it works out for the kids too, since they are not so cranky in the mornings.
Always have snacks on hand. Children usually calm down if they are offered food they like, and it also keeps them quiet while their little mouths are busy chewing.
Do you have any tips or suggestions to add?
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