If You Need Me, I'll be Hiding in the Laundry Room.....Just Don't Tell the Kids!
Tips from a mom who is still sane (I think)
So, you finally got the kids in bed! It seems like it is such an accomplishment, that we should be rewarded, right? Cash prize, maybe?
Being a mom teaches us the joys and not-so-joys about having offspring, as well as the important lessons that life has to offer. I can remember the days when I used to work a full time job, coming home and discussing my day, and then going to bed. That was it!! Of course, I had a life too! There were times, that yes, I made it up to 11pm! I DID live on the edge, I say! After our first child, we begin to experience what I call, "Premature Wrinkle Era." We wake up, after the kid, is say, around 10 months old, look in the mirror, and say, "Oh my! Who ARE you?!" We KNOW those fine lines were not on our faces yesterday! Of course, it is also around this time (while we are still heavily in "Baby Mode"), that we make a choice to yes, HAVE ANOTHER CHILD! You see, something happens to our brains, and we think that it would be fun to reproduce again.
Enter second child.
This is when life becomes a steady stream of screams, poopy pants, more premature wrinkles, and....who is that man who lives with me?! Oh, that's my spouse!
For those of you who have been down my road, you are probably nodding in agreement with me. So, I've come up with an important list for us moms, that can hopefully help us keep our brain cells functioning, all while being a good wife/partner/human AND mom.
- Don't forget that you have other skills too! Of course, changing poopy pants, tending to a screaming preschooler, cooking dinner, and doing the dishes at once are definitely skills. I'm talking about the skills that set you apart from a just "mom." Gardening is a skill. So is painting, sewing, cooking, baking, running play groups, writing articles, and so on. These skills allow you to tap into areas that get your mind away from the drudgery that can consume our lives. We should find at least once a week to focus on these skills.
- Make room for your spouse or partner. You MUST do this or your relationship will go down the toilet. At least once a week or every other week, write on your calendar (this is important or it will NOT get done), a "date night." Now, this doesn't mean that you have to actually go out and spend cash either! Get the kids in bed early and watch a movie together. If you can get a sitter, plan on an activity that you have enjoyed together before. Even if it is just hanging out and talking about life. Reconnecting with your partner builds that strong bond you need to be good parents. When the parents are on good terms, they model this to their children. Good adult relationships strengthens the adult-child relationship.
- Delegate or ask for help. For the love of guacamole, please do not try to do it all yourself! All this will do is cause you to build up resentment and lead yourself to exhaustion. An exhausted mom is stressed and ends up making everyone else in the house suffer. Ask your partner to help with something that you find difficult. For example, if the spouse gets home from work, and you are struggling to get dinner done and the kids are hanging at your feet because their brother "looked at them," it's time to say, "Honey, take the kids for 10 minutes." This will allow your brain to focus on one thing at a time, AND promote the bond with the other parent. Children must know that it isn't mom who does everything.
- Physically get away from the children for a few hours a week. I've been down this road, and I've talked to many other moms with this problem too. Finding time to yourself ALONE is a huge challenge. This is why it MUST be written on the calendar AGAIN. And I need to add: grocery store shopping needs to be alone too, but this shouldn't count as your "me time." Come on, adding up your coupons, while trying to get avoid the alcohol aisle isn't quality time to yourself. Take two hours each week, while the kids are at school, with a relative or nice looking stranger off of the street (I'm kidding), and hit the library or park! Read a good book in quiet, and allow yourself to be absorbed into a fantasy world. Try yoga or meditation. Just be. This time away, even just briefly, allows us to re-center ourselves. It brings our stress hormone levels back to a somewhat normal state. And a tidbit of thought here: when our stress hormones are out of whack, so is our immune system. A sick mom is a non-functioning one.
- Go talk to someone. This can be anyone from a friend with children, a relative who has "been there," or even a professional. It helps to get advice and to just have someone else listen. Having a breakdown from completely losing your mind tells you that you waited too long to "do something" about the insanity in your home. Don't put this off. Opening up to others will do wonders for you as an individual and a mom. It reminds us that we are not alone.
- Finally, if you need to go and hide in the laundry room for a while, that is fine. A closet works well too. We are all entitled to a time out. Just make sure the kids are supervised or well occupied, then run (don't walk) to the nearest dark spot in your home! Most young kids don't like to look for you if you're in the dark, right?!