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Tips to Help Survive the Insanity of Parenting Young Children
At the last appointment with my doctor she asked me what I do to relieve stress when I feel overwhelmed with anxiety. I didn’t have an answer, but after thinking about it later I came up with a few things. Most of these suggestions may seem pretty obvious; however, as parents we don’t always remember things that are simple yet essential to help with our daily survival.
As a new or stressed parent we may feel the urge to stay indoors more often than we like to admit. It is much easier to find activities inside than to prepare young children for the outdoors: in winter there are layers, snow pants, hats, mittens, scarves, etc.; and in the summer there’s sunscreen (have you ever tried to rub it into a squirmy 2-year-old while your 4-year-old steps on your feet, pushes you, and makes the 2-year-old scream?).
And then, of course, there’s us. While we may have been the hottest ass rocking in the nightclub back in the day, at this point we may not have showered in 3 days straight and look like someone our younger, hotter self would think we’ve pretty much given up on life . .
All of the above is irrelevant when it comes to surviving with young children. It is absolutely necessary to go out every day, even if only for half an hour. Let the kids run around in the yard, 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 to just 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 a Hobby or Unknown Talent
As a mom of 2 young children, I understand how difficult it is to commit to a hobby or creative endeavor, especially a new one. It’s a good idea to start with simple projects that don’t take long to complete. When my firstborn was still a baby, I enjoyed sewing; however, as she’s gotten older and more demanding, I’ve had a hard time completing projects because of the time it takes to measure, cut, pin, etc. Last year I decided to try knitting and it was much more enjoyable because I can knit while I watch. the kids play and easily put everything I’m working on if they need something. When I have time to go back to it, I just have to pick up where I left off.
Other ideas include joining a book club, scrapbooking, gardening (I find it quite therapeutic to tinker while the kids play in the yard!), journaling, blogging, photography, running, biking, playing a musical instrument, and so much more. . Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to feel a sense of accomplishment by doing something you really enjoy.
Friends + Wine (or Coffee, etc.) = Happy
In my previous life I loved to socialize, dance and drink (I’m not talking about juice here, folks). I spent most of my weekends out at bars/clubs, enjoying delicious drinks while swinging my little booty side to side on the dance floor. I LOVED it! Those were my carefree days where the only thing I had to worry about in the morning was sleeping through a bad headache.
I’ve definitely become a lot more responsible since having kids, but I still enjoy wine and beer on occasion. Spending time with my friends while relaxing with a nice glass of wine is definitely a tactic I use to temporarily keep the craziness at bay. I especially like to take advantage of my childless friends in this regard, as it is almost guaranteed that there will be little or no talk of children. Not that I mind bragging about my little geniuses, but it’s nice to still have friends who know me as “Friend” and not “Mom Friend”.
I’m not talking a 2 hour long sweaty workout – who has time for that?
When my firstborn was about 8 months old, I fell and hurt my hip to the point that I had trouble walking for a few days. I went to a physio and was given exercises to do along with the physio I was getting. 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 during which time an impractical pair of high, high heels forced me back into physio. This time was much worse and I had to go for months longer than before. I was better enough to stop my visits in February of 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 stuck with it.
I find that the 20 minutes I spend strengthening my core muscles makes me feel like I’m taking control to prevent my body from deteriorating 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 strengthen body and mind which most of us parents need in abundance!
Find a Babysitter/Daycare
Even stay-at-home moms need a break. When I worked in an office, I was able to take breaks, including a nice one-hour lunch. What I wouldn’t give myself now for an hour in the middle of the day! Neither my husband nor I have family where we live, so we/I rarely get time away from the kids. To make up for this, we decided to put our youngest in daycare two days a week when our 4 year old starts part-time JK in September. We worked out a schedule where I get one day a week alone with each child and one day to myself. I am excited to have some alone time as I believe it will be invaluable in my journey to happiness and getting out of the depression/anxiety I have been experiencing.
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 I wasn’t ready then. However, a friend suggests having her watch the girls while I’m at home and need someone to help with the kids while I do other things. Then maybe after that I could have her babysit for an hour or two during the day (until she goes back to school, obviously) while I run quick errands. I REALLY like the idea of that!
It’s important to get the breaks you need to recharge your mind, emotions and body, and it’s a wonderful experience for children to be away from their parents sometimes and socialize with other children and adults.
Go on Long Drives
One of my favorite activities is driving. 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 like, over and over and over and over.. .
When we go on a long drive it is a completely different scene. If I catch them in time, they’ll both fall asleep and I can have 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 have some peace and quiet for a while. It was amazing! They slept (which helped soften 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’s no better way to exercise that mommy brain than by taking a university/college class, or whatever class you might be interested in. I just went back to university to finish my degree (which I myself withdrew from over 12 years ago). ago!). It’s been slow because I can only realistically take one class per semester, and one class is pretty hard considering I barely have time to eat let alone study. The challenge is worth the stress, though, and I love the sense of accomplishment I get with every exam 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 involves a new social atmosphere than you may be used to.
Make Commissions Easier
And finally, a few tips I have for you to make life easier when you need to do chores with the kids:
Park near the cart net in parking lots. This makes it much easier when it’s time to leave because you can put your kids in the car, then put the stroller back without having to move too far from your parked car with kids inside.
Park underground if you can. There is a grocery store not far from us that has underground parking. This is our shop in winter and on rainy days.
Find out which day and time the stores or places you need to go to are less busy. I can always count on our grocery store being pretty empty on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so that’s when I try to go and it works for the kids too, because they’re less grumpy in the morning.
Always have snacks on hand. Babies will usually calm down if offered a treat they love, and it also calms them down while their little mouths work to chew.
Do you have any tips or suggestions to add?
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