I’m lucky enough to stay home with the girls. That said, it’s hard. As a stay at home mom, there’s a stigma of “how dare you complain about your kids/day/week/inability to go to the bathroom alone”. The response is almost always: you chose to stay home with the kids. Which is frustrating. It makes me feel guilty. Yes, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, with my three favorite tiny people. But you know what? No matter what your job is, no matter how much you love it, there will be those days. The days that aren’t easy. The days where you want to quit. The days where you want to call in sick and never leave your bed.
At home, there are days when the kids are grumpy. Lately, the weather has been all over the place, so we haven’t been able to get outside. There are times when I need to make a phone call, but I have a teething toddler pulling on my leg because, heaven forbid, I set her down for 45 seconds. There are days where I forget to plan dinner and I can’t remember the last time I actually washed my hair. Where everyone is fussy, and I just want to shut the door when I use the bathroom. Or eat a snack without half of it getting swiped. These days have a way of making me seriously question if things will ever go back to normal. Or worse. Is this the new normal?
I’m no expert, but I like to think I’m keeping my head above the water (most days). Here are seven survival tips that keep us functioning:
1. Pick your battles. This is seriously a new concept for me. As babies, you’re solely in charge of your kids, but as they get older, they want to be more and more in control. My new game plan is delegating choices. I let the girls pick out their clothes, tell me what they want for lunch (obviously, within reason), and choose what shoes will cause them to not have a meltdown as we are walking out the door. Sure, I might be taking a toddler in a tutu and PJs with rain boots to the grocery store, but at least I’m not barking, “no, no no” and stressing myself out more than necessary.
2. Say I love you. Cuddling with babies is easy. However, trying to wrangle a toddler for some snuggle time can be a little like trying to snuggle with a greased pig. And it’ll probably end just as messily. London is definitely a lover, not a fighter. So when she gets cranky and is driving me crazy, it’s most likely because she’s just wanting some attention. Same goes for Peyton. They’re just not that great at expressing emotions, so they whine. A cuddle and some kisses go a long way.
3. Take a time out. And I mean for yourself. I’m not saying walk away and ignore your kids (although don’t we all have days where we want to??), but if you can find a way to spend even just 10 minutes alone, it’ll do wonders. Even if it’s locking yourself in the bathroom with your iPhone for 10 minutes while daddy wrestles with the girls in the other room. Or letting the kids trash the playroom while you sit and have coffee for 10 minutes in (some kind of) silence. It’s like a mental reset, and it’s necessary.
4. Set consistent, clear rules. The girls know the house rules, like no markers on the floor, no jumping on the couch, and no bathroom shenanigans. So when Peyton is caught in the bathroom with 5 bottles of open nail polish and she and Lo are painting their toe nails [read: painting their feet, legs, hands, the floor, basically anything that isn’t a toe nail], instead of blowing up on them, and laughing everyone to have a tantrum, I simply ask if they’re allowed to paint their nails unsupervised. Most of the time, they know what they are doing isn’t the best idea, and are willing to clean up without a fight.
5. Let it go. Elsa was totally right. Nothing is perfect. No matter how clean one room looks, there are at least 2 others that are a complete mess, or loads of laundry that need to be folded. There’s an article I found that basically says you can have a clean house or happy children. I opt for happy kids; you can always clean after bedtime. And you know what? R+Co makes a killer dry shampoo, so take “wash hair” off the too-long to do list that’s stressing you out. Another pro-tip: your kids won’t notice if you’re wearing the same pair of yoga pants for the third day in a row.
6. Check your attitude. I learned something about Peyton recently. Most days, she’s my sweet little girl, other days? I literally can’t even with her. This is going to blow your mind, ready? She was irritating because I was irritated with her. Does that make sense? My attitude determined her behavior. The more I yell, the bossier and grumpier she gets. But! It works both ways, the more loving I am, the sweeter she is. Rather than demanding she drops her attitude, I need to learn how to drop mine. So what if Adaline didn’t sleep well the night before, or London’s new tooth is ruining her life. Stomping around in a mom funk is only going to make them grumpier, which makes me grumpier, which is a never-ending circle and a recipe for a pretty crummy day!
7. Don’t take your kids seriously. Laugh at their fake tears, smile when your toddler paints your newborn with milk, grin and bear it when you notice your toddler has taken chalk to every wall in the playroom. Just remember, they grow up so fast and this time will pass. At least that’s what I’m telling myself 😉
With all that said, keep in mind: the house will be a mess, there will be tears (yours and theirs), at the end of the day you deserve a glass of wine or ice cream (or, hell, maybe both!). But keep this in mind, too: you will survive and it WILL be worth it!
Because even when they drag a rug out of the baby’s room, and pull out all the blankets, pillows, and toys…they’re happy, and that’s what matters!