Someone asked me the other day; If you had to name five things you do every day that keep you sane as a Mom, what would they be? Wow, good question! I fought the urge to answer with the expected, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and (for emergencies) Double Distilled. This really was a good question; I figured it deserved a real answer.
The first thing I do is that I get up one hour before the rest of the house. Yes, that means I get up at the insane time of 5am. I don’t make lunches or get things ready for the day…I drink coffee and chat online with my sister, I write or catch up on reading. This is MY time and it leads to many less moments throughout the day where I am screaming in my head for five minutes of peace and quiet.
The second thing I do is eliminate the need to think. I park in the same area of the parking lot at work, the grocery store, the mall; I never have to think about where I parked. I clip my keys to my purse when not in use, eliminating the frantic search when we are already running behind. I buy toilet paper every week whether we need it or not, we never run out and I never have to think “do we need toilet paper?” The more things I can do to live life by rote, the better!
Number three; I shut the door. When the kids were very little I used to keep their rooms for them, when they got a little older I would help them keep their rooms. When they became old enough to do it themselves without help, I shut the doors. Looking at the chaos of their untidiness makes me crazy and the nagging at them to improve their housekeeping skills makes it even worse. A very bizarre side effect of this tactic – the less you care, the more they do.
The fourth thing is that I shut the door. Yes I know that was number three, same rule, different door. I shut my door. By this I mean that I make a point of making my life not all about my kids and being a mom. I make it about my adult relationships too. I enjoy time with my friends, I enjoy time with my husband. I nurture those relationships and it makes me a better Mom, more fulfilled, more full of patience, more supported with a richer life that I can pass along to my kids.
My fifth and favourite thing is to reconnect the family every day. For us this means eating together. We share our day, argue and help each other find solutions to problems. We laugh, cry and occasionally hurl insults and peas, but we are together. This is when we keep each other in the loop, celebrate our successes and encourage one another to reach for our goals. Something else we do is to express our gratitude; we don’t skip a day or a person.
So while I might joke that the most effective coping strategy I have is a dark room and a glass of red, it really is not entirely accurate. Oh, there are days that drive me to that place and you can be certain that I have everything I need to get me right again but that’s not really how we do it, is it? The truth is that being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. It is also the only job that you can screw up every day and not get fired from. You can’t quit either, you have to do the best you can which means you have to keep those tactics in place that make you the very best at the job in front of you. For me that means less sleep, a closet full of toilet paper, hinge oil, escape and the occasional food fight.
Now I’m going to pass this question on to you…What are the five most important things you do every day that keep you sane as a parent?
You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.