Editor’s Note: Lis Luwia is guest blogging at PJ Media Parenting this week. She’s visiting us from Catholic Mommy Blogs, a site exploring the Catholic faith, motherhood, and how to teach children about the faith. She’s a Catholic wife and mother who enjoys homeschooling, reenacting princess fairy tales with her daughters, and reading a good book.
Whether you have one kid or ten, balancing your life as a mom is super important… if you want to not get burned out and stay sane for your kids. Trust me, they like you better that way! But juggling all of the activities in your life and trying to get the kids out the door to get somewhere on time isn’t that easy.
Here are 10 Tricks to Balancing Life as a Mom
1. Don’t Feel Guilty.
Do you think your kids are perfect? No, right? How about you? Are you perfect? No, you’re not either. But you’re going to get this wild misconception in your head that you need to be the perfect mother. Your house needs to look immaculate, you need to bake cookies for your neighbors, your children need to be well-behaved when you’re in public, and you need to have the perfect, loving marriage.
Not only is this unrealistic, but you’re setting yourself up for feelings of failure and inadequacy. You are not the same mom as your best friend who seems to have all her stuff together. And you’re not the same mom that your mom (or mother-in-law) was. You’re you. Don’t put huge expectations on yourself that are unachievable and only bring you and your family stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Do yourself a favor and don’t feel guilty.
2. Quality Time with Kids
Your kids need you. Whether or not you realize it, you’re probably the first thing they think of in the morning and the last thing they think of before they go to bed at night. You’re their hero, their best friend, their mother. Give them the love and attention they deserve.
Wait… but I just said that you shouldn’t set expectations and feel guilty about stuff, right? Right! Your kids shouldn’t expect you to be at their whim all day long. You can help them and teach them and then expect them to entertain themselves. Set aside an amount of time that you spend with your children. Special time.
This doesn’t include going to the library or grocery shopping. This is fun time that you have with your kids, quality time. Time when you look in each others’ eyes, laugh, and really enjoy each other. Set a timer and force yourself to play with them for that entire time. No distractions.
In order for you to balance life, you need a support system. This could be a group of best friends you meet with regularly, a mom’s group, or close family. Your support group could include babysitters or a family that you swap date nights with so they can watch the kids while you get special time with your husband. Your support group could be from church, from your child’s school… whatever it is, know what you need in terms of support and then seek it. If you need to call your friend once per week to feel supported, set a timer on your phone and get it done. Take care of yourself in this way and you will also be taking care of your family.
4. Make Mornings Easier
Have someplace to go? It gets tiring quickly trying to get the brood out of the house on time. Just like you have a routine to get your kids into bed smoothly, come up with a routine to get your kids out the door on time. Jen Frost, busy mom and blogger at FaithandFabricDesign.com, has a handy tool that works in her family:
We’ve made mornings smoother by implementing a checklist with a short show on the iPad as a reward for completing the checklist. Our son (age 4), once he eats his breakfast, puts his bowl in the dishwasher, wipes up [the] spot he ate at, gets dressed, and brushes his teeth. Once done, he can watch a quick show before preschool. It’s taken the stress out of our mornings, and I no longer feel like I’m constantly rushing him to get things done. By reversing the morning show, and putting it after he finishes his routine, our mornings are now easier than ever!
Come up with what works for you to get the kids out of the house and be consistent. It will pay off! It’s also highly recommended that moms wake up earlier than their kids to get a head start on the day, but if losing that sleep is going to take away some of your balance, sleep in and teach your kids not to leave the room until a certain time with a light-up alarm clock/timer.
As someone who likes to live off the cuff and fly by the seat of my pants, I still understand the value of organizing, because otherwise, we won’t make it to the grocery store or I will end up scheduling appointments and play dates at the same time. (Been there!) Now, we have a huge calendar where we organize our homeschool, appointments, and play dates as well as my husband’s schedule. Without it, I would be cluttered and confused. (I still leave a free day where I can do whatever my free-spirited heart desires!) Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself and dates for your husband too!
Another way to give yourself some balance is to rotate your toys. It’s a lot of work to organize it all at the beginning, but in the end it will save you a lot of time picking up toys during the week. Have separate bins full of toys and rotate them. Your kids will enjoy having fresh toys to play with, snow days in won’t seem as horrible, and you will have fewer toys to pick up. Win, win, win!
6. Limit Distractions and Time Wasters
When you’re doing ten things at once, it takes you longer to get something done. You can’t do too much about your kids distracting you from the dishes, but try to limit your distractions and time wasters by putting your phone on vibrate while you get errands done, delete that Facebook app with notifications, and only open 1-2 tabs on your internet browser at a time. Focus on your task at hand; don’t try to feed your kids while doing the laundry and doing the dishes because you might get it all done, but it might take you longer and you end up exhausted. Dig into your day and discover what’s wasting your time. Cut it out and save yourself some energy and time.
7. Spend Time with your Partner
Balancing your life also means balancing your life with your partner. Use your awesome organizing skills to come up with at least two dates nights every month, even if it includes a “date night in” where you play games or watch a movie from the comfort of your couch. It’s important to do thing together besides talking about the kids or how you day was. Some cuddles, smiles, and love with your partner goes a long way to helping you balance your busy life and remembering what’s important.
8. Make “Mommy Time”
Going hand-in-hand with spending time with your partner, making time for yourself should be a priority. You should make time for yourself daily. Whether you’re able to fit in 20 minutes while your kids are playing or using the time after your kids go to bed or praying in the morning before everyone wakes up, it will help you decompress and remember that in addition to being a wife and mother, you’re also still you.
If you’re able to, consider getting a babysitter or letting your spouse have a date with the kids once per month so you can do errands on your own or get a relaxing pedicure. Consider this when you’re planning out your month and discuss the importance of “Mommy Time” with your spouse.
9. Goals and Accomplishments
Your kids might get a gold star for going pee pee in the potty, but what do you get? You force your kids to say “thank you” but it doesn’t always seem quite real. Motherhood can feel as if it is void of gratitude from the little ones you’re serving. Keep teaching them, but don’t hold a grudge against it. If you really need to feel that gratitude and sense of accomplishment, you might need to think outside the box.
Some moms find the sense of accomplishment in starting blogs, starting their own Etsy business, or volunteering outside the home. You might feel accomplishment simply from crossing things off your list. Suzi Whitford, mom and blogger at StartaMomBlog.com, says:
As a mom running a profitable blog with two little girls under two, I maintain balance best by setting 1-2 priorities per day. I wake up early so that they are the first items I complete every day. Then, no matter how the rest of my day goes, I know I have accomplished something.
Whatever your goal is, make sure it doesn’t take you away from your top priorities.
10. Seeing Growth
Enjoy the milestones. Marvel at your daughter learning new words or falling in love with a cartoon character. Invite her imaginary friend along to the zoo. It’s beautiful seeing your children grow and develop, and knowing that what you do and teach them plays a big part in how they’re developing. Keep loving your kids and enjoying who they are right now. Watch those baby videos and remember that you’re doing a good job.
I hope these 10 tricks to help you balance life as a mom help you to stay more sane, enjoy your kids more, and to be less overwhelmed and burnt out. Remember first and foremost to make that time for God in prayer and you will always have the right mindset when you start your day.
Thank you for reading!