A year ago, my sanity level was probably a nine out of ten (ten being completely lost it).
Okay, maybe it was an eleven on occasion. I was going insane!
My youngest was five months old and I was still breastfeeding (and pumping) and waking up in the middle of the night. I felt like all I did was change diapers, pump, feed the baby, wash and sterilize bottles, feed myself, take naps, clean the house, rock the baby to sleep …. And that was just caring for the baby and I!
My older two are school age, so I don’t need to get them dressed or change their diapers or feed them, but I had to yell at them frequently to do those things they knew needed to be done. To make matters more stressful one of my kids was still having “wetting accidents.” My brain was just exhausted with all the stuff it had to keep up with – no wonder I was going crazy!
I’m not sure when my perspective changed, but I’m pretty sure it was right around the same time that I decided I wasn’t going to mope around anymore about my life circumstances. My husband works out of state and he comes home for weekend visits every few weeks, so I was a bit bitter about being stuck at home with them. Once I accepted the fact that things are the way they are and there isn’t another alternative at the moment, I began to feel better and my sanity level dropped.
In addition to seeing my situation in a new light, I knew I needed to make a few changes, so I implemented the following secrets to see if they could help keep my sanity level from ever reaching those high levels again. So far, so good.
Secret #1: Take time away from being mom.
Eye roll, I know! How are we supposed to take time away from being mom when mom works 24/7? Obviously, we’ll always be mom, but in my case, I needed to get help so that I can just be me.
I’m working from home now, so I have my youngest in daycare three days of the week, and the kids are back in school and go to martial arts after school. This arrangement allows me to have so much more time to focus on my work.
I’m aware that what I’m doing isn’t an option for other moms because of the financial strain that it can put on the household budget. I’m not recommending hired help for everyone. In fact, I wouldn’t have my youngest in daycare or my other two in martial arts if it wasn’t because I’m planning to work full-time soon (if my blog doesn’t take off) and would need those spots anyway for that time. It’s just one way that I’m taking time away from being mom.
Other ways: ask family and friends to help you out once per week, but be sure to offer the same. I know that it can feel awkward to ask for help, but if it’s been a long time since you’ve had a day to yourself without the kids, you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel afterwards.
You could also join a local adult group or sports club and arrange for family and friends (or your spouse) to care for the kids while you attend. A few years ago, my husband would stay with the kids one night per month so that I could attend a woman’s group meeting at our church. It was so nice to be among other woman, often mothers, and have adult conversations without constant interruptions from the kids. I always felt refreshed returning home afterwards. It was as if those types of interactions recharged my batteries so that I could go-go-go as mom for the next few weeks.
Whichever method you choose to escape being a mom, make sure it’s something that you’ll be excited about doing. I’m excited to be working from home on my business and I find that if I’m happy during the time that I’m away from the kids, I’m in a much better mood when I pick them up.
Don’t try and get away just because you feel you’re supposed to. It doesn’t work that way. I know some moms are happiest with their children and would never dream of leaving their side. If that’s you, take time to do things that you love after they go to sleep or before they wake up. You take care of them all day long. I don’t want you to forget to take care of you, too.
RELATED ARTICLE: How To Keep Toddlers Entertained
Secret #2: If I’m calm, the kids are calm.
I’ve noticed that if I’m stressed out, the kids seem to behave at their worst. It never fails! If I’m annoyed and aggravated, I don’t want to deal with anything, but, like clockwork, my kids always seem to throw the worst fits and tantrums in those moments.
I know that I’m more calm and less stressed these days because I’m sleeping better. Additionally, I’m not allowing myself to focus on the parts of my life that I’m annoyed with (mostly my long distance marriage). There’s no point in stressing about the bad stuff. It only makes me feel upset and annoyed and I want to feel calm and happy. Instead, I focus on the stuff that I love about my life right now, like how we are in the best financial situation we’ve ever been in. I also focus on the future. I am excited that we don’t need to live like this for much longer because of how well this job is paying him and it excites me knowing that he’ll be able to come home soon. All these things keep me calm, less stressed, and help me parent with less arguing and yelling. Thus, my sanity stays in check.
Secret #3: Stop expecting more from them (or yourself).
I’ll say this: once that third child comes, it’s like, “OMG, what have I done?” Seriously.
Every mother who has three will tell you that going from two to three was tougher than it was going from one to two. Suddenly, you’re responsible for three human beings. Count them: One, two, three. All day long, everywhere you go: One, two, three.
Something has to give after the third child. For me, I chose to let my expectations go…right out the window. Everything I expected to continue to do or wanted to do or whatever. Out the window.
I had to make some major adjustments in what I expected of myself and my children. I could no longer do it all, so I dished out chores to the kids (age appropriate). I learned to accept a lived in messy environment. The laundry is never all the way put away. My kids are still kids and I shouldn’t expect them to act more mature than they are. Things like that.
What’s most important is that my kids are nurtured and cared for and have food in their bellies and a roof over their head. Additionally, they need a mother who isn’t two seconds away from losing her marbles because she’s overworked, overstressed, underappreciated and exhausted. I’m committed to continue to do what I’ve been doing to stay sane because I don’t want to go back to being that sanity level eleven mom. I know that I can do this and that I’m not alone.
God has played a big part in helping me figure out what I need to do to accept my circumstances, and I know that with His help, I’ll be able to stay on track and continue to raise my kids with the little sanity He’s left me with.
Article by Lauren Sainz