When I had my second child, it became virtually impossible for me to get anything done during the day. My toddler was determined to mess up anything that I tried to clean and my newborn was pretty much only happy attached to my chest. Once my husband and I finally got them into bed each night, it was “go time”. I would frantically try and catch up on anything and everything that I didn’t get to do during the day. I would spend those precious hours between putting them to bed and falling into bed myself cramming in as much as I possibly could.
And you know what happened? I would wake up exhausted, grouchy and feeling more behind than ever. I figured that once I could get my girls napping at the same time, I could add in some more time for productivity. Once they were both asleep, I was off to the races again. I was spending every free moment while my kids were sleeping to accomplish my to-do list. It wasn’t long before I was completely burnt out.
I started reevaluating everything I was doing because it obviously wasn’t working. Around that time I happened to read an article that talked about how employees with adequate breaks throughout the workday are more productive than employees who skip breaks. It was a light bulb moment for me.
Being a stay-at-home mom was my “job” and I wasn’t giving myself any breaks. Most people with normal jobs get to take a lunch break and clock-out at the end of the day.
I decided that I was going to start clocking out every night and taking a lunch break every day during nap time. I used this time to do whatever I wanted. I watched mindless TV, spent quality time with my husband and read books. Was it perfect? Definitely not! Were there times that I reverted back to my old ways? You bet! Overall though, this new plan was life changing for me. I was able to find myself again and in turn it made me a better mom.
Here are a few suggestions for you to try if you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted:
-Ask for help: Obviously there are still things that need to get done. There are daily dishes and laundry and toys to be picked up. I knew that once I cut back on the time I spent doing household chores that I would need to ask for help. My husband has always been so supportive of this and he almost always handles the bath and bedtime routine. I use this time to clean up after dinner and to complete any other pressing matters.
–The Five Minute Clean-Up: If your kids are old enough to make a mess, then they can definitely help clean it up. Kids do need to be taught how to pick up, but they can do more than you might think. Take the time to teach your toddlers to put away their laundry and clear their plates. Show them how to put a toy back when they are done playing with it. We have implemented a new game in our house called The Five Minute Clean-Up. Every night before bath time, I set the timer for five minutes and all of us clean up as much as we can. When the timer goes off, we are done no matter what the house might still look like. Most nights the five minutes is all we need. Once we started doing this consistently it was easy, our house just doesn’t get that messy each day when we take the time each night.
–Lower your expectations: This was a big one for me. I am a perfectionist. I couldn’t relax if the house was in shambles or the dishes were piled up. However, for my sanity I had to let it go. My best parenting advice for anyone is to learn to let things go. Your house will never be as clean as it was before you had kids, but isn’t that the point?
Anyone who is a parent knows that it is a “job” that is completely full-time. Whether you work outside the home or you are a stay-at-home mom, being a parent is all consuming. However, just like any other job, there has to be a healthy balance to produce the highest level of success. What works for our family, might not work for your family, but I hope that if you are feeling burnt out, you will be able to come up with a solution that works for you. This is San Diego Moms Blog’s Year of Self-Care, and we want you to always remember to take care of YOU!