|Image by Sean Birmingham
The past few weeks I've relived my child-rearing years as my daughter and her young family have lived with us while awaiting the closing on their new home. With a toddler and newborn in the home, I've felt like time reversed itself, but then my 50-something body reminded me that, no, no, that's not at all true.
Aside from the sore back and enormous fatigue at the end of the day, I've been reminded of how demanding mommy-hood can be as each child simultaneously demands her attention with distinct vocalizations at varying decibels all day long. Oh, there may be minor distractions like the second or third viewing of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or a precious few moments of independent play dough squishing creativity where Mama may get a break from constant demands. And, there are most days where the children take naps at the same time that last longer than the walk out of their room, but there are days that I collapse alongside my daughter and say, "Wow! How did I ever get through those child-rearing years alive?"
Thinking back on those years I remembered these few helps:
- Ask for help - seek out a family member, close friend or a recommended caregiver to give you a hand with the kids when you need it.
- Get out of the house - if you're a stay-at-home mom, find ways to change your surroundings. Not only will it help you, but your kids' attitudes will benefit from the different atmosphere, too. Suggested places to go: a local park, kids museum, a friends house, a walk around the block, the children's library or as simple as running errands.
- Group activities - enroll yourself and your child in a group activity like a children's story hour at your local library or book store, Gymboree's or MOP's clubs. Not only do these activities occupy and grow your child's creativity and social skills, they allow you to find encouragement from other parents.
- Power nap - it's amazing how a 15-20 minute nap on the couch while your kids are sleeping helps re-energize you for the rest of the day. It was a hard one for me to learn because I always saw the "to do list" when I shut my eyes. But, if you can learn to shut down for just a few minutes a day, it will make the after school to bed time hours more enjoyable.
- Share the after 5 pm responsibilities - discuss how your spouse or older children might help with dinner preparation, clean up, bath/bedtime routines.
- Get away with your spouse- everyone needs a vacation, especially parents...Yes, without our children. This was the #1 best lesson I ever learned in my child-rearing years. When we enlist a trusted grandparent, relative, friend or babysitter to watch your children overnight, we build stronger families. Our children not only learn to trust us to return, but we teach them the importance of honor. When we give our marriage relationship its proper place of honor, we lay a foundation for healthy marriages for our children.
- Remind yourself, "It's temporary" - childhood seems endless. It really isn't. One day you'll wake up and you'll realize how incredibly independent your baby has become. You'll finally gain back all that sleep you thought you'd lost forever.