Keep Your Sanity While Parenting by Ashford Evans
1. Drink. I don’t care if it’s coffee, peppermint tea, or if you wanna go straight Uptown Funk (“Fill my cup, put some liquor in it”). There’s something to be said for just taking a moment and enjoying a comforting beverage of choice. Some like it as the school bus is pulling away and some prefer to indulge after the last little kiddie is tucked into bed. Although I may have somesuggestions about which beverage you choose for which hour…there is no judgement here, my friends. Enjoy your moment.
2. Build your village. There are a few things in life that I have learned you absolutely DO NOT skimp on. Childcare is one of these (the others are plastic surgery, toilet paper, dish soap, and a mechanic). It cannot be overstated how important it is to know that when you are not there, your babies are being well taken care of. You also need a great pediatrician. You know, the kind that won’t judge you when you show up for the fourth time in 2 weeks absolutely certain that your baby has some deadly disease. The one who won’t immediately diagnose you with Munchausen by proxy. Do your research. Make the right choice (for you).
3. Find your people. You need to find your mom friends. The ones you can be real with. The ones who know you. I mean really know you. The ones who know that your kids ate frozen pizza for dinner three times last week (and once for breakfast)- and they love you anyway. Stay away from the Mean Girls moms and disengage from the popularity contests. You need supportive, fun, honest, drama free friends. They will become your new family.
4. Build your arsenal. You have got to have a couple of things that you keep in your back pocket that you know will distract your kids and keep them still and quiet for any length of time. I keep a spatula on the changing table to distract the baby- because quite frankly it would be easier to change a diaper on a freaking octopus. For my older kids, it’s Finding Nemo. They will cry and scream that “I DONWANNA WATCH MEE-MO” but I know that about 25 seconds in they will both be glued to the TV and I can catch my breath. But it doesn’t have to be technology. I find cookies will give me a few seconds of respite. Legos are also a standard go to for my almost 4 YO wrecking ball- he geeks out on them like Rain Man about 13 minutes before Wapner airs.
5. Find your outlet. For me it’s writing. I get to spill out all the crap, the funny, the tearful, the everything. Whether I post it, submit it to be published, or let it hang out on my hard drive it doesn’t matter. I get to get it out of my head. A lot of my friends [the crazy ones] run or exercise- they say its cathartic. But whatever it is, you have got to find your thing.
6. Get your groove. For me this means having a plan. I’m slightly Type A and what this means is that I thrive on schedules and plans and an occasional spreadsheet. I have a natural order for things and this helps me to manage my full time job, three children, and a husband who works late every night. My best friend, however, does not do schedules well. But that’s her groove. She thrives on the freedom and the independence. The important thing is that it’s your groove. Not what you read in some book or on some website. Not what the Today show said you should be doing. It’s what works for you. You’ll know it when you hit it. Trust me.
7. Learn your limits. Or I guess more accurately, “Learn how to say ‘No.’” You do not have to be at every event, every function, every birthday party. You do not have to bake extra cookies for the bake sale or take that family who has a new baby a meal. Do what is within your limits. This one can be trickier to pin point, but believe me…there’ll be no question when you’ve over-extended (think total breakdown in the parking lot of your husband’s work because a birthday cake didn’t “look right”).
8. Forgive yourself. Personally, I like to freeze frame terrible moments in my mind so that I can replay them over and over when I’m feeling bad about myself. But I have come to the realization that there is only one certainty in parenting: You WILL screw something up. And that’s okay! At the end of the day, take a moment to forgive yourself [see rule #1]. Tomorrow is a new day full of new possibilities. You will make yourself crazy if you pine over every mistake you made today.
9. Break away. So I am the worst at this. The worst. We have about 3 “date nights” a year. My birthday, his birthday, and our anniversary. But every time we go out sans kids, we have the same conversation: “We should do this more often!” I know it’s a pain to schedule childcare [see rule #2], and to coordinate all the moving pieces. But it’s totally worth it. And it’s soooooo necessary to maintaining your sanity.
10. Laugh about it. There comes a time when the only option is just to laugh. When your kid has a “poocano” all over the sidewalk [and all over you] outside the local ice cream shop, whaddya gonna do? When you ask your 5 YO to brush her teeth and her response is “No F%^&er!” You gotta just laugh! I mean first you handle that shiznit, but then you laugh. Later. Much later when she’s in bed and out of earshot. When you show up with all three kids to a birthday party only to realize 15 minutes in it’s the wrong freaking party? Ok, I totally cried that time. But months later, I now laugh. It’s freaking funny. Parenthood is hilarious. You just have to find the humor in it.