Like most parents, I feel like I am constantly being pulled in 100 different directions; sometimes all at once. With 4 kids under 7 (at least for another week), I am refereeing fights, packing lunches, shuttling to classes and after school activities, to the point of feeling like I just might break. So here, in no particular order, are some of the things that I have to remind myself of when I am just about to get swept away by chaos and screaming and schedules and mayhem. These Mantras help me cope with the everyday stresses that are my life.
When my kids are being particularly horrible and it is the end of a long day and they have eaten and it is not a bath night, I CAN PUT THEM TO BED EARLY. And by that I mean I can make them all stay in their rooms until they fall asleep, and I can come downstairs and turn on Fixer Upper and forget about them for a while. Because you know what being a Mom means? They HAVE TO listen to me. I am the boss. And yes, I have been saying that to them lately. I AM THE BOSS. (Caveat – my kids are almost 4 and 7 now, so we are JUST getting past that toddler stage where listening appears to be a foreign concept).
2. I Am Important Too
When every minute of every day feels like I am just cleaning up, preparing and serving food that is then almost always refused, and generally feel like an unpaid intern in the worlds messiest office, it is OK for me to lock myself in the bathroom, or ignore the crying to read my book for 5 minutes, or hire a sitter so I can go get my nails done. Ain’t nobody happy if Mom’s not happy. I’ll take my happiness in small moments in as many places as I can find them
3. I Don’t Alwyas Have to Bring My ‘A’ Game
Everyone is entitled to a bad day, or a day when noting gets done. Just because I yell a lot one day means I can wipe it all away on the dry erase board that is my heart and start all over.
4. Get To the Gym!
Exercise. Sweat. Endorphins. Yoga. Stretching. Meditation. I’m no scientist but I know for a fact that moving makes me happier.
5. IT is Never a Good Idea to Argue with a 3 Year Old
Every time I find myself in a conversation that ends in, “Because I said so,” or I find myself repeating myself over and over and justifying my decision, I feel silly. I, in fact, DON’T owe my three year old a detailed explanation as to why we are not playing with play dough during a play date where there are 7 other kids under 3 present. We just AREN’T. And that is the beginning and the end of the story. No explanation is necessary. Because SEE NUMBER ONE.
6. Done is Better Than Perfect
I clean some part or parts of my house every day. I do laundry 6 out of 7 days a week. My house is not spotless, but it is not filthy either. Same goes for cooking. I serve semi-nutritious meals to four ungrateful people 15-21 times per week. It can be soul crushing. So I am not looking to win any competitions or blow up Pinterest with my skills. It’s good enough for now. I may have to save my culinary masterpieces for a few years down the road, just like new furniture and a trip to Disney World. It can’t all happen right now. It’s good enough.
7. Parenting to an Audience is Really Hard
When my kids act up in public, or in front of friends or family, there will be times that some in the “audience” think I made the wrong choice, parenting – wise. And that is OK. BECAUSE SEE NUMBER ONE.
8. Tomorrow is Another Day
Today might be the worst, but tomorrow just might be awesome. I live to believe that. I HAVE to believe that. And you know what? Sometimes I am actually right.
9. The Sillier You Are the More They Like It
I have been relying on humor a lot more just recently, and it is really paying off. With my kids, just saying the word BUTT can diffuse just about any situation and make them roll on the floor with giggles. But I am making a conscious effort to smile, laugh, and make funny faces at them ESPECIALLY at times when I want to yell. It is really helping me enjoy them more, and enjoy myself too. Goofy Mommy is way easier to like than Mean Mommy.
10. The Days Are Long But the Years Are Short
This one is such a cliche, but it is such a cliche because it is so darn true. My girls are about to turn 7, and yet I feel like if I close my eyes I can see the three of us sitting on my living room floor playing with blocks and reading books and listening to music. With the lens of hindsight, those were some of the simplest times I ever experienced as a parent, and I want to just cry with feelings of loss and nostalgia and love.
Maybe I have a more active internal voice than many of you out there, or maybe we all talk to ourselves all day long. I’m not sure. But these mantras help me. They make me feel better. They give me strength. They make me laugh. And I will take all the help I can get.