This one is for you. This one is for me, too. I’ve been meaning to share my Mom Hacks for a while and of course I do it on a day where I just can’t get motivated to do much at all. I got in my own head a little bit, and was starting to feel worn out. So, I made a little french press and took a moment to recharge and began to reflect.
It seems to be the common trend for moms to present themselves as totally overwhelmed with their days and burnt out on our kids. I’ve had those days. I know them so well. I know how it feels to just want a break. I know how it feels to be weary and exhausted, but I would not say that is how I feel most of the time. See, exhaustion is a sincere and real thing in motherhood, but it’s a little easy to identify that way and create your own self fulfilling prophesy. It is a cheap way to relate to other moms. Is it more approachable to present yourself as barely treading water? Why?
Is it because it’s safe? Are we fishing for encouragement? Are we sincerely that weary? Are we trying to be relevant or likable?
Stop. Please stop. You are awesome. You are the PERFECT mom for your babes. You are doing great. Look how alive, healthy and smart they are! Look how caring and silly and sensitive they are! Don’t you see, when they are stomping their adorable feet and covering their charming face in dismay that it is their strong will in them? It will mature over time, but shepherd it, don’t wish it were any different. Don’t let those moments be what you focus on. See them they way they were created. Bring out their best, by being your best. There will be hard days, but we’ve been told how to handle them.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I can already feel myself wanting to erase what I wrote. Wanting to hide my self esteem. Self depreciation is so trendy. Oh well, I’m used to not being the cool kid. Am I the only one who thinks that being a mom is the best?! Babies that want to be held all the time, yes. Listening to ‘Let it Go’. Again. Sign me up! Wait, let me get my cape on first. Giving a play-by-play for everything I do in a baby voice? All day. Toddler tantrums because she put her sock on upside-down? My favorite. I’m all in. I’m in love. I’m the luckiest woman alive to get these kids to hang out with everyday. While I’m being wildly uncool, want to know who else is awesome? My husband. Best friend. Tries his very hardest and gives us his all. Funny and sweet and so natural for me to be around. He’s also pretty good looking. So, there, I said it. I’m doing alright. There are hard days and moments, but most of them are amazing. We even want more kids. We want to staff a farm, y’all. I know you think we’re crazy, but our kids rock and we’ll raise as many as we are entrusted with and we’ll have annoying big, fat, smiles on our faces.
I don’t have a real secret except for a spirit of celebration. I pray for patience, wisdom and discernment everyday as a mom. When I’m burnt out and weary, I pray. I phone a friend. I talk it out, reset, refocus and embrace a new day.
I have picked up a few tricks and shortcuts along the way. Here are some things I do to make my life easier so that I can spend more time focusing my love and attention on my kids and avoid burn out.
1. Feed yourself.
Look, you have to function. I know what it is like to make 5 breakfasts by 9 am and realize at 11 that you didn’t eat one of them. Lila is a big eater and I could just dish out food to her endlessly without snagging a bite if I’m not careful. So, I either eat what she is eating, or drink breakfast. I keep all of my breakfast shake powders in a shoe box in my pantry so I can just grab the whole thing, make my shake, and put it back in one trip. Another tip: if you have a standard blender, the base works on a mason jar. I hate dishes, so I mostly just make it and drink it from the same cup.
Lunch is almost worse. The last thing I want to do during my “break” (nap time) is make a mess in the kitchen and clean it. I used to just stand in in front of the pantry eating dry cereal while I thought about what I wanted to eat, and then I’d eat some lame food that wasn’t healthy and didn’t taste good. So now, about once a week, I make a mega salad with everything I want on it and keep it in an airtight container. I make a giant salad for my self each day but only have to add croutons and sunflower seeds the day of. It’s quick, accessible and healthy.
2. Feed your people.
Lila is a bottomless pit. She just loves to eat. Breakfast is her favorite, but a lot of breakfast foods are just filler and she ends up hungry again in less than an hour. I’ve learned that one thing that holds her over is oatmeal. I can sneak a lot of healthy food in there for her and she will gobble it right up. She eats it just about everyday, so I found a way to make it easier and quicker. It’s also much cheaper and healthier this way.I take a large tupperware container and make my own oatmeal mix. Oats, flax seed mill, chia seeds, cinnamon and dried cranberries. I leave a little measuring scoop in there and now, it’s as easy as turning on the tea kettle, scooping the mix in the bowl, and cooking it with the hot water. When I have fruit, I just chop it right up in there before I pour the water on. It makes it even yummier and mixes it up a bit. If she’s still hungry, I give her a “chocolate treat” which is a version of the protein breakfast shakes I make and I add some almond butter in there for some healthy fat and to fill her up. I don’t “open” my kitchen until 7 am, so this usually holds her over until snack or even lunch time.
I make just about all of our meals at home. If you meal plan, it’s cheaper, and less stressful. Just figure out the schedule for the week, plan a couple favorites and shake it up by taking a recipe from your pinterest to try something new once a week or so.
3. Clean your people.
I know a lot of people who bathe the kids and go. Lila and Daniel both love bath time and I have found that it really helps them wind down. When we do bath time, I supervise in the bathroom but I don’t just sit there. I either fold diapers and laundry or I read out loud to them a book I’m reading. Sometimes I use that time to clean the bathroom. I don’t use any chemicals to do it and I can talk to them and keep an eye on them the whole time. When Daniel is in the tub with lila, I stay planted on a foot stool right in front of the tub while I fold diapers, it’s not worth a safety risk to multitask so stay with your baby! Other times, I shower while Daniel naps and Lila comes in with me. She plays with toys and is safe with me, and I get to wash our hair. Double dipping.
4. Give the toddler some attention
In my experience, a bored toddler is a naughty toddler. That’s why we started “school”. When the baby is content, I give Lila 30 minutes of my undivided attention. I teach her a lesson and we go through activities together. I wear her little brain out with information and learning. SHe normally needs a break after that and goes on to entertain herself or do her “homework” work sheet. She loves it and is even making huge progress towards learning how to read.
Enlist your little tot to help you. I’ve been having Li bake with me since I can remember. At first it was just extra mess, but now, she’s getting pretty good at little tasks and we both get to work together. She’s happy, I’m happy. She loves to tell daddy what she made him for dinner, too. It’s adorable.
5. Wear that baby.
My baby is obsessed with his mommy. I’m obsessed with him too! I could just get drunk off of his smell. I don’t want to choose between braiding my daughter’s beautiful hair “just like Elsa” and cuddling my little baby and kissing his swee little head. So, I wear him. It takes a lot of stress out of the dish doing, lunch serving, and teeth brushing that would probably send me over the edge if I had to listen to my poor baby cry for his Mama.
I use a K’tan carrier, an Ergo sport and I made this Fauxby wrap that mimics a Moby. They all work great for different situations.
6. Learn to nurse hands free.
A Boppy pillow or a My Breast Friend pillow will help. Daniel nurses quite often which gives me plenty of time to gaze at him, stroke his hair, and hold his hand. At other times, I send Lila to her bookshelf to pick a book for us to read outloud together while I nurse. Other times, I read a book for myself. You can even catch up on sending e-mails or texts that you needed to send anyway. Be sure to balance it so you don’t miss those adorable nursing smiles and adoring gazes from your babe, but I think it’s ok to use that time for you or your other kids as well on occasion.
7. Set timers.
This is where I may lose some of you, but trust me. Know how long things take you. I set a 15 min tidy timer on my phone and whole I may not get the whole place clean, it’s 15 min cleaner than it was before and it normally surprises me how much I get done in 15 focused minutes. Set timers on things you’re cooking. Burning food and overcooking pasta wastes your time and makes a mess, so just set a timer so that you don’t forget!
8. Set yourself up for success.
Put the diapers in the carrier after they’re washed and folded. Preset your coffee maker before bed. It helps with motivation to get up with your very perky toddler. Make your bed and shut the shower curtain. It makes everything look 50% better in just a few minutes.
Teach your kids to help you out. If my daughter wakes up before me, she’ll come to my room and I just tell her to go start the coffee pot. She gets her stool and turns it on and then comes to get me when it’s full. See? Kids are awesome.
9. Stop being so tired.
I know you’re not getting the sleep you wish you could, but don’t surrender to that label of yourself. You’re as tired as you decide to be. Get as much sleep as you can, do what you have to to wake up, and then be awake. I like to drink a cup of coffee, do a devotion time, and then I’m up. Sometimes I get moving and take a quick walk with the kids just to start the day off. It helps me feel more on top of my day, not like it’s just dragging on.
10. Ditch any or all of these tips in the name of self care.
A lot of times our self worth is directly correlated with our accomplishments for the day. Sometimes, that’s great. I feel wonderful on days that I feel productive, but when I just need a break, I tend to feel guilty. That’s why sometimes, I just have to do the bare minimum. I just cuddle the kids and keep up with the mess. I nap when they do and give myself as much of a rest as I can. It’s good for me. It helps me stay sane and gives me a recharge to attack the next day with even more vigor.
Let the laundry sit in the dryer. You can always re-fluff it tomorrow. Watch T.V. during nap time and make Pb and Js for dinner (yum). Skip the work out and walk toddler pace around your neighbor hood. Dress up. Dance. Sing. Play. Play that game that’s only fun for adults for 2 minutes but is endlessly exhilarating for kids. The one where you’re a big scary tickle monster and your kid wakes you up and then you gently beat them up while they squeal with laughter…or any variation of that. Let her watch frozen, again, While you shut your brain off for a bit. Do what you have to do to get by. Know yourself and know when you need to pull back the reigns a bit.
To us mom’s that are so sincerely worn out and weary. We are not faking it. We are beat at times. It makes sense. Wonderful children take an incredible amount of energy. Let’s seek encouragement and support. We’re not perfect, but we aren’t the worst. Let’s just stop beating ourselves up. Let’s encourage each other and commit to calling ourselves what we are: Strong, capable, and competent women.
- 12 cups of oats (you can use any you'd like or even a mixture)
- 2 cups flax seed mill
- 1 cup chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3 Tbs ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Combine all of your ingredients in a giant air tight container. Leave a scoop in there and cook it as you go!
- When you're ready to serve, use 2/3 cup mix and cover with boiling water (from a kettle). Adjust it to the consistency you like.
- Change anything you'd like. The morning of, I add any fruit I have and even some nuts. Delicious.
- My favorite is diced apples and chopped pecans. Just add them in and then cook as usual.