I get lots of emails asking me -
You’re a mother, how do you cope with it all?
I’m expecting my first child… any advice for a first time mother?
Don’t you get bored being a stay at home mother?
How do you make it all work?
How do you keep such a balanced life?
And what do you DO ALL DAY?
I decided to write up a list of all the stuff that I do to keep my life balanced and sane. Most are painfully obvious, but a list is a list, and I do actually stick to every single one of them!
1. Get a hobby. Something to dabble with for one hour a day. Blogging. Reading. Stitching. Gardening. Something easy to pick up and put down. Do some night classes. Don’t let your brain turn into mush!
2. Keep like-minded friends. I believe you need to regularly hang out with people with the same values on parenting and life interests.
3. Join a mother’s group. There’s nothing like being able to bounce the intricate details of child rearing off other mothers who are going through exactly the same thing.
4. Create a routine. I keep to a weekly routine which I try to balance with varied activities, for myself and for the kids.
5. Break the routine! Don’t be afraid to drop the routine everyone once and a while. When things get tough, don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t be so rigid all the time. Relax!
6. Keep a full schedule. I know it sounds weird, but I even need to schedule in playtime. My worst days come about when I’m feeling unmotivated to organise a playdate or activity. I end up letting the kids dictate what to do and… it ALWAYS goes bad.
7. Find some alone time, weekly. This is an absolute must. Organise to have someone look after the kids – husband, grandparents, neighbour, a paid babysitter. Go shopping. Sit in a cafe. Get your hair done. Meet up with girlfriends. Anything that doesn’t involve kids.
8. Find alone time with your partner, weekly! This is another absolute must. Organise to have someone look after the kids for a couple of hours – grandparents, neighbour, a paid babysitter. Take a walk. Sit in a cafe. Go out to dinner. Watch a movie. Look into their eyes, and remember why you decided to have kids with this person in the first place.
9. Be active. Get out of the house at least once a day. Kick a ball around. Ride bikes. Water the garden. We get the boys out of the house just before dinner, to get the energy out of them!
10. Be a proactive mother. Teach, talk, sing, dance, cook, play with your kids!
11. Balance and vary children’s activities throughout the week. From a concentration activity (like puzzles, reading) to active outdoor activities, to creative activities (craft), to imagination play (dress up), to construction (lego, blocks), to helping mum (cooking, baking, tidying). The list is endless!
12. Look for things to do in your community. Find cool parks, cafes, playgrounds, play-gyms, book libraries, toy libraries, kid’s art classes, story telling time.
13. Don’t be too fussy about having a clean house! The only chore I’m particularly anal about is having a clean floor – I sweep my dining room and kitchen 3 times a day. The rest I’m really relaxed about, if there are 2 days worth of dishes on the sink and I’m feeling tired, meh, they’ll get done soon enough.
14. Look after yourself! Exercise, keep up your dental and hair appointments, buy new clothes. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of dressing sloppy when you go out. But it’s so surprising what something so simple – like new underwear – can make you feel!!
15. Find a regular babysitter! I strongly believe that this is a worthy investment. Find someone who can regularly babysit the kids one evening of the week. It’ll force you and your partner to actually plan ahead to meet up with friends, or book tickets to a play, or just spend the time walking in your favourite places.
16. Invest in outdoor toys! Sandpit, tricycles, water buckets, balls, basketball ring. We’ve found that there’s something about the outdoors that soothes and unwinds the kids.
17. Invest in age appropriate DVDs! I always thought I’d be the super conservative parent, who only lets my kids watch very little or no TV at all. But ah, the reality is that they simply love watching children’s TV programmes, so I let them have about 30 minutes to an hour each day. It gives me just enough time for to brush my teeth and change in the morning!
What do you do to keep things sane? Let me know, and I might add it to the list!