There’s no two ways about it, mom life (and dad life!) can be rough, but over the last 4 odd years, Dan and I have learnt thing or two about how to make parenting easier. These tips and tricks are just a few adjustments that we made in our day to day life, simple little things that we implemented that made really big changes. Some of these are more specific to our current living situation with Dan working from home, etc but who knows how long that will be for so I decided to include them as well.
Of course no two families are the same so some of these might not work for you, but I hope that quite a few do and please feel free to leave your tips in the comments – it takes a village, right? Alrighty, let’s get stuck in!
- Tag team waking up with the kids: This is something we did when our girls were tiny babies and weren’t sleeping through the night, we would take turns getting up for them to pop the dummy back in, etc. When I was still breastfeeding, I got up for those feeds, and then if they niggled, Dan would get up. Doing this really helped us, it meant that we didn’t sleep in small increments, on a good night, we would each get a really good stretch of sleep which does wonders as I’m sure you know. When lockdown hit and Dan began to work from home and schools were closed, we decided to start tag teaming again but this time for when the girls wake up in the morning… and we’re still doing it. Basically we alternate who makes Maia’s bottle and gets up early in the morning, the other person gets a lie in until 7.30am. Yes, I know that isn’t a crazy lie in but when you’re used to getting up at 6am every day, it makes a big difference! That extra hour and a half is something that I definitely look forward to every second day and with everyone home all the time, I really enjoy the little bit of alone time with the door closed.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps: I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes at this because “Sarah, there are so many things that I need to get done!” I hear you, but I also want to tell you that your mental health is more important than loading the dishwasher. I feel zero guilt telling you that I still have an afternoon nap most afternoons when Maia sleeps. I don’t think I’d manage without them. That being said, it does take a little bit of planning. I use her morning nap (or my time in the morning if Dan is doing the wake up) to do urgent work that I can’t do on the run. Most of the time Maia will play by herself for a decent chunk of time so I can still do some work while she’s awake. Non urgent emails can wait until the evening and ones that need a little bit more attention can be done off my phone in a few minutes. Having Dan home at the moment does make housework a bit easier, but things like loading the dishwasher can be done first thing in the morning or while the girls eat breakfast. Basically, I structure my day to make sure that I will be able to have that glorious 2 hour period of shut eye. I know an afternoon nap sounds self indulgent but I really think that its an act of self care, it helps you to reset, and if you had a terrible night the night before, it makes the world of difference.
- Frozen meals are key: 99% of the time the girls eat whatever we’re eating for dinner but there are a few things that they don’t eat like steak and generally when we order take out, they don’t have that either. We always have a stock of a few healthy frozen meals in the freezer for these occasions. We used to buy store bought goodies but after trying out Umatie I think we will continue to support this local business.
- Meal planning: While we’re on the topic of food, lets chat meal planning. It is life changing! I plan all of our dinners and roughly plan out lunches. Doing this means that we don’t spend unnecessarily when grocery shopping, it means I only do one shop a week, I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner each day and best of all, we waste little to no food. Give this YouTube video a watch for how I meal plan and grocery shop.
- Accept and learn to ask for help: This is something that I definitely struggle with, I want to do it all, I want to prove that I am capable and often feel like asking for help or accepting help inconveniences people. Sound familiar? When people offer to help, it’s because they want to, as parents we need to learn to accept this help without feeling guilty. Let your partner watch the kids while you take 30minutes (or even the whole day!) to yourself, not feeling well and someone wants to drop off a meal – let them! Our loved ones want to make our life easier because most of them know how tough this parenting gig can be, we just need to let them. In the same vein, when we are struggling, we need to learn to put our pride in our pocket and ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s knowing when it’s all to much and that you need an extra set of hands.
- Declutter your home: Oh I cannot tell you what a difference this makes! I did a massive declutter last year that you can read about here and since then, I do a mini one every month or so. Anything that hasn’t been used in 3-6 months gets donated or passed along. We have also become incredibly more aware of what we buy; do our kids really need more clothes just because something is cute, do they really need another plastic toy, do I really need another pair of leggings (the answer to that is always YES!). Instead we prefer to purchase open ended toys like out beloved Liv Bespoke Kids gem blocks and our Stumped Wooden Toys Knock-a- Blocks that they can both play with in so many different ways. One thing I haven’t managed to reign in is how many books I purchase, although I do tend to buy them more second hand than brand new, so that’s a positive step! I really recommend that you sort through an area of your home every week or so and see what you really need, and then donate or hand down the items that you part ways with. Your home will be less cluttered, your kids will use their imagination more and it has such a wonderful effect mentally.
- Get your kids involved with the housework: Yup, we’re big believers in this. I wrote a whole long post about it over here that you can read. We’ve started Maia on a few things now too and they pick these things up so quickly – she knows exactly what to do if we ask her to put something away and of course Aria loves to teach her too!
Are any of these tips already in play in your home? And are there any that you’re going to start with after reading this blog post? Please do leave your advice for other parents in the comments, who knows, it could really help someone out!