Overwhelmed and Stressed
Parenting is a challenge. Especially if you work a full-time job. Kids are always needing something, always making a mess, and almost always doing something to get on your nerves. Not to sound like an ungrateful parent, I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but it can be frustrating and stressful. Laundry piling up, screaming kids, dirty dishes in the sink, spouse frustrated and upset because the house is mess. This stuff snowballs pretty quick, any parent could easily find themselves overwhelmed and stressed.
As a parent, I have found that it is extremely helpful to have a schedule or routine of things to do throughout the day, or when I get home from work. It is also gratifying to have time for myself in a quiet and clean house.
Here is a list of ten things that I do that make my life, and everyone’s lives a little bit easier:
1. FIND YOURSELF A HOBBY
A hobby is a great way of relieving stress and keeping the mind occupied. By giving yourself a “me time”, you are connecting with yourself and providing an outlet for your frustration. Like a form of meditation, this reduces stress and helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Since this time is for you, you are more likely to give yourself a schedule and make sure you adhere to it
2. ALWAY BE PICKING UP AND PUTTING THINGS AWAY
There is no way that you and/or your spouse are going to keep the house in order by just picking up once or twice a day. It may work if you are single or don’t have kids, but this will NOT work once you do.
A kids job (at least in my experience, is what they truly believe) is to ALWAYS have fun, be loud, and make messes. Both of my children are very very good at their “jobs”, they could be considered masters. But I digress, this must be countered by ALWAYS constantly trying to keep up.
I try to pick something up or put something away every time I walk into a room. To wait until they go to bed or are done playing just does not work. The messes simply get worse, take longer to clean up, and you will always feel overwhelmed. Not to mention the stress on yourself or your spouse when he/she comes home to a messy house.
3. Fresh Diaper, Full Stomach
A baby will almost always sleep much better with a fresh diaper and full stomach. Preferably in that order. Don’t want to wake the baby to change a diaper, if he/she falls asleep while eating.
This one is pretty much common sense. But if you are a new parent, common sense sometimes goes out the window. Screaming baby, sleepless nights, about a million new changes to your life. It can be stressful and difficult to think sometimes.
4. Don’t give your kids a bath
Don’t bathe your kids (at least not every single day). Regardless of what you may think or hear, many sources suggest that a bath everyday may actually be bad for your child (and yourself for that matter). Bathing removes the body’s natural oils that nourish and protect the skin. By skipping a bath day, you can have more time to relax, a have fun with your kids, cook a more complicated meal, or just have one less thing to worry about today.
5. Keep the kitchen sink empty
This goes along with picking things up. I cannot stress enough though. The more often you clean up the little messes, the less stressful everything is at the end of the day. These things don’t just sit there waiting to get taken care of and you can easily find yourself overwhelmed. With kids, messes pile up like Tetris. In my house, there are times where literally there is a new bowl or cup or utensil…or stuffed bear wearing a tutu, every five minutes in the sink.
6. Plan a meal ahead of time
I really love food and like to get fancy sometime, but don’t always have the time. I try to plan our meals at least one meal ahead. A lot of our meals require thaw time or lengthy cook times, such as crock pot meals, or just plain take time to cut and prep.
Planning ahead and starting at the previous meal allows for saved time and healthier menu plans. Doesn’t take long to prepare frozen fish sticks, French fries, and Jell-O cups. But how healthy is that? It doesn’t take much extra effort to skin some potatoes and carrots while cleaning up after lunch. Then to throw them in the crock pot with a roast and onion soup mix. Add some beef stock and get on with your day.
7. Always have snacks Prepared
My kids both eat like teenagers. They are food freaks. Just like most kids, they can picky. Thankfully they don’t complain about eating their fruits and veggies. Delilah (my 5-year-old) often asks for a snack minutes after she finishes a meal.
I have found that keeping snack foods that are prepared ahead of time is a real time saver. My kids may have less patience than others, but when they’re hungry…they’re “starving!!” I am a lot less stressed and a lot less frustrated with them, if I prepare snacks and meals on my time, not theirs.
Furthermore, I always try to keep their diet balanced by keeping “junk” snacks down to a minimum. It’s much quicker and easier to give your child a handful of potato chips than to get out a cutting board and knife, wash and peel and slice some veggies. And then you have to clean up, ugh. But if it’s already been prepared ahead of time (like when you are prepping the next meal), then it’s all gravy.
8. Be prepared for the worst
Give a one year old a full cup (not a sippy) of water and you can imagine what might happen. Not to say you shouldn’t do it, but knowing what to expect and being prepared helps to prevent a lot of needless stress.
By always being prepared for what your child MIGHT do, you may better appreciate what he/she DOES do. This way you are turning the tables on what I see a lot of other parents do, fear the unexpected and be thankful for the expected. Instead, thinking this way trains your mind to be more aware of the consequences of what your child is getting into. You can then be more appreciative of the surprises and more accepting of the already anticipated.
9. Schedule nap/bedtime
Having a set time for naps a bed has been an extremely useful tool to have in my parenting box. Kids need to be guided. That is what parenting is about. A one year old may just fall asleep at 8 or 9 and nap throughout the naturally, but still needs the regular routine. They will subconsciously know after a while and be more willing to go to sleep.
You can’t just say “it’s bedtime” and expect your child to understand and want to go to bed. Using several subtle hints leading up to bed helps to make things go a lot smoother. Alex (my one year old) has always had trouble getting to sleep, here is a list of our routine leading up to his 8 o’clock bedtime:
- At 7, The lights are dimmed.
- At 730, Playtime is over, fresh diaper, and we sit down to relax with a quiet entertaining movie or tv show.
- Lights are dimmed a bit more and a warm bottle with blanket and pillow.
- Pretty much directly after bottle is time for bed
As long as this done every night, as mush as possible, he is more and more willing to go to sleep at bedtime. He is also learning to associate the dimmed lights and pillow and blanket with bedtime.
Delilah (my five-year old), on the other hand, has a later bedtime and doesn’t get tired. She just passes out when runs out of gas. So we also try to keep the routine going for her. She just gets to stay up later than Alex. I usually give her warning that our “couch time” is getting near and give her a countdown leading up to it.
10. Say it and mean it
This one is the most important, and find myself slipping every once in a while to. Say it and mean it. Be stern, be strong, be a parent. You are not your child’s friend, you can be fun and playful, but ultimately you are the parent, the boss, the leader.
You say “one piece of candy” and he/she whines and begs for more. Do NOT let them win…EVER! The one time you give in and let your child have another piece of candy (or whatever they’re whining about) after you said no, is the time where they’re learning the most. Your child has now learned “if I cry and keep begging, at some point I will get what I want”
From this moment on, your child will always be hoping for the same scenario as last time. The more you let them get away with it, the harder they will try next time. Giving in and going back on what you already said is a very slippery slope and a very dangerous game.