You love your kids and their silly singing at the top of their voice, how they follow you everywhere because you are their hero. But sometimes, too much, is …. well too much! Sometimes we busy moms need some quiet, some ME TIME, some help around the house, and balance to our sometimes chaotic and noisy lives. And that’s okay! Here are some practical ways to get a break with toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids. Busy Moms, Stop Surviving and Start THRIVING!
You love your kids! They are your joy, they make you smile, they have so much energy and so many creative ideas! But sometimes all the noise, chaos, and shall we say demands of the day can be draining for us busy moms. We can get weary. I get it, you are not alone! I’ve felt that way many of days – I’ve got 6 kids, and 3 are preschoolers.
It doesn’t make you a bad mom because you crave quiet or need some me time! Actually, taking the space and time you need to restore yourself is healthy and will help you be a better Mom and enjoy your time with your children more. But how do you get that coveted ME TIME in the busyness of life?
Here are some practical suggestions to help you give everyone the space they need to not only survive motherhood, but thrive:
Make a Routine
We have been a homeschooling family so spending time with my 6 kids day in and day out is normal. I wouldn’t change it. I love getting this time with my kids – I know they grow up all too fast! Setting up a routine with the kids is the first step in claiming your sanity. If kids know what is expected of them, they know how to meet them. You can print a schedule, that helps me, or just start developing patterns. Ways routine can ease stress:
- Meal planning -no more what is for dinner and you can rotate your meal plans monthly
- Chores! Don’t try to do it all yourself. Kids NEED to learn to help out. It takes a little longer to teach someone how to do it and then check up on them, but eventually they will master the skill and then there is one fewer thing for you to do and you taught them a valuable life skill of work!
- Schedule regular laundry days (or if you have a large family like us, a day for each person to do or have their laundry done)
- Meal Time = everyone help set the table (even little kids can put silverware at people’s spots) take their own plates to the kitchen, wipe down the table / counters, etc. We all help out and it all gets done much quicker!
- Weekly House Cleaning – Set a day and time for everyone to pitch in and clean their own room and help with a common space. You can assign everyone their room + living room or their room + bathroom, etc. Of you can assign by chores: one vacuums, one dusts, on picks up toys, etc.
Bedtimes are IMPORTANT
You may be tempted to toss bedtimes out the window because your schedules just became more flexible, but don’t!
- You all need to be well rested to keep your bodies strong
- When people are better rested, they are better behaved…..need I say more?!
- By having all the kids in bed at night, that gives you and your spouse some couple time together every night.
So when should your kids go to bed? That is really up to you. It depends largely on the age of your children, how early you and your spouse go to bed, and what time your kids are use to going to bed. If they have always had a 9pm bedtime they will baulk at 8pm, but you may be able to move it to 8:30pm. Younger kids can realistically be in bed by 7 or 7:30. In our home, all kids are in bed (and allowed to read a book in bed) by 8:30pm, the younger kids go to bed earlier. That way my husband and I have time to tidy up the house and get about an hour of uninterrupted time before we fall asleep. We get up early so we are asleep by 10pm.
Institute Quiet Time
Remember way back when your babies and toddlers took afternoon naps from lunch until early afternoon (12-3pm or so). Well in our house, we never got rid of them. No, I don’t make my 8th grader take 3 hour naps every day =)… but we morphed nap time into quiet time.
In our home, quiet time is a time when the house is literally QUIET! My little people who still take afternoon naps, nap. My older children do their school work independently (if they haven’t finished before lunch), play with their toys, or read – all in their rooms! They know they cannot come out and talk until 3pm. This is good for 2 reasons:
- Kids need space too! They need to learn to be by themselves, self entertain, and have time to pursue their own interests.
- This not only gives me the quiet in the house that I crave, but it gives me some uninterrupted me time. Some days I work, others I clean the kitchen or menu plan, and some days….. I sneak in a bath or watch my favorite tv program. Really it doesn’t matter what I do – but I get to CHOOSE what I do.
Are there times we break quiet time? Sure. Some days we meet with friends or I spend time giving one of my kids extra 1:1 time with school work or just spending quality time together. But most days of the week it is “free time for Mom” and every day it is QUIET!
Trade off Evening Duties
So our afternoon quiet time is great for me, but it doesn’t help my introverted husband get his me time because when I get my time…. he is working from home. Try alternating evenings of watching the kids. Give your partner the night off at least once (if not more) a week. But basically, from the time they finish working until bedtime, the family needs to go about life pretending they are not there.
- Eat dinner on your own in a man cave (office, basement, garage, bedroom)
- Watch a movie that you can’t watch with the family
- Exercise (great for stress relief) – jog around the block, shoot hoops in the driveway, use your treadmill, do a workout video, squeeze in some push-ups / sit ups / squats / burpees
- Play Games on your own like darts, pool, ping pong, video game, or something on your cell phone
- Take a long shower or bath…. or sit in a spa or sauna if you have one
- Do Lawn Work ONLY if that relaxes you (some guys like that, my husband does not!)
- Hobby – have a hobby like wood working, painting, photography, etc. Spend time doing what you love
- Read a Book – spend time reading a book you enjoy
- Indulge in a sweet treat – have your spouse sneak you a bowl of ice cream, slice of pie, or a handful of jelly beans to eat all by yourself without hearing “can I have some too”
- Finish A Project – if you are like my husband you have a million projects started at once and finishing something never seems to happen. Take some time and actually organize your workshop, clean your car, etc.
- Chat with a friend – with social distancing you can’t catch a movie, meet a buddy for golf, etc., but you may still want to talk with another adult who isn’t your partner. That’s ok. Call, facetime, or message with a friend.
- Watch Funny Videos on You Tube – my husband likes just scrolling through youtube and watching how to videos and dreaming about making better pizza, wood working, etc.
There is a reason it takes two to make a baby 😉 You have a spouse, use them! You guys are a TEAM and know your kids the best. If you have a child throwing a tantrum or find yourself getting frustrated helping your son with his school work, ask your spouse to tag in. Then after 30 min or so ask if they need to swap. Then neither of you gets “too” frustrated and you both get a needed break.
Having everyone home all the time will undoubtedly mean MORE MESS! But that shouldn’t mean you have to clean it all! Having kids help with household chores is good for them! It helps them take responsibility, build character. So even if your kids have never helped around the house before – now is the time!
Sit down as a family with a list of daily chores and go around the circle with each of you picking one. Repeat until all the chores are assigned to someone. You can trade off chores every week. Another idea is to draw chores at random from a hat. Here are some common household chores kids can help with include:
- making beds
- doing laundry / folding / putting away clothes
- doing dishes
- wiping down table / counters after meals
- setting table / filling cups with water
- feeding the dog
- walking the dog
- changing sheets / linens and bathroom towels weekly
- cleaning bathroom: toilet, shower, sink
- vacuuming the house
- disinfecting surfaces you touch frequently like light switches, door handles, counters, bathrooms, etc.
- light police – make sure lights not in use get turned off
- clean up toys
- water the flowers / garden
Giving out chores may create some resistance at the beginning, but it is worth it. Kids tend to make less mess when they realize they will have to clean it up! I suggest holding them accountable with a checklist or limiting rewards if they haven’t finished their chores. At our house, you have to finish your list before you get dessert, play game, or watch a movie. If anyone is truly stubborn, they have to go to bed at the same time as the littles – 7pm! I’ve only ever had to threaten that one….. it seems to do the trick in our house.
Deal Swiftly with Behaviors
Nothing can grate on your time at home together quicker than naughty children! Now is not the time to be lax with discipline. I’m not saying you run your own branch of the army or make them line up like they did in Sound of Music, though sometimes it is tempting. But more if you say something – follow through! If not, they will stop obeying and that spins out of control really quickly! Yikes! Don’t tolerate disrespect towards other members of your family (talking back, name calling, stealing toys, shoving, etc). You are all stuck in your house – it needs to be a safe space. At our house, we send people to their room if they can’t be polite until they are willing to apologize and behave better. You may also need to take away privileges like staying up late, dessert, electronics, etc.
If you are consistent with your expectations, kids will know how to behave and everyone will be happier!
Practice Selfless Love
Kids are great imitators. If they have an annoying habit, I challenge you to ask your spouse if they can see where they get it from. We’ve found most of the things the kids do that annoy us, they learned from one of us in some way shape or form. So watch, evaluate, and make changes as needed.
Because kids are great at imitating, if you start setting an example of putting others first. They will follow your example. New to this concept…. try:
- let everyone else pick their slice of food first
- pick chores last
- allow someone else to go first in the line for the bathroom
- when picking a movie or game, let others choose first
- have a disagreement, be quick to admit you may be wrong or agree to disagree and move on
- ask your spouse what they want to do or what they need
Give Hugs & Praise Freely
When people feel loved and cared for they are move loving and easy to live with. And unlike toilet paper that is in short supply, hugs and encouraging words are FREE! So make sure you hug everyone who lives in your house 3 times a day. Praise others in your house for concrete things (we are not talking about blanket, empty words). For example:
- Great job getting your chores done without being asked
- I love how you stopped to help your brother get water
- Thanks for doing such a great job wiping the table after dinner tonight
- I am so proud of how hard you are working at your school work
- I love you. (No explanation needed! These can be scary weeks for kids and they NEED to hear you love them and that things will be ok…. repeatedly!)
- Your smile always brightens my day.
- I always like when you wear that blue shirt; it brings out your pretty eyes.
One of the quickest ways to pull yourself out of a funk is to start having FUN! Take a peak at 101 Fun Things to Do at Home or pick something you like, but do something together. Create memories! When you are laughing together you wont have time to be annoyed!
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