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How to Overcome Parenting Overwhelm
Now that we have three kids, I’m more overwhelmed than ever. I felt like I was just surviving my days with the kids and counting the seconds until my husband got home. I started to really pay attention to the things that were causing me the most stress and tried to control what I could. I desperately needed to figure out how to overcome parenting overwhelm.
Feeling so overwhelmed by parenting was making me lose my patience and sometimes even my temper with my kids. I knew this wasn’t the parent that I wanted to be. So stressed with dropping the ball on things that I was forgetting to live in the here and now.
Related: How to Stop Toddler Tantrums
Determining What Needs to Change
I decided to start really keeping track of the things that we’re creating the most stress and helping me to feel completely out of control and to find ways to control what I could. in most cases this meant automating just about everything.
One of the biggest things causing me stress was our finances. One of my most popular posts is about how we save money paying our bills every week.
Right around the time I had our third baby we decided to switch banks. This meant stopping all of our automated payments and having to be organized enough to remember to pay things until I had the time to set everything up again.
I always knew this system saved us a lot of money and helped stretch our paychecks when finances were tight, but I didn’t realize was how easily it could help save my sanity as a busy mom with three kids.
When I tell you our finances got completely out of control after we brought the baby home I mean we got to the point that we were paying late fees for just about every bill and even got a shut-off notice for one of our utilities. It turns out they’ll threaten to turn your water off at just 10 days past due, but still. It was a problem.
I guess we had gotten so used to having all of our bills being paid on autopilot that I was completely missing bills that needed to be paid.
Use the Resources You Already Have
I decided to find ways to have things think for me. My phone and its microphone option has been a lifesaver.
Now I ask my phone to add things to my calendar and just double check that I got it right.
I set up reminders for everything. Things I still have to do. Appointments I need to go to. Everything.
The problem is I found that my mind goes a million miles an hour and I am constantly feeling like I need to look something up online or remember to pay a bill and I was on my phone constantly trying to keep up with all of these things I felt like I needed to do. I realized I was looking at my phone way more than I wanted to especially in front of my kids
Now if I think about something that I want to look up online or something that needs my attention I keep a master list in my phone and just tell my phone to add it to the list for me. This way, later on when I have some time, I can look up that movie I want to see or order a birthday gift I remembered I needed.
I highly recommend this method when your mind is so all over the place that you’re dropping balls left and right.
This Echo from Amazon is under $50 and is my next target for streamlining the mundane even more. Try it with me and let me know how it goes!
My main takeaway from this experiment has been to automate everything possible you can focus on what’s really important.
A perfect example of this is this blog. I write posts about things that have become a hiccup in my life in the hopes that someone else might read them and gain something from them.
The problem is that even just finding the time to sit down and write about these things is next to impossible. I use Google Docs to dictate these articles for me and then I just go back through and clean them up later!
It saves so much time and can be used for anything you need to write out as well.
Most phones now also have a voice to text function, so you can use your phone to dictate things like simple emails, calendar reminders, etc.
Meal Planning That Actually Works
Another huge help lately has been my lazy meal planning method.
Maybe you’re one of those people who can meal plan for weeks or even months at a time and never deviate from your meal plan. If so, please write to me and teach me your ways.
In our house, we kept failing miserably at meal planning until I became way more relaxed with it.
One of the main issues I have with cooking in general now that I’m holding a little one 90% of the time is doing simple tasks like cutting vegetables and measuring spices.
Now, when I have a few extra minutes and I’m near the kitchen, or the baby has some alone time in her seat, I measure the spices for these meals into plastic bags or mini mason jars, label them, and put them in our spice cabinet.
Actually, sometimes whatever I have pre-measured determines what we’ll have for dinner that night.
I pre-chop any veggies that I can and freeze them, then just grab them out of the freezer and add them to whatever recipe I’m making. Onions, carrots, and celery are PERFECT for this.
Just about every recipe I make involves onions. It’s SO much easier to grab a couple of handfuls of already chopped and frozen onion to throw in a pan than to find time away from the kids to chop stinky onion.
I’m already anticipating getting hate mail about not using fresh onions, but listen, it gets dinner on the table at a reasonable hour when my husband isn’t here to do it for me on late nights. It really helps in our house! Cut me some slack. It might help you too!
Mealtimes with Kids
Another big stressor for me was mealtimes – mainly breakfast.
I don’t know if it’s just that I hadn’t had my coffee yet or that my family is just really wired and disagreeable in the morning, but by the time I was cleaning up from breakfast, my heart was racing and I wanted to just go back to bed and start over.
Instead of trying to convince the kids to eat oatmeal or eggs in the morning, I give them cookies.
I make breakfast cookies with whatever I have on hand. Usually some sort of dried fruit, a few mini chocolate chips per cookie, and oat flour.
I use apple sauce instead of eggs and coconut oil instead of butter. Use mashed up bananas and a tiny bit of maple syrup instead of sugar and cookies for breakfast is actually a healthy option.
Guilt be gone.
My boys can dunk them in their almond milk and feel like they have the most awesome mom ever who gives them milk and cookies for breakfast all while I sit there and actually finish a cup of coffee.
Simple lunches are another saving grace.
I usually give fresh fruit, apples with peanut butter (or a *little* Nutella if they’ve been really awesome all morning), and chicken nuggets from Aldi.
Getting out of the house. With three kids. I’d rather be a hermit and never leave our neighborhood.
If I know we have somewhere to go the next day that requires we look halfway presentable, I’ll lay out the kids clothes the night before while I have my husband there to help…or while they’re sleeping. Diapers, everything.
I’ll even lay out clothes for myself.
Instead of putting things near the door where I may still forget them, I’ll go one step farther and actually put whatever I need to remember in the car.
I always keep extra diapers and wipes in the car so if I happen to forget our diaper bag or something crazy like that, I don’t’ have to stress about it. This has happened more times than I care to admit.
The Right Distractions
A key element in saving my sanity and preventing parenting overwhelm is having toys on hand that keep my toddlers attention while I tend to the baby or whatever housework I can get to.
A HUGE hit in our house are off-brand magnet tiles.
We couldn’t afford name brand Magna Tiles for both of our boys, so I went scouring Amazon and found this amazing set. It’s ¼ the price of the name brand toy for the same amount (or more!) tiles.
Now, if I need to make a phone call or if they’re having a particularly hard day (or if we’re going on a long road trip!) I’ll set them up with ABC Mouse on their tablets and it seriously becomes like going from three kids to one. It’s amazing.
At the end of the day, it’s so important that you do whatever you possibly can to eliminate day to day stress. Life is going to be stressful at times. Why not do absolutely everything you can to minimize what you can?
With less stress you can actually enjoy your kids while they’re still little, have the strength to not sweat the small stuff, and maybe even yell a whole lot less.
What works in your house to eliminate some of the stress of parenting? What are your most stressful parenting issues? Let me know in the comments!