All this "independence" is surprisingly very time consuming for the parent in charge! And until you accept the fact that you can no longer fully control when you are able to do the things that you want to do, this situation can be frustrating, and even stressful.
- Lack of time: how to fit all you have to do in 24 hours?
- Your partner, kids, friends, don't get it: "Why is it now so difficult to get some time with you?"
- Your baby also has his own frustration and you need to teach him to remain calm (while you are trying to find your way to also remain calm yourself!).
After experimenting different methods with my three kids and sharing tips with other mums, I learned a lot. Here is a short list of what helped me get more time during the day:
1. Let it go. If you realise after making the bed that the sheets are the wrong way around or if you find your room is not as tidy as it used to be, that's ok, just leave it.
2. Sleep, sleep, sleep. If your baby (who is most likely teething) wakes up during the night, you will most likely be sleep deprived. A thirty minute nap on the sofa really makes a difference. And avoid going to bed after 10:30pm (if the dishes aren't done, remember point 1... leave them, you will get to that in the morning). It also pays to get a health check with your GP to make sure you have enough Vitamine C, D, Iron etc. Or if you're more a DIY type person, Kellymom has loads of useful information on what your daily dietary intake should be.
3. Talk to your partner, kids, friends. Don't isolate yourself, explain to them why it is so difficult to get things done, and don't be embarrassed to accept any help family or friends might offer! Note that if help from your partner is not forthcoming, there's no harm in asking politely 😉
4. Make a to-do list. You need to prioritise. You have so much on your mind. Putting down on paper what you have to do is one less thing you need to keep on your mind! Writing things down and prioritising them will give you a sense of clarity and confidence that everything is under control.
5. Accept to postpone. If your baby is crying because he is tired, hungry, stuck in the pantry or simply trying to grab your attention, your emails can wait until later today.
6. Give your baby toys adapted to his age. Don't be scared of having too many toys and no room for them in the house. A great way to address this issue is to get second hand toys, from friends and family, and to in turn give them away once your child has overgrown them. This will allow you to offer your child a great variety of toys without cluttering the house too much. Alternatively you can borrow or hire toys in a Toy Library.
7. Leave your baby to play and don't interrupt (even for a hug!). As soon as he interacts with you, he will stop playing. You can stay in the same room of course, but try to leave him alone as long as he is not asking for attention. And make the most of the time your have while he is occupied!
8. Take your computer, smartphone, headset when you go for a walk with your baby. It is very likely that he will fall asleep in the pram. You can then call your friends or make your appointments. Find yourself a nice, quiet, kids-friendly cafe with WIFI and get cracking on your computer or smartphone. I love The Farm Cafe in Melbourne, Chicken and Fishhead in Sydney and Cafe de Soyt in Brisbane. Click your city for a full list of kids friendly cafes in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
9. If you are a stay at home mum or dad, make the most of any time you have when your baby is calm or napping. As soon as your partner and / or older children come home, it gets hard to achieve anything, as multiple people will compete for your attention!
10. When your baby cries out of frustration, the best approach is to let him continue to try and try again. Don't be too quick to jump to the rescue, even if he's struggling. Be patient and empathetic. that's part of the learning process. Dr. Polland has some great advice on what to tell your child in a difficult situation. For example: "I know you're trying very hard to put the puzzle together and you feel angry that the pieces don't fit." This will help give him the vocabulary to interpret his feelings. By contrast, if you tell your toddler that you think the pieces are fitting nicely -- when they're clearly not -- you're insulting his judgment. Dismissing his frustration may only upset him more.
Being a parent is hard and challenging, requiring you to adapt continuously to new situations for which you do not have the answers. But it is also very rewarding. Make sure you celebrate those rewards, even simple ones. Take a photo of your baby when he sleeps and watch it when you need...this will calm you down immediately 😍
Do you relate to this? What age did you find most challenging? We would love to hear your story in the comment box bellow.