Being a mum is still my greatest challenge, every single day!
Everyone’s story is different – but I have no doubt that there are parts of mine that you can relate to.
I became a mother at 26 years old. Unexpectedly, unplanned, and apparently super easily. I was 5 months into a new relationship and only 8 months out of a previous one when I became pregnant. Colton, my first born, has brought me so much love, joy, laughter – as well as anger, frustration, and the uncontrollable wetting of my pants every time I sneeze.
Tate, our 2nd child, brings even more smiles, love and light into our life… plus more pant wetting.
My boys are outdoor boys nearly 24/7 if I let them. They love animals, riding their bikes, and driving me wild. There is always a LOT of noise in our house, a lot of yelling and fighting too.
I honestly don’t know what it is like to have quiet children. Is that even a thing?
I used to apologise to strangers for their boisterousness but in the 6 years I’ve been a mother I’ve learnt and accepted that “kids will be kids” and that is normal and even expected and appreciated.
And for anyone that’s not okay with that, then that is their problem.
They give me headaches, exhaustion, sore backs, and twisted arms. But that is nothing compared to what I give myself. The biggest, most exhausting challenge is the responsibility I put on myself. All the things that I “must do” and “think of” and “organise” because someone needs to do it… and my husband doesn’t!
I also struggle, on the almost daily, that thing where it becomes our job to think and do all these things for our children.
– Fun time
– Down time
– Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
– Bath time
Why do we take on all of this responsibility? It’s not a badge of honour. For most people you aren’t the only person raising the child .. shout out to all the single mums and dads out there! You legends are incredible.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips that may work for you that have worked for us.
Write a list: all the things you are thinking of that need to be done. Write them down.
First of all getting them out of your head and onto paper gives you back the mind space to get them done and think of other things (ie: not be consumed and overwhelmed by your never ending to do list of responsibilities). Secondly, share the list with your partner! When they know the things they can do to help they are more likely to actually do them.
Let me give you a hint: just because it is so clear to you what needs to be done doesn’t mean that it is clear and obvious to them.
You can spend hours being upset they can’t see what needs to be done or you can spend 10 minutes writing the list. And within those hours you previously spent being cranky things actually getting done.
Also if you start by saying “hey babe, here’s a list of all the things on my mind that we need to get done WILL you help me?” they are 1000x more likely to help.
Using the word will, instead of the word can, makes the world of difference!
CAN – they think yeah of course I CAN but I don’t want to… so they don’t.
WILL – allows them to step up and make the choice for themselves that they want to help.
Try it for yourself & let me know if you notice a difference in your partner.
Lastly – by having the list also gives them an idea of how much you actually do/think of/have on your plate! Otherwise they have no clue!
Male brains work differently than females – you can’t blame or shame them for that!
I highly recommend you read ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’! It’s an eye opener to understanding the opposite sex!
Give yourself a break: I’m not just talking about the 20 minutes of alone time after they go to sleep. You are exhausted by then as well! Give yourself permission that the house can be a mess. That someone misses out on a phone call. That Christmas isn’t as it “should” be, no one cares but you!
Take the load off by literally taking it off your plate!
Some things just don’t matter!
If someone isn’t going to die then it’s not the end of the world.
Independent Play: Allow your children to play independently! The best thing I ever did was to keep the 3 hours of the afternoon as quiet time!
When Colton stopped his afternoon naps (2. 5 – 3 hrs) we continued with quiet time. He didn’t have to sleep but it was quiet time to read books, play games, build with lego.. He was 3 years old & this became a must!
As he grew up later bribery may have been involved: “Quiet play for this long and after we will go to the park.” “If you have a sleep you’ll get a lollipop.”
Always keep your word!
Don’t let them down after you have promised them something otherwise you’ll ruin the system. Even now, he’s 5.5 years old, and is having a sleep because we will go for a swim when he wakes!!
Use timers: when you want your child to do something ie: pack up, leave a place, have a rest – set a timer!! “You have 10 minutes left to play and then we will need to leave.”
The warning helps them to prepare for leaving, get the most out of the time left, and be less likely to get upset when it’s time to leave. Sometimes it is better (if you think they are going to argue) to say 5 minutes at the beginning and allow them to negotiate to 10 minutes. Plus you are teaching them negotiating skills!
Or give them the option of 5 minutes or 10 minutes. Them having the choice gives them the power… they like that, they want that!
Set the timer and stick with it. The more often you use this technique the better it works. Colton we’ve used it since he was 2 – even if he didn’t quite understand. When the timer goes off it is time to do something. Now it works 95% of the time. Sometimes he tries to negotiate for more time, and sometimes that works!
BONUS TIP: Also use this to work in their favour. If you are working and they want your attention they could have 10 minutes of your time and then you are back to work or you say 10 minutes left of work and 30 minutes of you playing with them.
Communication: The more you tell them, the more they understand, the easier life gets! If you want them to rest because you need your rest too let them know why and how the rest will benefit the both of you.
Remember it’s okay to be vulnerable with your children. It is a skill they may not learn anywhere else and is so important to daily life. Even if you don’t think they will understand the reasoning behind your words/rules/want them to do – you may be surprised or you are teaching them (and yourself) the skills that will work well for the both of you in the future.
We still have the yelling “do as I say, because I said so” but it is a lot less than it used to be. We are all improving our parenting skills as we learn new techniques and approaches!
Feels totally unnecessary to say but I’ll say it anyway every child is different -not everything will work for you and your child.
But I’d love to hear if any of these techniques work for you and your family. What have you tried before and what will you implement?
Leave me a comment below
I’d love to hear from you!
From my crazy family to yours.