Photo: Gabby Cullen

It’s that time of year again – time to declutter the house, throw out old things, clear out the cobwebs, clean everything from the window sills to the baseboards, maybe even have a yard sale.

But if you’re like me, the very thought of all that work makes you want to nap SO HARD. There ain’t no way I’m gonna make a dent in the pile of chaos that houses a first grader, toddler, and baby who will most definitely not allow such tidying nonsense to happen in the first place.

I’m just trying to survive this stage of uncertain calamity where I’m not sure how many times I will have to clean poop off the floor today or what random part of the house may need repair as it was destroyed by some mystery figure. (“Must have been a leprechaun!” says probable culprit child.)

The only thing I can even think about deep cleaning is myself in a hot bubbly bath. In fact, I need to let go of this crazy annual tradition, at least for now, and maybe try to be a little LESS insane – for the good of myself and my entire family.

Here are a few ways that you, fellow frazzled parent, can join me:

1. Fill your own cup first.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all this “the kids must always come first” crap. You can’t pour from an empty cup! Kids refusing to come eat dinner? Sit down and have your own meal first. Let a grandparent watch them while you escape on the weekend, have a date night, or simply take an effing nap! Taking time for you is not selfish – it’s self-respect. Don’t you want your kids to learn that? Or do you want them thinking moms are supposed to be complete slaves? How are you supposed to take care of everyone else to the best of your ability if you have completely lost yourself? The world will not fall apart if you spend some time reading, working out, writing, yoga-ing, watching TV, or simply wasting a little time. And you will likely feel refreshed and better able to do all of their “stuff.”

My thing lately is to get up 20 minutes earlier to have some alone time and drink my MUCH-NEEDED coffee in relative peace. Everyone wins since this means I don’t bite everyone’s head off the second I see their scheming little troublemaker faces. So, literally filling my cup first!

2. Move, momma, move!

When was the last time you made YOUR body a priority? One of the simplest and most effective ways to help yourself (and therefore everyone around you) is to exercise. I know, I know…you don’t have time, it’s boring, it’s hard, you don’t have the energy, blah blah blah. But here’s the thing – you don’t have to spend hours a day or kill yourself in the gym (unless you like that kind of thing). Just start by going for walks or following a simple at-home workout plan in your living room. If you stick to it, you’re going to find it actually boosts your energy and mood and positively affects your life in so many ways. Your body is meant to move, so give it what it needs! Bonus: You’ll set an excellent example for your kids. Someday they might even want to join you!

3. Give yourself a time out.

I’m kind of jealous that my kids get to spend time alone when they get in trouble. Sounds more like a reward to me. Why do they fight it? Same with naps – they hate them, I would give anything to have permission to konk out in the middle of the afternoon. *Sigh*

But really – when you feel that frustration bubbling up ready to explode, just excuse yourself. Go to another room, breathe, and calm down for a few. The little brats will still be there when you’re done and you’ll be a lot more clearheaded in dealing with them. This way you’ll (hopefully) be able to apply more effective and consistent consequences and not just yell and curse in anger because you are literally doubting they are even your actual children anymore. How did I spawn such a MONSTER?! Someone must have switched him at the hospital!

4. Stop with the mom guilt already.

Quit feeling like you’re never doing enough. Skip the should’s (and should not’s, for that matter). I should get my kid in soccer this year, they should have all the latest gadgets all the other kids have, should have more playdates, should have more and more stuff and experiences. Guess what? No one ever died from a lack of material things and activities. Give them what they need, for sure, but don’t stress so much about all the wants. And stop beating yourself up for screwing up. You’re only human. You’re going to fail sometimes (probably daily). We all do. Learn from it and move on.

Also, it’s time to stop doing everything for everyone – at least the things you know they can do for themselves. If your toddler can remove every single item from the toy bin and scatter them across the room, they can pick them up and put them away too. Your grade school child is totally capable of cleaning his own room and folding his own clothes. And there’s no need to make four freaking different meals every night to meet everyone’s special preferences. How do we expect our kids to respect us when we treat them like royalty? (Babies being the exception – their job is to eat, poop, and on occasion sleep, so I suppose we should just let them enjoy their drooling, demanding dictatorships for the timebeing.)

And for the love of all that is sane, stop apologizing so much! Unless you actually did something wrong, there is no reason to have “sorry” on repeat. (My kids must think it’s my favorite word – enough of that!)

5. Have a dose of hygge.

What the heck is that?

Hygge (pronounced hoogah) is a Danish term meaning “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Basically it’s whatever makes you feel good and cozy. The importance of hygge in Danish culture could very well be why Denmark is consistently “the happiest country in the world.”

I don’t care who you are, we all like to feel cozy. Unfortunately, we tend to mistake relaxing as being lazy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth as it is vital to both your physical and mental health. So try to chill out on the regular, whatever that means for you (with or without kids involved). Enjoy hot cocoa in front of the fireplace on a chilly day. Kick back in a comfy recliner and get lost in a book. Cuddle up on the couch for family movie night. Heck, hide in the closet with you, yourself, and some good chocolate. Do SOMETHING that gives you all the feel-goods!

What is your thing you MUST do to keep you from going insane? Share below!

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