On some days, you really feel like throwing in the towel. You look around your house and notice heaps of dirty laundry at every corner, burnt food on the stove, your children running around and screaming even after you’ve told them to stop at least five times by now. You yourself are wearing an old sweatshirt with a bunch of stains on it, your hair is a greasy mess and you can’t remember the last time you had the luxury of a good night’s sleep without any interruptions.
We know what it’s like and we’re here to tell you—you’re not alone. We know what you’re going through and we’re here to ease the burden. If you want to know a few tips that will help you lessen the workload and prevent burnout, read on.
Stop striving for perfection.
It’s not fair to your child, your partner and especially not yourself. Your kid doesn’t need you to be perfect, they simply need you to be present, to love them and to give them a safe environment in which they can grow. The idea that you aren’t allowed to make mistakes puts pressure on everyone involved and it only leads to degrading confidence. Instead of trying to be flawless, try to simply be the best possible version of yourself—that’s more than enough. Stop comparing yourself to other parents and more importantly, stop comparing your child to other children. Everyone grows up differently, every family has its own pace, so accept the uniqueness of your experience.
Ask for help.
Help can come in many forms. Perhaps it’s your parents offering to babysit, or maybe it’s your partner doing more chores, or maybe it’s your colleague covering for you at work. Ask for help when you need it and accept it when offered.
Hire professionals when you need to.
Nannies, childcare centers and maids are there for a purpose and parents shouldn’t feel guilty for relying on professionals to help them. If you have a big birthday party coming, find some good catering companies to take care of the food for you, if the house is a mess and you can’t find the time to get it neat, hire a cleaner. Friends, colleagues and family members aren’t the only people you can ask for help.
Find friends who are in the same boat.
Finding a support group is really important. You need people who are open, honest and who know what you’re going through. There’s nothing quite as liberating as telling a fellow mom or dad about your struggles and having them admit that they’ve been going through the very same thing.
Knowing that others aren’t nearly as perfect as they seem to be will bring about an immediate flood of pure relief and you can support each other and share tips on how to best manage life’s hardships. Find a friend who you can talk to and everything will be easier.
Even the most scatter-brained folks can get it together once they realize that being organized isn’t some sort of an innate ability you either have or you don’t—it can be learned. There are plenty of easy tips you can pick up that will help you manage time, from preparing meals in advance, to introducing the one-minute rule. Basically, if something takes less than one minute to finish, do it. Hang up your coat instead of putting it over the chair, take your mug to the sink, put things back in their place as soon as you stop using them and generally stop postponing small, effortless tasks.
If you do that, they’ll pile up until they become unmanageable and far more stressful than they need to be. This is a good rule to show to your children as well—if they’re done playing with that toy, they should put it away.
Cultivate your interests.
Parenthood is a big chunk of your personality, but it’s not your whole personality. You didn’t lose yourself when you became a mom or a dad and you shouldn’t feel obliged to completely change who you are. Your hobbies and interests are important and you should definitely take time for them—that’s what self-care is all about.
If you are a voracious reader and love immersing yourself in a good novel, find an exciting bestseller to enjoy. Make time for these things because they are a part of you and you need to take care of your own needs if you are ever to help anyone else.
As a parent, you need to remember to put yourself on your own priority list. Indulge in self-care when you need it, ask for help and don’t be afraid to admit you need a time-out. Things will get easier as soon as you remember that you’re important, too.