There are moments, who are we kidding, full days, that can make you feel like the universe is playing a sick joke on you. Making your kid go from that sweet, beautiful little person to, “what the hell is that and why is it making that loud, horrible sound” and “how did three hours just go by? I have accomplished nothing.” It challenges your patience, sanity, and all out right to be a parent.
The fact of the matter is that parenting is all consuming. There are good days and there are bad. Parenting tests your communication and time management skills, your patience level, your creativity, and much much more on a daily basis.
It’s like a time, patience, and sanity vacuum. Sucks it all right out of you. So when these circumstances rise to the forefront, I don’t give in to the chaos. I take action. Turn the tables. I do what I think is the best option for parents that are pushed in a chaotic spot. I cheat. I cheat for parental sanity, to save time and to get things accomplished. I cheat to feel “normal,” happy and sane.
I would like to share some of my shameless strategies that help me keep my patience thermometer in check, find time to meet deadlines and to live in a way that doesn’t mimic the movie, Groundhog Day. We are all well aware that staying calm, patient and living happily helps us be better parents in the long run. So get on board with me and cheat your way to sanity.
I grab the stroller and get moving. My toddler, Presley and I walk. She sits in the stroller, she walks beside the stroller, I jog, Presley jogs, we take the dog with us… You name it we do it.
This has been my number one go-to since Presley was born. In good times and in bad we have taken out the stroller and jogged and walked and walked and jogged. On many occasions we performed all of the above. Morning jog, afternoon walk… Both Presley and I are happy campers after a walk or jog break. Even on afternoons that I want to just sit out of exhaustion but am not ready to commit to being inside, I grab the stroller. By the end of our outing I am energized, physically and mentally and ready to take on the next challenge. Presley also had a chance to burn or restore some energy with walking along or taking it easy and soaking up some R&R.
I use tubby time as time to sit down or to get some work done. If it can get done in the bathroom that is. I love when Presley asks for a tubby, especially on days that I am running off of an IV of coffee or have a pending project. She enjoys playing in the tub, blowing bubbles, relaxing, playing with the soap bottles, washcloths, and running water. During this time I grab a cup of tea or coffee, my laptop, pull up a pillow and sit on the bathroom floor next to the tub. It gives me an opportunity to work on any projects I may have going on, or to just take it easy, catching up on email, social networks, blogs. All the while Presley is enjoying endless bathtub fun. I usually have to drag her out of it after I gauge the level of pruniness of the toes and fingers.
Some days it’s mentally impossible to wait to get something done until Presley goes to bed at 8pm (or later nowadays). Lately, I have not been too far off her sleep schedule so staying motivated until then quickly diminishes. So, I wake up early and get started. If Presley wakes up and I’m not quite done she watches cartoons.
I French braid Presley’s hair after her tubby. French braids can last about two days. She will have a bath, the braids go in and the next day when she wakes up all we have to do is get her dressed. With the long list it takes to get out of the house this is a huge time saver. Those of you with girls of course. (Well, maybe boys… I wouldn’t know.) Second day braids have a halo of fuzzy’s but who really cares. The cheerio stuck in it since last Tuesday is more distracting.
We all have appointments to go to. The doctor, dentist, whatever it may be. Being pregnant with twins has me in and out of the doctors office every other week so I have been pretty desperate for child entertainment. After many attempts of trying to have Presley cooperate through an hour long appointment (FAIL), I have turned to straight up bribery. I am now known to bring secret weapons with me. Fancy way of saying, I bribe my kid with sugar and cartoons The diaper bag is fully stocked with candy or chocolate and the iPad is equipped with her favorite cartoons previously purchased and downloaded. Let me just say the itty bitty Jelly Belly Bean can make amazing things happen. Truly, amazing things.
I go to the gym and use the daycare for an hour as well as take advantage of the other member benefits. This is a hands-down must do. I love the gym. They have all sorts of activities you can partake in. Running around the gym at open gym (Presley, not me), open pool (Presley’s favorite), and of course the daycare [clouds open up, the sun beams through and angels sing].
I use the extra curricular activities wisely because they usually are followed by a very good nap. Bonus! So if you’ve had a gym membership since January 1st and your brand new gym shoes are still in the bag you purchased them in, grab your kid and start taking advantage! If you are still not motivated to work out don’t, go sit in the cafe and read a book. Sans your kid. There will be other little screaming children but when it’s not your own that sound doesn’t seem to have the same painful ring to it!
Instead of one huge, dreadful day of laundry, I do a few wash and folds a week. By the time the weekend rolls around it’s done. Some people hate this and it makes them feel like they are doing laundry all day, every day, but if you’re like me and hate folding and large piles are overwhelming this is the route to go. If you are really strategic, occasionally have an unfolded pile of laundry on the bed for when your hubby gets home. While your folding and catching up you may get an extra helpful hand during the folding and putting away mission. [evil plan laugh]
I pack the diaper bag the night before. Whether we have a plan for the following day or not, I will typically have the bag packed and ready to go. It always includes the staples: water, snacks, diapers, wipes, achem, jelly beans (I didn’t say that). Whatever it is that you normally carry, just ensure that it’s ready to go every night. With the likely hood that you will forget something for every single outing (without fail, why is that?) you will at least always have the essentials.
I avoid big kid jungle gyms at the park like the plague. We do attend occasionally but I highly dislike them. I feel like I have to chase Presley through the jungle gym, pushing through the other kids to to make sure Presley doesn’t fall off of the random side without a railing, where kids are dropping left and right (ok, I embellish but I don’t trust my kid on a ledge and am not prepared to find out how she handles it). Attempting to get my pregnant body through the little obstacles and enclosed slides, its just not a thrill. It’s full on panic and stress. I opt for the swings, single slides, little wood cars they pretend to drive and simply just running around an open field with a ball.
I don’t clean the dishes after every meal. I just heard the gasps! Don’t be alarmed, it gets done. I typically clean the kitchen when I make dinner. OK, lets get real, prep what was previously made by my husband. I will do one fell swoop of cleaning the dishes and putting them away and wala, done. No one would know stuff sat in the sink for a couple of hours. I would much rather be outside and having fun than wasting precious time hovering over dirty dishes all day.
So I cheat. When time is slipping from my fingers and my child turns into an “it” making atrocious sounds, I hold “it” up to the laughing universe and tell it, “you will not break me.” I have jelly beans for goodness sake!
Feel free to share your shameless cheating methods so I can add them my repertoire. If your willing to admit them of course!