The quote, “Good moms have sticky floors, piles of laundry, messy kitchens and happy kids” gives me anxiety. There I said it. As much as I have tried to be the easy breezy mom who embraces the mess and “lives in the moment” with my kids, I just can’t. When my world is messy and out of order, so is my head. I literally can’t think straight when I’m living in chaos.
I have managed to train myself to lower my expectations and to attempt to manage the chaos even when I’m in the midst of it. My reality though is two “old lady” dogs, three small children ages 8, 4.5 and 3 and a husband who should be in an office downtown but has taken over our home office since March. 😉 Three young kiddos means lots of toys, and lots of laundry! Add in hybrid learning and at-home preschool and it’s crazy town most days!
Life is busy, overwhelming and tiring – especially during a pandemic! But it’s also beautiful, and oh so fun!
Here are a few tips and tricks from an anxious, not-so-perfect mom who works hard every day to attempt to be a “good mom”.
Tip #1 – Gratitude and Perspective
This isn’t the first time you have heard this, and it may sound cheesy, but always remember the REASON behind the chaos. A house to clean, means a roof over your head. Dirty dishes, means family meals and food in our bellies. Stepping on legos in the dark, means little children that you prayed for. Loads of laundry means your family isn’t naked. 😉 Retraining your thoughts can help ease anxiety.
Tip #2 – Stop Trying To Keep Up With The Mess
Seems insane, I know! But with young kids a mess is inevitable, so you may as well embrace it. Find ways to manage the chaos and anxiety and adjust to make things feel a little less overwhelming. That said…..remind your kiddos (and husband) that cleaning up as you go makes life so much easier! My kids, clean up before bed, or before we move from one activity to the next. But I have to be specific! I can’t just say clean up the family room, I have to give each a task, or something specific to put away. I try to wake up before my kids and I never go to bed with a dirty kitchen. I clean up after every meal, versus letting it pile up and I do laundry daily. I insist on beds being made daily, laundry must go in the hamper and dishes go in the dishwasher. Novel ideas, I know. 😉 But it really does help! I have systems in place to also help “manage” the people in my house. They don’t see the messes like I do, nor do they need to feel my anxiety.
Tip # 3- Put Systems in Place
The two systems that work for us are: baskets on the steps and labeled storage bins. Each basket has my kids initial hanging from it (I should probably get a basket for my hubby.) But all the things they bring downstairs throughout the day, bring home from school, leave laying around go in the basket. In a perfect world they would be bringing all of these items in the basket back to their rooms AND putting them away! But reality is me reminding them to check their basket if they are looking for something, and when it is overflowing I have them bring it to their room.
Tip # 4- Label Everything
My craft supplies are labeled, kids toy bins have labels, etc. I know, I’m crazy, and Type A….but hear me out. When my husband says “the kids want to paint” I can say everything you need is in the bin labeled “Art”. All the craft supplies are labeled in the drawers. An organized playroom also helps us stay on top of the mess because my girls can put things back in the correct bin as we play. Again perfect world, not always reality. But our bins are labeled with words and pictures so that all ages can help. It also makes for easy clean-up when friends help after a playdate.
Tip #5 – Minimize The “Stuff”
I need to follow my own advice on this one. Recently though I have been rotating toys and it has helped immensely! I have also started the daunting task of purging and donating. (Check out this post for a list of Columbus Donation Locations.) We are officially out of the baby phase, and while I am sad and sentimental about all things baby, it does feel so good to pass it on to someone who will use it and appreciate it! Now I just need to stop shopping. =)
Tip #6- Embrace Sensory Play and Let Kids Use Their Imagination
Warning- this usually ends in a mess, but the time spent engaged, learning and exploring is golden. It does not have to be Pinterest worthy set-up to equal fun. Any sort of sensory bins, a water table, sandbox or a mud kitchen leads to endless exploring, and messy goodness. Just add some kitchen utensils, scoops, funnels and buckets.
Tip #7 – Join The Insanity
You will also gain major FUN mom points. =) My kitchen is a constant dance party. So when my girls are fighting with each other (and Alexa) over song selections, I just crank up the volume and join the dance party. I also try to release my anxiety and embrace the mud and all the messes that come with it. You have heard it before, but get on the floor and play with them!