I remember when my youngest child came home from the hospital and my mother was trying to convince me that I only needed a couple of sets of clothes and a couple of sleepers for her. Her reasoning was that she was a newborn and that she would quickly grow out of everything. Besides, I already had a toddler at home and I SHOULD be doing laundry at least twice a week anyway. Also, I only need three or four bottles because I’m washing them daily. *insert eye roll* Now, my baby girl is my second child but nowhere near only the second child that I have had a hand in raising.
As I look back, I can honestly say I wish I had listened about the bottles ONLY because the bottles I initially purchased for my Petty Princess weren’t sufficient and she needed Dr. Brown’s brand bottles for her Acid Reflux. Nonetheless, you and I both know that having a limited quantity of essentials can make life difficult since you will be constantly doing laundry or washing dishes late at night when the kids are in bed. Let me just say that, as a rule, and if at all possible, I always have at least seven sets of clothing and at least two sets of eatery (utensils, dishes, and drinkware) for my two.
Yeah, it’s an added expense but if it can save me from the stress and give me some extra sleep, it is worth the cost in my book.
Don’t get me wrong. I tried to do the “perfect mom” routine. I would hand wash my dishes after the kids were asleep; wash, dry, and fold all the laundry in one setting; sweep, dust mop, and mop all the floors at least twice a week; and clean the house from top to bottom on Saturdays. With two kids under three years of age, that got old real fast. I hated my job as a mom because I was failing and nothing I did was ever good enough. I was completely miserable. The house was never clean enough. Never. It was a disaster and cluttered with all the kids’ things. I was forever behind on laundry and it stayed mostly piled on the couch unless I moved it to my bedroom where I piled it on one side of the bed. I was barely sleeping enough to stay sane let alone work eight hours a day. Then. To top it off, I was forever getting “lectured” on my deficiencies as a parent like how my kids would be the last kids picked up from daycare or how we were always late or even how wild and rambunctious they are or how there was always so much “stuff” everywhere when someone would visit.
I was basically spinning my wheels and falling farther behind in everything until I just broke. I cried during my shower and threw myself a wonderful pity party while mentally planning out small changes to be made. I found the products that worked best with my dishwasher and started using it daily. Even if I still had to hand wash the bottles, the dishwasher saved me thirty to forty-five minutes nightly. My friend/secretary/keeper at work described to me her recent purchase of a Bissell Pet Pro that would vacuum and mop floors. She even gave me a demonstration. I bought it. That was an additional thirty to forty-five minutes every two to three days I saved on that task. I had a plastic bin purchased to place at the front of the house so that all the various toys that continuously made their way from the bedrooms to the front of the house could be quickly tossed in the bin to appease my need for some order. Laundry was still a monster to overcome with no perfect answer in sight. So, I bought two laundry baskets to put the clean clothes in instead of them being on my bed or the couch and, when I had five or ten minutes of free time, I’d fold laundry. I even started cleaning on Friday afternoons as opposed to Saturdays so that we could have more downtime.
After a while, I realized I was far less stressed because I had a little “me time” to simply read a book or go to bed thirty minutes early.
Those extra minutes gave me time to wind down and I noticed I wasn’t always on edge trying to complete every single task that I deemed necessary to maintain my self-proclaimed label of a “good mom”. As far as the “lectures” and the unsolicited advice on various subjects being offered to me, I started suggesting that the person with all the knowledge on the things I was deficient in either come complete the task or babysit my kids for a couple of days while I got everything in order. Once I made that suggestion a few times and/or followed through with dropping my Dynamic Duo off at their homes while I completed my “mom” tasks to their desired standards, people began to have far fewer issues with the way my household was being run. We were happier. All of us. Using modern appliances and approaches aren’t always a bad thing. Getting my kids fast food because court ran over twice this week didn’t make me a bad mom. Going to bed with laundry in the dryer or in the basket beside the bed wasn’t the end of the world. Hiring someone to clean your home twice a week or provide bi-monthly lawn service doesn’t make you any less of a parent than parents from forty years ago. If you fell asleep with the laundry in the washer last night, start it up again this morning. Figure out what works for you and go with that.
Do it deliberately and unapologetically.
You are responsible for your own mental health and wellness and I’m learning that most days, we are our own worst critic and we constantly set unrealistic goals and schedules as parents, employees, and spouses. So Sis, use that dishwasher. Twice a day if necessary. Let them talk. Besides, they never really had plans to do more than critique your parenting so you may as well give them something to talk about.