Becoming a mother is hard enough, but balancing motherhood with multiple children can feel even harder. These tips will help.
Ever become frustrated when you watch a “soccer-mom commercial?”. You know the one: the perfectly coiffed soccer mother with a van full of kids that arrive home to a prepared meal in her spotless house.
That image always made me feel inadequate as a mother, balancing a career as a doctor and raising four children. Then, I realized I could create my own version of perfect by incorporating the five life-changing tips shared below.
Tips for balancing motherhood (and your children)
1. Learn to say No
Focus your time on things that bring joy and balance. You do not need to be all things to all people. This recently became a valuable lesson for me when I evaluated my volunteer activities as a girl scout leader, baseball parent, math tutor, and bake sale participant.
After soul-searching about the effort and rewards of each volunteer opportunity, I realized I dreaded my time helping the baseball team because my role seemed to be mostly relegated to keeping boys from hitting each other with bats.
Once I let that volunteer activity go, I felt peace and joy again as I helped others. Learning to say no will help you achieve a work-life harmony and help you feel like you have time for both. This is a great book to help you learn how to set stronger boundaries.
2. Create time blocks with each child
If you are like me with more than one child, it is always challenging to divide your children’s attention. I create weekly Time Blocks for each child to ensure they get special time with me.
I empower my children to manage this time by picking the activity we do together, whether hiking, talking, reading, or going on a special outing together. Because they initiate the activity, I feel confident their needs are met.
My youngest son recently asked to read me a story he wrote for school. At the end of our special time, he thanked me for listening and confided he gets nervous speaking at school but felt much better after reading the story to me.
I would never have thought to ask him if he was nervous speaking at school, but it came out when we had some personal time together. It was an unbelievably valuable technique for checking in with my son’s needs.
This special time let me meet my child’s needs and was more fun for me because there was less chaos, and my other children were not talking over him.
3. Appoint each child as chef in the kitchen
Every meal is perfect when someone cooks for you. Rather than letting cooking become a stressful activity to juggle between “work and kid’s activities,” we created a calendar for everyone to make weekly dinners.
The meal can be as simple as grilled sandwiches or pancakes, but each meal is greeted as a labor of love. Cooking develops skills and a sense of pride, and my children seem to love vegetables. They cook better than when I serve them. And everything tastes great to me since I lessen the pressure of cooking every evening.
It also lets them be creative and practice math when they purchase groceries at the store. There are countless benefits to involving your children in the kitchen with you.
4. Celebrate being a celebrity
Once a month we have a celebration dinner for one person in the family. On that night, the person picks the dinner and is the celebrity of the day. Everyone in the family prepares a small paragraph to share with the family. We tell the celebrity what we love about them and often laugh together about funny stories. My children often ask about what they were like as babies, which leads to baby books and lots of laughs.
5. Enough is good enough
Trying to clean a house with four kids under the age of five can create stress and frustration. I tried all kinds of tactics, from locking us all in the bathroom with legos and gummy bears while I cleaned the tub to making forts out of the sheets while I folded towels.
The big breakthrough for me was accepting that whatever I accomplished was enough.
Knowing that the pile of clothes will be there after I duck into the fort with the kids or garner more energy for myself. Through the eyes and actions of my children, I found my playfulness. Now, I worry less if the house is clean enough and focus more on finding enough precious time with my children.