Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sixteen Ways to Create a Stress-Free Home [with Littles]

"Your hands are SO FULL!!" "You must be SO BUSY!"

I hear this from total strangers all the time. Why, yes, come to think of it... I AM busy. My days ARE very full. But just because we have 4 kids doesn't mean that our busy, full days need to be stressful, overwhelming, and frustrating days.

I am shuddering just thinking of those words. Because I'm sure we've all been there as moms: we've all had those terrible, no good, very bad days where tears are shed by all (including Mom).

But that doesn't have to be the norm. I don't WANT it to be the norm.

That's why I came up with this list of ways to help reduce the stress levels in a home that is full of small children. Many of these ideas are just that--ideas, or methods... Some of them are all about Biblical character qualities. A few of them are super specific, and some are general. But all in all, I hope some of these suggestions might help you as you walk this busy-and-full journey as mommies with littles!

In no particular order... And without further ado.

1. Communicate with your husband. Strive in every way possible, even if you must compromise your perfect plans or ideas, to be on the same page when it comes to your children. This is going to be my only "husband-related" idea, but it's really a huge one. And that's all I'm going to say, because every couple's in a different situation. But yeah, basically: talk to your husband!! :)

2. Have [generally] consistent bed times, wake up times, and nap times. With my husband's crazy, ever-changing schedule, I feel like our kids' bed-times aren't often at exactly the same time, but it's in a general time frame. So is their wake-up time. And nap time. It helps everyone involved to know when the kids are going to bed!

3. Wake up in the mornings before the kids. Again, definitely not something that always can happen, because of pregnancy, newborns, etc. But when you ARE able to do this, it kinda works like magic. That way, you can shower and get breakfast ready while the house is quiet! If you need to sleep later for some reason, ask your kids to stay in their rooms and play quietly until you tell them it's okay for them to come out of their rooms. They'll get used to this pattern, and won't expect to do anything differently than this. It makes the mornings so much quieter and more peaceful!

4. After breakfast, put your littlest baby/toddler back in their crib with a book or toy for 30 minutes. This will jump-start your morning, and will teach your baby how to play by themselves.

5. Of course this leads to: set aside specific times for ALL of your kids to play by themselves. Or, if they won't fight, have your kids play something quietly together! We have a storage closet underneath our steps that's a "special" place for our kids to play, especially when I allow them to take a flashlight in there :).

6. Use a timer as a motivation--even for yourself! Example: when I'm feeling tired, but the dirty dishes are driving me crazy, I'll set a timer for 10 minutes, and then wash as many dishes as I can in that amount of time. You'll surprise yourself what you can do, if you're motivated, in a matter of minutes, and then sit down for a while!

7. Keep your house clean. Agh... this can be SO HARD when you're pregnant. :-X I don't have any cleaning routine right now, because my energy and pain levels go up and down so frequently. I will often make a list of my cleaning priorities for the day (or week), and then whenever I have a burst of energy, I'll tackle a very small task. Vacuum one room. Sweep the stairs. Use a baby wipe (there are always wipes an arm-reach away in our house! ;)) to wipe down the sinks, and then light a candle to make the room smell pleasant! It will make the whole house feel more calm and under control.

8. Set up times for the kids to JUST. SIT. and Be. Completely. Quiet. This IS possible, y'all, even when all three kids are under 4 years old. When I'm feeling most frazzled, I'll set the timer for 5 minutes (I'm serious), assign a seat for each child, allow them to pick a book, and we ALL have to sit, completely quietly until the timer rings.

9. Have a mandatory rest-time, for everyone in the house, for a long stretch of time. For us, it's two hours long. Jemima and Matthias still take naps during that time, and Rachel plays with something special (as in, things that she's not typically allowed to play with the rest of the day... such as her hair bows or coin jar). Unless I get huge bursts of energy and am DYING to do something active, I rest that whole time, too. It gives me SO much energy for the rest of the day, which is very needed around here!

10. I've mentioned several routine-like ideas here, so I thought I should throw in a different concept now: Be FLEXIBLE!! There are spills and messes and tantrums and tired mommies and sick children. When all (or any) of these sorts of things arise, BE OKAY with dropping your perfect plans for the day and gathering the kids to read books on the couch for an hour! I've had some days where I felt absolutely terrible, and we watched episode after episode on Netflix, because I didn't even feel well enough to READ to the kids. This wouldn't be a good situation if this happened every day, but there are some days that are just. kinda. hard, for whatever reason. Do the best you can, with what you've been given for that day!

11. If there are set aside times when the kids should be QUIET, then I say, there should be times when the kids are LOUD! Have them run outside and roll down the hill, and chase each other, screaming!

12. Prepare for your busy days by making breakfast a day ahead, setting out everyone's clothes the night before, and so on. Mornings are my most difficult time of day, even IF I don't have anything particular to do! So if I can plan ahead AT ALL, it helps keeps my morning stress-levels to a minimum. ;)

13. Keep messes to a minimum. Yup, there's that word minimum again. Maybe I should just say: figure out what are your stressers, and seek to eliminate them. For me, messes often equal stresses. That's why, at this point in our lives, we've reduced the kids' number of toys to four small fabric baskets. I actually dumped ALL the kids' toys in the middle of our family room, and timed how long it took them to clean up all the toys, including putting the baskets back on the shelves. You wanna know how long it took them?? Two minutes, 59 seconds. This told me two things: we have EXACTLY the right amount of toys for our life right now, aaaaand... if it ever takes the girls longer than 3 minutes to clean up their toys, then I know they haven't been going as fast as they could go!

14. Teach your kids to be attentive to your voice, and to respond immediately. We're in the process of teaching the girls that EVERY TIME we say their name, they need to look at us (or come to us, depending on the situation), and say, "Yes, Mom!" or "Yes, Dad!" It is soo difficult, as a mom, to feel like you're talking into a wall, whenever you say anything to your child. At least for me, it causes instant annoyance/frustration. We also just moved to a location where our driveway goes right into the road, and it is imperative that the kids HEAR us, and are ready to COME running if necessary.

15. Assign even your little kids to certain tasks that help out in the household!
Matthias is somewhere in the 1 1/2 year old range, and he can get his sleeper out of his drawer, put his dirty clothes in a hamper, and throw away his dirty diaper. Talk about Helpful!! It's amazing! And he doesn't mind at all. He loves clapping for himself, and hearing all the praise that gets showered on his head because we're proud of him. :) One of Rachel's jobs is emptying the bathroom trash can into the [much bigger] kitchen trash can. Just one more thing that I don't have to do! Your kids are definitely capable of SO much helpfulness, and honestly... I think the house runs more happily and peaceably when the kids feel a PART of what's going on!

16. One more, and I put this last because it's so very important: Pray daily for patience and kindness. Sure, your day can look all perfect with its routines and schedules and kids helping out, but if the Mommy's attitude isn't right, then everything will quickly fall apart.
We as moms have a great privilege in setting the tone for our house, and we certainly cannot maintain a peaceful, kind, and patient attitude on our own strength.

1 comment:

  1. تميزت شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض بامتلاكها عدد كبير ومتنوع من سيارات النقل المجهزة، لجميع أنواع المنقولات المراد نقلها، سواء كنت منقولات كهربائية او نقل اثاث وتقوم شركة نقل عفش بالرياض بنقل جميع أنواع الأثاث والقيام بعملية نقل اثاث بسهولة كبيرة، كما تقدم شركة نقل اثاث وعفش خدماتها في جميع انحاء المملكة العربية السعودية بنفس الكفاءة والاحتراف .