For starters, I’ve learnt that feeling overwhelmed is somewhat of an ‘understatement’. I think that I started to feel like that after my second son was born and it’s never really gone away actually. Feeling a tad overwhelmed becomes the new normal and life just carries on with a few more eggs in the basket, or one extra baby in fact.
I remember a friend of mine once saying how tricky it was to control three children a few months after the birth of her third child. She pointed out that you simply don’t have enough arms and well yes, that’s a pretty accurate statement. Around that time we hadn’t even really considered the possibility of a third baby and yet here we now are, with three. The magic number.
With your first child, it’s a learning curve. You haven’t really a clue what you’re doing and you’ve just had your cushy existence ripped away and you’re suddenly fully responsible for an actual little person. When your second child comes along, you realise how much of an absolute doddle it really was just caring for the one child. Then when your third child comes along, you just muddle through as best as you can to keep everyone fed, watered, clothed and ferried about. More commonly referred to as ‘winging it’.
So to survive, you have to learn to relax a little when it comes to keeping your house clean. I mean seriously relax. You need to just do what you can. I have days where I think maybe a little too much about how much dust might be accumulating in places, how long it’s really been since I last mopped the kitchen floor and what might be building up underneath the sofa. What matters is that your house is ‘essentially’ clean and tidied up periodically so that people don’t break their necks on stray toys and shoes and unexpected visitors aren’t unduly alarmed.
I wasn’t a clean freak before children but I did always have a fairly shiny looking bathroom, vacuumed carpets, a clean kitchen counter and a reasonably smear/dust free tv. Clean what’s necessary and when you have time, you can clean things a little more to your liking when you don’t have little people nipping at your ankles. Even if that might
usually occasionally be really late at night. Needs must.
Make lists part of your daily life and find a system that works for you. I’m a ticking off things kind of person and am spurred on by seeing my list slowly diminish. The list might be a mammoth one, but it always helps to see that I am making a dent in it. With regards to the mammoth list, also try not to make such a huge list in one go because well that’s just overwhelmig in itself isn’t it. Try and break things down into chunks and tackle the stuff that you’d rather put off first!
If like me, you could do with being more efficient but struggle to find the time to get yourself organised, just do what you can to avoid pitfalls. For instance, when newsletters and timetables come home from school, (or emailed to you like mine are so none are lost) write down all the important dates on the calendar straight away. That way you are almost guaranteed to not get caught out with non school uniform and inset days. When you forget twice in a row, you certainly don’t want to be that dappy mum that does it again. Write things down straight away to eliminate that risk.
You can also try food planning and map out your meals for the entire week, month or year! I’m still working on that concept and it’s an ongoing project…
The old totally sexist saying ‘a woman’s work is never done’ really rings true (unless you know one of these rare types of men). I know in my house that my husband might feel like he’s always got things to do (and he has workwise etc) but he doesn’t think in the same way as me. He knows that things need doing but besides being aware that we might need to put a load of washing on and perhaps unload the dishwasher, he generally doesn’t think much further. Unless I’m not around then her certainly won’t be thinking about what to do for dinner, what we need at the shops or what things the kids might need and so on. I’ve realised that we fall into our quite traditional roles in that respect and also appreciate that I wouldn’t function that well with it any other way. Delegation is the key.
Accept that you’re always going to experience mum guilt with your children. You can try your hardest, but one of those little darlings is always going to make you feel a bit crappy or inadequate for some reason or other…at some point.
If you’re not feeling guilty for spending more time with one child than the other, or being away from them working, then you’re constantly wondering whether their individual needs are being met. Are you playing with them enough? Being attentive and actually listening to what they have to say about their day? – if they reply with more than ‘don’t know’. Are you shouting too much, like way too much? Do you always feel like you’re too busy/looking at your phone? Yep! Kids are fairly easy, just show them how much you love them with copious amounts of cuddles and cakes and worry about dealing with the bigger problems as they arise (my children only go up to the age of seven, so I can’t advise further than that).
Always go to great lengths to avoid going to the supermarket with all three of them. Man alive it’s stressful and I can still recall the last time I had take them all with me and the chaos at the checkout is etched in my memory for ever more. Unless, there is no other alternative or your kids are saintly, don’t do it!
Last but not least…try to get some time to yourself. Not just that sacred time that you get to sit on the loo on your own but actual time to unwind, without the constant demands and vying for attention. Whether that be at home or out. Escape when you can! A happy mood equals a happy brood.