Here are my secrets to keeping it all (or most of it) together. For more suggestions, check out Ellen's guest bloggers at Love That Max.
Here is a fact about me: I need a lot of sleep to function. Some people I know (including my husband) can run on 6 or less hours but I have found that I need at least 7 or 8 in order to feel like a human being. If I do not sleep enough, I am cranky, impatient and everybody suffers.
My children are lively and full of energy and in order to keep up with them, I need to sleep. A lot. So I do. Now with a newborn, getting sleep is obviously a bit trickier but I am trying to go to sleep early and also to take naps when I can.
For me, making sure I sleep is part of taking care of myself and making sure my needs get met. Because if I am running on empty, I can't give to all the members of my family, special needs or not, who need something for me. Along the same lines, I try to carve out time for myself (ie yoga/knitting/blogging),to have date nights with my husband, etc but my number one necessity is sleep.
When Y was first born, I felt like I had to do it all by myself or I was not a "good" mother. And for a while I did. Then A. was born 15 months later and I still thought I had to do it all. After all, as a stay-at-home mom this was my "job" so I was responsible to do it. A few mini-breakdowns later, I learned my lesson. I may be the mom, but it's okay to delegate or outsource some tasks. I started having some cleaning help, then a few hours of babysitting and I have not looked back.
Well that is not entirely true. Every once in a while I feel badly that I need to rely on the help of others so much, whether volunteer or paid. Then I remind myself that I have four kids aged 6.5 and under, one of whom has special needs and little to no safety awareness, one of whom is a preschooler with no impulse control or safety awareness, one of whom is an infant and one of whom is fairly typical while still a stubborn drama queen. So if I cannot take all of them to the park or supermarket by myself for the next few weeks or months, that is okay.
My husband is busy with his job, my parents and siblings are across the ocean and my in-laws travel a lot, which often means if I need help, I need to hire someone (or every once in a while find some good-hearted volunteers). We are fortunate to qualify for some funding to pay for care for Y., so that alleviates some of the financial burden, but I strongly believe that at certain times, hiring a babysitter is a necessity and not a luxury.
Here are some times I enlist help for the sake of my sanity:
- The 4 to 6 pm afternoon rush- pick-ups from school, Hebrew school, After-school activities, homework, dinner, baths, etc. Need I say more?
- Doctors or therapy appointments: I only take the child that has the appointment, the rest stay home with a sitter. I have a hard enough time keeping one kid entertained in a waiting room, I am not about to show up with my whole crew. Plus the appointment can double as some alone-time with that child.
- Going to shul: Y is prone to wandering off, so I need someone solely focused on him.
- Hosting large quantities of guests for Shabbos meals: I cannot serve food and take care of my kids' needs at the same time, not to mention the possibility of actually sitting down, eating and talking to our guests.
3) I don't do it all-
There are only so many hours in a day, especially if you are sleeping for 7 or 8 of them! Sometimes things don't get done, sometimes they are forgotten or pushed off. Sometimes I am just plain lazy and do not want to do whatever it is that needs to get done. Sometimes my children and I need a break from working on goals/play skills or whatever else is on the agenda. Calls are not made or appointments are missed. Children are still not toilet-trained. But that is okay. I am trying to do the best that I can with the tools that I have. Tomorrow is another day. And the day after that is too.
So this is how I do it. I sleep, I ask for help and sometimes I take a break and just don't do it. Caffeine and chocolate also play a large part. What are your tips and tricks for getting it all done and staying sane?