Being a parent is tough. That’s probably not news to you. But during a recent chat on our Facebook page, sponsored by Cultural Care Au Pair, it became clear moms and dads often don’t give themselves enough credit for the great job they are doing raising their kids.
Everyone could use a little help and perspective and that’s what some of Chicago best family chaos-busters – Cultural Care Au Pair, GIT Mom, Bubble Academy, All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink, Zemas Madhouse Foods and 2 Moms Media, offered during the one-hour chat. Many moms joined the chat to share their own tips. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:
Managing the “mommy guilt”
Don’t compare your kids, yourself, your life to others. “As long as everyone is happy and healthy that’s all that matters,” says Marcie, from Cultural Care Au Pair.
Cheryl from All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink: “The mommy guilt! The only person of making you feel capable of guilt is YOU, so realize that first and foremost. IF you are providing a healthy, loving atmosphere for your family, you are winning.”
Natalie from Bubbles Academy: “It can be challenging to juggle so many things and keep the guilt in check, but just like Cheryl mentioned, we are our own toughest critics! I constantly have to remind myself that others are likely viewing me with much kinder eyes than my own. I try to take a step back and view my life from the perspective of my best friend. She thinks I’m doing pretty great and I must agree! We’re all in this together and the love, support and acceptance we show each other (and ourselves) goes a long way.”
Erin, a mom participant: “Guilt is not a productive emotion. Attitude of gratitude! I write down something for which I am grateful or a happy moment of the day before I go to bed each night. Put it in a mason jar (because who doesn’t love a mason jar?) and read them at each new year. Creating a “love list” — all the things that you love or make you YOU and keeping that posted somewhere really helps to ground you too.”
Pamela, a mom participant: “I started keeping a line a day journal for me and the kids. It helps center me every day, and helps me find something special for each child and to be grateful about it. I get mommy guilty because of quality time, so I’ve turned evenings into music and play time. No phone, no TV, just us all hanging out and spending time together.”
Tips for choosing childcare
Everyone puts trust for your childcare provider at the top of their list.
“Selecting a childcare provider is such an important decision! You need to find someone who you can trust like family and know will do things as you would like while you are away. It’s so important to peace of mind while at work to have a childcare provider you trust and know loves your kids like their own!,” says Marcie from Cultural Care Au Pair.
Try these interview questions.
She advises to ask situational questions. Think of 5-10 situations that could happen at your house on any day of the week and ask the childcare provider how they would handle them. For example: “You’re at the park with Bobby and another kid pushes him down. What do you do?”
Help to make your family life feel less chaotic
What mom wouldn’t want a laundry service, or at least a husband who does the laundry? The idea got a few chuckles from participants, but a consistent routine tops the list when it comes to busting chaos.
“Consistency. Routines. Yes, it is fun to live it up and change things, but when it comes to kids and getting out the door, same stuff, different day,” says Cheryl from All Dressed Up.
Eirene from GIT Mom: “My life is Groundhogs’ Day here too, but, it really does work because the kids know exactly what to expect when and I know when I get to escape and have Mommy time. … I keep a tight reign on my boys activities ALL seven days a week. There are three of them and only two of us and since nobody looks to be in the NBA anytime EVER, it’s best if they are all home together after school vs. running around to every BB game.”
Marcie from Cultural Care Au Pair Chicago: Letting go! As Elsa would say, “Let it go! Let it go!” Forget the laundry and all the meal prep, schedules, routine and just have a random dance party, board game, family fun night, etc! The rest of the chores will still be there in the morning.
Tricia, a mom participant: I require my kids to carry a lot of their own responsibility. They make their own lunches, they pitch in with laundry…sorting, folding and putting away. They pitch in to clean (Post-It notes on the counter of cleaning chores on Saturday morning, the first one up get first choice).
Getting healthy meals on the table
Here’s a cool idea from Tricia Kent Goldfarb: We labeled cards with all of our favorite meals. We put the cards in a hat. Over the weekend we pull meals for each day of the week and make out shopping list from it. Sometimes I cook it ahead of time and keep in the fridge.
Jill from Zemas Madhouse Foods shared an easy on-the-go:
Makes 1 serving
1 cup coconut water (hydration)
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. MCT oil (saturated fat that enhances brain function, boost energy, boost metabolism, regulate blood sugar levels)
1 organic apple, skin left on, cored
1 Tbsp. chia seeds (adds protein, fiber, fat)
1 cup frozen organic strawberries (adds vitamins and minerals)
1 Tbsp. manuka honey or pure maple syrup (great antibacterial properties)
½ avocado (healthy fats, brain function)
Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth.
Home organization 101
Pamela, a mom participant: Every three months, I purge. I get rid of anything I haven’t used, clothes, toys, whatever. I make the kids do it too. Maybe not a great method, but it works.
Natalie from Bubbles Academy: I love the book “The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up” – a daily challenge for sure, but an uplifting story and guide to pairing down on things and simplifying/creating space in your life
Leah, a mom participant: When clutter gets really out of hand, I start inviting people over (playdates, parties, etc.) to motivate me to clean/purge. Otherwise it just doesn’t get done.