7 Ways to Stress Less About your Kids
There’s no doubt that moms wear a million and one hats during the course of 24 hours. From chef, to playmate, mediator, nurse, cheerleader and so much more. Juggling all these tasks, it’s easy to see how mommy burnout can easily sneak up on moms and how quickly stress can start clouding our days. Here are 7 ways you can start supporting your child’s independence and stress a bit less about them and earn yourself 10 seconds of breathing space.
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1. Limit the number of toys your child has out. Toys are magical things that have the ability to somehow multiply to enormous amounts in a blink of an eye, but kids actually don’t need a whole bunch of toys to entertain themselves. As a matter of fact, too many toys could do the exact opposite of keeping your kids busy and overload them with choices (especially smaller children) and result in a heap of mess on the floor or the loud “I’m boooooored” whine. It’s no different than when adults look in a closet full of cloths and conclude there’s nothing to wear. Help your kids learn to play again by limiting the number of toys available to them. By doing this you dispel the overwhelm and they’re more likely to engage and play with what they see. Even better, look for open-ended toys that invite play and encourage imagination (such as blocks and other building toys, dolls, dramatic play items, art supplies, etc) and avoid toys that instruct kids “how” to play (toys that light up and blink, sing songs, perform brain surgery…jk, but really.) In the long run, this will help with number 2!
2. Teach them to entertain themselves. Moms cannot and should not be entertaining their kids 24/7. (Always easier said than done when you have big eyes staring at you and a cute little voice asking to “pway with me”). We do a disservice for our kids by conditioning them to have an expectation to be entertained. Don’t be afraid to let them play and explore without you and have quiet days and weekends that aren't filled to the brim the activities and outings.
3. Have premade meals and snacks they can serve themselves. Buy some mini containers and snack baggies and create a few pre-made snacks that they can grab themselves. You can pre-cut fruit, portion out their favorite graham crackers and goldfish and buy a few apple sauce pouches and place them somewhere they can reach it. If you have older kids you can have a few mix and match items prepared and in the morning or at night they simply grab what they would like to take. This helps give them a sense of control by giving them choices and helps reduce interruptions by a toddler constantly asking for snack. You can gently remind them to go to the snack shelf and pick an item. You can even have a water dispenser with cups so they can serve themselves water. (Fair warning, it might take a week or two to teach your kids that they can’t scarf down all their snacks in a 30 minute time frame nor play with the water, but as they learn the expectation and routine of it, it most definitely pays off.)
4. Create a “yes space”. If you have the room, create a “yes space”. Coined by the RIE philosophy the idea of a “yes space” is that you shouldn’t have to tell your kids “don’t do that!” in this area because it's safe and designed so they’re free to use it as they see fit. This not only eliminates the power struggle but let’s children explore freely, thus keeping themselves entertained and engaged longer without your help. The key is to keep it simple and child proof.
For inspiration for a "yes space" check out the free resource library for moms
5. Create a routine. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I suck as routines, I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow kinda person, but I see the value in setting a routine for our kids and how this ultimately helps take some stress off moms. Children find comfort in knowing what’s coming next, and when they already know what to do, this could help us out too. After a while hopefully the little battles we have with getting our kids to do something become less frequent because they already know and are mentally prepared to do it.
6. Don’t be a Katniss (aka don’t set yourself up and volunteer to do everything for your kids). Sometimes we can’t help it, watching our kids struggle makes moms uncomfortable, or sometimes we just want to get going and it’s much easier to do something for our kids, but this might actually backfire on us. A sort of promise Montessori educators make is to not help a child do something they can do themselves. That’s not to say help is never given, but if the child hasn’t directly asked for an adult intervention, then the general idea is to don’t bud in. Modified to your comfort level, this philosophy can be a huge benefit to moms. When you see your child working through something, before jumping in to rescue them, wait and see if they actually need your help first. This not only helps instill confidence in your child (and yourself to see your baby can do it!) but in the long run, this can help prevent the “you do it for me” battle moms often have that can drag us to utter exhaustion. Taking a few extra ten minutes now to let them practice putting their shoes on can help you later on when your hands are full and you need them to do it themselves.
7. Stop stressing about their future. Our minds as moms are always going 100 miles per hour worrying about things that don’t even need our concern yet. We start worrying about things for our children that are far into their future and end up putting a load on ourselves with things that haven’t happened (or might not ever happen). There’s a difference between being aware of possible future concerns and stressing over the future. Focus on overcoming the obstacles you’re facing now or enjoy the time you have if you and your child don’t have any challenges to face at the moment, and trust you’ll still have enough strength for any future hurdles.
There you have it! If you’re interested in learning more about any of the parenting philosophy’s I mentioned (Montessori, RIE, or similar ones), want to get some inspiration for any of the ideas listed (like self-serving snack ideas) or would just like to dive a bit deeper into the subject, check out the read-along guide in the free online resource library for moms! You can grab the password to the library by clicking here.