People always said raising children is hard. F*ck that! SURVIVING children is hard. I’m pretty sure I gave up on “raising” them two kids ago. The raising will come, eventually. That’s what school and grandparents are for. Right now we are focused solely on making it through each day, alive.
Here are five survival skills that have helped. Good luck, fellow warriors.
1. Give up
Give up the illusion of control that you are still desperately clinging to and accept this truth: Your kids are not out of control, YOU ARE!
Your kids are very much in control. They are the ones running the show. Your denial of this stark reality is giving them the upper hand. The more you try to prove how in control you are, the more out of control you become. Believe me, I spent way too much time living in the denial phase. Giving up is the easier, softer way for everybody.
Give up any ideas you may have of what normal looks like. Normal no longer exists. You can kiss your consistent schedule, quiet meals, and any “me time” you have carved out during naps goodbye. Your predictable routine has been replaced with food fights, wall art, tantrums, juice stains, and never ending sleep time battles. And don’t bother making plans with people; you will inevitably cancel because your kids are either sick, demon possessed, or both.
2. Give in
Give in to the iPads, the junk food, and whatever the hell your kid wants that will keep him quiet for just thirty more seconds. Cupcakes for breakfast? Fine. Tic-Tacs in the grocery aisle? Sure. iPad when you are supposed to be sleeping? Whatever. I really don’t care what you are doing, as long as you’re doing it IN YOUR ROOM.
Give in to the half gallon of ice cream or candy stash that is screaming your name. They say eating won’t fill the void, but it will make you feel really, really good in the moment. And right now, this moment of peace is all. you. have.
3. Hold on
Don’t just hold on, hold on tight. Hold on with every ounce of strength you have. Because if you loosen your grip, for even a second, you might remember how easy and peaceful life was before kids. You might recall the joy that was found in a long bath, a hot cup of coffee, or a well-balanced meal. You might miss the freedom that came with the carefree, kid-less life. Hold on tight because if you don’t you might want to run away.
Hold on to the moments of connection with your kids. Hold on to the look in their eyes as they gaze deeply into yours. Hold onto the laughter as it fills your heart and nourishes your soul. Hold on to the way their tiny fingers wrap tightly around yours. Hold onto their smiles, their spunk, and their advantageous spirits.
Hold on to the good stuff. Tuck it away in your back pocket for days when you feel like you just can’t go on. For days when you feel like running away. Hold onto their precious hearts, rest their little hand in yours, and know that the toddler phase will pass. You will breathe again, if you just hold on.
4. Laugh it off
Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. And if the wine bottle is empty, the chocolate stash is gone, and the Xanax has worn off, laughter might be the ONLY medicine.
When your four year old paints your carpet in fifty shades of your most expensive make up, laugh it off.
When your three year old finds a purple marker and draws a ten-foot mural on your living room wall, laugh it off.
When your one year old takes off his messy diaper, paints his crib and his room a nasty greenish brown, clean it up. Then laugh it off.
When your kids are out of town and your dog pees on your bed, laugh it off. And maybe get rid of the dogs.
5. Don’t try to do it alone
It takes a village. When mommy burnout hits and is in full swing, send them into the village. Ask for help. Trying to do it by yourself does not make you supermom; it makes you super dumb.
If you don’t like asking for help, invite friends over on a bad day. Invite them into your messy house. Let them see your pile of dishes and mounds of laundry. Invite them in with your pajamas on and unwashed hair. Invite them in to witness the shrill squeal of your toddler’s tantrums. They will feel bad for you and offer to help.
Make mommy friends with people who are real. People who don’t sugar coat the toddler years. People who are doing their best to survive, just like you are. Don’t waste your time being friends with the moms whose kids never yell, eat their fruits and vegetables, love naps, and don’t make messes. Those moms are lying to you.
Kids are resilient. As long as they know you love them, they will turn out just fine. You, on the other hand, are not so resilient anymore. Put your sanity first. Parenting, they say, is all about prioritizing.