The baby needs a snack, the seven-year-old needs to do her homework, the toddler is screaming from the bathroom. He needs to be wiped. Fun.
The five year old has been asking me to play Mario with him for the last hour and I keep forgetting, the laundry timer is buzzing, the dishes are calling my name, my husband is running late for dinner, and there are so many crumbs on the kitchen floor I forget what the tile looks like.
Motherhood. The season of everyone smiling and telling you to “enjoy every minute!” when you’re counting down the minutes till bedtime. It’s total chaos, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar and should be deprived of coffee. I’m kidding. I wouldn’t wish that sentence on my worst enemy. But seriously, how are we as moms supposed to soak up the moments that are so fleeting, that we will desperately miss when our kids are grown, when we can’t even remember if we showered today?
As a mom of four kids all born within six years and a husband with some crazy work hours, I’ve had to learn to be a steady statue in the storm. I found myself living every day in survival mode a few years ago, and after my fifty-sixth meltdown from behind my locked closet door, I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to be remembered; it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my child-raising years, and I knew something had to change. Through trial and error, I figured a few things out that shed some light on the pit I was trapped in, and if you can believe it, I’m now able to be a mom who plays, who sits (yes, actually sits down!). I’m able to make memories and soak up those messy kisses and sticky hand-holds because I put the chaos in its place.
Here’s the thing – chaos isn’t going anywhere unless you tell it to. So if you’re tired of living every day in survival mode, tired of being tired, and feeling totally overwhelmed, here are my very best tips for a mom life well lived.
Take it moment-by-moment. Chaos is just what it sounds like – a total disaster zone. It’s hard to be in the moment when things get out of control, but it’s a skill you can train yourself to have, and let me tell you- it’s worth it- your motherhood and your kids’ memories are worth it!
Take one step at a time. Toddler screaming? Get down at his level and smile, pick him up and see what’s wrong. More often than not, that’s all they want from us. Laundry buzzing at the same time as the dishes are taking over your sink and your five-year-old is begging for some time with you? Breathe. Involve your little guy in the chores. Talk to him about his favorite thing while the two of you fold the laundry, then sit and play a round of Candy Land with him. I know not everything can wait, but not everything can get done either. So prioritize, right there in the heat of the moment. Take control of your mind and teach yourself to roll with the punches with a smile on your face. You’re a mama! And you can do this.
Get rid of your stuff. I know this point seems like it doesn’t belong here, but this is so very helpful if you want to be a freer, more present mom! We Americans have a nasty habit of buying, storing, and hoarding far too many things that we don’t need. Our problem is so big that the storage industry is one of millions per year! Think about that – we have so much stuff we can’t fit it in our homes, so most of us have purchased even more space to store it all. For what? It doesn’t make any sense, really.
I’ve found that if something is taking up space in your home, then it’s taking up space in your mind, and it’s taking up your energy and time too. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a myth. If something is in your house, odds are it comes out of its place pretty often (especially with kids who get into everything), so you’re spending time picking it up and putting it away over and over and over again. You buy new bins, you spring clean, you re-organize, and at some point, it’s all back on your floor, or your dining room table, or wherever you don’t want it, and there you are spending your precious time picking it up yet again.
Three years ago I got rid of the stuff in my house that I didn’t need and you know what? My house was nearly empty, and I was suddenly a very free person. I was a lot happier too. There’s something to the idea of less.
Consider the toys, my friend. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. I mentioned that three years ago I got rid of most of our stuff; I started with the toys. We had a giant play room full of colorful bins that were overflowing with toys. My kids were wandering into that room, getting overwhelmed, and coming out whiny and bored, so I figured what was the point? I donated almost all of them. What happened next was we became a family who spent time together.
My kids’ bond with one another grew incredibly close and has stayed that way, and I find myself spending much more time with them. I’m not saying you have to throw away all your kids toys, but consider the point of them, and how you want your kids to grow up remembering you. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have less distracting them and you? Wouldn’t some purposeful time together each day make for a beautiful childhood? When you think about it, toys and electronics really do get in the way of intentional living.
Make a weird tradition. In our house we have dance parties. Every couple of nights, we get our little bluetooth speaker out, blast some Taylor Swift and cut the rug right in the middle of the living room. The kids love it, I get a workout, and we make some memories that will last forever. You could make it a nightly habit to take a walk around the block, or initiate Friday game nights, or start a new Netflix series as a family- whatever floats your boat! The point is to set up some regular, wholesome family time where memory making is the point.
Remember, they’re kids. Being a mom is no easy gig. It’s so easy to get frustrated and caught up in our own bad day and forget that it’s their day too. We expect our kids to tag along and be quiet and not be hungry when it’s inconvenient and act the way we want at the times we need them to- it’s a lot for them. They’re just little people, and your days are their childhood.
So get down on your knees, look in their eyes, be warm and kind, understand them, smile at them, pick them up and twirl with them. Be the mom you always wanted to be; it’s up to you how this thing goes. Sometimes all you need to do is step back and fill your motherhood with a little intention and purpose.
About the Author
Allie Casazza is a blogger, author and inspirational speaker. Her passion is helping her fellow women find hope and light when chaos has stolen their motherhood, and infusing them with the truth and purpose. She believes motherhood and humor should always go hand-in-hand, otherwise you’ll never get through it.
Allie is the wife of Brian, her seventh grade algebra partner turned sweetheart. They have four small kids who were born in five years, and they’re SoCal natives living in the beautiful Northwest corner of Arkansas. You can find Allie writing and producing live workshops at her blog, The Purposeful Housewife.