Wednesday, August 1, 2012

tips to tackle parenting's messes and stresses

No parent leaves the journey of parenthood unscathed by messes and stresses. This is due to the fact that no parent is perfect, no child is perfect and most of us are just trying our best! Here on my blog and other social media, I get choose to share some of the fun, sweet, and most ideal moments of my day and the lives of my children. I do so, without the disclaimer that not all our moments are stress free, and certainly not mess free! These are KIDS we're talking about here. And MY kids, whew, they are professional mess makers. While I am happy to brag about some of the habits they do have, like always taking their plates to the sink without being asked, or executing a chore so thoroughly that I often fantasize about not ever having to do that particular chore again myself - they still have their moments which on certain days blend in to minutes and hours of stresses and messes. We are a real family, of real people who have bad habits and limits.

Here are some of my Tips to Tackle Parenting's Messes and Stresses which I made into a little handy ABC's format:

1. Always think ahead - This tip can apply to almost any part of your day with children. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, try to be one step ahead of your children. Instead of waiting until they whine and cry for food, keep track of your day and offer them their meals or snacks before they become too impatient. I know that even as an adult, if I don't have food in front of my face by the time I am seriously hungry- everyone better stay two steps back, because I am liable to eat them out of sheer desperation.

2. Be organized - This might seem like a no-brainer, but I'm surprised sometimes at the lack of organization I see when it comes to having large families. This applies to both having organized PEOPLE and SPACES. Having a large family of six, I keep my kids organized by having routines! There is plenty of literature about the benefits of routines- and I say this so much it will probably be etched into my headstone, but seriously- having a routine for your children is the best gift you can give yourself and your children. Children need predictability, and you need to be in control. Proper bedtimes are a family's best friend. Also, give yourself time and find the courage to get stuff organized! This not only consists of buying all the cool containers from Ikea, or fantasizing about the most awesome storage possibilities at Target- but also in getting rid of things on a regular basis. Whether its donating, re-purposing, or selling- keep things clutter free and organized as much as possible. I can pat myself on the back because 95% of my house is organized at all times. This makes life just a liiiiitle bit easier to handle.

3. Contain yourself - Don't be afraid to use a little strategy against the kids! In the game of child vs. parent, remember, while they might be smaller, more agile, and able to fit into tiny crawl spaces - we have the resources to conquer the little rebellious angels! Muah ha ha! So, here's what we do, we use baby gates for everyone! Most of the time, the house is a free open range, a safe place to do whatever you want within limits. During certain times of the day however, the baby gates go up on various parts of the house. In the morning, it blocks the kitchen, so my racoon-skilled child doesn't eat all the forbidden foods before I even realize she's up! During naptime, the baby gate is up blocking my room, so the little noisemakers don't find their way to undue all my hard work of getting her to sleep. The BEST setup we have though, is during the evening right before dinner where they are contained to the 2 kids rooms, the hallway, and the bathroom as one big open space for them. They can go back and forth freely between those areas while I am cooking. Not only does this keep them safe from boiling pots of water, but it keeps them safe from mom's short fuse at the end of the day. Everyone wins.

4. DTD - This handy little acronym is something that comes into play for me at just the right times. No , its not do the deed, DTD is Defer to Dad! I consider myself a patient person, but like anyone else, I have limits and days where I am ready to lock my kids in the house and take off to somewhere far and secluded, like an Native American sweatlodge where I can find my inner peace and make myself one with nature. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean. I hope that everyone has a supportive partner in their life like I do, because this tip saves a child the day all the time! Right when I'm about to scream like a domesticated banshee, Dad steps in to take over. Try it sometime if you can!

5. Enjoy life! - Easiest one of all- and the most rewarding. Don't forget to take time to enjoy these people in your life! Your little ones are only little for so long- we don't get to do this over. So, try not to stress over the mess and the mishaps so much. Just look into their little pizza sauce stained faces and remember that even though you could be wild and free backpacking through Europe with young men clamoring for your affections- THIS is your journey, THIS is your life, and THESE CHILDREN are your most important priority.

For another look into the Messes and Stresses of Parenthood- Huggies has partnered with Poncho De Anda and Lina Amashta to put Huggies to the test during the journey of parenthood and dealing with life's messes and stresses. Parents can visit the Huggies Latino Facebook Page to read and share stories about Huggies and their experiences. There is also a chance to win a fully-stocked Huggies diaper bag! Here is a video (sorry Spanish only!) to check out Poncho de Anda and Lina Amashta in one of their parenting moments!

I was compensated for this post in collaboration with Huggies and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions and words are my own.