For some women it’s one, for others it’s six, for me it was three. At three kids, I found I had hit my max.
Patience and a strong work ethic have always been my strength. While working in Financial Services my strengths were challenged to an infinite degree. There was a time when I worked in project management. Often times I would get to work at 6AM and wouldn’t leave until 9PM. I would have to desperately crank out work during non-work hours because my day was packed full of meetings from 9-5. Seriously, WHY so many meetings in corporate? Anyway, I worked all the time and was managing a million pieces. Surely if I could handle THIS insane job I could handle motherhood. Silly me for EVER comparing the two.
So life carried on and I gave birth to our first kiddo. This was my first dose of the struggles of motherhood. Our first born came out crying and screaming, and he actually didn’t stop crying or screaming for months. We realized we were in for it when my husband went to visit our son in the hospital nursery. He came back and said, “I think we’re in trouble. They can’t get him to stop crying and all the other babies are happily staring at the ceiling.” He’s turned in to be a wonderful, independent and smart 6 year old who I adore with every fiber of my being, but while he was a newborn, it was intense. Car rides? Forget it. He would only stop crying if he sucked on my pinky or was swinging. We literally burned through 2 motors on his swing because that was the only way we could get him to nap. I know…you’re not supposed to let your kid nap in the swing because it creates bad habits, but whatever. If you know a mom who does this, leave her alone. She’s in survival mode.
Anyway, come to find out our poor kiddo was just hungry. The moment I got past the mom guilt of believing “I HAVE TO NURSE” and ignored the online boob Nazis, we introduced formula and he became a happy bouncing baby boy.
Despite the struggles of our first born, 14 months later I gave birth to a little girl. She was such an easy newborn. She actually slept. You know what else? I was able to keep my pinky to myself because if our little girl was upset, she’d pop her thumb in her mouth and immediately calm down. This was epic!
I did fine with having two young children. Not perfect, but I felt things were somewhat under control, or as under control as life could be with a one year old and newborn. I was well aware I wasn’t ready to have a third baby as quickly as I was ready to have a second, so we waited.
Once our oldest was 3 and youngest was 2, I gave birth to our third bundle of joy. He was a cute, chubby little boy and again, we had an easy newborn. All was good until he turned 1. I should rephrase that: all was good until he started moving. THIS is when I started to question my sanity.
My husband often works 16 hour days, so if an errand needs to be run, 3 kids are typically in tow. Running the simplest errand by myself became an ambitious challenge. Something I’ve learned about boys is they don’t like to sit still. If you’re at the grocery store, they want out of the cart. If you want to watch your other kiddo play baseball, they want to try and run into the parking lot. Strollers rarely work. They want out…NOW.
Managing three young kids while at home was even harder. I won’t go in to detail there…you simply have to live it. If you’re living it now, you know where I’m coming from. Chaos. Absolute, LOUD chaos.
Anyway, despite typically being a patient person, I felt I was at my max. My husband kept talking about a fourth kid. I responded by selling all our maternity and baby gear and proceeded to gently inform him he’d be getting a vasectomy. That’s where I stood, and still stand, with having a 4th.
Despite these challenges, I feel I have just a few pieces of potentially helpful (or unhelpful) advice. I’m not an expert, I’m just a mommy trying to live a happy life while raising kids who I’m optimistic will turn out somewhat normal.
Ok, here we go…..
Once you’re at your max, just step back. Don’t feel the need to take anything else on….unless it brings you some form of relief or joy. PTO, den mom, whatever else there is can wait. Focus on loving up your family.
Don’t feel the pressure to take your kids to every fun event you hear about. I would always get so excited about certain events. Then we’d go and my husband and I would look at each other like “this is insane”, with sweat dripping from our brows (literally…even though it wasn’t hot). Do some fun stuff here and there, but remember they have fun at home playing with you or their siblings. To give you hope, I want to mention that since our two oldest are getting older the events are getting more fun, but when all three were super young events were hard, especially if I was by myself…which was often.
Don’t feel you have to volunteer for everything under the sun. If you happen to be a stay at home mom it does not mean you’re in a season of life where you’re more accessible.
DO get enough sleep. The idea of getting 5-6 hours of sleep is a thing of the past. If I don’t get 7-8 hours I feel I need an exorcism AND I get a migraine. Not a good combo. Sleep gives you more patience, which is what you need with kids. This advice is obviously not applicable to mommies with newborns. Just do what it takes to survive there my friend.
DO meet up here and there with friends who help your sanity. Not the judgmental ones who make you feel like you’re a mess, but the mom who can come over to your house and not judge because one of your kids left a floater in the toilet.
DO get some form of exercise in. This is critical to your sanity and energy level for keeping up with your kids.
DO have some quiet time. Whether it be first thing in the morning for twenty minutes before the kids get up or nap time…just find some time to read and just “be”. Read something uplifting too.
One final, yet critical, tip. Kick judgmental people to the curb. If they stand on their pedestal and make comments about your house, your parenting, or “when my kids were young we did it THIS way”… just ignore them and limit your interaction with them. Comments like this serve absolutely no value. You’ve reached your max emotionally and they’re only making it worse.
Hopefully these sanity boosters help, although let’s face it…parenting is meant to be a challenge. There’s no shortcut or easy way to get through it, you just have to find the best coping mechanisms that work for you!
Tell me, what’s your best mommy coping mechanism? Comment below.