If you missed the first post here about whether or not Mommies can have fun, (or if we should just resign ourselves to a stressed out and chaotic life b/c we have kids,) read here! : ) Basically, I talked about how since having kids, through trial and error, I’ve finally struck a nice balance between devoted mommy as well as an individual who has fun, friends, travels, romance, and her own life. It didn’t come easily though – for the first few years of my kids life, I was super busy. I worked from home for the most part so I was still with them a lot, but I do feel as though the quality aspect of the time spent with them could have been better and more focused. For example, if I’m loading the dishwasher while watching youtube videos, my kids may be in the room, but I don’t really consider it spending quality time with them. Now, I try to spend quality time with my kids doing fun things or just hanging out, while also allowing myself on the other hand to have free time apart from them, time with friends, and time with my sweetie to rejuvenate.
So in this post, I really wanted to share a few ways that I make sure to have fun as an individual/mom/friend/wife/working-woman while still being an involved, hands on and devoted parent who is invested in my children. Some tips are basic, some are funny, and some are more serious, but they have all worked for me. So here they are:
1. Check out minimalism – my favorite sites on this are The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, and Courtney Carver’s site. About a year ago, I got rid of everything that I didn’t use or love – that included all clothes I hadn’t worn in a year or didn’t love, house figurines and decorations that needed dusting, all toys that didn’t fit into the few toy boxes that my kids have, and even plates, and silverware – everything literally was on the chopping block to be given away. I literally took like 20 – 30 bags to the Salvation Army, (which also serves as a tax break.) 🙂 I wanted clear counters and uncluttered walls – I wanted to be able to think straight without having a bunch of junk laying around that was stealing my peace and taking up my time to keep up. The less stuff you have, the less you have to clean and upkeep. The less dishes you have, the less you have to wash them. The less clothes you have, the less laundry you have to do. (I also got rid of most of my kids clothes too except for maybe six of each type of clothes – shorts, jeans, pants, dresses, short sleeves, and long sleeves.) Basically, if you complain about having to clean it, upkeep it, etc., then get rid of it – problem solved. : )
(I sold or donated these toys that my children had outgrown – this was probably less than one percent of what I got rid of.)
2. Turn the TV off. I stopped watching TV a while back, and while every now and then I turn it on, for the most part, I never watch it, (except for when friends come over and I have it on then.) Since I made a choice to stop watching TV two years ago, I started three businesses, decluttered my house, increased my income, have had more time for family and friends, have done lots of interesting and fun outings that I wouldn’t have done if I’d been sitting on the couch, and have been more satisfied overall because I’m not comparing my home to HGTV homes and my life to rich reality TV women. 🙂 Dont’ get me wrong – I LOVE youtube documentaries and shows that actually teach me something like CNBC business shows, and I’ll watch them sometimes after the kids to go sleep for fun. But apart from that, my TV stays off. I challenge you to turn the TV off for a month and see how much your life changes for the better, and how much more time you have to devote to friends and family.
3. If you have young kids, keep all toys in organized boxes and bins. I say this not because I want my home to look like Pinterest, (I could honestly care less about home decorations and have no decorating skills whatsoever, lol,) but because by limiting the amount of toys my kids have, it eliminates clutter and allows me to think straight. Also, because everything has its own box, ex: lego box, puppet box, crayon bag, dress up bin, they know how to clean up even from around age three. I say “clean up,” and I have trained them to put everything back in the proper place, so they can do it themselves. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a dictator, sometimes I help them clean. 🙂 But the important thing is that they can do it without my help if I’m tired or simply don’t feel like helping on any given day!lol…
4. Nap time or room time. My kids have to sleep or play quietly for three hours each day. When friends ask me how I “get my kids to nap,” I simply smile and reply, “it’s not a choice.” 🙂 My kids have to stay in their rooms for three hours and play quietly or nap.
During that time, I catch up on my 60-150 online college students emails/questions/grading; I blog, answer and write emails, update my facebook/instagram, make my to-do list, get some cleaning done, organize, relax and eat lunch, watch interesting youtube videos, or take a nap myself if its the weekend. (I don’t do all of these at once; I choose which I want to do.) 🙂
5. Always allow yourself to do things “tomorrow” instead of “yesterday.” Sometimes I’ll hear the generalization that here on the East Coast, we tend to rush and feel guilty that we should have done things “yesterday,” whereas on the West Coast they relax and do it tomorrow, and don’t feel the least bit guilty. I’m not sure if that’s true since I’ve never been to the West Coast, but it really brings up an idea that changed my life. I used to push through to get all ten things done on my to do list in one day, even if it meant having no lunch break, staying up till midnight, forgoing a nap, and ending up stressed. Recently, I’ve learned that if it doesn’t have to be done, it’s OK to push it back till tomorrow, (or the next day or the next day,) and be totally happy with that decision. 🙂 So long as it’s not something that turns into procrastination or never getting around to, I’ll allow myself a few days of grace.
6. Schedule lots of me time. I find pockets during the day and week to have free and fun time. I find teenage homeschool girls who work in the church nursery, Sunday school teacher friends, certified teacher friends who have free nights and weekends, or other mommy friends that I know and trust to babysit the kids, and get them to babysit. Or, I’ll swap sitting with friends for free, or have one of my babysitters watch my kids in exchange for food or home-made beauty products. (Come on mamas – we have to get creative!!) 🙂 I always keep a running list four to ten sitters that I know and trust at all times, so anytime that I need a break, I can make sure that my children are well taken care of while I go to the bookstore and read over coffee, get lunch with friends, spend the day with my sweetie, take a long nap, or take the weekend off to visit a college friend. I personally believe that time alone or away with friends or my spouse energizes, renews, and makes me a better mom. I’m not sure where moms got the idea that devoting every second to our kids, never doing anything for ourselves, and being a “mommy martyr” to our own demise somehow makes us better moms.
In my own life, it’s been the opposite. Taking time away to refresh has allowed me to come back rejuvenated and ready to be a better and more involved mom and wife. I’ll also try and schedule a beauty treatment every two weeks – even if its just a $5 polish change at the nail salon or a warm bath at 9 p.m. after the kids are in bed, treat yourself. If mom is tired, stressed, stretched thin, and lethargic, it will eventually take a toll. Moms – we deserve fun time, to be well rested, and to look good! Do some Zumba at night to stay in shape, paint your nails, send your kids to bed early so Mommy and Daddy can have a romantic night alone – do whatever it takes to invest in yourself. 🙂
I’ll stop for now, and maybe I’ll even do a Part Three! (After six points, I think people get tired and want to be done reading, so this seems like a good place to stop.) 🙂 I’ll end by saying that my kids mean everything to me – this is why I believe that it’s important for me to develop myself as a whole person instead of dedicating my entire existence to them. And please don’t get me wrong – I spend lots of time with my children taking them to lessons, reading to them, taking them on trips, to classes, museums, activities, etc, but I also believe that I’m happier when I too likewise have alone time, or time with my sweetie and friends. I want my daughter to know that when she’s married with kids, she should also take time for herself. I want both of my kids to know that Mommy and Daddy deserve alone time and fun, (just like they get to have fun, take classes, see their preschool friends, take trips, etc.) I want my kiddos to know that it’s important for everyone in the family to be well-rested and fulfilled, not just the children. I want them to think of the well-being of others, and not just their own – I started teaching my kiddos empathy and to think about their situation as compared to those people who have less than them since they were pretty much babies. Anytime they seem to take on a tone that the world revolves around them, I remind them of children who don’t have toys, who don’t have food, whose parents abuse them, who are child slaves, or who have to work instead of go to preschool and swim lessons. I want them to be conscious even from toddlers that everyone in the family matters and should be fulfilled. Some may wonder if kids can even understand those concepts, but I believe they can – my own kids often remind me to be kinder with my words so that I don’t hurt those around me. Kids are only limited in understanding if we allow them to be. 🙂 Also, if you are still reading even after all my ramblings, lol, one book that resonated with me when it comes to parenting is the somewhat controversial (at least among American mommy circles) book called “Bringing up Bebe” – while I don’t agree with all the parts, (namely some of the sections on early childhood education,) I found upon reading the book that I have the almost exact same parenting style as the author, and am likewise a (for the most part) 🙂 happy, calm, and relaxed mom like she found herself becoming.
All that to say that Mommies can have fun. It is totally, 100 % possible. It may just involve a mindset shift, careful planning, and implementing a few more things into your life that you weren’t previously doing. How about you? How will you be a great mom while still having fun and growing as an individual? 🙂
Lauren is a wife, mother, Jesus-lover, Blogger, certified Life Coach, Professor, the owner of a Spanish Immersion Christian preschool, and the owner of Lauren’s Lathers, an organic beauty company, (making her own home-made Soaps, Scrubs, Shea Butters, and more!) She is excited to soon be starting her Master Esthetics Program to eventually open a spa for women that will offer a variety of Spa Treatments for the whole woman – (Microderm, facials, waxing, makeup, massage, spray tans, etc.) along with Life Coaching. She loves Zumba, Pilates, soaking worship, dreaming and manifesting, the beach, chocolate, berry smoothies, travel, and spending time with her friends, family and children. Her life’s mission is to be happy, to help others, and to spread God’s love, as well as to be an Author, Motivational speaker, Consultant and Coach – her first book will be available soon, and she will soon be re-launching her Coaching Business, specializing in Business Start up Coaching and Parenting Coaching, so keep an eye out! : )