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Connecting with Kids When You’re Exhausted

How can you connect with your kids when you're totally tapped out?

I know I'm not the only mom who gets absolutely swamped from time to time.

We've been in one of those phases lately where the kids are indoors more because of winter-  more mess inside,  the baby needs me at just the time when the rest of the family needs a meal, and we've been having our fair share of winter colds to pass around.

The house is hovering on the brink of disaster and laundry threatens at every corner.

So- How to stay sane?  Good question….

Connection on the most difficult days

Parenting Priorities:

  • Do not engage with crazy (This is shorthand  for not getting wrapped up in drama, anger and craziness.  I want to show my children a peaceful mama, not a yelling madwoman.  If I'm heading that way it's time to pause and reassess.)
  • Retain connection with my kids
  • Retain connection with my husband
  • Maintain essentials (pay bills, do laundry, provide food)

Practical Matters

(we know most of these, but they bear repeating.):

Make a list of your top priorities (see above.) Don't worry about the rest for now.

Get sleep any way you can. That being said, I know sometimes you just can. not. get enough sleep.  Believe me, I've been there.  Try to remember what being sleep deprived does to your mind though, so when you are saying hateful things to yourself you can stop yourself and remember that really, you just need sleep.

Hire a mama's helper– I've got a girl from my church who comes over to be a  mama's helper one afternoon per week.  It may feel like a pain to get set up, but it's worth it.

Find your bare bones routine. For us that goes back to morning routine (breakfast, dressed, brush teeth), eating times,  evening routine (dinner, brush teeth, pjs, clean up, stories, bed)  The very very base of our routines is when we eat during the day.  I know my kids need Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Snack, Dinner.  The book Steady Days by Jamie C Martin is helpful when you need to establish workable routines.

Eat healthfully. It doesn't mater if it's simple and repetitive, but don't give in to the temptation to just grab sugar and caffeine.  I have to realize that when I am tired what I want very most is sugar and caffeine, but if I just eat chocolate chips all day I will feel even worse. Meal planning may seem daunting, but there are ways to make it simple, and planning your meals for the week will keep you eating well.

Ideas to Steady You:

Forgive yourself over and over.– You will not get it all done and that's ok. You are enough, really.

Find connection points in your day– I make little rules for myself.

  • Currently I don't turn on the radio in the car and instead pay attention to our conversations there.
  • I focus on my kids during meals, even if I am not eating and am simply holding the baby while they eat at the counter.  At dinner we always ask, “What was your favorite part of the day?”  Even if it's dinner while we watch a  show or a dinner in the living room, we pause to ask this and listen to each other.  I can't tell you how centering this is to my kids.

Looks for opportunities to smile and laugh. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the mindfulness meditation, “I breath in, I calm my body. I breathe out,  I smile.”  Try that in the midst stress and you may find more moments you can enjoy with your family.

Get Re-inspired– I recently wrote about Books to Inspire.  For me loading up at the library works.  I also look for inspiration on other mama blogs, at my church and in conversation with friends.  (When it's not so cold just going out in the woods usually works too,  but I'm a wuss about the cold.)

Make Lists–  Lists are so reassuring.  It helps most if you have one spot where you make your lists though, so you can find them again.

And finally, If everything feels like it's about to fall apart and the kids are bonkers and you got no sleep- put in a load of laundry, figure a game plan for dinner and then ignore the rest of the chaos.  Call another friend with kids at home, take your kids over to her place and just spend the day drinking tea and reassessing your daily routine, your priorities and making lists of easy to make foods (This helped So much last week when I did it)

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. ~Carl Bard