‘Morning Mom’ shares her parenting hacks that helped her family
Modern Mommie was honored to be featured on 6ABC as part of their Family & Parenting series about parenting in the pandemic.
Getting it all done? I’ll start by saying this, I’m not. But I am sure trying. I had been doing the hybrid working-from-home/stay-at-home mom thing for almost five years when the pandemic hit. I thought I was well-poised for success but wow, there was no way to anticipate what was coming.
As some of you know, I am a wife, mom of three daughters, stepmom to my step-daughter and I run three small businesses. My kids are currently 11, 5, 2 and 8 months (yes, we had a pandemic baby). My fifth grader and kindergartener are in full-time virtual school. My husband works exclusively from home. We have a rotating suite of offices (or “foffices” aka fake-offices as my kids call them): the traditional office turned Kindergarten school room, the formal living room with a desk for our fifth grader, the makeshift Zoom background basement desk and of course the kitchen counter. It doesn’t take much imagining to picture what our house is like on the daily – toddler toys strewn about, the audio of at least two Zoom conversations singing a chorus of crackling voices and one iPad going at any one time and there’s me, bouncing from the ‘school room’ to the kitchen to the changing table and back clicking on my lap top to refresh my email when I can, surviving on trail mix and frozen Amy’s meals.
Yet, we are making it. My businesses are hanging on and my kids are (relatively) happy and most importantly, healthy. Here are few things that have worked for us I’d love to share with other families:
1). Bento boxes and snack bins. My go to timesaver. With four kids at home and a range of ages, I pack Bento boxes each evening for lunch the following day. They are in the fridge so the kids can grab them and serve themselves lunch within seconds instead of taking precious day time hours between calls and emails to make PB&J’s. I also have snack bins and water bottles labeled with their names on the counter – no more stopping what feels like every 15 minutes to get someone a glass of water or snack.
2). Meta moments. I am not going to pretend that I execute the full 6-step process but the one portion I repeat to myself probably hundreds of times a day is, “What would the best version of me do?” That has helped me stay calm in the chaos countless times and not completely lose it on either my husband or the kids.
3). Division of labor and outsource where you can. My husband and I had to set clear expectations on who does what and during what hours. The conversations are not always pretty; however, working through who will be expected to do what and during what hours saves me a lot of frustration. It also helps me anticipate the hours I get to work “kid free.” Knowing that time is coming (even if it is not when I want) alleviates some of the stress. Since we are not at a point where we childcare is the right choice for us, we have agreed to outsource those things we can – like getting the house cleaned intermittently and also ordering simple take out like pizza once or twice a week. Which was not the way we lived pre-pandemic.
4). It’s a good thing that “Athleisure” is an acceptable fashion choice because I wear athletic clothes at all times just in case the moment presents itself and I can quickly pop in a quick Pilates session or ride on the Peloton.
5). Countertop date nights. I am a huge proponent of everyone eating dinner together. But lately on Saturday nights, I have fed the kids first and sent them off with their electronics (adding to the abundance of screentime they already have had). This way my husband and I can eat alone – well, with the baby in a Bumbo seat nearby – at our kitchen island. Sort of like a date night?
6). Eggs. When in doubt, make eggs. I am exhausted trying to continue to come up with fast, healthy meals. Eggs – nutritious, cheap, quick to make and a fan favorite.
7). Forget one day at a time, one hour at a time is all I’ve got. Instead of looking at my entire to do list, I pull out 1-3 accomplishable things each hour or so. Very literally, in the next hour I will vacuum the kitchen. Okay, this hour I will send one email waiting on my response.
8). Let the dishes pile up. Again, not my style pre-pandemic. Between facilitating virtual Kindergarten and getting all my work done during daylight hours, I don’t have a choice but to let the dishes pile up in the sink or the kitchen floors to be filled with crumbs or leave dozens of toys littering nearly every room in the house. I have (sort of) learned to let it go.
9). Get outside. Even on the coldest of days, even 15 minutes of fresh air helps us all reset.
10). Friday-Sunday: Laundry and clean. And send a few of those emails that got lost during the week. I value downtime but virtual school necessitates that I take time each weekend to work. So I set hours on Saturday morning. I also save cleaning and laundry for the weekends. This way the anxiety-ridden anticipation of fulltime virtual school come Monday is ever so slightly minimized.
It has been crazy. It has been overtaxing. We’ve made memories I will forever cherish and there are plenty I am ready to leave far behind. Most of all, knowing I am not in it alone and there are moms across the country on the battleground with me helps me keep going.