Dear mom in yoga pants, dirty/spit-up-covered shirt, and messy bun,
As a mom of three under six, a wife to a military man who has been deployed one-third of our marriage, and a business owner, I oftentimes visualize myself standing on the podium at the end of the day, awaiting my gold medal…but that still hasn’t come.
Life is nuts. Life with littles is pure (delightful) chaos. While I’m unable to award you all gold medals on your motherhood journey, please allow me instead to provide you with seven tips to help you survive your child’s toddler years:
Take a shower.
Simple, yet oh-so true. I promise you that when you get yourself looking A-OK, then you tend to feel better. (I’ll accept the thank you in advance from your significant other.)
Also, please do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to shower bombs. They are the best thing ever. They provide five minutes of a semi-spa experience. Because we know that five minutes in the mom-of-a-toddler world is basically all we’re going to get, right?
Give yourself grace.
Here’s the scoop: we all flip our lids. I mean like taking on the persona of the Incredible Hulk because our toddler’s milk spilled. Girl…it’s ok. We all go there. My motto is that when it comes to being a superhero, mostly you’re the good guy, but occasionally you’re the bad guy, too. Aim for 90% good, and give pure grace to that other 10% when you get rowdy on the crazy train. Step away, ask for forgiveness, and keep on rocking.
Leave mom guilt in the dust.
If you can’t make it to your child’s eighteen school performances, it’s okay. If you can’t sign up to be coach for all your child’s leagues, it’s ok. To be real honest, I’ve hit the point in parenting where I literally sit on my hands at work/school/church meetings. Toddler years are survival years. I applaud any mom who can do it all, but I also know that more than likely somewhere behind the “I can do it all” mantra is a mom pulling her hair out because she took on too much. Go against what Nike tells us—“Just Don’t Do It.” Who knows, you might even start a mini-movement in your community. You’re welcome in advance for that, too.
Throw comparison out the window.
Facebook and Pinterest are pretty much sponsored by the mom devil. I kid, but seriously, if you spend more than a few minutes on either platform you tend to jump into the downward spiral of, “How does Jennifer have it all together? Her kids are cute, she bakes fresh cookies, she recently had her hair colored…and I have yet to brush my teeth.” Keep in mind with Facebook you’re getting the highlight reel of lives. We all have crazy. We all have chaos. You do you, and that’s enough. Did you love on your child today? Did you say nice things at some point? Guess what—you fed your child’s soul, and that’s worth way more than making the best homemade spaghetti and meatballs.
Give yourself end goals WITH rewards.
Make simple checklists like this one:
- Shower 5 out of 7 days this week.
- Only emotionally eat chocolate once this week.
- Run to Target (pick up both essential and non-essential items).
- Only eat Chick-fil-A twice this week.
Once you complete your checklist at the end of the week, reward yourself. I mean it. Pretty much every Friday night at our house is “Out-to-Eat Night” or “Pizza Night.” This mama needs a break by the end of the week, and usually my checklist is complete. Organize yourself, but reward yourself.
Find your tribe and love them like a crazy woman.
I have little to no time for people who judge me or my parenting. I only surround myself with builders, not breakers. When you find women who feed your mom soul, love on them and keep them around.
Remember BFF necklaces back in the day? That’s what I’m talking about. Find people who love you during your seasons of struggle (and who supply you with wine and chocolate) and who celebrate with you when big things happen (without bringing the jealousy). Mom-ing is hard. Doing it solo isn’t recommended. Look for MOPs groups or FB playdate groups. We were meant to do this together, or God would’ve just created Adam and said, “Peace out.”
Be present and still.
Step away from the phone. Step away from the noise of life. Take a day and live in the present with your children. And if you’re that mom who just can’t play dress up one more time, it’s okay. Just sit in the room, sip your coffee, and observe your little beings. I remember sneaking in one day to find my son playing kitchen, and he literally stopped to pray before he pretended to eat. When you take time to be present and still, you’ll find moments (and, yes, sometimes super small moments) that will leave your heart filled to the brim.
Pro bonus tip:
Dress your kids cute. Then, when you look like a hot mess, all the focus can be on them. Like make them really, really, really cute. Bloom can help you with that.
Now go on—love yourself. Step back and breathe. Soon we’ll all be waving goodbye to the school bus as our youngest “toddler” becomes a little man or woman. These years are unbelievably hard. If you’re pushing through these days as a solo parent, know you’re deeply loved and appreciated by all of us moms. (Feel free to smack us when we complain.)
Mama, you’re doing so much great work with your kiddos, and I bet you don’t even know it. Keep loving on those littles who are fearfully and wonderfully made. And remember that you are, too.
Mom currently wearing leggings and a messy bun
P.S. You’re loved.
Jessica Bertsch is a proud Coastie wife and mom of a six-year-old son, three-year-old daughter, and one-year-old daughter. In her “spare” time she runs Powerhouse Planning, LLC, www.powerhouseplanning.com.