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SALT LAKE CITY — I do not understand the expression “I slept like a baby.” If your baby is anything like mine, “sleeping like a baby” entails waking up every three hours screaming, wet and hungry.
Whether you are the parent of a newborn, toddler, tween or teen, dealing with family obligations and balancing your many roles can be daunting. Here are six tips to make life a little less tiresome:
1. This stage will pass
Babies become toddlers, teenagers become adults — enjoy what you can during each stage of their life. Things tend to pass, whether good or bad. Remember that your children will grow into a new stage of life about every six months, giving you a new set of joys along with a new set of headaches.
2. Don’t worry about keeping the house clean
Cleaning the house with children is like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing. Remember to keep tasks prioritized and understand that life is now a whole lot messier with children.
3. Sleep when they sleep
On the rare occasion all your children are asleep at the same time you may feel the need to finally get some of your chores done. Don’t do it! This is not the time to clean or make the grocery list. You need sleep in order to continue to function on the fumes you are currently running on.
4. Create a plan
Figure out with your partner who will do what, with whom and at what time. For instance, if I have work the next day my husband takes the baby for the night, and vice versa. If you already have a plan, it will reduce the stress and arguments that tend to occur when we are at our most exhausted.
5. It's OK to not follow the plan
Last week I had finally wrangled all three children into the car to head to gymnastics when the littlest one threw up all over the front of herself and her sibling. This resulted in taking all the children back into the house to clean up and inevitably missing gymnastics. Sure, you have a plan and you want to try and follow it, but children are unpredictable.
6. Put yourself in 'time out'
When it is just too much, it is OK (and needed) for an adult to take a timeout. Taking a moment to calm down and refocus on what is important can take a high-stress day and turn it into an enjoyable one. While we may be a little too old to sit in the corner, reading a magazine in the bathroom or sitting outside for a bit can make all the difference.
Jessie Shepherd, MA, ACMHC is a specialist in assisting children, adolescents and parents to overcome life's challenges. She practices at Life Stone Counseling Center's Salt Lake County location. Learn more by visiting www.lifestonecenter.com.