Some Unsolicited Advice for You

My angel of a babysitter, Allison, is here for a couple of hours this afternoon to play with Eva and Vincent. This means that I’m able to sit downstairs, catch up on work, and have a few moments to listen to music and think in peace.

Unfortunately, I am about two seconds from falling totally asleep, and I still have to go teach Jazzercise this evening. Since I also need to keep up with my week-long daily blogging challenge, I figured this would be a perfect time to share a few of my tips.

Jen’s Tips for Preserving Energy When You’re the Only Parent On Duty

1. Don’t overbook yourself. I purposely keep activities, classes, play dates, commitments, appointments, and things we “have” to do at the barest minimum. It takes a lot of energy getting two toddlers ready to go anywhere and if we “have” to be someplace all the time, it stresses all of us out. I like to do one activity outside the house just every couple of days and spend most of our time taking things slowly and enjoying our time together.

2. Don’t let anyone judge you. Never, ever let anyone frown upon you for not being able to keep every single commitment or for wanting to stay at home at night or leave functions early. Especially if those people have spouses that are home every evening and on the weekends. You are the only parent on duty, and you operate on an entirely different schedule from them.

3. When your kids are resting, rest yourself. It’s the same advice every new mother receives when she has an infant: sleep when the baby sleeps. I still hold to the advice even though my youngest baby is two. When Vincent naps, I grab Eva and rest with her. If your children don’t take naps, set them up with a project or Sesame Street and take a time out, because you need it. Even if it’s 4:00 p.m., you have seven more hours of working alone ahead of you until your day is complete.

4. Encourage your spouse. When your husband calls (or if he answers the phone when you call) don’t start in on how tired and frustrated you are, or how tough it is. Chances are very good that he is also tired, frustrated, and working hard.  You’d do well to encourage each other instead of stealing whatever bit of energy each of you has left. I’ve found that decent places to go and share your frustrations are Facebook and Twitter.

5. Be Cowgirl Tough: No Whinin’ or Cryin’. I have a sweatshirt with that written on the front, and I love it. Equally important is to not associate with others that do whine and cry. Don’t let their negativity steal your joy, your energy, or your pride in what you are doing and building.

6. Find a loving babysitter. Everyone in my family loves Allison. Not only is she always willing to come over, but she comes with a quiet joy and actually works on projects with the kids, makes crafts with them, and plays. She doesn’t just supervise; she’s involved. She also cleans as they go, which lightens my load. Finding a babysitter was a big step, but a necessary one, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

7. Accept All Help When it’s Offered. When your parents, siblings, or friends come along and offer to take one or both of your children to lunch, to the park, to ballet, or to come make cookies at their house, take them up on it. Even if you feel great and have everything under control, your kids need the break and so do you.

Alright, there’s all my unsolicited advice. I hope you enjoyed it. Now, it’s back to the upstairs to my babes and the pups, and calling George to see how close to home he’s getting. Should only be a couple of days now!

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