8 Functional Parenting Tips To Minimize Stress At Home
I was at my Occupational Therapy appointment several days ago and while waiting for my name to be called, I noticed a pamphlet on the wall titled; “Functional Living Aging In Your Place!!!” The catchphrase was having the freedom to feel comfortable and safe in your own home at any age and ability level.
Ironically, it wasn’t the catchphrase that caught my attention. It was the word – functionality. Why?
Because functionality is what I want in my everyday mothering. To me, functionality is efficient and practical.
Stairlifts, ramps/handrails, and bathroom equipment – the options oh my! However, I’m 37 and not quite there yet.
I do wish there was a pamphlet that targeted products I can purchase to add more freedom in my everyday parenting as a mother.
Imagine – “Functional living for working mothers!!!” Providing convenience, practicality, and efficiency to offer working moms more freedom in their own home.
Reflecting on the past 1-2 years trying to raise a growing tween/toddler and working amidst a Global Pandemic – I’ve learned several ways to make my parenting life less stressful and more efficient.
The purpose of this post is to explain what I’ve learned to create a less stressful and functioning home environment as a working mom with kids. Here are 8 helpful tips that worked for me and may help or inspire you in some way.
8 Functional Parenting Tips To Minimize Stress At Home
1. Wake up early
Waking up at or past 7 am is considered late for me. I’m an early bird so waking up early is common.
Waking up early before my kids allowed me to have more peace and alone time. This also elicited more hours in the day giving me the allusion that I have longer days. A good example would be me waking up at 5 am and thinking; “it’s only 12..?” when the clock strikes 12 pm, versus, when I wake up past 7 am and thinking; “it’s 12 already?!” when the clock strikes 12 pm.
I hope I was able to paint the picture for you there, but that’s the best I can do for you folks!
“Wake up and smell the coffee!”
2. Create a weekly meal schedule for your kids
I really only had to do this once and only plan on changing it once my kid’s palette changes. I included my son in the decision making process by asking him what he wanted to have for breakfast that day and the type of fruits he wanted.
He’s a very picky eater and I needed him to incorporate fruits and vegetables in his meals. Fruits were the easiest to start with, which were my true intentions for making a weekly breakfast schedule in the first place. I later found that there were more benefits to this whole weekly meal schedule thing.
Mornings is the busiest time for me. My husband wakes up later so I tend to handle the mornings since I’m the early bird. This is even on the days I am working. Can you imagine? Those days I naturally wake up at 4 am.
Having a breakfast meal schedule taped onto our kitchen cabinet for my picky eating son to eat more fruits actually made my mornings more convenient. This allowed me to have an efficient morning with just doing and not having to use my brain to think, thus minimizing any unnecessary stress. This was especially on the days I had to go to work.
Oh, and my son has been doing well with eating his fruits btw. Win, win!
Check out “Kid-Friendly Recipes & Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable,” for a free printable and meal ideas for your kids. The author also provides a more detailed look as to how she meal plans and includes her child throughout the whole process from choosing meals, shopping for groceries, and cooking the meals.
“badda bing, badda boom!”
3. Create a functional living room
Working three 12+ hr shifts really takes a toll on you, especially if they’re back-to-back. On my days off, all I really want to do is relax. However, it’s impossible to do so with a toddler running around.
Creating a functional living room allowed my toddler to play more independently giving me more time for myself.
In the link above, I talk about how I was able to create a functional living room using multiple baskets and storage ottomans as toy storage. Utilizing multiple baskets helped create a no-thinking dumping system when cleaning up after my toddler which resulted in less stress for me. Utilizing storage ottomans helped hide my toddler’s toys. The process of deciding what toys and toy storage went best with our living room situation has made a big difference in my everyday mothering.
“a functional living room creates a more functional you!”
4. Get into the habit of toy rotation
When my daughter learned how to sit up, I was into creating a beautiful display of wooden toys in her baby gate a.k.a play area. I was trying to initiate the Montessori Method.
I wanted to display all her toys because I was so eager for her to explore, play, and learn. I remember feeling frustrated because she had all the toys available to her but wasn’t playing with them correctly. What I mean is that she would just pick a toy up, throw it on the floor, and move to the next. This was all without really observing and playing with any of the toys.
I led myself to believe that she was just a baby and that’s why she was doing what she was doing. I later learned that she was overwhelmed by the abundance of toys that were on display.
Toy rotation limits the toys you have out for your kids to play with thus limiting child overwhelmedness, increasing toy engagement, and limiting the number of toys you have to clean up once your kids are done playing with them.
Okay, that last part is a bonus.
I was able to witness first-hand the benefits of toy rotation. Every time I re-introduced a toy to my daughter, she would play with the toy as if it was a new toy. It was awesome!
Check out “Rotate Toys For Creativity And Focus,” which covers all the details on what toy rotation is, how it works, and the benefits of toy rotation. A must read if you want to get into toy rotation.
“Out of sight, out of mind!”
5. Let your kids be kids
For someone who has OCD (not overly true OCD, but the type where every inch matters and the left has to match the right), this was hard for me. Honestly, you will never find my child painted all over like the awesome child above unless someone else was taking care of her. I’m just that mom. I have gotten better though.
My OCD minimally improved after nursing school and significantly improved after having 2 kids and actively working as an RN. This was when I realized the stress started to affect my life even more once the hospital made changes due to the global pandemic and when my mom life became more needed after having a new baby who is now a toddler currently going through major temper tantrums.
It was like I was forced out of having OCD. Not totally. It was the need to always have a clean house that I was forced out of because I was so stressed and exhausted that I just couldn’t deal anymore. The fact that my stress and exhaustion was leading me down a semi-depressive state led me to DGAF the need to always have a clean house.
I accidentally learned that I didn’t always need to have to pick up after my child. I learned to let my daughter play freely without always picking up after her while still in playing mode. I also learned to wait until my daughter naps to clean up all her toys and used multiple baskets to just dump her toys in.
Doing so made my everyday mothering more practical and let my kid be a kid!
“Patience is a virtue.”
6. Hide toys with multiple pieces on the days you work
Nothing like when the hubby watches the kids while you’re at work. If you don’t understand what I’m saying then lucky you. However, some of us moms were not as fortunate as others.
Coming home after a long stressful and strenuous 12+ hr shift to something that looks like a tornado hit really took a toll on me. That was the last straw of the long list of things that brought unnecessary stress to my already stressful working mom life.
My husband’s method of cleaning up after my toddler was waiting for me to get home from work to do so. However, I cannot blame him totally because he is working from home, and doing so while watching 2 kids was more than he can handle.
On those days I was at work and he was watching the kids, I would come home to a mess and would always be left with having trouble finding pieces of toys that went with other toys. Aside from already being annoyed and irritated from having to clean up the mess after coming home from work, I was becoming even more annoyed, irritated, and even stressed from losing pieces of my daughter’s toys.
Before you go off thinking I’m a crazy mom let me just say that wooden toys are not cheap!
This led me to hide certain toys that consisted of multiple pieces on the days I had to work for 2 reasons. The first is so that I wouldn’t lose any pieces so that I can resell those toys and the second is so that I was not left with a big pile of mess on the days I got home from work.
This made the house easier for me to clean when I got home from work and not have to worry about losing any important pieces of toys I wanted to resell.
“Never underestimate the power of hiding toys!”
7. Split tasks with your spouse
After my struggle in getting out of a stressful and exhausted state, I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot do everything. Again, it was me doing this to myself. I do more than I have to.
My husband and I finally agreed to split tasks. We sat down and talked about who will be doing what. Unfortunately, I chose tasks that needed me daily, while my husband had tasks that only needed him weekly, aside from the cooking.
I can finally say that I am the lucky mom/wife that has a chef for a husband. Yay me!
He had the dirty and heavier lifting work, while I chose tasks I knew I was better at and would only give me anxiety because I can’t stand the way my husband does it; hence putting dishes in the dish rack a certain way and hang drying wet clothes.
Okay, so maybe I am that crazy mom.
“Part-time mom in full effect!”
8. Listen to your body
I know the feeling of trying to get everything done when your kids are asleep because that’s the only time you really feel like you can get anything done. However, when you are feeling sick, tired, or sleepy then maybe it’s time for you to listen to your body and rest, take a break/nap, or go to sleep. Practice some self-care.
It’s rare that I do this, but I know the times I really need it and listen to my body when they happen.
So, there you have it, 8 functional everyday parenting tips to minimize stress at home.