When I found out I was expecting my fourth baby and I was unexpectedly overcome by morning sickness, I quickly learned I needed to find ways to lighten my responsibilities without causing harm to our family structure or daily routine.
Here are 5 small changes that made a big difference in my life:
I stopped trying to make fancy dinners. At first, I tried to keep up with my healthful cooking habits I’d established over the years but morning sickness won and I became okay with two pizza nights in one week or a leftover smorgasbord, even if it didn’t include green vegetables. We’re all still here and doing fine and it is actually nice to not have to cook (or clean up) a big dinner every night.
I stopped putting my kids’ laundry away. My older two will be five and seven this summer. They’re not babies anymore and are more than capable of taking upon some small responsibilities. So they are now responsible for getting their own laundry put away. Is it put away the way I would do it? Of course not, but the point is it’s put away and I didn’t have to do the work or yell at them to help me flip their clothes right side out. (They always made a mess of the drawers after I folded their clothes anyways!)
I stopped rearranging the dishwasher. I’m a little neurotic about getting as much as I can in the dishwasher before running a load. Partly because of the expense of running it (which in reality probably isn’t that much) but mostly because I hate emptying it. I routinely used to angrily rearrange the entire dishwasher after hubby or my mom cleaned up dinner but not doing it has relieved a lot of unnecessary stress and no ill consequences have come from running the dishwasher when it wasn’t filled to the brim.
I stopped cleaning up after my kids. I’ve never cleaned up their messes for them, but I have had a habit of reorganizing their stuff after they’ve cleaned it up. I’m super particular about where things go; I’ve labeled bins with pictures and like things to be put in the right place. But I’ve learned that just having it off the floor is okay, too. If they can’t find what they want because their stuff is a mess, it’s not my problem.
I stopped engaging in arguments. I have a 6-year-old who could be on the debate team and always has to have the last word. I also have a 4-year-old who is stubborn as all get out and has a scream that could burst your eardrums. And then there’s the toddler who thinks who rules the roost (and has a pretty intense scream as well.) I’ve learned to not play their games. I am the mommy, I am the adult, I am in charge and that’s it. I used to try to explain my way through things, not anymore! What a waste of time and energy that was, if I say it, I mean it and that’s it.
What may seem like really simple things have really made a huge difference in my day to day stress and definitely upped our overall family happiness!