6 Ways to Simplify Life As a Parent
BY CHELSEA BECKER, EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR
I’ve always known parents were busy, but it’s one of those things that you don’t fully understand until you’re in it, right? It’s so much more than sticking to schedules or chasing a kid around - the mental load alone is a marathon. That’s not even touching on the endless chores that come with parenthood, either.
I constantly find myself thinking the popular question of “what the hell did I do with all that time before I had kids?”. And the answer is, although I did work a lot more and had more free time, so much of that time wasn’t used intentionally. I was filling days with fluff simply because I had the time to do so. My life was more simple, but how I was spending my days wasn’t.
There are already many lessons I’ve learned as a new parent, one of the biggest being the NEED for simplicity where I can find it - like these 6 ideas:
An hour of TV a week
Before parenthood, I watched a lot of TV - it was my way to unwind. But as I found myself trying to sneak TV during my son’s naps, watch the news without him actually looking at the screen, or veg at night when all I wanted to do was sleep, it no longer served me. It started to feel like something I was forcing instead of enjoying.
Lately I’ve been watching one show a week (Big Little Lies) and it feels like an intentional treat vs. checking off a DVR full of mindless stuff.
By scheduling time for different tasks at a time (i.e. emails for an hour to start my day, calls on Tuesdays, writing on Thursdays, in-person meetings on Fridays, etc.), it’s made work feel more simple. I schedule short bursts of work around my son’s naps instead of trying to force bigger projects that I know will get interrupted. I save the big projects for when I have childcare instead.
You can also batch things like errands or chores. Tuesdays can be for tasks around the house, Wednesdays for all errands outside of the house and so on.
Essentially, batching is teaching your mind to single task which feels great and has been shown to lower cortisol levels while actually increasing productivity. You can also avoid having to change out of yoga pants every day (note my in-person meetings are only once a week).
Similar to TV, Instagram started feeling like a chore instead of something I enjoyed. The IG Story bubbles felt like its own to-do list every time I opened the app. So I decided to “Mute” stories that didn’t serve or entertain me.
The mute function lets you follow that person but it will hide their stories (or you can mute posts if you want to see stories but not static posts). And lemme tell ya, Instagram simplicity makes for a beautiful platform - without the hurt feelings of an unfollow.
Dinner is my least favorite meal simply because I feel a lot of pressure around it. Not from my husband or because I’m a woman, but because I work from home and there’s a lead-up to it. It’s also a meal meant to be shared vs. something easy I can make for myself.
After one too many nights of cereal in different areas of our home, my husband asked if we could start eating dinner as a family. Which meant we needed a system that let us connect without me feeling the pressure of “what are eating tonight?”.
This is still a work in progress but we’re finding 5-10 meals that we love and then rotate them. We can change it up season to season (or make something new if we’re feeling inspired), but it takes out the constant guessing game out of what to make/buy each week.
Also considering a meal delivery service but not sure it’s in budget. Any that you recommend?
This has probably been the biggest game-changer.
Just like you can automate bills, you can automate so many things in life. Ex: Formula or diapers on Amazon, household products from Honest or Grove, clean beauty product delivery, even your groceries. I’ve finally asked my hairdresser to schedule me in every 12 weeks on the same day/time, and now our house cleaner comes at the same time every other week as opposed to texting to figure it out.
You could do the same with a babysitter/date night, play dates, doctor’s appointments, and the like. (Still working on those myself.)
The 2 opinion rule
As a brand new mama, I remember texting every mom I knew whenever I had a question or “issue” with my son (along with Googling everything). I quickly learned that that was a recipe for confusion, comparison and contradictions.
My mom suggested finding two friends with similar temperaments or parenting styles and only bringing questions to them. I now have a text chain with those 2 friends and everything feels a lot less confusing. I still go with my gut, but most of the time, I find that their opinions are aligned with it.
As you can tell, I’m enjoying this game of simplification so I’d love to hear ways you’ve simplified your own parenthood.
Chelsea Becker is a San Francisco based writer, creator of becker editorial, and on the editorial team at MU. She’s a new mom to her son Cooper. For her choice to stop breastfeeding “early”, click here.
Featured Image from Geri Hirsch via beacuseimaddicted.net