My favourite parenting mantra is “the days are long, but the years are short”. I have repeated this over and over to myself on the toughest days and I know it is very true. However, when the mantra is not enough to get me through the day I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I am not afraid to bust out.
My husband travels often for work and we don’t have any grandparents in town. There have been a few times where the thought of putting all three kids to bed on my own after an especially long few days of solo-parenting is just too much to bear. I have learned the guilty pleasure that comes from hiring a sitter to come over, feed the kids dinner, bathe them, and put them to sleep while I go to “an important meeting” which usually means a trip to the coffee shop or the library or anywhere that doesn’t have kids that need to be tucked (read: wrestled) into bed!
I have also learned that a dentist appointment can be almost spa-like in the mind of a tired new mother. I remember the first time I went to the dentist after our first son was born; lying in the reclined chair with my eyes closed and thinking “this is the life”. Now that our kids are older I can rationalize the idea of an actual spa every now and again – but for a brand new mom a few quiet, justifiable hours at the dentist can equal much needed rest time. (Lame but true!)
Finally, my husband and I have learned that pre-poured bowls of cereal left on the dining room table with an iPad queued up to our kids’ favourite show and three glasses of milk in the fridge will buy us at least an extra hour of lying in bed on a weekend morning. I feel a little guilty when we finally emerge from our sleep-in to find the dining room occupied by three little tv-watching zombies eating soggy cereal, but not guilty enough to not do it again the following weekend!
I know I will long for the days of tucking my sweet children into bed or waking up with them at the crack of dawn when they are grown, but for now, in these days of full-on survival mode, I will not begrudge myself the odd bedtime babysitter, more-often-than-necessary teeth cleaning or 8am “sleep in” care of Spongebob and Rice Krispies!