The start of a New Year often prompts resolutions to do more. Exercise more. Cook more healthy meals at home. Clean and organize more. Make more money. Travel more.
But for our family, the start of January 2019 forced us to reevaluate. To instead, search for ways to do LESS in order to make this upcoming year sustainable, to derail a fast track to burnout.
After the holidays we learned that this sibling placement will likely be with us at least until May. That meant (at least) another 4 months of parenting 4 kids age 4 and under. Another 4 months of endless appointments, toddler chaos, mounds of laundry, To-Do lists that only grow longer, recipes that go unmade and are replaced by Chik Fil A and Uber Eats, broken nights of sleep, rotating snotty noses and sick children, and lots and lots of unknown.
When you first get a new placement there is this huge adrenaline rush that supplies seemingly endless energy. I remember “bragging” to my husband that I wasn’t even really tired. I was up at night with the baby and my energy level during the days felt just as it had before the addition of 2 more children…actually better!
Fast forward 3 months and the deep exhaustion has settled in.
I want to be open & honest with you all, so I will admit… there are days where I want to call the childrens’ worker and throw in the towel. Days I dream of my “old life”. Days I resent foster care and the time it takes away from my “own children”. Days I get frustrated with behaviors and screaming among toddlers defending their territories (2 of our 4 kids are only 10 months apart and that dynamic can be challenging). Days I want to cry after rushing 4 kids out the door to get to a parent visit only to arrive, wait 15 minutes, and drive back home (with all 4 kids) after a “no show”. Days I am not sure I can do another week much less another 4 months or more.
Since September our lives have been crazy to say the least. But at the end of the day, when all the kids are snuggled in their beds and the house is quiet again, I reflect. I pray thanking God for all the moments of joy that day. And as the stress peels off and the sweet moments fill my thoughts, I see Him. God. In all the details. And I remember that in this we are far from alone.
He has sent life boats. One with an aunt who insists on picking up my son (often with DONUTS) to take him to preschool at 8:30 AM twice a week so I don’t have to take all 4 kids out in the cold. Another with high-schoolers from our church willing to team up and babysit for Date Nights with my husband. Yet another with a mom willing to visit and stay during Dr appointments for the kids…and who brought us a new birdfeeder that hangs by our back window and attracts a crazy amount of birds that somehow always remind me that He is near.
He has been our compass through all of this. We trust His direction and will continue on this journey with Him navigating through the waters of foster care. We will not jump ship. These kiddos need “captains” in their lives that they can count on when life is “beating into the winds”.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”
So, in order to sustain, we are finding ways to ease the burden in order to make this work for the long haul. Ways to do less so that we can DO MORE. For example, I no longer fold kids clothes. I came up with new system that saves me hours of time that I could show in a future blog post for anyone else sick of folding and putting away laundry.
Also, I have lowered my perfectionist expectations of a “clean house” and enlisted the help of a couple of robots to vacuum and mop my floors at night while we sleep (lol… “Sharky” and “Thank-You-Robot”…my son ‘E’ named them).
I cook, but only a couple times a week and I use either the Crockpot or Instant Pot to make that easy. The other nights I don’t let myself feel guilty if we order in or eat grilled cheese and potato soup or leftovers. We also sometimes use paper plates… I know, I know…but they are at least “Eco-Friendly, made from recycled material AND compostable”!
The only shopping I do is through Kroger Grocery Pickup or Amazon. Each weekend I make my list of groceries for the week and pick them up “curbside”.
Moms out there, what are some of your other tips and hacks ?! Comment below.
As a mom, we all want to “do it all”. And there is so much pressure from social media and society in general to be a “perfect mom.” But the most important thing is that our families are happy & healthy, and our kids loved. If everyone feels loved, is fed, and semi-clean… it is a GREAT day. A burnt out mom is no good to anyone.
So make it a great week & cut yourselves some slack Mommas (talking to myself here too…).