14 parenting hacks that will make it look like you have your shit together, even when you’re drowning on the inside

Life is pretty good this week, but I’ve come out of what feels like several months of hell. Between illnesses, sleeping issues, house renos, work, and the usual shit life likes to throw at you during winter when the weather isn’t even going to cheer you up, it’s just been one thing after another. Of course we are pretty lucky overall, I do know that, but still it’s not been an easy time. I’ve been tempted to run away and join the circus more than once. Throughout it all I’ve noticed there are things I do that make people think I am amazing. There are also things my friends or colleagues do that make me think they are amazing, even though I know from talking to them that their life is no less shit than mine. So here’s a list of things you can do – which vary in the effort or cost required – to prove to yourself and the rest of the world that you are still a functioning adult who isn’t going to wreck your kids’ lives. Fake it til you make it I say. (Truly I’m sure these would work for people who don’t have kids as well, it’s just “parenting hacks” is total click bait and that’s what all bloggers aspire to. I think.)

  1. Have good hair. I don’t have good hair, but some of my best friends do! It makes you look put together and well groomed no matter what else is going on. I assume this takes time and money, neither of which I have in abundance at the moment, but it looks like it’s worthwhile.
  2. Exercise. I haven’t had much time to exercise lately but I still get to jazzercise once a week and try to do something else at some point. People with multiple children and other things going on who still manage to do real exercise always impress me. Bonus points for early morning or late evening workouts when the rest of us are in our pyjamas, or asleep.
  3. Read a book. I’m always impressed listening to Annabel Crabb & Leigh Sales’ podcast at how many books those two can churn through. These are women with young children and high profile, demanding jobs and yet when they sit down to talk books they’ve read in the past few weeks, they’ve both read. More than one book! On top of movies and TV shows and making food! I spent half of this year reading a single book, but I still have friends who think it’s impressive I’ve read anything.
  4. Bake. I bake a lot, partly because I like to eat and partly because it’s a fun thing Emma and I can easily do together at home while Finn is asleep. People think it’s amazing that I’ve made muffins instead of buying something from the shops, whereas to me it’s obviously much more effort to get to the shops with two kids.
  5. Watch a movie. Anyone can watch an hour-long episode of the latest Netflix series, but to be able to commit to an actual full length movie and be able to stay awake long enough to watch the ending takes real skill. I can count the number of movies I’ve watched this year on one hand.
  6. Wear something other than active wear. You know my stance on mums and their active wear, but really if you want to look and feel like a human being, nothing beats jeans and shoes you can’t run in.
  7. Make your own baby food. Both Emma and Finn have been the not-very-grateful recipients of homemade purees and pikelets and what-not, but also the far-more-grateful recipients of baby food in pouches from the supermarket. Finn got way more pouches than Emma, especially when we were out and about, for obvious reasons. When I catch up with my friends with kids and we sit around complaining about the fact we slept about 2 hours last night and have a third dose of mastitis, it’s the ones who complain while feeding their kid homemade puree that still look like they are managing this whole parenting caper better than me.
  8. Remember birthdays. Thank goodness for Facebook which makes this easy for the bulk of my social circle, but there is something really touching about getting a text from a friend not on Facebook, or for Emma or Finn’s birthdays, that says they remembered somehow and cared enough to send you a greeting. You can also remember anniversaries (even the sad ones), that someone started a new job today, or anything that shows you are capable of thinking about someone who isn’t you.
  9. Pump breast milk. I breastfed Emma for 15 months and I’m still feeding Finn (just), but both of them also went on formula around the 7 month mark, for their daytime feeds, in preparation for my return to work. I never really thought much about it and feel zero guilt about it whatsoever, but I remain in total awe of women who spend their lunch breaks pumping milk at work, or stay up at night to do it. That’s real dedication, right there.
  10. Have a blog. Seriously. Even if you don’t update it much people will think you are very clever. Even if the idea of a life without writing is your idea of hell, and even if yours is just a drop in the massive mediocre ocean of the world’s blogs.
  11. Wear lipstick. Really any makeup will do, because sometimes on those days when you look positively grey from lack of sleep and Vitamin D and you want to crawl into a hole and eat banana cake until the end of time and putting makeup on is the last thing you feel like doing, putting makeup on is exactly what you should do to lift your spirits. You’ll look like you slept, like you ate a superfood for breakfast, in short – like you have your shit together.
  12. Have a date night. This requires a little more planning, because you need a babysitter, but once you’ve done that the fact that you’ve gotten out of the house in presentable clothes and eaten something that took more than 5 minutes to make and had a glass of wine and talked to each other about something that’s not related to how-soon-can-we-get-them-fed-and-in-bed-before-we-turn-on-Netflix is worth celebrating.
  13. Do an extracurricular activity. If you have energy in your life for something other than work and family and all the stuff that goes with keeping those balls in the air, you are amazing. Exercise counts, especially for something you genuinely enjoy – even feel some kind of passion for – but there are also extra points available for anything kind of crafty or creative.
  14. Have a party. No one will judge your party as harshly as you – they won’t notice if the napkins match the plates, or if the soundtrack isn’t quite right, or if the food is a bit daggy or you got it all at Costco. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have a party because it’s been too long since you washed the windows and you’d need to cook a five course meal worthy of Masterchef. If you want to have people over, have people over. They will be so impressed that you got your shit together enough to offer food and drinks to multiple people at once that you will be winning the minute they walk in the door.
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