We read stories from The Mommy Club every day, stories about nipple attacks from savage shark babies, Cheerios on the floor, toys in the toilet, grocery store meltdowns, and love all around. The Mommy Club knows what’s up.
Since giving birth to my first baby almost two years ago, I’ve tried to summon: 1) the time, 2) the energy, and 3) the brain power to write my own inevitable mommy-life-article and be initiated into “The Club.” But having all three of those elements meet during nap-time to produce something coherent is about as easy as clipping my toddler’s fingernails.
Regardless, I owe it to the other newbies to share the wisdom I’ve gathered from my journey thus far. What wisdom is that? I dug deep and found the answer to be: the art of losing my mind.
Luckily for you, I’ve narrowed down five strategies that seem to work quite well, so read on. Here’s how to lose it:
1 | Compare your child to everyone and everything
Pitting your tiny human against other tiny humans actually doesn’t take a lot of effort. How much does your baby weigh? Is he walking yet? How many teeth does she have? Is he sleeping through the night? Hang around with other new parents and you’re guaranteed to have at least one (or 20) conversations about the milestones your babies are (or are not) meeting in any given week.
Of course, a lot of this jibber-jabber is very innocent and there’s nothing wrong with tracking your baby’s development. However, the path to self-destruction is to feel personally attached to it. Throw in some more personal discussion over whose partner does what, who can fit into their skinny jeans, and who eats actual meals every day and you’ll find yourself and your baby on the scoreboard in no time.
A better strategy: Trust that good things happen in good time. Furthermore, trust yourself and trust your baby because there’s never been a pair exactly like you before.
2 | Do everything by yourself
Your inner voice whispers, “You got this.” And you do – truly, you do. The housework. The shopping. The meal prep. The Olympic event that is putting your child to sleep. Household finances, Baby Booger Patrol, social planning, diaper changes, general-baby-wrangling, and SO. MUCH. MORE.
If you’re anything like me, this Wonder Woman complex – this need to do it all alone – can be our downfall. I figure, if people want to help, they’d offer. In the meantime, we’re self-sacrificing warrior-goddesses. But apparently, some people in our lives just need to be asked.
A better strategy: Accept that it takes a village to raise a child, then put down your pride and find that village! It may be closer than you think.
3 | Resist change
I’m not just talking about change in your relationship, social life, and physical body; it’s the change in your home environment that will smack you in the face. Fighting against that change is what this strategy’s all about.
From the moment my husband and I rolled up our fancy Moroccan rug and replaced it with foam floor mats in primary colors (you know the ones), we knew our home was no longer just ours.
In came the bassinet, the bouncer, the activity mat, and the toys. The laundry piles on our “laundry chair” suddenly got bigger and more frequent. Food started appearing magically on the walls and the floors. We changed bedsheets nearly every day, thanks to our spit-up monster. The bathtub started to host squirty water toys and the spare room transformed from my home office into our baby’s bedroom.
Our tiny human took over our tiny condo in an instant. Feng shui? Gone. For a neat freak like me, the change was big.
The key to insanity is to never accept it. Cling to the ideal of your clean, perfect home with everything in its place. Smack toys out of your child’s hand if you have to before he takes them to the next room! Hello, Crazy.
A better strategy: Trust that feng shui will soon return and in the meantime, admire the new, dynamic landscape. Bonus, flex your creative muscles and organize your baby’s assets, or hire a housekeeper.
4 | Schedule things
Wouldn’t you know, my toddler is not interested in being on time anywhere. Ever. She’s more interested in running in the opposite direction and then lying on the floor of our building complex hallway. She’s more interested in singing in her crib for two hours rather than napping, delaying our afternoon appointments.
Likewise, if you expect your baby to poop in their diaper before you change it, or if you give yourself only five minutes to find one outfit that will not only fit but also remain clean before you head out the door, you’re living in denial, which is exactly where you want to be for this step-towards-insanity to work. If you assume that milk will remain in your little one’s tummy and not all over his car seat once you’ve strapped him in and you’re already late, even better!
Want to go insane? Plan a tight schedule with no time for the world to end.
A better strategy: Give yourself an absurd amount of time to get out the door. When things don’t go exactly as planned, try not to freak out. Bonus: make your plans with people who will not crucify you if you’re a few (or 30) minutes late.
5 | Convince yourself the insanity will never end
When literal poop hits the fan, the to-do list remains untouched, and you barely have the energy to serve soda crackers for dinner, step five says to throw away your sense of humor and just let it all sink in!
You’ve heard it before, parenting is one of the hardest gigs out there. If we forget about all those wonderful, snuggly rewards, just closing our eyes and going through the motions as if we are poor slaves to our children, we will indeed be consumed. When our kids won’t listen and nothing is going as planned, a “woe-is-me” attitude helps us lose our minds and lose our potential.
A better strategy: Remind yourself daily that everything is just a season and it will pass (that’s what everyone keeps telling me). If I look back to the beginning of my daughter’s life, I’ll see that it’s true. Baby not sleeping? Just a season. Public toddler meltdowns? Just a season. No late-night dates due to pure exhaustion? Just a season. Breadcrumbs all over the back of your car? Just a season. Possibly.
Maybe you didn’t need me to tell you how to lose your mind. You’re doing that just fine on your own, thanks to sleep deprivation. But maybe you do need a reminder to not make the “five steps to crazy” your whole story! Because while we remember that the bad days are all just part of a season that will pass before we know it, guess what? The good days are part of that season too. The cuddles, the high-pitched squeals, the peek-a-boos, the silly games, the innocent discoveries, and the tiny hands holding ours, they’re all just part of a season that will be long gone before we know it.
The best thing we can do? Hold on to every wild and wonderful moment.