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You Can Never Have Too Many Popsicles In The Freezer. 23 Tips on How to Stay Sane When Raising Children

23 Exceedingly Helpful Tips For Maintaining Your Sanity While Living With Children

By Chris Jordan

Recently I had the mother of one of my son’s friends ask if I ever get mad or yell.  You seem so calm and peaceful all the time, she had said. I laughed.  My children laughed even harder. It was a great illustration of how we all think everyone else has it more together than we do.  I yell.  We are a loud family.  We talk loudly.  We make grand gestures with our hands, occasionally smacking someone by mistake, which results in more yelling.  My kids run and bounce through the house like balls in a pinball machine.  Yet somehow, I have managed not to run screaming from the house dressed only in my birthday suit.  At least, not yet.

Here are my tips:

1. Lower your standards for cleanliness and order.

2. Did that? Lower them even more.

3. Your house will never look like a magazine spread, period. Embrace that.

4. No matter how many baskets you buy to contain toys, they will always be visible.  Embrace the Toys ‘R Us/ frat house-chic decor.

5. You can never have too many popsicles in the freezer. How many bad moods have been fixed by a simple popsicle?

6. If you can’t change them, change your perspective. For example I read recently– probably on Satan’s website Pinterest– that toothpaste is great for cleaning things like faucets. So now when I go into the bathroom every day and see toothpaste splatter all over the bathroom faucet I think about how my children have done half the chore of cleaning for me. How considerate of them! Then I wipe it off while cursing.

7. Those chores that no one ever wants to do. Decide if you would rather do it yourself, badger your child to it, or let it go. If you are confused about what to do, see Number 1 on this list.

8. No one cares what is stuffed under your child’s bed, why should you. Unless it is old food.  In that case, you should get a dog.

9. If you have boys, your bathroom will always faintly stink like pee.  Invest in some Febreeze and count down the days until they move out and you can go visit them and pee on their bathroom floor.

Don't Buy White Furniture. 23 Tips on How to Stay Sane When Raising Children.

 

10. Don’t buy white furniture. Unless you enjoy screaming at your children every time they go near it.

11. However bad a situation might seem, one day it will be funny. I have a few for which I am eagerly awaiting for the funny to kick in. Any time now….

12. When your child is a young teen there will be nothing more embarrassing than your very existence. Use this to your advantage. Start planning early.

13. Do not paint any walls in your house with flat paint.

14. Be okay with letting your kids stumble sometimes. Whether that is turning in an assignment late because they didn’t do it or wearing an outfit so hideous you have trouble looking at them without laughing.

15. Noise canceling headphones are great for blocking out whining, bickering and the endless episodes of Sponge Bob.

Crazy Sock Day is Infinitely Better than Crazy Mom Day. 23 Tips on How to Stay Sane When Raising Children.

 

16. Socks do not have to match. Every day is Crazy Sock Day at my house, which is infinitely better than Crazy Mom Day.

17. The crayons will break and it is okay to throw them away rather then save them to make some sort of craft that involves the hair dryer. In fact, I give you permission to not feel guilty about all the crafts you know you will never do.

18. Your children will not die from eating the occasional hot dog or frozen pizza. And by occasional I mean more than you are really willing to admit.

19. If your children are driving you crazy arguing with each other, start an argument with them. Then your children will bond over their mutual hatred of you and be quiet.

20. Children do not appreciate top sheets or high thread counts. Buy neither.

21. Homework time is the worst time of the day.  Help your kids and yourself by having a designated time and a quiet place to do homework. Preferably in a neighbor’s home.

22. Just say No to ironing.

23. Last, but not least, a glass of wine and some really bad TV makes everything seem a little better.

What tips do you have for staying sane while raising children?

 

Photo source: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Brittany
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Brittany

Love it.  You are so wise!

Jackie
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Jackie

I loved this.  Thanks for writing it!

viv
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viv

Funniest post ever. Had me spitting out coffee. I would wipe my monitor down but am going to refer to number one on your list.

jill
Guest

Brilliant! I have four children and I agree with all of the above. I would add: Have a hobby that makes you happy and pursue it in the midst of / in spite of the chaos.

Maggie
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Maggie

You’re the best, Chris. Wait until the boys return back home after college and re-stink up your house. 

Wendy
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Wendy

Before you start your family, write down a list of your favorite things and hobbies, places to go and do with hubby. You will need this when the kids finally go off on their own, because you will have totally forgotten what you enjoyed when there was just you and him.

sixteen
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sixteen

OMG. too true

bri @ in love and words
Guest

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I adore this post!

Jenn
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Jenn

So funny (and true). I heard your words in my head this weekend and left the top sheet folded in the closet — you are so right, as always.

brandi
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brandi

they make great forts on the dining room table…..if you can find your table? lol

Andrew Frenette
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Andrew Frenette

I have a different approach. I actually enjoy my kids company. We watch the same shows. They’ve never fought amongst themselves, and never rebelled. They’re young adults now, and don’t drink or smoke. Our house is still a mess though. 🙂

JJ
Guest
JJ

I know my response is late, but I’m new to the sight. I don’t believe that Chris EVER said that she didn’t enjoy her kids company. The post is simply dealing with the challenges that moms face in spite of loving their kids and enjoying their company. 

Also, did you REALLY say that your kids have ‘never fought amongst themselves’? Really? If that is the case, do you have a blog? I think most of us could learn something from you. I have never in my live met children who don’t fight with their siblings at some point.

Marie
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Marie

Ditto JJ!  Especially to the kids not fighting each that I don’t believe.  I think Andrew was making a funny.

Annie
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Annie

Andrew doesn’t have kids. He has cyborgs.

Jennifer
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Jennifer

I was thinking something the same. And how many times can you watch Daniel Tiger until you want to scream. 🙂 Maybe when they are older.

Kathy
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Kathy

Love this; especially number 7. We have a list of chores at our house with an associated “payment” for each chore. If they kids take care of the chore they get paid. If I do it, it gets done when I have time and I just don’t worry about it any more. That has brought a lot of peace to our house.

Michael
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Michael

I’d like to add one that has served me well…. “Pick your battles” you’re only going to win one in fifty, so make it one that counts.

Monica
Guest

Loved this post….perfect timing, too! Struggling to try to keep calm with 5 kids while even-tempered, fun and helpful husband is away. I like your attitude!

Nana Ann
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Nana Ann

Love the 23 rules!

Amy
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Amy

I LOVE this post. Laughed out loud at the “get a dog” comment. We regularly use the phrase, “Oscar on clean up!”… Poor hound has gained 10 pounds since our twins are eating real food. And could not agree more with #1 and 2.

Suzanne
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Suzanne

Are you hiding somewhere in my house?!?  I feel like this was right out of my head!  Awesome.

Patricia
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Patricia

Love this blog! It’s a little late for me as I’m on my 4th, with my 3 boys out the door – the bathroom comment is “bang on”! I would echo with Michael in saying “pick your battles”! I would also advise, don’t ever put cleaning your house ahead of listening to your child or attending a sports event, it all goes by too fast!

Megan
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Megan

About #9: when I moved to Germany I was shocked to find out that the men sit to pee….not just when they’re recovering from leg injuries but all the time, from childhood on. You stand to pee when you’re peeing in a bush after Oktoberfest or if you’re in a sketchy club at 4 am, but otherwise you sit.  There’s no pee smell in the bathroom until the clueless stand-to-pee Americans show up to visit (and then get to have an embarrassing talk with the totally-converted American ex-pat). The pee smell can be cured…and the boys can grow up with… Read more »

Kelly
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Kelly

YES!!!  I was just wanting to comment about the fact that if a man SITS to pee, then you don’t have that urine smell problem.  We live right here in America and my husband and his 2 brothers were taught to pee sitting down on the toilet.  It is uncommon here in America, but oh so much better.  Additionally, in 11 years of marriage, we have NEVER had to deal with the “seat up/seat down” issue.   

lolsuz
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lolsuz

So thankful someone else brought this up! My fellah says it best: “Urinals are for standing; toilets are for sitting.” I think he gets even more aggravated than I do when our guy friends pee standing up in our bathroom. It’s everything we can do to not say anything to them. Standing to use a toilet is an utterly FILTHY, unsanitary habit and I can’t imagine how anyone could teach their sons that it’s acceptable… and encouraging people to use Febreeze to mask the smell? Of URINE all over your toilet, floor, and any surface within a two-foot radius of… Read more »

Jana
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Jana

Urine is sterile. You can drink it if you’re in dire circumstances. It truly isn’t a filthy habit. A stinky habit, yes. Filthy… No.

ruby2shoes
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ruby2shoes

some friends of mine have a very lovely sign by the toilet that reads “Ladies and Gentlemen, Please sit down.”

Joyce
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Joyce

I think all the guys should pee sitting down. Makes the “put the seat down” fight end too!!! When your kids leave home then your husband’s aim will get bad (he either thinks it’s longer than it is or his eyesight is poor or he can’t see past his larger belly) so if they all pee sitting down – it’s a good thing!!!

PrettyLuckyx3
Guest
PrettyLuckyx3

Where are your sources that “urine is sterile”? This is from wikipedia: “Healthy urine is not toxic.[6] However, it contains compounds eliminated by the body as undesirable, and can be irritating to skin and eyes. After suitable processing it is possible to extract potable water from urine.” As well as: “Urine is sterile until it reaches the urethra, where epithelial cells lining the urethra are colonized by facultatively anaerobic Gram negative rods and cocci.[4] Subsequent to elimination from the body, urine can acquire strong odors due to bacterial action,[citation needed] and in particular the release of ammonia from the breakdown… Read more »

jess
Guest

when your little man is three, sometimes even sitting down to pee results in disaster. we’ve had many an instance of accidentally peeing through the crack between the toilet and the seat … or accidentally peeing over the front of the seat and into his pants … or random streams shooting off to the side and hitting the wall. even sitting down, little penises don’t always aim correctly …

Erica Reinhart
Guest

Perfect post~ thanks for helping

mark miletich
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mark miletich

love your list, suggest an addendum to #16 (socks) everyone has white socks. every two is a pair, sharing will be a problem, some may “borrow” from others.

Lauren
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Lauren

So funny!! One request though, please don’t let your kids know you dread homework time. If your attitude about it is bad, so will your child’s. Make it a time for kids to show off what they know and if all else fails, get those Popsicles out again 🙂

SouthernBelle
Guest

LOVE This!  I would add giving up the image of the “perfectly dressed/matched” family/children and it’s ok to let yourself off the hook for not being perfect.  Before I had my son, I dreamed of neat hair, pressed polos and dress sandals.  I quickly learned that dressed is dressed.  Sometimes his hair is sticking straight up and he’s in a wrinkled t-shirt and mesh shorts – but at least he’s dressed.  It’s all about picking battles and I’d rather bend on some things in order to have an enjoyable day making memories!  Bravo for posting some honest truths that many… Read more »

Jen
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Jen

I would add that dirty kids equals successful parenting. Shows they are having fun (and since youdon’t have white furniture it’s no big deal). And that they are outside while you are watching bad TV.

sally
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sally

actually you should be outside keeping an eye on them unless they are older! A huge problem in todays society is the electronic devices that take away attention from our children… I was at the park the other day and this little boy kept yelling to his mom to “watch this mom” and not once did she look up from her phone or ipad or whatever it was she was playing with until it was time to leave and after him yelling to his mom so many times to be denied her attention he looked really upset; soon enough your… Read more »

Jenna
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Jenna

I’m assuming this list was a joke and that no one would be dumb enough to take any of this ridiculous advice. Having a clean house is a good thing. Helping your children with their homework is a good thing and letting your child turn in work late is just laziness on your part. Be a parent and that means being responsible. No one else is going to teach them.

Opal
Guest
Opal

Jenna, I think what she is trying to say is that if you have to choose between spending quality time with your kids and cleaning your house…..kids win all the time. Also, letting your children turn in late homework helps them learn responsibility for getting it done and on time. I am always available for homework questions (since the house isn’t immaculate and I am not constantly cleaning it) but, at the end of the day, it is the child’s responsibility to turn in homework assignments and as far as the “No one else is going to teach them” comment,… Read more »

Marrie
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Marrie

Jenna of course it was a joke.  Think the majority of us got that. Humor mixed with truth.  Life is to short not to laugh and find humor in the mundane.  I agree with her my life,purpose is not to have a spotless how. I rather keep a descent happy home where my kids and guest feel loved and welcome over a model home.  Like her advice about the socks, yes it would be nice to have matching socks but hey no ones going to see them who cares.  We are doing go if we make it out the door… Read more »

Leigh
Guest
Leigh

I have a 4th grader, and the teachers this year actually encouraged us to phase out the homework overseeing. The teachers emphasized that we have to let the kids develop this responsibility on their own at some point.  Sure, there are going to be some times where they forget, or don’t turn it in, but that is really not the end of the world.  If you are constantly the homework nazi they are never going to internalize the idea that homework is THEIR responsibility, not YOURS.  Of course, all kids are different, and some might need some help with organizing… Read more »

Auntie J
Guest

I have three basic rules (yoinked from friends with 7 kids):

1. Sometimes it’s better not to watch.

2. Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to.

3. Everything washes. (Corollary: what can’t be washed can usually be pitched and bought again.)

Kate-Hedgehog
Guest

The face will never stay clean. To best avoid mental breakdown > Clean it when you must. Like in the bath. Or before the in-laws come over. Combining the two is ideal.

Rita
Guest
Rita

Love these! For me one of the things that keeps me sane is using paper plates. We don’t use them all the time, but there are days when the sink is full of dishes and being able to throw out the plates from breakfast feels like an enormous gift. 

Tammy
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Tammy

Love. Every. Word.

Karen
Guest
Karen

As a mom of two boys who have now moved out, I kinda miss the pee smell in their bathroom. No, now that I think of it, I don’t. Or that the toilet seat was always up. In all the bathrooms. But I do miss them. #12 made me laugh out loud – it actually WAS fun to embarrass them. They laugh about it now too. Parenting is the ultimate adventure!

hayley
Guest
hayley

this was a great read – esp with number one arriving soon. *gulp!*

Shari Donohue Smith
Guest
Shari Donohue Smith

I’d add to that list; Xanax vs wine-you choose, how bad WAS your day, grand parents are a god send-use them for the occasional sleep overs, and no vacation is too small-enjoy it. Even if its going grocery shopping, ALONE!

Amy
Guest
Amy

 Jenna – It was a tongue in cheek post.  But, if you don’t have children yet, when you do I think you will see the humor more readily.

desert green goddess
Guest

Yep.  We’ve definitely had the mis-matched socks, the wearing of the sibling’s (clean) underwear, the late assignments and the low expectations on the picture-perfect home.  Rock on, sister.

Julie Kelton
Guest
Julie Kelton

Jenna, if you can’t see the truth in what is obvious humor, I have to wonder how many kids you have or have been around. The list doesn’t say “don’t ever clean anything” or “encourage your kids to be total slackers”. It’s about establishing priorities, loosening up, remembering that we should be making memories with our kids rather than micro-managing them (especially in the details that just don’t matter). By the way, allowing your child to stumble is a parenting tip that is very difficult for me, yet crucial to helping kids learn to take responsibility for themselves. I “saved”… Read more »

Lori
Guest
Lori

Too funny and very true! And Jenna – we can talk to our children until the cows come home but cause and effect is the best teacher. And homework is the kid’s job and responsibility. Set up a time and space for homework and limit how much help you give. Kids are smart and will ask us questions until we have done all of their homework for them. It is their turn to go to school and do the work – you have had your turn.

Joy
Guest
Joy

I taught my kids to do their homework at the after-school program, “so you’ll have more time to play when you get home”. My oldest started doing that in 3rd grade and the youngest in 6th. (The youngest is now a senior in high school).

Mary Themom
Guest

Totally hilarious!  Now you have to run out and update your blog so I can continue to laugh!  We live near each other so I will be constantly wondering if that crazy lady with all the kids in Home Depot is you.  Thanks!
Mary

KateB
Guest

I think you just demonstrated the value of the #1 Uber Tip:  Have A Sense Of Humor!  Brilliant – you have me laughing through the occasion bursts of pain.  Yay you!

Laura
Guest
Laura

This fit along with the socks in #16. Buy only matching socks. Each kid in my family has only one type of sock. Boy – grey toe ankle socks, Girl #1 – blue toe ankle socks, Girl #2 – purple toe ankle socks, and baby is the only exception with a mix of crazy mismatched socks. It makes it easy to sort by size, but no match required. And then when they start to wear or get too stained I toss them, and when they need more I toss what is left and start over.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

 Love your sock solution! I also love the teach boys to pee sitting down. Here are some of my suggestions to make things easier for parents and help raise healthier kids. 1. I hate arts and crafts too messy instead to address numbers 1-4,6-8 and 13, 17, 18 and 20 I recommend less stuff and a 1940’s mothering approach of children as mother’s helper. Children learn useful housekeeping skills under the guise of play. Working along with your children singing and chatting gets your house clean, teaches your children useful skills and creates good bonding. It’s amazing how much children will… Read more »

Leah Rampadora
Guest
Leah Rampadora

 I have 2 boys, i was crying over lunch discussing with my hubby  how stress I am  coz of so much ( I thought) disorder and dealing household chores  everyday. Then I stumble in Here and Bingo!

I thought i was the only person whose struggling to keep my sanity.  And honestly I was back in real life with a smile 🙂

I have to agree the no. 3 !

Gabi Barrick
Guest

I thought I was the only Mom in the world whose kids’ beds didn’t have top sheets. Glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂

Mom07
Guest
Mom07

2 items were neglected:
Mom’s hidden chocolate stash (or is that not to be made public knowledge ?)
Buy a Kitchenaide mixer–1 beater to lick….arguing over who gets it is solved by mom indulging 😉

Stacie
Guest

Oh man, I totally have a secret stash of sweets that are only eaten during nap time!

MrsThatch
Guest
MrsThatch

“pop-sa-sock” is how our toddler says “Popsicle”. It’s pretty adorable and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. The cure-all, the popsasock. 🙂

AmyJ
Guest
AmyJ

Too funny in the sitting to pee issue. My grandparents were German and immigrated and taught my dad (and uncles I am sure) to pee sitting down as my parents dd my brother. I tried teaching my son and I get a 50/50 success rate on it happening since he started school where all of his friends do it standing up. I use an auto febreeze sprayer now that squirts a bit of scent in the air anytime someone uses the boys bathroom. Helps cover the smell immensely!

Carol Megan Jr.
Guest
Carol Megan Jr.

Two great ways to embarrass young teens:

Drive with the windshield wipers on when it is not raining; blow kisses at them when you drop them off at school.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

Really? I have permission to waste crayons? Perfectly good pieces that I have been saving for some dumb craft for the last six years? I needed to hear that. A burden has been lifted. 

Kristi
Guest

Oh my gosh you used every piece of advice I would give! Are you secretly filming me?! (And my 12 toy baskets?) I was sure I was the only mom who doesn’t match socks. Well, the older kids insist. I have often wished every day was Crazy Sock Day! I never thought of picking a fight with two fighting kids to unite them . . . I see I have more to learn?

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

Oh, my dear friends… you poor things.  So much stress and capitulating could be avoided by having just one child.  I have one child – a daughter – who is now 17.  I have never had a need for any of the writer’s tips.  Well, maybe #22, that has nothing to do with children.  🙂

Pat Fenner
Guest

OH. MY. GOODNESS!  I laughed at each and everyone and marveled at the wisdom!!  After/while parenting 5 kiddos, I STILL need to remember to laugh at stuff…and I feel SO much better everytime I DO remember 😉 Loved the peeing idea (I have 2 boys still at home – one of them won’t even use the same bathroom his brother does!! LOL), the permission for discarding crayons (thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!), socks…gah – ALL of them!! You are brilliant…and many of the other readers are, too! laugh, laugh, laugh – often and loudly (besides being healthy for you,… Read more »

Jacque Hubbard
Guest

*laughing out loud*  
*nodding in agreement at ALL of these*

*I LOVE YOU. You GET me, you really do!!*

Kristen
Guest
Kristen

1. We have a dog for the “clean up” of spilled food, but she likes to sleep in my daughters bed. 2. We use the top sheet as a first layer of bedding, and when it gets dog furry we peel down to the second sheet!