Pick up kids
Plan dinner in your head, realize there’s no food at home
Stop at the grocery store – insert toddler tantrums on isle 4 –
Get screaming kids and groceries in the car
Cook dinner while the kids watch Paw Patrol
Put kids in bed
Kids are overtired, and IT IS NOW A WAR ZONE.
1 hour later, the kids are finally asleep
The night wakings begin
As a sleep consultant, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this story. Working parents who are in this cycle of barely making it, and feeling like they are missing out on their children. Parents who feel like their children get only their leftovers, and not their best. Let me tell you, there IS a better way! It’s easy to blame it on our jobs, but truly it’s all about routine and making the most of the time you DO have with your children. It’s about prioritizing, planning ahead, and being consistent!
Something that drives me in doing what I do is helping families go from barely surviving to THRIVING. To feel like they are back in control, and are thriving as parents AND at their jobs. Guess what? It’s possible to do both! You don’t have to choose one or the other.
After helping many working parents feel like they are finally thriving, here are some of my favorite tips to help you make the MOST of your evenings as working parents:
Before making a plan, this has to come first. Talk with your spouse about what is most important when it comes to your evenings as a family. Maybe it’s quality time with the kids and/or your spouse, SLEEP, dinner time together, etc. Everyone is different, and only you can determine this for your family. Write it out if you need to, so you can visually see what matters most to you, and make decisions that best support this.
2. Make a Plan
I might say this a thousand times as a Sleep Consultant, but failing to plan is planning to fail. If you only have a few hours in the evening before the kids are in bed, those hours will fly by and control YOU if you don’t control them. If there is no intentionality, there will never be progress. Without a planned evening routine, you are much more likely to become easily overwhelmed, frustrated, and out of control! Plan it, write it out, post it in the kitchen, and stick to it!
I recently worked with a family who was on this “barely making it” cycle. Both parents worked full-time, and missed their daughter tremendously by the time they got home. After dinner was over, both parents were so exhausted and missed her so much, that their sweet 10 month old wasn’t in bed until 10pm. Even after she was in bed, she was waking constantly during the night (so overtired) and needed to nurse in order to fall back asleep. This meant mama was up ALL NIGHT, only to repeat this cycle the next day, utterly exhausted for work.
We had an In-Home visit, and during our visit we sat down and talked through their entire evening routine. Their biggest two priorities were spending time with their daughter, and for everyone to get the sleep they need. We moved some things around, and we were able to get 1 full hour hour where mom and dad didn’t do anything else but spend intentional quality time with their daughter. They would sit with her, play with toys, and focused on reconnecting with her after a long day. We moved her bedtime up, introduced an entire sleep plan that helped her learn how to fall asleep easily and independently, and gave mom and dad time together after she was asleep to reconnect and eat dinner together. After consistency and making this their new routine, this family officially crossed over to thriving.
Planning is everything. Be realistic with your plans, and be okay with making some sacrifices in order to support your ultimate goals and priorities. Identify what is taking most of your time that is NOT on your top priorities list, and make a plan to change it (meal planning ahead of time, using a food service or your crock-pot/instant pot, cleaning the kitchen after the kids are in bed, sleep training, etc.). Sometimes, my best advice to parents while helping them plan their evening routines is to simplify. When you simply evening routines, you are much less likely to get overwhelmed and frustrated, and more likely to spend time on what matters to you most.
3. Be consistent, but leave room for those days!
It takes consistency for change to become routine. After you’ve made your plan, commit to it! You’ll find what works best for your family, and you’ll learn as you go. Before you know it, this will all become like second nature to your family, and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without a plan.
Take heart that parenting is hard work for everyone. You WILL have days that are out of control, and days where you feel as though everything you ‘planned’ completely failed. You’ll have days where your routine is way off and you’re just trying to make it through to bedtime. This is parenthood, and we can expect those days. It’s so important to offer yourself grace, and try again the next day, knowing that there will always be curves thrown at us!
I believe in parents, and I truly believe that YOU CAN DO THIS! It’s going to take prioritizing, planning, and consistency, but you are capable of those things. I also believe that support can make all the difference, and having an outsider look in and help you identify those things that you may not be able to see. I’d love to be that person for you! If you’re ready for some change, email me and let’s chat!