I used to have the mindset that I couldn’t “afford" the things I knew would be helpful to me. Things that would help me while raising my two small children and getting my new business off the ground. The word “mindset” has been important because it was my thinking that stopped me from getting the help I needed more than my financial situation.
If I thought carefully about how I budgeted our money, I could move funds from the things I didn’t really need to those that had a positive impact on me. For example, I felt it was more important to make self-care a priority rather than buy things for the house. I put things that I could do without into a “no-buy-zone.”
I’m reading a book right now by Brené Brown called Rising Strong and in it, she simplifies the concept of mindset and core beliefs with this question: “What are the stories I’m telling myself?” This is an incredibly powerful question to consider, particularly when it comes to doing things that will help us feel better as busy, tired parents.
I realized one of the stories I was telling myself was this: I don’t have enough money to do ____ or have ____ even though I knew those things would help me. Please know that when I say that, I’m not putting our family’s financial stability at risk to buy things. I have just reconsidered how I could use the resources I had to get what I needed the most: rest and time.
These were the things that helped me, hopefully one or all of my suggestions can help you too!
I’m not sure how much babysitters cost where you are, but they’re $10 per hour around here. I can honestly say I was spending too much time with my little ones (I wasn’t getting the time I needed to recharge myself because I didn’t want to pay for a babysitter). I discovered that mom-trading worked for me! A few moms and I now take turns having all the kids at once.
Since time and rest are my most precious commodities, I had to learn that it was important to tell myself that it was worth it to (responsibly) spend money on items that free up my time. Interestingly, one of those items was my vacuum. I used to have vacuums with bags, but I always forgot the bags and grumbled all the way to the store to buy them. I also found I was replacing my vacuum every few years, which was adding up!
I finally bought my first Dyson vacuum eight years ago and I haven't looked back. I’m a pretty thrifty person but I will occasionally buy things that I know are worth the money both in their longevity and usefulness. I still have that vacuum, which works well, and have since bought three more for work.
I use my vacuum as a broom, duster, and floor cleaner but it was getting a bit onerous to keep hauling that out of the basement every time my kids made a huge mess or to get into tall the corners of the car so I started looking at cord-free models to see what would suit me.
The Dyson V8 Absolute model is now available and I was sent one to try out. It's kind of like a vacuum hybrid because it can be used for hard-to-reach spots:
And the floors:
I'm able to reach from one side of my dining table over to the other side, under my sofa, and the two chairs in the living room (aka: the dust bunny/ food bit sinkholes!). It's very easy to clean all of these spots without having to move furniture. And while I was concerned that the battery in a cord-free vacuum wouldn’t last very long, I can actually do my whole main floor with one charge (and all my carpets with one more!). Another good thing is starting with a clean canister and seeing all the junk you’ve pulled out of your house. It's also very light (under 6 pounds!).
The first time I tried the V8, I tackled the dumping ground underneath our island over-hang. I actually stopped eating there because I didn't like to see all the bits on the floor and have them stick to my socks and tracked around the house. I was amazed the Dyson V8 completely cleaned that whole area (even the dust!).
This vacuum is certainly saving me time and honestly, I have fun using it (which is not something I usually say about cleaning!) It makes me laugh because I love waving it around and pulling a trigger to make it work. My kids think I’m ridiculous when I use it like a sword, but I’m fine with that!
To give myself some breathing room, I have an occasional house-cleaner. For years, I told myself that I couldn’t get a house-cleaner because of the cost. Every Saturday morning, I was juggling taking care of the kids while trying to clean the house at the same time. I really needed that time to just rest while the kids watched their cartoons and played.
My friend had the idea of getting a cleaner every once in a while or sharing with another family. I found a lady whose fee was reasonable and had her come in twice a month instead of every week and she uses all of my favourite cleaning products and tools. This was a huge sanity saver and well worth it!
Bedtime used to be my least favourite time of the day – I just didn’t have the energy to stay positive and patient. Most nights, both my husband and I were home for the kids' bedtime routine, so we did the whole routine together.
The story I was telling myself here was that I have to do bedtime every day so my kids would feel connected with me. My parenting educator brain was over-thinking what my children needed for positive developmental growth.
The thing is, they’ll feel just as connected and well if we take turns doing bedtime. My husband and I wrote down a schedule where each of us gets one or two nights a week completely free from dish and kid duty and it works so well. This is another task I can’t believe I had been doing all these years when I didn't have to!
No matter what your situation is, all parents can agree that we can always use a little more time and rest each day. Try out some or all of my suggestions above and use some creative thinking to figure out where you can cut some corners and give yourself a break.