10 Rules to Maintain Your Sanity While Parenting

03/19/2015 10:17 am ET | Updated May 19, 2015
Ashford Evans

1. Drink
I don't care if it's coffee, peppermint tea, or if you wanna go straight Uptown Funk ("Fill my cup put some liquor in it"). There's something to be said for just taking a moment and enjoying a comforting beverage of choice. Some like it as the school bus is pulling away and some prefer to indulge after the last little kiddie is tucked into bed. Although I may have some suggestions about which beverage you choose for which hour... there is no judgement here, my friends. Enjoy your moment.

2. Build your village
There are a few things in life that I have learned you absolutely DO NOT skimp on. Child care is one of them. (The others are plastic surgery, toilet paper, dish soap and a mechanic.) It cannot be overstated how important it is to know that when you are not there, your babies are being well taken care of. You also need a great pediatrician. You know the kind that won't judge you when you show up for the fourth time in two weeks absolutely certain that your baby has some rare disease. Do your research. Make the right choice.

3. Find your people
You need to find your mom friends. The ones you can be real with. The ones who know you. I mean really know you. I mean they know that your kids ate frozen pizza for dinner three times last week (and once for breakfast) and they love you anyway. Stay away from the Mean Girls moms and disengage from the popularity contests. You need supportive, fun, honest, drama-free friends. They will become your new family.

4. Build your arsenal
You have GOT to have a couple of things that you keep in your back pocket that you know will distract your kids and keep them still and quiet for any length of time. I keep a spatula on the changing table to distract the baby, because quite frankly, it would be easier to change a diaper on a freaking octopus. For my older kids, it's Finding Nemo. They will cry and scream that "I DONWANNA WATCH MEE-MO" but I know that about 25 seconds in, they will both be glued to the TV and I can catch my breath. But it doesn't have to be technology. I find cookies will give me a few seconds of respite. Legos are also a standard go to for my almost-4-year-old wrecking ball.

5. Find your outlet
For me, it's writing. I get to spill out all the crap, the funny, the tearful, the everything. Whether I post it, submit it to be published or let it hang out on my hard drive, it doesn't matter. I get to get it out of my head. A lot of my friends [the crazy ones] run or exercise- they say its cathartic. But whatever it is, you have got to find your thing.

6. Get your groove

For me, this means having a plan. I'm slightly Type A and what this means is that I thrive on schedules and plans and an occasional spreadsheet. I have a natural order for things, and this helps me to manage my full-time job, three children and a husband who works late every night. My best friend, however, does not do schedules well. But that's her groove. She thrives on the freedom and the independence. The important thing is that it's your groove. Not what you read in some book or on some website. Not what "The Today Show" said you should be doing. It's what works for you. You'll know it when you hit it. Trust me.

7. Learn your limits
Or I guess more accurately, "Learn how to say 'No.'" You do not have to be at every event, every function, every birthday party. You do not have to bake extra cookies for the bake sale or take that family who has a new baby a meal. Do what is within your limits. This one can be trickier to pin point, but believe you me... there'll be no question when you've overextended. (Think total breakdown in the parking lot of your husband's work because a birthday cake didn't "look right.")

8. Forgive yourself
Now personally, I like to freeze frame terrible moments in my mind so that I can replay them over and over when I'm feeling bad about myself. But I have come to the realization that there is only one certainty in parenting: You WILL screw something up. And that's OK! At the end of the day, take a moment to forgive yourself (see rule #1). Tomorrow is a new day full of new possibilities. You will make yourself crazy if you pine over every mistake you made today.

9. Break away
So I am the worst at this. The worst. We have approximately three "date nights" a year. My birthday, his birthday and our anniversary. But every time we go out sans kids, we have the same conversation: "We should do this more often." I know it's a pain to schedule childcare (see rule #2) and to coordinate all the moving pieces. But it's totally worth it. And it's soooooo necessary to maintaining your sanity.

10. Laugh about it
There comes a time when the only option is to just laugh. When your kid poops all over the sidewalk (and all over you) outside of the local ice cream shop, what are you gonna do? When you ask your 5-year-old to brush her teeth and her response is, "No F%^&er!", you gotta just laugh! I mean, first you handle that shiznit, but then you laugh. Later. Much later, when she's in bed and out of earshot. When you show up with all three kids to a birthday party only to realize 15 minutes in that it's the wrong freaking party? So I totally cried that time. But months later, I can laugh at myself. It's freaking funny. Parenthood is hilarious. You just have to find the humor in it.

So, there you have it. The 10 rules to maintaining your sanity while parenting.

Read more from Ashford at beLIFEtween or follow her on Facebook

This post originally appeared on MrsMuffinTop