By Helen Racanelli
We all know them: those perky moms and dads who zip through the grocery shopping, two birthday parties, a soccer game and Pilates, all on a Saturday—while you’re zonked after getting the kids fed and dressed. Yes, these hyper-parents are annoying. No, you shouldn’t strangle them. Why? Because we’re letting you in on their secrets!
1. Swap kids
“For about three years, my friend and I have swapped kids once a week to allow time for ourselves to run errands or relax. Once every couple months we also take turns having each other’s children over for a sleepover,” says Linda Cudmore of Ottawa, mom to Colin, 7, Leah, 5, and Dylan, 2. Start by choosing another parent you have a good relationship with and whom your kids know, says Cudmore. Then try one- to two-hour sessions and ramp up from there. Try not to fret about what will happen on your watch. It will be frenetic at first, but you’ll soon relish your turn to drop your kids off and get out.
2. Unwind with friends over a lobster dinner
Really! Tamara Wouters and Biski Gugushe, Vancouver parents of two boys, recharge by entertaining friends, minus fancy table settings and the hassle of finding a babysitter. “We make sure that when we entertain, it’s with other couples and their kids,” says Wouters, a hard-working decor store owner. “That way we have our adult time and the kids have fun and play together,” she adds. You’ve probably done pizza or Thai takeout with friends before. Up the ante by ordering a lobster dinner from your fave seafood restaurant or claw-snapping live from Maritime Lobster Express.
3. Act like a man
Overbooking your family is energy sapper numero uno. “Hypertasking is taking over peoples lives,” says Tracy Lyn Moland, author of Mom Management: Managing Mom Before Everyone Else (Gift of Time). This Calgary life and time-management expert juggles her busy career and soccer, hockey and dance lessons for two kids, Courtney- Lyn, 10, and Mats, 7. “We keep weeknights open to allow for playing after school and having friends over,” Moland says. And check out how she says no to excess engagements: “I do what men do. Women always want to explain it all, but men just say, ‘Let me look at my planner. Oh, I’m busy.”
4. Put the kids to work
We’re not suggesting you play drill sergeant, but getting the kids to pitch in a little more will lighten your load. Dianne Sawh, a research librarian and mom of two in Mississauga, Ont., who battled breast cancer two years ago, agrees. She got through it with vim and vigour intact, in part by delegating more. “My kids have had chores since they were little.” Nowadays, 15-year-old Danielle and 11-year-old Caleb are responsible for their own bathroom, bedrooms and laundry. Mom rejuvenates in the Jacuzzi. Can’t argue with that.
5. Dust off your roller skates
“The secret to maintaining your energy is to do what you love,” says Calgary mother of four Leslie Beaton Hedley. For her, it was going back to school at age 40 for a b.a. in English. “There will always be things you have to do, but it’s important to focus on what energizes you,” she says. Scratch the surface of dynamic parents’ lives and you’ll find their enthusiasm is genuine because they follow their passions. Think about the activities you were crazy about before adulthood. Painting? Roller skating? Who cares if your family cringes? It’s your job to embarrass them once in a while.
6. Let a few things go
Beaton Hedley’s mantra is: “I don’t do things that drain me.” That includes hunting down every dust bunny or going from store to store to save a few bucks. The busy mom, full-time university student, writer, editor and daycare worker culled this wisdom from raising her kids, two of whom are still teens. Sawh agrees. She invested in a second fridge for milk, juice and eggs to avoid schlepping to the store four times a week, for instance.
7. Consider Rigatoni Thursdays
Cudmore swears by a monthly meal calendar: “I don’t have the daily stress of deciding what to make or bargaining with the kids.” Wouters organizes meals in advance, too: “If you’re eating well, you feel you’re on top of things.” Try these three menu-planning tips from Leslie Beck to get started.
8. Fly a kite
Exercise and being active play a big role in feeling energetic, Moland says. She and husband Pat run triathlons and go to the gym. You already know that feel-good endorphins kick in after you’ve been active. But you can still get that high even if you’re not into barbells or profuse sweating, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Get moving with the kids on weekends so you don’t have to carve out extra time, adds Moland. Wouters and Gugushe, for example, go to Vancouver’s oceanfront to ride bikes and fly kites with their sons. Need a little motivation? Check out these 20 fitness solutions.
9. Create your own calendar
Sawh says this is key for staying on the ball. “We have a huge calendar on the side of our fridge on which all appointments are recorded, as well as all events such as cross-country meets and teacher meetings.” Make your own by buying a big desk blotter at an office-supply store and getting the kids to snazz it up with stickers. You can plan meals on it, too (no. 7).
10. Book a mani-pedi
Yeah right, you think, as your nine-year-old calls for help with a math question and your six-year-old hollers from upstairs, “Mommy, Mommy, come see what I can do,” promptly followed by a thud. How in the world can you make time for yourself? The secret: book it in advance. Meet co-workers for cocktails, or go for a manicure and pedicure—the possibilities to re-energize are endless. What are you waiting for?
Scratch the surface of dynamic parents’ lives and you’ll find their enthusiasm is genuine because they follow their passions.
Looking for more? Check out these 7 habits of worry-free moms.