• How do new mothers stay sane? I find myself asking friends and random people at the park or grocery store this question all the time, as they juggle multiple children, careers and errands all while making it look completely effortless. What is their secret? Yes, a full-time nanny would certainly put me at ease, but for those who don’t have family locally or the extra income to afford a regular nanny, here are two tips to assist with whatever that toddler (literally) throws at you.

    1. Get moving. A daily ritual of working out with or without your child can do wonders for your mood. After feeding my child breakfast, I sometimes start my morning with a long neighborhood stroller walk. Daily walks greatly improve one’s attitude. Yoga stretches during toddler nap times are worthwhile, if you can carve out time to squeeze them in. It truly helps break up the long, seemingly endless hours in the day, helps ensure quality sleep and prevents me from impulsively opening a bottle of wine at 10 am. An email or phone call to a friend can provide a much-needed mental workout. Facing repetitive days of playing, reading stories, dressing up for games complete with music and singing silly songs can be exhausting if we don’t make time for frequent, necessary breaks to restore adult sanity.

    2. Get out of the house! Being a new mother can be extremely isolating. Try a local Mommy and Me class. Meet other parents and schedule future regular play dates. Structuring your day with routines will help keep you centered. As far as date nights go, lately mine are solo and consist of heading out the door once a week while my husband puts the baby down for the night. I then take care of any remaining errands I cannot do by day with a fussy toddler attached to my side. On occasion, I will simply walk around a nearby mall, grab a latte, sit and people-watch at a local cafe. Indulge in some “Me time,” which is absolutely crucial when you need a moment to decompress and breathe free from baby-induced distractions. Ah, the exhilarating freedom of not schlepping an over-stuffed diaper tote bag! For awhile, the thought of hiring a stranger to take care of my child so I could go out for dinner with my husband used to make me feel guilty and scared. It was easier to stay home, right? Wrong! We all need adult time away to reconnect as a couple, to refresh, to recharge our batteries. Get referrals, hire a recommended, experienced sitter to relieve you of child care tasks  (at least every once in a while). A couple’s night out will do you both good. You’ll be happy you did.

    Be reassured that at the end of the day, you are doing the best you can. If the dishes don’t get washed and the laundry sits in the dryer, no big deal. I used to stress about daily household tasks and would collapse every day trying to be on top of everything. Those chores can wait, your sanity cannot. Time is flying by. Days turn into weeks, months, years, with more birthdays to celebrate (yours and your little tyke’s). It is imperative to schedule time for yourself. Push away the fatigue and keep moving toward that doorway for your evening out. I promise, it gets easier. It is time well spent for our mental health in order to balance out the consistent days teaching your child, comforting boo-boos, dosing out meds to ease teething pain and becoming a chameleon for your child’s unexpected whims. The reward will be a happier toddler, as well as content parents who look forward to their next date and weekend time together as a family.