Everyday Champion Series: Finding balance with 3 kids (under 5) at home

I’m delighted to introduce our next Everyday Champion momma, Shée Lillejord, a previous Live It Active blog contributor, dietitian, and mom to three small humans. Today on the blog, Shée will share her quest for balance over the past year with three babes at home.

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Shée and her little ones enjoying the pool (I know, you can barely wait for official summer, right?!)

Finding balance as a mom…does that even exist? I often ask myself this on days when I don’t remember the last time I went to the washroom or ate something. Yet, if I’m being honest, there are often small glimmers of hope or sunshine that get me through the day.

For example, right now I am sitting outside by the pool in Palm Spring reading my book while my baby sleeps. The unfortunate part is that he has the flu (and my 5 year old had to get antibiotics for an ear and tonsil infection two days after getting here). On the plus side, this is the first time in seven days I am enjoying complete silence. I may have made myself an adult beverage to go with my book…

My main struggle this maternity leave has been having ALL three kids at home with me. They keep me on my toes as they are incredibly close in age – three kids under five (crazy, I know!!). Looking back, it may have been a wise decision to leave the older kiddos in day-home (even for a few days a week), but of course like many of you out there, I thought, “I can totally handle this – I don’t need help!”

This past year my daughter started kindergarten. This means she goes to school four to five days a week for three hours. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have one less child at home, but my baby still needs to nap in the morning which leaves my three year old stuck in the house all morning; something he does NOT appreciate. Even with my daughter in school, it has been a challenge to meet everyone’s needs. There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

So back to finding time for myself…

It’s easier said than done.

When it comes to exercise, it has to be in the morning. I now get up at 5:30 AM (I know, crazy right?!?!) and go for a 6:00 AM spin class. This is the only hour I get to myself in a typical day. Even though it’s super early, I find I am a happier and more fun mom when I have a little me time (Amen, momma).

In terms of socializing, I need to push myself to get out and spend time with friends when it doesn’t include my kids. I can find any excuse in the book not to go out, including, but not limited to:

  • I’m tired (which is always true);
  • I feel bad leaving my kids (which is crazy since I spend 12-14 hours with them daily);
  • I have housework to do (let’s be honest this is never ending!).

However, once I’m out of the house, kid-free, I feel energized and refreshed. It truly makes me appreciate my kids more (and vice versa – it’s good to be appreciated).

My other challenge: being “ok” with a dirty house; something very difficult for my ” A type” personality. Dirty laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, finger prints all over the stainless steel appliances etc. You get the picture. Letting some of these things go has has allowed me to be a more fun mom. And let’s be honest, our kids aren’t going to remember if the house was clean, they’re going to remember fun trips to the zoo or the park!

My last piece of advice: give yourself permission to take help when offered. Even better: ask for HELP! We aren’t failures if we ask for help. This doesn’t mean we are unable, it simply means we are human beings who need support when the going gets too tough. I’ve recently just started doing this and honestly, it’s the best thing ever.

More recently, we decided to hire an au pair (three months prior to my return to work in May). Life was starting to be a little too much with three kids at home and my husband’s busy work schedule. This has been a game changer.

Our au pair is amazing. She has become a part of the family and is currently with us on our trip. This has enabled my husband and me to go shopping and out for dinner without hauling all the kids out. Her support with the kids has dramatically reduced my stress level and has made me a better mom. I understand this may not be an option for all families, but with my pending return to work, it made sense for us and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Finding balance isn’t easy, but it is possible. Asking for support from friends and family, learning to let go of ensuring the house is “perfect”, setting aside a specific time in the day to exercise, and getting hired help have been life savers for me. Staying at home with the kids is more than a full-time job; the tasks and demands are never-ending and balance may never be achieved, but it’s something I strive towards as best I can, when I can.

Shée

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Thank you, Shée, for your honest account of what it’s like to stay at home with three kids. I can barely handle one at times – you are a goddess and an Everyday Champion.

M

Check out previous posts in the Everyday Champion Series here and here and here

Interested in learning more unique and useful parenting strategies? Check out Live It Active’s upcoming Speaker Series, Discovering the Inner (and Awesome) Parent in You.

Check out and subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Mom(me)Thinks.

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