Dear Type A Parents: If there’s one thing you never could have prepared for when becoming a mom, it’s how much children wreak havoc on your special talent, which is order, organization and control. But fear not. Just because it’s more difficult to implement a method to the madness doesn’t mean it’s impossible—or a bad thing. Here, how to take a step back and still stay true to your type A self.
Commit to Cleaning Up—But Only Once a Day
Yes, the block set with 90-plus pieces that have to fit just right within their holding container in order for it to close correctly is beckoning to you during your kiddo’s nap. Or the fact that there are Legos in the playroom, but also the kitchen…and the bathroom. What’s the harm in quickly organizing them so they’re all corralled into one place when your preschooler is post-snack and ready to play again? Instead, aim to do one pickup a day. Or better yet, enlist your kids to help, depending on their age. It could be a part of the bedtime routine: dinner, bath, toy pickup, story time, night-night. The bottom line: Order is important, but so is your sanity. And cleaning up toys after every single use (or all by yourself) is an energy-zapper, not to mention a blatant waste of your time.
Listen To a Podcast While You Shower
It’s only natural: Even if your daily shower is your only shot at “me” time, it can be tempting to race through it, your mind clouded by a to-do list and adrenaline that taunts you: if you don’t speed up, you’ll never ever get everything done. But here’s the thing: Your to-do list is there. So is your sense of timing. (Type A moms are superhuman when it comes to that, are they not?) So instead of starting the day (or ending it, based on when you shower) in a place of stress, try training yourself to take this as an opportunity to put your focus somewhere else. Even if you get through eight minutes of a podcast episode per day, it’s something. It’s also as simple as grabbing your iPhone, putting it on speaker and pressing play.
Outsource the Annoying Stuff
Hire a sitter for an afternoon so you can actually get something done when you’re scrambling because your kids have derailed your day…again. Pay someone (say, a TaskRabbit) $15 an hour to sort the laundry—socks included—so that it’s one last organizational matter on your plate. Empower your spouse with a to-do list of things you need off your plate. (Per The Atlantic, more and more families are embracing systems like Trello or Slack to organize their family to-dos, which means you can assign tasks and accountability. Weight = lifted.) Bottom line: It’s about finding a balance between what you have time for and what needs to get done and who (other than you) can do it. No woman is an island, after all.
Practice Slowing Down
Ever heard of slow parenting? It’s basically about setting an intention to stop the rush when it comes to your kids. Not all the time, but as much as you can, with a priority of quality over quantity when it comes to time together. (Hey, that schedule of group classes is great and all, but if you’re just running from one place to the next, how much QT are you really getting in?) For the type A mom, this gets put into practice when you don’t hurry your kids along. Or when you embrace spontaneity over structure. Yes, this goes against every fiber of your being—but the payoff is big and beneficial to both mom and child. In other words, burnout and moodiness in kids—and let’s be honest, adults—directly correlates to being overscheduled, according to the Journal of School Health. Making an effort to find time to be in the moment and unscheduled can help.
Force Yourself to Stray from the Routine
The blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into creating “the routine” is immeasurable. But your ability to color outside it is what can help you become a chill, rather than not chill, type A moms. It’s true: It’s hard not to thrive on a routine and schedule that you’ve strategically built for your kid. You rely on it. They rely on it (something that can improve their behavior, according to the CDC). It’s a win-win all around. But the ability to pivot in the moment (say, a sporting event goes into overtime—which conflicts with dinner or bedtime—but you agree to stay until the end anyway) can help everyone find a better balance. Better yet, it teaches everyone the value of being able to adapt.
Celebrate the Wins (No Matter How Small)
It’s a classic type A trait: You get all bent out of shape about the failures and forget the wins (aka the moments you achieved a hell of a lot more than the average bear). For example, no, you didn’t get through all six loads of laundry you intended to do over the weekend. But you did four and that’s still impressive. Or maybe you had a goal of scheduling all the kids’ annual checkups on your lunch break, but you only got through half. Still amazing, and there’s always tomorrow. Basically, it’s about finding a way to take the pressure off just a bit. You’re an overachiever, sure. But on the days you underachieve (by your standards), resist labeling the entire effort as a total wash. (It’s not.)