Staying sane as a parent: 10 rules that don’t involve wine & cake!

Staying sane as a parent – I won’t lie, I have had some seriously BAD times in my first two and half years of parenthood. Times when I thought I might just go a little cuckoo (hey, haven’t we all?). But somehow, it hasn’t been all in vain because I have actually learnt something along the way. How to stay sane AND be a parent at the same time. Holy moly! Does that cocktail of parenting advice even exist? Yes, I actually think it is possible….it only took me to get down to the rock bottom to discover it though…but these are the 10 rules I am now living by in order to hold on very tightly to my sanity, and sweat a few less bullets along the way….

1. Switch off (some of the time)

You will notice that conveniently, this features at number one on my list of ways of staying sane as a parent. Seriously, there is only so much total insanity you can be tuned into all day long. Imagine you are a total mindless idiot, with just a bunch of tumbleweed careering through your cortex. Oh and that you have a hearing problem too. This really is better than waiting on a hill top waiting for lightening to strike you, which you may end up doing otherwise.

2. Sleep

What’s that I can hear? BAHAHAHAH!!! Yes yes I know, sleep does tend to evade you when you are a parent, but that is why I highly recommend the tried and tested reverse lie-in, so coined by yours truly whilst deep in a valley of hell. Find out more about perfecting the art of the reverse lie-in here.

3. Switch it up

Unless you are a single parent, which is in my mind the hardest job in the world, if there are two of you have an incredible asset at your disposal when staying sane as a parent…it’s called…TWO OF YOU! In case you hadn’t realised, you don’t need to do it all by yourself. Pass the buck at every conceivable opportunity, and clock off at weekends.

4. Get away

This means more than just hiding in a cupboard crying into your coffee (not strictly getting away now is it?). But seriously, a night or two away for the kids is not going to lead to the end of the world, and you will be on immense form as a result. Now how can they but not thank you for that?

If you can’t get away from the kids, getting away WITH the kids it still better than a poke in the eye – a change of scenary can do wonders for our bemuddled minds! And if you can’t get away in any shape or form, just taking the time out for a couple of hours to do something you love to do is a pretty good compromise.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff

This relates somewhat to number one, but as soon as you realise that in the grand scheme of things, most of the stuff you are freaking about doesn’t really matter, the world is a much more beautiful place. It may be your circus, and it may be your monkeys, but who can reason with monkeys anyway?

6. See it from their perspective

We adults tend to have all of these annoying control freaky ways which to kids, is just a massive bore. The best thing I ever did was to get inside the head of my toddler, and basically, sort of submit to them and be there to facilitate whatever it is they need to do (when they need me to, without being a wet blanket of course). I had this epiphany after a really bad patch when I started listening to these parenting affirmations – a bit hippy I know, but it really worked!

7. Have fun

Let’s face it, having kids is STRESSSSSSSFUL! So if you get all the bad stuff with no good stuff, then frankly, what is the point? Once I relaxed a bit on all the boring things that needed doing (again, the world didn’t  end when they didn’t get done) and spent more time larking around with the little critter, then suddenly, things became a whole lot more enjoyable, and larking around is actually…very therapeutic. Just think of it as your daily dose of endorphins.

8. Ditch the perfection

Perfection – totally pointless, meaningless, waste of time nonsense. For more  on why I think striving for perfection is like having a bath in setting concrete, read what I have to say about it here.

9. Ask for help

In this life, if you need something, you better shout for it – and loud. That goes for a lot of things, including being a parent. It took for me to almost lose the plot entirely until I realised I had to ASK for help (because you know, people stop offering once they are no longer babies but things are hard in other ways). Better ask for it until people notice you are falling apart and then offer. They are still usually only too happy to help – it’s just our silly pride and befuddled brains that tend to get in the way.

10. Love the daddy

Remember that guy you fell in love with before the little blighters appeared on the scene? Well although you might feel like poking him in the eye a fair bit, this parenting gig is generally a whole lot less insane if you…well, show him the love. With chaos descending around you, if you guys hold on tightly to each other rather than chewing each other’s forearms off in despair,  it generally makes tuning into that tricky frequency of Parenting FM a little easier.

What would your rules to staying sane as a parent be? The above, or perhaps you have some other strategies up your sleeve? Do share in a little comment…

**Think this post is the bees knees? Remember, power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it..(yes, really!), so I’d love a little share, Tweet, plus one or pin if you in fact think this isn’t a total load of drivel….**

And if you think you might be going a bit insane from parenting, reach out to the incredible and non-judgemental support FB group #Mommitment here and here. 

Domestic Momster


  1. Loved this!! Totally agree with Getting away and Switching it up every now and then. It makes the world of difference. Still having a struggle with not sweating the small stuff, but we’ll get there.Thanks for sharing. So sharing this with my followers.

    • Thanks Christine so glad you enjoyed it – the not sweating the small stuff does take a lot of practice…I’m still working on it too!

    • eek! my daughter was hard from the start which is probably why at only two and half years old I feel like I’ve made some rather significant progress in locking this down – good luck! x

  2. I was intrigued how you’d hit ten ideas without involving cake or wine lol & you did it!! 🙂 Not sweating the small stuff & seeing things from the child’s perspective are so important & make a huge difference on your outlook & stress levels. I’m vising from #coolmumclub but had commented on your linked posts already x

  3. This is great advice. My children are older – 14, 11, 10. Don’t forget to laugh. Humor gets you through spilt milk and tripping over toys. ☺️

  4. The reverse lie in is pure genius, I wish I had known about that when my anklebiters were little. The other tips I did generally follow. #Coolmumclub xx

  5. So true – it’s all about choosing your battles and deciding what your priorites are. My husband and I also subscribe to the ‘tag team’ lie-in at the weekend. #coolmumclub

  6. Haha, so funny! I’m totally freaking out and totally excited about planning our first night away from our little Pixie. But I think it’s SO important to keep that love alive, and some adult time is essential. Wish us luck! Xx

  7. Loved this! I did find I managed to regain some of my sanity once the sleep returned – before then I was a bit of a crazy mess. I think not sweating the small stuff is also so important. I’m naturally pretty laid back, but parenting tests us all and makes us feel like we’re failing at times – but we’re really not. And it’s so important to not neglect each other and be a team! #coolmumclub xx

  8. Ditch the perfection? Good grief, make no attempt to achieve it in the first place! It’ll make you quite mad. It’s related to “don’t sweat the small stuff”. I will, however, give “Love the Daddy” a miss. Not quite my thang. Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

    • Dear man, where were you when we were all giving birth – we needed to hear that then? But perhaps not the best thing to say to a birthing lady now I come to think about it lol

  9. Love it all. But trying to get to their level on not be a perfectionist were the ones that stood out. I lose count of how many times I say “don’t make a mess”. What a ridiculous thing to say to a 2 and 4yr old! Yes to all of this. xx #coolmumclub

  10. Yet again another fab read – love your blog! I completely agree and love your getting inside the head of a toddler- empathy is a huge benefit in parenting – why toddlers can’t do empathy I have no idea???! I also love the part about the dad – whilst so many friends are struggling with parenting and their partners I always try to remind them to remember who they fell in love with – we should try never to forget this!! Happy Thursday #coolmumclub x

  11. Aha! So that’s how to manage it without wine or cake!!
    I particularly like the tips to not sweat the small stuff and to see things from their perspective. We so often forget – when the kids are making us lose our ever-lovin’ mind – that they’re just kids.

  12. Oh this is so very true (though I think I’ll have the wine and cake too!). This post actually did make me laugh out loud (you’re right, those monkeys are pretty unreasonable) and it definitely helps to remember who you fell in love with and work together.

  13. I love your rules, especially getting away and switching off, or as I like to call it, checking out. LOL! I don’t need to do it often but I have learned through through this parenting gig that If I don’t every now and then, I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I’m going crazy! When my boys were small I was obsessed with making sure I was there for every single moment. I have since learned not to sweat the small stuff, and to also try to understand things from my kids’s perspective. It’s easier now that they are older and can actually tell me what their perspective is. This is very helpful in keeping me off the crazy train:) Love your tips! #coolmumclub

  14. You know the best piece of parenting advice I ever recieved was “pick your battles” which is guess is not sweating the small stuff. It really helps. I mean there’s enough to get stressed about right? I’ve also found that now the kids are a little older and not tiny babies any more, I have a little more time to spend on myself, wether that be jogging or just painting my nails and I find that this helps my sanity immensely. Great post.


    • Pick your battles – AMEN TO THAT! I totally try to remember that but the other day I picked a wrong battle and still banging my head against a brick wall. It was over a Gingerbread Man. Facepalm. x

  15. These are brilliant tips and would agree with all of them, especially not sweating the small stuff and making sure you make use of your partner when they are around. I find switching off helps immensely – just a couple of minutes here and there can make such a big difference, especially when I feel myself getting wound up. Love the reverse lie-in idea – I do that a lot in the evenings (it also has the bonus that if Jessica wakes up, she just lifts her head up, sees I’m in the bedroom and goes back to sleep rather than coming downstairs to find me) – never thought of it as a reverse lie-in before though but like that way of describing it! 🙂

    • Give it a name and it takes on a whole new meaning – like it’s a cool trend or something? Or perhaps that’s pushing it too far eh? x

  16. Well I have given up wine or any other kind of alcohol at the moment but I have found that taking time out for myself to go to the gym has worked wonders for my attitude. I could use a bit of advice for #10 as at the moment I feel like I am mostly a single parent because when he works he’s gone 16 hours a day and when he’s home he thinks it’s still my job to do the brunt of the parenting while he sits around and does nothing. **is really pissed at hubby right now so don’t mind her tongue lashing**. But I have made it a goal this year to be more fun with my kids. Be less grouchy. And to just be a better version of me than I have been for so long. Thanks for hostessing #coolmumclub!Trista

  17. Yes yes and yes! I am queen of not sweating the small stuff but not so great at cutting myself a break must remember more me time. That is my goal for this year x

  18. I love this and agree with it all! My favourite one is don’t sweat the small stuff, and I try and live by this rule. That’s why my house is a mess, my hair is unwashed and the children are wearing odd socks or clothes that are inside out! Thanks for hosting! #coolmumclub

  19. Trying to stay sane is so hard at times but it’s so hard to take a step back sometimes. Totally agree on this though! I’m really lucky though that my OH is so supportive and helps a lot even though he’s not my LBs dad. I’m glad he’s been there and so helpful, makes it easy to show love all the time. But cake and wine definitely helps get through it too haha! Great post! #coolmumclub

  20. Great post. I try to do these as much as I can but I really struggle with babysitters! All my family are a million miles away so last time husband and I went out, child-free was like 2012. Oh well! 😉 #coolmumclub

  21. Great tips as always – I’m working on no. 6 at the moment, trying to get inside the head of my toddler. And it does seem to be helping. I’m having more fun now distracting him from tantrums, than I was before when being naggy and cranky was my m.o!

    • Haha you need to read my new ebook Robyn! x

  22. Great list! My best sanity saving rule: Have a framework of routines and rules that are immutable and set up beforehand. Kids don’t argue as much with things that are always done the same way, and rules that are always enforced. They argue until your brain explodes on things that they can sometimes get away with. Use their tendency to form habits to make your life easier.

    • I couldn’t agree more Dr Lovie. Actually I have a new series on the blog called Expert Editions where I will be interviewing a series of experts in the field of parenting and wondering whether you would be open to being interviewed for this? If so, perhaps we could speak on email? Thanks, Talya

    • Totally – I’ve got something coming up by Single Mum Speaks who is single by choice and I have huge respect for her and all others!

  23. I definitely need to work on numbers 4 5 and 8. I couldn’t leave my baby beasts for a night yet though so I will have to sit on that idea for a few years. I’m thinking about it now. Barcelona, sangria and paella, without a small person saying they hate everything right now. Staying sane is hard! #coolmumclub

  24. Very wise words and definately perfection and guilt are up there for me. Once I stop getting in the cycle I enjoy the momwnt. Thanks for sharing X #coolmumclub

  25. Totally fab post. I’ve been thinking of your reverse lie-in term all week…that’s exactly what I’ve been doing! Nodding along to all the others too…so good to remember to have fun especially. If I throw myself into my two year old’s world, play and timezone I’m definitely happier for it #coolmumclub

  26. Fab post, so true, getting away, having a few minutes to ourselves makes the world of different. I need to think through the toddlers eyes more often! #coolmumclub

  27. I love this post! I agree with all of the rules, not sure which one the most because they’re all so important! When it comes to showing the dad (aka hubby) the love I would just say that in doing that make sure to include date nights! It’s so good to get away and just be a couple for an evening, helps recharge the romance too 🙂

  28. Just the post I needed, as I’m starting to lose perspective, and wine consumption is increasing to almost liver damaging levels! You see, I have a husband with a very unreasonable job, with very little (or no time really) to give me time to myself. My children have recently both been possessed by the threenager and terrible twos Devils, and our day mainly consists of screaming. I get nothing done, ever, which I’ve finally made peace with, but haven’t had a day to myself since June 2013, and haven’t had my hair cut in 2 years. HELP ME!!!!!!! Still don’t think I can let the wine go….!!

  29. Great list, I love me a reverse lie in, have had it mastered for some time now, although it does mean my house does look like some kind kids play pit most of the time… Sacrifice I’m prepared to make #coolmumclub xx

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