The first Friday in September is National Lazy Mom’s Day. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder than I have since having kids, and that goes for every other parent I know too. In fact, if you give us a free moment to relax without kids, chances are our minds will immediately turn to those unwashed dishes in the sink (or strewn around the house), that basket of laundry, or that looming deadline at work. We could all use a few tips on how to be lazy. So from one parent who can’t relax to another, here are a few tips on achieving some well-deserved laziness.
1. Moms with new babies, relax.
If you’re a first time mom with a new baby, and you’re lucky enough not to have to rush back to work, take a few days — no, take a few months to stay in bed, nurse your baby and watch Netflix. You may feel incredibly lazy, but in reality few people can match your productivity. You just grew a human from scratch. You need time to recover, bond, and get used to your new role. There will be plenty of time to delve back into work, exercise, or clean up the house later.
2. Give your kids a big smile and some eye contact.
Eye contact is an easy way to build connection and positive feelings that doesn’t require much effort. It’s easy to field the million questions that kids come up with every day without every pausing to look at them, but slowing down to make eye contact makes everyone feel both seen and heard. According to world-renowned psychologist John Gottman, to keep any relationship healthy and happy, whether with kids, spouses, friends, or coworkers, positive interactions must outweigh negative interactions by a ratio of five to one. With kids there are days when the negative interactions can rack up quickly, so finding easy ways to add up the positive interactions goes a long way toward a harmonious household.
3. Say yes to stuff that doesn’t matter anyway.
Your 4 year old wants to wear pajamas to the grocery store? Go for it. No one else will care. In fact, most people will think it’s adorable.
4. Say no to things that make your eyes glaze over and roll out out your head from boredom.
For me, that’s pretend play. It’s ok if you don’t enjoy playing. When was the last time you had a blast doing something with another person while they were having a terrible time? Probably never. Find another way to connect that is mutually enjoyable instead. That’s when the best connection happens.
5. Stop cajoling your kids to eat.
Most of us care about our kids eating a reasonably healthy diet overall, and none of us enjoy hunger-induced meltdowns from the kid who always refuses dinner. This understandably results in pestering our kids to just TRYYYY a food or eat one more bite. But chances are this pestering isn’t doing much to improve their eating anyway. Putting a variety of healthy foods in front of them regularly and then letting them eat or not often works better. (Check out the Ellyn Satter Institute for more research-based tips on this topic.) Adding some laziness to mealtimes can take the stress level down few notches and make life happier for the whole family.
6. Be real with your fellow parents.
I have yet to hear anyone remark how easy this parenting gig is. We are all struggling in some way, large or small. It’s ok to admit that your kid watched seven hours of TV yesterday or you’re struggling with yelling. Putting up a facade is work we do because we are afraid of judgment and not fitting in. Conserve your energy for what really matters. There is nothing more relaxing than being yourself.