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Being a single mom means having an overloaded plate at all times. It means biting off more than you can chew every single day. It's waking up day after day with sighs of frustration before your feet even hit the floor because yesterday just ended five hours ago and you have to start all over again today. It's dirt and tears and coffee...all before 8a.m.

I have little ones that count on me. I have bills to pay and a steady job to find and a house to clean and laundry to do and a blog to write and meals to cook and bedtime books to rush through because I'm too damn tired to make all the character voices. I don't get to catch my breath while motherhood persistently tries to break me.

I'm often times too busy just trying to keep us all alive that I don't have time to enjoy this life of motherhood that I love so very much. But the house isn't going to grow up and leave for college one day. The laundry is never going to need me as much as my kids need me. I have to actually relish this time with these kids. And instead of spreading myself way too thin day after day, here's what I really need to do:

1. Slow down. Literally, with everything. "Hurry up and eat." "Hurry up and get out the door." "Hurry up and get your chores done." Seriously. Slow the fuck down.

2. Listen. I mean actually listen. There's been a time or two where I've followed up from one of their long-winded stories with a "Ha" or a "That's cool", without listening to a single word they said. Listen to the tone of their voice. Listen to their perspective. Listen to why they're telling you what they're telling you.

3. Watch them sleep. Refresh your memory on every freckle they have on their face. Admire their long lashes. Thoroughly enjoy their peaceful little face.

4. Put the phone down during the movie. Family movie night does not include 300 of your closest Instagram followers. Snuggle up. Toss popcorn in each other's mouth. Laugh together.

5. Have more one-on-one dates. It's hard to thoroughly enjoy the kids' individuality when they're constantly bickering, fighting and acting like assholes to one another. Individually, I can appreciate them way more than when I'm refereeing.

6. Take video footage. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words. But you don't get to hear their little voices in them. You don't get to smile from the sound of their laughter. Hit the record button on your phone that is always in close proximity. Even when they aren't doing anything remarkable or impressive, record the everyday moments. You'll thank yourself one day. They will, too.

7. Photograph the nothing moments. Speaking of the everyday moments, photograph them. Remind yourself that you don't need the pro camera in your hands in order to snap a photo. The images don't have to be print quality. They don't need to be doing anything for you to capture real life moments Just snap the damn photo. You will never be on your death bed and wish you didn't have so many photos of your children. Ever.

8. Play with them. Zyan came up and threw his arms around me one evening after we finished playing on the floor with each other. "Thank you so much for playing with us, Mom. That was the best fun ever," he said, as authentic happiness beamed from his face. Best fun ever? Um. We stacked some juvenile foam blocks up until they tumbled over for an hour. Sometimes little things are much bigger than they appear....especially for kids.

9. Enjoy the little things. Even if they last a few seconds, savor the little things for as long as you can. Early morning snuggles, the sound of them laughing in the other room, the goofy faces they make, the endless bouquets of weeds handed to you.....before you know it, the kids are going to be all grown up and the little things won't happen nearly as often as you'd like them to. Enjoy them now.

10. Practice patience. I know, I know. Easier said than done. But seriously. Patience. Just be patient. Even if you can't be the most patient person in the world, be more patient than you were yesterday...or two minutes ago. You are raising a child, not managing an inconvenience.

11. Forgive. Love your kids enough to forgive them every single time they're little assholes. Love your kids enough to forgive yourself every single time you mess up at this whole parenting thing. Mamahood is a rough hood at times. So is childhood. There's no room to hold on to grudges or a guilty conscious. Check that shit as quickly as you can and just move forward.

12 Relax already. Honestly, just relax. Give the kids a break every now and then. Give yourself a break every now and then. It's not the end of the world if the housework doesn't get done. It's going to be just fine if the kids don't bathe for a day (or three). A peaceful evening is way better than the stress and gray hair caused from yelling at the kids to finish their veggies every damn meal. Just relax already! At the end of the day, you are the only one who can give your children a happy mother. Happy mothers don't come from mentally running on empty day after day after day.

One more time now......r-e-l-a-x.



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