It’s no secret that the early years of parenting can be tough, especially with all of the kids under the age of five. A friend of mine termed this the “trench years”. So how do you survive those early years without feeling completely burnt out? Today on the blog I’m sharing with you how to look at your days, shifting your mindset, and designing your days to help you to reduce overwhelm and get you through these years. We want to avoid burnout as much as possible.

Lower your expectations

I asked a minimal living family group I’m in about what they consider “non-negotiables” every day and there was a definite theme. Here’s what they came up with:

  • feed the people
  • laundry
  • dishes
  • quick tidyup

We’re a homeschooling family and our kids range from nine to one, but I’ll share with you what our bare minimum day is too. Our daily non-negotiables:

  • One wash & dry
  • One dishwasher on (goal is to reduce their daily amount of cups, plates used too!)

Set up a bare minimum day

Setting your bare minimum expected day of non-negotiables in advance will help you embrace those days where you are truly in the “trenches” and realize that those days are normal in this season of life. I first heard of this term through a fellow homeschooling parent, Pam Barnhill. I spent years trying to overcome those years…thinking I had to keep up with everything. Being affected by what others thought about my untidy home or that I didn’t get out a lot with the kids. Those were hard years. I should’ve embraced the bare minimum. But it’s not too late. And it’s not too late for you too. Setting a bare minimum day with your non-negotables will help you almost always to feel less overwhelmed and if things got done above that bare minumum day? Well, then. Bonus! And hunh. I found a book all about this topic too, called - Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child.

Finding support

Right now during this pandemic, this is really not possible for most of us, but it’s good to think about long term. Finding support is key in surviving the early years of parenting. Maybe hiring a housekeeper every few weeks for an hour will help. Asking friends and family to hang out with a kid for an hour or two here and there. Taking turns doing bedtime duty with a partner.

And if this is an area you’d like to work on more - to create a bare minimum day for yourself and your family, I have a simple worksheet that may help you out in starting to dive in deeper. If you’d like to start creating your bare minimum day, feel free to send me an email at and I’d be happy to share that free worksheet with you.

Hi, I’m Kelly! I’m a mother of four children - three boys, one toddler girl - and our family lives on the beautiful east coast of Canada. I’m a past elementary teacher, turned stay at home, work at home mom eight years ago after I had my second child. I’ve found that the busier I’ve become and as my children age, that it’s become even more important to figure out what is most important to me and us as a family. Living a simpler lifestyle has helped us in so many ways in our home life - from better routines to faster tidying up times. It has been through my children that I have been inspired to learn how to effectively manage my time and to simplify in all areas of my home and life. I enjoy helping busy moms simplify home life by teaching flexible planning methods and skills. Enjoyed this blog and think it would be helpful to others? I'd love if you shared it. Thank you!