Dear Rachel,

I am the mother of three young children whom I absolutely adore. However, I feel like I am falling apart running after them. I grew up with a mother who was always stressed out and I don't want to be that to my children. Yet I don't know how to take care of all their needs and keep my home together (not to mention my marriage). I can't stand a messy home but trying to clean after them seems endless and useless. The second I get something clean one of them spills apple juice all over the floor. And I hate living in a messy and unkempt home. How do I keep it all together and be a loving mother?

Stressed Mommy

Dear Stressed Mommy,

Relax. If you told me you had three small children and had a perfect home and no stress in life, I would tell you to market the recipe as you would make millions. There is no such thing as having young children and feeling like you have it all together. Let's face it, just leaving the house to go to the grocery store requires a diaper bag, sippy cups, a stroller and endless toys. There is no way of going anywhere with three small kids and looking or, often, even feeling like life is carefree.

But... that doesn't mean that life needs to remain frantic and hectic. It is high time that you sit down (without your children around) and start making some lists to prioritize what is most important to you and what is most important for your children. Then, once you have that together, you need to accept that you cannot do everything but you can ensure that what is most vital gets taken care of.

You cannot do everything but you can ensure that what is most vital gets taken care of You mention that you can't stand the mess in your home. And you also write that you don't want to always be stressed out when you are with your children, which results from cleaning up after them all day. So, here is a suggestion. I do not know your financial situation or what you can afford, but why not look into getting some help around the house? And since your children are small, rather than having cleaning help once a week that is thorough and expensive, see if you can find someone who can come and help an hour or two a few times a week. Especially now during the summer there are often high school and college kids around who would love to make some extra money. Have them help with dishes, folding laundry, picking up toys, sweeping and washing the floor, etc.

One of the biggest motherhood mistakes is feeling that we have to do it all. We don't. But more importantly: we can't. We have to delegate and figure out what we can handle and what we need help with. Make sure when you do this that you decide what it is that you want to be doing and what it is that someone else can do.

I will never forget how I hired a babysitter when my kids were young to take the kids to the park so that I could fold laundry and straighten up. One day it occurred to me how ridiculous that was. Why was someone else getting to play with my children in the park so that I could fold clothes? So the next time she came, I asked her to fold the laundry and straighten up—and I took my kids to the park.

We all need to prioritize. Figure out what you want to be there to do and what someone else can do for you. Chances are you will want to be the one playing with your kids, bathing them, reading to them and putting them to bed. But someone else can help with the more mundane tasks that are overwhelming you.

And if hiring help is not an option, enlist your husband to help you as much as possible; explain to him how much the constant cleaning is detracting from your ability to be happy and positive both around him and your children. Often our spouses are simply unaware of how overwhelming the endless cleanup can feel and the toll it can take.

We all need to prioritizeLastly…accept that things are not going to be perfect, or the way they were before you had kids. One of the biggest things that changes when we have children is that we lose the control we seemingly had over our lives before. We no longer can sleep, eat or do what we want when we want. And even when we do take care of something, our children can instantaneously destroy our hard work.

But this is an opportunity for us to recognize that we don't control this world, that we need to do our best and put in our effort but ultimately accept that things may not be 100% as we would like.

There is a story of a woman who spoke to the Lubavitcher Rebbe about a situation similar to yours. The advice she was given was to hire help to take some of the cleaning load off of her shoulders. The woman, however, replied that the cleaning lady never cleaned as carefully or as well as she wanted. To this the Rebbe replied that she shouldn't look in the corners!

I hope you are able to find someone to help you around the house so that you can focus on what is most important to you—your husband and children. And remember that your children do not need a perfect home, or a perfect mother, but they do need a happy mother. I wish you much luck in being that happy mother to them!