Step One: Stay indoors. A lot. Lock yourself inside with your kids and tell yourself it’s such a relief not to have to go anywhere, especially now that there are coats and hats and mittens to keep track of. (Bonus: Avoid adult interaction. Tell yourself playdates are too much of a hassle, too far away, etc. Speak only to children for at least eight hours at a time.)
Step Two: Be optimistic. Your child WILL poop on the potty today, he WILL NOT knock his sister down and take her toys, and NO ONE will take ornaments off the Christmas tree. Believe in the power of positive thinking.
Step Three: Be ambitious. There is no reason you can’t make your daughter’s intricate triple vanilla cake with diplomat cream filling and the two dozen star-shaped sugar cookies (with intricate blue and white icing) while your kids are still awake. No one’s going to put their sticky fingers in your buttercream or eat all your nonpareils. You’re just being paranoid.
Step Four: Never sit down for a meal, and eat only simple carbohydrates: mostly M&Ms. Maybe a piece of bread if you need some vitamins. You can’t stop for a salad. Too much work! Plus, lettuce doesn’t offer nearly enough instant energy.
Step Five: Really invest in the little things. Every Cheerio dropped must be picked up immediately. Lost mittens? Form a search party. Screen time? Set a timer. Cut them off even if they’re in the middle of an episode. Wash every dish immediately.
Et, voila! You’ll be a fraying bundle of stress in no time. You’ll begin to snap at your children when they dawdle in the bathroom, growl during diaper changes–you might literally cry over spilled milk. And when they decide to get up on the bathroom counter, find a bottle of hand soap, and soak your bedroom carpet with it? Well. You’ll already be on the floor to clean it. You might as well kick and scream a little.