I knew it would be difficult to juggle work and parenting. But I didn’t expect that every day would feel like a rollercoaster of new challenges and that most days I would have an overwhelming feeling that we weren’t quite doing enough for Max. I’m constantly wondering if we’re giving Max enough solid foods, exposing him to new experiences, reading enough to him, and the list goes on. Even though Aaron and I have shifted our work hours so we get in early then leave early so we can spend quality time with Max in the evening, I still feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I’m still pretty new at this whole balancing act, and I’m sure it will continue to get easier (I hope!), but here are a few things that I try to keep in mind that help me feel like I can handle it all.
Laugh - This is a big one. When things are feeling crazy, and I haven’t had a restful night’s sleep in days, I can feel myself turn into a monster. Once that happens, it doesn’t matter how many times I remind myself these hard times are temporary, I still feel like I’m drowning. I’m so lucky that Aaron is incredibly patient with my unpredictable moods and is able to find humor in just about any situation. I’ve learned that once I give myself permission to relax a little, laughter can be the best medicine. And I’ll admit that some days I’m a tough audience, but being able to laugh with Aaron helps me regain perspective which makes me a better mom all around.
Don’t keep score - I’ve found that if you’re not careful, it’s so easy to keep a mental tally – diapers changed, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, etc. When that begins to happen, I know I need to step back and adjust my inner dialogue. Aaron and I strive for 50/50 parenting but realistically we see saw between who takes on more. It’s not a perfect system yet but it helps to communicate instead of letting feelings fester.
Talk about other things - Some days it is hard to remember what our lives were like before Max was born. But I promise there was a time when we didn’t talk about poop and diapers. I think more than anything, I want to make sure we balance our lives with Max while maintaining our interests. Now, I do my best to compartamentalize my work and home lives so that when I’m at work I’m focused on work and when I’m with Max he has my undivided attention. It’s not a perfect system, but I am doing my best not to check emails and constantly be on my phone/ipad while I’m with Max.
Celebrate the effort - It’s important to remind myself that it’s okay if a few things on my to-do list go unchecked. I cannot be equally successful at work and home all the time. It’s unrealistic to expect that out of myself, so rather than be disappointed when things don’t get done, I’m committed to just celebrating the things that do get done. This mentality allows me to have more “checks” throughout the day and that feels good.
Buy something for yourself - I’m not advocating materialism per se, but as a new mom it is easy to feel unattractive when you are covered in spit up and barely fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Once in a while, I’ll buy something that I feel good in and it has a major impact on my confidence. I’ve learned that a small selfish act can sometimes be the boost you need to get through the day.
What do you do to find balance in your life?