Until I had a baby, I had no idea how much free time I had.
Sure, I made myself super busy. I worked. I worked out. I worked in the yard. I worked on home improvements on our 1920s-era house. I read. And I’d complain about not having enough time. I want to tell my old self, “Hey, if you have time to shower every day, you’re not that busy.”
I’ve found one of the hardest parts of parenthood is trying to find balance. As a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom (with no nearby family for relief), I’m always on the clock. On top of trying to keep the laundry from making our house look like it could be featured on an episode of Hoarders, my days are full of baby care, the occasional attempt at keeping up with work, and trying to find time to spend with my husband.
Finding a balance is a constant work in progress. And I’ve definitely had to adjust my mindset and relax from my old ways. In my pre-baby era, I’d work weeks ahead. Now, I’m lucky if I have anything done even a day in advance. And the email in-boxes? They consistently hover at about 30 new messages that need responding. Once the baby is down for the night (which, let me be totally honest, she’s nowhere close to sleeping through the night and wakes up after a couple of hours when she realizes she’s alone), I have to decide whether I should tackle job No. 2 or just do the bare minimum and hope for more time the next day so that I can spend some quality time with my hubby. Oftentimes my brain is fried, I’m exhausted, and vegging for an hour wins. I’ve learned to sleep with dishes in the sink, emails to be dealt with, articles that have to wait until tomorrow. I’ve learned to get by with “good enough,” and that “great” just may have to wait.
These lovable little ones are certainly high-maintenance little creatures, and as parents it’s easy to push our needs to the side to keep our children clean/fed/entertained/dry—even if that means we’re dirty/hungry/bored/wet. But even with the demands, I’m trying to carve out a little time for myself. I love to read, so I read at bedtime, even if only a few pages (and even if I have to renew library books several times before they’re finished). I’ve always wanted to play the piano, so I recently signed up for a six-week course. It gives me an hour a week purely for myself. And today for Valentine’s Day, I’m letting my visiting mother-in-law watch the baby so that I can catch up on those 30 emails and maybe do something crazy like go to Target and wander the aisles aimlessly…and not feel guilty about it.
I think some of those old clichés about happy moms and happy wives are true—I’m definitely better able to take care of my family when I’ve taken care of myself. So, an assignment for you Fit Bottomed Mamas this Valentine’s Day: Make it a priority to carve out a little time for yourself each day, even if it’s just five minutes to shower. Let me know how you’re making yourself a priority in the comments! —Erin