getting my groove back7:58 AM
We never planned on having babies 22 months apart but it happened and we were thrilled! My mum was concerned. At the time I thought she was being a party pooper, little did I know that her worrying wasn't unfounded. Taking care of two under two those first few months almost killed me. Between recovering from a c-section, tending to a sick newborn and a very energetic toddler to transitioning to being a family of four it was a lot to put it mildly.
I will forever be grateful to my mum for being my coach and my rock those first few weeks. For fielding all my teary phone calls and frantic texts. She was an absolute godsend. She also firmly encouraged me to avoid placing unrealistic expectations on myself as a mother and wife and just take it one day at a time. Considering some days I would spend up to four hours rocking Teddy to keep him from screaming and vomiting it was the only way I could survive, just telling myself over and over again that tomorrow would be better. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't but it was the hope of it that kept me going.
So we threw sleep training out the window, stopped counting how many hours of Daniel Tiger Birdie watched and made mac & cheese with our eyes closed. I became ok with wearing yoga pants every day and occasionally stained shirts. We all ate breakfast in bed daily and by "breakfast" I mean a granola bar and squeezable yogurt. I showered when I could, which was rarely, and slowly buried my type A personality. The only thing I refused to let go of was a clean house. For some reason it was so closely tied to my sanity - I felt that as long as our home was clean I could pretend like everything else was fine too. Which it wasn't, of course. Other than that I just went with the flow and took what moments of privacy, clarity, peace and quiet I could get.
But as with most things in life - things began to change. My feisty toddler acquired the vocabulary she so desperately needed to express herself and the tantrums all but disappeared. My baby became a toddler and outgrew both the acid reflux and dairy intolerance and learned to walk and even say "mama" and "papa." All of a sudden I was finding myself with time on my hands and I began to realize that I had almost completely lost touch with myself. I had spent so many years sacrificing all of myself to these little people that I was completely depleted.
But little by little I began to put back together the pieces of myself that had been locked away and placed on the tallest shelf. And it feels so good. It feels amazing to finally do things just for myself again. The biggest change however, has been that I feel that it's made me a better mother. Investing in myself gives me more patience, grace and strength. Because let's be honest - running on empty doesn't benefit anyone. So I thought I would share below just a few things that I do on almost a daily basis that help me feel happier, content and excited about enjoying each day:
- Taking a moment in the morning to pick out an "non-fitness wear" outfit. To do my hair, put on a little makeup and spritz some perfume.
- Finding a little pocket of time during the day (not at night when I can barely keep my eyes open) to read something. A magazine, a chapter in a book, a short poem or article. I find that doing this plants a little bud of something for my mind to chew on during the day that has nothing to do with diapers, meal planning, laundry or baths.
- Eating my breakfast alone. This is the one time during the day when I allow the kids to watch whatever they want for a half hour. They're not ready for breakfast this early so I'll usually give them a bowl of cheerios to munch on and head downstairs. I'll make myself a pot of coffee, a bowl of yogurt or a grapefruit and enjoy my few minutes of quiet that I get to set my mind straight for the upcoming day.
- Not spending every nap time doing laundry or cleaning. It's terribly tempting but doing that every day leaves me feeling completely burned out. Instead I've tried to alternate between chores and something that feels selfish and restorative like writing, reading or just making a cup of something delicious and enjoying some music or scrolling through my social media feeds.
- A "me date" once a week. At least once a week when Kevin gets home he either takes the kids to the park for two or three hours or I leave. It's my time to decompress from all the whining, clinging, cooking, cleaning and general mommy-ing. This time is key to my sanity and wellbeing.
- I don't spend money on massages, manicures, facials or blowouts. But one night a week I treat myself to all of that at home. Perhaps it's not as luxurious but there is something delightful about a nice hot bath and pampering right before climbing into your own bed.
It doesn't sound like a lot but trust me all of this makes such a huge difference! It's just a few little tweaks here and there but the change is invaluable. My hope and prayer is that all of us hardworking mamas can always remember that investing in our own wellbeing is investing in the wellbeing of our family.