To say that going from full-time working girl to SAHM (stay at home mom) was the hardest thing I’ve ever done is an understatement. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was an attorney during the week and a photographer on the weekends (and some weekday evenings). I had very little down time and when I did I would usually use it to enjoy leisurely shopping or read a good book. Or I would work on home improvement projects or various other projects I had going on (reupholstering a chair or building giant sunburst mirrors to name a couple). Needless to say, I was constantly moving, constantly creating, constantly checking things off my to-do list. I felt busy and fulfilled. I was juggling a lot of balls but I felt like I was capable of keeping them in the air. Life was good.
After my daughter was born, all my balls came crashing down. I had already decided to stay at home with my baby and I (naively) thought that, compared to my kid-free busy life, being a SAHM would be relatively easy. Boy, was I wrong. Completely wrong. Utterly and miserably wrong.
After her birth, my days were ruled by feedings, naps, poopy diapers and my random crying outbursts (I suffered horribly from PPD). I rarely slept (because she rarely slept) and I would forget to eat and it was a REALLY good day if I managed to sneak in a shower. Gone were the days of checking things off my to do list. Gone were the days of leisurely shopping or reading a book. Gone were the days of putting on make-up and wearing real clothes. My life had just taken a sudden and complete 180 and I was not handling it well.
After several weeks of new motherhood craziness I knew I had to do something or I was going to go insane. Here are some of the things that I’ve found have helped me keep my sanity as a new mom and even now as an “experienced” mom (ha! I use that term loosely):
- Put yourself and your kid(s) on a schedule. This helped me because before I had kids, my life was pretty well scheduled out. I thrive on keeping schedules. And, honestly, I think kids thrive with schedules too. With an infant, the schedule might not look like much, but at least having something to go by was a help for me, but…
- Go with the flow. I know, I’ve kinda just contradicted myself. Yes, having a schedule is good and helpful, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. If baby skips a nap because you stayed at a play date too long, you might have to make up for it at an unscheduled time. If you try to follow a schedule too rigidly, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
- Ask for help. No, seriously, ask for help. Why do we, as women and as mothers, think asking for help is a sign of weakness? Why do we consider it a failure if we need someone else to help us during one of the hardest, most exhausting, most trying seasons of our lives? Hear me, friends, when I tell you that there is no shame in asking for help. We are not meant to do this alone. God wants us to live as a community for so many reasons, and this is one of those reasons. Raising kids is hard. Being a mom is hard. Swallow your pride and ask for help, mama.
- Stop putting unrealistic expectations on your tiny child. This is a hard one for me and something I still struggle with. For instance, my six month old son decided that 20 minute catnaps are his jam. I have been trying to force 2 hour naps on him, like his 2.5 year old sister takes. Clearly, he’s not having it. So, in order to keep from screaming at him after he wakes up screaming for the billionth time, I just get him up and let him play until he’s tired again. When he’s ready, he’ll sleep for longer and on that day I will rejoice. But for now, I just have to readjust my expectations for him (another example of go with the flow, too).
- Take some “me time.” This one took me a long time to learn to do. For the first year of my daughter’s life you had to basically threaten me to leave her side for more than ten minutes. I felt that by doing anything for myself or by myself was selfish (and I’m a control freak so I was afraid to leave her with anyone). One day my sister was in town and we decided to go get pedicures. I’ll be honest, it was really hard to leave my baby (even with her daddy) for an hour to go do something for myself, but it was so healing for me. That hour alone with my sister chatting and laughing and getting our toenails painted was blissful and just what I needed. It was after that that I realized I needed to get away from being a mommy, if only for a little while, at least once a day. These days, my “me time” is my time at the gym. I drop my munchkins off at the nursery and go sweat my butt off for an hour and then go take a shower and get ready for the day ALONE! WITHOUT HAVING TO RUSH! When my allotted two hours are up I go get my kids and feel like I can be a better mom.
- Find your tribe. Seriously, y’all, this was key to my survival as a new mom. When my daughter was 8 weeks old I found a local group of young moms that called themselves the Boobie Buddies. It had started as a breastfeeding support group that became a close knit group of women offering each other friendship, support and weekly play dates. I went to our first play date not knowing a soul and feeling incredibly nervous and a little silly bringing an 8 week old to a play date. But those ladies welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I belonged right off the bat. They quickly became my closest friends and confidants and helped me in more ways than they will ever know. They became my tribe and I honesty can say that I only survived that difficult season of new motherhood because of them.
Those are my tips; take them for what they’re worth. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who transitioned into motherhood gracefully and naturally. I am not. I am a bumbling idiot who was ill prepared for the shock of motherhood. I bet I’m not the only one. And that’s okay. We’re in this together, mamas! Hang on and enjoy the ride!
I would love to hear what your tips are for finding sanity as a mom? How about you working moms? What are your tips for other working moms new to the game?