As we are nearing July 1st, my son’s first birthday, I began to think of all of the things that have changed during the first year of his life. Not the typical things – like how he is walking now, the words he is saying or how big he has gotten. I’ve begun thinking about the things that have changed with me, in my life.
I Changed Jobs
My job was not a good fit for me in this new season of my life. It was a job that I was passionate about, but the systems in place at my job made it stressful and toxic. The work I was doing was supposed to be rewarding, but I was so bogged down with productivity expectations and daily emergencies that I wasn’t able to get to the meaningful work most days. I was working 8-5, which I know many moms do, but it wasn’t working for my family. I would pick up the baby around 5:15 from daycare, rush home, wash my pump parts and nurse the baby while my husband got dinner started, eat dinner, and then we maybe had 10-15 minutes to enjoy each other as a family before bedtime at 7:00/7:30. Except in the early days when I first went back to work (when my son was 6 weeks old) and he was cluster feeding every night from about 6 PM to 10/11 PM; those nights my husband took over everything and bedtime was much later.
I found myself at home stressing about work. I found myself at work stressing about home and missing my baby. It just wasn’t working anymore. I went back to work mid-august and started looking for a new job in December. I found a new job and started it that February. My schedule is more flexible. I never work past 3 PM unless by choice. I work for an agency that believes that you need to take care of yourself and your family FIRST in order to be able to take care of your clients (I’m a therapist).
Now, mind you, this job is not in my exact niche. This job is not perfect. But, this job gives me more time with my family and lets me do meaningful work with children and families. This job gives me more time to spend with my baby, more time to get the things I need to get done around the house, more time to relax with my husband and more time to do intentional things for self-care
I Changed My Mindset
I’ve written about this in a previous post, but I’ve had to make some major mindset shifts since becoming a mom. One of those is I’ve had to learn to be okay with asking for help. I’ve had to learn that not being able to ‘do it all’ doesn’t make me a bad mom. I’ve had to let go of control and be okay with other people watching my son so I can work, spend time with my husband and have time for myself. I’ve had to be okay with a friend coming over and cleaning my bathrooms because I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule and man, they were gross! I’ve had to learn to be okay with asking my husband to do more around the house or watch our son so I can get a break for a bit or focus on things I need to get done. I’ve had to rely on my support system. When they say it takes a village, it’s true. I’ve had to learn to let my village in so my son, my family and I can thrive in this season of life.
I’ve Changed the Way I Do Housework
Before I had my son, I just cleaned and did laundry whenever I felt like it. If something started to look too dirty I would get out the cleaning supplies and clean it up. My house was never that clean, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me much. Now that my son is here, I’ve learned that if I’m not intentional about doing something it won’t get done. I’ve also noticed that if my house is messy and dirty I feel down and anxious. I’ve had to develop rhythms and routines to get the housework and laundry done.
For instance, I try to do a load of laundry almost every day. This makes it to where we don’t have to do 5 loads of laundry on the weekend. It’s much more manageable. Sure, there are days I don’t get to it, but most days it gets done.
As far as cleaning goes, my goal is the clean every room in my house once a week. Sometimes this happens on the weekend all at once – but honestly, this is my least favorite way to clean. Instead, I usually try to do one room (or a set of rooms) a day. I do the bedrooms one day, the bathrooms one day, the living room/dining room one day and the kitchen one day. That way I’m spending about 30 minutes a day cleaning instead of having to do it all in a 3-hour block on a Saturday. This summer I’m home a lot more so I do it during the day, but during the school year when I’m working during the day, I do it at night after my son goes to bed.
I’ve Changed My Mind…. A Lot.
Before my son was born, I had many many ideas about the way we would do things. We were never going to co-sleep. We were never going to have him around the TV. I was going to work part-time after he was born. We were going to exclusively breastfeed. We were not going to have any electronic toys. I had many many ideas about how things were going to be done.
Fast forward almost a year later, I have done everything I said I wouldn’t do. I use my phone in front of my son sometimes. We watch TV while he’s awake, even sometimes while we are eating dinner. My son co-slept with us for the first 7 months of his life and still gets in our bed every morning between 4-5 AM. I have worked full time since he was 6 weeks old except for this summer when I have been blessed to take a break. We still have to pay for daycare to keep our spot so I **gasp** still take him daycare a lot of days even when I’m not at work. My son’s favorite toys are ones that play music so we have two electronic toys he plays with ALL THE TIME. We were lucky to exclusively breastfeed for most of his first year, however, we started introducing whole milk at daycare when he turned 11 months old because I wasn’t pumping much anymore and pumping was messing with my mental health. We also considered supplementing with formula MANY TIMES after he turned 6 months old and pumping was a struggle, we just never got to the point where it was needed.
What the first year of motherhood has taught me is that you do what you need to do and what feels right at that moment. You do your best to make the decision that seems the best for YOUR family at that time. Not all moms are going to make the same decisions. This doesn’t mean that one mom’s decision is better than the other or that one mom loves her kids more. This means that all families, all kids, and all moms are different and have different needs. Different choices are right for different families. We can make different choices for our families and still support each other as moms.
You are worthy of the time it takes to love yourself well. Make some time for self care this week.
The Self Care Lady