I had just gotten used to being a wife. I had finally figured out how to live with a man I love, but still have my much-needed “me time.” I was also managing to do well at work, make time for friends, keep up with my family, and take care of myself in the process.
Honesty, I was killing the whole balance thing.
Then, much to my surprise, two lines showed up on a pregnancy test and balance quickly became a thing of the past.
I remember wondering how in the world I would do it. How would I keep myself from total burnout and still provide for this baby? Forget all the other obligations, I was now tasked with raising a human who depended entirely on me for survival. During a time when most women are elated, I was drowning in anxiety and doubt.
Eva Grace came along, and as expected, flipped my world around. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions and thoughts, but one thing was sure: This baby was everything important to me and I would do whatever it took to be the mom she deserves.
Of course, that’s an easy promise to make when you have pain medicine in your veins and nurses doing the hard work for you.
Within three weeks of bringing her home, I was already drowning. I went through all the clichéd problems every new mom goes through: feeding drama, spit up in my hair, blowout diapers, formula trial and error. The stuff of sitcoms isn’t so funny when it’s your actual life.
As time passed, it became apparent that this little human had no intention of letting me have alone time, so if I was going to recharge, I needed to make it happen and stop assuming there’d be a natural quiet moment for it to just occur.
By the time Eva Grace was 4 months old, I put an end to the madness going on in my life. Over the next year, I made small steps to ensure I had time to recharge (or as my therapist calls it, “self-care”).
How I Prioritize Self-Care
Today, Eva Grace is 18 months old and I have a “toolbox” full of ways for me to recharge.
I know this is a cliché in and of itself, but it’s true. I love yoga. It’s dark and quiet, and the practice calms my mind long enough for me to take a deep breath. I show up 15 minutes early to every class and enjoy the quiet.
I never have time to do my own nails anymore, well, more accurately I never have time to let my nails dry. This is something I’ve always enjoyed doing for myself. So, I took the activity and outsourced it. I get colorful nails and a half hour to myself (and sometimes, a glass of wine).
3. My bedroom
I’ve invested in my bedroom over the past 18 months. What was once simply a room with furniture is now a refuge. I focused on lighting, scents, and furniture arrangement — including a hand-me-down sofa that is a “grown-up only” spot to read a book or write. I retreat to my bedroom one night a week for quiet and recharging.
4. My work
By the time my daughter was 9 months old, I knew I could no longer work outside the home. I made the decision to apply to jobs only if they were remote 3-5 days a week. I eventually found a 100 percent remote job that required a pay cut. The income lost is nothing compared to what I have gained. I’m a much better friend, wife, mom, and employee because I don’t have to exhaust myself with corporate politics on a daily basis. I used to use a significant chunk of my PTO for mental health days, simply to recharge. Now that time is used for actual days off for enjoyment.
Many of my self-care “tools” are luxuries, and I’m aware of that. I work hard so I can have them, not because I need them for appearance purposes, but because I need them to feel like myself.
The world (and toddlers) ask so much of parents. While there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children, introverted parents have to find ways to prioritize time for recharging. After my weekly bedroom hideout, I’m noticeably different. Aside from my general well-being, I’m more patient with Eva Grace and more in-tune to my husband. After a really good yoga session, I think more clearly and have more energy to play on the floor for hours.
Simply put, I’m a better mom because I prioritize self-care.
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