I am a mum and I am a semi-professional juggler
The art of juggling. If I were to give a short definition of the role of mother, this is definitely the first that comes to mind. We become natural jugglers with no training or lessons; it is as though the skill is simply graced on us at the entrance of our little ones. I don’t mean to leave the dads out of this but a lot of mamas out there will be high fiving me right about now. I have to admit, I was probably one of those people who always thought “how hard can looking after a little human be? I’d love to not work and stay home with a baby for a year”. Well, I certainly have eaten my words.
It can often feel as though there simply are not enough hours in a given day to get absolutely everything done, and the to do list remains a list no matter how many items you manage to tick off. This is a phenomenon I have struggled to comprehend as a new mum and I’m sure I am not alone. How do we find that balance between being the best mothers and also having enough time to pursue our dreams and aspirations? After some careful thought and consideration (I still haven’t cracked it) but here are a few suggestions that seem to be working:
1. Keep a mum diary
This is coming from someone who has never managed to write more than 3 days of consecutive diary entries however, I was lucky enough to be gifted with one as a baby shower gift and it has been a secret blessing in disguise. This particular diary is called The New Mum's Notebook and can be purchased on Amazon. It has been sectioned really nicely to allow you to jot down their feelings and emotions during the day (opportunity to have a moan if needed) and to also set a to-do list. I find it quite relaxing at the end of a long day, with a sleeping baby and a tidy house, to just get out my mum diary and spend a few minutes getting stuck in. Never underestimate the effects of getting your thoughts out on paper. It may also make for interesting (or cringing) reading in a few years. What I also love about this notebook is that it has a lot of useful reading sections for new mummies such as dealing with postnatal depression (read my previous post on this), recipes and impact of a new baby on your relationship. I absolutely love this notebook.
2. Set realistic targets and goals for the day
Let’s face it, even though we are superwomen we physically and mentally cannot do everything. I cannot count the number of times I told myself I would do something, not done it and felt absolutely crap by the end of the day. Unrealistic expectations and demands on us can have the adverse effect; complete demotivation. With hormones still possibly raging and running on sleep deprivation, the last thing we need is to beat ourselves up for tasks that were already out of scope to begin with. Be kind to yourself and know your physical and mental limitations. Putting things into perspective, if the laundry does not get done by Tuesday evening as planned, is that the end of the world? The great thing about living another day is that we get another chance to try again.
3. Ask for help!
Nobody and I repeat nobody wants to be around a grouchy, stressed, highly strung person. That is what can happen when we take on more than we can handle and don’t ask for help every now and again. I remember when I first had my baby I wanted to do absolutely everything for him and thought I didn’t need help. I was physically run down and would snap at anything that breathed near me including my poor husband. There was a lot of tip toeing around the house, I tell you. To prevent a complete mental breakdown I had to cave and confess the unnecessary pressure I had put on myself to be the mightiest and strongest of mothers to my husband. One of the many benefits of surrounding yourself with loved ones and those that genuinely care for you is that they will come to your aid in times of help. I can honestly say I am a better person and mother when I take the step to quite simply ask for assistance.
4. Plan ahead and prepare
This is where that mum diary comes in handy again also. Planning ahead when it comes to days out, meals, clothes to wear, etc, has proven to be a complete winner for me personally. If the family and I are planning a day out, I always ensure that clothes have been picked out, ironed and packed into changing bags a night or two before. A bit over the top perhaps but there’s nothing worse than rushing around perspiring with a crying baby hanging off the boob, when you have 5 minutes left to catch a train. I’d rather be that cool, calm, collected mother who had time to draw on her winged eyeliner and stick on eyelashes before meeting some girlfriends for a nice meal. When it comes to family meals, I tell no lie when I say I plan two weeks’ worth of dinners and lunches so I don’t have to worry about what is there to eat every other day. It is sometimes the little things that make a big difference.
Just remember, we can’t do it all, all the time, all on our own :)