Transitioning from an office job to a stay-at-home mom was something far more difficult than I imagined. I’m not afraid of work. I’ve always worked, sometimes more than one job, and still managed always keeping a tidy home. I figured caring for a baby, and keeping house would be a cake walk, but it wasn’t. I didn’t realize that the hours exceed full time, because the hours don’t end. I didn’t think about the fact that as my child grew older, my tidy house would constantly be torn apart more than a few times a day.
It was overwhelming, but I’d promised myself I’d do everything right.
I’d keep up my end of the bargain. When I accepted my husband’s suggestion to leave my job, and allow him to carry the burden of household bills, I felt I was making a promise to take care of all the rest. Of course he didn’t expect this, or even allude to it, but in my mind I believed I should do it all for the luxury of being able to stay home with my precious little one.
For over a year I tried to do everything at all times. I grocery shopped with my little one in the cart, I woke up with her in the morning, and helped put her to bed at night. While she napped I’d take that time to clean more, exercise, sometimes prep dinner food, and basically do more work. When my husband came home late from work, I wouldn’t hand him the baby and walk away. I’d stay up, make sure he changed into comfy clothing, started heating the oven so he could eat, entertain our child so he could have his dinner in peace, and then start brushing teeth, preparing milk ETC. Often he’d say, “Honey, I’ve got this, go lay down,” but I wouldn’t. I’d go to clean the kitchen after his dinner was finished, and only after baby was asleep would I sit on the couch to watch a television show with my husband before heading off to bed. It was crazy, and in truth, I wasn’t doing anyone any favors. I was agitated, exhausted, and felt nowhere near the mom I envisioned I’d be.
One important piece of advice I’d always heard, but steadily ignored, was to take the time to rest. I didn’t feel I deserved rest. I felt like resting made me lazy, because I was already staying at home. I didn’t give myself credit for the things accomplished every day.
It needed to change, and it did.
Now I listen to the sound of my husband trying to get our daughter to brush her teeth so she can go to bed, and though I want to help and intervene, I don’t. My husband’s developed his process for putting our daughter to bed, and I’ve realized my interruption isn’t necessary. Tonight, while my husband outsmarts our toddler, I’m sitting in the bedroom curled up with the cat and a cup of tea, watching a Lifetime movie called ‘High School Lover’ with no intention of changing the channel. Do I feel badly? I did at first, but my allowing myself downtime does me a world of good. I feel more rested, relaxed, and happier in general. In denying myself those little moments of rest, I was making myself unhappy, exhausted, and less than my best.
You may think as I used to think, believing you don’t deserve, or need those moments of alone time, and rest, but trust me, do it for you, and your family.
Ladies, take the downtime when you’re able.
If your child stopped napping, assign quiet time so you’ll have time to sit, and veg out. Even if it’s lying on the couch watching Dr. Phil, or taking a long, hot shower where you can actually lather your hair, and shave your legs; you will feel like a new human. Have a set morning when your hubby is home to sleep in. Take that hour you want to go exercise to eighties tunes in the other room while your husband watches the little one. Despite what you may think, he wants this one on one time with his child, and does not see it as doing you a favor. Sneak off to the grocery store or Target by yourself! Even simply doing that little errand alone brings me home feeling refreshed from not worrying about anyone other than me and I get the joy of shopping without feeling rushed.
Take those moments, and don’t feel badly about it, because you are doing your family a favor. Accept that you do enough. Your family doesn’t need a robot that takes care of everything, every second of everyday. They need you, loving, happy, energetic you, and you can’t be that person while burning the candle at both ends.
Ladies, take the downtime. It will change your life.