Remember when you had your first baby? Do you remember the most ANNOYING bit of advice that the church ladies gave you? I’m going to guess that it was this: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” I’m certain that they meant well, but my first baby did not sleep. Ever. Like, not even in the hospital. I spent much of his first year trying to find him interesting things to look at. He did eventually learn to sleep–sometime between his 18th and 20th birthdays, and he now can successfully sleep through any home project that is going on, such as vacuuming, laundry, or lawn mowing.
This advice was well-meaning. And perhaps, if that kid had slept, I MIGHT have taken it. But probably not. I was young, and I had a lot less need of what I need so much now in my 40s. Margin.
Margin and balance are the self-care elements that I crave so much more now that I work full-time. While I still want to do all the things, I know that if I try, I will end up burnt out and resentful.
So, as I get busier at work, I learn to at least try to say no more outside of work. My busiest time at work is in the fall, when the kids also seem to be busiest with school and sports. There are class parties, and cross country team trips, and PTO fundraisers. Meanwhile I am super nose-down all day at work trying to make three major events to run smoothly. In the fall, I am the mom who sends napkins for the class party. And I no longer feel guilty about it. To me, it is the working mom equivalent of sleeping when the baby sleeps.
This time of year is much more routine and “regular” at work. This is when I can say yes to more things. This is when I can send a cute snack to school for the Twins’ birthday (they are going to be SEVEN on Saturday!!!!!) Tune in later this week for my working Mom cute Snack Tutorial! This time of year I can consider helping out with sporting events.
Saturday I had a rare, unscheduled weekend day. IT WAS FABULOUS! I did really sexy, exciting things–like do all of the laundry, vacuum the living room, and clean the kitchen. But I also had the joy of reading for hours with the girls, binge watching Little House on the Prairie, and crocheting (another) hat.
I encourage you to leave an unscheduled weekend day for yourself every few months–resist the temptation to add something in. You might have to (gasp) say no to someone to get such a day, but I assure you, it will leave you refreshed and renewed!
I’m doing a few other things to insure some margin in my day to day life. My freshman is on the swim team this year (which makes me indescribably happy!) and has 6 am practices 4 or 5 days a week. I am NOT a morning person, but I crave alone time. So, I have begun spending an hour each morning after dropping him off in a “morning make”. I brew my pot of coffee, turn on the news, and crochet for a solid, quiet, blessed hour!!!By the time I have to wake the other kids, I am caffeinated, un-stressed (crochet is SO zen for me), and ready to face the day. As a side benefit, I am then tired enough to get to bed at a decent hour at night! I do NOT check texts or social media during this time. As a matter of fact, I don’t log in to anything until I am at work and even then, not until after I do my daily reading.
Adopting one laundry day a week has given me some space in my week as well. Laundry day may be busy–but I only have to fold and put away clothes one day a week! Somehow that reduces my stress the rest of the week. I no longer feel like I have laundry looming over me. Now, this did take getting all of my laundry caught up at once–blizzard to the rescue!!!
I’m also sticking to my plan of meeting up with girlfriends for lunch regularly. As much as I crave alone-time, I also crave time with friends!
Chime in! How do you create margin in your working mom life?