This is a guest post by Krysten Glor – one of my college roommates from senior year…
I knew that becoming a mother meant that I would be devoting a lot of time to someone else. Getting married was kind of like that; but a husband who is fully capable of dressing himself, and using the toilet alone, is very different from a helpless infant. I still had hours, even full days, to devote to things I wanted to do – alone or with my husband.
When Kian arrived 5 years ago, we were thrilled, and wanted nothing else but to dote on him every second. And so, we did. It changed us and our lives; but still, we felt we could have a date night occasionally (at first he came along, sleeping through it all). We also made use of his nap times to play games, yard work, whatever we wanted. Plus, we had very willing, first-time grandparents on either side, to babysit. Life with baby still seemed pretty easy.
Enter second child. Karter was a handful from the minute I saw the positive pregnancy stick. He threw us for a loop all through the pregnancy and early infancy (reflux, meds, weight loss, allergies, etc.). Unlike his older brother, he didn’t care about our regular routines. He stretched us, and taught us a lot.
Life as a mother can be tiring
As the kids grow, so do their needs, in different ways. Now, they’re not just physically demanding and exhausting, but mentally and emotionally as well. The talking and questions never stop. I am glad for their intense curiosity and insatiable learning, but sometimes my ears plead for quietness. And I just want to pee all by myself. I’d love to finish a book, heck even a page, please. Maybe I could even paint my toenails this month? Hmm…I can’t remember the last time I went out with some girlfriends…
Probably when Karter was a year and a half old, Kevin and I realized we had not been out alone since he was born. I don’t like leaving my young babies; but, he was a toddler now, and we were feeling the burn…or burn out?
Same with my “alone” time for myself. Not that I, or we, need to be kid-free all the time; but sometimes we do need to get out, or do little things during the day to keep ourselves energized.
Here are some ways I stay sane as a mom:
1. Say no to bathroom guests
For me, putting a stop to the bathroom interruptions helped. Sometimes, I lock the door because I know they are fine for 3 minutes. Now, at 3 and 5 years old, I have to remind them to knock, and not go in when someone is using the toilet. Once in a while, I take a book or magazine with me – no, I don’t need anything to help me go! But, if I can get a few pages in my book, or a short article, and they think I’m on the toilet, I feel better when I come out and they’re none the wiser.
2. Take advantage of that time after the kids go to sleep
Bedtime was easy with Kian, still is – and he sleeps great. Karter, not so much. But, we do the same routine every night. I am one who needs those couple hours after they go to bed to unwind, talk with Kevin, maybe we play some cards or Wii, or walk to the pond in our front yard, maybe we just watch a show together (this means he picks a show and I sit next to him crocheting). This small window is crucial for both of us, to keep our tanks full, so we stick to bedtime close to we can, while allowing flexibility for special occasions.
3. Get pampered
As a SAHM, I don’t need to dress up for work, or keep my hair a certain way or anything. Still, I find that every few months, getting my hair cut and eyebrows waxed keeps me feeling fresh. Or at least looking like a woman, instead of just a sloppy mom that I am most days! Plus, that hour of having someone pamper me is great! (Also, you can give your kids some combs and brushes, clips and rubber bands and let them go to town on your hair, just don’t expect to go out that night.) Or, a long shower once in a while does wonders.
4. Read books I want to read
I read to my kids all the time, but realized I hadn’t read anything for ME in ages, save for hand-me down magazines! So, when we go to the library I will pick up a book for myself, even if it’s just a parenting book. The easiest way is to look online at the library’s website, and put a book on hold. That way, when I go get the kids’ books in the children’s section, I can get my book at the same desk, without having to drag them up to the adult section (a separate floor), and deal with them being bored and crazy while I search for mine. Then, I make sure I read it-at night, or when the boys do their ‘reading/rest’ time after lunch (neither naps) we all pick our books up and snuggle on the couch or my bed and read.
5. Go on dates with hubby
While my husband and I don’t go out often, we do try to do something once a month. We send them to Mema’s house for an overnight, or with my sister watches them here. Then, we go out for dinner, or maybe just to the grocery store or Home Depot. One time we laid floor tiles. Exciting, I know! But, it’s just the togetherness. The uninterrupted conversation. The chance to be silly again. Whatever we want.
6. Take care of myself
Eating well, staying hydrated, and keeping the balance between exercise and rest is also crucial for me to be at my best, and be a better mom.
Don’t forget the ‘eating chocolate behind the cupboard door so the kids won’t see me’ trick. It never fails to help.
Obviously getting enough sleep each night is great, but sometimes I indulge in some movies after everyone goes to bed, or, shamefully admit–Disney channel shows.
It’s a must-do
I used to think it was the big periods of time that I could be alone that would keep me fresh. But this summer, I babysat extra kids and had my dad and his dog here for a month, while he recovered from knee surgery. Plus, my sister lives with us.
I relied on those little moments to keep me energized. Sitting on the deck in the evening alone to decompress. Weeding my garden after the boys went to bed.
For each of us, it might look completely different–some are energized by being with people, some by being alone, others by physical activity and yet others by being sedentary for a while.
It’s important that we, moms, figure out what we need (no this isn’t a want, it’s a need) to keep filled so that we can keep giving to our families. Being a martyr for your family doesn’t help them or you. We are still women, still that person we were before taking on the title of ‘mom’ and ‘wife’, and need to cater to her sometimes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for it and to make it happen. Only then, can we be the moms we want to be!
Tell us how you stay sane and energized as a mom in the comments section below!