Once upon a time, I was busy. I worked full time, participated in not one, not two, but three team sports. I walked the dog, I cooked, I cleaned, I did the laundry and grocery shopped, I prepped meals for days in advance, I did it all! I was Superwoman and conquering the world. And then it happened, I had a kid.
Once my daughter came along, the entire world as I knew it changed. At the beginning it’s all about the physical world around you. You’re no longer working and are suddenly up two, three, four times a night to feed this screaming little “bundle of joy”. You’re tired, you eat anything that’s easy to grab with one hand, and you watch horrible daytime TV without even realizing you’re doing it. What you may not see immediately is that your emotional world has completely shifted as well. You’ve put this new tiny person before yourself. Baby always eats first, sometimes two and three feedings go by before you even have time to drink your cold decaffeinated coffee. The fur-baby that was rapidly demoted to dog waits to go outside as patiently as she can, and when you stop long enough to notice what smells, you realize you haven’t had a shower in three days. Myself, I’d stopped working out regularly, ate fast, prepackaged and processed foods, and didn’t sleep nearly enough to get as much cleaning, laundry, etc… done in a day as I could.
Of course it gets better, but the theme stays the same unless you acknowledge and change it. The kid(s) is always going to be number one now, but part of making sure that you’re being the best parent you can be is to take care of yourself. That looks different in each of our individual lives. I chose to return to work on a part-time basis and I’m lucky that this was an option with my employer. Of course there are days where I’d do anything to be in a quiet office with a Starbucks, but overall I feel like I have found my balance.
My balance looks like this: I’m a full time parent with a little bit of help. We don’t have family living close by for assistance, so YMCA Child Minding sees my daughter twice a week. This allows me to get in two solid gym workouts a week, all my other workouts happen at home – that’s my “me” time. She participates in activities twice a week, and I try to schedule those on days where I’m already at the YMCA to give us some free time other days. We camp, hike, and bike as a family so she sees an active family lifestyle every day. Although she’s still pretty small (just two), I let her cook with me. I feel like this teaches her that we cook healthy meals together at home. I work three to four evenings when my husband gets home from work which allows me to still have time to be me instead of Mommy. I’m able to utilize my education and to socialize with adults and not have the conversation turn into whatever the heck Curious George got himself into that morning. I also let perfection go, I no longer live in a pristine house – it’s messy (not dirty!) and cluttered with toys. Now my home is filled with love and laughter, so that’s a trade off I accept happily.
What do you miss? What is it that you slowly gave up but didn’t even realize until now? What are you going to take time to do for you and only you?
Whatever your situation is, I’m here to tell you that you need, and I mean NEED to take that time for yourself. Life is really busy if you let it be, and finding balance is an absolute essential to having your life be a happy one.
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