Before I was a mom, I knew exactly what kind of mom I would be. I’d be organized but fun. Easy going, but strict when I needed to be. I’d always enjoy being around my kids and have a blast hanging out with them. I’d make them laugh and hold them every time they cried. I’d be friends with all the other moms, but never ignore my children to talk to them. We’d do messy art projects, and I’d be okay with things spilling. I knew I’d be tired and impatient at the end of the day – I was tired after an 8 hour shift of babysitting! – but it’d be okay, because I would love my children so much that even exhaustion wouldn’t matter.
Then, I became a mom and all my theories about parenting flew out the window. I still want to be that mom. But, I also better understand just how many things get in the way. And, I know now that babysitting for 8 hours – or even for a weekend – is nothing like the day in and day out non-stopness of being a parent. Being a mom is even better than I ever could have dreamed and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But, I am exhausted. And I’m not the parent I had planned to be. I’m not sure that girl dreaming about being a mom would even want to be around the mom that I really am.
Almost every day since I became a mom, I have had something major happening in my life that has made it harder for me to be the mom I want to be – I have either been pregnant, sick with migraines, and/or executing or adjusting to a move to a totally new city. This month, for the first time since Beach Girl was born almost 3 years ago, I feel like I can step back and think big thoughts about the mom I still want to be.
I’ve realized my personality is such that I crave routine and I function best with order. I certainly don’t want to make an idol out of it, but I also need to recognize who I am and to work within that. I need to set myself up for success as a mom and as a wife. I know many moms who can just float from day to day without systems in place, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me.
I still want to be the mom who lets her kids do fun art projects and explore the house freely; but I’ve realized that even having children can’t change the fact that I love order and am stressed by messes. I love hanging out with my girls and still want to be the mom who makes them laugh and holds them when they cry; but I also desperately need alone time and time where I don’t feel like I’m needed.
Life with 2 kids under 3 means that there isn’t much predictability to my week, or even days. Since becoming a mom, I’ve struggled with finding a balance between that unpredictability and my desire for consistent routines. I’ve erred on the side of flexibility because I often feel like if I can’t do something the way I want, I may as well not try. I’m a pretty big perfectionist and the idea of a less than perfect outcome often overwhelms me. I also know that routine, order, and structure are likely idols of mine and I want to love my family more than my structure, so have shied away from even setting up routines.
I’ve been thinking through some ways that I can set up my life to better match my personality. Really, I’ve been thinking through more of what my personality even is – lots of self-analysis! – to think through what changes would set me up for success as a mom and as a wife. Instead of trying to stay up late to make all these changes tonight – which, frankly, is what I desperately want to do – I’m going to set a few goals for myself for the month of July that I hope I can actually meet.
I’ve come up with 5 things I want to introduce as part of my routines and 4 things I want to accomplish by the end of the month.
1. Go to bed earlier. I normally go to bed around midnight, which means I don’t get nearly enough sleep. I want to start heading to bed by 10:30 each night.
2. Rely on TV less. Since I go to bed so late, I usually have Beach Girl watch TV when she wakes up in the morning while I continue sleeping. I’m hoping that an earlier bedtime will mean I can start my day earlier as well. For the times when I do need extra sleep, I want to proactively plan activities for her to do rather than having her passively watch a show.
3. Exercise 3x a week. I know this is good for me, will encourage me to eat more healthfully, and is a great way to get some alone time… but I come up with new excuses all the time!
4. Listen to (good) Christian music at breakfast every morning. We’ve done this a few times lately and it’s such a sweet way to start my day. We all enjoy the music, Beach Girl and I have had some great conversations about the lyrics, and the songs stay in my head throughout the day, reminding me of how much God loves me. I’d like to make this a habit.
5. Do something relaxing for myself twice a week. When we’re all home, I love to have family time. But, I often realize later that I should have taken some time to myself. When I do have alone time, I usually use it to clean or something silly like that. I want to take some time to actually care for myself a couple times a week so that I can better care for my family throughout the week. I plan to do this for an hour each time, when Beach Dad is home to watch the girls and I can be totally alone.
By the end of this month, I want to have accomplished these things:
1. Cut our spending – we’d like to spend only on essentials (and my birthday!) this month. We have already drafted this month’s budget and I want to do a good job tracking it and sticking to it this month.
2. Set up a meal rotation system to make feeding my family easier.
3. Better think through my strengths and weaknesses as a mom and wife. I feel like I’ve been trying to do it all, but have worn myself out. What am I good at and what do I enjoy? What do I not enjoy and what am I not gifted in? In other words, what could I stop doing or maybe outsource?
4. Identify 3 new things I can add into my routine to help myself next month.
I’ll keep you posted on how things go this month! Now, tell me about yourself – are you the mom you dreamed you’d be? Any new routines you want to add in? Let’s cheer each other on!