My goal in 2019 was to give birth. I was due January 2nd, but we welcomed our baby into our arms on New Year’s Eve! So I got to ring in the New Year with my resolution already accomplished.
That, coupled with needing healing time and being on a newborn’s wacky schedule, I had no pressure on myself to hit big goals, but rather just to rest and soak up family time. It was bliss, and not only because I had the worst part (pushing a baby out) behind me, and the best part (endless baby cuddles) to look forward to, but I also experienced the deep mental relaxation that came from freeing myself of all expectations.
I do realize how fortunate I am to stay home, and put my work on hold for the majority of that year. I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to watch my maternity leave days quickly drain out and then get back to business. But regardless of that, I believe what I gained from my “lazy year” is something that most people could benefit from, and I have continued to apply these lessons to my life, even now that I already have a toddler (insert internal screaming)!
It’s not a secret that in America, most of us are wrapped up in some version of a “hustle harder” mentality. Even if brunching and shopping is the name of the game, we do it well, thoroughly, and on a pre-scheduled date and time. Many, actually I’m going to take a wild guess and say MOST, people have a job plus a side hustle or two. Motherhood rarely seems to be accepted as “enough.”
Perhaps it’s my own imagination, but I have heavy pressure on myself to do it all. Yes, I’m holding down the fort as a full-time and homeschooling mom while my hubby is away at work, but I ask myself what am contributing to our bank account? How am I bettering the world? What will I do for myself? Maybe it’s my type-A personality or competitiveness, but I am used to sensing the pressure of the hustle all around me, even in my sleep. Do you feel it too?
Birthing and having a newborn is the ultimate reason to slow down and take a break. People expect little to nothing of you while you recover, and I welcomed the “excuse” to lounge in bed longer and watch the sunrise and sunset. I planned to make headway through a reading list I had neglected for more demanding tasks. I embraced more pre-made meals and allowed friends to help out with little things. But the best part? I did it all without feeling an ounce of guilt for “cutting corners.”
Then, as my little one grew quickly and I emerged back out into society, (albeit with more spit up and cellulite on me than before) I didn’t only feel sadness over knowing I’d never have an infant again, I knew I would miss that bit of laziness and pampering that comes with it. That leads me to ask myself, what’s really standing in my way of taking those soul-restoring breaks? The pressure that I put on myself, or the expectations of others? Sure, no one will jump to my aid or start a meal train just because I announce that I plan to lay in bed for a week or two, for kicks and giggles, but I have seen that friends will respect and admire the boundaries we set for ourselves.
So what does that look like? Well, for me, that means I never agree to anything, no matter how big or small of a commitment before taking time to carefully consider how it will fit into our lives. I am a people pleaser, so I used to jump in and volunteer myself for whatever tasks someone I cared about needed a hand with. Now I ask myself, if I devote time and energy here, what is it taking away from me and my family? Can I do that without becoming a grumpy mean mommy? Do I really want to do it?
My favorite new habit is to have planned unplanned days. As in, I can’t make plans with friends because we’re planning on staying home all day. I do that once a week. There is so much to do in our home and all around us that we never do! I love games and crafts with my older child, but between extracurriculars and homework, plus the screen time she so desires, we rarely sit and complete a puzzle while I introduce her to new music, or play Bananagrams while we sip tea. I want to try and learn to sew, and teach her with me! I want to color with her, garden, and bake together.
The days we will be living under the same roof are numbered, and going by ever so quickly. I’ve begun to look forward to our unplanned days the most. I noticed that my young kids feel more at ease at home, and their personalities can really blossom and I am there to witness firsthand the connections and growth they make while they play. We made so many good memories that year, just by spending more time together at home.
Think of it this way: I have never regretted the quality time spent with my family. EVER. No amount of FOMO would make me trade it out. I bet you would feel the same. And yes, even when I forced myself to be in the moment, and to savor every up and down of the first year with baby, it still flew by faster than I can comprehend.
Most goals and achievements will be ready for the taking when we can commit. But we cannot stop this short season of motherhood from passing us by, we can only commit ourselves to devote our time to it.
When I do start to feel overwhelmed, or like we’re always rushing around, I try to step back and evaluate what we could take off of our plates for the sake of more calm and happiness.
So, mamas, you don’t need to have a sore body and a needy infant as a reason to have more downtime. You just need your own permission, and then to start making it happen. Please allow yourself to pursue what your soul craves the most.
Take it easy, mamas.