This won’t come as a surprise to any parents reading this, but from the time I wake up in the morning, until the time I go to bed at night, I am taking care of my family. I am fortunate to be a stay at home mom, but I have found myself, on more than one occasion, totally swallowed up by their needs. There are never-ending piles of laundry, dishes to wash, games to play, and boo-boos to kiss. Being a mother has been my greatest joy, and I love nurturing and caring for my family. But as my family has grown, so have the demands. And I am AWFUL at saying “No”.
I am blessed, grateful, and totally exhausted.
When pushing myself past my healthy limits, my fuse got much shorter. I became easily frustrated, irritable, and had trouble seeing the joy all around me. There were days when I couldn’t wait for everyone in my house to be asleep so that I could spend some time by myself, only to feel incredibly guilty for wanting to be alone once I was there. Despite my best intentions, when giving too much, I was actually depriving my family of the happy, in-the-moment Mom they needed. Something had to change.
I’m so happy to be a mother and a wife, but I realized that those roles do not define me. I was so focused on my family that I was forgetting to make myself happy. When I started to talk to other moms about what I was feeling, I was surprised and relieved to learn that they had felt that way too, and it did NOT make me a bad person. I started thinking about ways that I could change the dynamic I had created for myself. The simplest idea I came across ended up being the best one.
Starting when I wake up, and throughout my day, I ask myself, “What do I want?”. Thats it. Honestly, when I started doing that, sometimes I couldn’t even answer the question. It had been so long since I had put my own needs first, that I forgot what it felt like. Eventually, I started having broad answers for myself. Sometimes, I just wanted help with the kids, or I just wanted to take ten minutes to myself. I didn’t always know what kind of help I wanted with them, or what to do with those ten minutes, but the more I’ve practiced opening my mouth and asking for the things I want, the better I’m becoming at articulating them. Making a ritual of stopping to connect with myself has been the single most helpful thing that I’ve tried.
Now that I’m reconnecting with my own voice, I feel so much happier. I’m making time to spend with girlfriends, and watching more baseball. I’m learning how to continue to be the kind of generous, caring, partner, mother, and friend I want to be, but in a healthier way. Carrying the demands of a family and maintaining yourself is so hard, and I’m sure there will be times when that balance shifts for me. I think that having a plan of finding your way back from the overwhelm is the hardest part, and I’m so grateful to have found something that works for me. How do you make time for yourself and balance your needs with your family? And when was the last time you simply asked yourself, “What do I want?”.