A little moment of honesty: It is really hard sometimes to take care of myself and the home as a first time mom, and fit in my occasional photography work. I put everyone else’s needs first. I feel like I am being pulled into a million different directions.
It is so hard to find time to do simple things like shower every day, brush my teeth (I know, yuck), much less do my makeup. And most days my hair is a disaster or the carpet needs vacuuming. I can’t remember the last time I scrubbed the toilet or even attempted a workout. Dishes and laundry seem to never get done.
Some days I don’t even feel like making an effort, when all I want to do is crash in my bed during her naptime and sleep.
They may seem like simple things to someone else, but everything all together feels overwhelming at times, and so I think some weeks I just check out and stop trying. If I feel like everything as a whole is too much for me to handle, I just let go of all the little things all together.
My husband is awesome, he rarely complains. He is so supportive of me and knows watching a one-year-old all day is very demanding. But I care about what he thinks, so I asked him one day to be honest with me and tell me if looking nice, having the house clean, or having dinner going when he comes home from work made a big difference to him. He told me he doesn’t really expect anything but it does make a huge difference to be able to come home to these things:
- It makes him feel celebrated to come home to hugs and kisses from his family.
- It makes him feel loved when there is hot food waiting for him after a long day.
- It makes him feel appreciated for his hard work all day when the house is at least moderately cleaned so he can feel like he can relax.
- And it makes him feel like he still matters to me (like when we were just married) when I make a reasonable effort to take care of myself and look nice (it is not mandatory but is a huge bonus) – because it shows I feels good about myself, and still care enough about what he thinks like when we were dating.
I don’t want him to feel lost in all the chaos, or like he is a 2nd class citizen in our home.
That part especially got my attention. It’s never going to be like it was before, but we can still do some things. I want him to feel loved and honored, just like I want to feel loved and appreciated myself. He knows being a stay at home mommy is exhausting and trying some days. But I also need to remember that I was his wife before we ever had the baby, and we both need to do better at prioritizing our relationship. We are working on not expecting perfection of one another, but we are at least trying to do better at loving one another in the simple things.
My take away was that it is all about balance. The baby has immediate needs that demand my attention, so sometimes that takes immediate priority. But maybe there are a few simple, quick things I can do each day that are realistic and achievable to help my man feel loved and honored. I don’t want him to feel lost in all the chaos, or like he is a 2nd class citizen in our home.
Jay works 12 hour days, plus an hour commute each way, so the days he works are long and hard for both of us. We are both so busy some weeks, life feels overwhelming sometimes, and I sometimes feel alone and neglected myself. So I had to share with him a few things that I knew would fill my love tank. He knows what they are. 😉
We are trying hard to communicate about our desires and needs, while still offering one another grace and a whole lot of patience when we don’t quite measure up, which is often. But we are both trying, and we will get there. It is NOT easy. It is a lot of work. Some days I don’t even feel like making an effort, when all I want to do is crash in my bed during her naptime and sleep.
Some guidelines I have been setting for my days (every family is different… you do what works for you and your loved ones):
1. Make time for quiet and resting at the feet of Jesus: If I don’t make time for this, even if it’s just a few minutes, my whole outlook on life is compromised. I feel more hopeful, more thankful, more at peace. I feel like I can take on my day confidently knowing Jesus is right there with me giving me the strength to get through it. I feel like I am always forgetting that I am never REALLY alone.
2. Try, while having grace for myself: On the days when life feels like just a little too much to handle, I try to remind myself I don’t have to be perfect, or have the perfect body, or house. But if I don’t even try, then I automatically fail. Jesus has grace for me. My family loves me no matter what. I can really try and need not live in fear of failing because I know I have their love and support.
2. Keep things simple and realistic: I try to prioritize a few things I want to focus on getting done each day, and then more things that I can tackle if I feel especially productive and have the time. These things are just bonus.
3. Write it down: I realized that part of the stressful state I was putting myself in was due to having too many things I wanted to do running around my brain, and not knowing how to prioritize everything or find the time to work it all in. Once I started writing things down, my stress levels started dropping. I was able to enjoy my free time with my family or playtime with Olivia and live in the moment because I knew I had already prioritized and scheduled what I needed to get done. It gave me the gift of guilt-free leisure, after I got everything down on paper. My mom pointed out that once we write down our tasks and see it all on paper, we realize they are much less overwhelming than we imagined. We feel more confident that we can actually accomplish more.
4. Put the marriage first: Remembering that one of the best gifts we can give our daughter is to show her what a man and wife loving one another well looks like. Parenting is hard work too, but I don’t have to think about making time for it. It is instinct. Marriage takes extra focus and attention that is not always easy to scrounge up without being purposeful about it.
Marriage is like a tree, if it is not nourished and cared for it will shrivel up and die.
5. Finding balance: I can have a meal ready when Jay gets home at night but it doesn’t have to be a gourmet one. Some days it can be something simple like heated up tomato soup and a few quesadillas. The house doesn’t need to be spotless, but on a hard day I can at least pick up the toys at night and wipe down the counters. It’s ok to walk away from the work sometimes and get on the floor and play with my baby. She needs that more than she needs a clean house.
6. It is ok to put myself first sometimes: Finding balance is all about making a little time each day just for me. Even 15 minutes to take a hot shower, do a little reading or writing, or do a simple craft will do wonders for me, and I feel like I can be a better wife and mommy when I work in some time to do something fun. This means making time to workout (actually getting it on the schedule) at least a few times a week. This could be going on a walk every day with the baby or doing a free yoga video on youtube during nap time, or pilates if I feel I have energy. Something is always better than nothing and I think setting small, easy goals for myself will boost my confidence and make me want to keep going and gradually do more and more. 😉 We shall see!!
This list is not my way of saying “These are the things that I’m awesome at.” But it is full of some things I am learning we both value in our family. Executing it will be interesting and a journey, but I feel that vision-casting a little bit for our marriage and life together has given us a clear goal to shoot for. (Wish us luck!)
I will be posting a sample schedule of my week in the next post. So be watching for that – as well as my list of reminders of things to prioritize and stay on top of, so I can get it all out of my head and make sure I make time for at least the things that REALLY MATTER.
(Here is my new post with my sample schedule and resources: Organizing My Life: My Ideal Day)
P.S. I would love to hear ways you prioritize the things that matter in your life, and how you talk about it with your spouses. How are you vision-casting for your family or marriage? Leave a comment here or twitter hashtag #fitlvisioncasting @pbianca10 or instagram hashtag #fitlvisioncasting @pbianca10