Motherhood is an all-consuming phenomenon. Never before in your life have you ever been as busy as when you have a baby. Suddenly, your life is no longer your own. You are living in 2-hour increments of eat/play/sleep. As a mom, there is never enough time to get things done, but the days may also pass slowly. There are never enough, but yet too many hours in the day.
The Newborn Stage and Adjusting to Baby’s Schedule
With a newborn, your time is dominated by the baby. You will be holding them much of the time. Finding time to do things apart from the baby is impossible in the early days. But, you will adjust to what your child needs. These needs may include taking naps in your arms and breastfeeding. Not only is breastfeeding time-consuming (cluster feeding, anyone?), but it is also exhausting. Your body is doing a ton of work to make milk for the baby. Add in rough nights, and you are so tired. Bone-deep exhaustion is something new for you with your first baby as well.
Sometimes you may need to nap too, or your brain may not function as well as it used to. Your capacity is limited to caring for the baby in those early days, and that’s okay. Time management isn’t a huge priority at this point. Your baby’s schedule takes precedence. Plus, you may still be healing. Giving yourself a break during this time is essential to getting through it.
You will only have enough time to do so much, and caring for the baby will be your top priority. Getting time to do other things is hard to come by. Accepting this is key to survival in the newborn stage, and accepting help is essential. Your partner will help with the other things around the house. It is important to let them know what you need them to do and when you need it. They cannot read your mind. Make sure to let them know when you need some help. Let them take the lead on things around the house so you can heal and care for the baby how you need to.
The Toddler Stage and Prioritizing
Even as your baby gets older, you are constantly “on.” Breaks are rare, and you are constantly in motion. Getting time to yourself is hard because you’re always busy. You need to make meals, provide entertainment, teach and take care of these kids all day. Household stuff takes up time as well. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything, yet there are too many hours at the same time. It does not make any sense, but moms will understand.
Being a mom can get overwhelming. It is exhausting, but you are expected to continue. Days move at a crawl, but weeks seem to fly by. Getting ahead of things is an impossible task. How are you supposed to teach them all there is to know, play with them, do laundry, wash dishes, work out, get them moving, fit in a shower, work, and sleep all in one day? There are simply too many things to do, and you may need to stretch them out. Maybe you only do something a few times a week instead of every day. It’s important to prioritize the things that matter the most and let others go.
There are other times when you are so exhausted that you long for naptime or bedtime. You are worn out trying to meet your kids’ needs and entertain them. Sometimes you just want a few minutes to yourself. Maybe you turn to screen time or other things to get through certain days. And that’s okay. You can’t maintain a running pace constantly. Some days are worth taking things easy, even if not everything gets done. There’s always tomorrow.
Take Time For You and Remember . . . This Too Shall Pass
Sometimes you just want to zone out with your guilty pleasure show and a glass of wine or coffee. Sometimes you’re so exhausted that you just want to let them watch another episode so your brain gets a break. You may be deep into the tantrum stage and wonder when it will all change. You may be exhausted from kids fighting all the time or from your infant’s witching hour. Kids go through stages pretty quickly, but when you’re stuck in one, you may feel like you’ll never get back out of it. Just know that things are constantly changing. No stage is permanent.
Conflicting emotions are something that all moms experience and time is a strange thing. How it feels depends on your experiences and circumstances. Some things fly by, and others drag. You forget how quickly time goes until you have kids. They grow so fast. You feel like you blinked, and a year has gone by. You mourn the passing stages just as much as you wish them away while in them. It is a constant balancing act, but you will zero in on the most important things, and that’s what your kids will remember.