Finding a balance in filling my days, but not overwhelmingly so, when home with baby is not always easy. When Joel returned to work two weeks after Finn was born, I learned quickly how important it was to schedule something with at least one friend a day as a way of keeping busy.
I’ll come back to the idea of keeping busy.
Days home with baby can easily be blurred together into one endless nursing and diaper changing session. Joel quietly accepts when I bombard him with chatter as soon as he walks in the door. Having no one but a baby to babble with all day tends to make one in need of some adult conversation. The benefits of spending time with other moms are numerous, but most important is having someone to share in the tears and cheers in the trenches of parenting.
There is, however, such thing as being too busy.
Busy does not mean important. Busy does not mean days spent well. Time spent should yield in us feelings of fulfillment and enriched lives. Busy should not make us feel run down or drained of our energies.
During this maternity leave, I’ve been lucky in that I have many other mom friends with which to spend my time. This is great for those days when another day at home in my own company – despite my adorable companion – seems undesirable. But for those days when I’ve overbooked myself, especially around those times when teething and sleepless nights strike, I’m overwhelmed by all the busyness.
Choosing balance over busyness isn’t always easy. Those times when I do opt out of plans, I find myself plagued by FOMO. Over a year ago you’d have had to explain to me what FOMO meant, but now I’m fairly familiar with the term. It means fear of missing out, and it happens when friend and family get to be a part of something I have to refuse because of my responsibilities as a mother or out of kindness to myself. Even if I’m not really interested the plans I’m missing out of, I still find these feelings that I’m missing out rise up.
FOMO arises out of feelings of comparison and leads one to thinking that what they have or what they’re doing is not enough. Whenever I feel myself feeling this way, I try to focus on things that I do that give my life meaning. I have my interests that I pursue, but there is nothing more meaningful than the pursuit of motherhood. I’m lucky to have such a clear reminder in my baby to direct my priorities.
Prioritize “me” time
Aside from baby, it’s important to also schedule some “me” time. This is something that should be a part of every day. Becoming a mother has proven to me how deeply I can pull from depleted energy stores. All the more reason for us to see this “me” time as fuel that keeps a mother going. Determine what it is that restores you and make that a priority before scheduling anything else into your day and week.
Often I’ll find that I’ve scheduled more in my day than I can realistically accomplish, especially when getting out the door and around with a baby. Is it worth the rushing around and missed naps and stress of doing it all? Even if each commitment involves something that brings me joy, if I have to rush around in order to do so, it’s not worthwhile. How, then, can I make my days full without them being too busy? Avoid overcommitting to more than is manageable in the first place.
Don’t commit to plans on the spot. Saying something like “I’ve got to check my calendar” will give you the time necessary to consider whether this is something that fills your cup or not. If you’re anything like me, taking time to think should be obvious. When I’m asked questions with the din of babies crying and overstimulation from goings on around me, I can’t focus enough to process the question and recall what day it is in the first place, let alone accurately commit myself.
Having an exit line. This allows you to say no without actually doing so. Say something like “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time in my day for those plans.” This is all about the language in which you form your response, but it is also about being honest about the choice not to cram you life with busyness.
Last week I stuck close to home or my neighbourhood in an effort to maintain some balance, and I plan to do the same with the week ahead. On Wednesday, I had overbooked myself and there were friends I wanted to visit, but choosing to cut out some of what I had scheduled in my day made room for a surprise stop at Joel’s work, which filled Joel’s cup with more than the coffee we delivered. He does a lot to help me keep balanced, so returning the goodness to him was time well spent.
On another day last week, we took a walk in the woods with some friends and their babes, and it was rejuvenating, as it always is. Here are some pics from our hike.
Balancing my time is something I continue to struggle with. What do you do to fill your cup and keep balanced? What are some tips that work for you to avoid overcommitting or battle FOMO?