Monday, January 9, 2012

Recharging the Mom Batteries

As moms we give, give, give and even when we have no more to give, we give some more. Our lives, especially as stay at home moms, are to take care of everything. If you were to sit down and list out everything you do in a day and everything that you are in charge of, the list would be overwhelming to someone who does not do this job of being a mom. I remember when my son was 9 months old, he was a really needy baby, I was an emotional mess and knew that something had to give. I needed to make a change. I felt like my life was closing in on me. I was suffocating from all of my responsibilities and "all" that I was doing was taking care of my kids, the house, and my husband.

It seemed as though my responsibilities were little but then one day after going back and forth with my husband about why I always felt so overwhelmed. I decided to write a list of everything that I do in a weeks time, right down to how many diapers I changed. Then I had my husband make a list of all that he does in a days time. And then we compared. He does bring home the bacon (or tofu) and works really hard at his job but when he's at  work, he is getting a break from home. When you are a stay at home mom, you are always at work. Ask your spouse how they would like living with their co-workers, sleeping with their co-workers, feeding their co-workers, or even taking a pee with their co-workers present. It can be overwhelming. It was helpful for him to be able to see all of what I do when he is not here. It also helped me to look at the vast amount of what I do and decide what is really important and what I could do without. I also was able to break up my list of things to do by days of the week, so that my duties were spread out evenly throughout the week. This helped tremendously. Instead of waiting until Friday to clean the entire house, I do something each day. So Monday is clean the bathrooms. Tuesday is the floors etc. Then I decided on a day that I would go to the grocery store and what days that I would cook dinner. I know that this might seem a bit militaryish but it helped me regain my sanity. My husband and I even decided on some chores that he would be doing to help out. Like on the days that I cook dinner, he's in charge of cleaning up the kitchen. From all of this I learned, most of all, that I needed to ask for help. It wasn't that my husband didn't want to help, he just didn't know where the heck to start. He needed to be asked, not nagged or passively aggressively hinted at. Babe, could you please help me with _______? Or I could really use your help with_______. Or would you be willing to help me with________? Are my go to questions these days. When you ask, it makes humans think that they have a choice and will usually say "sure". When you say I need you to do ______. It makes humans think that they are being told what to do and well, who likes to be told what to do?!

Another thing that I learned was that, it's as if each of us has an imaginary bucket. Every day we and others around us are either doing things to take from the bucket or we are doing things to fill the bucket back up. As a mom, there is a lot of taking from the bucket and 99% of the time we do nothing to fill it back up. I learned that this was playing a major part in why I was feeling like I was going crazy. I was in a deficit emotionally. So I sought out each day to do something that would recharge me or fill my bucket back up. This also means that you have to set boundaries. It's okay for you to tell your husband, "I'm going to go on a 20 min drive by myself, I'll see you in 20 mins". Take the breaks that you need. If all you do on the 20 minute drive is scream at the top of your lungs, or cry, or listen to Beyonce really loud and pretend you're in a music video, in the end, you'll feel better when you get home-I promise. I also do things like: go for a bike ride, walk the dog, talk on the phone-uninterrupted, take a bath, go get a cup of coffee and sit in the coffee shop for a moment, go to the library and read a book on a big comfy chair. Whatever it is, you have to be the one in charge of refilling your bucket because no one else will do it for you.

The last thing that I took away from making this change, is that I needed to do something besides being a mom and wife to stimulate myself mentally and socially. For me this was going back to school but it could also be taking cooking classes, joining a knitting group, learning a language, learning about a different culture, getting together with a friend or just reading something other than a parenting book. It was helpful for me to have a part of my life that had nothing to do with being a mom and a wife. A space where I was just another human being. By allowing myself this space, I grew as a person and I come back a better mom and wife, every time.

We must always remember this radical idea that we are also people. That we have feelings and downfalls, emotions and needs that have to be addressed, or we will go crazy. We have to swallow our pride sometimes and be okay with asking for help. It does not show weakness but strength because we are aware of not only our kids and husbands needs, but also of our own needs.  The fact that we are moms makes us that much stronger than the next person.The amount of sheer chaos that stay at home moms endure on a day to day basis, is in itself a miracle. So don't feel bad if you need a break and don't feel bad if you mess up once in a while. No one is perfect, only human. Rest assured knowing that at some point we will all do something to cause our children therapy when they're older.

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