Since the birth of my son a few weeks ago, it seems like I can't get anything done. Our family took a Christmas trip to visit grandparents, and it took both my husband and me three hours just to get ourselves, our two-year-old daughter, and luggage for an overnight stay loaded into the car. When my daughter was born, my life changed a lot and I also learned a lot. Now, with two children, it is time for another level of change and personal growth. To jump-start this growth and regain a feeling of control, I have created a plan that happily coincides with the new year and its tradition of resolutions. I have kept the list short since we as mothers don't really need a pile of additional tasks to worry about.
Nothing shortens a to-do list like deciding some tasks don't actually need to be done. Do I really need to make handmade thank you cards for all the generous gifts given to my son, or are commercial ones sufficient? Does the new book my daughter received for Christmas really need to have its torn slipcover repaired, or can I just throw it away? In preparation for my son's birth, I weeded out my daughter's toys and organized what was left into locking bins so I wouldn't have to pick up all the toys every day. It has worked wonderfully at reducing the amount of effort toy maintenance required; now I plan to apply this same principle to other areas of my life. When you feel you need to add a task to your already-overflowing pile, first evaluate if it really is important enough to warrant a reduction in your quality time with your children, your husband, or yourself. Extended family and friends are important parts of our lives, but we should always put our immediate family first, especially if we have young children.
2. Take care of yourself.
It seems that many mothers who get worn down have a difficult time returning to a desired level of energy and control. It's no wonder, as mothers constantly put their own needs at the end of the list. Realize that by taking time for exercise, rest, and proper nutrition is not being selfish, but ensuring that you are physically and mentally capable to properly care for your children. Take a little time each day or at least every other day to do something all your own - read a book after putting the children to bed or catch up on a knitting project while watching your children play. Having a hobby will keep you from the feeling of stagnation that can come when all of your tasks seem to have unlasting results. If the kids undid all of your cleaning, at least you were able to make visible progress with your hobby!
3. Be sure to get some playtime in each day.
Although mothers spend plenty of time with their children, most of it is spent trying to take care of physical needs of the children and housekeeping duties. Be sure that you take time each day, even if it is only 15 minutes or so, to simply be your child's playmate. You will strengthen the loving bond you share with your children and create lasting, happy memories. Record some of these happy times with photos and video recordings. Don't worry about taking professional photos or the house being a mess; the point is to create a record you can use in the future to fondly remember when your children were younger.
The above resolutions are designed to help you refocus you life on what is important to you. Feel free to add more personal goals to your list once you feel your life is in balance, but be extra careful to not get overwhelmed and spread yourself too thin. You and your family are worth saying no to some of the less important demands of modern life. Enjoy each other!