So, let me start by saying, that if you’re a new mom, chances are you would have been receiving advice from anyone who even stops to say ‘Hi’, so wouldn’t add to your list. BUT, if you are a new mom, and a working mom, and fiercely independent, and flummoxed by the changes that are constantly unfolding now…. and want to get a handle on yourself, pls read on….
What took me literally my second pregnancy to figure out was that I have to take baby steps-
- Workwise– Take a job closer to your home/ children’s school, it helps if your driving/commute time is shorter. If you can, opt for a meaningful role as an individual contributor. You are responsible only for your work & if you are diligent & capable, your work will speak for you. You also have to be a role model only for yourself. Having a team requires a lot of mindshare & not everyone understands that even though you may be late for work, you are compensating for it by not taking any lunch or tea breaks. And if you are very fortunate & can afford it, prioritise flexibility at work over salary. A work from home option turns out to be a godsend if your child is unwell or your maid decides not to show up; than you having to take an off day despite the extra money you make. But, like I said, only if it works for you.
- Timewise– You have a fixed no. of hrs. in a day. Decide what’s important & give it the due time. What cannot be afforded to be taken off & need full commitment/concentration like Work & commute, children, spouse- should remain important. Then come chores. But what about the 5 minutes you spend on FB 15 times a day? That’s a good 1 hr. 15 mins!!! Imagine how good it sounds if that was the extra time you got in an 16hr awake day? So, this is exactly that time you are losing. So stop wasting time on finding what inane desert some friend of your friend’s friend had in a god-foresaken restaurant. Another big black hole I found where I was losing time was, yes you guessed it, my phone! Even if you spend 10 mins with your BFF twice a day, its nearly 1/2 hr gone! And because you guys speak so regularly, there is actually nothing very constructive to talk about anyway, so you end up making random conversations. Instead, save these mindless conversations, & spend an hr over a cup of tea in a week. YOu’ll feel refreshed & connected better. Also, if you are lucky like me & have more than 1 life saving BFF, fix days in a when you call them & catch up. Stop checking your smartphone every 5 minutes. The world will not change so soon. Really.
- Physical strength wise- Do only what is paramount. Like concentrating at work when in office, playing with your kids, ensuring timely meals, as opposed to keeping a house clean. People who judge you for cleanliness & not parenting, are not your best friends anyway, right?
- Mental space wise- If youe feel drowned, you will get drowned. In all my experience of holding a full time job & raising 2 kids I have realised that if I am in a happy mental space, suddenly my feet are light & everything looks achievable. So make room for yourself in your life.
- Exercise- Yeah, yeah. After yrs of procastinating myself, I have started my yoga back a week ago, and I am feeling good already. I always complained that since I miss on my sleep & do so much running around the whole day, I don’t have the energy to exercise. But, I found that those 15 minutes of exercise (no matter what & how), brings physical AND mental benefits.
- Get a creative outlet- Pure ME time which includes nobody, not even friends. It can be just about anything, writing, cooking, gardening, photography, sewing, painting, decorating, anything which is not a chore on your To-do list. I find this as good as meditation & it brings me peace. And it doesn’t have to be exhibition quality, so just enjoy the experience.
- Couple wise- Yes… I was as surprised by this as you are. The one person we often de-prioritise in all the ‘new-motherhood-work-life-balance-struggle’ is the one person who you started this journey with. Increasingly you will find the two of you discussing chores, to-do lists, and most of your conversations revolve around your kids- vaccinations, feeding timetables, teething and what not… This is understandable, to an extent, as kids are your priority. But if you do not make a conscious effort to stop this, you will get sucked into a life where you as a couple will lose yourself in this phase forever. As parents, you will strive to teach your kids how to prioritise different things in life, so set the example with yourself. Spend some time with your spouse where you give each other full attention. When its just the two of you in person & in thought. It will be a refreshing change.
These were my life saving hacks to survive mommyhood. I am sure you’ll figure out yours in your journey.