January 3, 2013
by Sally Blanchard
This summer after my husband got a great job offer, I quit working at a nonprofit I had been at for nearly 10 years and we moved from MI to VA with our two sons, ages 3 and 2 months. With the new baby, the fact my job couldn't transfer, and lower cost of living, I became a SAHM. While I enjoy it, there are days I miss working and having something other than my family as my responsibility. And being a SAHM is HARD! It's not watching bad daytime tv and baking cookies all day as my full-time working sister thought (although some days it has been). It's being the CEO of a company that works 24/7 and has no pay or vacation time where the employees can have temper tantrums daily. Bless all the women before us who had to do this without the luxuries we have today (exersaucers, Disney's Cars DVDs, goldfish crackers). So as I'm figuring this new role out, here are the things I'm going to work on this year:
1. Try very hard to be nicer to my significant other. He works just as hard as I do, just in a different way. Do not keep score about things like who changed more of the baby's dirty diapers. He fixed the car himself, I cleaned a baby's butt. Fair is fair.
2. Be more present with my kids. Some days I realize I haven't played with my 3 year old all day because I'm too busy with the baby, housework, and telling him what not to do. My kids will learn by example and saying "no" all the time isn't helping anyone. I'll be sad when the day comes and my kids would rather play with a toy than me. Right now I'm the coolest thing around so I should soak it up. Dirty dishes, laundry, etc can wait, childhood doesn't. Imagine what I want my kids to be like-and be that.
3. New motto: will it matter a year from now? It not, forget about it. Stop stressing.
4. New mantra: chillax (combination of chill out and relax). It's amazing how stressed I get when little things don't go as planned. Whatever it is, as long as its not hurting anybody, just put it out of my mind.
5. Stop trying to achieve perfection (thanks Pinterest-not!). Somedays you nail it, others nothing seems to go right. I told my sisters when they had their first babies, "you will plan on getting A, B,and C done today, but just be happy if you are able to accomplish one thing on your list." Accept the failures because you'll learn something (grocery shopping with both kids rarely works in your favor) or at least have a funny story about it to share (we bought ALL the doughnuts they had!). Reading the popular mommy blogs can either help or hurt this = stop reading the ones that make life look easy and perfect.
6. Make new friends. Alongside those lines, no one wants to be friends with a perfectionist. And being new in town I need to make friends outside of my husband's job. I read an article in the NY times about how it gets harder and harder as we age to make meaningful lasting friendships. My closest friends are those from school or my very first job. Why? Because to make real friendships you need to have proximity, repeated unplanned interactions, and an environment that you can be yourself and let your guard down. So if you see me at the park or at my mom's group, I will probably share how I cleaned up cat puke off my 3 year old's new train track set and offer you tea from my giant thermos my husband bought me from Costco, and ask you for baby wipes, just to see if you want to be friends.
7. Wear mascara and a little lip gloss everyday. It sounds silly but once when I was working before kids, everyone kept asking me if I was tired or if I felt ok, even my boss. I finally realized I forgot to put on mascara that day and it made me look like I was auditioning to be an extra on the Walking Dead. If I look nice , I tend to have a better outlook on the day.
8. Kindness. Try to do at least one nice thing for someone else everyday.
9. Smile more & at everyone. It can't hurt.
10. Have gratitude. Be thankful everyday. Kids driving me crazy? Mad the dishwasher broke? Can't get the cable bill issue resolved? These are all first world problems! Remember what I have now was once among the things I only hoped for. And many people are happy with less than I have now. I'd like to listen to Oprah and have a nightly journal session about this, but who am I kidding? Not gonna have time for that.
P.S. As I write this my whole family is sick with the flu. We're all miserable (and running low on clean laundry) but it's fine by me.
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