Balance in life is something that many of us are constantly seeking. For me, I can easily tell that I am unbalanced when I seem unable to gather my thoughts or remember where I put things, mix up my schedule, and feel generally frazzled. Sometimes I feel like as a stay-at-home-mom, I can easily get lost in my own little world and lose the ability to keep track of anything other than when my son last ate, napped, or went potty.
I look down at myself some days and see that I’ve been wearing the same pair of sweatpants for four days, have read the same board books twenty times, and checked my FB wall at least half a dozen times in the past hour. Is this the life I envisioned for my family when I chose to quit work and stay home with my son? Definitely not.
Balance, to me, is a matter of being focused and deliberate. Lately, I have felt much more balanced than I have in awhile thanks to a few choices and changes I have made:
1. Time for me
This week, when my son takes his nap, rather than aimlessly surf the ‘net or frantically try to wash all the dishes that have piled up in the sink, I’ve taken some time for me. I’ve spent time reading a book, meditating on various Bible passages, or even going to lie down with him for part of his nap. Taking the time to rest and relax has really helped me feel a little more on top of things, rather than feel like things are crumbling around me.
This week I’ve also been cashing in on an awesome gift certificate I got for Christmas by taking yoga classes. I used to love yoga and did it quite often before I had a baby. I also used to walk and run a lot, but now it is winter and we cannot afford a gym membership. In the Midwest, working out outside in the winter is difficult, especially with a little one in tow. However, even if you don’t have a gift certificate to cash in, you could consider renting some exercise DVDs from the library or Netflix, or even find some that are available online. Taking time to exercise helps your body in so many ways that I don’t even need to get into here because a simple Google search will review countless webpages already dedicated to the benefits of exercise. You know it’s good for you. Just do it.
3. Focused play
There are some days when I feel like I haven’t even interacted with my son. Sure, I’ve fed him, nursed him, put him down for a nap, changed his diaper, and taken him to the bathroom, but I haven’t played with him or really truly interacted with him. When we are running errands all day or even when we’re not and I’m just tuned out as he entertains himself, there are hours that go by that don’t include me intentionally playing with my kid. This is surely not living a balanced life.
Using my energy to participate in activities with my son makes me feel like I really am the engaging, purposeful mom I hoped to be. Of course it is hard to be “on” every minute, but knowing I get “me time” while he naps, gives me the energy needed for “him time.” This week in one of my moms’ groups, I learned that in order to feel loved, children need physical touch, eye contact, and focused attention. I’ve been trying to implement those three things when he brings me the same book to read to him for the fifth time that day or wanders around the house taking everything out of every cabinet and drawer that he can reach. Interacting with him, talking with him, singing to him, dancing with him, and reading to him help me know that I am giving him the attention he seeks from me and needs to be happy, healthy, and growing.
Life is nonstop, and when things feel like they are slipping out from underneath me and I’m about to lose my balance, stopping to intentionally recharge and refocus can bring back the balance I desire.
Adrienne is a first time mom to her mellow sweetie-pie, Burkley. Carrying her natural lifestyle over into her role of mother was a common-sense transition for this former elementary school teacher turned crunchy-mama. Research is her passion and her friends and family know that she is almost always ready with a stash of resources bookmarked to answer any of their natural parenting questions. While she admits to being on the computer more than she should be, she has been happily adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after moving back home to the Quad Cities (along the Mississippi River) from Chicago, by spending time with her family and newly found mom-friends. She is currently saving up money to become a certified postpartum doula. You can find Adrienne at Mommying My Way.