I had such a rosy-colored view of what life would be like as a stay-at-home mom while I was pregnant.
I pictured myself as being a paragon of efficiency, a whirlwind of domestic activity because I’d FINALLY have the time to cook! And organize! And clean out the inside of the microwave on a regular basis, instead of waiting until stalactites of congealed soup started to form on the top!
There was a major wrinkle in my plan, though. Wrinkle, thy name is Natalie.
Caring for a newborn and then a baby and now a toddler is certainly time-consuming, and I absolutely was one of those delusional first-time moms who was sure she’d have time to whip the house into shape while the baby slept.
HA. HA HA HA.
Although I did get some stuff did with the help of the almighty Ergo. Side note, holy crap, look at how tiny she is! And now little hair she has! Meeeeemorieeeeeees.
I knew that I needed to cut myself some slack with a newborn. Natalie was a hungry, hungry hippo (still is!) and I was breastfeeding on demand, which meant I was trapped underneath her for about 75% of the day. But when I cried tears of complete frustration because HOW CAN SHE BE HUNGRY SHE JUST ATE 15 MINUTES AGO, I tried to remind myself that this clusterfeeding misery would not last forever.
And it didn’t! But at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks, I was surprised at how tough I was still finding all of this. Shouldn’t I have, like, a routine by now? In my head I always saw the 3-4 month mark as The Line between newborn and baby, between “you get a free pass on everything because you’re caring for this baby leech” and “ok seriously maybe you could try making the bed once in a while?”
(Just to clarify, Will was NOT saying those things to me. That was all pressure I was putting on myself.)
I was having a really hard time and felt like I was failing at everything except the actual “being a mom” part. Which, DUH, is kind of my primary responsibility. Natalie was (still is!) growing like crazy and her pediatrician has used the word “thriving” at every single appointment, so, WINNING.
And lest you think that our days are planned to the hilt with enrichment activities and playdates and I have no time to do housework because I’m always making my own organic baby food….no. As I’m writing this Natalie is watching The Cat in the Hat and studying a board book with pictures of farm animals, and I look up every few minutes to make sure she hasn’t scaled the TV cabinet. We spend a lot of time just hanging out, doing nothing in particular except moving from room to room and then immediately forgetting why we were there in the first place.
And taking selfies, obviously.
Do I feel like I’m a good mom? Yes, I do. And that feels a little funny to say because it seems like a lot of what I see on the Internet is moms’ public flogging of themselves and airing of guilt. And yeah, I could absolutely dig through my archives and pull out myriad posts where I mention feeling guilty or inadequate or like I have no idea what I’m doing.
But Natalie is growing and learning and above all else, she is LOVED. Fiercely, by both of her parents, who tell her AND show her that every single day.
So yeah, I think that means I’m doing ok in the mom department. Room for improvement, as always, but by and large? Pretty ok.
That being said, I am absolutely terrible about managing my other household duties.
I have a much, much higher threshold than Will for when something needs to be cleaned (see “microwave stalactites” above) and that is really bad for the person whose primary jobs are 1) raising a human being; and 2) not raising that human being in a pig sty.
I’ve tried almost every organization system on the planet, and am THRILLED to report that they ALL work….for a few weeks. I get super organized, back on track, motivated! Yes! LET’S DO THIS. And I clean bathrooms and wipe counters and file papers. And then…I don’t.
Things fall to the wayside and I find myself doing the absolute bare minimum of things that I have to do, which usually happens at a dead sprint at the end of Natalie’s two-hour nap because she’s starting to stir and OH CRAP I NEVER CLEANED UP THE FOOD SHE THREW ON THE FLOOR AT LUNCH.
That is painful to admit but it’s the truth. I’m able to turn a blind eye to food on the floor. UM WAT.
I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve read books about habits and willpower and organization (those books are all phenomenal, by the way). I’ve purchased e-books about home management. I’ve had many talks with Will about how I want to do better, because despite being able to overlook shredded cheese all over the floor, I feel much, much better when my surroundings are clean, uncluttered, and cheese-free, preferably with a sweet-smelling Yankee Candle tart burning in the kitchen.
Everyone has off days, and sometimes I really am so tired from chasing Natalie around literally all day that I don’t feel like I have anything left when she goes down for her nap. But when that happens every day for two weeks? That’s really not ok.
Now that I’ve admitted all this I’m actually feeling strangely motivated. Confession is good for the soul, apparently.
So, moms, how do you do it? Do you have a secret weapon in your motivation arsenal? How do you stay on track with everything that needs to be done?
HELP ME OBI-WAN.