When Zu was around 22 months old and June was a colicky, fussy newborn I felt like the worst mom in the world. Like if it were a title, I would win it. I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, drowning in the never-ending rip-tide of Need.
So the one who could wait—me, obviously—would just have to wait for whatever that one needed. I’d put off meals because the girls needed to be fed (then changed and naps and then one would need one thing while the other needed something else), or showers, or make-up, or time alone, I reasoned that since I was the grown-up, I could just put some of those things off until the kids got what they needed.
The problem was I was sometimes skipping entirely what I needed because the kids were both babies and needed me constantly—as a result, I wasn’t just grumpy, frazzled and overwhelmed, I was snappy with my family and sometimes almost panicked feeling, especially when June had her crying fits (11 to 3a.m., her Angry Hours).
I don’t remember when it was exactly, maybe when June was around 6 months old, that I knew I had to change something, so I started having snacks. And I found it was a lot easier to feel patient and not-overwhelmed when I wasn’t so hungry. Then I started making it more of a priority to shower and get “dressed for the day” every morning. Little by little, things were getting better.
In various other crazy hectic survival-mode times of life with littles, I’ve found that one of the most important things for me to keep doing is taking care of myself. It sounds selfish and is counter-intuitive to me—I thought it would make more sense to just take care of them first, then what I needed later—but the kids never stop needing, so if I don’t take care of what I need, then I’m not able to be as good of a mom as I could be. ( the “oxygen-mask” metaphor, Mom’s Night Out).
Every person has their different priorities of needs, and I think its important to know what those are before going into a new busy season. I’ve been thinking on mine lately, and on my husband’s, so that when babygirl #3 makes her appearance, we can slow down and enjoy her as much as possible.
For my husband, sleep is #1 priority, but for me, my list is more like this:
(for Me To be a Good Momma and Not a Cranky, Overwhelmed Crazy Woman)
When trying to lose the baby weight, it is tempting for me to skip snacks and skimp on meals, but when I don’t get enough to eat, I get snappy or faint, neither of which is good.
- Some Personal Hygiene
(I’m not one that NEEDS a full face of make up and my hair perfect, but I must have a shower, wear my contacts, and wear real clothes—no sweatpants.)
- Somewhat Clean Environment
(Everyone has different priorities with cleanliness—what bothers me the most is when the house starts to feel too cluttered or the dishes pile up too high.)
- Some Alone Time
(this is the hardest one to come by, but I really do need it and I’m willing to make some sacrifices to get it—lately that’s meant waking up at 5a.m. to have an hour to myself before the girls wake up. as an introvert—INTJ personality—I need some quiet before the chaos, to pray, to be alone with my thoughts, to write.)
- One-on-One Time with Bryan
(oh to have a conversation un-interrupted by mommy, mommy, mommy… or waaaaaahhhhh)
Sleep isn’t a huge deal for me—I mean, obviously I am not a robot and so I must sleep—I just do ok with having less sleep or cat-naps here and there. I can also do fine without socialization or lots of time outside the house. Both of those things would be high up on my husband’s needs list but barely make it to mine.
So though I guess it sounds selfish, I do plan on taking time to take care of myself (the oxygen mask!), even with three little girls needing me this fall.
What is your self-care priority list? Similar or very different from mine?