I’ve been waiting to write something like this at a time that I am in a moderate mood. Its easy to write a rant on bad day or recount the most magical experience on a good one. Recently I’ve been experiencing a two year old that not only has been doing the cutest things possible but has also has been testing her boundaries constantly. One minute I’m in complete elation from her ecstatic joy on the train at the zoo. The next I’m telling Michael he needs to moderate a conflict resolution meeting between myself and Georgiana due to her constant testing of my nerves. The thought of having more children is extremely difficult to wrap my brain around, especially the pregnancy part. So I have decided to document my thoughts on how to create a sane environment during these amazing yet challenging toddler years.
1. Structure. Having places to go and things to do that both myself and Georgiana enjoy is huge. Especially in the afternoon when the need to kill a solid 2-3 hours is the difference between a happy day and one that results in searching the internet for toddler boarding school. (thankfully NOT a true story but you get the idea)
2. Rules and Regulations. Georgiana LOVES to test boundaries. If I don’t have down what exactly she can and can’t do then she walks all over me. She knows full well when she is doing something she isn’t suppose to and also knows the repercussions. Being unemotional and not taking personal offense when she pulls a chunk of my hair out at the checkout line at the grocery store is important (sadly that is a true story). I think of myself as Ms. Stacey from Anne of Green Gables. A sweet and lovable teacher from the Victorian era who is still strict and exacting. I demand respect but it takes a lot of energy…
3. Help. HELP! I mean, get help when you need it. Having a babysitter or a few days at preschool is not only a welcome change for both myself and Georgiana but is the difference between us having meaningful time together and having just tiiiiiiime together (and lots of it). Remember when you’d have sleepovers as a kid and your friend stayed a little longer than you really wanted and before you knew it you were so sick of them you were making up excuses for them (or you) to leave? Sometimes a little distance does make the heart grow fonder. I’m not saying just check the kid into 24 hour daycare but maybe pre arrange a little time for you and him/her to have some fun apart. I’m finding it makes all the difference in the world
4. Get a hobby (aka a side-life). More than anything I need something in my life that I can grasp onto that vaguely reminds me of who I was BEFORE I had Georgiana. Being a Mom is the BEST but its also feels like it all about everyone else in your home but you. Between the needs of your spouse and kids its almost as if you are a shadow of person you once were doing tasks that you don’t care about but are somehow very necessary and take up all your time. Wiping butts, doing dishes, taking kids temperatures, reading “If you give a mouse a cookie” 1 million times and clocking hours on end at parks are some of the things that never realized would comprise ALL my time after having a baby. Of course I want my child to be healthy, happy and fed. But I’d like to also enjoy some of my own interests as well. Having a blog (oh, you thought I was just an avid cook not a Mom on the edge of having the baby blues?), a small business, volunteering for things you are passionate about can all make the difference between a Zombie Apocolypse Mom and a bright smiling one that people enjoy being with that isn’t constantly complaining about the depressing aspects of their life. Get a side-life and VOILA you will have a life again.
5. Schedule time to be with your spouse. I’ve found if you schedule time to be with your husband/wife other than working through the day to day minutia then you’ll be treat each other nicer and overall life will be easier. Scheduling time alone without the kid(s) is absolutely crucial for sanity in the home. I spend every waking second of Georgiana’s day figuring out how to make her happy and enjoy life. So when she goes to bed its only fair that I get some alone time with my husband where Georgiana is NOT invited. It gives Michael and I some time to just relax or talk about things we really need to go over but just hadn’t had the time during the day. It keeps us close and tight like the BFF’s we are. But when we don’t have time together for one reason or another I find we are bickering more, are not as kind and overall more vexed.
6. Take care of yourself. Go to the gym, get your hair done and above all take a shower and get ready! Its is beyond important to not lose a sense of yourself in all the surrounding chaos. There has been absolutely nothing better than getting random compliments from strangers on how cute Georgiana is AND that I look great too. I have worked my butt off (literally) to be able to go from flab to fab. For me, its less about the superficiality of looking decent but more that I look and feel myself. Carve out the time to be healthy and you will feel fabulous inside first and that will project outward.
7. Pray. If you’re not religious, meditate. I spend A LOT of time praying. I fall asleep every night praying. For me is about conversing with a higher power about the day. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? How can I solve this problem with Georgiana, Michael or a loved one or friend. Are we on the right track with our business, life and decision? I ask, I listen. Thinks get worked out in my head. I start to feel clear of anxiety and stress. And that’s when I fall into a blissful sleep….
8. Love your child and the rest will fall into place. Georgiana is an absolute doll. She is funny, charismatic and adorable. She is cunning, smart and full of life. What is there not to love about that!? When I’m burdened with days that are tedious I just need to think about what life would be like without her. And its TERRIBLY boring. She brings meaning, purpose and most of all love to my life that would be impossible to acquire in any other way.
9. Remember there is a future. I won’t be running after my sprinting child headed for the street forever. It won’t always take a 1/2 hour just to leave the house. Rashes, fevers and exploding diapers at the park won’t always be just around the corner for me. Take a breath. The hard things of this time period WILL end. So just don’t worry about them as much.
10. Relish in the NOW. The troubles of today will melt away and a whole new set will present themselves in the future. Be present in the magic that is all around and know that it won’t last forever. For better or worst.