*Just in case anyone is interested… My co-teacher and I staged a big fight (over a laptop charger of all things) in front of my students for April Fools this morning, and we totally got them! It was fun! Have you played any pranks yet today?
There was a time, b.k. (which, FYI, stands for before kids – I would rather call it “before motherhood” or “before Sam,” but b.m. and b.s. just don’t sound appropriate), when I really could do it all – or, at least, a whole lot. My first two years of marriage, for example, I was teaching full time with three preps, taking two in-person classes to finish my Master’s (at a school that was an hour away, no less), volunteering as a Young Life leader, leading a Bible Study for young adults from our church, hosting people at our house almost every weekend, and – at least in my memory – still managing to be a decent friend/wife/daughter/etc.
For a little bit after Sam was born, I attempted to continue at that rate; but, eventually, Jeff and I realized that that level of busyness wasn’t good for any of us – including all the people we were so busy teaching/leading/hosting/etc. – and began to cut back. By the time he was a year old, we had stepped out of almost every other role besides our jobs and parenting, and – for the first time ever – were enjoying regular quiet nights at home and “unscheduled” weekends… Although we have since added a few things back in – such as participating in a Bible Study instead of leading or hosting it – our life has remained at a significantly slower pace for almost two years now.
Now, I’m not going to lie… Sometimes, I really miss my life being jam packed with clubs, events, and opportunities. I think, in many ways, I’m just naturally wired to crave activity and leadership; and, sometimes I struggle with feeling like I’m not “excelling” at things like I used to. I’m not the person that people ask “how do you do it?” anymore and – if I’m really being honest – that was such a big part of my identity for so long, letting go of it has been hard.
But, at the end of the day (literally and figuratively actually), I like my life A LOT better now.
I tried to do it all for a long while and, to be honest, I got tired. In fact, after Sam was born, all that effort darn near drove me crazy. These days, I don’t even come close to doing it all; in fact, I make a pretty conscious effort NOT to.
For example, here are some things I don’t do anymore:
– Clean house. We pay someone to do it once every other week, and I just try to keep it neat in-between. It’s the best money I spend every month – seriously.
– Host fancy parties. Jeff and I both have a heart for hospitality, and I still really want our house to be open and welcoming; but, I’ve given up on any notions of serving elaborate meals on fine china or throwing themed parties for fifty plus people. My ideal night these days is tacos or pizza on paper plates and board games with good friends.
– Do extravagant crafts or activities with Sam. For a while, I tried to keep up and be creative when it came to playing with Sam; but, most of the time my ideas took two days (and, often, more money than I care to admit) to plan and held Sam’s attention for all of about 10 minutes. I was stressed by the effort and the clean-up, and not all that “fun” when we were executing my grand plans. Then, I just felt guilty for not being the kind of mom that makes themed lunches or cute Advent calendars, etc. BUT, lately, I’ve finally started being comfortable simply being the kind of mom I am. I like reading books. I like coloring with crayons. I like going to playgrounds and taking long walks. I like turning on the radio and having impromptu dance parties. I like exploring museums or the aisles of Target. I like little hands helping me stir cookie batter or mix vegetables. Sure, I’ll sit on the floor and crash cars like the best of them
for five minutes when the situation calls for it, but that kind of “play” doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m at my best when we are doing something or going somewhere, and I refuse to feel guilty for that. Sam deserves the best of ME – not the best of Pinterest or anyone else. He does crafts at preschool, plays dinosaurs with Daddy, and practices his ABCs with his sitter, and I am a-OK with that. Really.
– Cook every night. We are very fortunate to live near our families and have a number of opportunities each week with them – either out or at their homes. On average, I cook dinner three nights a week. I attempt to plan ahead for those meals, grocery shop at the beginning of the week, and keep them low-key and healthy. At least one night a week (usually Tuesday because that’s the night we both have Bible study – Jeff has dinner with his group and my parents keep Sam), I designate dinner OYO (on-your-own) and grab something easy like cereal or Chipotle. Then, the other three nights (which mostly fall on the weekend) are typically some combination of eating out or at someone else’s house. Yes, I would like to be able to cook more – and, hopefully, I will as our family grows and our schedules change – but; for now, this is what works for us. Some weeks I cook a little more, and other weeks fly by and I realize I didn’t cook a single meal. It happens.
– Iron. I have an ironing board, but I – literally – use it less than five times a year. One word: STEAMER. (If you don’t already have one of these, you NEED one. Trust me.)
What about you? What have you STOPPED doing or made a conscious effort NOT to do for the sake of your/your family’s well-being? How has that change effected you?
*Just to be clear, I’m NOT saying that doing any (or all) of these things is wrong or bad. Seriously, if you do it all, MORE POWER TO YOU. I really think some women can do A LOT; the important part is knowing what is too much for YOU and being able to let go of those things.
(The prints in this post are all from The Emily Ley Shop. I own a couple of her prints and love every single one on her site. *They are also on sale right now!)