I thought I knew what it meant to be tired until I had a baby. Now that my baby boy is nearly 15 months old and entering the toddler phase, I find myself smirking with minor annoyance when I hear people who don’t have kids share their tales of exhaustion and balancing life responsibilities.
I know it is possible to be exhausted and have work/life balance issues without kids. But it is SO much harder when that same level of stress gets catapulted into the kind of perpetual exhaustion assigned exclusively to parenthood.
Most days, my husband and I wonder how we do it. We see other parents with their seemingly perfect families and feel like we fall short in our attempt to keep it together on a daily basis.
Hear is what I have learned after year one of our son’s life: having it all is a hilarious concept with no other goal than to make parents feel inferior in their attempt to create a perfect life for their children.
There will always be difficult choices to make and none of them will make you feel like you 100 percent did the right thing – but you are doing your best and that is all that matters.
The social pressure to balance everything is seemingly insurmountable. Career moms and dads are faced with impossible decisions about professional advancement, family time, and the uphill financial battle largely stemming from the unpaid parental leave epidemic in the United States.
Even with so many odds stacked against working parents, there is a silver lining. You get to choose your perspective.
– your level of success
– how you view situations and people
– how much energy you spend on toxic people and situations
– healthy boundaries
– how often you stop and enjoy the moment
– your happiness
– what is best for your child
– the time you set aside to be fully present with your child
I have heard it said that you can have it all, just not all at once – but in my experience, it’s a matter of perspective, not circumstance. I don’t believe I have it all by cultural standards in this country (I live in the United States), however I am happy and my heart is full as a result of doing my best to avoid comparison with families who appear to have an effortless sitcom-worthy existence.
I’ve compiled a few ways I have learned to stay sane and hope they help you, too! Here are three ways you can (and should) have it all on your terms:
Stop comparing your life to highlight reels on social media.
Ok, so maybe you don’t stop using social media entirely…..but keep it in check. Pay attention to the fact that people don’t post photos and captions of their toddler’s tantrum and the resulting meltdown. Those picture perfect posts of birthday parties, crisp outfits, and cute moments were likely documented right before Samuel got mad at his sister for taking his toy and proceeded to have a meltdown in public. Yes, really.
Make time for self care the same way you do for family time.
I love the airplane analogy for this concept. Let’s say you are on an airplane, and it is going down. Who gets the oxygen mask first, you or the family member next to you? The answer is you. If you cannot breathe, you cannot help anyone else. It took me far too long to understand this and believe me when I say you will burn out if you don’t schedule some time to relax on your calendar. Balance begins with keeping yourself healthy and happy so you can be the awesome parent and/or spouse that you are. I am a huge fan of massage, and a mani pedi is always a great choice for relaxation. Can’t go out? Take a walk. Push the stroller. Breathe and notice the sunshine and the breeze on your face. It truly helps.
Choose a perspective of gratitude.
Having it all is not elusive. Rather, it is a change in perspective. Understanding that your happiness depends on your perception puts you in control of your mood, reaction, faith, sense of accomplishment, and positive or negative self-talk.
One way I have found that helped me think more positively is acknowledging the blessings in my life. Saying them aloud in the mirror is a great tool for boosting your attitude of gratitude and so is a pep talk. When was the last time you talked to yourself the way you would talk to a friend?
Are there strategies you have used to feel centered and happy? Please share in the comments below!