Becoming a mom came as quite a shock to me.
Yes I understood the science behind it, and was fully present for the joys and woes that are pregnancy and childbirth, but as a general schema the impact of parenthood was both abrupt and lasting.
Opting to return to work less than six weeks after giving birth…well that was near traumatic. The wounds were barely healed, and there I was, buckling my seatbelt, chugging my tear-filled coffee.
It was about this time when I discovered blogging as therapy: both in reading others and composing some of my own; a living journal of sorts.
Early on I knew I would need something to make sense of what I was going through.
Away from my newborn more than 10 hours/day while at work; up most of the night while he learned how to sleep; lacking exercise and general health because of these factors; and feeling hopelessly inadequate in all areas of life (and having these feelings validated at the worst times).
I wish I could remember or find the original source to share, but in my web-browsing I found an article with a theme that stuck with me: one chair at a time.
You’re either at your desk (or whatever work you do), at home with your kids, or fulfilling another obligation.
You can’t do anything all that well if your mind is still stuck in a different chair than the one with the tasks at need right in front of you. It’s a literal detachment from everything else so you can focus. Maybe it sounds harsh but it’s reality.
It reached me at exactly the right time, because my next chair was going to be have to be a therapist’s couch.
It was liberating in a way. I was hyper productive during my work hours, feeling like I did the work of two people but that’s another story, and felt no guilt unplugging at 5 p.m. for family focus time during off hours and weekends.
What I've learned
Fast-forward five years, so what have I learned?
1. Maternal Instincts: If you’re like me, parenthood can take you by surprise. If you will continue to work after having children, by choice or circumstance, be diligent in finding an employer that offers the right maternity leave plan for your life (paid or non-paid). Trust your gut with major decisions like this because it's the only thing without its own agenda!
2. Multipliers: I also learned an obvious yet genius technique when purposeful thought is put in – multipliers. I write this as my kids play outside, so I can supervise but they don’t really want or need me bugging them. I do the same with exercise, cooking, shopping, meal making etc. I say often, 'this is family time,' whether we are working together, cleaning the house or watching a movie. Chores aren’t as horrible when you feel like you’re spending time together (good for marriages too..yet another post).
3. Move: Don’t sit too long in one place: make exercise a priority. No, not so you can land a spot on the hot mom bod calendar. Your brain needs exercise as much as the rest of your body.
I’ve broken the chair rules a bit, and with good reason. If something distracts me from work (two kids and a life will do that; it’s ok to do work at home and on weekends), I've realized that it doesn't have to take you down with it.
What might, is feeling such resentment either way because there is no blend. I can feel this when I’m leaning too in, versus paying too less attention to my career development. Don't think in and out, think back and forth!
When in doubt, find an easy chair or outdoor recliner, and take 20 minutes to lean back, breathe deep, and appreciate all that you're working for and accomplish each day.
• Work as if your paycheck depends on it. (yes, that it does, don’t forget it)
• Blog like no one is reading. (After looking at old posts I’ve written, I’m thinking this is a good thing)
• Sneak away for a nap when no one is looking (okay, maybe you should tell someone so they don’t report you missing)
Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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