When I became a mom it seemed like lessons and learning opportunities came flying at me much faster than I could understand them or figure out the best course of action. Part of what threw me in the early months was having to reevaluate all things about life and the pressure I felt to make the right choices for my son. It still happens but knock on wood, they seem to be coming at a slower pace. These days, most of the time, I actually get to process what is happening and consciously make a choice. Reflecting on this, I want to share some of the tools I use in my every day “Mommy Management” toolbox. I use these tools to manage life, expectations, and choices.
From a business planning standpoint, I am familiar with the need and benefit of setting objectives, goals and strategies. Things are more likely to be accomplished when they are formally identified and tracked. I certainly don’t go that far in my personal life, but my experience with priority setting professionally does make me understand how it can help in my personal life.
In my mind, I have identified a set of absolute priorities on an overall scale, including both my family and career as well as other important people and activities. I try to let these priorities guide my overall behavior and decisions. Then, I recognize short term priorities each week and day based on what I think needs my attention most and what I need to feel whole and happy.
I have had to come to terms with the reality that there are only a certain amount of hours in the day and I only have so much to give. Things that used to be a priority no longer always appear on my list. Many times, activities like exercising or reading (one of which I should do more and the other which I wish I had more time to do – you guess!) have to get swapped in-and-out to make room for the other or an alternative task that has come up. Setting priorities helps me feel less overwhelmed, is a clear reminder of what I value, and allows me to be more accepting when things don’t get done.
Be Okay with Saying No
Initially, this was a tough one for me as being a people pleaser is just part of my nature. Before N was born, I had a habit of taking on too many activities or pressures that ultimately ended up making me feel overwhelmed and prohibited me from really enjoying all that I was doing. I started to realize that in order to really enjoy people and activities, I needed to limit what I took on and make sure I was really interested and invested when I said yes. Most people are completely understanding of hearing no, especially when you’re a mom. This surprised me and made it even more comfortable for me to say no.
Setting priorities made it much easier for me to identify what was really worth doing. If something doesn’t fall into one of these priorities, it’s okay and easier to say no to it. Sometimes, I even have to say no to things that do fall into my priorities, but that’s a little more difficult.
Understanding There Will Be Fluidity
I am a believer in the saying, “You can have it all; just not at the same time.” I am not capable of being all things to all people at one time. There are times when I have to choose who and what gets more of me. Similar to the idea I wrote about in A 50/50 Marriage, there has to be fluidity to my priorities. I now understand that my priorities and the importance of each will continually fluctuate. By establishing these priorities as I talked about above, I can better decide how to split my time and energy. Additionally, by fully embracing the idea that my priorities are fluid, I am more accepting of my current choice. For instance, if I need to be at work early for a meeting, I know I will miss out on our normal morning routine. However, I’m also aware that means I will likely have an opportunity to leave work early that evening and get a little extra time with N. This understanding also helps me embrace what I’m living today because I know, in time, things will change.
I know I make and will continue to make mistakes. It’s just a part of being human and it is definitely a part of being a mom. I happen to be an incredibly forgiving person…of others. When it comes to myself, however, I haven’t always been as quick to forgive. In the past, I have beat myself up internally about a situation over and over. I haven’t used nice or encouraging words when talking to myself and I haven’t always given myself the benefit of the doubt or objectivity that I gave others. The saying, “You’re your own worst critic,” was definitely true in my case.
I am learning that treating myself like this is as bad as it would be to treat others like this. I don’t believe other people deserve this, so why was it okay that I do? Although I may mess up sometimes, I don’t ever do anything with malice. I have the best intent possible, whether people agree with me or not. Especially when it comes to being a mom, everything I do comes from a place of love. And when I really think about it, that’s what matters. So I am becoming much quicker at forgiving and trying to spend less time and energy on second guessing or reprimanding myself. In addition to forgiving quickly, I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and implement a better outcome.
Finding and USING a Support System
We have found all kinds of people to create a strong support system. Most importantly, Seano and I are supportive of each other. We try to be cognizant of the demands on each of us and we support each other when other needs outside of our family and home arise. Additionally, we have a daycare/preschool we are happy with and know N is happy going to. Our family and friends also step in almost any time they are asked. We always knew they were there but we didn’t always utilize their help. It makes a huge difference for me as a mom when I am open to accepting the assistance provided by our loved ones. These people are priceless in our lives. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” comes to mind.
Look at Everything as a Blessing
There are times when the pressure and weight of all my responsibilities are overwhelming. In these times, all of my blessings seem to look like a task or inconvenience. I see them as something else that has to get done and forget how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and things. In these moments, I remind myself that these things are actually blessings. They are what I have wanted for years, they are what I have worked toward, and they are where my choices have led. When I’m dreading another load of laundry full of spaghetti and dirt stained clothes, I try to remind myself that someone is wishing they had a little person’s clothes to wash. When I am frustrated about a particular strategy or decision at work, I try to be thankful that I get to be at the table and part of the conversation.
I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into some of the tools I use in my daily “Mommy Management.” I know as a mom I’m always looking for ways to be better and do things better. When something works, I’m thankful for it and I hold on tight to it. What other things do you use in your “Mommy Management” toolbox?
*All stock photos from Free Stock Photos.