I recently read an article on Huff post by Erica Ford addressing the topic of boredom as a stay at home parent
. Her article is hilarious and I really connected to the “realness” she described of her life as the primary parent. I think parenting in general is a trip, especially for us “newbies” regardless if we are full time mamas or dads, work from home parents, full time working parents or any mixture of these roles. We all came from caring about only ourselves to now being responsible for another human being. It certainly has its ups and downs and for me, I am still transitioning to my role as Mama and my additional responsibility as the primary parent. Trading battle stories from the front lines is the best way to learn more about ourselves and how we parent and I really appreciated the truthfulness in which Erica shared a day in the life of her family.
I actually had one of those “is this for real?!” moments today… I was looking for the hidden cameras. I was on the phone with my insurance company trying to dispute a charge while waiting for the cable guy to come “between 12 and 3” (which its now 4:30 and he hasn’t showed up or bothered to call) so I’m chained to the house trying to entertain a toddler and a dog with a big cone on her head (paw injury) while also trying to get shit done! In less than 4 minutes, Everly opens up the new 64 Crayola Crayon box I got her for coloring and dumps the entire thing on the floor, pulls the toilet paper off the rack and trails small pieces like bread crumbs all through the house (which is good so I can find her) and I when I do find her, she is in my room sitting in a pile of shirts that she pulled off all the hangers from our closet. Meanwhile the dog is following me around the house jabbing my ankles with the cone. In my room is a heap of clothes on the floor. I also was trying to stuff my face with lunch during all this and the kicker is I try to sprinkle salt on my now cold meal and the top of the salt shaker falls off leaving an anthill pile of salt on my food.
I started to feel the salty tears well up in my eyes as I looked up to the Orchestrater of this crazy universe to ask “whyyyyyyy is this my life” but instead found a deep choked gurgle of laughter come out of my mouth. I laughed so hard I did end up crying. This is my life. And it isn’t really that hard. It’s just different and along with all the frustrations there are incredible moments of happiness. This is life and it is for real and there are many many many people in the world that have to deal with stuff like this on top of being homeless or broke or in an abusive relationship or dealing with illness.
So I am practicing some new moment to moment strategies to help keep life in perspective while I navigate the rough and unpredictable waters of parenthood.
I call this Cultivating my Mama Mindset:
This is for real.
The Stoics practice something called “Negative Visualization”
where instead of thinking about all the things they want to have, they instead think about what they DO have and contemplate losing those things. It’s an exercise is appreciating what you have. For example, I could reflect on how precious my toddler is and imagine life without her. Or I could think about my messy house and contemplate what it would be like if I didn’t have my house at all. I could also think about the food with a mound of salt on it and think about how hard it would be to struggle with finding food to eat. Through this practice I can gain perspective on what I have in my life and learn not to take it for granted (regardless of how frustrating or hard a situation may seem in the moment). The reality is we will lose things that matter to us. It’s inevitable because nothing is permanent. I am trying to embrace this concept in my day to day because sometime in the future I will look back on this time with great nostalgia and wish to be in the mayhem.
Say it out loud.
Sometimes when Aaron comes home I try to relay to him all the crazy stuff that happened in my day as the primary parent. And lots of times my detailed account of the trials and tribulations of the day don’t really sound that bad when I hear myself saying them out loud. Shoot, I should have embellished more! I think by saying out loud why you are frustrated it can help diffuse the relative seriousness of stuff. Or even expressing your feelings in the moment out loud can help release them. I have heard myself say “I am so annoyed right now because I just made you an entire plate of healthy food and you just throw it on the floor making a HUGE mess that I will also have to clean up” ( I say this out loud in reference to the toddler not my hubby, in case you were confused).
I am still trying to get this one right. I know to function happily I need space to feel like myself. Instead of tackling all the things that need to get done in the house during the precious 90 minutes of nap time, I am trying to reserve that time for ME! I take time to write, I make myself a yummy smoothie, I go to my garden, I call a friend or yes, sometimes I watch an episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Creating space for me to do something that aligns with my needs is important. Because this is my life right now and I’m in charge of maintaining my own happiness and sanity.
How do you manage your new role as a parent? What works for you?