Recently Mila Kunis was on The Howard Stern Show, and in the few minutes I listened, she made a comment that really resonanted with me: “I put so much pressure on myself to figure how am I going to balance work and life. And I realize it’s impossible. Nobody put that pressure on me. I just did it to myself.”
I’ve been back at work 3 months and every day I slip farther away from the balance I achieved during maternity leave and back towards workaholic. And I lie awake at night hating myself for it. Do I think work is more important? No.
My guilt and stress got to the point where I could only produce half the breastmilk I used to.
But then I heard Mila’s struggle, and considered it; I’ll never feel balanced. There isn’t enough time in the day to achieve balance. Someone is always going to be let down.
This week, I made a conscious effort to reprioritize and to not feel guilty about my decisions.
Here’s how I took back my “me time”:
- I realized my to do list wouldn’t be completed in a day, so I might as well let it wait and enjoy my family. When work was over, I logged off. I didn’t log back in after the baby went to bed. [Ok, I did, but only for 15 minutes to answer the rest of the emails.] I especially didn’t continue to promise to be as agile as I was when I was single.
- I was specific with what I needed from my husband. Since I also work, he has always agreed to take care of half the housework and half the childcare, but it’s not always clear to him what that means. I explained that if I take the baby to school and pick her up and put her to bed… he can take care of dinner while I go to a kickboxing class.
- I restarted my bedtime routine. When I was pregnant [read: back when I used to take care of myself], I would choose a bed time and make sure some specific things were done before that time each day. I’d clean up all dishes, put away any finished laundry, practice a little yoga, re-set tomorrow’s to do list, and (if I could stay awake) read. It sounds unimportant or even anti-liberating, but it did wonders for my stress level. No clutter, fresh start, regular rest…
- I prioritized my own projects. I tended to choose housework over things that I enjoy because I could cross that off my to do list quickly and relax afterwards. Except I rarely had time or energy for my own projects once the family stuff was done. It just took a simple mindset change to make time for my stuff.
- I scheduled nights out with the girls. I hope everyone does this. Especially if you breastfeed, it’s important to break the tether from the baby once in a while. Your SO will appreciate the alone time, too.
There it is! I urge you to make at least change for yourself, mama. Every little thing makes a big difference.