“What do you MEAN he might have pinkeye?!” I was admiring the gorgeous skyline of downtown Chicago while on the metro, with Anil on the phone. He had just gotten to work in Durham. Dilan was sick and had to be picked up from daycare. At like 9:15 am. Seriously, why do the kids ALWAYS get sick the second one of us gets on a plane? Poor thing. I’m not even there to comfort him. Doesn’t he NEED mommy?! Normally, this wouldn’t faze me much. When you’re breastfeeding and pumping around the clock though, hormones aren’t on your side in stressful situations like that. I had gotten up around 3 am to catch my flight and had to present in 20 minutes or so. Slight panic.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned after having kids, it’s that they will constantly throw you curve balls. Nothing ever goes as planned, no matter how much you plan. I’m obviously a planner. I have to do-lists for our meals, clothes for the kids, weekend plans, travel, work obligations, birthdays, you name it. It’s helpful and helps things moving smoothly in our household, but for a good chunk of last year, I felt like it was never enough. Classic new parent burnout. I caught a good dose of it.
After a fairly smooth labor and delivery in March last year, I thought I was prepared for taking care of a baby again. I’ve done this before just 2.5 years ago, what could possibly be so hard about it? Well, everything. Everything that was easy with Dilan, was difficult with Asher. Food allergies, sleep issues, breastfeeding jaundice, recurring ear infections, developmental delays, you name it. I think both Anil and I did all we could to keep Asher comfy and keep Dilan as happy as he is. I can’t complain too much about his health issues because at the end of the day, they should all get resolved. They’re all first world problems. However, as trivial as taking care of healthy kids may seem, it can still take a toll on you. It’s ok to think things are hard. It’s ok to be sleep deprived. It’s all temporary, after all. BUT: if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s becoming a mommy martyr. Not me. Definitely not me. I believe you can work hard and still be light on your feet. You can take care of the kids and still have a life of your own…really.
On most days, we wake up at 5:30 and don’t sit down until about 11 pm. Working full-time is actually very helpful for me because I get to eat lunch in peace on most days – HUGE working mom perk. However, there’s not a ton of “me time” at work either, no matter how well balanced I think my job is. Going non-stop still takes a toll on you. So the other day, I came up with some fun new habits for myself to get back into my groove. Everyone needs a groove, a rhythm to keep you going. Here’s what mine consists of:
- A little time to myself. For me, this translates into audio books and podcasts. (Or, just straight up brownies – pick one). I know this sounds really counter intuitive. You want to get back into your groove with more technology? How “un-zen-like” is that?! Well actually, it’s been amazing. I never get to read at home because our evenings are all about meal prep for the next day, cleaning the house, laundry / getting clothes ready, and some laptop work or HOUSE OF CARDS (can’t complain about that one). Having the ability to listen to books, sometimes even with the kids in the car has made a huge difference for me. I’ve learned so much while driving. It’s sneaky “me” time that makes me feel human and connected again (ironically). Stay tuned for my favorites coming soon.
- Device-less nights. As you may have guessed, Anil and I are constantly connected. It’s the only way to manage the household, work, and everything else. Like I said, we’re planners, and a lot of our planning and shopping gets done online and in apps. But sometimes it’s nice to just disconnect, have a glass of wine, sit, and re-set. It’s hard for two technologists to make this happen, but we’ve loved the few nights when we’ve done this. Tub time is the best. Steal your kids’ bubbles. Trust me. Also, you can make any dinner look fancy with candle light. Just wait until the kids go to sleep.
- Work-less weekends. Of course there are those weekends when you do what you have to do for work. But in general, we try to get out with the kids as much as we can. Museums, parks, even grocery shopping and outside chores can be fun with the kids. The main point is that staying home often forces you to clean, organize, cook, fix up stuff, etc. While that’s great, it’s not so fun for the kids, no matter how much you try to involve them. By getting out more, we’ve felt more balanced and the kids have much more fun. They learn a ton about the outside world too. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. You’re talking to a thrifty mom here. I hunt down those deals, girlfriend.
- Taking more risks. Last year was a great year for me at work, but I didn’t take as many risks as I’m planning to take this year. I didn’t drop the ball on anything, but when your mind is so consumed with a move, newborn, and potty training a preschooler, you’re just preparing for constant change at home and it’s just a lot to handle in addition to work. It chugged along, but this year, I’m planning to be much more innovative. Because…, why not? Innovation is refreshing and just as good for the soul as letting your mind rest, if you ask me.
I’m typing this post while waiting for my flight back home from Dallas. Of course, one of the kids is sick again and Anil had to take time off work to take care of our poor sweetheart Asher. Thank goodness sis-in-law was around this time to lend a hand. Regardless, he’s done a fabulous job and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I married him. When you don’t have the grandparents or lots of family nearby, it can be hard to manage a startup, work, two kids, and all the glory that comes along with everyday life. I’m such a work in progress, but I’m no longer afraid of the chaos. I embrace it and make small tweaks to help me feel human again in all the blessed mess. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way. On my way to getting my groove back…