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The Balancing Act

14 January 2011 39 Comments

Cross Post from BornFreeMumandDad.co.uk

by Chelle

I knew when I fell pregnant that I would eventually have to return to work and as the day of my return approached I was quite happy for me and Fizz to spend time apart and learn more for ourselves.

I returned to work on a phased return. One month at 2 or 3 days a week, the next at 4 days. It seemed to work out ok at first. Fizz settled in well at nursery, we got through our first major accident, we got ill, had days off, we went back; she without fail welcomed me with open arms when I arrived to pick her up. I returned to work in a new role, with a restructured department. The challenge of building up my role all over again was something I was relishing.

Then I started to miss that stay at home mamma time. I missed mornings when we’d roll around the floor, cuddle up for nap time. I missed my baby. I was signed off.

Desperate for an excuse to explain my loss of self I had blood tests; nothing came back as a reason. I spent three weeks away from work trying to rediscover myself. Find Chelle again. It is difficult to explain to others how you lose yourself, how pregnancy and motherhood change you, how drastic that change feels when you’re thrown back into the real world. Other Mums will probably nod their heads at this. I never felt like I was alone, instead my little twitter community of mums discussed their experiences with me.

I realised that this was really about me finding my adult self again and spent three weeks immersing myself into projects for me as well as mummy and wife.

I have returned to work again and this time I feel better about it. I have a day off midweek and Friday afternoons. Some time is for me, some time is for mummy, daddy and daughter. I am learning how to balance it into time for myself, family time, husband and wife time.

The balancing act will always be a balance, sometimes tipping more one way than the other. So I have some tips to share:

Try and have non baby focussed time whilst pregnant and when you become a mummy, don’t worry, at some point your focus will tip fully towards baby. Try and find time to do something for you.

Talk to your work about a flexible working plan – some will provide a phased return or a temporary/permanent change in contract. Make sure you ask before your return to work so they will appreciate your openness.  Put it all in writing!

As told to me in a lovely email – the housework can wait. I was getting home from work and would finally settle down knackered at around 9pm (cooking, washing, sterilising, cleaning)

Hire a cleaner! Having looked, you can get one for around £8 an hour. If you haggle you can get a fortnightly clean for £30 a month. It may seem a great expense but anything that helps you regain a bit of sanity is worth it.

Do not forget about the daddy – he needs you to be his partner too. Neglecting your relationship will leave you wondering where you stand with each other.

Your baby is your world but it does not have to revolve around them. Organise a regular date night, a mummy free night, a girl’s night out: something where it’s all about YOU, YOU, YOU.

And finally BE HONEST, we all know it’s hard work juggling, but I have found how much worse it is when you just try and cope. If you need support ask for it. Speak Up.

The winner is Jessica with the email address: Jb****@gmail.com

Whether you work outside of the home, are a stay-at-home mom, or work-at-home mom, share one tip for keeping your sanity in the comments below! One person will win a 6-pack of 9oz BornFree Bottles!

39 Comments »

  • Carrie said:

    A calendar that is always up-to-date with play dates, appointments, work schedules etc.

  • Nicole said:

    We have had a routine that has worked since birth for both of our children. I do plenty of activities with them and lots of outside time to keep everyone sane!

  • Sandra said:

    Hmmm…keeping your sanity. Well as a first time mother of 8 month old TWIN GIRLS I have felt like I was losing my sanity many times! :) The first 2 months were just crazy but somehow I made it through and now they aren’t exactly easy but so much fun and worth all the challenges… I would say have a good support system. My husband took a month off work which was trememdous because by the time he went back the babies were on somewhat of a schedule. We also had our families and friends who would come and watch the babies from time to time so we could actually sleep through the night instead of the couple hours of sleep we had been getting. Take time for your marriage and go on a date once a week if you can. Babies can really change your relationship and create challenges so make sure you nurture that bond. Set up a good support system around you and ALLOW them to help you and you will keep your sanity even if it feels like you are one step away from losing it!

  • Dusty B said:

    We have to work as a team. We all have our chores, and everything must be done so we can sit and relax at night. That way, I don’t feel the pressure of having to do everything AND take care of the baby.

  • Britni said:

    What has helped me was play group or girls night out. It is nice to get out of the house with the kids so my house stays clean and I get to socialize with other moms while our kids play. And having a girls night out has also helped to get away from the kids and have me time.

  • Diana said:

    This is a great story that i am sure we can all relate to , i thank you for posting this because the tips listed above are deffinately helpful and i cant wait to try them for our family its so easy to get caught up in work and life sometimes its hard to keep it all together

    1 thing my husband and i do , is we pick a night once a week to be by ourselves and just enjoy ourselves while the inlaws keep the boys it is so nice and so peaceful we are able to rekindle the flame we had before it got soo busy , and it helps us to appreciate each other and the alone time we do get that much more hope this helps some of you

    thanks again

  • Stephanie H. said:

    Being on a schedule has helped a lot. I get all the cleaning done in the morning and am able to focus on my girls the rest of the day as well as have some time for myself while they nap.

  • Katie said:

    We make sure we have alone time with each other, and our selfs.

  • .:karen:. said:

    Definitely behind the “you and your partner downtime” tip. My hubby and I try to relax and chat or watch some mindless TV after everything’s said and done and our now almost 3yo daughter is in bed.

    And also, make arrangements to swap childcare periodically with another family in your area. We’re lucky in that our next door neighbors had a little girl 5 months ahead of us so our kiddos are close in age. We both swap girls for a few hours on weekends or evenings so the other parents can get some time for alone time, cleaning, painting, whatever needs to be done. It’s been a big help for all of us!

  • Alison Hebe-Kibler said:

    Get organized. Keep a diaper bag packed. Keep a small “emergency” diaper kit in the car and or your purse. Mine consists of a one gallon ziploc bag that has a disposable diaper changing pad, a small zipper bag with a few wipes, and a diaper. If the baby poops, toss it all in the gallon bag and throw it away, if the baby is just wet, use everything but the gallon bag and refill it later!

    Also, in my car, I ALWAYS carry a clean 5 ounce Born Free Bottle and a bottle small (4 oz) of baby apple juice in my glove box. You never know when you may need it!

  • Kristi said:

    For me keeping my sanity has involved creating schedule. I remember how one child rocked our world, but now with our second, things can get a bit too hectic. I work our schedule so that my husband and I get the time we need together in the evenings after the kids are in bed. It’s amazing how just sitting on the couch together helps me wind down.

    I think my other “key” learning is allowing myself enough time to get everyone where we need to go. There is no longer option of getting ready an hour before we have leave the house…it is more like 2 hours! If not, I end up getting stressed b/c he is late to school and I am late to work!

  • Sara said:

    Keep one area of the house as your “grown up” area. You need somewhere to escape to, even for just a few moments. Re-decorate your bedroom, keep in there a book, some candles, pretty prints. Make it a place that you are proud of. This way, when things get too tough, and the baby falls asleep or the husband can take him for 15 minutes, you have somewhere to retreat to. You really learn to appreciate that 15 minute breather.

  • Leslie Flores said:

    the only tip i can give is to ve great support at home. as a working mom i know it is not easy.but i have my hubby help with the cooking and even give my older son some chores. it has to be a team effort

  • Katie G. said:

    I think my biggest tip for staying “sane” as a SAHM (or a working mom, which I hope to be soon) is making sure your personal health is in check. I make time to fit in a workout of some sort each day,even if that means I am making myself get up before the sun. It’s my time to just do my own thing and clear my head. I think I am a better mom for it. :)

  • Stephanie said:

    The thing I do to keep my sanity is to breathe. I know it seems simple and a lot of the time it is way easier said then done. I just stop for a second, and remember that life it too short. Sometimes it may feel like it is not working but if you pause, tune out everything for just a minute and take a deep breathe in, you’ll remember why you became a parent in the first place ;) As a part time stay at home mom and part time working mom, I tend to feel like I am losing my sanity a lot. So, a couple of months ago, I started a mom and me yoga class one night a week, that i do with my 8 month old son. That’s where I learned to really breathe and take it all in. After all “life is not about the breath’s you take, but the moments that take your breath away.”

  • Melissa W said:

    Quiet time! Every now and then I have to steal away a few moments to myself in silence…and my baby won’t be here until March! I always feel re-energized after a taken a little time in the quiet and just rested my body AND mind.

  • jackie said:

    I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband who has helped me tremendously with our daughter.. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without his help… and how he would let me sleep in on the weekends when he had off from work :) aaahh.. the treasure I have found in my soulmate!

  • patricia k said:

    schedule a time to work out and treat it like an appointment.

  • Abby said:

    Accept help from those who offer!

  • Stephanie said:

    As a SAHM getting out of the house keeps me sane, just getting some fresh air, being around other people and enjoying a day out shopping, even if it is just the grocery store.

  • Jessica said:

    I found I was much happier once I let go of my old life and accepted the new as the norm.

  • Kara Figueroa said:

    One of the ways I cope is to drink a cup of coffee in the morning and read reviews, enter giveaways and chat with my other mom friends online while my kids eat breakfast. It’s a nice time for me to wake up and interact with other moms. It may be for only 15 minutes but it’s just enough time to prepare myself for the day.

  • Elizabeth K said:

    Sanity is rare these days! I make it a point to spend quality time with just my husband and each kid by themselves. Everyone can have their own time with me and just me. Then I get to spend time with me alone, too! Whether I use that time to shower, nap, read a book, or anything else, it’s important to get that time to myself to power up.

  • Kari said:

    It’s really important to find something that is just for you. For instance, my friend loves to scrapbook and I love to crochet. It is time just for me, where I can relax and create!
    As a result, you can feel refreshed and ready to take on life’s challenges!

  • Holly said:

    Having a schedule and keeping it really helps. Mealtime, naptime, playtime, etc. That way you don’t have chaos in your day.

  • Summer said:

    Always take time out for yourself. Take a relaxing bubble bath, get a pedicure or just read a book. Always remember your me time is important.

  • Paula Caudill said:

    I sing, it keeps me calm :)

  • Autumn said:

    Allow others to help–you don’t have to be supermom! Also, I felt like I was able to become grounded when I took a bubble bath and read a book for 20 minutes. On date nights (seldom but important), we always wound up talking about our daughter but tried to have a few minutes to discuss other things, too. :)

  • Ashley Z said:

    Once in a while when I have a day off work or get off early, I leave my son at Grandmas for the regular time and sneak home for a nap. Sometimes it is nice to be home alone with no husband or kids!

  • Kelly said:

    Prioritize! Let the things that really don’t matter slide.

  • LAURA COLIN said:

    deep breath and a cup of green tea

  • Nicole said:

    Totally agree, the housework can ALWAYS wait!!

  • Kristin said:

    I find that writing in a journal regularly helps slow life down and steady my pace. It also allows me to free feelings and have me-time before it starts to bottle up.

  • Claudia said:

    I’m a SAHM and keeping a full schedule of playdates, making healthy food, and keeping our home in order is more than a full-time job. After our son was born we decided it was worth the expense to hire a cleaning woman to come every other week. I can keep up with the day-to-day chores but at the end of a long day my husband and I would rather spend time with each other instead of scrubbing showers and polishing the floors. The little extra help helps us keep our sanity!

  • Jaime Soria said:

    One tip for keeping your sanity? I’d say not being afraid to ask for help! You need alone “Mommy time” and “Mommy & Daddy time” and in order to do that, you have to ask someone to watch the kid(s). Other mom friends or grandparents know exactly how you feel & are very willing to help out and/or trade time. No matter if you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, you still need time by your self & time with your hubby/boyfriend to get you grounded.

  • Brittanie Matza said:

    Being a new working mom is definately tough and sometimes I let the stress get to me. But one thing I’ve learned to tell myself is that I am not superwoman and everything does not need to be finished in. A day. Those chores are definately not going to disappear so a day off will not kill you. Also, I find that a nice day out to pamper yourself is nice too!

  • Wendy said:

    Sanity – I’m learning to get that back slowly. I work days, get home, take the baby so the hubby can cook, then he goes to work and I’m with her balancing play and housework. Crazy, but it works for us. After she goes down to bed I take 10 minutes to unwind from my day…facebook, a chapter of a good mystery, a cup of cocoa…and then I go back to cleaning up and straightening up the house before crashing so I can get up and do it again!

  • henny said:

    Well, before I got pregnant me ⓝ hubby already talk about this issue! We know once baby arrived we’ll be crazy with upside down schedule! So we agree on teamwork! When I was doing household routine he will babysit ⓝ play with my son! Vice versa so its like we take turn to take care of baby so we could enjoy our own pleasure times! Make sure you ⓝ partner always support each other ⓝ communication is major role here!

  • Katrina Klauer said:

    realize you can’t do it all and just try to stay as organized as much as possible

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