The day the toddler was born, I right away started to think about how difficult it would be to go back to work. I didn't want to be separated from my baby. Luckily, I was able to do a lot of my work from home, so I didn't have to be gone all day. However, I still had to get my work done. The first year of his life I got less than four hours of sleep per night as I got up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. to do work. I also taught night classes for part of the year. I was exhausted, run down, and stretched beyond my limits. I did not take care of myself the way I should have.
The day the toddler turned one, I knew I had to change things. While I had made every effort to spend as much time as possible with the toddler during his first year, I really regretted having worked so much. And I regretted not having taken better care of myself. I felt old and exhausted. I didn't have enough energy to get through the day and relied on way too much coffee. I also still had about 15 pounds of "baby fat" to lose.
While I knew that I had to change things, actually changing them was hard. For a while, I just wasn't able to see beyond the way my life was at the time. What I mean by that is that it took quite some time to allow myself to see possibilities. Here is what I have changed over the past year and what I have done to make it work:
- I work less (outside the home). We planned for it by truly looking at our finances and cutting back on some non-essential expenses (canceled Cable T.V., took a 3-day local vacation - we had to forgo our previously planned trips to visit family, purchased fewer new clothes & shoes, began meal planning, and decided that we would drive our cars for a long time.).
- I make time for exercise every day. I realized that I had to put exercise in my day planner and treat it as an appointment that I can't cancel. I can't cancel class when I get busy, so why did I think I could cancel exercise?!!?
- I learned that I sometimes have to say "no." While I think volunteering and giving back to the community is very important, I can't do everything all the time. I learned to stop and think for a minute before giving my time to something.
- I plan meals. Meal planning allows me to buy what I truly need. My mom never, ever throws anything away and always only buys what she needs. I am getting much better at this... Meal planning has also made my life much less stressful.
- I let go of my "all or nothing" mentality. For example, I realized that I can get a great workout in 30 minutes if I push myself hard enough. In the past, I had told myself that if I didn't have at least an hour to work out it wasn't worth it. A more recent example involves my juicer. When I bought it, I had every intention to juice every day. When I realized that that wasn't realistic, I almost gave up on juicing all together. However, now I am very happy juicing three or four times per week.
- Midway through the toddler's second year, I started this blog. It has truly helped me to focus on all the joys in my life and to document some of our happy times. I have also "met" so many amazing bloggers, and all of you have enriched my life!