My first job began when I was just old enough to get a worker's permit. I had been collecting a paycheck ever since. I had no idea that it would be difficult for me to stop collecting those paychecks...but it was. For a couple of months, I started feeling guilty spending anything on myself, thinking that I was not contributing as I once had.
Another hurdle was my misconception that I needed to keep everything perfect, all the time. After all, it was now my full time job to be a homemaker. Shouldn't everything always be clean, organized, and perfect? Ha. No. I tired myself out trying to achieve perfection. What a burden! There is no better way to make yourself grouchy than constantly trying to make everything perfect and fail, daily.
I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take to care for a newborn. At first, when we finally got our baby boy home, I tried using every moment of daylight when he was napping to clean and cook and run errands. I was also on a mission to lose the weight I had gained over 9 months of pregnancy...and spent about an hour a day working out in one form or another. When our baby was awake, I was feeding, rocking, changing diapers, feeding, rocking, changing diapers, etc...
It was so exhausting!
And my exhaustion wasn't making our home any happier.
I had to make some changes.
Starting with my perception of myself as a homemaker, I talked with my husband long and hard about my new role. It was comforting to know that he valued me being home to raise our son. He actually enjoys being able to provide for me (us); he did not want me to feel like a burden. I started thinking of my husband's job and his hard work as a gift to our family and treating him with thankfulness for what he provides. I had always been so independent. This was a change for me. What a relief to just allow myself to depend on him! Seriously, he is a blessing.
"In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body."
Next I had to work on my perception of what a homemaker actually does in a day. Instead of keeping a perfectly clean house every day of the week, I created a schedule for myself. My new goal is to accomplish one major chore each day, not five. For example, Mondays and Fridays I do the laundry. Tuesdays I vacuum (this is a large job with a dog who sheds like crazy). And so it goes each day, something different. I always take Sundays off from housework. It's a day to worship and relax with my family. It's so much more manageable and less stressful! No, my house is not perfect all the time, but my family is happier when I am not stressed to the max. Some days are fabulous and I can accomplish a lot. The difference is that now I don't expect all days to be as productive, so it's a treat when they are!
Lastly, and most importantly, is adjusting to being a mom...all the time. It's the reason I have this role in life. It's the greatest investment I will ever make. Shifting my mindset, I make caring for my baby boy the main priority of each day. If all that I've accomplished today is being the best mom I could be, that's ok with me. I'm not saying that my son is more important than time with God or caring for my husband; I'm saying that I understand it's normal to spend about 80% of my day caring for my son's needs. It's one of those things that I knew before becoming a parent, but just didn't fully understand. There is no need to feel like finishing the dusting is more important than hugs and kisses for Baby Boy. There may not be down time for me in any given day, so when an opportunity presents itself for napping, I take full advantage. That's ok. The pressure is off.
"A merry heart does good, like medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones."
Maybe I'll have it all figured out by the time my son goes to college.
Eh, probably not. ;-)
This is my story. I realize that everyone has different circumstances in life. I'm not proposing that everyone must live like I do, but if you are in a similar situation I hope you can find encouragement in knowing that you are not alone. Maybe you're a little bit like me, making things harder on yourself than really necessary. Don't be afraid to rethink the way you live. It might be the key to making life less stressful.