As a full-time doctoral student, employee, and mother of a 2-year-old daughter, I often find myself feeling exhausted, but saying the word exhausted and owning it, was not easy. For the past 2 years, I have found myself joining mommy support groups on Facebook, looking for tips on Pinterest, and downloading apps on my phone to keep me updated on all I am supposed to be doing as a mother. As if I wasn’t exhausted enough, I was now scrambling to live up to all the tips, advice, and lived experiences of other mothers who just seemed to have it all together. Being a Mexican woman also carried the cultural implication that women should be selflessly devoted to their families. I was trying to conquer it all; trust me I was.
Not long ago, I came across a list called: 10 Daily Sanity Saving Habits for Moms. Initially, the list simply made sense! I figured that if only I could follow these 10 simple habits, then my life would feel balanced and perhaps I would even have time to do my hair. The list is as follows:
I had taken a screenshot of this list and carried it as a reminder of all I needed to do in order to feel grounded. I yearned to be, as this list promised, a sane mom. I was my own cheerleader and told myself that any mom who could not do these 10 “simple” things was simply not working hard enough. Unfortunately, it did not take long for me to realize that living up to this list was not always possible. Whenever I was not able to do one large chore a day or one load of laundry per day, I found myself feeling guilty and unaccomplished. I was moody and felt the quality time I was spending with my child was being compromised by my “momzilla” mood.
I firmly remember the afternoon I decided to forget all about this list… I had picked my daughter up from daycare and we were both very happy to see each other. While at the doorstep of our home, she tugged at my leg because she wanted me to carry her. I began to get frustrated because I was struggling to open the door. Opening a door gest complicated when you’re carrying a heavy 2-year-old, purse, laptop, and diaper bag. We entered our home and took our shoes off. I immediately started to panic as I established a picture in my head of all that needed to be accomplished. My afternoon goal was to complete at least 85% of these 10 Daily Sanity Saving Habits for Moms. As I scurried to do laundry, my daughter protested by bringing her pig for me to make funny voices with. We had not seen each other all day and she wanted her mommy… yet her mommy was too preoccupied with this list. I told her to wait and hid the pig from her hoping she would forget all about it and let me do laundry. And there it was… the moment I decided this list was negatively impacting my ability to thrive as a mother. My daughter looked at me with her big brown eyes, and even though she could not verbally express her sadness, I knew I had hurt her feelings. I then said to my daughter, “I’m too tired to do laundry… let’s play with the pig instead.” And we did… we played with the pig, ate together, and took a long bath together. I was exhausted and I too wanted and needed a break from this list. That afternoon, I was unproductively-productive! I did not do any chores, but it felt good to allow myself to be exhausted and spend time relaxing with my daughter.
As the days went by, I decided to type a new list so that I could carry it around in my phone as a reminder that I am a busy woman, a mother, and human. I will probably change a few things on this list as my daughter gets older, but for now, the new list is as follows:
Have quiet time… if possible. If not, it’s okay. The noise will not kill you.
- Prepare the night before… if possible. If not, it’s okay. Wake up a couple of minutes earlier the next day and allow yourself an extra cup of coffee.
- Do one load of laundry per day… if possible. If not, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.
- Clean as you go… if possible. If not, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.
- Play with your kids… if possible. If not, it’s okay. But be sure to make up for it the next day.
- Do one large chore a day… if possible. If not, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. It’s okay to work at your own pace.
- Have kid clean-up times… if possible. My daughter is still at an age where she thinks cleaning up is something fun she gets to do with mommy. I’ll revisit this one when she gets older and refuses to clean.
- Make a meal plan… if possible. If not, it’s okay. No one has died from eating take-out.
- Be thankful… if possible. If not, give yourself a second to breathe and count your blessings. Simply being able to breathe should be something to be thankful for.
Have a regular bedtime for your kids… if possible. If not, it’s okay. This is a tough one buuuut, no one has died from not having a regular bedtime.
- By: An exhausted and anonymous mother.