For new parents, the state of the weekend can come as a bit of a shock. This guest post from insightful mama, Arielle Mir, will help you reclaim that precious time.
Everyone tells you that life after baby is going to be hard. Everyone tells you that “nothing is the same again.” I, for one, found those statements tremendously unhelpful, especially because they often lacked specificity about what exactly would be hard, and what exactly would change.
When my son was born, one of the biggest changes I did not anticipate was what would happen to my weekends. I knew that having an infant would preclude much of the late night carousing, but who was I kidding? I had abandoned that long before I was pregnant.
But weekends were so much more than that. Pre-baby, weekends were pure relief and pure possibility. I could almost always rest as much as I needed and accomplish as much as I needed, and maybe even squeeze in a pedicure and breakfast with the ladies.
As overwhelming as those first weeks can be, having a new baby at home was also a bit of a break from our regular routine. We didn’t have much family to help, but we had a freezer full of food that kind friends had sent and a sense that all we needed to do was nurture our son and help me recuperate from the delivery. Saturdays, Tuesdays, who cares? All we did every day was nurse, diaper change, swaddle, repeat.
Fast forward a few months to when the newborn supports faded away, my partner and I both went back to work, we had to go back to “normal.” That’s when our weekends began to feel like pure misery. We couldn’t “sleep when the baby sleeps” because when the baby slept – those paltry 40 minute naps that took about as long to settle him for – were populated with attempts to grocery shop, scrub the bathrooms, welcome visitors, prep food for the week, catch up on bottle washing…the list goes on.
The only way we managed to get anything done was for one of us to take the baby out for a walk and the other to furiously shop/scrub/prep inside the house. We were exhausted (’cause baby doesn’t know that weekend are for sleeping in) and resentful of, well, pretty much everything. I cried when I would see families all together at the park or for brunch. How were they doing it all?
Here’s the secret: They weren’t. No one does. They were making choices…tradeoffs. When you become a parent, you have a whole new set of roles and responsibilities that can crowd out your other weekend activities, if you let them, or want them to. One option is to simply let things go. Maybe the bathroom doesn’t need to be scrubbed every week. Or maybe it does for you. Only you know what your priorities are.
The bottom line is that doing ‘it all’ in 48 hours is impossible and attempting to do so is a recipe for exhaustion and desperation. Weekends are still the time we have to recharge and reconnect with our families before we do it all again on Monday. With that in mind, here are a few tips for taking your weekends back:
- Ask yourself, what can you outsource? Pay someone to clean your house. Get your groceries delivered through a grocery delivery service. Hire a dog walker.
- When you’re with your family, be with your family. Take a walk, have a picnic, or go listen to some music. Turn off your phone, forget about the dishes in the sink for a few hours, and really do it. You may find you actually GAIN energy from something like that.
- Treat your date nights like a 401k. Hire your babysitter for a specific night or nights each month. Remove the psychic cost of having to decide when you and your partner are going to go out.
These were my family’s game changer moves, but yours might be different. Whatever you do, know that you are not alone. Every mama and papa – all over the world (even at Downton Abbey) – is making choices to help bring a bit more peace to their homes.
Arielle Mir is the mama of an almost two-year old boy. When she’s not spotting fire trucks and singing “ABCs” on repeat, she helps run a small government agency and teaches yoga at night.
Want more practical advice on returning to work after maternity leave? Check out the Mindful Return E-Course here. New sessions start soon.