How to shine. Even when your life is chaos.
(OR Why I never gave in to the sweatpants, messy hair and dirty house and still loved my baby all at the same time)
At a recent appointment with one of Lucy’s specialists, the doctor (whom we had never met before this) exclaimed upon seeing me “You look way to put together to have an 8 month old baby!” To which I didn’t know how to respond, and simply said: “Oh…?” “Most of the moms I see are in sweats and a messy pony tail.” she said. To which again, I still didn’t know what to say and I laughed nervously.
I often hear stories lauding the sweatpants and messy hair as a mom badge of honour, while at the same time subtly (or sometimes not so) hinting that if you are not wearing last nights PJ’s you are clearly spending too much time on yourself.
We like to talk about how it’s totally cool to be messy when we have kids. “That barf stain? Yeah that happened last week. I’ve got too much going on though to put on something clean. Don’t like it? Well if you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best. I may not look great but I’m too busy being a good mom to worry about clean clothes.”
In reality though, what we are thinking on the inside is probably the opposite. Using our kids as an excuse to justify our mess is easy. Setting a routine, taking care of ourselves and being disciplined is hard.
When Lucy was in the hospital we had very little control over anything. I pumped and fed her according to the hospital schedule. They told me how many times I was allowed to breast feed her (once a day) and what time (noon). They told me what days I could bath her on, and when I could hold her. Some days they told us we would be home in a week, some days a month. When we did get home 7 weeks later, we battled with so many things for months and months to keep that baby alive and growing. Some things were typical baby things, some were special Lucy problems. In the midst of all of this I easily could have used Lucy as an excuse to let myself go. In fact, if I were an outsider looking in on our situation I probably would have said “Go for it!” But one day, or one week leads to one month or two of “It’s okay, I’ve got a baby to deal with. Maybe later.” Then a year later you realize you haven’t ever established a regular time for yourself and those sweatpants that used to just be for bed time have been worn to the grocery store regularly.
Before I had Lucy, many people would say to me “Oh you just wait till after she’s born. You’re going to look terrible/You will welcome the sweatpants. But it will all be so worth it.” I was legitimately concerned, because being clean and looking nice rank pretty high on my “things that keep me sane” list.
When we brought her home I was determined that I wouldn’t fall into bad habits. Despite what everyone was telling me, I knew that it was possible to be a good parent as well as take care of myself.
What is the secret?
It’s called: Routine. (see photo: life can be hectic, but our routine helps us get things done)
Every day when Lucy has her morning nap I get dressed and tidy the house. Every day. Even if she doesn’t nap, we get it done. When things are chaotic these are things that I have control over that will make the day feel a little less crummy. If I feel good about myself then it’s natural that I will feel (if only a little) better about the things I can not control.
We’ve got to take the time to take care of ourselves because we are, after all, still human beings after our children are born. This is not an “either/or” situation. Taking care of yourself and your home does not beget neglected children. Despite what some may say, I am not neglecting my daughter because I put on makeup and combed my hair today. Her happiness is not at stake when I wear a clean shirt from the closet instead of a dirty one from the laundry bin. Similarly, she is no less loved because I did the dishes while she played, or swept the floor while she sat and watched me intently. (Have you seen this link on Pinterest? Can we please pretty please stop pinning this insane quote?)
Listen to me, because this is the key point: Hovering over our children every second of the day at the detriment of daily chores and personal care is not healthy. It’s not healthy for us, and it’s not healthy for our children.
We need to take the time to shine, because how else will our children learn?
“Shine” is the June writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Christina of Mouse in Your House. A few words from Christina — At Mouse In Your House, I’m bringing you stories about being a working mom, quirky family lifestyle trends, frugal living, DIY ideas and the talented people who make life something amazing. I hate getting bored and occasionally use Mouse In Your House to ask people very personal questions that I would, otherwise, never get away with. My goal is to find chicks and gents doing something cool and inspiring, which could lead to a feature about a family who took the year off to travel the world one day and the next day’s post could be all about how to dress a stylish toddler. To qualify for a feature, I need only go, holy moly that is frigging awesome….and you may even get a long set of questions for our next Q&A. That’s the way I roll. And P.S. I LOVE budgeting and it has taken over our lives in the past. We recently graduated from living in a 400 square-foot apartment to a 1,400 square foot house in my beloved small town of Knoxville, Tennessee. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///