Before I became a mom, I was always really busy.
I loved my whirlwind life of being out and on the go. Between brunch with girlfriends, double dates with other couples, family obligations and travel, it seemed that I never had a free weekend. And if I did, I made plans to fill it up. I attended every bridal shower and bachelorette party. I felt that I was letting my friends down if I didn't show up. I arrived at work each Monday morning absolutely exhausted.
Then my daughter was born and suddenly, everything got more complicated. The early months were just about survival and I remember questioning whether I would ever be able to go out to dinner again without having to haul a breast pump. I simply spent those weeks trying to keep my eyes open and make sure my daughter was fed.
Now my daughter is 2, and it's so much easier to do activities with her, despite the occasional tantrum in public. She is great with babysitters and we have family close by, so it isn't quite as difficult to go out.
Of course, with another person in our family comes more invitations and obligations. Despite this, I find that I am not nearly as busy as I used to be.
Since I became a mom, my priorities have shifted and I find myself saying "no" more. I long for lazy Sunday afternoons at home to contrast our active weekdays. It's such a relief to have mornings when we don't have to rush out the door. After the hard days of mothering, some nights I simply want to collapse on the sofa and close my eyes instead of going out to dinner. I like having the occasional free morning for spur-of-the-moment plans. Sometimes I take my daughter out for long walks or we make masterpieces with play-doh. I love these quiet afternoons, just the two of us, sitting in the sunny playroom.
Looking back at my life before I became a mom, it is pretty clear that I was so busy by choice. I have been able to change that by saying no without guilt and asking for help without shame.
I have a number of reasons for saying "no" to invitations. Sometimes I simply don't want to go to the event and would rather spend time with my family. Sometimes the obligation falls in the middle of my daughter's naptime or is not at a kid-friendly venue, so we decline. Sometimes I honestly cannot find a babysitter. Sometimes I look at my calendar and decide that I simply don't want too much scheduled in one week. If I am away from my daughter during the day, then it is likely that I will want to be home to put her to bed at night. This may result in me declining an invitation.
In addition, my own well-being is just as important as my daughter's. I struggle to be a present parent on the days when I am overwhelmed or exhausted. I want to be well rested, so I try to be in bed at a reasonable hour. Sometimes that might mean leaving a party early or only staying for part of an event. Right now, being a good mom is what matters to me most and in order to do that, I have to avoid the busyness trap. So, when I have to say "no," I do so without guilt.
Asking for help is harder for me. There are times when I have felt pressure to be a "supermom" and do it all, but this just results in me being busy and stressed. Very early on in my journey of motherhood, I learned that asking for help makes me a better mom. Being overwhelmed simply doesn't do my daughter or myself any good.
So, I ask for what I need without an ounce of shame. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by family and friends have responded to my requests for help. Reaching out to others benefits not only me, but also my daughter.
I don't get to see my friends as much as I used to. My husband and I aren't able to go out on dates every weekend. I often decline invitations to events that I really wish I could attend. Sometimes, I think about what I am missing out on, but I never regret the choices that I make.
Without being so busy all of the time, I find myself more present during my days. I relish in the empty space and find myself filled to the brim with my quieter, simpler life. I am grateful that I have allowed this shift to happen; it means that I am never too busy for my daughter.
This post initially appeared on Becky's blog.
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