Last week I started a series about freedom. It’s a word that we don’t normally associate with motherhood but I want to show you how you can either recognize or reclaim some freedom into your world.
Tiny people are exhausting. If yours aren’t talking yet then you’re most likely still walking around half-awake in the kind of exhaustion that comes along with night-nursing, teething, and attaching baby locks to every cupboard and drawer. Or you may be the kind of worn out that only moms who have bodily removed a screaming, tantruming toddler from Target understand. Maybe you’re balancing your time between children that range from infancy and beyond and in the same day you’ve cleaned baby poop off of a wall and sent a mouthy child to her room. Whatever your degree of tired, it feels confining. I know that. I’m there. And it is so easy to feel completely overwhelmed when you look at your children first thing in the morning and can already tell that your plans aren’t happening. One is already yawning and cranky from poor sleep, another is making every little task an enormous challenge testing your already thread bare patience before you’ve even had your coffee. And then the voice pipes up. “My whole day is ruined because of my kids. I can’t do anything. I have no life. Why do I even try to make plans?” That voice, the whisperer of lies, is manipulative and powerful. But that voice only has as much control as you give it. It’s not our children that steal our freedom, it’s us.
Now before you start talking to your phone/tablet/computer screen and arguing with me, let me explain. There are times when our kids are going to call the shots. Illness, injury, refusal to take a bottle are a few of those non-negotiables. But aside from those things, are you still letting life get the best of you when it comes to having time away from your children? This scenario might sound familiar. You get asked out for happy hour by a girlfriend who you would love to catch up with. You get excited and absolutely need the time away! The day comes and your toddler has a runny nose so is particularly cranky. Making it to the grocery store doesn’t happen like it should so you call your husband to make sure he’s home on time and picks up dinner as well because you just don’t have anything to make. Suddenly it’s 5:00, he’s not home because traffic is a mess, you’re still not out of sweats because of said toddler and the whole thing becomes too overwhelming to feel worth it. You cancel. And then you’re miffed about it for the rest of the evening and probably the entire next day. Moms, this was me for my daughter’s first two years of life. Was it fair that it always just felt so hard to make it happen? No. But is that how life goes sometimes? Yes! And who else is going to advocate that you get some time to yourself if you don’t? Perhaps you feel guilty taking more time away because you are a working mom. That was me. Maybe you know that things just run more smoothly when you’re home and you would rather stay and run the show than come home to dishes and a baby still awake. That was me too. Until those reasons no longer worked- no longer justified feeling like I was a victim in my own choices. Thankfully my husband noticed it at the same time and started encouraging me to make plans and do fun things. He even went so far as to book me a flight and send me down to see one of my best girls in Cali shortly after our daughter turned two! But please, if you’re feeling trapped and you’re resenting it do not wait for someone to make plans for you and push you out the door. You deserve more from yourself. You deserve to nurture your friendships with fun and uninterrupted conversation. You deserve to nurture your big, beautiful brain with reading and enjoying culture and beauty. There is a lot that we can do with our kids by our sides but also a lot that we can’t. And that is OK. Getting out is OK.
Before I leave and that whiny, annoying little voice of negativity starts to whisper why you are the exception to this post let me give you a few ideas on how to make this doable. Because there is nothing I love more than proving a liar wrong 😉
- Make a date, write it on the calendar, and then tell a lot of people how excited you are! This will get you more excited and more likely not to cancel for a “silly” reason, it will keep Daddy/Grandma/Babysitter on the ball and remembering that they are responsible for the babes during that time, and if you have people asking you all day “hey aren’t you doing ___ tonight?” you’re going to stay excited and be less likely to cancel.
- Plan for meals while you are gone at least a day in advance. You will feel that much easier leaving and won’t be stressed the day of.
- Tell your kids a couple days in advance and keep reminding them how great it is going to be that they get to have some special Daddy/Grandma/Babysitter time.
- Be prepared to come home to things not being as you left them and remind yourself that there will always be messes to clean, kids to put back in bed, etc etc. What matters is that you got some time away and the kids were well cared for.
- Build a network of people who are available to come be with your kiddos and who love to do it. Because time away without your significant other is fun but you guys need date nights too! Make sure that you’re building people into your network who let you get away together so you’re not always tag-teaming your fun.
- Give your kids as many kisses and hugs as they need before leaving…but still leave. If you love and trust who you are leaving them with they will sense that and know it’s ok that you are gone. Moms are magic, but there is a lot of magic to be found in other incredible caregivers.
Enjoy today and while you’re at it, call a friend. Make a date. Go have FUN!
Cheers ~ Heather