I’m a planner by nature. Before we had kids, my husband and I would go on long road trips and I’m plan everything down to a “T.” I’d make a separate sheet of paper for every step of our itinerary and tuck it inside a sheet protector so we could store mementos in the pocket. I’d create a new to-do list every single morning and check off five items before even leaving to go to work.
Then, at work, I was an unstoppable go-getter. I’d ask for more assignments, create timelines and schedules that were months and sometimes years in advance and utilize project planning software to the ninth degree. This type of proactive, Type-A attitude served me well in my younger years and was an asset to my position in web design.
When we started our family, I thought for sure I’d be the same way I’d always been and for the first few months of my pregnancy, that held true. I insisted on helping to plan my own baby shower, created a detailed and intricate baby registry that left no item on my wishlist up to the imagination and had the entire nursery setup configured in my mind before I even hit the second trimester.
Then, reality started to set in and my need to overplan quickly waned. Turns out, it’s hard to get too enthusiastic about a to-do list when you can’t even tie your own shoes or shave your legs. I learned to let others do for me and to accept help and hospitality as graciously as I could. I’m glad I honed those skills before my daughter arrived, because goodness, I sure needed them during that time!
Unable to really cook or clean for myself for the first few weeks, I had to slowly let go of my nit-pickiness and really lean into the fact that this time together with my newborn baby was sacred and any task that needed to be done could simply wait. I let friends and family members love on me and shower me with their time, food, company and conversation. I didn’t once think about what I was missing at work, how many unanswered emails were piling up, the laundry by the door, or what we had going on next weekend. I was simply in the moment, every moment and it was such a special time in my life.
That was four years ago and since that paradigm shift, life has looked a little different. I left my full-time job, took a part-time role at a non-profit in town and just slowed down a little. At first, it was more than a little difficult to shed my tendency to over-think and over-analyze every little thing. After that initial newborn haze wore off and the real world started to set in, I tried to keep busy by any means possible. I scheduled play dates with friends who were also home with babies. I took my six-month-old to mommy and me yoga classes, library storytimes, museum exhibitions and more. Our schedule was so packed we barely had room to squeeze in time to nurse and it didn’t take long for us to both become utterly burnt out.
Now, we operate at a much slower pace. I’ve learned that overflowing our schedule with to-dos only makes us harried, stressed, impatient and tired and if anyone has ever dealt with a toddler experiencing those emotions, you know that the outcome is an unpleasant experience. I’ll schedule a handful of activities for us to participate in at our leisure during the week and if we get to them, that’s great. But, if we don’t, I remind myself not to sweat it.
These days spent at home with my babies are so fleeting and I’d rather lounge in our pajamas all day then spend all our hours in the car commuting from one event to the next. This morning, while his sister was at preschool, I asked my son what he wanted to do. I offered up that we could go check out some books at the library, catch up on his favorite cartoon, pull some weeds along the shrubbery, or color in his coloring book. He looked up at me and grinned. “Mama rock?” he asked, pointing to the front porch swing.
I gathered him in my arms, covered us both up with a blanket and sat down on the old white glider. For an hour straight, we stayed like that. Him, curled up beside me, pointing out every truck that passed. Me, head back smiling, taking it all in and soaking it all up.