Since having a child, I’ve had to adjust to motherhood and am doing so badly. What I didn’t realize is that not only would I have to change my habits, but I would also need to change my mental habits. The thing you’ll hear the most from a new parent is how tired they are, but not only are they in need of sleep and deeply fatigued, but they are mentally drained. I think every expectant parent knows that they will have time constraints once their child arrives, but they do not understand the toll it will take on them mentally. No one quite tells you that you will yell at your child because you are tired. You will be short with them. You will not always listen to them. Not because you don’t care for them, but that you are fighting to have time for yourself and your children and it is a losing battle. You will have your good days and your bad days and it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent on your bad days.
When you were childless, you had much more free time and options to spend your time, but didn’t know how valuable this time was because it was yours and you didn’t have to choose. Now, your child consumes a large portion of your time and you find it hard to spend a few minutes on yourself. Because of this, you may become short with your partner or children because it is extremely hard to go from having all the time in the world to no time for yourself. What we should do is temper our expectations. Let’s say that when you were without child, you had about 5 hours a day where you could take time to take a shower, read, watch a movie, play games, clean, or whatever else you wanted to do. Now, you have the same amount, but only 1 hour to spend on yourself, and to compare 1 to 5, you feel as if you have absolutely no time for yourself and you feel as if you are losing out. What we need to realize is that we need to accept that we only have one hour and maximize that time as best as we can.
Oftentimes, what we will do is spend the time trying to indulge in something we want to do, so we may not take care of ourselves or clean because we feel as if we are entitled to the whole hour because we used to have 5, but that is not the case. We have to mentally train ourselves to understand that we don’t have 5 hours anymore and we must prioritize the one hour instead of letting the hour consume us and realize that we haven’t actually done anything productive, leading us to feel even worse about ourselves. Understand that we can break that hour down and concentrate 10 minutes on one task, 20 on another and 30 on another. This will make us feel as if we are accomplishing more and doing more instead of actually spending the hour on ourselves and feeling as if we did nothing. However, we may still spend the time doing absolutely nothing on some days and that’s okay as well as long as we know we’re going to get back on track. The trick is not feeling as if we have less time now than when we were without children, but understanding that we need to utilize the time we do have to ourselves.