I absolutely love making lists. I make lists for everything. Grocery lists, house cleaning duties, daily chores, fitness goals, spiritual goals, attitude star charts, party planning, ideas for blog posts, packing lists, and of course those wonderful “honey do lists”.
I cant speak for all of the women in the world, but the ones in my life seem to feel the same way about lists. We like to take the chaos that lives in our heads and get it all out and organized onto a piece of paper. It is almost as though being apart of the female gender of the human race means that we can automatically juggle more than one thing. It is not a rare occurrence to catch me texting a friend while pouring a cup of coffee and making my sons lunch with my daughter on my hip. I often am amazed at my ability to get 3 people dressed and fed and organized for their day in just 45 minutes each morning while my husband does only half of that for himself.
Before I became a wife and a mother I was a teacher. I lived in a world where our every move was planned and accounted for down to the minute. I was a preschool teacher. We allotted time for changing from outside shoes to inside shoes. We made sure that hand washing and bathroom breaks were given their fair share of scheduled time. I went from having my days laid out perfectly, to a world where the only thing on my agenda was to figure which of the three things needs to happen for this crying child to find peace. Eat, Sleep, or be changed. I left order for Motherhood.
I entered motherhood like an abounded ship lost at sea. I had no map and no crew. I was all alone and no sign of land in sight. I remember feeling like I was drowning and the ones I loved were standing beside me watching. I didn’t know how to ask for help and the thing is, I didn’t even know that I even needed it. It wasn’t until I had my second child in less than 2 years, that I realized just how unorganized and chaotic my life had gotten. I realized that the thing I was missing was myself. I wasn’t lost. I was just aimlessly going through my days with no desired direction. How was I supposed to get this under control?
I sat down with a pen and paper and I made a few lists. I made a list of the goals I used to have for myself and the goals I have now. I made lists of ways to attain those goals and I even made lists of people who could help me get there. I started to make lists of things that needed to happen around the house and lists of what needed to happen in my marriage. I made parenting goals. I took all those lists and I sat down and prayed. I remember laying it all out in front of the one who made me and gave me the very air in my lungs and asking Him what I was supposed to do with all these lists.
Slowly I felt my life coming back into order. I started setting goals and while my mind and body were working together, I was gradually lifted from the fog of early motherhood. It helped that my children grew and became less physically exhausting. Although, I am not convinced that being mentally exhausted by preschoolers is any easier than being physically exhausted by babies, but lets just say that the change of pace was welcomed. I started to set attainable goals and what is even better is that I started to reach them. I am going to be honest with you, my very first goal I ever made after this realization was .. are you ready for this?… To take a nap. I am not even joking. As an exhausted mother, it was all I could think about. So I figured if I made it a goal I could feel good about checking it off the list. Man did that feel good. Slowly my goals started to become greater and more grand.
I started making goals that would take weeks of dedication. I started to make long term goals that would require I be more deliberate with my time. I put myself and my family on a schedule and allotted times for important things to get done. I started to treat motherhood as a job. But not just any job. A Career. Not just any Career, a dream Career. I allotted time for playing with my kids and gave myself rules. No interruptions when I was with my little important people. I put my cell phone and computer in the complete opposite side of the house. I made sure my kids got my undivided attention. This also meant that I ensured I had time to myself and time with my husband. Because I was no longer dividing my time every minute of my day I felt so much better about making room for everything I wanted to make room for. I stopped feeling guilty about not spending every waking minute with my children. I knew that they had received my attention and in return I could relax when I devoted my attention to another area of my life.
I now spend my Sunday evenings marking out my weeks in advance. I ensure I have time for working out, play dates, family outings, bible study, business ventures, field trips, date nights, and I even allot time for “whatever”. My weeks do not always go as planned. We come across hick ups and have to reschedule dates or move around appointments. The point is that what brought be so much peace before in my life is now bringing my life so much more purpose. Every week is different and not every day is a successes but now I am not lost in the fog. Now I am not aimless. Now I am finding purpose in my motherhood.
I know so many women who have lost themselves when their baby came along. I am here to say that you are not lost. You are actually just wandering. You will be okay. Children grow and so do we. Sometimes bringing in habits and rituals from your life before kids can help you thrive in your life as a mother. Sometimes you need to do the complete opposite. Sit down and make a list. Maybe the only thing on your list is to take a nap. Well stop and make that happen and then get back to the list and make another. Set some attainable goals and reach them.
How have you kept your sanity in motherhood? How have you lost it? We love hearing from you and would love to have some of your helpful tips and tricks.