The Beautiful Dichotomy

The tagline of my blog is “the beautiful dichotomy of a classic-minded millennial mom.” This was the easiest way I could describe my life to you in one sentence. The Beautiful Dichotomy is what I call the internal struggle (the Mom Guilt?) of balancing home life & work. None of us just do one thing – even if you are a stay-at-home-mom or a full-time-working-mom with a nanny. We all live in our own dichotomy. Sometimes we forget to call it beautiful, but if we work where we are called & we love where we are placed, then it is just that – Beautiful.

As you know, we do a little of both. What you may not know is that I am adding another component to the mix – a small business that will run out of my home. More about that later.

I always wondered if having a baby would change me overnight into a “mom.” And in a way, it did. Our biology literally prepares us to be mothers (hormones…). What I wasn’t prepared for was the transition from a full time career with daily tangible, objective measurements of my success to working part time & from home, where I often reflect on the last 9 hours & wonder what just happened. There was definitely no magic hormone that made me good at being a SAHM. While it is the greatest blessing to spend these days with my son, some days are rough. The mothering part is natural & fun. Working from home, cleaning things & caring for myself, not so natural. When I rest (meaning I hold Baby J & watch a B&W movie) I feel like I’m “eating the bread of idleness,” as it says in Proverbs. Other days are characterized by the word “Strife”. My to-do list is done & I’m filled with guilt about it. Have you ever been there, that place where you can’t let yourself win?

I have no answers for those of you balancing career & SAHM life, just some mistakes, intentions, & successes from a leisure-loving Momma whose love language is objective progress.

  1. Ban the word Schedule from your home. Replace it with a word like Routine or Cycle. Trust me, this psychological shift will make you feel immediately better about your day. Listen to the difference – “We’re off schedule since he only napped 30 minutes. I need to rearrange the whole day…” vs. “That cycle was a little shorter than normal, so I won’t have time to finish this now. I’ll come back to it later …”
  2. Get dressed. Right now. If you are reading this after 12 PM, let’s both stop & change out of our pajamas! …Ok let’s be real, there are days J comes home at 5:00 to me ready for bed, meaning I never got un-ready for bed. But most of the time, I take my morning slow & then make a point to change into something. For me, it’s workout clothes. Not that I’m going to work out, but I’m suddenly more productive when wearing yoga pants & tennis shoes. Plus, I’m not quite as embarrassed by surprise visitors & quick errands are that much quicker. Even small things like braiding my hair to get it out of everyone’s faces gives me a little extra push. Just enough to become the thing that happens to my day instead of my day happening to me. So what makes you feel like the thing that happens? A little makeup? Clothes that match? As moms, taking off the thing that smells like spit-up & adding a little perfume can do more than we might think.
  3. Since we have banned the S-word, figure out the Cycle or Routine that the little one is on & fill in the gaps. Here is what I came up with. Between his first & second meals, my only goals are to eat a semblance of breakfast, complete one chore & do some sort of devotional. And so on. Only add the things you must do. If I end up doing even more, it’s a plus!!
  4. Karen Glass in Honey for a Child’s Heart talks about the importance of giving children both milk & honey. Milk are the essentials – actual milk, a clean environment, a comfortable routine. Honey are the things that make life sweet – slow moments with your child, reading a book, dancing to music. What is it that gets ignored to make room for the “productive” things? Maybe you want to go on a walk, but there’s just too much laundry. Make a Honey list. There is no right time of the day & there is no right way to do it, just do it every day. My Honey list includes reading a book, singing songs & going outside with no noise or agenda. The Honey adds joy to our lives & inevitably recharges me. This is by far the easiest list for me to complete!
  5. A cleaning reminder. At 8 months pregnant I presented J with a cleaning schedule & a proud “Look what I made to keep our lives in order!” to which he responded, “…so you made me a cleaning schedule.” This cleaning schedule now acts more as a reminder: if I can’t remember the last time the furniture was vacuumed, it’s time. When I worry that a state employee might launch an investigation if they came to visit, I know it’s time to look at my list. A slightly exaggerated way to say, I do not stick to this cleaning S-word, but it’s nice to consult when the essentials are done – laundry, kitchen, & Baby J’s immediate play area.
  6. Do you have a special mommy place in your home? A corner of the couch, a desk or a rocking chair where you spend lots of time? My space is a blue arm chair with a side table J made for us. Once or twice a day, I clear this off, stack all the books, restock my drink & snacks. Even if the rest of the house is chaotic, having this tiny square footage under control gives my soul a little rest. Same with Baby J’s space. The world is a little more at peace when his spot is clean & stocked with toys & baby supplies.
  7. #selfcare is a big deal especially for millennial moms. But even prior to motherhood, I was never good at self-care. I was the one who studied for 6 hours without food, water, or a bathroom break. Motherhood has actually been teaching me self-care. If I don’t eat, he won’t eat. If I don’t eat well, his tummy will hurt. If I don’t get coffee… we won’t go there. Then the things that revive my spirit. Lighting a candle when I take a shower & sparkling water with dinner. What is the one thing you can do for yourself each day? We all need something thrilling to look forward to.
  8. Break the silence. I am a self-proclaimed binge watcher. My ideal day off includes movie marathons in the gray sweatpants from my HS track team & one of J’s t-shirts. The best day of my pre-baby life included laying on a couch with my two best friends as we watched “just one more movie…” which ended up being Troy, The Help, Because I Said So, & the ENTIRE Twilight Saga. Embarrassing? Slightly. But J was out of town & PT school. Now, I don’t feel right about having constant TV on in the background & especially in the forefront of my infant son’s day. But, guys, I still need to break the silence. So here’s how I get a little entertainment & even education without training my son to be a TV addict like me:
    • Podcasts. You can find my favorites in an upcoming blog post.
    • Watching a show on my laptop while eating lunch or taking a break, instead of having it on the big screen. It doesn’t distract him from playing & doesn’t take as much of my attention.
    • Classic FM. It’s British & good for Baby J’s math skill development, apparently!
    • I haven’t yet tried audiobooks since my podcasts fill most of that time, but I’ve heard Audible is amazing!
    • Learn something new. Right now I’m taking an online sign language class & learning about pelvic PT in preparation for my next project.
  9. Instead of making a to-do list, make a done list. Example: Today I 1) did half the laundry 2) swept the kitchen 3) cut the baby’s fingernails. Celebrate that! Focus on that while enjoying your self-care activity from #7! And don’t forget about the intangibles. Did you love on your baby? Did you make a memory? Did you spend some time with the Lord? Just because they don’t have check boxes beside them doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of being called a success.
  10. Make hay when the sun shines. A southern way of saying, take advantage of extra energy, time or helping hand. When my sweet sister comes to visit, I hand her the baby & make a game out of seeing how much I can get done before he starts dropping the hunger cues. Those nights they let you sleep for more than 3 consecutive hours, the days they nap for more than 30 minutes, take advantage of that gift of time & energy so that there’s not quite so much to do on the hard days.

What was your own transition like? What did you find helpful to your schedule or your mind? Share your thoughts!

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