I’ve never had a knack for commanding the attention of a room—and don’t get me started on parallel parking—but, very uncooly, I’ve prided myself on my time management skills. Rocking my planner is a talent I have in spades. Or used to.
Then I had a baby. A beautiful, healthy, happy baby. On the whole, I think our little family is doing really well. Even when you’re sleep-deprived, it’s easy to be attentive to your favorite people (and cat, in our case) and have a lot of fun along the journey of figuring-it-out-as-you-go. But unsurprisingly, when it comes to work, housework, and, to a degree, self-care, I’m not the hyper-productive gal I used to be.
But things get done. Maybe not every little thing. But enough!
Every day brings its own set of challenges and surprises, and there’s obviously no one-size-fits-all approach. I’m lucky enough to have two pairs of doting parents (now grandparents), one of which lives close by. I also have a flexible work schedule and do a lot of work from home. No matter what your situation is, however, we all experience mental/emotional/physical fatigue. Whether you’re on your way to becoming a new mom, just starting motherhood, or find yourself the caretaker of others in any capacity, I hope this article will offer some encouragement! You got this. We got this!
I don’t necessarily have advice (there’s enough of that floating around for new parents), but the following is a list of things I’ve learned about moving through my current station with what I hope is some modicum of grace. These are the little truths I remind myself of when my head is spinning.
What matters most will reveal itself. The most important parts of your life have a way of letting you know they’re a priority; meanwhile, stuff that may have seemed important at one point (but ultimately isn’t a big priority) will naturally take a back seat (this is okay!). In my case, staying current on breaking political news was something I engaged in almost daily until my daughter was born. The news still finds its way to me (for better or worse), but these days, I’m more likely to be checking in with my friends than thumbing through my news app.
If I want to get something done, it will happen. At some point. There was once a time when if I wanted to give myself a manicure or declutter a cabinet, I knew I could do it after I finished my work. And I would be able to make a healthy dinner and shower and read before bed, too. Alas, these little extra things that can feel pretty important, actually, no longer get done with felicitous ease. But they get done. Eventually. Perhaps less often (including showering!), but if I’m yearning to do a mini project, I will stumble upon a little pocket of time soon enough. I’m a little woo-woo on this one in that I believe the universe has a way of letting the fun stuff trickle it’s way to me.
And for things that are time-sensitive, like packing for an upcoming move, I need to make an effort to truly plan for those things and be specific about what I want to accomplish but not too ambitious. For example, between going for a stroller ride and making dinner, I want to have these four shelves in boxes. (But not hold myself to super high packing standards. If it fits, that’s good enough!)
On that note, I ditch unnecessarily high standards. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still maintain *some* high standards for myself. I keep high standards for the level and type of energy I bring to both my work and parenting. I also try to eat well (but not complicated). There are some things that can go, however. Like perfect makeup. Sometimes the right lipstick *is* enough. I’m also looser on the state of my desk. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes I forget my empty coffee mug and the peanut butter jar (aka my lifeline). Although I’m the type of person who feels unwell if I don’t exercise almost every day, I’m trying to be gentle on that front, too. On a given day, I may do 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, plus go walking with the stroller. And that’s wonderful. Finally, I used to be pretty hardcore about monotasking. Even now, I like to focus on one thing at a time—I’m just used to more breaks to play, change diapers, etc. If multitasking happens, and oh it does, I not too concerned.
There will be phases. I’ve learned that there needs to be some built-in “give” to the way I approach my days because my baby is always moving through phases. First, there was a phase when she would nurse and fall asleep in my arms. If this was during my work time, I could type one handed. It was slower but smooth. Now, she is more playful and enjoys screaming (squealing?) for fun, and I need to keep a close eye on her while she rolls around her mat and does baby planks (so adorable!). I’ve adjusted my days accordingly…until the next phase!
In summary, I wouldn’t say I practice time management. It feels like life manages me more than I manage it (haha)? A more apt expression would be time swimming. I time swim pretty well—keeping my head above water whatever the current is doing.
Are you a new parent? How has your approach to time management changed?
Related: Science Says Do These 6 Soothing Things Next Time You’re Super Stressed
How to Get It All Done In Your Busy Life
4 Ways to Have More Time and Feel Happier
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Photo: Katie Emslie via Unsplash