After 12 weeks at home with the kids on maternity leave I naturally had mixed feelings about going back to work. I was longing for a hot cup of coffee I could drink all the way through without having to put it down to feed the baby, clean up a spill, or answer 101 trivial questions from my 3.5 year old. I was looking forward to the quiet time in the mornings before the hectic days at work got started, all alone at my desk.
At the same time, I did not want to leave my babies because I love them and could stare and talk to them all day. They are amazing and beautiful. I second guessed my decision to go back to work, wanting to stay home to hear the baby laugh. To watch my son play with his cars, talking to himself, singing and reciting nursery rhymes when he doesn’t think I’m listening. To watch him run around like a maniac making obnoxious sounds all day. As much as the harried days of a stay-at-home mom drove me a little crazy, I knew I would miss it.
First day back to work I woke up early, packed my lunch, filled my travel mug with steaming coffee and off I went. Getting back into the swing of things wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It was easy to fall into our drop-off/pick-up routine and soon it felt like I had never left.
A few months in now and I am feeling the stresses of keeping a healthy work/life balance creep back in. It’s all coming back to me how really complicated it is to fit all the things I want/need into my day – things like cooking/eating, exercising, quality time with the kids, quality time with my hubby, and sleeping. It is a constant struggle to remind myself that having young kids is only temporary, they grow up, and way too fast at that, and there will be a day when I will miss these moments.
The thing is, life is stressful. No matter what stage of life you’re in. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom (or dad!) or a full-time working mom (or dad), every day could be a stressor – single, kid-free folks included. To get through it though, you have to constantly remind yourself to change your perspective. If you’re looking at your day-to-day stressors as things that will never end (which they will) and things that could never change (which they can), then you’re going to be a stress ball.
I think if I remind myself to change my perspective when the kids are both screaming at the same time I will be a little happier those days. Looking back at any stressful moment in my life, I always wish at that time I would have told myself a different story, took a deep breath and focused on the positive. This too shall pass…
Now I’m here, at my desk, typing away like a monkey, feeling like I am running in place, and my perspective quit literally has changed again. I mumble to myself that I don’t want to be here at least once a day. That’s not healthy. I don’t hate my job, but I’m not exactly in love with it. Affirmative Action and OFCCP compliance isn’t something I’m super passionate about…
So much of living a healthy life is about how you manage your stress, the stories that you tell yourself about your current situation and about being truly happy. Stuck in traffic? Complaining about it the whole time? Why not tell yourself this is a good time to catch up on some podcasts or have a dance party in your car instead? Call a friend or family member and catch up.
Chronic stress is linked to a leaky gut and therefore an unhealthy human. You could have the best diet in the world, but if you’re freaking out all of the time you might as well be eating Funyuns for breakfast.
The point is, listen to your thoughts, really listen to them. What are you telling yourself? If you don’t like something, change it. But don’t keep whining about it because that isn’t helping anyone, especially not you. Do what makes you happy, no matter what.
A good friend and I just set up reminders on our Google calendars to ping each other in a few months, a few years, and see where we are. Have we kept a promise we made to ourselves – about work, health, or hobbies? Have we made a difference and done something we really wanted to make our life more fulfilling. I think its awesome, and a little hippie dippie, but mostly awesome. You should team up with a buddy and do the same.
Don’t have a friend that will help keep you motivated? No problem, find a technique that you can implement on your own. Check out this podcast from The Fat Burning man with Mark Divine for some inspiration.
“Everything we do in life we should ask, “Is this going to make my life better?” – Mark Divine
My first reminder from my friend is to blog more. I hope you’re ready for more nonsense and ramblings.