September 5th marked the end of the one chapter in my life and the beginning of another. Even though the course of this new season is as yet completely uncharted, I'm happy about the prospect of a fresh start and a chance for renewal and reinvestment in areas of my life that suffered inevitable neglect due to the realities of being a full-time working mother. For me, the past two years cast in sharp relief the challenges and frustrations a working mother and wife faces--many of which I didn't fully understand or appreciate until I found myself confronting them on a daily basis. I now have an unexpected opportunity to clear out the cobwebs of neglect in those challenge areas. This sense of purpose led me to outline a few of the broad goals I have for my time as a full-time mom (however long that proves to be). I say "broad goals" intentionally. After all, I want to be realistic--life happens. Not every one of these goals will be reached every day, but they will provide a good framework to go on.
1. A new routine. While sometimes one can become a slave to routine, I've definitely seen the benefits of having a family routine, and I don't want to lose too much structure now that my life is no longer ruled by a time clock. Everyone likes the comfort and feeling of productivity a routine provides, and I've found it a great survival tool as a parent. Also, a little structure to the day will go a long way in helping me meet the goals I have in mind. Generally speaking, I'd like our new average daily routine to include:
a) Some time outdoors and physical activity--preferably before naptime... (see also: goal #2)
b) Preschool educational activities for Liam: reading, art making, music, etc.
c) Daily family time--with two working parents whose commute home is over an hour, this one has always been our ideal, but hard to pull off in the past because Liam often falls asleep before Eric gets home.
d) A little time at the beginning and/or end of the day for mommy-decompression
2. Get physical. The remaining three items on this list are mostly about me. As parents (especially mothers) I think the first thing we cut out of our lives when a baby enters the picture is everything we used to do for "me"--all of our energy goes into everything but taking care of ourselves. I have certainly been guilty of that, and I want to use this as an opportunity to work on striking a better balance. So, shooting for some physical activity each day is not just about giving Liam time to play outside or at the park, it's also about keeping me active, healthy, and feeling good as well.
3. Mental & intellectual health. Again, this one is about keeping me happy, healthy, and sane. I want to take time each day--even if it's just a few minutes--for stress-relief and decompression, and ideally some intellectual engagement (reading, writing, etc.). This new existence is a real change for me, not just in terms of what I do every day but also in how I see myself and where I am in my life. I fully realize that keeping up my mental game is going to be key, and although it will be tough on some days to carve out time, I plan to take this goal very seriously.
4. Refocus and reinvest. There is no question that in the past the never-ending spin of the hamster wheel that is working motherhood got the better of me more than I would like. One of my hopes for this time is that mommy and daddy can find more time to be husband and wife now and then. "Date nights" certainly don't happen as often as they should. I'd also like to invest a little in some odds-and-ends improvements around the place to make it even homier and some organizational features that I haven't had the time to get to since we moved in last October. I'm not going to go "This Old House" on the place or anything, but I think a few small, inexpensive changes will go a long way.
I don't feel I'm over-reaching with any of these goals, but check-in with me a year from now and we'll see what I have to say about it! My first week of the post-Villa era was busy and activity-filled, thanks to a visit from my mom. Liam was more than happy to enjoy being spoiled by Grandma for a week, and I was thankful for a chance to do some of those odds-and-ends tasks I mentioned above and get organized. It was nice to have some company and keep so busy this first week after being laid-off--it made for an easier transition and kept me from dwelling on the anxiety and sadness. It will take some time for those emotions to fade, I know, but this first week was a good start.
All right then--here we go!