I’m so excited to share this guest blog post. I would like to introduce you to my sister-in-law, Michelle! She has been in my life for about 14 years now, wow, those 14 years have gone by so fast! It’s been fun to watch Michelle, and my brother, Charlie, get married and grow their family. I often think Michelle is “Super Mom.” She is always giving SO much of herself to her family and friends. Michelle was truly one of my rocks when I was going through my darkest days – she went above and beyond sending cards, texts, calling, and messages. She just made me feel loved and not judged.
When I approached Michelle to be a guest blogger there were many topics that I thought she could reflect on, but one I think a lot of mom’s struggle with is balance. Balance of family, friends, work, and time for yourself. I was so excited when she agreed to write this blog as I think many will benefit. I love the honesty and truth that she brings to her advice. I hope you enjoy! Thank you, Michelle!
Tell us a little bit about your family?
I have been married to my husband for 11 years and we have 4 kids. Skylar is 10, MacKenzie is 8, Leighton is 4 and Emerson will be 3 by the end of January. We also have a fur baby, Indy, who we got just before I had Emerson….I blame pregnancy hormones for that decision, but he is the best dog ever. My husband travels often for work so I am on my own at times trying to balance doing it on my own. Skylar is in swimming for our local swim team and MacKenzie plays basketball and soccer. Leighton started hockey this past winter. My girls also have piano once a week and religion once a week.
What is a “typical” day like with four kids under 10?
Crazy. Winter is tough because my boys are such boys and like to run and climb and jump on EVERY.THING. My husband gets off to work between 5:30-6:00. I then get the first one up for school at 6:45. I get her out the door at 7:15 a.m. and wake the next. I get her out the door at 7:55 and get Leighton to preschool by 8:30. I then try to get my workout in or run errands before it’s back to get Leighton from preschool. Home we go for lunch and naps. By the time I get the boys down for naps my girls are getting home from school. It’s then homework time and getting ready for evening activities. We quick eat dinner and off to whatever activity that night holds for us. Then.Finally.BED.
Do you work?
I work two days a week as an outpatient Marriage and Family Therapist. I specialize in working with kids with trauma. As my boys get into school I am looking at working more since the need for daycare won’t be there.
How do you find balance between family, work, and friends?
This is tough. Sometimes I do a great job and other times I fail big time. I think for me it is slightly easier because I only work two days a week. I try to only take phone calls from work during nap time or on days I work. I do not respond after hours unless it is an emergency. I try to see family and friends as much as possible, but they understand life is busy. Right now I’d say balancing family is my main focus and the others come after. Many days I don’t have much energy for anything other than bed by the time 8:00 p.m. rolls around.
How do you stay in touch with friends?
I try to keep in touch with friends with phone calls, text messages and Facebook. When I remember I will send a little card or something in the mail to someone just because. I have a friend that about a year ago we started going out dancing once every couple of months just to get out. It took me about 10 years to start taking time for myself. I need more friend time, but I know these days won’t last forever. And when I feel like I’m drowning and I want to run out the door and never come back, I remind myself that someday I will miss my littles, because they will be bigs and that life will not always be like this.
When do you find time for yourself?
This took me about 10 years to start doing. I always talk to my clients about self care but was neglecting myself. I had to start practicing what I was preaching. So I started working out when my boys nap or after they are in bed for the night. One day a week when I have daycare I bring my kids about an hour before I have to be at work. I will often run a quick errand or go back home to eat lunch in silence. I have to fit time in for myself in small increments that are based on my kids schedules but I’m getting better at seeing those little windows of opportunity.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have gotten as a new mom?
\Find a babysitter and get out of the house on a date. I did not want to leave my first (or second), but often felt drained, I needed that self care but did not allow myself to take it. It’s also easy to let your partner drift away as the focus is on the kids. Reconnect with them. Yes, conversation will probably all revolve around your child(ren) but let someone else feed them dinner and put them to bed. (Does anyone remember what conversations with your significant other sounded like before having kids? Haha)
What advice would you give a new mom who feels disconnected to her friends?
Remember you are not alone. Moms all around the world feel like this after having a baby/kids. Your friends are probably feeling the same way on their end. They understand, so go easy on yourself. If you have time, join a mom’s group or an ECFE class to connect with some other moms and have conversation that is more than baby talk. But most of all, lower your standards for yourself, because no on is perfect and no one is expecting you to be except yourself.