And so it all begins again. Mondays can be a relief for some moms who have very busy weekends with kids going in all directions and trying to get things done at home and catch up with a partner but for others, it can be a very difficult time. For some moms, Monday means having to leave their baby at daycare or with someone else while they return to work. For other moms, Mondays often mean their partner goes back to work and they are left alone to care for the baby for many hours once again. Mondays mean 5 days of filling time. Mondays mean 5 days of talking to someone who doesn’t/can’t talk back yet. Mondays mean trying to “get it all done” and the anxiety, self-criticism and guilt that comes along with this pressure. And for moms already suffering from PMADs, Monday’s can be very difficult to face.
Structure is key. And I don’t mean a rigid schedule, though that is the only thing that works for some women, it often can add unnecessary stress and pressure of it’s own. I mean blocking out your day and week. Making the periods of time you are trying to manage smaller and making your plan for getting things done bigger. Rather than trying to clean, cook, do laundry, entertain and engage your LO and take care of some things for yourself all in one day, change your expectations and how you manage your time. Realize that having a child will often break up your day by mere fact that the child has certain needs. She needs to eat, nap and then there is the time in between.
Time after wake up. Breakfast. Time after breakfast. Nap (maybe). Time after nap/breakfast (if no morning nap). Lunch. Time after lunch. Nap. Time after Nap. Dinner. Time after dinner. Bed.
If your child takes two naps. No more than one of those nap times should be spent doing work/chores/etc. The other one is personal time. Nap, rest, watch tv, talk on the phone, catch up on emails or other social media. If your child only takes one nap then designate 1/3-1/2 of the time for yourself. (I know it gets tricky if baby wakes up early but you need to set time for yourself anyway.) Pick one bigger chore each day. Maybe you cook a couple meals and put one away for another day. Or maybe you’ve cooked two or three days in a row so you have leftovers and don’t need to cook that day. Another day, your chore could be laundry. Steal a moment here and there to change over laundry in the morning so you have a couple loads to fold during nap time. Fold laundry while catching up on a tv show or movie you’ve been wanting to watch.
Now, these are general guidelines. But, if you get in the habit of structuring things this way and you get into a rhythm then an occasional hiccup when baby wakes up early or doesn’t nap at all will be easier to take in stride. If your life feels more manageable in general then the out of control moments do not seem as overwhelming or all encompassing to us.
And remember…take a breath, give yourself a break and remind yourself that you are already doing quite a bit.