An ongoing struggle for me since becoming a mom has been finding balance in my life. Balance between being Mama and being Karen. Pre-baby, I went to the gym, I worked late, I met up with friends last minute, I ran errands, I read books, I hung out in coffee shops, I slept in on weekends. If I missed my family, I could hop on the bus head home for a wknd. If there was nothing in the fridge or we just didn't feel like cooking, Will and I headed out to a restaurant.
Post-baby, our lives completely and totally revolve around Nathan. If nobody is available to babysit, we can't go out on a Friday night. When Nathan wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday mornings, so do we. If Nathan is napping, the laundry has to wait.
Having lived on my own since I was 22 and being able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted before having a baby, suddenly being responsible for the every daily need of a (basically helpless) human being can be a shock to the system. There are days when I have to remind myself, "There is more to your life than just changing diapers". As I re-read this, it sounds awful, like I think being a parent means having no freedom. But that's not true... we just have to make an effort to give ourselves that freedom.
In any other job, you get lunch breaks, holidays, vacation time... you get to go home at 5:00!!! Being a parent is a 24/7, all day every day job which is why I think it's so important for parents to give themselves time off too. No matter how big or small, a break is a break and it allows us the chance to recharge our batteries. Whether it's letting the grandparents babysit so Will and I can have a date night, or handling bedtime on my own so Will can meet his friends for drinks, or Will watching Nathan so I can get a desperately needed pedicure, these are all opportunities for us to take off our Mama and Dada hats and just be Karen and Will. Being a mom is an amazing, wonderful experience that I am so grateful for... but it's exhausting and it can be easy to get stuck in the day to day routine. So I savor that alone time and come home with a fresh attitude which I believe is beneficial to me, my husband, and especially Nathan because a happy, healthy mama leads to a happy, healthy baby.