Probably the most asked question I get (besides how did I end up with two sets of twins) is how did I do it.
Honestly, I don’t know and more honestly, I don’t remember. I didn’t have any great organizational system, philosophy or check-off chart. I constantly felt like I was drowning while trying desperately to swim through these days of infancy and toddlerhood. But, what I clearly remember is that I had a couple of minimum requirements that were like life rafts to my days and weeks.
In the difficult early days (weeks, months) of that first (second, third) year, a daily shower was one of my minimum requirements–I had to do it no matter what. I remember hearing moms complain that they hadn’t showered in days. . .nope not me. Every day. . .every day. Most days I tried to wake earlier than the babies, but also before Scott left for work. Some days my bedroom outside of the shower was filled with exersaucers and children fingering cheerios. Whatever it took, I took a shower.
Why was I so adamant about this? I found that in those days of absolute craziness, having at least a shower made me feel more human. . .more able to take on the requirements of the day. . .more able to feel like every part of me wasn’t succumbing to the demands of motherhood.
The important thing is that minimum requirements aren’t goals as in, “My goal today is to take a shower.” or “My goal today is to run on the treadmill.” Nope. A minimum requirement is just that, “I need this accomplished in order to still feel like me.”
Just as important as the shower was my second minimum requirement: one day each week away from children. I know that that sounds like an extravagance and maybe selfish, but in the constant 24/7 demands of motherhood especially from children who are totally dependent on you, being able to step away and be free to do whatever you want is actually empowering. . . rejuvenating. In the dark moments of a day I could say, “In two days I’m going to go out to lunch by myself.” and that would somehow help get me through the rough spot.
Unfortunately, both for mom and babies, I think that a lot of new moms often feel guilty or selfish if they have a minimum requirement. I say don’t. Whatever makes you connect with that wonderful, beautiful, funny, carefree, thoughtful person you are (or felt you were before children). . .do it! Mark your territory. Stand your “out-to-lunch” ground. Require everyone else recognize and honor (as in setting aside time or budgeting babysitting money) that minimum requirement. Your family will be better because you’ve recognized your needs as important as theirs. There’s no guilt in that–that is good parenting because you are parenting yourself first.
So, while I can’t provide a list of what to buy. . .or baby activities to do while you try to get something done. . .or even helpful organizational hints. . .consider this pressing question, What are your minimum requirements to make it through a day or a week? Then write them down in permanent marker and tape them to the frig (or better yet write them with permanent marker ON the frog: THIS IS MINE. I MUST HAVE THESE THINGS. I WON’T DENY MYSELF.