One of the hardest things for a new mom is the art of being still. We quickly learn that in order to merge our old routines with our new way of life we must be in a constant state of movement. There is always something that needs to be done. And new moms get busy DOING. I would actually argue that this is the case for all moms. We become masters of multi-tasking. With a new baby you are feeding virtually every one to two hrs. Sprinkled in between is the need to soothe and change diapers and worry about whether the poo is the right color and if our bundle of joy is breathing normally. Oh and you have to keep accurate records because the first thing the pediatrician asks is how many wet and soiled diapers does he have in a day? And about how much and how often does he eat. As if a new mom has the mental clarity to keep up with these things. Add to that the needs of other children (if you are so lucky), dishes to wash, laundry to fold, the needs of the significant other, the need to eat in order to keep doing and the rest of the basic operations of a household. I’m tired just reciting the list. A new mom fits in 2hr increments what takes most folks 5hrs to accomplish. It’s a FACT. Ask any mom. And even when it seems we are finally doing nothing, our minds are still busy…worrying or thinking of what we forgot to do or what we should be doing.
I recently read an article in Essence magazine, Cultivating the Art of Stillness where the author says, “I am really good at doing a lot of things at the same time. I wield my talents like a ninja, slicing and dicing my way through an ever-growing to-do list.” In life, we are applauded for our abilities to move from one task to another. And we wear the badge with honor and seemingly shame those who seem less capable of moving seamlessly from one thing to the next thing. In the professional world this is the norm and it often comes with a tight deadline and the expectation that despite doing multiple things at once each of those things must be done with the highest degree of accuracy.
But what’s the cost of always DOING? What’s the impact on our minds and bodies? In that very same article, the author points the finger at our dear friend STRESS. And if you’ve ever been stressed you know that this particular friend often travels in a pact with EXHAUSTION, DEPRESSION and ANXIETY. Pretty popular huh? If you aren’t well versed with just how much stress can affect you check out this article by the American Psychological Association.
What I want to add is that in addition to stress, all this non-stop doing really takes you out of the moment. You aren’t ever really enjoying the present. And contrary to popular belief you really can’t do a great job at everything. You’re probably doing an okay job at most of those things. Just the other day, I tried getting dressed, while cooking and holding the baby. I ended up rubbing hand sanitizer on my leg instead of lotion. FAIL. An overcooked (although we still ate it) chicken and mushroom dish. And a semi-happy baby. I’m on maternity leave but I have found that my day goes so much better when I let go of unnecessary tasks and fight the guilt of “you didn’t cross off a single item on the To-Do list”. I first accept that being the main caregiver for this little person is DOING quite enough. I also try to steal (it’s an accurate statement in mom-world) at least 5-10min of time when I can just BE. A walk outside alone or meditation on my closet floor do me great. But dance time in the shower works equally well. Plus there is the added bonus of being clean in the end.
So moms are you capable of doing nothing? How do you manage to live in the moment? And what creative ways have you used to steal some ME time to just BE?