Good mental health keeping

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost 9 months now. Staying home with Squish is a gift and my heart aches for moms who want to stay home, but for one reason or another, can’t. 9 months of loving and learning and stretching and I’m still adjusting to this new way of life.

I used to work multiple jobs and I thrived in the multitasking chaos of it all. At any given time throughout the year I would be: teaching 4-6 classes, doing administrative work for a university research office, engaging in multiple research projects, or organizing/speaking in workshops/seminars. That was my life.

At least once a year I would tell myself (and my patient boyfriend-turned-husband) that maybe it was time to say no to some things and slow down. But I never did. And now, it kind of makes sense. I’m glad that I never said no and that I made the most out of my single and childless-married years. I don’t think I can work like that again.

The decision for me to stay at home with the baby was never something that was set in stone. It wasn’t something that Mikey and I talked about or even planned for. But the moment I got pregnant, I knew that my full-time over-time working days were numbered. Early on in the pregnancy, Mikey and I discussed our options and I tearfully told him that I couldn’t imagine leaving our baby with anyone else. I felt like I was confessing a sin when I told him that I wanted to stay home to look after the baby (maybe it was the hormones). And almost automatically Mikey said that we would make it work (and honestly, he’s made it work more than I have, but that’s for another post).

I am grateful that it’s worked out so far. And I’m sure that this is what I’m supposed to be doing right now. But this new pace is something that I’m still getting used to.

I used to be an avid list maker. My favorite thing to do was to cross things off of my lists. I loved closing projects, finishing lectures, checking stacks of papers, and sending out summary emails. Even with the most over-extended projects, there would be an end in sight. Parenting, though, is a whole different ball game. There is no pause. There’s no clocking out or turning off notifications for the weekend. Even when we go to sleep at night, I know that I’ll be up in a few hours to feed Squish. Heck, even when he sleeps through the night, I find myself waking up to check on him. It can be maddening sometimes when you’re sleep deprived and it seems like you’re stuck in a never-ending routine.

This is why I do the dishes. After dinner, I leave the baby with Mikey, I take my iPad with me to the kitchen, play something silly, and I start washing the dishes. It’s therapeutic: the dishes WILL get done. I need that sense of achievement, no matter how shallow or inconsequential the task. It’s become my reset button, my deep-breaths space, and my hey-I-have-both-hands-free! time.

It helps that our kitchen is a separate from the living area and far from the bedroom because even when Mikey offers to take over, if I’m in the same room as them or if I can hear them, half of my brain is still monitoring the baby. And it’s more complicated now that Squishy is going through a clingy phase.

I think the best thing about my strange love affair with the dishes is that Mikey hates (HATES HATES HATES) doing the dishes. So he will gladly take over Squishy duty to get out of doing it. 😅

Here we are in all of our good morning glory!

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