I’ve got the crazy brain. It’s okay. I’m managing it…pretty well these days, actually. Given that I’m staring down the barrel of having THREE small children at home for a year, it’s kind of miraculous that I’m not completely losing it.
(Srsly tho: 3 kids. 1 mom. You do the math. I’m slightly terrified and fairly certain that kindergarten can’t come soon enough.)
When I stop and think about why I’m doing as well as I am, I can see some pretty solid patterns that have developed. Here are some of the things I’m doing to help safeguard my sanity:
Getting out of the house every day
I have discovered (and continue to be reminded when I get lazy) that if we don’t leave the house at least once a day–even for only a few minutes–I get a little extra loco. The kids get stir crazy, I lose patience, and when bedtime finally rolls around I’m D.O.N.E. Buckling Margot’s gigantic tutu (because she seriously wears that thing EVERY DAY) into her carseat in triple-digit heat is a giant pain in my pregnant bum, but it’s worth the effort every time. Sometimes we all just need a change of scenery.
Spending time away from my children
I love my kids. Dearly. I love playing with them and reading to them and taking them on adventures and especially all the funny little conversations we have. But sometimes I just really really really need them to go away. As an introvert, I get my energy from alone time. When they are literally six inches away from me ALL THE LIVELONG DAY I get burnt out real quick. Is it any wonder I’m looking forward to preschool starting up next week? I’ve also made arrangements for them to spend one day a week with their grandma; just thinking about it helps me breathe a little easier. We all like each other much more when we get a break from each other.
Doing something visibly productive
Lately this has been painting my master bedroom. It’s a verrrrrrrrry slow process with little kids around, but as the new color creeps around the room my heart swells. With all the repetitive tasks of motherhood–changing diapers, doing laundry, washing dishes, picking up toys, etc. etc. etc.–it’s nice to finish something and be done. Bonus points if it’s pretty.
Letting things go
While being productive is helpful, sometimes I just have to let stuff go. Mentally, physically, I just can’t handle doing all the things all the time. That means the house is rarely as clean as I’d like and sometimes we turn down invitations to do fun things. There are days when I just really need to take a nap, which means the kids watch more PBS Kids than I’m proud of. In the long run, though, it really doesn’t matter how dusty the piano is. We are happy and healthy. I’ve made my peace.
Cultivating adult friendships
I’ve been so fortunate these past couple years as my monkey sphere has grown to include so many wonderful women. Hooray for the internet connecting people who belong to the same tribe! Lunch dates, group texts, social media updates, emails, and regularly scheduled “parties” keep me from feeling isolated and mush-brained. And when they bring me unsolicited donuts? Big thumbs up.
Even David and I have been making more of an effort to work on our friendship. We’ve gotten into the habit of talking and talking and talking after the girls go to bed…to the point that I had to set myself a “curfew” so I could get some decent sleep! He is so good at reminding me that I have a sharp mind and interesting things to say, and we’ve had some really great conversations that help ease the annoyance of the endless repetitions of “Why, mama, why?” that I get during the day.
Enjoying simple pleasures
A fresh coat of polish on my nails. Watching a lightning storm out the window. Music that is not geared toward the under-five crowd. The smell of a freshly bathed toddler. Finding a new arm on my tiny cactus. Any delicious treat that I don’t have to share with sticky grabby little hands. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep me going. I’ve been making a conscious effort to acknowledge flashes of beauty and delight and it’s made a huge difference in my attitude. Even better when I can refrain from attempting to Instagram them, because sometimes I just need to live in the moment without sharing in on social media. (It’s so hard, though, because I love Instagram! Follow me at @jenbosen!)
I mentioned before that I’d likely be weaned off Zoloft before my third trimester. Well the third trimester has arrived and I am still taking Zoloft every night. After some long discussions with my husband, my midwife, and the OB on call at her practice, we all decided it made far better sense for me to remain on my meds. The risks to the baby are very low…lower than the risks of me having untreated anxiety and depression, which can both have a negative impact on baby’s health. The OB even suggested that if I were to go off Zoloft temporarily, he’d probably put me back on a few weeks before giving birth in order to avoid a major relapse afterward. Since the status quo is two thumbs up, we all agreed not to mess with it.
Not only do I have the peace of mind that I’m making an informed decision regarding both my health and the baby’s, but I can stop worrying about what might happen if I have to stop taking my pills.
I know I’m not the only one out there who gets a little nuts sometimes. And I know that what works for me is not going to work for everyone. So tell me–whether you’re a SAHM or not–what keeps you sane? Are you like me and spread your errands out over the week so you have something to look forward to? Or do you get it all done in one day so you don’t have to think about it? Do you need time away from everyone or does that stress you out even more? I’m always interested in new coping mechanisms!
All photos by Photography Hill