When You Need A New Formula

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Guest post by Rachel Bowman

I’m really happy to have a chance to reflect on this topic and my life right now. It couldn’t have come at a better time, though I don’t think either Kelly or I realized that when we first talked about doing this post.

Why is that?

I’ve been struggling with my formula for my life for the last few months to say the least.

Apparently I’m not very good at adjusting it. With baby #1 it didn’t seem that hard. With baby #2, it was a lot harder. Baby #3 is not even here yet, but I’ve had an especially hard time this go-around.

Part of that is because I had more on my plate than ever when I got pregnant. I work full-time, my girls are 2 and 4, and I had just started my own website and was working toward turning it into an online business. The whole point of my website was to help working moms figure out how to get it all done and still enjoy their lives!

But this meant hours each week working on that, plus all the time I spent on it that I didn’t consider “working:” calls every week, more time on social media than ever before and meetups too.

I pushed through the fatigue in the first trimester, even though I was exhausted all the time. By the second trimester I was just done. All the work I had done to have a formula that worked for me and made me feel good about myself flew out the window. So yes, Nicole I can totally relate to falling off the wagon with your formula.

I didn’t have the energy to do anything. Like Lori wrote about in this post, I was stuck in a rut, sitting on the couch thinking about the things I had to do but feeling like it was too hard to even get started.

So how did I turn it around? Well, it’s been a slow journey. At least that’s how it feels.

I’m in my third trimester now, and I’ve gotten back to some of the basics. But I’ve learned an important lesson too. I need to be flexible, or as they’d say in the corporate world, more agile. I need to adjust faster.

I can’t expect what’s working for me right now to continue to work indefinitely. Like Jamie talked about here, her formula has evolved (and she gives herself permission to not always get it right).

That’s another reason I think it’s so great to think about it as a formula. What are the key elements? What is the foundation?

My formula right now is this:

1.      I need a few minutes to myself every day. I just need that quiet and that time to myself where I can think and take a look at what I have planned. If I can get it at the start of the day, there’s a good chance it will make my entire day go better. But if I can’t get it then, it’s still important to me. I might have to turn off the stereo when I drive to/from work. I might need to leave the kids outside with my husband and tell them I need 5 minutes. Whatever it takes to have a little alone time.

2.      I don’t like being in a hurry. I hate feeling rushed to be somewhere, especially because I believe there usually isn’t a good reason to be in a rush. I don’t want to have to rush my kids either. The truth is I don’t have to be at work at a certain time, so if one of the girls is sad because she wants me to take her to daycare, I can say yes. I’m not in such a hurry that I have to ignore that. This one is really important to me.

3.      My kids (should) make me laugh every day. If this isn’t happening, it’s a sign I’m stressed out. If I can’t let go enough to actually have fun with them and allow myself to laugh with them, I need to take a step back and figure out what’s going on. After my first, I would say “She makes me laugh every day.” That was what I loved most about being a mom. Even as things change, it’s important to remember that they make me laugh and bring me joy.

4.      I don’t like to have my phone or any other device out when my kids are awake. If I am sitting on my phone scrolling through social media or reading a book and my kids are awake, that’s a sign that something’s wrong. If I’m that tired that I can’t engage with them, it’s time to do something about it. Like go to bed early! Something that actually makes a difference.

5.      I rely on my husband A LOT. Especially when I am not at 100%. The best part about this is, he is willing to help out. He would say I always want to do everything myself, but that can’t be true or he wouldn’t make the kids lunches or be the one at the grocery store right now. Knowing that I can count on him is really important.

6.      It’s important to recognize when I need to take a break. I’ve been saying that I don’t even know what i think is fun anymore, but that’s not the real truth. The truth is that even when I’m tired, I’ll stay up and watch tv (at least lately). I will be too “lazy” to actually do something I think is fun and instead sit on the couch. That’s not a real break for me! For my husband it is, but not for me. I need to do something that rejuvenates ME and stop ignoring the signs that are saying I need to take a break. (This one is definitely a work-in-progress.)

These are the things that are important to me right now and that are making my life work. We’ll see how things evolve when baby #3 arrives in a few months…

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Rachel Bowman writes at Just Getting Things Done, a website for working moms that want to get their life back on track even if they barely have the energy to make it through the day. She has two little girls, ages 1 and 3, works a day job and spends weekend nap times hanging out in the backyard with her husband.

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