A year ago, in my very first post for Babble, I set out seven rules for myself as a new stay-at-home-mom. After a decade working as a journalist at newspapers and a TV network, it was my first time staying in my home for extended periods with my children. To be honest, I was more than a little nervous about giving up the luxury of going into an office every day and chatting with people who never needed diaper changes. (Or if they did, they thankfully never asked me to help.)
I’ve learned much over the course of this year, including the fact that for the sake of my career, I really should refer to myself as a “work-at-home” mom because I’m still a professional writer and I do write a lot — about health, safety, feminism, and my unapologetic love of baby leashes.
I’ve also learned that getting straight A’s was much easier in school than in real-life. By that I mean that I decided to grade myself on my performance with respect to last year’s goals… and I fell short in a couple of areas. But overall, the results haven’t been awful — and really, isn’t “not awful” what many of us parents strive for? Forget perfect — let’s just go with pretty good.
Here’s how I did:
Goal No. 1: Recognize How Lucky You Are
This one was all about not taking for granted that I had the option of being and working from home when so many parents don’t. I have many moments when I do appreciate that, whether it’s making a last-minute, afternoon pediatrician’ s appointment (instead of right before or right after work) or just stopping to marvel at my growing 16-month-old’s ability to chow down on cherry tomatoes like it’s his job.
But too often, I also find myself getting annoyed at how much of my day consists of wiping butts and washing dishes. So I get a “B” for being (a little) bitter. An “A” student wouldn’t let the mounting pile in the sink bother her so much — she probably wouldn’t let it pile up in the first place!
Goal No. 2: Get Outside
Given this season’s polar vortex, I think we’ve done pretty well. I’ve definitely taken the baby out in frigid weather (bundled up tightly of course) when we were the only ones out on the street. But there have also been days when surprisingly long crib naps or irregular mealtimes made going outside before dark impossible. Once he’s old enough and it’s warm enough to run around a playground, I think our outings will become more frequent.
Goal No. 3: Mind Your Hygiene By Showering Every Day (or At Least Every Other Day)
Let’s just say that the “every other day” option is a real life-saver here. Also, I wrote a blog post all about great ways to fake taking a shower… but if you and I ever hang out, I’ll shower beforehand, I promise.
Goal No. 4: Make, Don’t Buy, Your Lunch
Sometimes I buy lunch and sometimes I forget to eat lunch entirely. I think that’s pretty common for anyone busy balancing work and parenthood or some other big caregiving responsibility. I’m sure the fact that I hate cooking — yes, even when it comes to putting lunch meat between two slabs of bread — also doomed me to score poorly on this particular performance area. Let me tell you, this is breaking my cost-conscious, kitchen-savvy grandmother’s heart.
Goal No. 5: Talk to the Baby
I’ll admit it — when Scrunchy Face was younger, I had a tough time forcing myself to make conversation with him consistently. Yes, I’d have my moments getting animated with laundry, but more commonly, our conversations revolved around me saying things like “Hey, look, it’s snowing outside” and then… silence because I just couldn’t figure out what else to say.
I know I’m not alone in this — I prefer having spirited debates with adults about healthcare policy to playing spirited games of peek-a-boo with an infant. As he got older, I found interacting with Scrunchy Face easier because he became so much more interested in engaging with me — parental narcissism at its finest, folks.
Goal No. 6: Make Time for Social Activities
We did it! Last year, we joined a Mommy & Me class that I sweet-talked my way into since we technically registered late for it — I’m sure the YMCA administrator was charmed by the fact that my hair was mostly brushed and I was wearing clean pants. I estimate that we attended more than a dozen sessions until repeated snowstorms and icy streets sapped my enthusiasm for making the drive to the local Y. I have yet to sign up for another class, so it’s a “B” for me, as in “Better try again!”
Goal No. 7: Keep Up With the News
Once a news junkie, always a news junkie. I definitely could be better read — I’ll confess that there are some awfully lonely news magazines lying around my house — but I like to think I’m pretty up on the issues of the day. The fact that I’ve recently started writing for Babble’s News channel has helped — keeping up with news is now (once again) part of my job!
Do you have any similar goals for yourself? How do you measure up?
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