How did you spend your 2019? I know I spent mine giving my body over to twin baby girls, trading in my beauty sleep for late-night feedings and dedicating myself entirely to my family. That's why I've declared that 2020 is "The Year of Me."
What does that mean you may ask? Well, that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my spunky baby girls or forget about showing love and appreciation for my caring husband. The "Year of Me" means I am going to relearn what it means to love myself.
As I write this, I think of all the mamas I know who are living with one eye on the present, spent with their little(s), and one eye on the future (where their goals live). I often tell myself, I'll start writing my novel again when the girls are a little older or I'll sign up for the gym in the new year.
But I recently began thinking, why not now?
I'm caught up in mom guilt. I spend much of my time living in between the big moments. I'm on the verge of accomplishing all my goals, and then I remember that every moment spent on those goals is a moment away from my sweet little ones. And vice-versa, when I'm spending time with my littles I'm thinking of all the things I want to do for me.
Yes, my children are a part of my past, present and future plans. But I also have goals and plans just for me. I have goals for my self-care, for my career and for my hobbies that will help me be better.
By caring for myself I will be a better mama, a more loving wife and a happier human.
I am hereby releasing myself of mom guilt, and if it means anything, I release all you mamas out there, too.
So, here's my big plan:
1. Begin living in the present.
I spend way too much time feeling guilty about working on things that interest me because those things keep me away from my children. Then when I am with my sweet babies, I'm thinking about when their next nap is so I can get some me-time.
That's over. I want to live in the now and enjoy every second with my littles. No more guilt or stress. My time with them is precious and so is my time pursuing my goals.
2. Eliminate the idea that my needs come last.
I find myself too often doing things for others (which is great) but I seem to always leave myself out. All my family members' birthdays are in the same two-week span but I try to plan a little celebration for each of them on their birthday so they feel special. This year they told me they didn't have time to celebrate my birthday and they weren't sure they could fit it in. I was upset but I made excuses for them and tried to just brush it off. Some girlfriends called me out and recognized that it was okay for me to want to be celebrated and it was okay for me to be upset. I am allowed to have things and moments that are just mine.
3. Work on being healthy and happy.
I had unrealistic weight goals after giving birth. I thought I'd be back in shape in no time, but the truth is, my body has changed. My entire life has changed. I don't need to be a certain number of pounds again. I just need to feel good and be happy and healthy. Yes I am going to work out and I have already adjusted to a healthier diet, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it.
4. Read more of what makes me happy.
I recently read "Where'd you go Bernadette?" and I'm sad to say it was the first actual paper book I had read cover to cover in several months. I seem to consistently come up with reasons not to read, but then the minute I start and I get into a book, I find any possible second to read and I have it done in a matter of days. That's proof that I do in fact have the time to read.
I just started reading, "Big Magic" and I'm feeling pretty inspired. Reading helps me feel happier and more creative, so why not read more?
5. Write something that matters to me.
I'm constantly trying to write things (short stories, novels, articles, etc.) that will matter to other people, but the truth is I need to write for me. I can't speak for other people. I know what I know through my own unique experiences. My experiences may be helpful to others and they may not be, that's okay. It's for me first.
6. For the love of everything holy, keep the office clean.
My office at home is much like my brain most days—full of clutter. Sometimes I think I store things in my office just so I have an excuse not to sit in there and get work done. Not anymore. From now on my office is my own little sanctuary, a happy space where mama can get some work done. I've already started hanging shelves and eliminating clutter. Marie Kondo would be proud.
7. "Let it go. Let it go. Can't hold it back anymore."
What a great song, right? Well, it's true. I've got to learn to let it go. When someone really does something hurtful to me I need to tell them rather than blow it off. I've got to stick up for myself. I matter too. I don't mean I'm going to start yelling at every person who cuts me off on the highway. I mean that no one has the power to make me feel less than. Enough said.
8. I'm going to treat myself.
I work hard so my family can have the things they want, so why can't I be included in that? It's okay to buy new clothes, get my nails done or get a new camera accessory or book. It's my money and I can spend it on me. No guilt necessary. Maybe I'll even take a photography or video editing class or something. Who knows what will happen.
While "The Year of Me" is about small improvements in my life for myself, it's about my babies too. I want them to see that it's possible to be good to your family and to continue doing the things that make you, well, you. I don't want to lose who I am or stop doing what I love because my family has grown. I want to use this lesson in life as a way to inspire my girls to be themselves in the best sense of the word.