Balancing the responsibilities of parenting while trying to make time for yourself is always a challenge, but for brand-new parents the task is even more of a high-wire act.
Woodridge mom Kristen Schalund took that high-wire act to another, more literal, level when she began taking trapeze classes when her son, Ethan, was 1.
Schalund had taken a few classes at Trapeze School New York in Chicago before she got pregnant, and she enjoyed it so much that when she realized she needed to make time for herself as a new mom, she went back for more.
“Becoming a mom has transformed me in so many ways, but it makes me want to be a better person for my son,” she says. “Part of that is making time for yourself and setting goals. It makes you a better mom and a better parent for your child.”
Between working full-time and spending time with her 10-month-old son, Downers Grove mom Joy Matteson doesn’t have a lot of time for herself. She makes the most of what she does have in small doses.
While taking a pump break at work, she meditates for 20 minutes.
“It’s just so good to purposely shut off,” she says. “People will always need you, the to-do list is always around. But, being able to say ‘I’m not going to care about the list for even 20 minutes,’ you are giving a gift to yourself and to your husband and child by taking care of yourself.”
When she goes out with other moms, they order a glass of wine, dessert and try not to talk about babies.
“It’s important to remember you are this whole other person, too,” she says.
If new parents can’t find time in their schedule for themselves, Villa Park mom Rebekah Lipp suggests writing it down in an organized schedule and sticking to it. She and her husband plan personal time on their weekly chore chart alongside laundry, dishes and other tasks.
“We have chore nights and me nights. On a me night, one of us will go to a coffee shop, read a book, see a movie or something while the other stays home,” Lipp says.
It’s hard to keep an exact schedule with a newborn, but Lipp says if you have set aside personal time, don’t reschedule. You’re worth it.
“It’s just one night a week, so we make an effort to make the most of it,” she says.
Mom Guilt Busters
By Megan Murray Elsener
Stop apologizing for having a family and wanting to spend time with them. Say no at work more often. It shows the rest of your team that you value and encourage people to have lives outside of work. People only remember the successes, not that you couldn’t stay late. – Leigh Armstrong
We made the decision to move from DC to be closer to family, reduce the cost of living and reduce my work to 80 percent. So now my limits involve respecting the days I have off and being present with my daughters on those days and being fully present at work when I am there. – Paola Daly
Take time for yourself. You can only be the best mom when you are the best you. – Harper Counts
I only get 1.5 hours with my little girl when I get home from work, so my phone stays in my bag during that time. When I can’t see or hear my phone, it isn’t a distraction and I can focus time on my baby. – Victoria Milligan
I try really hard to enjoy having breakfast with my daughter instead of looking at it as one more thing to do. I get up early to prepare it and get myself ready so I’m not rushing her or myself. – Paola Daly
The largest struggle I have had as a working parent looking for balance is remembering who I was before I was needed by so many people 24/7. I have carved out an hour to an hour-and-a-half that’s all mine. Whether it’s a workout or a lunch, it’s my chance to escape and find balance. – Megan Malagoli Patterson
Shared Google calendars or shared calendar apps like Cozi or Hub are essential. We would be lost without synching all of our events, school things, reminders, classes and work functions. – Erica Alhorn
I meal plan the weekend before the next work week and buy all groceries before Monday. Delivery services like Amazon Fresh and meal delivery services are lifesavers. – Jen Andersson
Tell perfection to “eff off.” Many times “good enough” is totally sufficient. No one needs to know about the perfect Pinterest birthday party you had in your head and all the parts that ended up not coming together. – Jen Kellogg
I want my daughter to have a strong role model and not see that having children prevents you from achieving the career you want. We view raising a family as a 50/50 deal, so we take turns with who sacrifices work for family. – Leigh Armstrong
Delegation is key. My kids mop, clean, fold clothes and help pack lunches. I’ve learned to lower my standards to accept the help. I’ve had to challenge my inner perfectionist and I’ve gotten better about asking for help. My mantra is ‘done is better than perfect.’ – Erin O’Neill Mott