As young girls, many of us fantasized about one day becoming a wife and a mother. We had baby dolls that we cared for as though they were real. We had crushes on boys and practiced signing our names with their last name at the end. Back then, we never even gave thought to how to have a balanced life as a mom and a wife.
Anyone else remember playing the game M.A.S.H. as a kid? It was one of the many childhood games that predicted who you were going to marry and how many kids you were going to have, among other things. Or how about those crazy paper fortune-teller origami things? Yeah…you remember these bad boys…
So, just as we anticipated, many of us did end up marrying and having little ones. Although according to my most recent MASH game all those years ago, I’m certain I was supposed to live in a mansion, married to Cody with 6 kids. In reality, I live in a reasonably sized apartment with my wonderful husband Robert and our one sweet 16-month-old baby boy. I’ll keep my reality, thank you! (Although the mansion could happen one day. A girl can dream, right?)
Speaking of reality…
Motherhood and married life are just not as easy as we think they are going to be when we are 9 years old. Honestly, even though I got married later than many of my friends, and had my first kid later than almost all of them, I Still didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. There were two big misconceptions in particular that caused a lot of confusion and frustration and they are actually quite funny to me now. Ah, to be young… (and what a difference just 3 years can make!)
Misconception # 1
My first big misconception was the thought that being married meant that you had someone there to help you do all the stuff you don’t want to do, so it would be half as much work as being single, right?
haha, haha, haha… sorry let me catch my breath. I actually thought that being married would make life easier. Now, I won’t hesitate to say that being married to the love of my life absolutely makes life a million times better – but easier? I think not.
Only Child Syndrome
First off, I grew up as an only child for the most part (hard to explain) which meant that my stuff was mine. When I wanted to do something, I just did it. Unless it was against the rules, no one stood in my way. I also didn’t have to think too much about what anyone else wanted to do. Occasionally, my parents would make me do something that they wanted me to do, or I would have to deal with some sort of family-related event I didn’t want to attend, but 99% of the time, I just did my thing.
When I married my husband, all of that independence went out the window. In return, I got love, attention, affection, and security – all things that I can’t imagine losing, but losing that independence was rough. Of course, I still get to do the things I want to do and we compromise when we disagree, but I have to stop and think about someone else. It never bothered me to do this in school or at work, but when I woke up on Saturday morning and wanted to hit the town to go shopping, and he wanted me to lounge around the house all morning, it made me crazy!
The Extreme Phases
I went through a series of phases where I would be rebellious and cause an argument to get my way or I would go to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum and sacrifice everything I wanted to make sure I was being the “perfect wife”. It took much longer than I expected to find a balance between my own personal goals and desires and meeting my husband’s needs. I’ll go into more detail about how I have managed to do so shortly, but first, let’s talk about my second misconception.
My second big misconception, as silly as it may sound, was that having a baby would be like having a puppy.
Sometime in my mid 20’s, I hit a rough patch. I had recently moved and ended a long-term relationship and my social life was, well, nonexistent. I felt like I was never going to get married or have kids and my career was nothing to be excited about. So, what did I do? I got a puppy!
Let me tell you, I loved the heck out of that little guy (I still do! He lives with my grandparents now and is VERY happy about his huge backyard). I got up a million times at night to take him outside to go to the bathroom. I walked him every day and literally made his dog food myself. This dog was seriously spoiled.
It seemed perfectly logical to me that a baby would be the same amount of work. I mean, what’s the difference? They need to go to the bathroom, they need to eat, and they need attention. That’s all there is to it!
So, why is having a baby different?
Well, first off, they are human. How often does a puppy continue to whine or cry when you come over and give them 5 seconds of attention? Pretty much never. How often does a baby cry even after you give them an hour of attention? Often. Very often. A puppy will forget whatever they are upset about the second you give them love. Babies might get distracted for a moment, but if they are really upset about something, they won’t stop crying until you fix it.
And that’s just it – YOU have to fix it! Your baby isn’t going to go out in the yard and find something to chew on when they are teething. When they are tired, they might fight going to sleep for hours. And when they are hungry, they are hungry NOW. Oh, and to state the obvious, you can’t leave a baby at home and go to work. If you thought that was possible, maybe reconsider having a baby, haha.
Nothing went as planned
Between the fact that I thought marriage would cut my responsibilities and obligations in half and the fact that I thought raising a baby would be a piece of cake, I was quite surprised to find out just how hard it can be to balance it all. I have always been the one who was beyond organized and who excelled in every career path.
I was a multitasking master and I always had a plan. But nothing went as planned when I became a wife and a mother. After the smoke has cleared, and I finally seem to have a grasp on this new world, I decided to share my newfound wisdom on how to have a balanced life as a mom and a wife.
Are you a new Stay at Home Mom or soon to be one? Read about Transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom: Redefining Your Self Worth
How to Have a Balanced Life as a Mom and a Wife
For my first couple of years as a wife and my first year as a mother, I struggled to figure out exactly how to balance it all. I just couldn’t seem to find a way to take care of myself and my husband in the right ratio. Once we had our son, I went into extreme mommy mode and seemed to forget completely about my husband and myself! It was a rollercoaster, to say the least.
The hardest part about balancing your life is that no one can give you an exact roadmap. No one knows your life better than you, so it’s up to YOU to find your way. For me, relief was found by prioritization. It may seem cold or unloving, and the thought of it may go against your nature as a mom, but hear me out on this one. Living by this set of guidelines has made me a happier person, a more attentive mother and a more loving wife.
Make Yourself Priority #1
Yep! I went there. You have to make yourself the top priority. For too long, I thought that I was just spoiled growing up as an only child and I now needed to learn to sacrifice my well-being to take care of my family. The problem was that I was doing a terrible job!
When I didn’t take care of myself I was in a horrible mental state. I wasn’t playing with my son, I was going through the motions that I knew I needed to do as a mom. When I wasn’t taking care of myself physically, my husband took notice, and I don’t blame him. I was overweight, often unshowered, I stopped wearing makeup and I was definitely not my usual optimistic self.
It took me so long to finally realize that taking 15 minutes for myself to get ready each day made me happier and more productive. Taking another 20 minutes to workout and lose weight made me feel better physically and mentally. Taking the time to fuel my body with healthy food gave me energy and all of these things combined made me a better wife and mother.
I got more done than I ever would have when I wasn’t taking an hour or so a day to do tasks that made me better and my change in attitude had a noticeable positive impact on my husband and my son. Before you can take care of others to the best of your ability, you have to take care of yourself.
Make Your Spouse Priority #2
Okay, I already pushed the limits when I said that you are the first priority. Now I’m going to push it even further. The kids are not number 2. I know, you’re a mom, how can you put anyone before your kids, let alone two people! Stay with me…
Your spouse should be #2 on your list, and I’ll tell you why…
You and your spouse are a team. Together you are raising your children. Remember how you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself? Well think of it this way, by making your spouse the next priority, you are making sure that both parents are taken care of so that you can both be the best parents possible.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to feed your spouse dinner before you worry about your hungry kids. Obviously, there will be times when you need to put yourself and your spouse on the back-burner for a moment and make your little ones the top priority. But when you make your spouse a priority, you have the opportunity to show them what a good marriage looks like.
I was very fortunate to have parents who set an amazing example. They always made sure that their marriage was a priority and as a kid surrounded by friends with divorced parents, I never doubted for a second that my parents were solid. That security can go a long way in a child’s development and can have an extremely positive impact on their relationships as an adult.
Make Your Kids Priority #3
Alright, I promise that’s it. Now, come the kids! Yes, they are technically listed as priority #3, but keep in mind, priority # 1 and priority # 2 are the two people who love your kids more than anyone else in the world. When your little ones need to be the top priority, they undoubtedly will be.
If your toddler is sick, you can go without a shower, or forego your workout routine for a doctor’s appointment. When your newborn won’t sleep, your spouse can live without your love and affection for the evening. But by making yourself and your spouse a priority, you can show your kids every day that they should value themselves and that a strong secure marriage isn’t something lost in past generations.
So, there you have it. It’s the secret to my success as a mom and a wife. Do I pull it off every day? Nope. There are times when my husband has to tell me that he needs more attention from me, and there are days when I don’t take any time for myself, but those days are becoming rarer by the minute as I continue to strive for balance as a mom and wife.
What’s your secret to balancing life as a wife and a mom? Let me know in the comments below!
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