Balancing Work, Leisure and Love After Having a Baby - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Balancing Work, Leisure and Love After Having a Baby

If possible, ease back into work; try two or three days to start, or ask if you can work at home for part of the week. If possible, ease back into work; try two or three days to start, or ask if you can work at home for part of the week.

By Kathryn E. Livingston

Naturally, nothing matches your love for your baby. But when you've totally given up on romance, work is a nightmare, and your personal interests seem like distant memories, it's time for a balance check.

Time management is a major issue for new mothers, observes Maryann Troiani, Ph.D., coauthor of Spontaneous Optimism (Castle Gate Publishing). "The first complaint I often hear from new moms is that they feel their time is bankrupt. They're always trying to beat the clock and just can't keep up with the demands of their new situation."

"Nobody can do any job 24 hours a day. All moms need some time off to do other things," adds Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage (New Harbinger Publications). "Operate from the inside out," Heitler suggests. "If you're depressed or stressed, none of the other pieces will work. It's just like when you're on an airplane -- if there's a shortage of oxygen, you're told to put the mask on yourself first because you can't help others if you're not breathing!"

How can new moms find a better balance?

Make Love a Priority
Research shows that when couples enjoy loving, happy, optimistic lives together, they're more likely to raise emotionally stable children, says Maryann Troiani. Attention, appreciation, and affection toward your partner will enhance your baby's emotional environment. That doesn't mean you need to plan a complicated, romantic getaway; the solution can be as simple as turning off the TV and spending an hour with your mate chatting over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

Ease Back Into a Working Schedule
Instead of plunging into a full-time workday, try to build some balance into the transition. "Take one small step at a time," advises Troiani. "Women who put a lot of energy into their baby and then try to put just as much into work will just drain their batteries dry." If possible, ease back into work; try two or three days to start, or ask if you can work at home for part of the week.

Make Time for You
For some women, feeling good about their body is important, so that may mean putting your baby in a sports/health club childcare for an hour a day. Other moms might prefer to read a book, play the piano, get together with a friend for lunch, or get involved in community service.

Enlist Dad, your neighbor, a close friend or relative, but try to discover a way to have some personal time, even if it means spending your baby's naptime reading Sense & Sensibility instead of mopping the floor. "Your unique balance is what works," says Heitler, "and the test of a good balance is your emotional state."

Organize Your Priorities
Make a list of ten important things you want to accomplish in a given day, advises Heitler, then ignore the last eight, focusing on the top two. Don't forget that the special time you spend with your blossoming baby counts as an accomplishment too.

While your baby is indisputably the star, you'll be a better mom if you're shining too. Moms share their advice on how they manage to get time to themselves:

  • Miriam Lockhart, of Teaneck, NJ, found a college student a block away who came over a couple of times a week: "I used that time to catch up on paperwork, and sometimes just to sit down and eat as much as I wanted without feeling in a panic that the baby would start crying and I wouldn't be able to finish!"
  • Amy Alexander, of Upper Montclair, NJ, advises seeking out other new moms for "baby share" time. One mom can watch yours while you take a walk or a warm bath -- then you can watch hers while she does whatever she pleases.

Francine Lipani, of Wallkill, NY, says, "Use the grandparents and close friends as babysitters. Don't wait until your child goes to kindergarten, or college, before you make time for your spouse."

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