A few weeks ago I experienced a very stressful week and felt down so many days in a row that I finally snapped and had somewhat of an anxiety attack.
Here are the feelings that pervaded my days leading up to my anxiety attack:
Stressed because my
house wasn't clean.
Annoyed and at my wits end because of my daughter's whining.
Down because it was cloudy and cold.
Scared to have another baby and have even less time to do all the
chores expected of me as a house-wife and stay-at-home mother.
Desperate to have time alone.
Mad at myself for not enjoying Sarah all the time.
Frustrated and confused about the money we spend on groceries every month.
Angry and helpless because I wasn't getting more help around the house.
Offended because people around me didn't do more to take care of me.
Fed up and hopeless because I needed so much help just to feel normal.
After I "snapped" I scheduled an appointment with my ever-so-helpful psychiatrist. He gave me some great advice. "Lower your expectations of what you can do in a day" he said.
Alright! I thought. This was my ticket to sit on the couch, let the dishes sit in the sink and not worry about that baby shower I didn't want to go to anyways...
In a way his advice did lead me to do those things- to sit, let it be and not worry. But really what it helped me to do was relax and let housework fall down the ladder of priorities where it belonged during this extremely precious time of Sarah's life and mine too- about to have another baby. It made me slow down and I discovered a few things that really surprised me:
1. I can be calm and relaxed and be on time.
2. I can be happy when the dishes aren't done.
3. Sarah's growth and learning can be my focus no matter the things left on my mental to-do list.
4. There IS time for me to exercise and eat healthily and sleep enough.
5. I can actually accomplish EVERYTHING IMPORTANT happily, consciously and wholeheartedly when I slow down and lower my expectations of what I need to get done.
I did get some help, though. We are now paying someone to clean for an hour or two every week. She does way faster and better work than I do so the money we spend for her help has been well worth it.
Because I am more aware of mine and Sarah's needs, putting our health and growth before housework and other crap on my to-do list, I am better at remembering appointments, and more prompt to communicate/respond to friends about play-dates, etc.
We are ON TIME more often- this is one of the BEST things about slowing down for me since my tardiness was always something I felt really bad about.
I'm still finding myself worrying about little things like the dirt on our shoes when we come in from playing/working outside or the fact that I have to teach Sarah some of the same things every day it seems... but I am aware of those thoughts and worries and consciously placing them in a folder BEHIND the kindness I show to myself and my family and strangers and the love and appreciation I have for them.
Here are some mantras I have come to live by because I lowered my expectations of what I "get done" in a day:
1. It's most important that Sarah knows that she is inherently good and that her worth is infinite and never changes no matter what happens to her or the choices she makes.
2. It's most important that I feel a deep love and respect for my husband.
3. It's most important that I respect and care for myself and... by golly... it's important that I really love who I am! The more I love myself the more energy I have to actually do good in this world!
I hope "lowering your expectations" might help some of you enjoy days of un-rushed snuggles with little people and times your heart might burst with love for your mate and quiet times of content emotions towards the person that you are right now.