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A New Mom Challenge: Lowering Your Standards

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Towards the end of my pregnancy I was put on modified bed rest and had to leave work two weeks earlier than planned. To everyone around me, this was glorious permission to ride out the rest of pregnancy with my feet up, watching Bravo marathons and eating Christmas cookies. Sounds lovely and all but for a Type A workaholic like me, this was the worst. news. ever. I wasn’t ready. I still had a million projects to finish, work to reallocate and lots of loose ends to tie up before embarking on six months of maternity leave.

Nesting mode began about a month prior but this newfound free time kicked things into high gear. If I couldn’t work, then I had to finish getting ready for our baby’s arrival. I kept busy doing things like making and flash freezing batches of lactation cookie dough, organizing our linen closet, and washing every square inch of the bathroom walls (which, by the way, is not recommended when you are 9 months pregnant, off balance, and can no longer tie your own shoes).

Friends and family (those that dared give advice to a 9-month pregnant lady) told me to relax. Take it easy. There would be plenty of time for cleaning and cooking and even marathon TV watching when the baby came. Newborns sleep most of the time, anyway. Well, no one told me that some newborns don’t sleep all the time. Some (ahem) hardly sleep at all! That some days you are lucky if you shower and change your clothes, leave the house, or eat something that requires a fork.

Fast forward nine months and a handful of hours of sleep later and I’m back at work. All those projects I had to finish somehow managed to either get a) finished by someone else or b) forgotten about. And life marched on. Motherhood has changed me in so many ways but one unexpected outcome is that it has forced me to be much more deliberate about how I spend my time. As I’m sure all parents of little ones can relate, gone are the days of having a free Saturday to curl up with a book, Netflix, or wander around a new neighborhood.

I’ve also had to lower my standards and relax my expectations, both at work and at home. This has not been easy and most days I struggle with quieting my inner perfectionist. Not everything gets done when you can’t (and frankly no longer want to) spend 12 hours a day at the office or half of Sunday prepping for the work week. I’m spending less time in the office and therefore need to find efficiencies. I no longer attend meetings just because I’m on the Outlook invite; instead, I ask questions and prioritize the essentials. When your time is no longer your own, you have to make choices.

The same rules apply at home. The house isn’t as clean as it was pre-baby and things are no longer just so. Time is just so much harder to come by. And the last time I washed my bathroom walls was when I was 9 months pregnant. So there’s that.

How have your priorities changed since becoming a mom?

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