Motherhood makes you run on nothing and inertia. Are you overscheduling yourself?
During the first year of my daughter's life, I was physically away from her or half-present a lot of the time.
I underwent significant stress, transitioning from post-partum recovery to undergoing work-related pressures. Barely had a maternity leave. I didn't process the spectrum of women who had done it before me or that other women opted out of returning to work altogether. I just didn't think. Like all women around me and before me, I just did.
I was low on self-care and high on making it in a new job. My commute wasn't helpful. I tried to check off boxes including spending time with family and friends. I had arranged several parties and even tried to keep up a social calendar where I hosted people on a weeknight.
Even though I wasn't present with my daughter, I was always thinking about her development and what I could do to keep her thriving. Any time off I had, I would search for a promotional event from a business that involved marketing products to kids. An art shop that was about 30 minutes away from us offering 2 hours of exploration of their paints comes to mind.
I also ended up doing extensive travel with my infant, traveling around the world.
When COVID-19 hit, the dramatic change in landscape forced everyone (who was fortunate enough to live and not lose their job) to settle down a bit. For most white collar workers, no more commuting. No more outings. No more travel.
While this was a devastating point in history that had massive global impact, I was fortunate to take stock of my life at that point.
I was able to see that my daughter was over-scheduled. Too productive. Too driven. A childhood of checkboxes.
We have plenty of science which supports that the interaction of a loving caregiver is the most influential driver of healthy development in children.
Erika Christakis in The Importance of Being Little celebrates the simple act of playing as a key driver for cognitive development in children. I took a step back from overscheduling. I made it a priority to reduce the number of hours I spent feeling unpresent with my daughter to being more present.
Being intentional has fueled my productivity in my life so far. But if I wasn't intentional and mindful with my daughter, nothing else would matter.
Authors in Simplicity Parenting argue that creative play gets sacrificed when children are overscheduled. It was time to stop living the drone life. I started to increase my observations of my daughter. I wanted to play a lot more make-believe.
I still consume a fair share of "parenting" books. But nothing has increased my confidence in being a mother more than developing an observant and present relationship with my daughter.