Parenthood is a Relationship, Not a Checklist

The constant checklist is overwhelming and exhausting! Here are my tried and true tips on how to reframe your thoughts to save your sanity.

I’m a planner. I feel a certain sense of control when I can make a list and cross things off. If I am faced with disorganization or chaos, I like to take actionable steps towards change. As a new Mom this would often take the form of making a chart for when she will nap, feed and play to the minute. That structure felt comforting and soothes the part of me that values consistency, control, and predictability.

BUT, having a baby is everything but predictable, consistent and controlled. Having a baby is filled with change and those changing conditions impacts their sleep—if it is not teething, it is a developmental leap or a growth spurt requiring more food.

If we are not careful as parents, we start to treat parenthood like one long excel spreadsheet of data and lists and forget to enjoy each day, each moment and each new budding change. The two are not mutually exclusive and in fact it is a blend of the two—make the list, AND enjoy the journey. For parents what is required of us is patience, flexibility, and the ability to understand that making a plan is as important as the ability to pivot mid plan.

This is what the books and the online courses may not be able to provide and this is why I receive numerous calls and requests for support.

Tips for Cultivating Balance during Parenthood

Identify what your core desired feeling state is for the day—what is it that you want to drive to carry you throughout the day? Is it grace, peace, flow, calm, joy?

Then identify 1-4 thoughts that will remind you to anchor back to that. The phrase “all is well” was a meaningful choice for me because as a new mother I was so prone to worry.

Decide what actions you will take to create that state of feeling.

Some examples of this include:

  • Take a bath while baby naps or take a bath with your baby!
  • Stretch
  • Cry
  • Enjoy a warm bowl of soup
  • Walk in nature, go to the beach
  • Put down the phone and stare at the clouds
  • Write a letter to your baby
  • Put on some feel-good music and lay on the floor and watch your baby REALLY watch her play. And be present. And if you notice your mind wandering back to your to do list, recite your anchor phrase to help you return to the present moment.

Whatever it is, be sure it is aligned with the state you wish to create.

That combination between being intentional about THOUGHT and ACTION will shift you out of that excel spreadsheet obsessed state and into enjoying the relationships you have.

Striking a Healthy Balance during Parenthood

Some days, you will nail it and other days…. not so much. But that is ok though because what you are cultivating and practicing is BALANCE.

The balance between doing and being, between the relationship between you and your baby, you and your partner, you and yourself AND your To Do List.

I am in full support of maintaining a To Do List but if it is running your life and keeping you from the magic of watching your baby grow and develop, then there might be room for some small and important adjustments.

I wish you well on this exploration.

 Sarah Healy Sleep Consultant