By Makayla Fagen, CPA
I still vividly remember the ultrasound technician saying, “I think there might be two in there.” After my hysterical laughter subsided and the color returned to my husband’s face, I could not help but think of all the ways my life was going to change being a first-time parent to twins. Yes, there would be lots of diaper changes, two daycare tuitions and four car seat bases (which would require us to rethink our vehicle situation), but the lifestyle changes are what scared me the most. No longer could I do something on a whim with friends, traveling would be difficult and learning to juggle all my roles seemed nearly impossible.
Over two years have passed and I’m happy to report that I’m surviving. Being a parent has been one of the best things in my life, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve struggled. I struggled with the change parenthood brought to my life and the new role I now had to fit in amongst my many other roles that I already felt like I was failing at. But after many conversations with friends and family, I realized that it is completely normal to feel this way. I just needed to learn a few things along the way. Listed below are a few items that have helped me feel more in control of my life.
- Priority: Sadly, there are still only 24 hours in a day and I’m a person who requires at least eight hours (ideally more) of sleep to be a functioning adult. These facts haven’t changed since becoming a parent, so I had to take a hard look at my responsibilities and prioritize what is important to me. One thing I decided was to try to spend two hours with my kids before they go to bed on weeknights. Therefore, I needed to make changes in my daily routine to accomplish my goal. Having the cleanest house, being able to binge-watch the latest series on Netflix and casual, no-purpose shopping outings were now on the backburner to be able to accomplish my number one priority.
- Honesty: On a similar note, I needed to be honest with myself on realistic expectations and limitations for myself. I could no longer say yes to all projects at work, accept all social invitations with friends and feel like I was being a good parent. I knew some things were going to have to give and that my lifestyle was going to change. My Type-A, people-pleaser personality doesn’t like to say no, but it was something I’ve had to learn to do. Being truthful to my priorities and honest with myself about what I can handle is still a big challenge.
- Communication: To tie these two skills together, you also need to learn to communicate. At work, this means communicating about future work schedules and deadlines and reaching out to other team members when I feel overwhelmed. In my personal life, this meant keeping a detailed calendar of daycare drop-off/pick-up responsibilities, travel plans and anything else worth mentioning between my husband and me. Also, being honest about my priorities and talking to someone about them has proven to help me stay more accountable to my new life plan.
Not only have these skills helped stabilize my mind, but I have also found myself being able to get back into reading books and start some workout classes. I could list a hundred more skills that are also beneficial in navigating my new life, but I feel like these have been the most important to me so far. For new and current mothers, craziness and chaos will be a norm, but if you can prioritize, be honest and communicate with those around you – you will thrive!
Makayla Fagen, CPA | Manager