The world looked very different when Eirene Heidelberger and I originally spoke, but her mission to help women put the “me” back in “mommy” is more critical than ever for overwhelmed parents.
“Creating happy mommy time is finding the confidence and joy in yourself and recognizing I am a person,” she says. “I need to reignite what turns me on and what makes me happy.”
As the Get it Together Mom, she believes we unintentionally put ourselves on “Mommy Island” by doing so much for everyone else, that it becomes easy to forget about our own needs. This cycle of relentless giving can feel like “Groundhog Day.”
“When mommy gets off ‘Mommy Island,’ and she goes and fulfills her needs, she can come back to ‘Groundhog Day,'” Eirene says. “She has been renewed; she’s less beaten down because she has done something that has reignited her own self.”
I decided to experiment with this myself last weekend, as the weight of the world was starting to deplete my energy. So I let my kids entertain each other, while I supervised from a comfortable spot that allowed me to relax and only referee if necessary. Taking small breaks like this gave me more fuel to get back on the Ferris Wheel, so I was less likely to implode.
For Eirene, mornings are “personal armor” to build a foundation of me time and avoid feeling “like your child is sucking the life out of you.”
Plus, she believes her three sons deserve a peaceful start too, noting “it’s important for the boys to have to wake up on their own, rather than being roused by a blaring alarm clock. It’s the same process for them.”
While our morning routines no longer lead to rushing out the door, we can take the opportunity to set the right tone for the day.
“When your children have healthy sleep habits and there’s respectful boundaries, then everyone has their own me time,” she says.
Eirene believes sleep is the basis for a harmonious family life and lays the groundwork for her next tip: a schedule can make transitions (and me time) more predictable and cut down on power struggles.
“Those two pieces of the parenting puzzle go hand in hand all day long to create really easy flow of life and that’s what I’m all about,” she says.
While attempting a detailed schedule may feel daunting, one place to start is the evening. With less pressure to squeeze time in with our kids outside of work hours, why not pull dinner and bedtime forward? Even if it’s fifteen minutes at a time, suddenly an extra hour to recover from the day makes a big difference.
“Your time together is even more impactful because your children are rested,” she says. “Mom and dad know when they can fit their needs in around their child.”
Eirene also believes that transitions are really helpful for kids, so they know what to expect throughout their day. Ultimately, that means less battles and negotiations.
“A parent who is competent, happy and starts to give their children what I call the five-to-one transition,” she says, helps kids “know exactly what is heading their way.”
Earlier bedtimes are just one way we can find time to return to the things we used to love doing. Eirene has lots of other suggestions on her podcast and soon-to-be released book.
“What do you miss from your pre-baby life? What can we do to get you back to that?”
Eirene encourages both parents to answer these questions and suddenly, “they start talking.”
“I always say to parents, you chose to have a family and now what are you going to do to have the best time raising your family?”
Even if it feels like a tough time to change routines, the whole family will benefit from parents carving out time for simple pleasures.