Just for Me: One Day at a Time – A Mom’s Mantra

Now that I’m a mother, I remind myself daily of this bumper-sticker phrase that in previous incarnations of my life, I laughed away. (I also laughed away Easy Does It – another mantra I should probably adopt.)

I remind myself of One Day at a Time at the most ridiculous times, like when I make my bed, which usually goes unmade all day (if not all week). Just because I don’t get around to it every day doesn’t mean I shouldn’t — and don’t want to — do it when I can.

For weeks, I’ve been saying to my husband, “We really need to start doing 10 minutes of yoga every evening again.” We’re out of the habit and it’s hard to get going again. But this morning after drop-off, I came home and did 10 minutes alone. And I feel great. Just because I want to get back in the habit of doing it in the evening with him doesn’t mean I can’t do it at other times, too. And just because I can’t do it Every Day After Drop-Off doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it when I have the chance, even if that’s only twice a week.

Every Day. It’s so easy to get daunted and overwhelmed by the impossibility of this, that we forget — or simply don’t — do things at all. It’s like not seeing the trees through the forest, when actually, every little thing we do makes up the forest in which we live. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. In fact, it can’t be all or nothing. Have we not also learned, as parents, that a little bit of something is better than nothing? I apply this to a short visit to a museum, a playdate in a short window, or a coffee with a girlfriend. Thirty minutes (or whatever we could manage) is better than not at all.

I also apply one day at a time to getting dinner on the table. If I think about having to do it Every Night, I panic a bit. I want us to have a family meal at 6:30, and have the kids in bed at 7:30 (the 16-month old) and 8 (the 3.5-year old). And with those two running around at 5:30, how can I cook? But if I take it one day at a time (and have an organised menu for the week), it’s fine. Our part-time babysitter makes us dinner once or twice a week, we eat leftovers out of the freezer once or twice a week, and the 3.5-year old and I make dinner in the afternoons once or twice week. Suddenly, breaking it down to, that’s right, One Day at a Time, dinner is on the table more or less at 6:30, and everyone is in bed close enough to 8pm.

One Day at a Time. As a bad-ass 20-something cruising through my life, I thought old fogies who sported those bumper stickers deserved the condescending chuckle and a shake of the head I gave them.

And this leads me to that other ‘ridiculous’ bumper sticker: Easy Does It. If I’m taking it One Day at a Time, then I need to cut myself some slack. So maybe I’ll stick that One Day at a Time bumper sticker in my wine fridge.

Sarah Western with Max & Conrad

Sarah Western Balzer grew up in Tampa, FL and worked in the music industry in New York, Washington, DC and London before she got married, started a lifestyle relocation business in London, and had a baby. Now she lives in Toronto and is a mostly full-time mom, but still oversees the Lifestyle section of London-based financial news website, Here Is The City . She and her husband, who is German, have two sons, a Brit and a Canadian.

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