Have you seen the movie I Don't Know How She Does It, in which Sarah Jessica Parker juggles her booming career with her two children, loving husband, and all of the accessory carpools and big meetings that come with it? 

Well, I haven't yet, and I can already tell you that I DON'T know how she does it. I even left the workforce to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, and I still don't seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

Bills demanding to be promptly paid. Piles of socks and towels transforming into mountains on the laundry room floor. Crumbs on the kitchen counter that need to be cleaned. Trash cans so full that adding anything to them requires precise placement like playing Jenga. The one item that's forever left off the grocery list but that's so crucial to tonight's dinner that it requires another trip back to the store. 

Then there's of course the reason I'm staying home in the first place: that precious six-month-old bundle of energy with sparkling eyes and an electric, gummy smile who extends to me the most compelling invitations to play. Feeding him, changing him, bathing him, cuddling him, rocking him, laughing with him, reading to him, tiptoeing around my chores while he naps. I love every minute that I spend with him, and look at his pictures when he's not around.  

Six-month-old Liam enjoying his jumper.

It seems, though, that all too often I have to choose whether I'm going to work out or take care of the house. Getting back in shape has been at the top of my priority list, but the housework finally revolted against my neglect. So yesterday, I spent five hours balancing six months worth of the checkbook (call me old-fashioned, but I still balance the checkbook); sorting, washing, and folding five loads of laundry; and cleaning the kitchen. After taking care of Liam and cooking dinner, along with some other odds and ends, that left only enough time for a 30-minute walk. 

Of course, I could have done a Jillian Michaels workout DVD in that 30 minutes, but my walk through a close-by neighborhood with my BFF last night was pure therapy: ancient-oak-tree-lined streets with charming cottages, yards sprinkled with azalea bushes, and friendly passersby. It was restorative exercise, to say the least. 

Despite the stereotype of a housewife who spends her time watching daytime television in her jammies while her child plays solo, I actually find that I don't get much downtime during the day. I thought staying at home would afford me the luxury of chilling out, but this free spirit has found herself scheduling every minute of her day in order to complete her chore list. 

Experts agree, though, that taking time for yourself, and even putting yourself first (yikes!), actually helps you be a better person for others. It's only when we are at our best that we can offer our best, and being at our best requires that we make it a priority to invest in ourselves. Women have the hardest time with this, because we see this as selfish. And we cut other women up and down for their choices to do something nice for themselves. It's not selfish; it's necessary. 

Seriously, how many of us would bake a neighbor a casserole with only half the ingredients? Or give a gift that was dirty and worn? So why do we give of ourselves when we don't have our full selves to give? 

The housework will sometimes have to wait. Our children need to spend some quality time just with Dad. Leftovers are just as acceptable a meal. So are sandwiches.

These are lessons I'm learning through this process of getting back in shape. It's a sacrifice to make the time it requires to work out, eat right, and get enough rest to do it all again the next day. But I am worth it.  

Other thoughts: Now that I eat very little sugar, I have so much more energy! No longer do I experience a mid-day slump or crash mid-way through my workout. My blood sugar remains stable throughout the day, and I love the feeling! Also, Monday, my workout was Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, P90X Ab Ripper X, and some upper-body bag work. Today, I'm planning to do P90X Core Synergistics and hopefully a Pure Barre workout. I haven't lost any more weight, making a total of two pounds in two weeks, but more and more of my pre-pregnancy clothes are starting to fit. And that's good enough for me.