March 11, 2013

From Anonymous:

Summer, would you do a post about how you take care of a baby, go to the gym, make healthy meals, keep your house clean, spend time with your husband and God, get reasonable amounts of sleep, and work on orders every day? My life is pretty simple, but I struggle to accomplish half those things (and my baby won't take a nap by himself so I can't get anything done then). I would LOVE your advice! -Anonymous

Dear Anonymous, The simplest answer is that I don't get all of those things done everyday. And whatever I do accomplish is by the grace of God, because I don't multi-task well and I am not a fast worker. Getting anything done with a baby in the house is a big deal. A super big deal. I know how you feel! Even though my baby is 20 months old, I still feel a surprised success every time Hadley and I are both clean, dressed, and fed.

After I thought about your question and the logistics of my day, here are a few things that came to mind. Some of them may not be useful to you, but will help you understand my day. Keep in mind that this is all just spilling out of my head- the head of a humble, sinful, young mom who has a lot to learn yet. I hope you come away from this post feeling encouraged, and comforted by the knowledge that I don't have it all together, because I don't. :)

1. Taking care of a baby. This is a full-time job. You cannot imagine or remember just how full-time it is until you are in it, but thinking about it any other way is just too hard on yourself. But I can tell you that each new phase will bring more (teeny) windows of time that you will discover without even realizing it. Some days, holding, nursing, and soothing your baby will be your whole day. It's terribly easy to think, All I did today was ___. But seriously, "all" you did today was an amazing task. Don't let the lie sink in that your day was not a success if that was all you did. I fought that lie constantly when Hadley was a newborn, and still do sometimes. I had to ask the Lord for courage and patience to be able to just sit (contentedly, not bitterly) on the couch and nurse or sit on a ball and bounce my baby instead of freaking out about the to-do list I was longing to tackle. When it's time to get into the kitchen, I tend to do a lot of things one-handed while I hold Hadley, and since she was a tiny newborn I've used the iPad to read my bible and other devotional books, make lists, and write emails while we nurse. Also, here's a practical suggestion from Hadley: we bought a season of Little Bear from iTunes and she loves it. I turn on a favorite video when she needs a distraction from teething or if I need to put something in the oven, etc. The iPad and appleTV are a huge help at this house.
2. Gym/Shop Orders. The biggest headway in my day is made in the afternoon, when my husband comes home. I rely on him. His homecoming changes the tone of everything in the house- having both parents around is the best design ever. Grant is a teacher, so he'll get home from work between 3:30 and 4. I love his job for so many reasons, this being one of the big ones. This pre-dinner time is when we are able to process orders, prepare things that need to be shipped, and go to the post office/bank/store. This is also when I go to the gym. A few times a week, all 3 of us will pile into the car and while Grant and Hadley run errands, I run on the treadmill. (My gym membership/insurance agreement requires me to make at least 12 visits to the gym each month, so this is another reason going to the gym actually gets done.) Note: I did not renew my gym membership until after Hadley's first birthday, because I simply didn't have the time or energy for working out during her first year.
3. Making healthy meals. After years of making changes to our groceries, we are at the point where we really have no choice but to make something good to eat. We also don't have a lot of options that are ready in a minute, so I have to plan ahead. Knowing that if I want to eat, I have to plan has made it a part of life that I just roll with. And if all else fails, there's always fried eggs. When the time comes for me to actually be at the stove making dinner, Hadley either plays in the kitchen drawers, watches a video, plays with Daddy, or plays a game on the iPad.
4. Cleaning/Quality Time/Sleep. I do quick cleaning tasks throughout the day with Hadley tagging along (picking up toys, switching laundry, vacuuming, sweeping), but the most efficient cleaning is done after dinner while she is busy playing-- it never fails that when Daddy is home, she becomes much more independent. It's a phenomenon I've heard other moms testify to as well. Hadley goes to bed shortly after dinner and then Grant and I like to fall into the middle of the couch together and either watch an episode of one of our shows or listen to a sermon together. Sometimes we'll just work on our computers though, or I will have some cleaning to do. There's usually a snack at some point and general hanging out/talking. Our house is tiny, so we're very much together all the time and that's the way we love it. We go to bed pretty early, because we can. (And because we've made a habit of it. Grant coaches basketball and has to get up wicked early for practices.)

My advice? It sounds like you are like me, and you really enjoy feeling useful and efficient. Every day you are probably feeling unsure about how successful your day was and feeling burdened by what was left undone. It won't always be like this. And if you are worrying about what you are not accomplishing- stop. Don't worry about anything! :) Try to enjoy this short phase as freely as you can. At the same time, I realize that certain things need to be done for a family to function. My best advice is to let your husband know what things you really wish you could get done and ask him if he could help you. So many of the things I accomplish daily are things that I have shared with Grant and he knows how important they are for me (doing the dishes right away after dinner), so he helps make them happen. This was something I had to learn over and over in Hadley's first year. I thought that since I was a stay-at-home mom I should be able to fulfill every responsibility I could think of that was household-related, and that was impossible. I was so humbled by this. Before I even realized what I needed, Grant was there, offering to help me. He wanted so much to come to my aid and for me to not feel burdened. Now if I could just learn to let him know what I needed! :)


donya said...

So, so, SO true! When I became a stay at home mom, I felt the same way - I should be able to get every single thing I want to get done, done. It's so easy to forget how important (and how time consuming) taking care of children is.

Tori said...

Thank you for sharing this post! My husband and I are pre-children, but it's helpful to hear this before we conceive! Thank you!

Julia Dembeck said...

Summer, thank you for your authenticity! We don't have kids yet and only work part-time; yet, I struggle to get my "list" done. The lord is teaching me, being in his presence and letting go of my list and allowing him to lead is far better....still hard to let go of the little tasks that didn't get done and balance it with what does need to get done to maintain the home...fortunately, there is grace. :)

Anonymous said...

love this, summer! thanks for the great post. i have a question for you; do you ever get a little bit lonly staying at home with hadley? just the slightest bit? especially since you live in the country? do you know a lot of people to socalize with? i've always wondered how you manage, i would go crazy!! thanks! hugs, Meg

Anonymous said...

Summer, I'm the one who asked the question. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to answer it!! Seriously, you have no idea how you've blessed me today. There were tears. It's so easy to feel like everyone else is more perfect than I am, that I'm a huge, lazy failure (I honestly don't know when the last time was that I dusted.) Whenever I come downstairs from nursing the baby to sleep at night and find all of the chores that my husband completed during that time, I feel blessed but also extremely defeated. Those were my job that I'm supposed to do for him, that I was hoping to get done all day. Sigh. It's so nice not to feel alone in this. Thank you for your openness and for the reminder that nursing and babysitting are not non-jobs, that God gives grace and knows my weaknesses.

Maggie Mizelle said...

Summer, I can't tell you how deeply this moved me today. I am four months into mothering my first babe, and I struggle all the time. I was home full-time before he was born, and I was always accomplishing my to-do list. Now it seems like if I can get one or two things done, it's a miracle. I am always asking God to make me a more patient and gracious mother as I attend to the baby's needs over my own desires. It helps to know that others have been there too.

cathie said...

such an encouraging post, summer! brought tears to my eyes remembering how defeated i used to feel during that first year. it's gotten so much easier now, don't you think? love all your posts on motherhood & homemaking--keep them coming!!

Carissa Knight said...

I don't have a child yet, but I know I'm going to have so many of the same feelings. I love to get things done & feel useful, and I've really been thinking lately about how it will be when we have a baby. I want to stay at home, so thank you for these words of encouragement!

Anneliese said...

this was great! it is always a little embarrassing for me to offer advice. i've only had one child! but in the 2 1/2 years it is always helpful to be not be discouraged! a few quotes that inspire me are "the days are long, but the years are short" it goes so quickly! we aren't even nursing here anymore (when it used to consume hours of our days) & "children are a gift from god & you only get this one chance to parent them" so take a minute to gather & refocus! what a blessing we have been given...these little humans who need us so badly. xoxo

Holly said...

...oh hey! Just creeping on this post from forever ago :) This post was such an encouragement to me, even in all my baby-less-ness. Working a regular full-time job from home, I often still feel the pressure to get everything done (laundry, dishes, cooking, tidy-ing up!) in a days time. It's interesting that so many women feel this, in every phase of life. We want home to be a perfect place of peace, and I think it's our own sin that distorts this good desire into something that can carry so much guilt and failure. Encouraging thoughts... thanks Summer!



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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