March 11, 2013
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! :)