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I’m a new mom. The last two months have been bliss — aside from the crying and the getting-no-sleep. Bliss because I have gotten to ooh and aah over this bundle of joy while my family helped out with meals, cleaning, babysitting, night duty, etc. But the honeymoon phase is over. I now have to face the fact that I am a mom, a wife, a homemaker, and an individual!
Someone really needs to create a mommy boot camp before Moms have their babies to give them some practice of what it’s going to be like. But there isn’t, so you are tasked with figuring out how to manage day-to-day life all on your own.
I’m still figuring things out, but in the last two weeks, I’ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm with my son, Joshua. That’s not to say there won’t be a lot of adjustment and a lot of days where I get hardly anything done, but that’s okay! You don’t become a professional mom the moment your baby pops out into the world. Your child’s first cries don’t have this magical elixir that gives you the super powers to just know exactly what to do with this little, fragile human being.
The honest truth is this, Mom. You will never get as much done as you did before having a baby — unless you were a procrastinator like me before and oddly enough actually get more done now that you have a baby (we have established that I am an oddball). We know what the Bible says the role of a wife and mother is (Proverbs 31:10-31). Take a moment to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with these verses.
Did these 21 verses give you as much anxiety as they gave me?
Don’t worry, Mom. You’re not expected to do all of these things. Only Jesus is perfect, and as our perfect example, we look to him and learn how we should be. We will never be as perfect as Christ, but we are called to grow each day and strive to be like Christ as much as we can. In the same way, we are to look at the perfect example of the Proverbs 31 wife, and strive to be like her, not HER!
The Proverbs 31 wife is a seamstress and an eager and productive worker. She gets all her shopping and food-gathering done each day. She wakes up before the sun and cooks for her family. She is entrepreneurial and athletic. She does volunteer work and dresses in the latest fashions. She is strong, dignified, and sees the good in everything. She is wise and studies her Bible. She never sits on her butt, and her children and husband praise her for all she does.
On a good day, I can say I accomplished maybe 10% of this; on an average day…. 5%. Let me say it louder for the mamas in the back; YOU ARE NOT CALLED TO BE PERFECT! You are called to give the best you can today.
My best today does not look like my best yesterday. It’s raining outside, so naturally I am dragging around the house and can barely keep my eyes open. I will be lucky to get the dishes washed and maybe a few clothes folded after I finish typing my blog. Yesterday I washed dishes, sterilized all of Joshua’s bottles, did several loads of laundry, and organized our mail. Am I angry at myself for only getting a fraction of what I did yesterday done today? Absolutely not, because I know I am giving my today’s best.
On top of being a wife and a homemaker, I am also a mother of a newborn. I can’t just mindlessly clean the house all day; I’m also responsible for the nourishment and development of a tiny human who expects my attention approximately 12 hours out of the day. If I expect to sleep 8 hours, that only gives me 4 hours a day to eat, shower, exercise, clean my house, read my Bible, and maybe have some me-time. (Ew. I wish I had never counted that up. Now that gives me even more stress.)
I don’t have to tell you that 4 hours is not enough time! So, what can you do? I have discovered that the best way to get stuff done and spend time with your child (read my blog post about being more present with your children) is to involve them in your chores.
I’m sure you’re wondering how the heck I do that with a newborn. Well, I’m glad you asked.
Here are some tricks to spend time with your baby while still getting things done.
1.Read the Word to him.
Since Joshua was born 2 months ago, I’m still struggling to get back to a daily routine of spending time with God, but on the days that I do, I bring my son into my war room with me, read the Bible to him, and pray with him.
Reading to your baby has so many benefits: developing language, conversation, and cognitive thinking skills, as well as memory; encouraging a love for reading; influencing earlier reading; preparing them for formal education; bonding with Mom and Dad; building vocabulary; etc.
By reading the Bible to your baby, you are killing several proverbial birds with one Rock — see what I did there (heehee)? You are giving your baby all the benefits that come with reading to him, but you are also filling him with the Word at a very early age. You are getting to spend time with your Father while also spending time with your son or daughter.
Including your child in your prayer time is also pretty special. You get to pray over your child, but also, as he gets older, you will be teaching a wonderful habit to him that will hopefully stay with him all the days of his life; going to the Lord everyday.
2. Exercise with her.
Before Joshua was born, I had gotten really bad about not exercising. During the first two trimesters of pregnancy, I went to the gym for 30-45 minutes once or twice a week, but before that, I hadn’t stepped foot in a gym in a year or two, maybe more. I had gained about 70 lbs since I married my husband in 2016.
When Joshua was born, I couldn’t wait for the 6 week mark when I would hear the words from my OB that I could start exercising again. I was so ready to get off my butt and get outside! Three weeks ago, I started dieting and exercising again, and I feel like a new woman. I’ve almost lost 10 lbs.
How do I find the time with a newborn? I put my kid in his stroller (see my 20 Newborn Must-Haves for 2020 blog; my jogging stroller is #6 on the list) and walk around my neighborhood. I live in the country, so I am able to walk around our neighborhood during the day without anyone bothering us. I turn on Joshua’s nap time playlist, and he basically sleeps the whole time.
Pushing your baby around in a stroller is great for multiple reasons. You’re getting exercise, your baby is getting some sunlight — which is good for her immune system (make sure to not put her in direct sunlight), and, if your baby is cranky, the stroller ride will probably put her to sleep.
If you are unable to walk around your neighborhood, find a local park or free walking track. We have a local hospital about 20 minutes away from my house that has a gated walking track available to the community. You could take your baby to the mall to walk around or a parking lot you feel safe in, like your church.
You can follow my Pinterest board to get more ideas on how to include your baby in your work-out and to see exercises specifically created with postpartum bodies in mind.
3. Clean the house with him.
Of course, getting things done while he’s napping is an obvious choice, but my 2-month-old takes naps ranging from 25-40 minutes during the day and is awake anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours between each nap. People tell me all the time that you don’t have to play with him every moment he is awake, but if your kid is anything like mine, he still needs constant attention while he’s awake. Between bouncing him in his bouncer and pushing his paci back in his mouth, it’s amazing I get anything done. But I’ve finally figured out the trick to keep him happy and clean the house at the same time.
Bring him with you!
Whether it’s carrying your baby in a wrap or a structured carrier (I personally love the Ergobaby Aura Wrap Carrier), or bringing the bouncer into whatever room you are in, moving your child around the house with you will give you back your time to clean — not all the time you had before motherhood, but a good bit of it!
I keep Joshua in his bouncer most of the day. If he’s not napping, he’s right next to me in his bouncer checking out whatever chore I’m getting done. While I wash dishes, I am bouncing him with one foot (because my bouncer doesn’t actually bounce) and talking to him to stimulate language and conversation skills. While I’m folding clothes, I’m sitting next to him bouncing him with my knee and making exaggerated movements while folding to help him practice focusing his eyes on objects.
Bringing your baby around the house with you allots him more time a day to learn from and bond with you, and makes your day just a little bit brighter to get to keep your eyes on that sweet face all day! Not to mention, you can notice immediately when he starts getting fussy and try to distract him instead of having to calm a screaming baby who dropped his pacifier 5 minutes ago.
I do make it a point to take breaks and be present with my child by singing him songs, reading him books, and just talking to him. It is so important to know when to just stop and bond with your child.
4. Take advantage of her naps.
It will take some trial-and-error, but figure out what chores you can get done while she is awake, and what you need to save for her naps. I generally utilize Joshua’s nap times for making and eating lunch, showering, writing my blog (getting your at-home work done), and whatever big chore I have scheduled for that day like dusting or cleaning out the fridge — things I know I need full focus on.
A great idea is to keep track of her naps for a few days. I made a chart in my phone one day of what time Joshua napped, how long the naps lasted, and how long he was awake between the naps. This really helped me to better plan what chores I needed to be doing at what time.
I cook when my husband gets home so he can watch Joshua because 25-45 minute naps just aren’t long enough for me to cook dinner. However, if this is not possible for your household, invest in a crock pot or instant pot, and choose recipes you can prepare and throw into the pot in about 20 minutes just in case she decides to wake up early.
5. Plan some you-time.
Taking time for yourself is very important. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you must set a time for yourself to just be you! You are Mom all day. Someone depends on you all day. Let yourself take even a ten minute break! You deserve it!
You may choose one of his nap times during the day for this me-time; an early morning coffee and God-time or a midday chill on the couch and watch an episode of your favorite TV show. I personally like getting all of my chores done during the day. I know if I sit down and relax, I will never get back up. So, my me-time is in the evening. When my husband comes home, he takes over Joshua-duty and I am free to read, or paint my nails, or play guitar, or binge watch Netflix and Disney+.
6. Get a mom-planner.
I’ve been using an agenda since the 4th grade. I think my head would fall off with doctor’s appointments, to-do lists, and bills I have to remember to take care of if I didn’t have a place to keep it all together for me. There are some great planners out there made specifically for moms. My favorite brand of agenda that I have been using for about 5 years now is the Happy Planner. This year, I have the 2020 Modern Mom Classic Happy Planner. I was so excited to finally get to upgrade to a mom-planner once Joshua was born. (I know it’s trivial, but I get excited about little things like that!)
I love the Happy Planner because you can easily remove and add pages and accessories to make it exactly what you need (comment if you would like to see a future post about how I set up my Happy Planner). The Modern Mom planner makes life easier for moms by providing a space every week for an errands list, shopping list, calls/emails list, bills to pay list, and a focus area. Each month has a quote targeted for a busy mom like “Mom hair don’t care” and “You got this, mama” (my personal favorite). I love that all of my lists and plans are together in one place and fit easily in my purse for me to refer to wherever I go.
7. Take it one day at a time.
Figuring out how to get things done with your new baby is going to take time. Don’t beat yourself up, Mom. You are not expected to have motherhood all figured out. You are going to have great days where you get your to-do list for today and tomorrow done, and you’re going to have days where you were lucky to just make your bed; both of those days are just fine as long as you remember to do the most important thing: take the time to be a mom! It doesn’t matter what you accomplished on January 24, 2020 as much as it matters who you taught your child to be. It doesn’t matter how many times you have dusted your house as much as it matters how many times you have told your child, “I love you.”
The point is this, Mom. You can get to those chores tomorrow, but you can never get today back. Don’t hold it against yourself if you just need to rest or just need to sit on the floor and sing to your baby.
You’ve got this, Mom!
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