Life with Vivi has been easier than expected. She’s a good baby, yes. But I have also been trying to figure out what has caused this unexpected margin in motherhood. I wanted to compile a list of things that might be helpful if you are pulling your hair out and just stressed to the max right now. Now I certainly have those seasons too, but I have also experienced more peace, joy and ease that I ever knew possible with a baby!
I feel like I always have some sort of disclaimer on these posts but, talking about parenting is such a personal thing. I get afraid to share anything because I don’t want to imply something is the only way to do things. And I know you might be thinking, “but my husband is gone a lot” or “that wouldn’t work for boys” or “that wouldn’t work for more than one”, etc. This post isn’t for you. This post is for anyone who may be willing to try anything to find a little more margin in motherhood, even the little tricks that currently work for my family. I say currently because I completely understand not everyone one of these will work for future Woerner babies. But I’m happy to share what is working now if there is anyone out there who is looking for advice.
I wrote some of these much earlier in Vivi’s life so I added a note to some of them with how this works today.
1. I don’t try to do everything I used to but I don’t NOT do those things either. We still go to lunch once or even twice a week with friends and she is used to the atmosphere. We have had a few minor “episodes” out to lunch as she’s gotten older but since we’ve been doing this since she was two weeks old, she handles going out to eat pretty well. We aren’t taking her to any 5 star restaurants anytime soon though. ; )
2. I clean up. Her first few months, Vivi would play on her quilt after each feeding for about 15 minutes. Then I’d put her back to sleep, and fold the blanket and put it away. This happened easily 6 times a day. It sounds like a lot of work, but for me, the blanket, toys, bouncy seat, etc sitting in the middle of our living room floor for the next two hours was more stressful to me than taking a minute to put it away. (Today: I still do this. When Vivi goes down for a nap, we put her toys back in her basket together. This works because she has one basket of toys.)
3. You can’t think about the thousands of times you will do something. If I dwell on the fact that I won’t be done being pregnant, changing diapers, or nursing for the next 6 years or so, I would go crazy and maybe even get a little depressed. I can’t let my thoughts go there. I’ve gotten really good at detouring when my mind heads this direction and I’m much happier for it. Taking it one day at a time is essential to enjoying this stage so much! (Today: This is still so important.)
4. I wake up at 5 or 5:30 AM even though Vivi sleeps till 7:30 or 8 AM. This is my time to read my Bible and prepare my heart and attitude for the day. (Today: This still happens. The more time I have alone in the morning, the more rested I feel. On days I have slept in, I don’t feel anymore rested, but usually more frantic.)
5. This one is random. Bouncing on the bouncy ball while pregnant. I had crazy indigestion and restless leg syndrome. I’d bounce each night for 10 minutes or so before getting in bed and I am convinced this lulled little fetus-Vivi to sleep and helped her get on a good routine from the very beginning. Throughout all of pregnancy, I can think of only one night she had me up kicking in the middle of the night. This meant I was well-rested right before her birth. She slept 3-4 hours at a time from the very beginning at night. (Today: I tried this with her a few weeks ago after an hour of trying to get her to fall asleep and she was asleep in three minutes!)
6. Stuff = Time. The more things we have, the more time it takes to take care of them, put them away, etc. There are obvious exceptions. A car obviously makes it faster to get to the store, but you get the idea. Our tiny apartment forced us to keep it simple and I really think it save a bit of sanity. (Today: We have been really conscious of knowing that now that we are in a space double the size, we can easily fill it up. I did a quick declutter of the house just four months after we moved in. That might seem early but things have already accumulated a little and we really want to protect the space and not keep stuff we don’t need.)
7. Life is not perfect or easy because we have everything the way we want it. We live in an apartment and still share a room with Vivi. This means crawling into bed and finding pajamas at night with the help of the flashlight on my phone, And getting dressed for my barre classes the same way each morning. It means no nighttime chats (or at the very most whispers) with Tyler and no reading in bed (only my favorite thing). The bathroom is right off the bedroom so it means shoving towels under the door to block the light and being very quiet in general. It’s even tough to do dishes at night because of noise and proximity. We also live on the second floor so going anywhere just me and Vivi is always a hefty load to the car and back. I don’t say this to complain at all. I love my life and our happy little apartment. I do say this though to simply make the point that margin can happen without a full-time nanny or maid and the perfect living quarters. It’s easy for us to accept the chaos because we don’t think we can achieve it with what we have. (Today: A lot of these things have changed and gotten even easier with our new house. My hope is to always remember our perspective from the previous season and not take for granted the little comforts and things that have been made easier.)
8. Vivi doesn’t wear shoes much. This might sound silly but it is just an example, we do without some things that might seem like they have to be done. When we leave the house, especially since it’s hot out, I don’t bother with shoes and it save me having to find socks and shoes, putting them on, putting them back on when she pulls them off. It’s one less step to get out the door. (Today: Now that it’s cold and she’s walking, she wears shoes but her outfits are still very simple!)
9. She doesn’t have a lot of clothes. In the beginning, she had one drawer of clothes. Now she has a bottoms drawer, a tops drawer, a jammies, sleepsack and nighttime diaper drawer and an outerwear drawer. When I change her for bath time, her hat, coat and shoes all go into the same drawer. It’s super easy when it’s time to get dressed. When it’s bedtime, everything is in one spot and she even knows which drawers are which and will bring her shoes to them.
10. Big toys that can’t fit in the her basket stay in her closet and we pull them out every few days to play. This just means we aren’t tripping over toys all over the house. There is some order and it’s always a treat when we pull out the big toys, like they are brand new!
11. We don’t have a highchair. We have a booster seat. We originally did this because we didn’t have a dining room table at our old apartment so I’d feed her in her booster seat on the floor. Now her seat sits on one of the dining room chairs. I might be missing out on something the high chair does that the booster seat doesn’t but it works so well for us. I am not having to move the high chair out the way. Her’s just slides neatly under the table on her big chair. And when we have parties, I can remove the seat and put in our hall closet.
12. No sugar. I know. She’s 16 months old. Loosen up, Val. But she is such a good eater and sleeper so we are holding out as long as we can!
13. I talk with her constantly and tell her what I’m doing. This was pure accident. I am a chatterbox so if she’s the only one here, I’m going to talk her ear off. In the last few months, I have realized how much she picks up on. If I ask her to put her paci in her crib, she heads to her room and drops her paci in her crib. If I say, let’s go get a book, she goes to stand by where the books are.
14. When I’m doing something, I let her help me.This one goes with 13. And again, pure accident. I honestly assumed I would be the mom who didn’t have the patience to do this. I can be a drill sergeant when it comes to efficiency and get super impatient, so I’m not sure why I have been able to let go of that in this area. Vivi will help me empty the dishwasher, handing me the spoons and now even the glass plates and cups. It takes longer but she loves it and is learning so much. She knows how to pick up her toys and put them in the basket. I am just wondering how long until she can help package journals! ; )
15. Routine. This was one my husband mentioned. Going with 13 & 14. We have a consistent routine and all of her things have a place so she understands where to throw trash away, when to go get her bib for lunch, etc.
16. Drop zones. I keep a pack of baby wipes and a bib in her booster seat. In the beginning, after ever meal, I would go hunt down a wipe and it finally dawned on me to keep what I used together, together. It seems so simple but saves me time and just the frustration of trying to find a wipe when she’s
whining ready to get out of her seat. : )
17. I put on my makeup and get dressed right when I wake up even before my quiet time. This means if plans change and I need to get out the door quickly, I at least have myself ready. And by makeup, I mean mascara, powder and concealer so it doesn’t take but 5 minutes. I just started this one and am still getting used to it, but I already see the benefits of this!!
18. Planning her food for the week. She eats all table food now but we eat dinner after she goes to bed so I still plan her menu out each week using one of these from Rifle Paper to put all three of her meals. Honestly, it doesn’t always go exactly like scheduled but I was spending sooo much time figuring out what to feed her. Now I can get a good balance of foods without thinking if I plan ahead. Also if I need to prep anything, I can do that ahead of time too!
Some things I’m still trying to work on and would love advice on too! :
Fitting workouts into my day. We go for walks in the summer but now that it’s cold, this is definitely a challenge. I would love to make this a priority but it is such a struggle for me!
Our house is always tidy, but not always CLEAN. I feel like I don’t know the right products to clean with so I do a quick clean every once in a while, but never scrub hard!
Moms, what are your tips for having margin in motherhood? Any tips specific for more than one kid?