Your Life Doesn’t Have to Be Over: 5 Ways To Reclaim Your Life After Baby

I hate to admit this, but I’m one of those girls who thought she had it all figured out BEFORE she had a baby of her own. I wasn’t so bad that I said my child would never use an iPad in public or would only eat organic food… I know better. But I thought I knew what life would be like—what I would be like once I became a mom. Spoiler alert: I had no idea.

 When we found out I was expecting, my husband and I talked about it and I decided I would quit my job and stay home with our son. I had wanted to be a stay at home mom for a while, and my husband was very supportive, so we figured out a way to make it work. Bryant was such an easy baby; Sleeping through the night at just one month old, really only crying when he was hungry or tired, and settling into his routine fairly quickly.

I on the other hand… did not adjust so well. I had zero routine. I was somewhere between going with the flow and getting run over. My husband would call me during his lunch break and ask what I had been doing, and sometimes my answer would be 100 things before 10:00AM! And other days, all I had done was watched Real Housewives and eaten a bowl of cereal.

I was constantly criticizing myself, feeling like a failure at the end of most days. Did I read Bryant enough books? Did he do tummy time for long enough? When was the last time I showered? What’s for dinner? I felt like the days were going by and Bryant was growing up, but what was I doing with my life? Was motherhood the only thing that defined me now? Did staying at home mean my life was truly over and all about Bryant?

I knew had to get some semblance of control back, but how would I do it? I decided I would set some non-negotiable “daily rules” now that I was staying at home. I do these things consistently, every single day, and I think it has made me feel so much more confident in my choice to stay home, so much happier as a mom and just makes me feel successful day in and day out!

1. Wash your face and brush your teeth.

I do this every morning before I get Bryant out of bed. In 20 years, your baby is not going to tell their therapist about all the times you didn’t go get them out of their crib the moment they woke up. He/she will survive you taking 3 minutes to practice a little personal hygiene.

It just makes me feel alive and awake and ready for the day ahead!

2. Get dressed.

I don’t mean get dressed up, by any means! If I’m being honest, sometimes I just change out of a pair of pajamas and into a pair of leggings! But some days I do put on a bra and a cute top. It just depends on what that day holds! But this is just a simple way I can feel like I accomplished something.

3. Set up a cleaning/laundry schedule.

This has saved me. I am a extremely distracted person, so having things planned out and written down is VERY helpful. At the beginning of this year I wrote out a cleaning schedule and stuck it on the fridge and it has been so helpful! Each day I clean one room in my house during Bryant’s naptime. For clarification, this isn’t a deep clean. I just do the basics: dust and vacuum and pick up clutter. But it helps! And it feels like I really got something done, and there’s usually still time to watch an episode of Law & Order before the baby wakes up!

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4. Meal Plan

I’m not big into meal prepping, but I ALWAYS meal plan. This is something that just makes me feel like I have a little bit of structure to lean on when the days are chaotic. I start at the beginning of each month and write down anything going on that month, and then plan meals week by week. That way I can see our schedule at a glance, and then plan supper around anything we have going on. I try and plan ahead for eating out and picking up fast food, too!

5. Journal

This is not something I did pre-baby, but I wish I had. I take time each day to write down something—anything! It doesn’t have to be a page full of your deepest hopes and dreams, but just what you’re feeling or what you have planned for the day. I usually do it in the morning, but doing it at night could be cool as a way to reflect on the day before you go to bed. I think journaling is just an easy way to feel connected to your life, especially when it feels monotonous.

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Of course, you don’t have to follow all of my “rules” – in fact, you don’t have to follow any of them! But when I felt like my life was spinning somewhat out of control, these are just some of the ways I found helpful to take back control. What about you? What “rules” have you set to make life run a little bit more smoothly day to day?

 


 

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Laura Beth Harpe is a wife and mother, living in small-town Georgia. She loves connecting with other mamas as they stumble through the new season of motherhood. She loves shopping and binging Bravo and Law and Order: SUV. Learn more about her here!

You Are The Most Beautiful Disaster

Hey mama, I see you.

I see you in all your hot mess glory.

I see you with those bags under your eyes, because you were up with the baby in the night. I see you in your stained shirt that you smelled this morning before you put it on. I see you with your day old make up and messy bun, because that’s all you’ve got the time and energy for. I see you with your extra large Diet Coke you snagged in the McDonald’s drive-thru after you dropped your daughter off at preschool.

I see you, and I feel you.

I feel those nagging negative thoughts that keep popping up into your mind today, “I am a hot mess.” “I am barely surviving.” “Am I doing enough?” “Am I enough?” “My kids deserve better.” “My husband deserves more.” “I am failing.”

You, my sweet friend, are not alone.

And for the record, you’re doing great! You aren’t failing. You are being a Mom.

“But look at Sarah and her perfect Instagram life. She never wears day old make up, and stained clothes. She never has bags under her eyes. Her skin is glowing, and her smile is so perfect. She drinks water and protein shakes and has the perfect butt in her Lululemon yoga pants. Her kids are always dressed in matching clothes, with their hair tied up perfectly in a bow. She’s never late for preschool pick up, and she always brings healthy homemade snacks.”

“I forgot it was our snack day and had to run to the grocery store before school and sent my child in with Goldfish.”

Girlfriend, snap out of it. You’re living the real mom life. The one where we make mistakes… constantly. The one where our alarms don’t go off, so our kids are late to school… again. The one where we have cereal for dinner because that’s all the energy we have left for at the end of the day. The one where the laundry piles up until the mountain is so high there is no possible way we can fold it all. The one where we survive on Diet Coke and a cat nap while the kids have TV time. The one where we put on a movie just to entertain the kids for a few hours.

BUT… You are also living the one where you held your daughter today and rocked her in the rocking chair while you sang songs. You got down on the floor with your son and played race cars. You told your kids about a million times how much you love them. You covered your babies from head to toe with kisses. And when they asked for a silly snack, you arranged those leftover goldfish you sent to school on a plate to look like they were under the sea.

So, your Instagram doesn’t look like Sarah’s does. Who cares? Your life reel looks happy, full of love, giggles, and snuggles. One day you’ll look back on these memories and you won’t remember that you looked a hot mess. You’ll remember your daughters face as you sang together. You’ll remember how much your son loved crashing his car into yours. You’ll remember how there are never enough kisses to cover your babies with.

That stain on your shirt? It’s because yesterday, you let your kids make slime, and those sticky little hands hugged you to tell you “Thanks mom, this was so much fun.”

Those bags under your eyes? It’s because your daughter needed you, not daddy, YOU to snuggle her back to sleep (because you give better back rubs).

Your day old make up? Oh yea, you stayed up late helping your son finish his science project and didn’t have the energy to wash your face afterwards.

Mama, you may think you’re a hot mess. But what I see is a mama who puts everyone before herself. Who makes sure her children know just how loved they are. A mama that plays cars and sings songs because the laundry can wait (at least it’s clean). I see a mama that makes sure her babies are taken care of in all the necessary ways. And I see children that love and adore you because you are the one that showed them how to love and adore.

What I see is A Beautiful Disaster.

And it truly is, beautiful.

You, Mama, Are The Most Beautiful Disaster.

 


 

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Laurel Dowse is a wife and mom to 2 girls and a baby on the way. She is a SAHM by day, and teaches dance a few nights a week. She loves true crime podcasts, binge-watching her favorite shows, and encourages naps! She is a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma on her leg in 2015. You can read more about her here!