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!

Don’t Lose your Marbles! A Joyful SAHM’s Thrive Guide

So, you just left your corporate job to pursue your dream job as a stay at home parent.  Congratulations!  I know how tough a decision this is for you and your family.  You’re scared of the unknown and nervous you’re not cut out for full time stay at home parenting.

Or, maybe you’ve been a stay at home parent for a while but you’re feeling run down. You’re questioning whether you’re cut out for this.

Either way, I promise you, if your heart is calling you to be home, it’s probably not lying.  The sacrifice cannot be overstated but I also promise you, it’s worth it.

Not every day is rainbows and sunshine. Being a stay at home parent is hard.  Devoting yourself to someone else’s happiness can put a toll on your mental health. 

But guess what?!  I don’t dread Mondays.  I don’t cling to my husband’s leg as he’s walking out the door pleading him not to go.  I believe there are simple changes in routine and habit that can help you avoid common mental health traps and parent joyfully.

At first I titled this blog post “A Stay at Home Mom’s Survival Guide”. But, survival? Seriously? The goal isn’t to merely survive motherhood. The goal is to do it joyfully, with our heart open to our children and our partner. The goal isn’t to hang on to yourself, it’s to find an even better and happier version. Here are my tips to THRIVE!

Wake up BEFORE your baby and use that time wisely!

Hey!  I saw that eye roll! I know you’ve heard this little hack before and I know what you’re thinking – “I’m tired. My kid isn’t sleeping well. I need the rest.” And guess what?!  Me too!  But here is the deal, starting your day off with an hour or so to yourself without a toddler clinging to your leg is a total game changer. 

As a stay at home mom, I imagine that waking up to a crying baby is the equivalent of your corporate boss waking you up with a phone call demanding that you immediately make and spoon feed them breakfast.  A few phone calls like that would probably make you resent your boss and you may start looking for another job.

There is a reason why I listed this one first. My morning routine is literally the most important part of my day. I promise you, a solid morning routine can change your life. So, stop with the eye roll and listen up!

I recommend that you write down what you’re grateful for, write down your goals, set intentions for how you want to be as a mother and partner, exercise, plan out your day and of course, caffeinate and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Avoid the Television!

Honestly, have you ever felt better after watching TV?  It’s a slippery slope. One show always turns into two or three and suddenly, you’ve not accomplished a thing and you are feeling guilty about not spending more time with your little one.  Just don’t turn it on.  If you like the background noise, I recommend playing music instead.  Spontaneous dance parties are good for the soul.

Meal prep!

Back away from the pantry.  Stop eating the animal crackers you “bought for your toddler”.  When you’re busy trying to keep a tiny person alive it is so easy to skip meals.  Skipping meals inevitably results in excess snacking.  I have fallen into this trap before and it’s HARD to get out of.  Meal prepping as if you were headed into the office is helpful.  I like to write down our weekly meal plan, snacks included.  

Stick to a daily clean up routine

I’m not suggesting that you clean your entire house top to bottom everyday, that is unrealistic.  BUT, there are certain quick and easy clean up routines that will save you the stress of a messy home. 

Here is what works for me: Before bed, load and start the dishwasher, wipe down the kitchen counters, pick up any toys lingering from the post-dinner play and do a quick vacuum of your main living space.  In the morning, unload your dishwasher. 

That’s it! I wake up every morning truly grateful for an empty sink and you will too, promise!

Get out of the house!

Keeping busy is an important part of your mental health and the development of your child. Be cautious if you’re allowing more than one full day at home in a week.  When I first became a stay at home parent I struggled with this.  I had social anxiety about meeting other moms so I’d talk myself into staying home.  Even the most brilliant morning routine can’t save you from the negative impacts of being a hermit.  I’ve had my fair share of stressful outings but I have never once regretted getting out of the house.

So, go on Facebook and find local playgroups. These playgroups are usually FREE. If feasible, I also recommend checking out music classes, art classes or other paid organized groups. These are also great ways to meet other like-minded parents!

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I hope that these tips help you find joy as a stay at home mother. Take it easy on yourself. Don’t feel pressured into filling every second of your child’s day. The most treasured memories are found in the quietness of life at home. And seriously, do you love your child deeply? I thought so. And that means you’re doing great.

xoxo,

Jenn


 

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Jenn Carr is a wife and SAHM to her adorable son, Theodore. She resides on the coast in Maine, and enjoys writing, photography and organizing. Jenn is fueled with a mission for optimizing life, being joyful and encouraging others to live their best lives. You can read more about her here!