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I can remember the early days of motherhood with my first child. It was hard! I had no idea the amount of hormones that would be racing through my body and how difficult it would be to live a "normal" life like the one I had prior to a baby. The first eight weeks were a whirlwind and passed by as quickly as they came, but I still remember the emotions running through me. I remember the nights that I woke up with “Baby Blues” that later turned into Postpartum Anxiety...something that I knew nothing about prior to having a baby.
The one thing that really bothered me in the newborn phase during those eight weeks was that I didn’t feel like I had time to do anything that needed to be done. Most days keeping my baby alive, fed, and happy was my only accomplishment. I tried to focus on him and the things he needed during that time. However, in the back of my mind there were always things I wanted to accomplish (like folding the laundry and putting the dishes away before my husband came home). But when the baby slept, I tried to rest, too. And while I needed rest, my mind would take a deep dive into all the things that needed to be done around the house.
After a couple weeks of trying to rest when my baby was resting, I finally gave up. I needed to be doing things to clear my mind and relieve the anxiety. Did you know that your environment can affect your mental health? I hadn’t put it together until this time in my life, and it completely changed me.
I started setting a 30 minute timer when I put my baby down for his first nap of the day. I would start with the living room and tidy up any burp rags or diapers left out from the night before. I straightened the couch pillows and folded blankets. Having people bring over meals was my motivation for starting in the living room because I knew I could shut other doors if I didn’t get to them before guests arrived.
Then I would move on to the kitchen. I was nursing at the time so I didn’t have to worry about bottles. I would tidy up as much as I could by putting dishes away and reloading the dishwasher.
My bedroom was next. Making the bed makes the rest of the day feel “put together” and was something where I could walk into our bedroom and feel like I had accomplished something aside from the baby that day. It also kept me from wanting to go back to bed and sleep all day. If I had time, I would get to the laundry. If not and the timer went off, I would save that for a different nap, or the next day.
Thirty minutes a day saved my sanity when I first became a mom. If you make a small dent every day, it makes a huge difference.
When I feel myself starting to get into a slump, I go back to the beginning of this blog and ask myself:
- Am I making my bed every day?
- Am I waking up ready to face the day?
- Am I going to bed at night with a clean kitchen so that I can go to bed with a clear mind?
If I’m not doing those things I need to start over and begin to make them a habit again, because my anxiety sets in when my environment is overwhelming.
If you’re looking for a cleaning routine, I highly suggest making a list of spaces to clean and sort them out by day. This makes it easier to clean the whole house throughout the week and not having to carve out a full day for cleaning the entire house.
Here is what my cleaning routing looked like:
First nap: start a load of laundry, cleaning, switch laundry
Second nap: fold laundry and put it away, start meal prep for supper, work for Sandstone Avenue
Mondays - bathroom, colors
Tuesdays - dusting, delicates
Wednesday - vacuum, whites
Thursday - mopping, denim
Friday - catch-up day
Saturday - bedding
Sunday - rest
After bedtime: work for Sandstone Avenue and catch-up
I realize that I can do small tasks like laundry and cleaning while the kids are awake. I clean with chemical-free products like Norwex, so cleaning during the day isn’t a problem if they happen to be awake or aren’t able to nap. I trust that they can be around me because I’m using a product that isn’t full of harsh chemicals.
I saved the business work for nap times and especially at night so that I could work during uninterrupted times. It’s really hard for me to get business tasks done while they’re awake because I’m focusing on business and kids and neither one gets 100% of my attention. I try to save all of that for after the kids go to bed so that I can give them 100% of me during the day and our business 100% of me after they go to bed.
I’ll be honest, exercise wasn’t something that I was fit into my schedule regularly. I was going for walks after we had our breakfast, but after 10 months postpartum I realized that my body was ready to begin working out again. This is something that can be done during naptime, but to get the most out of it without interruption, I found that waking up before my kids wake up is the best time for me to do this.
Even so, I will still go on a walk with my kids after breakfast. I can put the younger two in a stroller and Bear can either scooter beside me or ride a bike. Making time for exercise is really important for your physical health but also your mental health. It’s great to get outside and get grounded before the day starts, but I completely understand if that cannot happen until you are mentally ready to make it happen. For me that moment was at 10 months postpartum with my youngest.
With my oldest I was three months postpartum and ready to start working out again. I was training for half-marathons, running, lifting weights, everything! But it was drastically different after having back to back pregnancies (Quinn and Jax are only 14 months apart and I was on bed rest with him almost my entire pregnancy). My body took a lot longer to recover after those two pregnancies and my third child was born, so it’s normal if it takes a little bit longer.
Make sure that you check with your physician before you start working out. if working out is something that you’re passionate about and you’re ready to start making it a priority sooner, I highly suggest doing it either in the garage or somewhere that you’re away from your living space that will get you up and moving. If you have someone to exercise with that can make a huge difference as well. By waking up before my kids wake up to exercise for 30 minutes to an hour I am able to regroup and set the tone for the day ahead.