5 Tips for Finding Routine as a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love structure, routines, and schedules. I love doing the same type of thing every week.  For some this might seem super boring, but for me, it is absolutely necessary.  I struggle with decisions. I am incredibly indecisive, so the fewer decisions I need to make within the week, the better.  There is something incredibly refreshing about establishing weekly rhythms in your life.  I believe these small patterns in our lives have the power to impact so much more than just how we choose to spend our days.  It impacts our attitudes, our characters, and ultimately our entire lives. So, if you ask me, this routine stuff is essential!

You might be reading this and thinking yes, I am all about schedules and routines too, but right now the season of life I am in makes consistent routines super difficult.  I get it! This is one of the many reasons I struggled so much early on when Hudson was born. I lost all sense of routine and control and if I am honest, it really had an affect on me in an emotional, spiritual, and physical way. I believe that even in a season with a bunch of little ones running about, you can develop a sense of routine.  And you should! Because it will not only help keep you more sane, it will allow for you to ultimately be more productive.  

daily routine for stay at home moms that will actually allow for rest, productivity, and quality family time.

So mama, if you are in a place where you want more steadiness in your life, but you don’t even know where to start, here are 5 simple things you can start doing today to get routines into your days. Just because you are a stay-at-home mom, that does not mean you cannot build in some of the structure and schedules you used to have in the pre-kids life.

green coffee mug for mom starting her morning routine

1. Wake Up Before the Kids

I have written a lot about my morning routine. You can read more about it, here. There are a few things I try to do every morning. The reality is that it is really hard to get the time to read my Bible, journal, and pray if I don’t get up at least 30 minutes before Hudson rises. I know this can be a real challenge, especially if you have really little ones that are not sleeping throughout the night. It can also be tough if your little ones are not consistently waking up at the same time. In particular seasons like that, allow for grace.

I would recommend setting a timer for you to get up at the same time every morning. Maybe for you right now, it is not realistic to wake up at 5 am. Try 6 am or 6:30 am. The reality is that you cannot control when the rest of the house is going to get up, but you can control when you get up. Consistently, waking up at the same time every morning is such an important rhythm that really sets the tone for the rest of the day. 

mom weekly cleaning routine

2. Set a Cleaning Task for Each Day of Week

As a stay-at-home mom, I put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to have the house in order. I know I am not alone in this. But here is the thing, solely taking care of a baby/multiple children is a full-time job in itself. There is not always time to have the baseboards shiny and the linen closet organized. Time and energy is limited. How can we have a relatively tidy house without feeling completely overwhelmed and burnt out?  Set small tasks for specific rooms of the house every week. Create a cleaning schedule that works best for you and stick to it.

Before you know it, you will be changing the bed sheets every Wednesday without even thinking about it. This is not a revolutionary concept, but having small cleaning tasks that are assigned for specific days of the week really helps me to not feel as overwhelmed. There are certain tasks like making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping and wiping down counters that happen on a daily basis, but here are the specific tasks I do for every day of the week, minus Sundays because those are for resting:

  • Monday: Frontload laundry (try to do as many loads as I can) + focused floor clean (baseboards on a bi-monthly basis)
  • Tuesday: Focused kitchen clean  
  • Wednesday: Change bed sheets + vacuum bedroom
  • Thursday: Change Hudson’s crib sheets + vacuum nursery
  • Friday: Focused bathroom clean 
  • Saturday: Mop floors, so floors feel nice and fresh going into our Sabbath (day of rest). Saturdays are often nice days for us as a couple to tackle any bigger projects, like a garage tidy or refrigerator clean. 
things to do with young children

3. Set an Activity with your Kids for Each Day of Week

Similarly, to the way I clean, I like to do similar types of activities for each day of the week. For this fall season, we are taking a couple mommy and me classes, so this built-in structure makes Monday and Tuesday activities already planned. Below is an example of a typical week activitiy schedule for us:

  • Monday: Mommy & Me hour length class + Trader Joe’s run post-nap 
  • Tuesday: Mommy & Me 2.5 hour length class + play in backyard post-nap
  • Wednesday: Trip to library + park before or after if time permits 
  • Thursday: Free Day! It really depends on the week, but I try to do something out of the normal routine with him on Thursdays.  This might mean hosting a fun playdate at our house, having lunch with a grandparent or attending a local kid’s event.  
  • Friday: Park, beach, or errands/appointments with mommy.  Our weekends are typically pretty full, so I try to keep Fridays more mellow.  

I have found that this rhythm of having an outing at the same time every day during the week is essential.  This time of the outing is going to likely change a lot as the nap schedule changes, but now that he is 16-months old, he has only one long afternoon nap.  This allows for a longer chunk of morning time to have an outing.  

One of the beautiful things that happen when we establish these park and library routines is that we are indirectly developing community.  You will find that other moms, nannies, and children also love routines. As a new mom where every day seems to be different, I have found a tremendous amount of comfort in seeing the same familiar faces every Wednesday at the library or every Thursday morning at the park. It reminds me I am not alone. It gives me a sense of connection that my days otherwise lack when I stay at home.

If you are feeling stuck with not knowing the best activities to do with your little ones that are home, here are a few suggestions that have helped me get out of the house:

Ways to Get Out the Door with Little Ones

  • Sign-up for classes! There are so many amazing baby and toddler classes offered by the city.  Signing up for classes is not only a great way to help with the development of your little one, but also a great way to build structure and routine into your unpredictable days of motherhood. 
  • Find your favorite local parks.  Not all parks are equal! Do some research (this might mean actually going to a handful of parks) and find the ones that you and your kids like the most.  And go out to them on a consistent basis.
  • Utilize your library! I cannot emphasize this one enough.  The library is one of the most untapped resources our cities offer.  Get to know the library staff. Grab their calendar of events and actually go to them.  The library we attend has great resources for both babies and parents.  
  • Make mom friends.  I am a part of a local MOMS Club and I am a big fan.  Joining this club over a year ago was one of the best decisions I made in those early months as a mom.  It has given me friends and has helped get me out of the door. Whether it is MOMS Club, MOPS, or any other local mom’s group, join something! Not only will this get fun events on your calendar, it will allow you to find community with other moms.
woman exercising in the early morning by herself as part of her routine

4. Exercise Consistently at Same Time 

I think people assume that for people that “love” running, it comes naturally for them to go out for a run.  Not true! At least not for me. Getting out the door, especially recently, has been such an internal battle. My whole mind and body often fights against it.  I know I am not alone in this.  

This is only further evidence of the importance of establishing exercise routines.  Without a consistent routine, it will simply not happen. You need to treat your times of exercise like important work meetings, even if it just a you.  Schedule the times you will run or go out to exercise and actually follow through.  You won’t always feel like it, but you will eventually hit your stride.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I am on a bit of an off-season for running, but I am trying to still exercise 6 days a week.  These days it is much less mileage and more group workout classes. This is what a typical week looks like for me currently: 

  • Monday: 6 mile run.  This is a really important run!  I am a huge believer of front-loading and starting your week with hard things.  This sets the precedence for the rest of the week. Last Monday, going out for a run was literally the last thing I wanted to do.  I felt pretty terrible and tired, but since this is part of my established routine, I did it. Even in those moments of not wanting to do something, I can think back to the past of how running on a Monday makes me feel, and from this, I am motivated to stick with it.  
  • Tuesday: 6:15 pm Yogaworks class.  For over the past month, I have been going to the same yoga class with the same teacher, Petra.  I used to pop from different classes with different teachers throughout the week, but for me personally, it is so important to go to the same classes every week.  This routine allows for me to start building a relationship with the teacher and build community with the other ladies that I see every Tuesday and Thursday.  I love how Petra knows me by name, chats with me, and compliments my yoga pants. This sense of belonging and community does not happen if you never consistently go to the same class or instructor.
  • Wednesday: 6 mile run
  • Thursday: 4 mile run + 6:15 pm Yogaworks class
  • Friday: 4-6 mile run (usually with Lance)  This is the end of the week run where I really listen to my body.  Last Friday, I felt terrible so it was just 4 miles. Two Fridays ago, I felt awesome so it was closer to 6.  It really depends. I am not super concerned about this particular run. I usually run this with Lance, so it is a nice run to connect with him and not need to push the jogger!
  • Saturday: Long run in Palos Verdes (right now this is usually around 10 miles) OR 7 am Yogaworks class with Petra
  • Sunday: OFF
woman preparing meal for dinner for her family

5. Start Dinner at the Same Time 

Set a time to start dinner and stick with this as much as you can.  For me, it is 4 pm. I know this is early, but we are early dinner people.  This rhythm of starting dinner at the same time is essential for us in our evening routine.  This allows us to eat at about the same time every night. This rhythm allows for a chunk of evening time that is not spent worrying about dinner prep and dirty dishes.

Like most of what I have written here, it is such a small choice, but this daily pattern of 4 pm dinner making allows things to get started when I often don’t feel like it.  This is usually the time where I am more tired from the day; however, this pattern I have set in our lives, allows me to grab the ingredients and turn on the oven at 4 pm without even really thinking about my feelings. Just another example of the importance of routine! 

Mama with the Crazy Child: You Are Not Alone!

This one is for you mama. 

The one who feels like she most certainly has the craziest, loudest, and messiest child in the world.  You are not alone. I am right there with you.

I know I cannot be alone in this feeling that my son seems to be the only one that is quite as loud or makes quite as much of a mess compared to all the other babies.  It is so easy to fall into this trap of comparison and feel like there must be something wrong with the way we are raising our kids. Here is the thing, sometimes children, especially really little ones, have bad days and it is NO indicator of how good or bad of a parent we are.  

In full transparency, Hudson and I have been having a rough past few days.  Like hitting other babies and throwing sippy cups off gondola rides rough. I can’t make this stuff up.  This is our life. Hudson is not even 16-months old yet and these past few days have felt like we are already in those terrible twos.

It is amazing how I can already see very large glimpses of the type of boy and man I can see him becoming.  And these glimpses are beautiful! I already can see that he is going to be incredibly passionate in whatever he chooses to pursue in his life. This makes me super excited for his future; however, this passionate personality feels a bit overwhelming right now. 

toddler boy with converse shoes standing by tree outside
Look closely! You can see some of the green paint remnants on right side of shirt.

The Green Paint Incident

Last Tuesday, we were at our mommy and me class when the teacher put out paint for the babies to use.  None of the other babies even went near the paint, except for my sweet Hudson. And let’s just say, there was green everywhere.  In his hair, on his shirt, on his shorts, on my shirt, and on my jacket. Then, he started running away with the green paint brush in hand and decided it was time to make other things turn green as well, like the soccer ball and the toy car.  So here I am, chasing this wild baby and wondering, why is he is the messiest and craziest one in this whole class?

The other babies seems to be neatly playing with the play-dough and water tank. They are not covered in green.  The thing with this mindset is that I am zeroing in on particularly tough moments and failing to remember the million, little sweet things he did on that very same day.  In that moment, Hudson was the messy, paint boy, but in the very next, it will be a different little one and I am guessing that mama or dad will feel just the way I did. Let’s give our kids and ourselves a little bit more grace. We all have our green paint kind of days. 

toddler boy waiting for the doctor at the doctor's office
Waiting for the doctor, post-poop everywhere…

The Poop Incident

The story does not end here.  Two days after the paint incident, there was the poop incident.  Hudson had his 15-month doctor appointment. As I took him out of his carseat and started walking up to Dr. Berman’s office, I felt something warm on my arm.  I also smelled something awful. Hudson pooped, but we are not just talking about a normal poop. Something went very wrong and this poop, like the green paint, was everywhere.  On the wall, on my shirt, on his shorts, and on his socks. For the entirety of his appointment, I smelled like poop.  I did not have a change of clothes for either one of us, so Hudson went home in a diaper and I went home in a poopy shirt. Again, here is a moment of feeling like I must be the most unprepared mother with a baby that has the craziest poops. All lies.

The Bus Incident

And the story continues.  On Monday, we went back to the San Diego Zoo. We went to the San Diego Zoo when we visited my sister about a month and a half ago. You can read about that first zoo visit here. This time we went with friends. These friends also have a baby that is a similar age to Hudson.  She is super calm and mellow. And this does not help my head case of feeling like Hudson is the craziest and messiest baby alive.  But here is the thing, they have such different personalities, I simply cannot compare. Hudson will never be the quiet one that can sit still and not say a word, and I am perfectly okay with this.  Again, I love how passionate he is about the world and all the little things in it; however, right now, it feels a tad overwhelming.

Hudson is obsessed with the animals.  It doesn’t matter what type, if it is moving and he sees it, he immediately signs “please” and wants to touch them.  He wants to be up close and personal. He wants to chat with them and see how they are doing. Again, I love this about him, but right now this manifests in him shrieking and screaming when the bus tour we are on drives away from said animal exhibit.  The amount of noises he made on that 40-minute bus ride was rather impressive. And again as I am bouncing him and exerting all the energy I can muster to get him to quiet down, that comparative voice again starts running in my head. I look around at all the quiet and calm babies sitting on their parents’ laps.  Why is my baby the loudest and most active on this whole bus?  

The Gondola Ride Incident

Then, there was the gondola ride, where he threw his sippy cup off the ride.  Thankfully, it landed on a building and it was just his green sippy cup. It could have been much worse; however, this was just another thing that added to my feelings of insecurity at this whole parenthood thing.  Why can’t I seem to control my child?

In between these moments on the bus and the gondola ride, there were also moments where he was super fun and independent.  In the Reptile Walk, he would run from glass exhibit to glass exhibit, with such excitement and enthusiasm. He would point at each animal, smile, and run to say hi to the next one.  These are the moments that I need to hold on to more. These are the times I should be asking: Do I have the cutest, most passionate baby in the whole wide world? Yes, yes I think I do.

Then, there was the dinner, after a long day at the zoo. This exhausted boy who was running and screaming all over the place at the zoo, was sensory overloaded by the time dinner hit.  As I write this, everything is beginning to make sense to me. The amount of energy he exerts throughout the day, often leads to him being a complete nightmare in restaurant settings. As his mom, I need to understand this better and make sure that after a full day I don’t push him beyond his limits. While the other baby could handle it, he is different and it was just too much for him.  

This sums up our past few days pretty well!

The Hitting Baby Incident

I will end with my final example.  This one happened yesterday at this week’s mommy and me class.  It involved a toy lemon and a plastic pan from the toy kitchen. I am not going to even sugar coat it, Hudson used this pan to hit another baby on the arm.  I could type up a bunch of excuses here, but I am owning it instead.

He hit her and he absolutely shouldn’t have; however, it was the reaction of the mom that again put me back in the spiraling head case I have been fighting for over a week. She simply said one word: “wow!”  With that one word and her telling her baby that they should head over to the kitchen, far away from this crazy child and his mother, I felt alone. This is really a story for another post, but as mothers, can we respond to situations in ways that create bridges, instead of further divide?

We Are in this Together

This is a lot of little stories to point to this one fact: we all have bad days, especially little ones, but don’t let the bad days take away from the good ones.  Don’t let the bad, misbehaved moments, take away from the really amazing ones. And this is especially for the mom that has a baby or child with a similar personality trait to sweet Hudson. 

Embrace this passionate side of your child. Yes, it may feel like he is the messiest, craziest, and loudest one on the whole bus, but he or she has a lot of good that they can offer. Learn to tame the wild and put all this energy and passion into good.  Ultimately, the point of all these very honest and raw stories are to be my open hand out to you. We are in this together. You are not alone, mama. If you think you have the craziest, loudest, messiest baby; come over and meet mine.

Alive in Your Calling

Have you ever had a day or a week where you were struck with a deep feeling in your bones that you were doing exactly what you were made to do? Trust me, I have a lot of days of doubt.  A lot of days where I question if the Lord wants more from me.  If he wants me to do this mothering thing, alongside a full-time career.  There are definitely moments, days, conversations that make me wonder. Amidst this doubt, I am occasionally hit with the unshakeable feeling that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

There was no big event that happened last week that woke me up to my calling, but it was the stringing along of ordinary moments, like singing at mommy and me class and hosting fun baby play dates at our house that made me realize: I was made for this.

Mother and baby at the beach
“What do you do for work?” This. This is what I do.

Oh, I Just Stay At Home

Being a stay-at-home mom is a tricky subject.  It is tricky because I am fully aware that it is a privilege.  Not everyone has a choice. I know there are plenty of mamas that would love to stay at home, but the extra income is a necessity.  Or, they are a single mama and their job is the sole income providing for their family.  Even as I type this, I sense myself holding back and overthinking the words to say.  I really don’t want to step on toes. The main point here is that I am fully aware that we all are living our own stories with our own sets of pressures.  I can only really write from where I currently am and that is at home. I feel thankful to be in a position that it is possible for me to stay at home. This is a big deal, and I do my best to not take it for granted. 

There is a lot of unspoken misunderstandings between the two camps: working mamas and at home mamas.  This makes me sad, but I think there is a lot of internal judgement and comparison. And I think it is absolutely felt on both sides.  Again, I can only speak from my perspective, but I feel pretty certain that working mamas struggle with not being able to have the same type of experiences or involvement as those that are at home. 

Baby and smiling mother outside
Thankful.

Own Your Story; No Need to Fabricate

On the flip side, SAHMs can feel like they are not doing enough. I have had countless conversations with people (all with good intent) that ask me when or if I plan on going back to work. I know it is unintentional, but this question often feels like a judgement.  It often feels like all the work I am doing within the home is somehow not enough. I have found myself in this past year making up stories of intentions of returning to work soon. I find myself telling them about how I had a few substitute teaching jobs last school year, as if they need to know that I am doing more than just staying home.

Especially when I talk to other working moms, I have felt this pressure to communicate my heart of eventually returning to my teaching job.  But here is the thing, I am not certain this is where I feel called. I really wish I could own my story better and not feel like I need to fabricate things to connect better to the woman I am speaking to.

Staying At Home IS a Full-Time Job!

Most people can acknowledge that staying at home with kids is a lot of work.  While I think a lot of people can recognize the tremendous amount of work and value that comes with being at home with your kiddos, I believe there is still a lot of underlying assumptions.  Since we don’t have a typical 9-5, people can easily assume that we are the perfect people to take on x, y, and z.

A stay-at-home mom works many job throughout the day. She’s a nurse, chauffeur, chef, teacher, playmate, housekeeper, laundry attendant, accountant, and babysitter all rolled into one.

What Does a Stay-At-Home Mom Do All Day, Apryl Duncan, VeryWellFamily

Again, I am writing this with hesitation because I don’t want to step on toes, but I think there is a lot of truth in this.  And it is not a bad thing per se. I feel happy to be in a more flexible position that I can do some extra things I probably would not have been able to do if I was still working outside of the home. The problem is when people assume that we must have the time.  This is where I think there is confusion. In a lot of ways, I feel busier than when I was teaching. I feel more on for my one, little toddler, than I did for 100 something students. 

I Should…

A lot of the things that I let slip when I was working, I have fully taken on.  When the floors are messy, I feel a lot of responsibility and guilt for not being on it.  Since my work is within the home, I feel so guilty when the house feels like a chaotic mess.  This is my one job! I should have spotless floors, a fridge fully stocked, and gourmet meals on the table every night.  I should be doing all the extra things. I should be on the board of my MOMS Club. I should be the one volunteering to be in charge of the email list for our year-long mommy and me class.  I should have a foot in every single ministry at church. I should be reaching out to friends more often and sending them letters of encouragement. I should do more for my husband, I mean he is the one fully providing for us.  I should, I should, I should.  

Mother kissing baby at the top of Inspiration Point hike at Will Rogers State Park
These baby days already feel like they are drifting away!

Sweet Daughter,

Man, typing up the above actually made me really sad.  It made me sad because all those things are truly weighing on my heart.  Being a SAHM often feels like it is not enough for the world around me and if I’m honest, sometimes I get caught up in believing this lie.  But here is the truth the Lord reminded me this week: it is enough and I am exactly where He wants me. 

Back to my original question that started off this post: Are you ever struck with a deep sense that you are exactly where you were meant to be?  This past week, I felt like I was living out my calling. It was not glamorous and it did not involve fancy meetings or important conferences. Instead, it involved lots of “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”  I sang a lot of songs last week with Hudson and I read a lot of the same book over and over and I made lots of snacks. And in this place of singing, reading, and making, I felt alive in my calling. I felt the Lord whispering to me all week: Sweet daughter, you are right where I want you.


Find Beauty in the Ordinary & Have a Great Weekend!

After especially busy seasons, slow weekends are best friends.  This past weekend was similarly sweet and mellow like the past weekend I wrote about. I want to put this into words so I don’t forget. I am feeling just so thankful right now.  Life feels simple and peaceful and quiet, and I know this won’t last forever, but I am really loving this particular season of life.

Hudson is at a stage that I am absolutely adoring.  If you have read even just a handful of my past posts, you should have the idea that the newborn stage was a struggle to say the least for me. I feel much more comfortable in this stage of making snacks, taking him to mommy and me classes, and chasing him about the house. I was unprepared for the very early stages. Not to say that that time is not precious and sweet and special, but I am really loving this toddler season.

Toddler boy wearing Hurley T-shirt with leather sandals at the park
There are those adorable leather sandals that he sported the next day at the…park!

The Leather Sandal Incident

Just yesterday, Hudson came up to me holding a pair of sandals he has yet to wear.  These sandals gathered dust because I assumed they were still too big for his little feet. Yesterday, he decided he was ready for them. He showed me them and tapped his foot with them.  Such a simple thing, but this moment struck me. I thought it was one of the most darling things.  He has desires and grand ideas, like wearing his cool leather sandals in the house just because. I love watching his brain churn.  I love watching his little quirks develop. And I love the fact that he can communicate with me.

Along with the sandal tapping, Hudson has been signing “please,” “more,” and “all done.”  I can now tell him, “say please” or “how do we ask for something we want?”. Hudson greets me with a smile and a hand over his chest. This melts my heart in a certain type of way. I love that he can ask politely for things without even a word.  I love that he can tell us when he is all done and ready to get out of his high chair. This early stage of communication is a lot of fun and I eagerly await for the words to begin to flow. So far the vocabulary looks something like this: “mom,” (which is always said in association with something he wants) “dada,” (which is usually said when he is happy and having fun) “ba” = ball, “na”=Nala, our dog.

Journal to Find Beauty in the Ordinary

I have become obsessed with a journaling concept I recently heard about on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast “The Next Right Thing.”  I am linking to that particular episode here. She talks about how when she is feeling overwhelmed with the demands of everyday life, she grounds herself by writing down lists called “These Are The Days Of.”  Under this title she lists the things that are currently happening in her life. This is such a simple, little exercise, but I think it is genius. It is genius in the sense that it gives us space to actually name what is going on in our life.

It is amazing how the most beautiful, yet ordinary things of our days so easily slip by us if we don’t take the time to intentionally jot it down.  This scares me! I don’t want to forget the beautifully ordinary elements of my days. This is why writing is such an important part of my days. It is why I journal in the mornings and persist in keeping up this little blog. Your perspective, your story, the ordinary elements of your day are sacred.  They are strung together by the greatest storyteller of all time, the Lord, and He wants us to share it. He wants us to tell about the seemingly ordinary, yet holy, beautiful, and sacred aspects of our days. So, I am sharing. I am logging them down for you to read because I believe it is important, no matter how small.

These Are The Days Of…

  1. Beach days
  2. Chasing Hudson as he runs toward the ocean, completely fearless
  3. Baby friends and mom friends
  4. The park 
  5. Homestate lunch dates with daddy 
  6. Farmer’s Markets
  7. Cinnamon rolls on Sundays
  8. 15-months 
  9. Planting plumeria in a blue planter
  10. Water diapers and sprinklers in the backyard
  11. Watching the grass grow, literally 
  12. Trying new things 
  13. Finding confidence in motherhood
  14. Fighting hard against comparison, daily
  15. Wondering if Hudson will be the crazy, misbehaved one in school
  16. Also wondering, if he will be drafted to the MLB before college; he has an arm!
  17. Leather sandals
  18. The park, again
  19. Capturing milestones with signs
  20. Registering for The Boston Marathon!
  21. Checking out 11 library books 

Poetic, right?  I love this exercise because it gets me to literally just list out what is going on in my life.  When I read that list back, I am amazed by the beauty in it. This is just our life right now. This is literally what is going on.  And if I am honest, most days, I don’t stop to let the beauty of it all sink in. Instead I spend a lot of time wondering if I am doing enough, as I mindlessly clean the baseboards and compare my mom life to the lives of the busy, important friends I see all around me.  I need to stop. I need to make my “These Are The Days Of…” list. I need to give space to the abundant blessings in my life, even though there are days where I feel pretty small and unimportant.

Toddler boy play with water sprinklers in the backyard
These are the days of backyard sprinklers & water diapers.

Your Story Matters- Own It!

This post is a little all over the place, but this is just what is on my heart, currently. I hope you can find encouragement in it.  I hope you can remember that your ordinary days of the park, library, and sprinklers in the backyard matter. It is easy to get lost in the stacks of laundry, sticky floors, and that feeling that you are always at a park.  It is easy to forget these ordinary days of correcting, feeding, cleaning, creating, and loving are in fact poetry. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, do me a favor. Take 5 minutes. Write down the ordinary elements of yours days. Then, read it slowly and thoughtfully back to yourself. Let it set in. Let the ordinary moments hold space in your heart and let gratitude take over.

Each of our lists are likely going to vary quite a bit, but this variance does not change our status as moms or wives or sisters.  The Lord has a unique list and story mapped out for us, it might not look like the mom who is seemingly doing it all, but it is ours.  Let’s own it, more.


5 Things I Wish I Knew About Weaning

Mamas, let’s talk about weaning. 

Weaning is something that seems to not be as talked about.  There seems to be an abundance of information surrounding the early days of breastfeeding; however, I have found that there seems to be less out there when it comes to weaning.  Why? Not totally sure, but I have a few guesses. The weaning experience is felt very differently depending on when you choose to wean. Weaning your baby at 8-months is very different from weaning your baby at 14-months.  The experience is also going to be different based on how regularly you nursed. Weaning a baby that is already used to occasionally drinking bottles is very different from the baby that exclusively breastfed 6-8 times a day.  This large variety in experience when it comes to weaning could be the reason some of the challenges are not regularly discussed. Just like our individual relationship with breastfeeding is unique, how we experience weaning is too. 

I am coming from the perspective of weaning after a year.  I am also coming from the perspective of having a baby that only nursed (Hudson refused bottles).  Not only was Hudson exclusively breastfed, I would nurse him really whenever he wanted. Fell and hit his head? Nurse. Can’t fall asleep? Nurse.  Teething? Nurse. Fussy on the airplane? Nurse. Nursing was the answer to most of our troubles. It really did feel like a superpower. While breastfeeding was initially the source of a lot of anxiety and doubt, it eventually became this thing that gave me a lot of confidence.  It was this power that only I had to instantly calm and comfort him. Little did I know how much of a loss it would be for the both of us when it came time to give it up.

Weaning has brought a sense of freedom and independence that I have been missing for over a year. I feel like I have my body back, even though it feels changed and slightly depleted.  With this sense of freedom, there is also a great deal of loss and change I am still adjusting to. This season of weaning is proving to be much more challenging than I expected. A year ago, I looked forward to being done with the woes of breastfeeding, but now I have a deep-pitted sadness for a bond and season that has fleeted away.  If I am being fully honest, I am still mourning this loss. If you are rolling your eyes right now and think I am being dramatic, I get it. That is how I felt a year ago when I heard people talk about breastfeeding with such affection and longing. It did not make sense to me why mothers missed this season of bloody nipples, 2 am nursing sessions, and leaky boobs.  Was I missing something? I was in the very early stages of breastfeeding and the idea of not needing to nurse, seemed like the best life. I could drink wine again. I could eat ice cream and cheese again. I could make my food as spicy as I wanted. I could be gone for more than a few hours. I could wear buttons and all my dresses again. My July self a year ago dreamed about this season.  Now that I have my hands full of wine and Brie cheese, I can’t shake this feeling of wanting to go back to those 2 am nursing sessions. Isn’t that funny how life works?   

So, if you are beginning to wean your baby or are currently in the process of weaning, here are a few things to know, that I really wish I was more prepared for.

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  1. Post-weaning Depression is Real 

Unfortunately, there is not a ton of research out on post-weaning depression, but it is very much a thing.  When you stop nursing, there is a decrease in levels of prolactin and oxytocin.  Both of these hormones are largely responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being.  It only makes sense that when you stop nursing, you will feel some of the effects. This is just the scientific reason behind the sadness.  There is so much more going on than just a shift in hormones. For me, it had a lot to do with suddenly feeling not as needed. Especially as a stay-at-home mom, who nursed like it was her full-time job (it was!), stopping, felt like losing my purpose.  Think about how people feel when they lose a job. For me personally, and I think this is true for other women as well, the end of nursing felt like being fired from that all-important job you once held. When you break it down like this, it is no wonder that some women have such a difficult time in the post-weaning season.  It is a big change to your body, not only physically, but emotionally as well. Just like with all big life changes, you need to allow for God grace in this season of adjustment

    2. Engorgement Can Happen Again (even if you wean gradually)

This was another surprise for me.  I wrongly assumed that since I was weaning after a year-old and I weaned relatively gradually for a month before stopping cold turkey that I would not experience any painful engorgement.  Turns out, I was wrong. Even though I slowly removed feedings for an entire month, the week after the last time I nursed, I was painfully engorged. Especially if you were someone that was still nursing relatively frequently past a year, it is more likely that your milk supply will still be in good measures.  So, if you plan on weaning, try to plan it during a time that you don’t have as much going on. I made the rookie move of weaning the week before I ran my first marathon. This was not the smartest move, and thankfully the engorgement mostly went away by the marathon with the help of hot showers and expression.  You never really know how your body is going to react to this big change, so don’t be like me. Try to wean during a time that is more low key, aka not the week before a marathon! 

      3. You Will Question Yourself

This one seems to be true for me for just about every stage of motherhood, but I was not expecting to question my decision to wean as much as I did.  I had previously made up my mind months previously that I would have Hudson weaned by the end of July, just before he turned 14-months. I had this date set in my mind for a while.  There were clear, logistical reasons I needed to have him weaned. We would be traveling to San Francisco for the race without him, so I wanted to be sure he was fully weaned before we left.  Even though, on paper the timing to wean made sense; I questioned my decision. I had daily battles of wondering if I made the right decision. If this is the right time, why does this feel so hard and unnatural for the both of us.  I wondered if maybe I should go back to nursing, I still had milk once we had returned from our trip. Ultimately, I am happy I stuck with my original decision. Currently, we both are well-adjusted, but through the process of weaning, I desperately wanted to return to our old ways.  For you, maybe it was easy to stick to your guns, but if you also are struggling and questioning if you are making the right decision; trust your instincts and don’t compare. You deep down know what is best for the both of you.  

     4. Your Baby Might Take it Hard 

How your baby responds to the weaning process is again going to vary based on timing and if it is mom’s choice or baby’s.  I know some babies quickly lose interest in nursing. Some; however, seem to cling to the comforts of nursing even more so as they get older.  Hudson is for sure a clinger and weaning for him was difficult and sad. This is largely why #3 was so true for me. The way he cried and tugged on my shirt broke my heart.  I felt so bad to be refusing him something he desperately wanted. Especially if you are weaning after a year, it is more likely that your baby will be more aware of the great loss that has occurred.  I wish I was better prepared to handle the extra tears and increased clinginess that weaning caused in Hudson. There were a stretch of days where he was just having an extra hard time with it. Change is so hard, especially for a little one! The other surprise was that it took him a while to adjust.  It has been nearly a month since I weaned him and when he gets hurt or tired, he still will pull at my shirt. He has not forgotten about our nursing time. He still craves it. I wrongly assumed he would quickly forget and move on. Just like you need to give your body and heart time to adjust, you must also give time to your little one.

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     5. You Are Still A Source of Comfort

This is the one I need to still tell myself.  It felt like I lost my superpower. It felt like I could no longer provide him with the comfort he so desperately wanted. This is not true.  You might not be milky mama anymore, but you will always be mama. I might not nurse anymore, but I am still Hudson’s source for snuggles and hugs and comfort.  For me, it has been helpful to replace all of our nursing time with other activities that still show him I am near and love him. We still spend a lot of time in the glider; it just looks different.  Instead of milk, I am nurturing him with words and songs and laughter. Your nursing relationship might be over, but in reality this is just the beginning of your sweet bond.

4 Lessons in 4 Years of Marriage

Four years ago today I married my very best friend.  And I know that is a cliché that is easy to type up and sounds nice and cute, but I truly mean it.  Before we even started dating or got engaged or got married or had a beautiful baby boy, he was first just a good friend.  He was my favorite person to spend hours at coffee shops with. My favorite person to carpool with to church. I am so thankful that before any of the love began to form, that God was knitting a friendship between our hearts that was built on His perfect love.  This bond built on our shared love of good coffee, running, God, and poetry began in coffee shops as friends. It began with carpooling to church. It began with editing each other’s poems for Maclay’s class. 

Marriage is beautiful, but it also is a lot of hard work.  It takes intentionality, dedication, sacrifice, and humility.   And becoming parents only makes it harder. In a lot of ways, becoming parents has brought us closer than we ever have been, but I would be absolutely not telling the truth if I were to say it was all roses the entire first year with Hudson.  In those early days with Hudson, I was not myself. I cried, yelled, and fought. It wasn’t Lance I was mad at it, but he was the one that was right there to take it. The truth is when you both are living on very minimal sleep and most of your time is dedicated to nursing and worrying about your little one, your marriage will likely take a back seat.  I am thankful that pretty early on in Hudson’s life, we realized that we needed to be even more intentional about putting our marriage first in this particular season. That is where the phrase: I love you more than Hudson, less than God; was born. I am no marriage expert, but I would have to think that part of the reason certain marriages end after all the kids have moved out is because the loves got reordered.  Somewhere along the way the love for the child outweighed the love for the spouse. And through this reordering, love for God, also seemed to fall in ranking. As I type this, I am praying right now, that the loves in my heart can stay in order. I pray to first and foremost, love God the most. Then, Lance. And then, sweet Hudson Boy and any other future children we may have. 

Even though we are just a few years in, these past years have taught me a lot.  Again, our marriage is by no means perfect, but I am proud of who we are becoming and this team we have become.  I look forward to (God Willing) the many, many years ahead and the lessons that will come with it. I would love to be still writing this blog in 46 years and be able to share a “50 lessons in 50 Years of Marriage” post, but for now we are at 4.  So here are my four major lessons I have learned in our first four years of marriage:

 

1. Prioritize Time Together

It was our three year anniversary that we began a new Friday tradition of sharing our rose, bud, and thorn of the week.  While it has not always been on Friday, we have been very consistent with carving out this weekly time and for us, it has been incredibly helpful.  As life continues to get more full and busy, it is essential to have a time every week where we can hit pause and stop and talk about the good, the hopeful, and the hard.  I feel so thankful that we started this weekly rhythm because while it’s sad to admit, I think if we didn’t start this, I would have missed out on knowing the heart of my husband.  I would have missed out on knowing how the small things that happened that week, like a day at the beach, was the rose of his entire week. I would have missed out on knowing why he came home so tired and the true reason we seemed to keep fighting.  I would have missed out on knowing his dreams, ambitions and hopes. While I am sure some of this stuff would have come up over dinners or outings, I don’t think it would have been as clear. It would have been paired with Hudson throwing food everywhere or with other people and noises and distractions. If you don’t intentionally set a weekly and monthly time for just the two of you, it is likely not going to happen.  Just like all good things, it takes planning and prioritizing.

2. Be Clear with Expectations 

It was just a few months after our first anniversary that we had one of our major fights that revolved around cheap wine.  My parents had given Lance and I a pizza cooking lesson. I was really excited for this date and had all these expectations of how the evening would go in my head.  In this cooking lesson you were able to bring your own bottle of wine to sip on as you flipped pizzas in the air and knotted garlic knots. I asked Lance to pick up a bottle of wine for us at Trader Joe’s for us to bring.  I didn’t tell him about any of the expectations I had. I didn’t tell him type or price tag or that I was expecting something a little bit nicer than normal. I just said wine and like the good husband Lance is, he did just that. He bought wine: 2 buck chuck.  Absolutely nothing wrong with 2 buck chuck, but it was not in line with my expectations for that night. To me, that pizza lesson was a special night for us and I wanted something a bit more special. I also was much more immature back then and cared about how people would perceive us if we brought cheap wine to a fancy cooking lesson.  It’s sad, but this wine fiasco made me cry and fight with him basically the entire day leading up to the lesson. I can still remember showing up to the kitchen with red rings around my eyes from crying all day. Thinking back, this feels so small and stupid, but I think if a lot of us our honest, the bulk of our fights are over the small and stupid.  If I had just clearly told Lance, my expectations I had for the wine he bought, none of the 2 buck chuck drama would have occurred. Sometimes all it takes is being incredibly clear. Can you please pick up a bottle of wine that is in-between the 15-30 dollar mark, preferably a Cabernet and if it has a cute label that made you think of me, that would also be a nice touch.  Be clear.  He can’t read your mind. 

3. Cheer Each Other On

One of the many reasons I love the sport of cross-country is because it is such a team sport.  I love how the 5th runner is just as important as the first. I also love that you can set goals for the whole team, but you also have your own individual goals of place and time.  I think in a lot of ways, a good marriage functions like a cross-country team. As a team, Lance and I have a lot of major, shared goals: kids, travel, home, running. Individually, we also have our own goals.  We have our own passions and career goals. This is so important and healthy! When Lance started his first company, I wish I could say I was the most supportive wife, but unfortunately I was not. I was resentful that he got to pursue his passion, while I was left dealing with the stressful job of teaching and was knee deep in essays to grade and behavior issues.  I did not do a very good job at cheering him on. And I regret this. Part of the reason I struggled to fully cheer on my husband was because I was fully consumed with work and was not pursuing any of my own passions. Currently, our marriage feels super healthy and I think that is largely to do with the fact that we both are pursuing our passions outside of work. Not only do we each have our own side projects we are working on, we also just wrapped up training for a marathon together.  This shared goal of completing our first marathon and qualifying for Boston definitely brought us closer together. As I mentioned in my last post on the marathon, it was an amazing feeling to literally be cheering each other on as we passed each other on the bridge.

4. Pray Together (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It) 

They say you shouldn’t go to sleep mad at each other.  I can see the benefit in this, but to be fully honest, sometimes sleep is what is needed for us to resolve an argument the next morning.  We have found that when we do try to resolve something before bed, it often just becomes worse. For us, the phrase that makes more sense is don’t go to sleep without praying together.  Lance prays aloud for us every single night. We have done this from the very beginning of our marriage. The key here is to do this regardless of how you are feeling. If it was up to me and my heart, there would have been many nights where praying together would not have happened due to my own pride and selfishness.  When I am mad, my gut reaction is to turn my back and disengage. When I am mad, praying together is the last thing I want to do. The Lord knew what He was doing when he gave me Lance as a husband. Lance has this amazing ability to do the right thing even when his emotions tell him otherwise. Even on the nights when I turn my back and give him the silent treatment, he flips me over, takes my hand out of my firm angry, arm cross and prays for us.  How thankful I am for a husband that ignores my stubbornness and still is persistent in prayer.  

Happy 4 years, LMC! I am so thankful for our marriage and this beautiful life we are building together.  

More Than a Marathon

26.2.  This is the number that has pushed me out the door.  It’s the number that reminded me of my strength and endurance that I thought I left behind in college. It’s also the number that filled my postpartum days with rhythm, cadence, hope and a sense of purpose.  Don’t get me wrong. Being a mother to Hudson is purpose enough, but training for a marathon gave me something that was just for me. It pushed me to prioritize my own sanity and well-being. It gave me goals. It gave me something beyond changing diapers and making meals.  In many ways, the choice to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon, allowed me to finally feel more like myself.

I get it.  Running a marathon might not be your postpartum remedy.  Maybe for you it looks like going on that yoga retreat that you have been dreaming up.  Or drafting that book idea that has been roaming in your head for years. Or taking up gardening, cooking, knitting.  Whatever it might be, I am convinced that as new mothers, it is essential for us to find something beyond our roles as moms, wives, and workers. Find the thing you are most passionate about and chase after it.  It is so easy to say, I will pursue that passion when the kids are older, when I have more time, when I actually sleep through the night. A few months ago, before I signed up for the marathon, that is exactly what I said.  Running a marathon doesn’t make sense now.  I have a baby, I barely sleep, I will run one later. The more I thought about it, later was not going to be any easier to train for a marathon.  Later, likely means, more kids, more schedules to balance, and even less sleep. I realized that right now, was actually probably the simplest our life will be.  Now was the time for 26.2. Life would not become any less crazy if I waited. Postpartum life is exhausting and draining, and in a lot of ways it might not feel like the best time to pursue that passion project that has been brewing in the back of your mind; however, I am convinced this is exactly the right time.  Pursue that passion. Set personal goals for yourself. And chase after it wholeheartedly. 

The marathon has been much more than just a marathon.  In a lot of ways, it was never really about the marathon.  Not fully. It was about me. It was about that girl I used to be.  The one that was competitive and driven and passionate. It was about running back to her.  It was about getting back some of those traits I seemed to let go of for a bit. It was about re-meeting her, but also about showing her this new woman I have become.  It was getting back some of the fierceness I had let go of, and showing the old me the strength and confidence new motherhood has given her. In a lot of ways, it was a blending of worlds.  It was never about getting back to that girl I was in high school or college. I would never want that! My life now is a million times more full and beautiful; however, it was about grabbing back that thing that drove me and pushed me and made me better.  It was about reaching out back to running and squeezing it to fit back into my current life of diapers and nursing and baby snuggles.

It hit me the most about how different my life is compared to when I used to compete and race, when the couple days before the race, I was concerned not about a sore hamstring or calf, but my chest, specifically my left breast.  My body seemed to just not want to give up on producing milk, so even though I stopped nursing nearly a week before the race, one side was entirely still engorged leading up to the race. And I was freaking out about it. Every time I ran, it hurt.  After prayers and hot showers, it ended up being fine for the race, but this is the perfect picture about how things change. And I love this change. I still can compete and race and train my heart out, but there are realities of my life, like milk supply issues, that keep me grounded and remind me that running is a good thing I can still enjoy and pursue, but it is not the thing. Being a good mother is my focus right now, but that doesn’t mean I need to throw out my other passions. It just will look different.

As I ran the marathon yesterday, I felt very proud. Of course, I was proud to finish it and finish well with a 6th place female finish and a sub-3 hour time, but my pride went far beyond that.  I was proud I stayed committed to the intense training even when my life of less sleep and chasing after a toddler, is not the best training conditions. I was proud that I could run competitively and put myself in the race, but still smile throughout.  I was proud of those countless runs with the jogger that made both my arms and mind stronger. I was proud of those longer tempo runs where I pushed myself into uncomfortable places and was reminded that I still have speed left in these legs of mine. I was proud of those 20 milers completed in Malaga Cove and always hitting the mileage even when my legs wanted to stop.  

In the unpredictability of motherhood, it is nice to have one thing that you can control.  While racing and running can also be unpredictable, you still have control leading up to the race.  You have the control whether you complete the runs or not. You have control of the pace. You have control of the moments you push yourself and the ones you hold back on.  Those first few months postpartum, I was drowning and overwhelmed by the fact that I felt I had lost all control. I could not control when or how he wanted to eat. I could not control when he slept.  I could not control when he decided to cry. This loss of control brought me down on my knees to the bathroom floor. Motherhood has been my very needed lesson and reminder that I am not the one in control, God is.  It showed me how I needed to let go of my very tight grip on things. While my ever-controlling heart learned to let go of things outside of my control through motherhood, running reminded me that there are certain things I can still have control of.  I still have control of my attitude and whether I step outside and push myself or not. Attitude and miles. I have control of that.  

So if you have recently entered postpartum life and are drowning, like I was, I hope this can serve as encouragement to sign up for something! It doesn’t need to be a marathon, but it could be! Sign up for any race distance. Sign up for that retreat I mentioned above.  Sign up for that hip hop class. Sign up for that calligraphy class or that ceramics class or that knitting class. Sign up for something that fills you up and reminds you of your unique giftings.  You are more than a mother. You are more than a wife. You are a daughter of the King and he made you with a great purpose. Live out that purpose. Sometimes to follow that purpose and His will, all it takes is signing-up.  He will take it from there.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Mom

We all have different experiences when it comes to motherhood, but for me, becoming a mom was a million times more draining, sad, and dark than I ever would have imagined. The commercials definitely do not paint motherhood in this type of way. They show the pretty parts. Just like social media. We seem to mostly scroll through happy babies and joy-filled mamas. And these are definitely parts of motherhood, but there is so, so much more. There are the nightly crying sessions (by both baby and mama). There are the deep and real feelings of rejection and failure when your baby screams every time you are just trying to feed them. There is that chart you are obsessively tallying how many wet diapers your baby had. There is the paranoia that keeps you on edge every minute of every day. There is the fear that they are not getting enough milk as you drive again to the hospital to weigh them, hoping for just a few more ounces. There is the pressure, the anxiety, the uncertainty.

A year ago, I was in a dark place. You wouldn’t have been able to really tell by the smiley pictures I posted on social media, but internally, I was struggling. I was utterly exhausted from pumping and nursing and nipple shields. My brain was bursting with feeding schedules and numbers of wet diapers and ounces of weight gain. They told me it would be hard, but I think this is the problem. Hard is just not specific enough. Hard I could handle. Hard is like a 20 mile run. It’s hard and painful, but you know that you’ve got it. You have the experience and miles prior to back you up. It hurts but deep down you know you will hit that 20th mile. That is hard. I can do hard. But motherhood is not even comparable. As a new mom, you don’t have those previous miles as back up. It is all new and you absolutely question: Am I made for this? Can I handle it? Can I make it to that 20th mile? Motherhood is much more than hard and exhausting. I feel like that was a lot of what I heard. And my thought was okay, but I can handle not sleeping as much. I did it in college, I can do it now. But here’s the thing. It is more than just not sleeping. It is the physical element of it all. It is the rocking, the shushing, the nursing for hours on end. That is what makes it all so exhausting, forget the barely sleeping part.

I really wish someone more specifically told me how it was going to be hard, not just that it is hard. Because like I said, 20 miles is hard, but rejection, failure, lack of sleep is something entirely different.

While Lance and I did a fair amount of research and preparation before Hudson’s arrival, there was still so much that happened in those first couple months that I was mentally not prepared for. So, if you are a soon-to-be mama and have done the big things they tell you to do, like taking a birth class and buying all the latest baby gadgets, but haven’t thought as much about what life will actually be like with your new baby and changed body, this is for you. Here are the 5 things I wish someone told me before becoming a mother:

1. You will spend HOURS Each Day Nursing

In one of the baby books I read, there was a section about breastfeeding schedules. It was this neat, laid-out chart. It specifically stated the feeding times and stated how the baby will spend about 15 minutes nursing on each side. I can clearly remember reading this a couple weeks before Hudson was born and thinking, I got this, this will be easy. I will just follow this schedule, set a timer, and we will be good. While this book had a lot of helpful information, the way it made out breastfeeding to be was so far off from my experience. I was absolutely unprepared for the physical demands of it all. I was unprepared for how I would feel when Hudson refused to latch and screamed and wanted nothing to do with me. No lactation class can fully prepare you for that type of rejection and failure. Even when things got a bit sorted after seeing a lactation consultant a couple times, I still was completely overwhelmed with the way nursing quickly took over my life. All my decisions seemed to revolve around it. It controlled what I could eat, good-bye butter and ice cream. It controlled what I wore, no more buttons and dresses. It limited me. I knew every couple hours I would be tied to the glider for close to an hour. It would not be relaxing or peaceful or sweet. There would be tears, sore muscles, and milk everywhere. Breastfeeding in those early days was way more of a time commitment than I was prepared for. I wish I knew. A year later, it is entirely different, Hudson nurses for about 5 minutes. It now is sweet and peaceful and comfortable. And this is the stage that is easy to remember and pass on to others; however, it definitely was not always like this. It changes quickly, but if you are an expecting mama and plan to nurse, try to get mentally prepared for both the physical demands of nursing and the time you will invest. It is 100% worth the struggle and the time and the initial discomfort, but know that it takes time for both you and baby to learn and get into a good rhythm. Be patient. Don’t set timers, just listen to your baby, they will let you know when they are done. And watch lots and lots of tv, or have something to help pass the time.

2. You Will Become Obsessed with Poop

If you look back on my camera roll to a year ago, you will find lots of pictures of Hudson’s poop. I needed evidence to show to his pediatrician to try and figure out why he was so fussy and uncomfortable all the time. I felt like a scientist when it came to baby poop. I was obsessed with color, texture, frequency. I can specifically remember many of my google searches leading me back to this nice chart. I had no idea I would care so much or be so interested in someone else’s poop. You become a parent and suddenly you care about things you never thought you would. Prior to baby, I had no idea how much the poop could tell you. For us, it was the mucus and strands of blood that helped us figure out the cow’s milk allergy Hudson had, which is a very common allergy, especially for C-section babies. I say all this as a reminder that your baby will likely not poop in the way you expect. There might be days where there are no tally marks for poopy diapers and you will be freaking out. There also might be days where there are tons of poopy diapers but there is also blood, and you will be freaking out even more. This may sound strange, but I do wish I had done a bit more research of the types of baby poop in terms of color and texture. I think this would have saved some valuable time and stress.

3. You Will Also Become Obsessed with Ounces

I had no idea how stressed I would get over Hudson’s weight gain. In my head, it was all pretty simple. Baby is hungry, baby eats from mom, baby gains good weight. This is seriously what I was expecting and again this expectation was far from our reality. Baby might be hungry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will eat the way you want them to. You will do everything you can just to get them the ounces they need. You will use syringes, supplemental nursing systems (SNS), really anything to get them milk to get them to gain weight. I did know that babies lost weight in hospital, but I had no idea how much they could lose in such a quick amount of time. In two days Hudson was already down 10% of his body weight. I also was unaware at how his weight loss would feel like entirely my fault. I felt so terrible in the hospital. I felt like I wasn’t giving my baby enough nutrients and that it was all my fault. If you choose to exclusively breastfeed and do not supplement with formula, it can feel like a ton of pressure on yourself to make sure your baby is gaining enough weight. I became a bit of a crazy person when it came to ounces. I would drive to the hospital every week to weigh him. I would weigh him, then nurse him, then weigh him again. I would quickly do the math in my head to see how many ounces of milk he took from me. This may sound crazy, but this was my life those first couple months. I am so happy I was able to nurse Hudson, but for someone with my type of personality, it was really difficult not knowing how many ounces of milk he drank per feeding. This little method of weighing and subtracting the two weights, helped calm my anxiety. Just know that as a new mom, you brain will think only in ounces. Your life will temporarily revolve around the ounces. Just embrace it. Pretty soon, they will be hit the double digits in weight and your worries and concerns will drastically decline.

4. You Will Not Feel Normal

Every time I sneezed or laughed I would have a sharp pain on my C-section incision. I dreaded when I felt a sneeze coming on and I tried to avoid laughter, which sadly was not very difficult in that first month. My experience is slightly different since I had a C-section, but I was surprised at how long it took for my body to recover and feel normal again. I definitely had a mindset that I would bounce back super fast. I am young, healthy and tough. I can give birth and get back to normal life. I don’t need that much recovery time. I will be good. This is what I told myself, but I was so wrong. It doesn’t matter if you are 24 and in good shape, having a baby is trauma on your body. You will not be the same after. And you definitely will not feel normal in that first month. It took me a solid four months to begin to feel like myself again. And if I am really honest, it hasn’t been until recently, like a year later, that I have felt really normal. I can leave the house with just a backpack with wipes and a snack and I know we will be good. This confidence takes time. It is a huge mental and physical adjustment. It takes a lot of getting used to, but you do hit your normal again, it is just a new normal. Last week I ran my workout in my sports bra, no shirt. This is a big deal. In college, this was normal. If it was hot, I would be running in just a sports bra. I also had abs, not really 6 of them, but I had a solid 4. Let’s just say postpartum life did not give me any pack of abs and there was absolutely no way I would be running in just a sports bra. And here’s the thing, last Wednesday, it was humid, I had 4 hard mile repeats, and I was wearing a long sleeve (the clouds deceived me). I went to the bathroom and I had a choice. Suffer in my long sleeve or just not care and rock the postpartum look. To be fair, my body has gotten back into a similar shape as I was pre-baby (definitely less abs, though). While my stomach and everything doesn’t look that much different, it is more of an internal feeling. I felt so insecure, timid and unsure of myself as I left the bathroom stall with my sports bra on. I tell this story because I think it’s important. The things we used to do all the time, the way we felt about ourselves and our bodies, will forever be changed. We are not the same, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still run in sports bras. I get it, that might not be your thing, but don’t be afraid to do the things before baby. Maybe for you it’s that bikini stuffed at the bottom of the drawer or that dress gathering dust in the closet. It might look and feel slightly different, but there is no reason postpartum you can’t rock it.

5. You’ve Got This

You’ve got this. You do. It might not feel like it in the moment, but you will figure it out. Your baby will get enough milk, however you choose to feed your baby. They will grow and gain enough weight. They will have normal poops, sort of. All those little worries and daily anxiety attacks will eventually begin to fade. You were made for this job. There is no better mom for this child than you. You can do it. I wish I could of told all this to myself a year ago. I am not even sure I would of believed myself. There are some really hard days in those early months. It is easy to question if you were made for this role, but you were. God knows what He is doing. He has you where He wants you. He will equip you. Trust His plan. It might look very different from your expectations, but He knows exactly what He is doing. You’ve got this because He’s got it.

10 Reasons I Love MOMS Club

As I have already written a lot about, motherhood is hard work. It takes a village. You need a team, a community, a tribe behind you. In the first few months, I tried to prove I could do it all on my own. I tried to prove to God, myself, my husband, and those random strangers that I was supermom. Help? No, I got this on my own. Even in that very first month, after still recovering from a C-section, I wanted to show everyone that I was fine. It is funny looking back, but reading my journal from a year ago some of the things I was doing in those first few weeks were silly. I lifted the car seat on my own, even though I could literally feel the strain on my new incision. I cleaned out the entire refrigerator, I reorganized the pantry, and I cleaned our kitchen counters way more thoroughly than I do now. I took Hudson out on way too many outings, all again in an attempt to prove (mostly to myself) that I was still living my normal life. I could do all the same things I used to, I kept telling myself. I was trying to do it all on my own. I am not exactly sure why, but I very strongly felt this need to show everyone how capable I was. I think part of the reason was that I was staying at home. If I was leaving my job as a teacher to fully focus on being at home, well then I better be the best mom I can possibly be. Those first couple months I drove myself (and probably Lance) insane. I isolated myself to the point of balling on the bathroom floor. If you have read a lot of my posts, this scene on the bathroom floor always seems to crop up in my writing. It was a literal low. It was July 29th. I was exhausted from a day of again trying to prove to the world that I had it all together. It was yet another night of failed breastfeeding. Another night of pumping, and I was about to lose it. I was losing it. I am thankful for that bathroom floor, because in my head that was the turning point. Things got better from that point. I had my moment of sulking on the floor, but then I got up and I began to let go of the things out of my control. I also found community through my local MOMS Club and this helped me for the first time not feel fully alone. Those first couple months I was constantly googling, constantly on all these different mom and breastfeeding forums. In some sense this was helpful, but there is nothing quite like an actual community of real moms that you can connect with. There are so many local mom groups and classes that you can join. While MOMS Club is more geared towards stay-at-home moms, there are so many resources and groups for all types of moms. Here is a resource from Motherly of 10 amazing mom groups. I can only write what I know and that is my own experience with MOMS Club. And my experience has been so positive. Joining the club has been hands down one of the best things I did in Hudson’s first year. It was a game changer. It allowed me to meet others moms that were so kind and nonjudgmental. It allowed me to have activities to occupy my time during the day. It allowed Hudson the opportunity to interact with babies and older kids. It ultimately helped me get off that bathroom floor and feel so much less alone. So, if you also find yourself in a similar place I was in on July 29th, find a group of people that can remind you that you are not alone and that you’ve got this. I feel thankful to have community within our church, but I am also thankful for the club for giving me a group of women that have also been in my same exact place of struggling with this new stay-at-home life.

Since I love lists so much, here is a list of the 10 reasons I love my MOMS Club.

1. There is always an event or activity to do

Every month, there is a calendar of events full of activities! There is basically an event every single day of the week. This has been so helpful to have set activities to go to for our daily outings. On days when I have no idea what to do, I look at the calendar and know that something fun is happening. In the early months, it was so helpful to have a reason to get out of the house. It made me feel less alone because I knew there would be other moms and kids there as well. By joining the club, I immediately had a calendar of things to do and amazing ladies and kids to do them with.

2. I have met many friends

I was used to having my work friends that I could eat lunches with and chat with every day. It was a weird adjustment to lose that. The club gave me a group of friends that I now can also eat lunches and chat with. These lunches just look different now. They often are picnic-style in a park. I am thankful that even though I am staying at home, I can still have a community of work friends, aka, mom friends.

3. Hudson has met many friends

The club has also been a great way for Hudson to socialize and meet other babies around his age and also be around older kids. I can so clearly remember one play date in particular where I was so touched by all the older kids being so kind to little, 4-month old Hudson. We were at the park and they were all surrounding him and giving him such sweet attention. It was in that moment that I felt like we were exactly where we were supposed to be. I have loved seeing how all the older kids have become such great friends through MOMS Club. I can’t wait for Hudson to make amazing friendships with all the other babies his age.

4. It is a Greate Value

This is a more trivial reason, but some of the different mom groups and classes can be really expensive. MOMS Club costs just a yearly due of $30. The club offers a value so much greater than 30 dollars. It has been such a valuable resource and community.

5. It is Local

I love how there are so many chapters available based on where you are living. It is really nice to be part of a group of people that all live in the same zip code. It makes it super convenient to attend the different events because most of them are just 10-15 minutes away. It was our neighbor just a few houses down the street that originally told me about MOMS Club. I am so thankful she did! It has been great to feel like I am more apart of our local community through getting to better know our neighbors.

6. It is Diverse

One of my favorite parts of the MOMS Club that I am a part of is how diverse the group is. I love that it feels very much like a melting pot. Diversity is very much encouraged and welcomed here. It is so great to have a group full of women of different colors, backgrounds and perspectives.

7. It is More Than Just Play Dates

The club is much more than park play dates. I love that there are a variety of other things offered through the club. From monthly general meetings that usually involve a speaker or a topic to discuss to parties and events specifically for the moms. There are mom’s nights out, holiday parties, and seasonal parties for the whole family. I love being part of something that encompasses so many elements. I love how it also helps me get out of the house just for myself to be with other moms and enjoy time together without kids.

8. It is Structured

Along with missing my work lunches, it was the structure of the work week that I also really missed. I really appreciate how official and structured MOMS Club is. There are the monthly general meetings, the weekly emails sent out with reminders of upcoming events and there is a board made of a few members that lead and make sure the club is organized and runs smoothly. While I never was part of the student body government in high school, I love how being part of the club feels like I am part of something that is governed and structured. The meetings are called to order. There is a president and treasury. There is an agenda and a budget. There is a newsletter. There is an installation dinner. For someone like me, bringing a little structure to the chaos of mom life is very much welcomed.

9. It is Easy to get Involved

As an extension to my previous point, the club is structured in such a way that makes it very easy to feel involved and part of the community. There is lots of room and flexibility to utilize your gifting to help support the club. You can be involved in the club in big ways, like serving on the board. Or, you can be involved by occasionally hosting a play date or event. There are also coordinating positions where you can be in charge of organize a type of event each month, for example, Hands On Play Dates, Mommy Time, or Baby Play Dates.

10. It Celebrates Motherhood

Probably one of my very favorite parts of the whole club. I love how I have found a group of ladies that all fully embrace and celebrate both the challenges and joys of motherhood. Becoming a mom has been the very best job of my life and I feel so thankful for MOMS Club for giving me a community that validates and celebrates our job as being mamas. From monthly events just for moms and the mystery mom gift exchange, I feel celebrated for everything I do as a mom and also celebrated for who I am when I don’t have a baby on my hip.

If you’re reading this and thinking: I need this in my life. Here is a link to the MOMS Club website to get more information of the club in your area!

Summer Activities with a 1-Year Old

It is officially summer! Summer has a different meaning for everyone. For some of you, it might not feel that different because you still have to work. For the teachers, it is a glorious time off, but if you have little ones, it is an adjustment of figuring out a new routine. For stay-at-home moms, summers can become more work as you adjust to having your older kids at home more often. Regardless of your feelings towards summer, my hope is that wherever you find yourself, whether that be a house packed with little children, moving out your last child to college and about to be empty nesters, or hands full with a 1-year old who is in that awkward in-between phase of desiring independence, but still being wobbly and out of control; you can enjoy it and soak in as much sunshine as possible. I can only write from where I am and that currently is being at home with that wobbly and out of control 1-year old. I am finding this phase to be a lot of fun as he is becoming a little person, but it also has been a challenge because he is still at a place where he is not quite that active toddler that can do more things on his own. He thinks he is, but he is not quite there. He is not yet walking, so wants to crawl when we are out, which often results in very dirty hands. I have been struggling with finding the right activities to occupy him with. When I search for summer activities with a toddler, I have found that a lot of the ideas seem to be a few months ahead of him. So, if you are with me, and also find yourself in this awkward in-between phase of baby-toddler, I want to give you a list of 5 ideas of things to do this summer. Most of these things are not revolutionary, but hopefully it can give you some inspiration if you are feeling stuck. I am finding especially as he is getting older, the best for both of us often involve getting out of the house. While especially as a new mom, getting out the door can be a real challenge. So, if you are in a place where getting out of the house a ton just doesn’t feel possible, that is absolutely okay. Give yourself grace. Take baby steps. I just had a great conversation with another mom this past week about the pressure the sun brings. The weather doesn’t always match our mood. For me, I am in a season where I am welcoming the sun. I want to soak it all in and be outside, but it is very likely that you are reading this and the sun coming out feels like more pressure to get out. Maybe for you winters are easier because there are more excuses to stay inside. Wherever you are, I hope you can try one of these ideas and if not, give yourself a lot of grace. There is a whole lot of fun to be had at home too!

5 Fun Summer Activities with a 1-Year Old

1. Go to a baseball game

I get it, MLB games can be expensive, especially when your little one might not be the most focused on the game. But, the nice thing about going with a little one is they won’t mind if you don’t get the best seats; it is more about the experience. They will love the people, the lights, the colors. I would also take advantage of going to the ball park before they turn 2, so you don’t need to buy them a ticket! We recently took Hudson to his first game at Yankee Stadium. He had a blast. A major tip if you choose to take young kids to a game is to check and see if they give out “first game” certificates. Someone informed us about this at the game. We went to the guest services office and within seconds Hudson had a personalized certificate. This was an amazing souvenir that was totally free! I believe a lot of stadiums give out these certificates, so be sure to ask or research it for the specific stadium you will be attending. We are located in Los Angeles, so I am linking here Dodger Stadium’s policy. Based on the website, it looks like you need to email a request for the certificate beforehand!

2. Picnic at the Park

Take advantage of the nice weather and instead of the same old lunch routine with food flying from the high chair, take it out to a park. Some of you reading this may be thinking I am so sick of the park! And I get that feeling too, so maybe this summer you could try some new and exciting parks that you have not been to. You can make an outing and adventure out of it. Parks that have wildlife and ponds are always a plus because it adds an extra layer of interest. If you are local to the South Bay Area, Wilderness Park in Redondo Beach and Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach are two parks we recently went to. Both of these parks have a pond with turtles, ducks and coy fish.

3. Visit a Farmer’s Market

Here in Southern California there are tons of farmer’s markets. This is a great outing with a one-year old. Hudson loves sampling the fruit with me! This can be a fun way to get your kids excited about trying different kinds of foods they might not be used to. Take a look at the different markets in your area and try to find one that is especially kid-friendly. I love going to the farmer’s market in Manhattan Beach because it very much catered to little ones. There is a train ride that runs every week at the market. It is just $2 and it is a fun activity for Hudson. There is also a balloon man and face painting!

4. Beach, Pool, Splash Pad

The beach with a newborn was not always the most enjoyable experience for me, but this summer, the beach is much more relaxing and fun. Hudson is so happy when we are at the beach. Sand toys are already a huge hit with him. He doesn’t really use them correctly, but he loves holding the shovel and different tools. The pool and splash pad are two other fun water activities. You can sign your toddler up for a swim lesson or you can find a pool and just spend some time getting them used to the water. At this age, I am not even sure it is worth spending money on swim lessons. We have a pool, so I am planning on spending some time with him in the pool getting him to enjoy the water. We just went into the pool for the first time this summer and we used the Swimways Baby Spring Float. It worked well and he seemed to really enjoy it. Taking a visit to a splash pad is another fun way to get your little one enjoying water. For us, Hudson is still not walking, but the splash pad will be especially fun when he can walk on his own.

5. Try a Local Class with Kid Pass

When you get tired of the typical park days, it can be fun to give your toddler a new experience. I recently discovered Kid Pass, which is very similar to the Class Pass model, but geared specifically towards kids and families. You can do a free month trial and get 5 credits to use at the different classes and facilities they offer. I just tried it for the first time yesterday and it was awesome. We went to a Gymboree class and Hudson had the best time. Not to mention, it was totally free! He got to interact with babies his age and he got to release lots of energy. Not to mention, it was fun for me and he was entirely entertained and happy for a full hour. Kid Pass is a great way to try classes out without a huge investment or risk. It is a great resource to get tangible ideas of things to do to get out of the house.

And if that doesn’t satisfy, here are a few other things we plan to do this summer: visit daddy at work, visit other family members we don’t typically see as much, take a train ride to San Diego, Knott’s Berry Farm (AAA has a discounted rate and kids are free under three), visit the zoo, visit the aquarium, visit a children’s museum, make ice cream at home, take a nature hike, attend free summer concerts, and play dates with our MOMS Club (check out my post this coming Saturday for more about MOMS Club).

Like I said, I know, nothing revolutionary, but if you are feeling overwhelmed with how to occupy a very active and energized one-year old this summer, I hope this can give you a little inspiration. Also, remember, you are not a camp counselor. Don’t feel crazy pressure to have every second of every day planned. Part of the fun of summer is freedom and rest. Make sure there is also a lot of free and restful days. Happy summer!