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6 things I wish I knew before baby number 2/ Tips for new moms

Maybe it wouldn’t have taken the crazy out of the crazy…

 But as I learned these tips along the way they helped make things a little easier.

A letter to self:

I know everyone says that two is easier than one, but remember that a newborn is still a newborn and will be a challenging season regardless.

1)      Tackle one thing at a time:

The baby is screaming for food, Asher is getting into trouble, your bladder is full, and your water bottle is empty. OH and you’re thirsty.

They will vie for you attention all at once.

It will be overwhelming.

Tackle one thing at a time: 

  • First, put the baby down in a swing so she’s safe.
  • Put Asher in play room and put a distraction on for him like Curious George.  Close the door.
  •  Go to the bathroom.
  •  Fill your water,
  • And then take baby Cailyn to her nursery where it’s dark and calm. Take ten or twenty minutes to nurse and calm her to sleep.

 2)      Involve Asher:

  •  When baby Cailyn needs a diaper change, let him “help” by throwing the diaper away.
  • When baby Cailyn needs to nurse, give him a snack as well.

3)      Take short cuts:

Take off your super mom cape and take shortcuts where you can.

Yes, you have a bunch of cloth diapers you just bought, but you also have a bunch of disposables you could be using that will help lighten the load of the growing laundry pile.

It’s ok if you order take-out on those days when you really need it.

It’s ok to buy pre-cook roasted chicken from Harris Teeter,

and it’s ok if you don’t make your husband’s lunch every night (he can make his own or buy lunch and he’ll be totally cool with that).

And it’s so alright to order your groceries online instead of driving all the way to the Commissary, even if that means paying a little more.

It’s okay.

4)      Take breaks when you can, even if that means being creative:

If an hour long break seems impossible to take, be creative and take a quick drive to the grocery store. Alone.

When that isn’t going to happen, try this trick you have grown to love:

Give husband the baby, and let him watch both kids for ten or fifteen minutes (even if baby’s fussing), and go to the bathroom, shut the door, throw on some Pandora and do your nails.

You’ll be looking at them for the rest of the week feeling like you take good care of yourself even if you haven’t had a real shower all day.

5)      Let go of the “shoulds” because they likely won’t happen.

Ideally Asher should only be watching 30 minutes of t.v., but if he breaks the American Pediatrics standard of 2 hours max, that’s ok. He will likely hit the 3-4 hour mark.

It’s ok if he doesn’t meet the American Pediatrics standards of 30 minutes outside either.

It’s totally fine, because nothing is going to be the norm or how it “should be.”

6)      Be creative in how you make time for God:

 You’re going to feel overwhelmed at first because you’ll feel like you only have time for Cailyn.

You’ll be so tired you can’t concentrate on reading the bible.

You also won’t exactly have ample free time for scheduled “quiet times.”

But here’s some tips to fit Him in:

  • You can always have worship music on in the background so you can praise Him through the day, and it’s through praise you can become joyful and gain strength.
  • Make use of those late nights when you’re pacing the floor with the baby to pray and talk to Him. Pray for Cailyn, pray for your family, pray for everything and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

And just to encourage you, things do get better. You’re actually going to come out stronger, and more patient from all of this, and best of all, you’re going to gain a new level of reliance on God and compassion towards other Moms going through the craziness of it all.

Amanda.

Linking up with: It works for me Wednesday.

integrating your creative passions into mommyhood.

(Here’s my follow up post for move in your strengths- integrate your passions into mommy hood. While I spent one day, reading for ten minutes while Asher played outside (interrupted by supervising him of course) I needed to find a way to make the time go by quicker (in a good way) for our outside time together. Let this post act as a snap-shot into what it looked like for us).

Confession:

I’m not a huge fan of standing outside and watching my kiddo play in our back yard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being outside. It’s just that after a while it gets kind of boring merely supervising him. I usually try to engage with him, but he ends up wandering away, doing boy stuff, like getting dirty…

So a couple of times this week I moved in my strengths and we did a little painting together. Both times we went out shortly after I put baby number two down for a nap, so we could have a 45 min-1 hour-long window.

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Tip: Both times I covered Asher using an old t-shirt as an apron.

We did our “masterpieces” in the backyard to keep the mess out there and not inside. It was so much fun! I honestly believe kids make the best abstract art, not to mention hold amazing levels of creativity!

I got him involved by using twigs, leafs, his hands, bark, and whatever else he wanted to use; no rules, no limits, I just wanted to see how interesting he could make the texture on the canvases.

The time didn’t matter to me because it was so much fun, unlike when I’m merely supervising and become a clock-watcher.

At first I was tempted to jump online and look up a Pinterest craft to do, but I decided against it. Honestly, I think I like the idea of crafts more than actually doing them.

Instead I grabbed a couple of old painted-on canvases that I didn’t particularly care for and marched outside with a passion for painting and a Smasher at my side.* I stuck to craft and tempera paint instead of acrylic to keep it kid friendly and toxic free.

Day 1: We collaborated on both. I added the bark to the bright multi-colored canvas but he did most of the painting using everything but a brush. He pointed to where he wanted the color, and what color, and I squirted it on the canvas. He smashed away.

For the white canvas I decided to add a instagram photo to it.

Day 2: I didn’t care for the brightness of the multi-colored piece, and I tried to make it better by varnishing it. It didn’t work. So I had him put some white tempera paint over it. I think the white layer calms the brightness down nicely.

While we had the white paint handy, I had him make hand prints on some blank, dotted, embossed cards. Don’t you love how imperfect they are?

On the days I fought against moving in my strengths (let’s be honest, old habits die hard) I found trying to plow through my to-do list usually seemed more counter-productive than productive. At least with Asher being at his age, and as busy as he is, cleaning house while he’s awake doesn’t exactly happen.

I’m just floored at how much more fun this mom thing is when I integrate my passions with him. It engages both of us, and in the case of painting we have the bonus benefit of personalized and affordable art that looks awesome and holds fond memories.

For those who joined in on the challenge, how has it been going?

:),

Amanda.

*Smasher is our son Asher’s nickname.

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Try something radical today: move in your strengths.

This word came early one morning when I just needed  to “get it out” before the Lord. I needed to vent all the stuff I had been struggling with in my adjustment to two kids. This was one of the first mornings I finally felt I could just lay it out before Him in all its ugly imperfections:

I don’t like this. How can anyone really like this? 5 hours of sleep, minimal breaks ranging from 12-23 minutes, rushed showers, bad hair, always in I- need- a- shower -mode…the days last at a minimum of 12 hours, and just when I think I’m done at 8:00 pm I have Chris’ lunch to pack.*

Pause.

I miss enjoying life. I miss running. I miss being able to pursue things I love. I miss time to create, to paint, to read and to write whenever I want.

I had no idea how much sacrifice it would take. Maybe I could manage with one, but with two it seemed impossible. How do other moms do it?

I often found myself being frustrated more often than not. A familiar picture of me is running around the house looking for my cell-phone and water– as if a constant reminder of how unorganized and what a mess I am- so I can nurse the baby and not be parched or bored. Oh, and I have to pee and I’m super thirsty because I’m nursing all the time.

Frustration, anger, argh!

I don’t like this.

The constant mess, clutter and chaos? Not a fan Lord.

To-do lists that I write that never get done by the end of the day.

Drop the lists, completely change your approach and move in your strengths.

Artistic: Make art with your son, and use your imagination as you play with your son, create with Lego.

Athletic: Go for a walk with your kids, play tag with Asher, spin him, wrestle and work out with him in creative ways.

Cooking: Cook, even bake with your son. Have Jesus Culture going…have fun every moment.

Laughter: Laugh with both of your kids and make a point to laugh with him and her.

Read: Set a reading time with them…and 30 minutes where you can do some personal reading.

Style: Be you, dress how you want that allows for all the fun for  the day.

Clean up after yourself as you go. Give yourself grace and room for mistakes, diaper changes, feedings, tantrums and the like.

Let go of the other things, the other to-do lists. Let go.

I’ve been integrating my passions into motherhood, into the day-to-day, and while it’s probably a habit for many, it hasn’t been for me. I would work, and work, and work, and get frustrated at all that wasn’t getting done, and get frustrated at my absent-mindedness, loose everything –all- the- time persona.

While I’m not suggesting this approach should replace our much-needed mommy breaks away from the kids, I am saying it’s made a world of difference in my life. It’s made the difference between really enjoying being at home, to almost hating it (ok, pretty much hating it).

Maybe God didn’t make me super organized, detailed oriented, and meticulous, but that’s ok because my husband is. He fills my holes for me! I’m creative, athletic, and love to laugh, cook and bake, work on my wardrobe and have nice hair. That’s totally ok.

If you sounded like me, I dare you to try it.

What are your strengths? How can you integrate them (or how do you) into the daily routine of mommyhood?

Be encouraged,

Amanda.

*Totally a burden I put on myself. My husband never makes me make his lunch, I just like to, and feel like I should.

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I write this post not as an expert in sleep training, nor in providing a formulaic solution to calm your fussy baby to sleep. This is merely my story, about what worked for my baby. I know that our first baby, Asher, would not have taken to this method as easily, because we had tried some crying it out methods/Ferber methods in the past but failed. It wasn’t very successful until at 9 months when I was ready to try the cry it out method for real. Oh was it painful but effective, and after a week and half he could sleep through the night.

After Asher, I wanted to do things differently with Cailyn. I had always felt kind of badly for letting him cry before 6 months, and thought for sure I didn’t want to let her cry before then.

Well, she cried a lot.

Doctor said she had colic.

It seemed as if every hour she was awake she cried. Every evening my husband and I would spend from approximately 6:00 pm to 12:00 am pacing the floor to pacify her from having a complete blow out. She also didn’t sleep for very long for the little that she did.

Her regular routine was to sleep in the bassinet for half the night, and then not really sleep (but kind of sleep) for the second half of the night in our bed.

Co-sleeping just didn’t work for us. No one really got any quality sleep, including the baby. I suppose it worked for a little bit, but that was in the early-early weeks of complete desperation for just a wink of rest. I was always worried she’d either suffocate from our blankets or get rolled over on. Plus she pretty much pacified the entire time, and would need to be burped several times at night.

The real breakthrough for her fussiness came when we put her in her crib. Not the bassinet, not at night with us in our bed — in her crib. My instinct said she was tired. I was confident all her needs were met, and frankly I was tired from spending night after night pacifying an increasingly tired baby.

She cried for 30 minutes.

She was under 6 months.

Okay, she was under 3 months.

She fell asleep for two hours, I fed her. She fell asleep for 5 and half hours with no fussing in between. I fed her, and she went to sleep for another 5 hours. This was progress compared to 4 or 5 hours!

That next day, and for the next two weeks, she napped in her crib for a good 1-3 hours for each nap, and slept anywhere from 7-10 hours at night. She is still going strong with this, but her naps have shortened some to an hour, four times a day.

Believe me, I tried, and tried and tried to follow what the books say of “never letting them cry” to the point of utter, absolute exhaustion.

As it is, since breaking the supposed “rules” she is much happier, and has way more moments of quiet alertness. I’m happier! We’re all happier. I’ve even been able to have showers again without her screaming her guts out. In general, she cries a lot less, NOT MORE.

In the end, there comes a point when you need to draw a line in the sand, and realize that what the books say you should do really isn’t always best for your family and the overall happiness of the household. I decided to go with my instincts and exercise common sense for the greater good of my family, and it’s been infinitely better for everyone.

I respect that co-sleeping works for some, but for me I decided to go with my gut, and my gut said “put her in her crib.” I didn’t have to worry about suffocation or rolling over on her. I had a peace of mind and space (dare I say detachment!?).

The crib has provided healthy boundaries personally and in our marriage. Ironically, I feel more attached to her because of it and actually feel more sympathy for her when she cries (as oppose to when I was perpetually wearing her). She has done much better overall and is much less fussy since employing some of these detachment techniques.

Really, it came down to making a choice for us: continue pacing the floor every night from 6 pm – 12:00 am, only adding to her sleep debt and ours, or letting her cry for a little bit so she can get some rest, and so we could get some rest. We went with common sense and let her cry for a little bit so she could get the rest she needed.  After all, there does comes a point when lack of sleep is more detrimental to the babies health than a little crying (or even a lot in extreme cases).

After the first couple of nights she rarely cries more than ten minutes, and more often than not doesn’t cry at all. I make sure to do my part by looking for signs of tiredness (yawns, whining, lack of eye contact) before I start unwinding her by nursing and rocking her to sleep. She has a pattern of waking an hour later, so I fed her again, and then she falls asleep for 7-10 hours.

I’ve heard success stories using the complete opposite approach, but it just goes to show the unique differences of each baby and parent. I hope my story can offer an alternative voice and relief to any mom that’s been feeling discouraged by no-cry solutions not working out for them. Common sense is  perfectly fine to follow.

:),

Amanda.

 

 

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Using a wrap for the first several weeks in almost a perpetual way seemed at first amazing, because Cailyn seemed so much calmer. Of course, I found out very quickly that it wasn’t a cure-all, and she didn’t always want to be in there. Some days the swing worked, other days it was the fan…

I wanted to try baby wearing out of desperation to help calm my fussy/colicky baby, while having my hands free. I also have a toddler boy to look after at home. I had already learned that a wrap or sling was better for a growing infant’s body, so it sounded like a nice idea.

And it was.

Mostly.

It probably took me a mere few days to realize how much fun it wasn’t.  I was pregnant for 9 months; it’s kind of nice to have a break from that, and using the wrap kind of made me feel pregnant again (albeit much less painfully so). Car seats, swings, strollers, I don’t care if the “natural” crowd knock them as “containers”; they are nice to use too!

I want some freedom to hug Asher when he falls, hug friends and family when they want one; I’d like the freedom to work out. Plus, the wrap isn’t terribly supportive when I have to bend over, and deal with my active toddler. So, yes, it may provide some hands free aspects, but it’s not entirely true.

Anyways, I raved about it in the early days, recommending it to many other moms. I will say, I’d still like to use it with other babies (Lord willing), and I would still recommend it, but not as a perpetual thing. And really, “baby wearing” in its purest forms was meant in this context:

  • Your gestation period doesn’t last 9 months, but 18 months. Hope your back enjoys carrying a baby for an extra 9 months post-pregnancy!
  • If you need to tend to personal things, have someone else hold your colicky baby.
  • Let her  take her naps in there.

…All so you can be “in tuned” to the needs and rhythms of your baby. For that reason, and plenty of other helpful benefits, I really did feel sold to it, but in practice it really was not practical for my life style at all. I don’t have live in help, other than my husband who works full time. Our families both live very far away from us.

Actually trying to live up to the standards of baby wearing, I have learned is also very tiring. I also missed being able to have my arms free to hold Asher or to hug my husband and friends.

I still think parts of it are awesome. I love that when I’m at the grocery store, out running errands, or at a friend’s house, etc. she falls asleep in it nicely (usually). Plus, a lot of people treat you like you’re pregnant, which has its pluses; I found a lot of strangers were nice to me, and it really started conversations.

So, sure it didn’t cure her of her colic, nor did it seem practical at all to wear her ALL THE TIME- in fact I darn right didn’t stickin like it, and ironically I felt less attached to her- but, for me, a balance is what will work best. I want to keep using it, but as tool, and when I want to.

In the end, what really has helped calm her down, and make for a happier baby has been employing some detachment techniques, which I’ll get to in a later post. Ironically, it’s been the very thing that’s made me much more attached to her.

What has been your experience with baby wearing?

Be blessed,

Amanda.