During my pregnancy, I would stress out just thinking about having two little munchkins in diapers. It’s been a little over 2 weeks, and so far, it hasn’t been terrible yet. I realize I may be setting myself up for a huge disappointment by admitting that two under two hasn’t ruined my life yet, but maybe it’s my perspective. You see, it’s not that I’m not exhausted (I totally am) or stressed out (also, yes) or overwhelmed (regularly), it’s that I realize this crazy, sleep deprived, wild time is only temporary. Eventually, my newborn won’t be a newborn anymore. She’ll be an infant, then a toddler, and before I know it, she and her older brother will be at school. I can’t get this time back, so I’m staying in the moment and enjoying it.
A lot of my mommy friends with children the same age are easily defeated. I don’t blame them; it isn’t easy to be a mom of one and with two it doesn’t get easier, that’s for sure. But I want to share a few things that keep me sane, in effort to help others who may be feeling like their life has suddenly become too much to handle.
1. Take time for yourself
Yes, I know sometimes this is not possible. However, perhaps it’s best to redefine what “time for yourself” means. It doesn’t have to be a spa trip or girls outing (although both are nice and highly desirable). It can be much simpler than that and it is essential to your well-being and stress maintenance. For me, time to myself means a shower – preferably once a day, but every other day is not the end of the world. I lock myself in the bathroom, turn the sink faucet on full force to drown out the baby and toddler noise (because, let’s face it, my husband is 110% capable of watching the kids but if I can hear them, I feel that mom guilt/obligation to rush) and warm up the shower. I splurge and spent that extra cash on soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and anything else I need to pamper myself in house. I also bring a bottle of water, a snack, and some form of entertainment in the bathroom in the event that both kids are asleep. Yeah, I’ll blog or catch up on Grey’s Anatomy in the bathtub. Although my showers are usually less than 25 minutes, I feel rejuvenated and mentally reset.
A few of my favorite bath/shower indulgences:
Trader Joe’s sells a green tea soap from France that is amazeballs, but this one is good, too. (TJ’s is cheaper, BTW) It smells like you’re at the spa, and it’s great for removing the toxins from your skin.
2. Eat well
Yes, we all feel the pressure to eat healthy and lose the baby weight. Yes, it can be challenging to make meals while watching children. But, being honest with yourself and realistic at the grocery store can take a lot of stress out of the whole food situation, and can help you avoid ordering costly and unhealthy takeout 5/7 nights a week. A few of my favorite food staples are KIND bars, protein bars, deli meats, sliced/pre-cut cheese and veggies, and pre-made salads or wraps. You can make these yourself or purchase at the store (Trader Joe’s has a great, affordable selection of ready to eat salads and wraps). I keep track of my food with My Fitness Pal, which keeps me accountable about my food choices, but eating well starts at the grocery store. Eating well doesn’t need to be difficult. You just need to plan ahead. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll feel much better if you feed your body right instead of resorting to junk all the time.
3. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can make you tired. It can make you overeat. It can mess with your supply if you’re breastfeeding. Basically, dehydration is the worst. Invest in a reusable water bottle or cup/straw combo and refill it regularly. Coconut water is also great if you’re feeling really dehydrated and tired – it has tons of potassium and electrolytes. It’s so much better for you than Gatorade – and it tastes yummy, too! I mean, it comes in chocolate. Hello, healthy indulgence.
4. Be active
It’s easy to park yourself on the couch with the baby, but you’ll only feel more tired if you simply stay put. If your baby wants to be held constantly, invest in a baby carrier. A few favorites are ring slings and soft structured carriers like a Beco or Tula.
Beco Soleil. At $135, it’s more affordable than the Tula, but absolutely worth the investment. Babies love it. It doesn’t require an infant insert. It comes in neutral, dad-friendly, gender equal colors. What’s not to love?
5. Force yourself to leave home
I know, I know. The idea of taking your baby or children out of the house can be scary and incredibly stressful. I’ll admit I get serious anxiety just thinking about leaving home with both the kids, even if my husband is along to help. But, even though the whole process can be a pain, I’m always happier when I’ve left my apartment and got some fresh air and real world interaction. Go to the grocery store, the mall, a park, or just a walk down the street. You have to rip off the bandaid and just do it.
6. Stop being cheap
Spend the extra money on things that will make your life more convenient. As much as I hate seeing the bill or total at the store, I’m grateful for every little thing I’ve invested in that makes my life simpler. For example, single cup coffee for my Tassimo costs a lot more than brewing a pot of coffee, but sometimes I really don’t have 3 minutes. I have maybe 30 seconds, and I’m glad I have the option to just pop in a disc and hit start. I’ve also splurged on baby goods, like the 4Moms MamaRoo, 4Moms Breeze, 4Moms Infant Tub and Britax B-Ready, to have ease of use and quality of product. I don’t have to fight with my playard/pack n play every time I want to disassemble or assemble it. It literally takes one hand. My stroller was expensive, but it holds both my kids, folds up easily, and I can still fit a diaper bag and two cups of coffee on the thing. My husband is very tech savvy, and as far as home entertainment goes, we’ve invested in that heavily. I now consider TiVo and AppleTV to be essential for all new parents. Let’s face it, there will be days when you can’t go out or don’t want to – or it’s after midnight and you’ve finally got both kids asleep and can actually watch adult entertainment. In those moments, you’ll be glad you recorded the last 7 episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians or can watch Game of Thrones from start to finish with HBO Go.
7. Let go of the mom guilt
You are a mom, yes, but you are also still a person – an adult person – who is allowed to enjoy kid-free time. If you have friends or family nearby who are trustworthy and willing to take the kids off your hands for a few hours, let them. Go out to eat with your partner. Go have coffee with a friend. Go take a yoga class. Or go home and take a nap. And do not feel guilty about it. You’re allowed. In fact, it’s encouraged. Your kids will not miss you (that much. At least not as much as you miss them). Your kids will still be alive and demanding when you return. If you don’t have anyone nearby to help out, please, please, please go on care.com and interview potential babysitters/nannies. Everyone needs a break from time to time. Do not allow yourself to be held captive by the tiny humans. You are not their prisoner, no matter what they say or how you feel some days.
I realize these tips are pretty general, but I promise you if you take my advice, you will feel better. And happier moms are better moms. So, take the steps to be a brighter, cheerier mom. Your kids (and your partner) will thank you for it.