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the mommyhood memos: baby steps to becoming a better mom

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

baby steps to becoming a better mom

I remember being single and looking at my stay-at-home-mom friends wondering what in the world they did all day long. I assumed they watched Ellen and Oprah {yeah, I could handle that!}, worked on their tan in the back yard while the kids were napping {yes please!}, browsed through lots of magazines {fun!}, and went shopping a lot {bring it!}.

And then I became a stay-at-home-mom for myself.

Now by the time I was married and on my way to babyville, I did know it wasn’t going to be exactly like the above description. {grin} By then I knew stay-at-home-moms worked very hard. (I had seen enough Oprah episodes myself to know that.) I knew they were often tired and often very busy. But the extent of it?

No idea.

So now, as a stay-at-home-mom by choice for the last six months, I’ve had enough time for reality to well and truly sink in.

You see, I never wanted to sit around all day and just watch TV… but I did think that being home would afford me the chance to do some of the things I didn’t have time for when working full-time... I was going to dust off my guitar and write a bit of music. I was going to work on that book. I was going to take a million photos of my baby and learn about digital photo editing. Oh yeah, and I was going to become a domestic goddess – immaculate house, yummy meals served up regularly, and maybe even some baking now and then.

Don’t worry, I’ve been grounded since those initial aspirations.

In fact, in the last six months I’ve managed to not do any of those things (aside from taking a million photos of my baby of course… there’s always time for that – duh).

At first I thought it was just because life with a newborn is crazy and tiring (everyone tells you that). But then my newborn was no longer a newborn so I couldn’t use that excuse any more. And then of course there were the sleep problems, the teething, the growth spurts, the developmental leaps, and the dreaded nap times… There has been one challenge after another on the new-mommy-learning-curve!

And more and more I am realizing that, although I will get used to this, the moment I do it will change again. I can’t keep waiting for things to get “right” before I start to really pursue the things that are on my heart.

{And no, I’ve not started that book yet… or picked up my guitar.}

But I have made some little goals all over again.

In some ways I’ve never been much of a goal-setter because I love to make things up as I go along, and yet I am a list person for sure. {Mostly because I love to cross things off!} In light of that I decided to make a list of things that would help me take care of myself… so I can actually work my way up to that day where I’m able to take more on again. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve got to be really deliberate, perhaps more than ever.

I know I’m not alone in this… Back to Oprah. Just how many episodes have you seen about the necessity of moms taking time out for themselves? Obviously it’s an issue! And it’s a lesson I really want to learn early on in motherhood… because I figure that if I get things right in laying the foundations, then it will be something I can continue to nurture and grow in as I move forward.

So, here are my little goals… my “baby steps” that I believe will help me in becoming a better mom:

  • Taking my vitamins every day. {Amazing what a difference this can make.}
  • Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. {I tend to skip meals on accident when I get busy.}
  • Trying to eat healthy morning and afternoon snacks each day. {To help keep my energy levels up.}
  • Showering and being ready for the day before my son’s morning naptime. {Sometimes hard to pull off but feels soooo good and actually helps me move “quicker” throughout the rest of the day.}
  • Spending a few minutes in prayer and meditating on scripture each day. {Taking care of my soul and spirit.}
  • Reading for pleasure fifteen minutes a day. {Baby books and websites don’t count!}
  • Spending time outside. {Even if just a short walk around the neighbourhood or sitting on our front steps.}
Ta-da! That’s my list… my baby steps to becoming a better mom. They seem like such basic things—they are such basic things—and yet even in my short journey as a mom I’ve found that I can get so consumed with taking care of my son that the “basic” things in my own life can easily be left neglected.

Not any more!

I’ve put my “baby steps” list is on the fridge with a little check list and I’m charting my progress. {You’d think we were potty training here… maybe I should give myself a reward for stars accumulated??} I’m determined to do what I need to do to get better at taking care of myself, even if that does mean being accountable to a check list on my fridge (and my husband’s caring and watchful eye).  Because really, I know that taking better care of myself will not only help me to thrive, but it will also ultimately help me to better take care of my family too. And everyone loves a win-win.

Dear mommy friends, my list is so basic, and there are plenty of other things I’d like to add to it… but I needed to start with “baby steps” (even if it does feel a little humbling to admit). What about you? What’s on your “list”? What do you do to take care of yourself?

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At July 20, 2010 at 10:22 PM , Blogger Kris said...

I also am a list maker. I have always been organized, but when I had my twins something happend to me. I became a very anal type person. With more than one baby things had to have a strick schedule. So, I am with you on the list idea. Keeps things on track.

My twins are now 5 and my youngest is 3 1/2 and I am still working on the "me" list. It sounds easy to do, right? But, it is harder than I ever realized. I really love the idea of having a "me" list. I will start it now:

1. Read for 30 minutes/day. I love to read and it helps relax me before bed.

2. Shower every 2 days. Laugh if you must, but sometimes I realize it has been more than 2 days since I stepped inside that shower. Maybe the smell brings me back to reality.

3. 30 minutes of exercise atleast 3x's/week. Ideally five days would be great, but I am starting small here. This gives me some alone time as well to listen to my music and not have to worry about someone buy myself.

4. Online scrapbooking. This is something that I want to do with all of our memories from Moscow, Russia. I did it for our South Korea memories and it was very relaxing. And so fun to look at.

Okay, that is a good start to "my" list. Thanks for the post to kick me in the butt and think about myself for a change. You are so right, a Happy Mommy is a happy household.

At July 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM , Blogger Jhen.Stark said...

OOOh, lists, YES PLEASE!

1. Have our "room/home" clean and bed made before 8am.

2. Make and actually EAT breakfast during a reasonable morning hour

3. Make sure all bills are ready and paid (because once I got pregnant, remembering to pay bills on time went out the door)

4. And I'm with Kris on this one... Manage to get a shower in every other day, unless necessary, and have make up and hair done

5. Arrive ON TIME ('cause seriously, Joss manages to either poop or fall asleep right when we have to leave) to church, a photo shoot, or any other appointment.

Hmm... now after writing that list I realized I have only 1 hr to get my room cleaned and some spare time to prep my physical self for the day before Joss wakes up...

At July 21, 2010 at 12:13 AM , Blogger Claudia Almandoz Gerbolini said...

I loved your blog, you´re my most recent follower and I came by to visit. I joined in on the blog hoppin´! Thanks SO much for following...I´ll be back!

At July 21, 2010 at 12:59 AM , Blogger JIll said...

I love this. As a new stay at home mommy I was just thinking about this and how my day flies by before I know it. Now it is summer so I keep thinking that it will change when everyone goes back to school and more routines will fall into place, but I know that is not true since no one in this house goes to school. So here is my list.

1. Make the beds every morning.
2. Go to exercise class 3 days a week.
3. shower daily
4. Take time to read a book (this is my new one and I don't have it down pat at all)

That is where I have stopped for now.

At July 21, 2010 at 1:27 AM , Blogger Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

Oh my gosh, you pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I have a post very similar to this in my drafts, but I am still working on it and have yet to publish it! Thanks so much for posting! I love your list.

At July 21, 2010 at 1:32 AM , Blogger HRH Mommy said...

Another list-making person here:

1. Take a 2-hour block per week me. No kids, no husband. Sometimes I go for a pedicure, sometimes coffee with a friend. Whatever allows for that moment.

2. I do a mini-facial once a week. Hubby has some standing work obligations several eves per week, so one evening a week, after the boys are asleep, I cleanse, scrub, steam and do a mask. Love me my mini-facials.

3. I make grocery lists the evening before the day I go grocery shopping.

4. I try to limit my grocery shopping to only doing it once a week. All those small trips for 1-2 items are time consuming and expensive. A little bit of planning goes a long way.

At July 21, 2010 at 2:09 AM , Blogger Asashia said...

My number 1 is spending time in praying and Bible study. Anything else can get taken care of on an as needed basis. But I do keep a running list in my head of house zones to clean, grocery shopping on Sundays,and running when I can.

At July 21, 2010 at 4:48 AM , Anonymous Maureen said...

G'day matey! :D
Those are great list that you share to become a better mom. I gave you an Amen for reading the scripture, I woke up earlier in the morning so I can read the bible.
Another thing on my list that I haven't seen on yours is have a regular date night with the husband. With such a little one I know it must be tough to steal some times but now I really believe those little dates (let it be dinner or coffee or even lunch alone with our husbands) will strengthen the bonds.
Greetings from Jakarta.

PS: I love your tag line!

At July 21, 2010 at 4:52 AM , Blogger Baby Boberg & Parents said...

Getting a shower in at least once every two days is great.
Baking is my favorite hobby so I try to do it twice a week during "naptime".
I try to read every night before bed (1/2 hour).
I would love to do something just to make me feel pretty and do an at home mani and/or pedi once every two weeks. I thought this would be easier but its probably the hardest on this list. I get so busy doing for others or things seem so much more important.

At July 21, 2010 at 6:07 AM , Blogger Getrealmommy said...

Okay-my list is a bit different. I work outside of the home, so often it seems like the time I spend with my kids is very practical. Feed kids. Bath kids. Change little one's diaper. I need to set aside time to really just play with my boys and enjoy them.
Beyond that it is important for me to go on a date night or a girls night one to two times per week. We all need some grown up time. I set aside thirty minutes every couple of days to blog, since it is my hobby and my outlet. After the kids go to bed I make a date with the real housewives-my brain candy. On the days I work from home, I have my nanny arrive a bit early so I can get in a morning jog.
This list is getting long. Do I spoil myself?

At July 21, 2010 at 6:26 AM , Blogger Leadership Learning said...

I definitely have to have a shower before the kids are up otherwise there isn't any time to do it. I try to go for a walk with the kids, weather permitting and spend free time on the computer blogging or catching up on my TV. It's strange how you see things differently until you actually live them yourself!

At July 21, 2010 at 8:25 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Great list and so great that you just made a new list instead of beating yourself up over the nearly impossible list. Have a great day!

At July 21, 2010 at 10:30 AM , Anonymous Andie said...

Love your list and your site. And yes mothering one is much the same chaos as mothering multiples. I did the singleton thing before the twins. And felt largely the same.
Happy day 2!

At July 21, 2010 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Mama Hen said...

Oh Adriel, this is a great list. Sometimes if we add too many things to the list then we get overwhelmed with it and then feel bad if we don't accomplish what we set out to do. Being a stay home mom is the most rewarding thing in the world, but the most exhausting. All my life I have never been a very good sleeper. I was a light sleeper and would wake up early. Now, I could easily fall asleep right when my head is on the pillow and in the morning I wish I could sleep longer. Little Chick loves to get up bright and early! My point is that it is so amazing to stay at home, but so very tiring. You adding taking your vitamins to the list is such a great one! Watching TV, hmmmmm, have not really had the chance! You are right about things changing just as we get a routine going. I thought my house would be tidy all the time, but I would rather spend time with my daughter and deal with the mess later in the day when she goes to sleep. It is funny how we have all these expectations, and they change so quickly when we become a mom! Have a great night!

Mama Hen

At July 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM , Blogger Cooking Up Faith said...

You are so smart to do this. I pray you can stick to it, because it is SO hard to make time for ourselves. I was actually just thinking today that I really need to start eating better. I tend to just grabbed whatever is fastest and easiest, but healthy can be fast and easy, I just need to figure out how. Your list has really encouraged me to try and start my goal of eating healthier too. Thanks!

At July 21, 2010 at 1:42 PM , Blogger Livy said...

Just came across your blog. Wow. You sound just like me. I thought I was going to do so many things staying at home. My baby is now just about 9 months and I'm just keeping up with her. I actually started my blog to try and get some of my goals completed. I made a similiar post to you today with my short-term goals.

At July 22, 2010 at 12:58 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Congratulations on your "baby steps". These little goals are som important to a new Mom. They are still important to a Mom of college age kids trust me.
Enjoy this time with your son. It goes so quickly. Blessings and Grace for your new journey...

At July 22, 2010 at 4:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your list! I am a list maker for sure... just wanted to comment on your last item... to spend time outside! That is a list topper for me every day! Even if me and my little guy go outside to look at the flowers we planted. We spend to much time inside and on these computers...

Also, love your pictures! So adorable :-)

At July 22, 2010 at 6:39 AM , Blogger Diana said...

Your story is EXACTLY how I felt before being a mom. I was a stay at home mom for about a year before working again. Reading stories like these make me realize that I'm not alone and that I'm not the only one that doesn't see sunlight for a day or two because of household needs. My list is simple, enjoy more time outside and to stop stressing out because I'm not a Queen Mama like I thought I'd be. A little mess is fine once in a while :)!

At July 23, 2010 at 8:01 AM , Blogger Meant to be Mom said...

I love lists! What a great idea! It's the idea of writing down what you already know that makes it more appealing, and that in combination with making a check or crossing something off the list when it's been done.....instant gratification!

At July 23, 2010 at 11:08 PM , Blogger Adriel Booker said...

wow, these are such thoughtful comments filled with insight and wisdom. thank you for identifying and for adding to the conversation!


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