While I’m learning to let go of a lot of things, I feel like I’m gaining a heck of a lot more. Day in and day out, nothing makes me happier than being with my boys and I truly do love this phase of life even if it feels totally insane. Being a mother to Chase and Ryder is my absolute favorite thing in the whole world and my boys make my heart ache with love. It’s a consuming, vulnerable, pure, overwhelming and intense kind of love and I think I’d use those exact same words to explain how I feel about motherhood in general. It’s intense, vulnerable, pure, overwhelming and completely consuming.
So how are things with two kids in the mix? Great. And also crazy. Some days I feel like I’m killin’ the whole motherhood game and other days I look down at my sweatshirt covered in smears of who knows what (likely baby food, breast milk and boogers) and find myself coaching my three-year-old on the tone he’s allowed to use when he says the word “Mom” because if he whines the word “Moooooom” one more time, so help me…
But let’s back up a bit.
In the beginning, if I’m addressing caring for a newborn only, I’d say things felt much easier the second time around. Mothering a newborn didn’t feel nearly as stressful or as challenging. There’s so much to figure out when you’re a first-time mom and there’s also a TON of information coming your way so it can feel really overwhelming. Thankfully this time I didn’t read much about life with a newborn and I trusted myself to be the best mom I could be to Ryder. I also had first-hand knowledge to lean on that helped me remember that the really, really hard phases with a baby are fleeting (even if they don’t feel that way in the moment) and that has undoubtedly made it easier to deal with exhaustion, sleepless nights, figuring out routines, etc.
This time around, Ryan and I also knew to expect the first six months to be a blur. I read a lot about the first six weeks feeling challenging after I had Chase and remember wondering why I was still trying to wrap my head around everything and struggling to do much six months after we had our first child. Knowing that it took me a solid six months to find my groove after Chase was born helped make my expectations more realistic this time around. Now that I’m just over seven months postpartum, I can say that, once again, it took me at least six months to find my groove but, on many days, I feel like I’m still looking for it.
As I write the above, I don’t want anyone to think that less struggles with a newborn means that the transition to two kids has been easy. In fact, for me, I’d say it’s been a harder adjustment than life with one child simply because it’s impossible to accomplish pretty much anything and there’s just no break… ever. To be perfectly honest, it can be really, really draining. With one child, when a baby sleeps, there are breathers in the day even if they feel short and even if you jam-pack them with household to-dos, but with two kids in the mix, it feels like one kid always needs something and “breaks” (even if a “break” means time to do laundry) feel non-existent. From the time my boys are up until the time they’re asleep, it can feel like I’m in overdrive.
I am sure this feeling is exacerbated by the fact that I’m also trying to juggle working from home while mothering two boys. I know I am so incredibly lucky to be able to call my blog my job and there isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful for this space and your readership and the fact that it gives me incredible flexibility. I value this blog and love sitting down at my computer and writing and sharing with all of you. The challenge in this phase of my life is finding the time. The only way I’m guaranteed to get any work done is by setting my alarm and waking up at 5 a.m. to crank out work before the boys are up and then I cross my fingers for a good morning nap for Ryder so I can get another hour (two if I’m lucky) of work done while Chase is at preschool before I pick Chase up again around lunchtime. And if the boys’ afternoon naps happen to overlap, it’s incredible and I try to get as much done while they sleep as possible.
After writing all of this, I have a feeling a bunch of you are wondering why I don’t look into childcare to help open up more windows for work and while it’s something I’ve thought about extensively, my heart doesn’t want to go that route right now. It wants to be with my kids and it wants to be in the middle of the chaos, even if that means some things need to fall to the wayside and I have to cut back on the time I can pour into this space and say no to certain opportunities. Right now I’m okay with that. If things ever change and I find myself feeling differently, we’ll absolutely go that route. I also think that perhaps when I’m done nursing, I’ll feel more ready to explore childcare options. I have the same lipase issue I had last time with my breast milk which makes it hard for me to pump and freeze milk ahead of time and Ryder isn’t great with a bottle so I just feel stressed about leaving him for too long which admittedly also contributes to my lack of desire to seek childcare help. Right now I’m actually more interested in outsourcing help for the blog since it seems like every full-time blogger out there has a team of people supporting them and I am a one-woman show. I could definitely use help with social media (Pinterest scheduling, sharing old posts on Facebook, etc.) and photography since neither are my passion and all of the social media stuff is incredibly time consuming. All I really want is more time to write and share with you guys in this space so if I can find help to take away some of the tasks that pull me away from writing, I’d love to do so in the future. If this is where any of you shine, please let me know! I’d love to chat!
Letting Go of Perfection and Comparison Trap Struggles
I know this is a bizarre thing to comment on, but becoming a mother of two has made me less tolerant of social media and the curated image of perfection. Of course people are going to share beautiful photos of their kids and family time together (I totally do, too!), but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve found myself unfollowing more and more accounts that seem to curate “mom life” with photos of houses that are squeaky-clean, dogs that somehow don’t shed or drool, children who have their hair brushed and never make a mess, families that somehow go on vacation after vacation together, etc. It’s not realistic and not how my real-life friends and I are and yet I was finding myself comparing my life to this non-reality time and time again. Why isn’t my kitchen always glistening and spotless? Should I be taking the time to put on a full face of makeup and curl my hair every day? How are these women seemingly at home with their kids all day but also flawlessly running their own businesses?
Once I realized what was happening in my mind, I began unfollowing “perfect” accounts and started spending less and less time on Instagram and social media in general. It’s been really good for me and the dreaded comparison trap and I’m almost a little annoyed at myself that I let it get into my brain as much as I did! Also, I should say I don’t fault these accounts for what they’re sharing on social media at all! Many of them have hundreds of thousands of followers and clearly inspire many and run incredible and admirable businesses but, for me, following certain accounts was beginning to cause me to fall into the comparison trap too many times and I needed to make a change.
Cleaning + Household Upkeep
While we’re on the topic of living not-so-perfect lives, one thing that surprises me is how much the cleanliness of our house can overwhelm me on a day-to-day basis now that we have two children. How do you guys keep your houses clean with kids in the mix? No, really, HOW!? I want specifics!
Something about adding another child into the mix has made it a lot harder to keep on top of cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, dishes, etc. For me, nap time is work time so any cleaning we do is usually little bits of tidying throughout the day when the boys are with me (sooo you can guess how efficient that is…) and then a quick end-of-the-day clean.
Committing to a 10-minute clean every night after the boys are in bed helps me wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen and a house that looks at least somewhat organized before the chaos begins again, however, throughout the day, I cannot help but look around and see all the housework that still needs to be done. If any of you out there have established some kind of a cleaning system/schedule that works for you and your family, please let me know because we need to figure something out!
Physical Changes and Post Baby Body
On the physical side of things, I haven’t really been focusing too much on “getting my body back” because, honestly, my mind has just been so wrapped up in motherhood and figuring out life on a day-to-day basis. I remember feeling the same way after Chase was born and don’t remember focusing on my body until I was 6 months postpartum. I’m just now beginning to want to put a little more time and energy into focusing on eating better and while I don’t plan to go on any kind of a diet, increasing my protein intake (rather than just eating fats and carbs all day) and focusing on meal prep helped me fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes last time, so that’s my plan this time around, too. (This blog post talks more specifically about my postpartum weight loss journey after I had Chase in case you are interested.) It’s so easy for me to totally neglect protein and vegetables in my diet since fats and carbs are the easy foods to grab and snack on all day so taking time to prep food for myself on Sundays is important for me. It took me 9 months to return to my pre-pregnancy weight after Chase was born and I have a feeling things may take a little longer this time around.
If you want the total truth, I had a moment last week when I was at the gym and looked in the full-length mirror and just felt down. I am currently about 7-10 pounds up from my pre-baby weight and still very soft all over. My middle feels much thicker after Ryder, my love handles spill out over the sides of any pants that aren’t high-waisted, cellulite is BFFs with the back of my legs and booty and sometimes it feels like a struggle to find clothes that fit well other than athleisure and cozy sweaters. This is not something I think about daily and while I truly am content with my body as it is, I would like to see some tone return and some weight loss occur. Right now it seems like the internet is insisting that you must love every part of yourself to be “body positive” and oh my gosh do I love my body for what it helped me bring into this world, but I also think it’s okay for me to want to feel more comfortable in my skin, especially if the way I hope to achieve my goals allows for plenty of time and grace.
While I have zero plans to follow a specific diet, eliminate certain food groups or track my food intake every day, my current plan is to try to pay better attention to the food I am eating and focus on balanced meals and snacks that include lots of vegetables, quality sources of protein, healthy carbs and fat. I’m also really hoping this will help with my energy levels as well since I’m no stranger to the afternoon crash at the moment! Sugar is still my BFF around here so taming my sweet tooth is another goal. If you are also a sugar monster and have any tips on getting that under control, I’m all ears because right now I’ve been eating my fair share of sweet treats every single day.
On the fitness front, I have been working out regularly for a few months now (usually 4-5 times a week) and love the way my workouts make me feel strong and centered. I feel strength slowly returning and it feels great! The 30-45 minutes I spend at the gym or Burn Boot Camp are often the only 30-45 minutes I have in a day where I’m doing something 100 percent for myself, so it’s something I feel committed to and something that makes me feel like a better mom throughout the day as well. I swear regular exercise does more for me mentally than it does physically!
I feel like this time around I was a lot smarter about my postpartum recovery in terms of when I chose to incorporate certain exercises back into my routine than I was after Chase was born. (Looking back, I think I resumed jumping and plyometric exercises WAY too soon after I had Chase and that was definitely not good for my pelvic floor.) Once I began working out again, I pretty much avoided traditional core exercises and plyometric exercises for months to give my body and my pelvic floor time to heal. Now things are beginning to feel a lot more normal and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the gym. I don’t have to modify nearly as many exercises these days which feels great!
As far as fitness-related goals, in the coming weeks and months, I’d like to focus on building back some of the strength I’ve lost and be able to do more push ups and pull ups at the gym. Reaching for heavier weights and challenging my muscles is oddly fun to me, so I’m looking forward to slowly beginning to push my body again.
Aaand that’s my ridiculously long-winded postpartum update! I warned you guys it was going to be a long one and hope I addressed the areas of interest to all of you but, if not, please let me know! I talked more in depth about all things related to sleep and nursing in Ryder’s 7 month update, so if you’re looking for how things are going on that end, definitely check out that post. As always, thanks so much for following along and for all of your support during such a transitional time in my life. I appreciate it so much!