I’m finding it more realistic for me to write two blog posts a month if I’m writing more lifestyle & motherhood posts versus posts that dive into the science and require me to do a lot of reading on PubMed and cite references. I’d love to get back to that place in the next few months, but right now it feels better for me to write “less science-y” posts but still write (because I enjoy it) versus not write at all because I don’t have enough time. So, I hope you’re enjoying these posts. And if you’re waiting for the latter type of posts, I’ll get there at some point!
Being mama to two under two the past few months has proved to be both incredibly satisfying and at times, incredibly challenging for me. I ride the rollercoaster of “I’m crushing it …and I’m failing and all is chaos” on a daily basis.
I firmly stand in the camp of going from 0-1 being much, much easier than going from 1-2. I know some moms feel the opposite, but man not me. And I’ve still got a couple months left before Cal turns two.
I’ve learned more patience and grace and compassion for both my babies and myself over the past 12 weeks than any other point in my motherhood journey. And I’ve also learned to shift my mindset around what productive means and what self care means.
When I lay my head down at night to go to bed, I feel good about how our day went if I feel like I was able to be present and emotionally available (within my human limitations) to both boys during the day. And my heart feels most settled if I’ve gotten a solid chunk of one on one time with just Cal. To love on him and be his mama without having to simultaneously nurse or hold or soothe Teddy. Sometimes I only get 10-20 minutes of one on one time, but I try for a solid chunk every day. I’ve found we both need it.
Now with two tiny humans to care for, I’ve learned that a productive day doesn’t mean I’ve checked off my to-do list or I’ve exercised or my house is clean. But I do have to fight the temptation to make that my daily definition of productivity because that definition causes me to perceive my babies as roadblocks to my day instead of my most important work.
Instead, I’ve been working towards defining a productive day as one where I was present and engaged, gracious and patient. I want my boys to see me as a joyful mom. A mom that moves through life with a glass half full mindset. I’m learning that my attitude can really set the tone of our whole home. That doesn’t mean I’m not human and I can’t have a wide variety of emotions, but the way I handle tough or unexpected situations matters. A lot.
Self care before Teddy was born was easier to come by. I had a whole, glorious three hour nap every day where I was off duty so to speak. But now, I’m lucky to have Teddy sleeping in our room (vs on me) for longer than 20 minutes during Cal’s afternoon nap. So self care looks a lot more small and seemingly trivial these days. But I’m learning that even the simplest of things can really help me feel more cared for each day. And that has huge impacts on how I’m feeling as a mom.
My body straight up aches at the end of most days. Especially if I’ve been wearing Teddy for most of the day. Between the baby wearing and nursing and carrying/picking up/chasing Cal and lugging around baby gear, this body feels tight and beaten up by the end of the day. I’ve been trying to do 5-10 minutes of stretching at the end of the day (I love using the Momma Strong stretching videos since they are focused on the stretches mamas need most) and when I do, it makes SUCH a difference in how I feel.
2. an afternoon latte
I’m trying to stick to just one cup of coffee in the morning and then one slightly caffeinated drink in the early afternoon. Much easier said than done during newborn life when I want ALL THE COFFEE. We were gifted a Nespresso machine for our wedding and it’s one of my favorite kitchen items we have. Almost every afternoon I’ll make a homemade iced latte using just one pod since that’s not a ton of caffeine (a google search told me there’s 60mg in one pod) plus homemade almond milk (I know, I’m making homemade almond milk. what in the world. but it’s so easy and so tasty) and lots of creamer and a hefty glug of maple syrup to sweeten because I’m too lazy to make simple syrup.
If Teddy is sleeping on me we go for a walk outside (Nick works from home so he’s there while Cal naps) and I listen to a podcast and drink my latte. If Teddy is sleeping off of me I’ll sit down to read or write while I drink it. Most times I also have some sort of baked good Cal and I made that week or chocolate with it. This simple coffee hour makes me so happy.
3. Ice in my water
A mom friend of mine mentioned this to me as part of her self care several weeks ago and I thought, “Wait, WHY do I make myself drink lukewarm water??” It takes five seconds to put ice in my water, but it makes drinking water 946 times more enjoyable. Especially with breastfeeding, I am always thirsty. This is so simple it sounds dumb sharing but wow, it matters to me. So ice in my water. It’s making my life better.
4. Going on a walk with both boys in the stroller
We live in a very walkable area of Charlottesville so we still have one car and our stroller serves as our second car. Therefore, I have both boys in the stroller to go places every day.
But beyond transportation, I used to feel guilty for having Cal in the stroller simply for the sake of “going on a walk” because he was confined and he was a baby and is now a toddler with a HIGH need for movement. And with Teddy, I try to avoid having him sleep or sit in the carseat as much as possible since I don’t think that position is the best to be in for long periods of time. We do have a bassinet that attaches to the stroller, but he’s not a big fan and prefers to sit upright in the carseat. Yes, I am as crazy as I sound and Nick rolls his eyes at me when I talk about this topic lol. There are obviously bigger fish to fry when it comes to parenting.
My point: sometimes I need to safely contain both babies and go on a walk not for their enjoyment, but for the sake of my sanity. Even if that means Cal doesn’t get to burn off energy and Teddy sits in or falls asleep in a crunched up position.
Maybe for you, that means you turn on the iPad or TV while you take a breather. Or you skip the bedtime bath even though your toddler is covered in a crust of Lord only knows what. Or you feed your kid two pouches you pulled off the shelf and will pay for when you check out and call it lunch as you rush through the aisles of Target (been there) because that’s what is saving your sanity.
I realize going on a walk with both my kids strapped in the stroller might seem so stupid, but for some reason I feel mom guilt when I do that and I think the guilt is misplaced so I’m working against that. Because at the end of the day when things are unraveling, strapping them both in the stroller and going on a walk outside helps me care for myself. And stay sane.
That’s how I’m defining self care in this season. Whether you’re recovering from an eating disorder, navigating pregnancy, learning to accept your natural body size, trying to conceive, making it through newborn life or any and everywhere in between – I’d love to hear how you’re caring for yourself or want to care for yourself in the comments. And as always, thanks for being here!
Self care for me right now looks like napping while my 14-month-old naps. Strapping him into his stroller for a short afternoon walk to get both of us some fresh air. Eating food that sounds good and resting my body. Reading and rereading your post on regaining fertility postpartum. I was really hoping to have a second child before my first turns two, but it’s looking like that’s not going to happen. I’m trying to let it go, that pressure. There’s a huge amount of self care in that. As well as stepping away from the mirror. Letting myself gain the necessary weight in order for my body to work again. This process (one I’m tired of having to repeat) is exhausting and disheartening, but my little guy is so amazing that I desparately want to experience it again. I never realized how much I would love being a mother. Self care right now, is letting myself just BE.
Love this post! I have a 2 year old, and like you, I’m finding joy in those tiny moments. These days, my morning cup of tea is a highlight of the day. At first I thought it sounded really sad- like a cup of tea is high on my gratitude list- but being able to sit, drink a hot cup of chai, have a snack, and relax for a second is really just the dream. I’d also add resting during nap time, whether it’s reading or watching TV or whatever. I used to try to do all the things during nap- laundry, dishes, cleaning- but I felt so drained. Now, I relax when the toddler relaxes!
Laura Adom says
I really really love this blog post and all of the mama related ones you’ve written lately. I’m a mom of a 19 month old and your perspective has been so uplifting. I literally don’t know how you’re writing blog posts with all that you have going on but it’s really inspiring. I love this idea of self care – you’re right, the perspective of self care & productivity does need to change at certain stages of your life. I, too, have had to realize that having my house clean isn’t the only way to feel accomplished and that sometimes it’s just being present.
Anyway, I could go on and on. I just really really love your blog – always have. 😉
Laura, thank you for that encouragement – it’s been therapeutic for me to write these. Well, I’m writing them when I feel the urge and inspiration – this one was written on my phone after Teddy fell asleep on my chest one weekend day and I didn’t want to put him down so I let him sleep on me. Know this: I am 10000000% not doing it all. Just picking and choosing what matters most.
Thanks for reading mama, means a lot.
I literally had the same mom guilt over the stroller thing and containment!! I finally just told myself that kids need to learn that parents have needs too, so it’s okay if they make little sacrifices (obviously within reason) so I can feel better.
and a more sane mama is soooo much better for our babies than a mama losing her mind because she felt guilty over a little confinement while enjoying fresh air…at least that is what I’m telling myself
Korie Veidel says
I thought I was the only parent who had stroller guilt! It’s so nice to hear someone else felt similarly. When my boys were little, we lived 30-45 minutes from everything. They spent so much time strapped into a car seat, I felt so guilty about strapping them into a stroller.
It’s honestly one of my biggest regrets from that stage of life. I would have taken them out in the stroller more often for my own sanity instead of feeling guilty about it.
You’re in good company 🙂 And it’s nice to hear from someone ahead of me to just let the stroller guilt go!
Kayla Phillips says
Robyn, I always love hearing from you and reading your updates!
Although I don’t have any children yet, I love reading about your experiences and thought processes throughout motherhood. I really respect and look up to you (from afar) so it inspires me to start thinking about these things when I reach motherhood one day.
I really resonate with your perspective shift on defining what “productive” means and looks like. I am someone who is very caught up in my to-do list, getting all the chores done, etc. and I’ve realized how much energy and time this takes away from just being present and takes me away from the things that really matter in this season. So I want to take some time to rethink how I am going to redefine productivity in my life right now.
I’m in full time graduate school right now & working part-time so life is very full right now. But I want to take what you said about what you want your boys to remember you as and apply it to my own life with my husband and close friends.
Anyway, thank you for sharing a tidbit from your life!! Looks like we all need to give ourselves some more grace and take off shame!
I think that is our human tendency is to place so much value on tangible accomplishments vs the things we can’t “measure” and THAT is what matters. People & relationships. You’re in good company with pushing against that default tendency 🙂
Thank you so much for your real life posts! I am a new mom to an almost 5 month old. My husband and I talk about having kids close together, and I have gone to a lot of your posts in the past few months for encouragement and wisdom! I appreciate the fact that you are a few steps ahead, so I can look to you for some reassurance on what is possibly in our future! Thanks!
two babies this close certainly has its challenges in the moment but we are playing the long game and praying they are bffs 🙂 although, lord willing, I’d want Teddy and baby 3 and littleeeeee further apart as my uterus needs a break lol.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m expecting my first while working night shifts and working on a master’s degree. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and I don’t even have a kid yet! Luckily my partner is incredible and really has been so amazing during my last week’s of pregnancy- setting me up to take comfy naps propped up in pillows during the day, getting me out of the house for long walks even when I don’t want to, making sure my water is full, doing most of the cooking… I guess self care for me is not letting myself feel guilty about how much he’s taken over house duties.
I find the end of pregnancy way more exhausting than the initial weeks and months postpartum if that’s any encouragement – especially with your first where you’re still working at max capacity vs when you have babies, whether you work outside the home or not, your capacity is much more limited (at least I found it to be that way, you could have an entirely different experience!) also…night shift and being in school WHILE PREGNANT is no joke!! you’ll figure out a grove and your mama intuition will show you how to realign priorities based on what is best for you as a mama and your unique baby – just listen to it. your husband is amazing! soak up these last weeks and best to you as you bring this baby hearthside georgia! xx
Allison Seybold says
I can really relate to the stroller and car seat guilt! Isn’t it funny what us moms prioritize?
My self care these days comes in the morning before anybody wakes up- (we also have a nespresso) I make a good cup of coffee and catch up on either the news, a podcast, or some Bible and journal time. I am a kindergarten teacher and working life with a 3 year old, 16 month old, husband, dog and cat is beyond busy but I truly love every minute of it. ❤ best of luck to you and your boys as you enter into each different stage of motherhood/wifehood!
I can’t imagine working FT with kiddos and mothering little people during these weird pandemic times so you are very admirable!!
Erica Archambault says
This spoke to me: Or you skip the bedtime bath even though your toddler is covered in a crust of Lord only knows what.
Life currently with a 19 month old! You are making time for yourself and understanding that even the little things can add up to one HUGE thing: sanity.
you put it perfectly – these little things make a HUGE impact on our mental health
I love this blog post so much! I couldn’t agree more with your self care. Also the guilt we feel over silly things. I recently started to feel guilty for wearing headphones while I walk my baby because I should be able to hear him, lol I am laughing because it sounds silly but mom guilt is real! I also VERY much so agree about the iced water! You are doing amazing, and I am impressed at your approach to mothering two. I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old and it was a rough transition to 2, I wish I had had a little more grace with myself<3
haha yea I have the guilt with listening to something while walking too bc Cal points out ever truck/plane/construction object he sees and Teddy is facing me while we walk – choose what matters most and let the rest be I think 🙂 you are doing great! grace abounds
While your more “science based” posts are super interesting, I also love hearing about your real life. So keep it up with these posts:) Love this topic!
so glad you are enjoying these!
I just gave birth a week ago to baby #4 so self care is basically showering every day, drinking lots of cold water, making sure I had snacks at my nursing station and me being very clear to my husband when I need help or how I’m feeling each day or moment. On a “normal” routine with 3 other kids that are 4 and under, it’s lots of walks in the stroller with snacks for them to keep them happy. Podcasts when I’m driving or walking with them. And reading outside either a read aloud book, the Bible or my own book I’m reading- this keeps us all in good spirits.
congrats to you savanna! I cannot imagine the beautiful zoo that four babies under 4 is 🙂 you are a rockstar and I am so glad you are finding things that are making you feel good!
Thank you for sharing this! It was so helpful for me to hear how another mom is navigating life with 2 since I recently became a mom to 2 as well. This especially resonated with me: “But I do have to fight the temptation to make that my daily definition of productivity because that definition causes me to perceive my babies as roadblocks to my day instead of my most important work.” Yes!
solidarity, mama 🙂
Loved this post. I am due with baby #3 in less than two weeks and I am currently so spent. I’ve felt a lot of mama guilt in the last few weeks that I’ve been a “boring mom” to my very active four year old and two year old because I am just SO TIRED AND ACHY and just basically really feeling nine months pregnant! I feel guilty that I can’t chase them around the yard like I used to or that I sometimes take the long way home from wherever we are just so I can get a few more minutes to be seated with them restrained! Mama guilt is real and I applaud you giving yourself grace and looking for those little moments of self care. I think we’re conditioned to think that self-care is going out for manicures or taking long luxurious bubble baths – but you’re so right that it can really be as simple as ice in your water and that awesome cup of coffee. Will hold on to these sentiments in the upcoming days and weeks and months! Keep doing an amazing job with your little clan and with inspiring fellow mamas to take care of ourselves to take care of our kids.
Congrats to you on baby #3 Meaghan! And I can SO SO relate to exhaustion in those final weeks and I was only on baby#2 with an 18 month old so I can only imagine how you are feeling. Hang in there – hugs to you! I listened to this podcast yesterday and when I read your comment I just had to pass it along. I adore Janet Lansbury’s work and I hope you find this podcast she did (she responded to a mom’s email she received after having her 3rd baby) so freeing and comforting as you go into this next season. I will (hopefully) be in your shoes one day and I know you are doing a great job!
Thank you so much for the recommendation! Will definitely check this out.
Maggie Getz says
Even as a mom of one 18-month-old, I relate to this so much, Robyn! You’re doing a wonderful job, and you’re right that being momma to those two sweet boys is the most important thing (vs a checked-off to-do list, etc.). I needed that reminder, too. And three cheers for the afternoon coffee happy hour and ice water 🥳
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Mia Tenille says
I love this! Gosh, self care is so important but you’re right- with young kids it can be harder to come by! I asked my husband for “time off” this Christmas which means I am home but and he helps out more with keeping the kids entertained and cooking meals! I really don’t mind doing it all but I just need a break once in awhile. And he does help out so much when he’s home from work but sometimes that 9-5 everyday starts to wear on you at home. I miss my friends, I miss talking to adults about whatever it is we talk about so I am hoping once I get my newborn weaned, I can take a little weekender trip to visit my best friend. I call that the best kind of self-care! <3 And of course, finding the right OB/GYN that is there to make sure you are healthy and well matters SO much. https://www.cvwomenscenter.com/blog/happy-holidays-from-cache-valley-womens-center-at-the-lodge/
Megan Olson says
Thanks so much for this post, Robyn. I found you through Kylie’s blog and I’ve been loving going through your posts. This one was especially helpful today as I am in my third trimester and my toddler seems to be giving up naps or maybe only doing naps when moving in a stroller now? (Pacifier detox happened recently so there’s a lot in flux). I find myself so frustrated by things that I can’t control, like toddler sleep patterns, and often want to say “well to heck with everything then!”. Your post was a good reminder that even when, perhaps especially when there is something I can’t control, I can still find delight in places if I take steps to care for myself. Your idea to take your baby for a walk and enjoy your coffee that way made me smile and made me think maybe I could find something to enjoy in taking my daughter for a walk everyday to get her to fall asleep, instead of being annoyed that things are no longer how they used to be.. Thanks for writing.
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I used to think that self-care had to be this big, extravagant thing. But lately, I’ve realized that the small, everyday things make a difference. Just taking a few minutes for myself each day – whether reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk – can help me feel more refreshed and energized. And that makes a massive difference in how I’m able to show up for my family. So even though it might not seem like much, investing in my own well-being is actually one of the best things I can do for my loved ones.
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