Q&A Tuesday: Do you ever take a day of rest?

I’m a new stay-at-home mom to a 5-week-old baby boy. I have been following your site for several years and I’ve always admired how much you accomplish in a day. At the time, I had full-time job and seemed to use that as my excuse to not do everything, but now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I still can’t seem to do everything.

Do you ever have a day that you just relax and not worry about getting everything done? Your blog makes it seem like you always have everything put together. I know you probably have your own days but I feel like most days I stress out if I’m not getting to the one store where they have the “free” item, or if I’m not preparing a bunch of meals to put in the freezer, etc.

Just wanted to know if you just have more extra energy than the typical person or if you are seriously exhausted, but know that you have to keep going for your family. – Ashley

Edit: Somehow I read Ashley’s note as saying she had a five-month-old baby instead of a five-week-old baby. So I completely failed to address the very important fact that she needs to focus on keeping it super simple and just recovering and caring for her newborn. At any rate, be sure to read the comments from my readers as they are packed with words of wisdom concerning this!

Ashley, congratulations on your new baby boy and how exciting that you’re able to stay home with him.

Now, I need to set the record very straight: I do not accomplish even a tiny sliver of what I’d like (or hope!) to accomplish.

There are days when I fantasize about a to-do list which has everything crossed off and then I quickly realize that that is just not going to happen. So I have two choices: I can do the best I can do with the time and energy I have or I can spend my life frustrated at everything left undone.

I try to be real as a blogger: to share my struggles and my difficulties as well as my triumphs and victories. I don’t share a lot of pictures of my dirty laundry piles or my windows with sticky peanut butter fingerprints on them, though, because I want to keep this an upbeat place. And I doubt that most of you really would like to read post after post about the bodily fluids I cleaned up or the messes my children made in the last hour. :)

Since I am a minimalist and try to be organized, we tend to have fewer messes because we have less stuff. But believe me, we have plenty of messes — regardless of the lack of lots of stuff. And there are plenty of days when I want to pull my hair out and cry just because it’s so much work to be a mom to three young children. There are times when I get really tired of doing the same thing over and over and over again and feeling like my work is never done.

However, by God’s grace, I’ve purposed to embrace each day — spilled milk, dirty laundry and sticky peanut butter fingerprints — instead of concentrating on the difficulties of life (and we all have them in one shape or another). My desire is to focus on how blessed I am (though I don’t always succeed, just ask my husband!) and seek to live in the moment and make the most of it.

Simple Tips for Being a More Joyful and Productive Wife and Mom

::Realize you can’t get it all done. Give up on being Superwoman and be okay with that.

::Stop comparing yourself to other women who might seem like they have it altogether. I promise you, no woman does.

::Cherish each moment you have with your precious family.

::Make a simple routine for your days. Simple is the key word here. Don’t make some elaborate plan that is likely unattainable. But having a routine in place can make life go much more smoothly.

::Before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning, make a short list of five to eight things you’d like to accomplish that day. I’ve found I get so much more done when I have a plan instead of just being aimless. At the same time, though, remember that your list is just a guide. You likely won’t get everything done off of it — you may get nothing done off of it! — but you’ll probably be a lot more productive and focused throughout the day just by having some goals set.

Back to your original question: Do I ever take a day off? Mothering is a 24/7 thing, so I’ve quickly learned that there’s no such thing as a complete “day off.” That said, I definitely know my limits and try to take a few hours of respite and refreshment at least once a week. This might be sitting and reading a good book, snuggling and reading for an hour with my children, watching a movie with my husband, going to a coffee shop or shopping by myself, doing something with a friend, taking a bubble bath or a leisurely afternoon nap.

I also make it a point to get 7-8 hours of sleep almost every night and I try to exercise and put nourishing foods in my body, drink lots of water and get fresh air and sunshine every day. I think just as it is important that we be wise stewards of our finances, we also need to seek to be wise stewards of our bodies.

My Three Biggest Keys to Productivity

1. My Relationship with the Lord — I get up every morning and spend time reading God’s Word, praying and dedicating my day to the Lord. Throughout the day, when trials and difficulties come my way, I often just stop and pray and ask God to help me in my weakness and time of need. He always is faithful — even in the little things.

2. My Relationship with my Husband — I’m blessed to be married to an amazing man and the longer I live, the more I grow to love and admire him. Jesse loves me deeply, listens to me whole-heartedly, prays for me caringly and encourages me unceasingly. He is my biggest cheerleader and my best friend. We share everything together, we love to be together and he is constantly inspiring me to dream big dreams, set big goals and not settle for mediocrity.

3. Observing Media-Free Sundays — A few years ago, we made the commitment to keep Sundays media-free days at our house. This was one of the best decisions we ever made. Tuning out the noise for a whole day every week helps us to re-focus, re-energize and refresh. We spend the day worshiping in our local church, talking, reading, resting and spending time with family and friends. We look forward to this day all week long.

Related: If you’re a young mom, I encourage you to read a post I wrote a few weeks ago with a few words of encouragement for young moms.

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Comments

  1. Wendy says

    If you’re curious, there is an absolutely fantastic book out there called “Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?” by Ajahn Braham (I think I spelled that right). It’s a bunch of short little anecdotes, jokes, stories, etc. and every single one made me sit back and think “Whoa, I never looked at it that way!” The author is Buddhist, but I (as a Christian) didn’t find it awkward at all.

    Anyway, one of the lessons is about a gardener wanting to enjoy his garden. Some people spend all their time working with the plants, always saying “I’ll love the way this looks when it’s finished!” – but of course, they’re never finished, so they never take time to enjoy it. Other people only do the bare minimum amount of work to keep the plants alive, so when they do go in their garden they always feel guilty about how much they have left to do. Some people bring a magazine or a book outside and say they “love their garden” – but they’re really just enjoying their book or magazine. The wise man in the story says that the truly happy gardener works until he is ready to stop working, then sits and enjoys the garden for what it is.

    Anyway, I’ve probably horribly mangled that one, but I try to do that in my everyday life. Yes, there is always laundry left to do and my toddler probably just smeared peanut butter on the dog, but I constantly try to remind myself that *I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom.* This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I am very lucky to have a husband who earns enough that we can afford to live on one income. I better enjoy being at home with my daughter now while I can :-(

  2. says

    Yes, giving up that whole Supermom facade is tough. I think we feel (for whatever reason) that we have to live up to that expectation. Who puts it on us? I put it on myself. I was just talking to my cousin tonight (a young mom of 4 very close in age!) and we were reminding each other that we’ll miss these days of sticky fingerprints, spilled juice, baby food splatters, and dirty clothes. Life passes far too quickly and I’m reminded constantly of the country song “You’re Gonna Miss This”. Look up the lyrics if you’ve never heard it. Some days I have to tell myself over & over that I’ll miss this. What a blessing the Lord has given me as a mother to raise these amazing children! As mothers, we have to cut ourselves some slack and forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make and the things we don’t get done. I love your tips. And that’s all I say before I write a book in your comment section! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    • Brandy says

      @Jenn, My brother (20) just transferred to a new college out of town and he was the last of my parents’ children to go. My mom and dad knew they’d miss him but didn’t realize how much they would until he left. My mom said she misses ironing his clothes, fixing him meals, helping him study, just spending time talking with him, etc. And my dad said that he felt like crying the first few days not having him to care for at home anymore. The point being, no matter how overwhelming life feels right now, know that one day you really will miss it.

  3. says

    Ashley, I just wanted you to know that you are still in a stage with your baby that is HARD! You’ll probably feel like a new woman when 5-6 months rolls around. Trust me on that one. Give yourself some grace. I have no doubt that you are a fantastic mom, and I wish I could sit down with you with a cup of coffee, and reassure you face to face that yes, the toilet will eventually get cleaned, bargains will someday be purchased again, and menus will get planned. It just takes some time. Good luck my fellow mama!

  4. says

    Ashley,

    I too get very busy and crazy – plus like you – I have much admiration for what Crystal accomplishes in a day.

    We have a list that is a mile long and we just do our best to work through it. We had to learn that it is okay to move many things to the next day’s list and to do this continuously :) It is also okay to let some things go and not stress about them. Between running 2 sites together, hubby working full time and him having a side technical consulting business at the same time raising 4 kids 6 and under that we are homeschooling…. nuf’ said :)

    Just this morning I nearly lost it when the second bowl of cereal hit the floor immediately after cleaning up the first! And that is a norm and the day had only begun.

    I appreciate what Crystal said and think that her priorities are correct. In addition to having many times of needed prayer throughout the day!

    For many years, we have also taken Sunday’s off completely from our work so that we can have a day of rest and focus on family, church and fellowship. Honestly it was hard to do as a blogger especially and trying not to worry about missing the latest deal. But I am ever so thankful for that day and look forward to it more than the others – it is what keeps me going through the week. I don’t know if I could survive the week without at least 1 day of break from the work!

    We will even try to make it more relaxing and have just leftovers or very simple meal prep as it is soooo nice to not have to do much of anything but read, play with the kids, regroup, rest and worship – ah, beautiful!

  5. Rose says

    As a mom of two boys, age 2 and under there, are many days when Im sure I have reached my breaking point. Then I just take a minute, catch my breath and keep going. As mothers, we definitly put the most pressure on ourselves. I just try to do my best and Im learning not to sweat the small stuff.

    Crystal, your post a couple weeks ago titled Priceless really touched me. It was just perfect timing. I have been so stressed for so many reasons lately. When you wrote about enjoying your children because this is only a short season, and you don’t want to waste it, it really touched my heart. It was as if the sun finally peeked around the clouds. I had been so stressed about so many things that in the big picture, truly dont matter. I should just enjoy the two little smiling faces, no matter how sticky they may get. These are precious days I should cherish every moment.

    Thank you for sharing such encouraging words.

    • says

      You are most welcome. I just finished reading Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman and it reminded — yet again! — of the importance of cherishing each moment. We never know how long we’ll have with our precious children.

      Hang in there, Rose, and it will be worth it! I remember the very first day that my now-five-year-old took herself potty all by herself. It was a huge victory and felt as if a weight had been lifted off of me because I realized that they were actually going to learn to do things themselves! Now, at five, she can help with the younger children, clean the bathroom, clean her room, help get breakfast for the younger ones, get herself in and out of her car seat (!) and so much more. It *does* get easier!

  6. Allison V. says

    My family is a lot like Crystal’s: three small children about the same ages. I’m a lot closer to being an “under-achiever” though (maybe “enough-achiever” is more accurate), so I’m happy with just keeping up with laundry, dishes, and picking up toys. I clean the bathrooms when company comes over, I vacuum about once or twice a week (except under the dining table-whose bright idea was it to carpet there?!). I’m a good housekeeper, but I don’t obsess about it. When my third baby was born, I’d been around the block a few times already with new babies, so I was mentally prepared. I didn’t try to do much, I usually set one goal a day (ie laundry, vacuum) and I napped with my kids. Now as my kids are older, and we all sleep at night, I’ve found my mornings are much more productive, and I can relax with my kiddos in the afternoon, when we’re all wearing down.

    I don’t necessarily take a “day off” because I have yet to organize myself well enough, but I do give myself a break. I use cloth diapers at home, but with the great deals lately, I’ve taken off a week and used disposables. I’ve really slacked off on my shopping, unless there are several great deals to be had. Some nights the dishes don’t get cleaned up until the next morning when I’m refreshed. And at least for me, I’m the only one who really cares. =)

  7. Kara says

    Ashley,
    Congrats on your new baby boy! It will be loads of fun when he gets mobile. Enjoy just sitting with him, while he won’t attempt to wiggle out of your lap to go and discover something a toy or what happens if I do this?
    I am a stay at home mom/student. I learned very early after my son was born last summer that take it one day at a time and what you get finished is what you get finished. If you miss a deal, don’t stress, because there will always be another one.
    I can’t imagine a day without my lil’ one, there are days/weeks where I just want someone to take him for a couple days so I can actually get something accomplished (like the last 2wks). But I would miss him his smiling face, his babble, his laugh, his hugs and kisses. I would miss watching him play and wonder what goes through his mind.
    Try to get a routine down now and it will save you so much headaches in the long run. If I have to go out and run errands I do it between nap and meal times if I can help it. If not I’ll see if a friend can take him, so he can sleep and be ready to play when I pick him up.

  8. says

    Wow, Ashley took the words out of my mouth in her question and how she feels. I was a working mom up until my second son was born in March, then I finally got my wish, to be a stay-at-home-mom. Before I used working as an excuse to slack at cooking, cleaning, etc. Now I’m at home all day and my time is completely consumed with my two boys (heck, I had it so easy when I was working ’cause I actually had down time when I was at work)… but I feel MORE stressed because I know I’m expected to be better at the cooking and cleaning, etc. It’s hard, though. Prioritizing is the key, and just going with the flow. If the house is a wreck but the kids are fed/having fun/ALIVE… we’re doing good. Haha!

    • Rachael says

      My kids just started back at daycare (I’m a full time student and have had the summer off) and I can’t believe how relaxed our house! But it is lonely–and I can’t wait to see them later this afternoon! Yes, the upside of work is that there is a little downtime :)

  9. says

    Really, really great post, Crystal. :)

    We all have 24 hours in each day… but no two people/families are alike! Comparing myself to others always leaves me feeling either prideful or like a complete failure.

    I’ve been reading a good book for married couples with Joshua each evening and it helps to be reminded (by him and by the book) of things that are most important to him. (Hint, it’s not cleaning the bathroom. Or using cloth diapers. Or making homemade bread.)

    We’ve set a few, manageable (usually) goals for the kids each day and that’s really it! I get behind on other stuff but it’s really okay. Really! :)

    • says

      I asked Jesse to tell me the five most important things to him for me to focus on during the day — in their order of importance. That has been so helpful to me! Sometimes, I realize that I spend my days doing things I *think* are important to him, when really, I’ve gotten it completely wrong.

      I’d love to know the name of the book, by the way!

  10. Mari-lyn says

    I knew there was something different about you I now know The Lord makes you different.I have offen wondered my self how you get it all done cause you sure sound like you have it all together all the time but I now know it is cause your heart is right with the Lord that makes a huge difference. Back to the question about time for yourself to any mom with young children, I back you up with saying NEVER compare yourself to anyone else. Do what needs to be done to make your life and household run smoothly, as long as your husband and children are loved,happy and fed your job is complete. ALWAYS take time for yourself you can not be your best if you dont. There is always another day. Years ago I heard a report we can only do ten tasks in a day so when you make your “to do list” it should only have ten things on it. My husband made a huge difference when he told me “its ok to have toys and stuff around as long as its not dirty” so I stopped trying to make everything perfect and focused on clean. Let me repeat Always take time for yourself to rest it will make you a better person.

  11. says

    Good post, Crystal!

    I’m the type to go, go, go, but on Sundays, I take a day off. I only do the work that is necessary (dishes, some cooking) which means I have time to relax.

    And like you, I make going to be a very high priority. Sleep is so important!

    • Julie says

      @Kristen@TheFrugalGirl, We too take Sundays off here. We go to church and spend time with the family, write letters, visit friends in need. We shop on a day besides Sunday and I don’t do laundry (unless someone throws up). It takes some planning, but it allows me to enjoy my family without worrying about the housework that isn’t getting done, or the shopping I need to do.

  12. says

    Welcome to motherhood!

    I don’t think I have had a full day off in years. I have four kids and work four days a week (thankfully, as of this week, now only in school hours). My weekends are usually spent catching up on all the things I can’t get done during the week, watching sports, grocery shopping and so on. However, I do like being busy.

    I think the trick is working out what is most important for you and what is negotiable. And, as Crystal says, making sure you get enough rest.

    All the best,

    Kate

  13. says

    Thanks so much for the encouraging post Crystal! I appreciate your balance in how you keep your blog upbeat, while still being real. Since my children are only a few months behind yours in age, I KNOW there’s a lot more going on in your house than you write about! :) That’s okay though. I have enough messes staring at me right here, so I really don’t want to see all of yours too!

    Ashley, and all the other new SAHM’s like you. I just want to encourage you to not try to do everything, especially with a tiny baby. You are still recovering, and your baby needs you A LOT right now.

    Just to help you put it in perspective, when I have a wee one, I feel good about getting my ‘weekly Saturday cleaning’ list all gone over one time a month. I find it unrealistic to attempt more than that. Laundry and getting meals on the table can be quite challenging!!

    Once you hit the 12 week mark though, things seem to change. Baby doesn’t spend every other hour nursing, and Mama starts feeling more energy. Then you can start getting a little more back to ‘normal’. But don’t feel like you should always be on top of things even then. Teething happens. Toddlers don’t quit until they fall over in a heap. :)

    Life with little ones is so challenging, and so fulfilling. We Moms need each other. I’m so blessed by honest confessions, and tips on how to do a better job are always welcome! I’m thankful for an encouraging e-community, and also by the real-life friends I have at church.

    Okay, time to go get dressed and start my day! Thanks for the encouragement right at the start!

    • says

      So true! I usually give myself at least 8-12 weeks (or more) of just sticking with the very basic of basics until we fall into more of a groove. Having a newborn takes a LOT of work and energy and time!

  14. Valerie says

    I have been very inspired and challenged with a resource that I found on confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com and that she got from http://abidingmom.blogspot.com/2010/02/abiding-mom-vs-supermom.html Its a chart contrasting Supermom with Abiding Mom. I love the first one…Supermom DOES, Abiding Mom IS. I also love the contrast of teaching your children to be good vs teaching them to be Godly and the challenge to practice grace with yourself and with others. All things that have helped me to let go of some of the things I was pressuring myself to do. I laminated the chart and posted it prominently on my refrigerator.

  15. Heather says

    To Ashley:
    I’ve got 4 kids: 7, 5, 3, and 1. Every single time I had a baby I would feel guilty in those early months for not getting anything done. Then later, when baby is about one, easier to handle, and I start to feel better, I look back and realize that I was crazy! You think I would have learned, but I’ve done it every time – although a little less with #4.

    And my mother had 10 kids, so I have to fight the whole “my mother had is so much harder – why can’t I get anything done” guilt.

    You may think at 5 weeks that you are feeling fine again, but you probably aren’t. It takes the body awhile to recover from that, especially if you had a c-section. Don’t even get me started on hormones and PPD! Don’t underestimate either the enormous toll that fragmented sleep takes on you, either. It’s much worse than just staying up late. You’ll be amazed in 6 months how much better you feel once baby is sleeping better, and can play with toys a little bit. Cut yourself a whole lot of slack. Let the house go to pieces! Lower your standards!

    It is hard to feel like you’re not “accomplishing” much, especially after working a paying job, but it will get better! And let’s face it, those early baby weeks are HARD – even with a easy baby. I know some moms love it, but they’re the only ones talking about it. There’s plenty of us who are amazed at how much easier it is to have an older baby. For some reason, no one wants to admit that they don’t like the infant stage very much – but I will! So don’t feel bad, if that’s the case.

    Also, it seems odd, but it some ways it is harder to have that first baby, without any older siblings, than to have the next ones. There was less household work of course, but I had major “loss of freedom” feelings, after my career/single life for so long. And she was colicky. People would say to me, “Enjoy her now while she is little” and it literally made me feel so much despair to hear that! Now I know better than to say that to anyone! (Maybe I needed some PPD meds) But I was amazed in a few months how much easier things got, and how much I enjoyed my baby, and that that enjoyment INCREASED as she got older.

    Definitely don’t do any nonessential work on Sunday whether you are religous are not. I read a news article recently on just that topic: many “experts” are recommending Sunday rest as necessary for mental health.

    • Anitra says

      @Heather, you are completely right! I am pregnant with #2 right now, and I remember how much I hated being pregnant the first time, and how hard the first few weeks/months were. No one talks about that, except in joking ways (“enjoy your sleep before the baby comes!”). And I remember the despair when people would tell me to “enjoy it while she is little”. My daughter is almost 2 now, and she is so much more fun! More work in many ways, too, but now I can enjoy it (when I’m not too exhausted from #2 trying to kick his way out of me).

    • says

      Such great words of advice. I should have just had you answer the question because you did it so much better than me! THANK YOU for hitting on the very real truth that it takes awhile to recover from having a baby — especially your first! I completely forgot to address that in this post and that is such an important thing for new moms to remember. Cut yourself some slack — especially in those first few months!

  16. Lana says

    There are seasons in life when you need to slack off a bit and rest and one of them is when you have a new baby. As a mom whose kids are all grown and now watching my daughter in law be mom I would say that a huge thing right now is to hold that baby and enjoy him and get plenty of rest yourself. Try to get a good nap everyday while the baby is sleeping and you will cope with everything else better. Do what has to be done and don’t expect everything to be perfect. You will have more energy and life with a baby in the house will be much easier by the time he is 2 months old. Enjoy this time as it is so fleeting!

    • says

      @Lana,

      I second Heather’s statement about taking it easy on Sunday. I grew up in an athiest household, but my dad was very old fashioned and held many biblical standards even though he was an athiest. (I know, I know, how does THAT happen!)

      Once these standards was you rested on Sunday. Period. The entire family was expected to take it easy (and take an afternoon nap, or rest). Even during planting season and harvest, no field work was done unless there was a very special circumstance.

      In my adult life I’ve carried on this tradition and it makes for a much better week. We need time to recharge our batteries.

  17. says

    First, congrats on your new baby! I don’t think I would have even been able to type 3 paragraphs 5 weeks after my son was born, so you’re already ahead of me! You’ll feel so much better and more together in a few months.

    My son is 2 now and we have another on the way. I work outside of the home so my situation is a little different, but what has worked for me is to put myself on a schedule with breaks built in. I spend about 1 1/2 hours each night after DS has gone to bed taking care of chores and that makes our weekend so much easier.
    Monday — I clean the kitchen and we take out all of the trash
    Tuesday — Grooming night for DS and the cat, ie they both get their nails trimmed.
    Wednesday — Laundry night
    Thursday — Night off — we get take out and just relax
    Friday — Grocery shopping
    Saturday — I either clean the upstairs or the downstairs (I rotate every other week)
    Sunday — Family day

    I don’t always stick to this, but having a schedule and sticking to it most weeks makes things so much easier.

  18. Tara says

    After reading the article, I too wanted to jump in and stress how that the recovery period after a baby is hard! I have a 5 yo, 3 yo, and twin 13 months olds. Until the baby (or babies if multiples) are sleeping through the night, I am EXHAUSTED all of the time!

    But, the other thing that I have found is that until I am done nursing, my energy level is still low even with a good diet and vitamins. Not as low as that initial recovery period, but low nonetheless. About two months after I discontinue nursing I get my old surge of energy back. For me, that means that the first year is a slow going year until I’m recovered and done nursing.

    All that to say to this mother of a 5 week old: give yourself some time, especially if you have had a cesarean, the baby is still eating at night or you are nursing. You have things going on right now that are physically tiring and things will get better over time.

  19. Heather says

    It never ceases to amaze me that when I need a word of encouragement I always find it on this blog. I have often felt like you, Ashley, but then I realized that God created all of us different and we do different things in our lives. Who would want a world of super moms out there. Then where is the adventure and the simple joy of watching your kids learn how to do things for themselves and the fun side trips that life gives you when things don’t go just right. We have learned to embrace the oops in life because it makes it more fun.
    Take the time to enjoy your little one and know that the super mom in the magazine lives there, not here in the real world. Be encouraged because most moms out there find a way eventually to balance the peace in the whirlwind that is motherhood. The most important thing I have found to help is that when I feel overwhelmed I stop and play with my kids. Seeing life from there view seems to put it all back into perspective.
    Mothering a baby is not always easy for everyone and being a first time mother is so hard. When I brought my first one home I thought “How am I going to do this”. There were days when I wanted todo nothing so all I did was take care of the baby and the house did not fall down and everyone else got fed.

  20. Shantique says

    Please also keep in mind, you have not given yourself a chance to RECOVER from childbirth yet! There is a reason 6 weeks is a magic number (8 for C-Sections!)! Really sit and THINK about what your body has been through for the past 11 months! All the hormone and body changes over the pregnancy and the stress and emotions that can come with it too! Then the actual birth literally DRAINS your body’s energy (you spent the last couple months of your pregnancy directing a lot of your body’s nutrients and blood to your baby, it takes time for your body to regenerate that sustenance!). I’m sure you are also taking on a mjority of the nighttime work too, so you have not had much sleep! These first few weeks and months of baby’s life are so precious and exhausting. Just remember WHY you are staying home! You want to be with your child…for now do that. Everything else will come…also, take people up on their offers to help!

    Once you have enjoyed your new blessing for a while there are a couple of sites that help you with chore planning, breaking things down into small bits! Justmommies.com has a Home organization plan that is brokern down by tasks you should do every day (like making your bed), weekly (meal planning), and a monthly challenge set up by room. Then there is an additional one thing to tackle for each day with a catch up day every three days. It’s great because it addresses more than I even knew to do, in easy bits and gives you a written calendar to go by. This helps to get Dad involved with too! Flylady.com is a good one too!

  21. says

    I have a 15 week old son and made the transition from full-time work to staying at home. I agree with so many of the commenters!

    Around the 8 week mark things got a little easier for me, but until then it was mostly my husband who was doing the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping.

    As I felt able I set some goals. One day it was to take a shower while the baby slept. Another day it was to write 10 thank-you notes. Today it’s to prepare food for dinner, put away laundry and do dishes, but they started REALLY small. Having bare minimum goals that can be accomplished makes me feel so much better.

    My workplace never would have expected someone who had been there for 5 weeks to accomplish near as much as someone who had worked in the field for 5 years. It’s totally new to people like me, and that’s fine! (Even after longer periods of time, our children and priorities are not the same as others so we still can’t compare ourselves to other moms.)

    Let your body recover and get to know your little one… starting around 6 weeks it seemed like there were new things every other day! What a blessed time!

  22. Lauren says

    Crystal,
    I so appreciate your honesty and desire to keep things real on your blog. I love the encouragement you provide. I love how you point to Jesus and God’s grace as the means to which we can set and achieve goals for ourselves and our families. I love your reminders to stop and truly enjoy our children and the blessings God has given us. I love how you remind us to not take the burdens of child-rearing all on our shoulders but to remember to take it to our God who cares for us deeply. I appreciate you sharing with us both successes and failures. You aren’t afraid to show us that you aren’t perfect, and that is so needed in our culture.
    You are a gifted mommy and wife, thank you for using the gifts God has given you to encourage many, many women!
    Lauren

    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind encouragement. I have so much yet to learn and am constantly making many mistakes, but I am grateful to the Lord for His grace, strength, love and longsuffering!

  23. Grace says

    Ashley,

    Take the time to enjoy your baby now. I did the same thing that you did when my son was born. I tried to do it all. Needless to say it didn’t work. God sent me a wake up call in the form of a hospital visit where I was suffering from exhustion, and complications from his birth. I do try to give myself a break and if need be remove myself from my son. My Husband is extremely busy in the summer so I’m almost a single Mom for 2-4 months. But, I’m reminded how blessed I am when he comes home after being at a jobsite for two weeks and can’t believe what he’s doing, how much he’s grown, ect. Plus, your return on your investment of time will be priceless!

  24. says

    Crystal, I love your graciousness and honesty – your love for God radiates through your words.

    Not comparing myself to others list of accomplishments has been a struggle for me over the past 3.5 years – with a husband that often works 90+ hours a week (with no choice, being military) and is away from us for 3-20 nights a month and being far away from family my goals are creating a peaceful, relaxing and inviting home for my husband and boys. Sometimes it’s hard to not have other goals – bigger goals, more “dignified” goals – but the Lord has worked wonders on my heart and keeping our life simple and my guys protected from unnecessary stress has become a passionate desire of mine.
    And to hear my husband say “Our house is the most restful place for me to be, thank you” is such a joy to my heart.

    It really is about setting your heart before the Lord, making your goals line up with His word and your husbands desires and simply focusing on your own calling.

    But dear lady you have been such an encouragement of a diligent worker and I appreciate that!

    • says

      You’re focusing on what’s most important and that’s ten times (or a thousand times!) of greater worth than all the other things you could be doing right now.

      I can’t wait to meet you in October. Keep on loving and cherishing your family — and letting go of the guilt!

  25. says

    In our home, we observe the Sabbath, which is from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. And in observing it, we set aside all of our work and just rest in HIM that day. It is amazing how much better we feel when starting the work week. There is a reason that God put in place a day of rest and that HE also rested on the seventh day. What a great example HE is to us and how loving to give us one day to rest our bodies and focus our hearts and minds on HIM.

    As moms though, it is hard to completely rest. Dishes wait, laundry waits, but there are still meals to prepare and other things that just can’t wait. Put aside those things that truly can wait and keep your heart focused on serving others when doing the other things.

  26. says

    I’m gonna make this simple because I know how you are feeling right now.

    Here is your to do list:
    1. Drink lots of water.
    2. Take your vitamins.
    3. Eat something with a little protein before 10:00 am.
    4. Take a shower (every day…. even if it is 9:00 pm and you’ve been planning to shower since 6:00 am.)
    5. Develop a uniform. (For me it was a v-neck tshirt and elastic-waist shorts, shortie socks and my running shoes. Something that looks acceptable when company stops by to see the baby and something you can wear outside when the baby is screaming bloody murder and you need to put them in the stroller and go walk around the block… for both your sakes.)
    6. Put on eyeliner & moisturizer & brush your teeth. (The new-mama beauty routine…. eyeliner made me feel “photo ready”)
    7. Write & photograph. Write your memory of the birth story NOW. Write down baby details and photograph those adorable feet. Don’t worry about lighting or getting prints made or creating the perfect baby book… be a documentarian. I just started my son’s baby book… He’s SIX. But I have emails back-and-forth on a daily basis with my mother-in-law about what adorable things he was doing so I have all the details… with dates.

    That’s it. That’s your to-do list for every day. If you get one other thing done in a day….. you ARE super-mom.

      • says

        @Crystal, Thanks. The idea of the “uniform” is inspired by the book “The Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The character’s mother has a summer uniform of crisp white shirts, tan linen shorts and big straw hats. I gave up ironing long ago so her uniform wouldn’t work for me but I’ve tried to develop a work-uniform style (summer is khaki capris, simple skirts, and simple but well-cut t-shirt style tops…. funkified by a little “signature” jewelry…. clunky turquoise necklaces, giant costume jewelry rings, scarves) and I realized I needed to do the same thing for maternity leave or I would be in jammies all day.

        My other super-mom trick was to dab baby lotion behind the baby’s ears & neck. Right where grandma’s sniff and exclaim about how great baby’s smell.

  27. Missy says

    Until my daughter was about 6 months old, her favorite place to nap was in my arms. She slept in her crib at night, but not for naps. I had well meaning friends and family encourage me to put her down for naps (both so she’d learn to sleep on her own and so I could get things done). But truth be told, I enjoyed holding her, watching the cute eye fluttering and mouth movements she made in her sleep, and smelling her sweet baby smell. Plus I knew I won’t have this luxury with a second baby as I’ll be chasing a toddler. Did this mean my house was a dump and I missed out on some deals- absolutely! Around 6 months, a switch flipped and my daughter would only sleep in her crib. Now that she’s a full fledged active toddler, I’m lucky if I get 30 seconds of cuddling before she’s on the move again. I don’t remember the great deal I missed out on, but I do remember that time with my daughter. Enjoy your time with your son. Everything else will still be there later.

  28. Jennifer says

    When we had our first child I was still working. After 6 week I went back to work and my parents were able to watch our little bundle of joy. 10 months later we had our son and we found that it was best that I stay home with both our children. We are now expecting our 3rd (all 3 will be born within 25 months of each other) and I just got out of the exhausted stage of pregnancy. There were days when it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed and take care of our children. My husband was completely understanding and we found ways to deal with the rest of life, including many bagged meals or frozen pizza’s purchased with coupons. About two months ago I was starting to feel depressed that our home looked like a train wreck all the time. I cleaned specific rooms if someone was coming over but the rest just had shut doors. I sat down about a month ago and made a list of 3 categories.

    What needs to be done each week?
    What items need to be done at a different time interval?
    What projects would I like to accomplish?

    Since I started this routine, my house is clean (not perfect but so much better). I focus on the items that need to be done each week. I then tackle things that have differnt time intervals (polishing our entertainment center…) then I’ve even found that once I organized my time I have more time for those projects that I never seem to get to. These even include scrapbooking. I have a simple calendar that I write my tasks down in. I’ve been able to cross them off as I accomplish something and it feels so much better.

    I still haven’t gotten to the entertainment center but my stress is all but gone and our home is so much cleaner.

  29. Megan says

    Thank you for this. As a first-time WAHM of a 10 week old, this post and the comments have been extremely encouraging me–especially since I’ve been reading some other mom blogs that have me feeling like I don’t measure up.

  30. says

    Thanks for your post! As a mom of a 15-month-old, I love to read how other moms manage their time and day. The info you provided was really helpful! And I love your focus on God.

    Ashely, if I were you I wouldn’t worry too much about deals (unless maybe your budget is super tight) or being really organized (or even really clean) right now. This is such a precious time of life for you and your son. And I bet you are doing a fabulous job!

    While I was pregnant, I imagined having so much time with only a part-time job from home and a small baby to take care of (I quit my full-time job before he was born). To me, being a mommy was just a little side job. But when he was born, I felt overwhelmed. Being a mom of a newborn is very hard. It takes a ton of time and energy and it is a huge adjustment in every way, no matter how many books you read or classes you attend. It is most definitely more than a full-time job.

    Every other mom seemed to be very productive (but I didn’t realize how different it can be when you’ve had some time to adjust and your kids are a bit older). I thought I should be doing more. I wanted him to grow so I could be more productive. Now I long for those days when he was so teeny—fresh from heaven—and slept most of the day! :-) I wish I had just taken several weeks to truly treasure the gift of my son. I definitely want to approach my next child’s newborn months differently.

  31. says

    I work 40 or more hours a week, have a 3 year old girl, 6 year old boy, husband of 7 years, etc. BUT… I occasionally don’t just take the day off we take the WEEKEND OFF!!! I don’t plan ANYTHING! I get the laundry, grocery shopping, gardening, etc. done throughout the week and then on the weekend we do NOTHING! Whatever we want to do…no plans just relax at home.

    Usually I do these “WEEKENDS OFF” right before and right after ice hockey season (our son plays) because during hockey season we get NO time off! It’s so nice sometimes to just spend time as a family. Not cleaning and doing laundry, but being together enjoying eachothers company!

    Jackie ~ http://itscrazycheap.blogspot.com/

  32. VJ says

    Came across this site today – http://www.thevinetoday.com/word/archive/2003/06/03
    I’m in the same boat. I’ve trimmed my expectations to a house with ‘basic hygiene’ instead of a magazine spread, etc. You’ve to find your most important factors and focus on that – easy way to do that is take your to do list and mark it as most imp, imp, less imp, and bring most imp down to a minimum. For me, its ‘Pray Live Eat’ (and some more Eat, LOL) at this point in life

  33. Rachael says

    I needed to be patient and kind to myself in the first few weeks following pregnancy. Everything that is usually routine becomes very difficult–preparing meals, cleaning the house, keeping up with email, etc. It helped me to accept help from anyone who offered, and to also ask for help. This allowed me to take care of myself a little, too. My daughter is now five months old, and things are much better. The house is cleaner, we are eating better, and we’ve found (sort of) a rhythm. Her sleeping pattern is regular now, too, so it’s easier to plan for things and organize a schedule. Although the budget gets tight postpardum, I also felt like this was a time to spend a little extra money on myself. Buying a few new things that fit well (even if it’s a new pair of sweats from Old Navy), getting a haircut, or just buying some nice soap really helped me feel like I had things a little bit together.

  34. says

    Ashley,

    You are in the hardest stage you will go through with your baby right now. Even though some days and nights might seem to be a struggle, just try to remember that God will give you the strength to be able to take good care of your new precious little one. I do understand how you feel, I have a 12 month old son and a three year old daughter.

    When my first child Madeline was born, I really thought there were days when I was just going to collapse. I was very determined to nurse my daughter and I can remember waking up with her some nights barely being able to stay awake to nurse her for 20 minutes.

    Whenever I got discouraged, I would pray and God would give me the strength I need to care for my little girl. When my daughter was two weeks old I developed a very painful cyst on my tail bone and I can remember sitting in my rocking chair crying and nursing her until my husband came home that day to take me to the doctor.

    I believe all mothers have the strength to do whatever they must do to take care of their children. We will all go through trials, but that just makes us stronger and wiser mothers to our precious children.

    It is important to also take proper care of ourselves, buy eating properly and taking care of our bodies. Even if you do not have all of your chores done, do not feel guilty, it is best to lay down and take a rest when your baby is sleeping.

    I have nursed and bottle fed and I think it is very important to be prepared at night if you bottle feed and if you are nursing. I would always make sure to have plenty of diapers,wipes, my boppy and a change of clothes (especially if you have a boy) near me so I would not have to search for them in the middle of the night.

    If you bottle feed, I would make sure to have 3 or 4 bottles ready before I would go to bed. I found the bottle warmers to also be quite helpful because you can put those right by your bed at night and some of them have night lights.

    Good luck Ashley, I know you will be just fine and it does get easier after just a few months. The other women are right that we need to cherish these moments with our children while they are young. My little Maddy is three now and sometimes she says, “mommy do you wish I was a baby again?” She is a real sweety :)

  35. Emily says

    Ashley, when my boys were newborns, I had three goals for myself each day: to take a shower, to make all the beds, and to keep my kitchen clean (which for me meant keeping the countertops wiped off and clutter-free and keeping dirty dishes out of the sink.) If I accomplished all three things in the course of a day (and there were some days that I didn’t!), then I felt productive because I could check all three things off my list. If I managed to accomplish more than those three things (like dusting the living room, or doing a few loads of laundry, or making a real meal for dinner), then I felt like Superwoman :) So for me, the key to helping myself feel good was to set the bar really, really low in those first few months. Don’t worry; six months from now, your little guy will be so much easier, and your life will look normal again.

  36. Andrea says

    This post has really touched me also. I only have one child so far, and he is nine months now, but I have felt “not good enough” most days of being a mom. Now, looking back on when he was a newborn, I really have come a long way and am able to accomplish a lot more. I didn’t really think about it until reading this post, but I get dishes done every day, do laundry every day (we recently moved to China and I have to do a load every day so it has time to hang dry), and keep things fairly clean.

    I wanted to also say that like some other people have mentioned, we have always made Sundays a complete family day, meaning no TV, radio, or other things that we do just to pass the time. We spend all that time with extended family, or now since it’s just us, each other. It’s a wonderful gift God gave us to have Sundays be a day of rest! I need that rest.

  37. Heather says

    Thanks so much for posting this. I have a 6 month old and a 7 year old and I feel so overwhelmed at times with the baby because there are days I can’t hardly put him down without him crying for me. I make these to do lists that I never seem to finish and the day I read this I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and frustrated. It was so perfectly timed and made me feel so much better. Crystal, you have inspired me so much that I have actually started getting up in the morning and walking and I have been praying daily for strength and patience and I have been feeling so much better about things. It helps to know others have the same struggles and frustrations I do and that it is OK that I am not perfect!

    • says

      You are most welcome. I’m grateful it was a blessing! Keep on, keepin’ on!

      “Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season you will reap, if you faint not.”

    • says

      @Heather, With mine, when we had super fussy periods, I would babywear (sling or my ergo) to be able to snuggle baby and accomplish what I need to (the key being NEED!) During seasons with littles, what needs to be done can really be simplified. That being said, I didn’t really ever have babies that were too fussy. My sister’s fourth was very fussy. She wore him constantly and then he had a hard time not being worn so I guess there is a balance in there somewhere…

      Thanks so much for this Crystal. Being real is the appeal of your blog {for me anyway} and yes, it is oh-so-hard for me to give up trying to be superwoman even though I need to!

  38. Kara says

    So many wise and encouraging comments here for a new mom!

    At each milestone your new little one hits (6 months is a big one for me) you’ll be excited to see how much more energy you have, how much more you love being a mom and how greatly you’ve been blessed! Trust me! At about 6 months, I always think, “Yes, this is how I want to feel!”. I think sometimes you can’t see how worn out you are until you’re past it and looking back. Give yourself some grace!

  39. says

    I had three babies in 5 years – and now that they are older (7, 9, and 11), I wish I had taken things even a little slower.

    I was a stay at home mom, and I was with them through everything, but I wish now that I had focused more on those tasks that last. I wish that I had worried a little less about laundry and what the neighbors thought of the cleanliness of my living room – and I wish I had taken more photographs and at least taken the time to write at least one line in my journal for each day.

    The days start to melt into one another, and before I knew it, all three kids had started school. Now I get a whole lot done, but I sure miss ‘em.

    I love the suggestions in this post – about being kind to yourself and setting simple routines. And I love the notion of media-free Sundays!

    • says

      @Susie, Thank you for this. I want to be more focused on what will last. I love to have a super-clean perfectly organized house and can easily get distracted by these tasks.

      I am appreciating all these comments almost as much as the initial post. [or maybe more - sorry Crystal :)]

      I’m so happy about this Lite feed you offer. It’s good to be back!