Mommyhood is a lot like Groundhog Day. Do you ever feel like this? I totally do. It seems like this is especially true for us stay-at-home moms that I have talked to… We easily get into this repetitive sequence everyday, and it is easy to get lost in the mundane nature of daily life caring for a tiny baby.
Motherhood while our children are small can be the most fulfilling and meaningful thing in our lives right now, but it is easy to feel isolated and sometimes bored with the redundancy. That’s why I am learning it is important to be purposeful about fitting in variety into your life. This can be a challenge for me with little Olivia, and sometimes I go weeks with my head in the sand until I finally come up for air. That is when I am reminded that there is this big exciting world out there full of amazing things to see and do, and wonderful people to meet and talk to.
I am learning the importance of variety. That said, I am still a big believer of predictability for baby, and getting them on a schedule. I believe babies thrive on predictability. It helps them feel safe, and know what to expect. When we give them this, we give them an important foundation of security that actually frees them to learn, play and explore even better. It is an excellent environment for nurturing creativity. Our schedules are not rigid, we try to leave room for adjustments, or flexibility if something is going on with baby that changes what she needs, or we if have a family gathering or something. But if we have one of our “special” days where the schedule changes, I try to get us back to our original predictable one during the rest of the week. And the “schedule” is adjusted and re-evaluated over and over again as baby goes through all of her first year milestones. I try hard to observe and reassess if something seems to not be working and keep trying till I find something that does.
But somewhere along the way, our tiny world of changing diapers, feedings, naps, baths, and running interference between baby and off-limit objects, (or in some cases between baby and the poor dog) we can lose sight of the bigger picture. It occurred to me on some days that baby could use some variety maybe as much as mommy does. So I am starting to make time to get out of the house, meet friends, visit with family, go to the park or walk around at the mall. Play dates are another awesome treat. Baby gets to interact with other babies, play with someone else’s super cool toys. Mommy gets a chance to have a conversation with a grown-up, and have her need for relationship met.
Here are Five “Mommy Needs” I have been thinking about. These are things that if I go to long without getting, I get crabby. And most of them conveniently coincide with basic “Baby Needs.” Pretty neat…
1. The need for adult interaction and relationships. Our girlfriends matter, they help remind us we are not going it all alone, are there for us emotionally, and help us be intellectually stimulated. Play dates are the best. Mommy needs it, and its a lot of fun for baby. Baby gets to socialize too. It is nice for Olivia to be able to watch what other kids are doing and be challenged to try things and keep up with the big kids, especially since she is the first grandbaby on my side, and there are no other siblings or cousins for her yet. Plus there is the built in bonus of have someone else hold or play with your baby so you can go potty uninterrupted.
2. The need to get some fresh air. This is good for the soul, and the body. Most of us are not getting enough vitamin D. Plus baby needs fresh air and sunlight too, and a walk is an amazing way to break up the day when baby and/or mommy are in a funk. We have never gone back from a walk in a bad mood, we are happy and relaxed… ready for a nice long nap… and even the dog likes it. Everyone wins!
3. The need for some spontaneity and variety. We get sick of doing the same old stuff every day, and staring at the same four walls. I think this is true for us moms but also true for baby. I want Olivia to come out with me and see the world, and share all my favorite spots in town, watch the cute squirrels in the park or the pretty fountains in our town square. She gets a chance to learn about how the world works.
4. The need for some me time. For me this is reading, writing on my blog, trying a new recipe, photography, doing a simple craft, or praying for my family or for a friend, or on some days – just take a long hot shower or a nap (Yes when you become a mom those last two become actual hobbies). Grandmas are there to help with this one by watching little one, so we moms can find this elusive “me time” once in a while. (Yay for grandmas!!) Then we can go back to baby relaxed, refreshed, and happy, and be ready to be the best mommy we can be all over again. So baby benefits too. We are no good to anyone else if we don’t take some time to take care of ourselves.
5. The need for some couple time. As a couple we sometimes go weeks before we realize we haven’t done anything special together in quite some time. It’s not that we are miserable in the meantime, we just get distracted, so this is something we need to make time for… prioritize, and yes (gasp) schedule. Otherwise it won’t happen. I know plenty of couples get so wrapped up in parenthood that they lose sight of each other, and then 10 years later they come out of the childhood years, look at their spouse and see a stranger. I do not want this to happen to us, and I believe kids need to see their parents loving each other, playing together, teasing, and investing in their marriage. It sets the tone for how they will see their own love lives when they are grown. Again, this is another one that Grandmas are there to step in and help with, by watching baby.
What are some ways you built in variety or spontaneity into you and your baby’s routine? Really, I would love to hear some ideas… places to go, things to do. 🙂