Life before baby was different. You managed your finances a certain way. You spent your free time doing things you wanted to do when you wanted to do them. Then baby came along and changed the money priority, the activity priority, the leisure…okay there’s no leisure now. It’s another person fighting for your time and attention. It gets even more difficult with the addition of a second or third or more! Although your heart multiplies with each darling bundle of joy, your time is divided exponentially. This is why developing a rhythm that works with your new family dynamic is so critical. It’s not going to come overnight, but you can find a pattern of life that works for your expanding family!
Here are 4 tips to help you on your quest for a new family rhythm
#1 Take it slow.
Take it slow. If you hear nothing I am saying, hear this: I beg you, implore you, plead, admonish, strongly advise that you take it slow. Very. Slow. Receive the meals for as long as they are offered. Eat take out when they stop. Do whatever it takes to stay sane in the early weeks and months postpartum. The mommy guilt can be strong with this one. We didn’t take it slow and this still lives on as our biggest parenting fail to date. And it happened with every single birth! We tried to bounce back way too quickly. You can read about that adventure here but here’s the short of it: I went back to work too quickly. I literally wore my third child through an entire summer of working because I loved what I was doing so much, but it would take me 5 hours to do what I could do in 30 minutes with a good night’s sleep and good childcare. Neither of which was available. Bless my little heart! Please. Learn from my stupidity. Take it slow.
#2 Look for natural emerging patterns
As life begins to stabilize, take some time to observe your family and your daily activities. Observe what is happening on a daily basis without any amount of mind power. For example, our dinner was consistently on the table about an hour later than our normal dinner time. So dinner time changed. When we brought home our third child, my husband started taking the older two children to school on his way to work. It was meant to be a temporary fix out of necessity, but it turned into a new rhythm for our family. Often these patterns will appear to be failures. Did you notice that you have cooked grilled cheese every Wednesday for a month? Instead of looking at it as a nutrition fail, look at it as a pattern that you and your family can rely upon. Grilled Cheese Wednesday it is! Instead of beating yourself up over things that are not the same, celebrate the new constants that are forming. Find sustainable patterns and rock them, momma!
#3 Be Willing to Experiment
Getting your children on the same schedule is not easy. It will require some give and take and some serious trial and error. Coordinating naps was such a beast for me. For a while, I was putting one child down for a nap just in time for another to wake up. I treasured the one-on-one time but I didn’t have any time for laundry, rest, or creativity. I was exhausted. Through experimentation, I was able to get all three kids on the same schedule. Remember how my husband was taking the kids to school? We added early care so he could get to the office earlier which meant he arrived home earlier. All the mommas say “hallelujah”! We also simplified our menu. We made a list of easy to execute meals and a list of all the grocery items needed. We posted it to the fridge and followed it as best we could. Even now, we have a 7 day menu that we repeat every week. We literally eat the same thing each week. Tuesday really is Taco Tuesday in our house. Is it boring? Yep. It’s working now, too. As the kids return to school in a few weeks, that will probably change, but heeding the advice of tip #1 above, I will be taking it sloooooow!
#4 Ask for help and Don’t Feel Bad About it
I recently heard an interview with Shauna Niequest where she said of seeking help: “Most of us have a deep well of people who would love to care for us but we don’t let them because we don’t think they’ll catch us.” When I had an unexpected C-section with my third child and everyone got sick at the same time, I reached out because I was so scared. I just couldn’t handle it. I HAD to ask for help. The most amazing thing happened when I did. Friends and framily came out of the woodwork to help bring meals, clean my house, and take our kids on adventures so mommy could sleep. One precious woman would text me every week and say: “I am on my way to Kroger. What can I pick up for you?” Do you know how humbling it was to ask for help? It took some major pride swallowing but the gift of love and support was so overwhelming it made dying to my highfaluted opinion of myself truly worth it. Having a baby is life-altering. Give yourself grace.
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I am not a loud person. Having three kids, however, has made my house a loud place. The laundry piles up weekly and that drives me nuts. The minute I say I have mastered a system for the dishwasher the dishes mysteriously appear overflowing in the sink. Dear precious mommy, be okay with the laundry piles even though you swore that you would do a load a day. Give yourself a break if you are still depending on take out when you really thought you’d be well on your merry organic way by now. Family rhythms are as unique as musical rhythms. Sometimes the tempo is fast and upbeat and other times it’s slow and purposeful and sometimes it just feels like a toddler banging the keys!
There’s a time and place for all of it. Keep going, my friend. One day you’ll look up and notice that your family has found a new normal. You’ll think: “This is who we are and how we live now. I love us.”
What about you, friend? What have you done after the addition of a new family member to help create a routine, a rhythm, a breathing pattern? Do you think the dynamic is different with adoption or foster care? Comment below!
Read the Introduction Here! Bringing Home Baby, Again.
Bringing home a baby is hard on the siblings too! They have to get used to another person in the house that is interrupting their sleep or crashing in their room or possibly taking over their room and now they have to share their toys! It can be overwhelming for a little tyke. Join me next week as we talk about how to help the rest of the family adjust to life with another sibling.
Photo Credit: Captured Photography by Emily