Currently showing posts tagged prioritizing

  • Working With a Baby On Your Hip

    Our daughter, Aila, turned one year old in January! It has been so fun being her mom over the last year.

    But one thing that has been most challenging for me is still accomplishing all the tasks throughout the day that I still need to do. I am a task-oriented person, therefore not being able to do everything I want in a day really irritates me. I know my value does not come from accomplishing. Let me stress that again, just in case you missed it: as a task-oriented person, I do not get my value from accomplishing tasks! My value comes from the value God has placed on my being, which was determined before the beginning of time.

    "Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life were written in Your book before any of them came to be." Psalm 139:16 NLV

    "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." John 3:16 MSG

    “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you..." Jeremiah 1:5 MSG

    Learning how He values instead of trying to prove myself constantly has been tough--especially since little Aila has been on the scene. There have been days that when I was laying down for bed at night, I felt like a failure, despite all the love that I gave that girl {diaper changes, nursing around the clock, outfit changes, cuddles and play time}. I enjoy doing laundry, washing dishes {aka, loading the dishwasher}, cleaning the house, paying bills, sending cards, hosting parties, organizing our schedule, meal planning, etc. That's why I stay so busy as a stay-at-home mom. When I did work as a nurse in the hospital, I thought multiple times while trying to pick up shifts from their schedule, "I am just too busy to work!" It was always so hard to fit in a shift when really I wanted to use that time to reserach a new meal or custom-fit our old pillowcases to our new pillows {tutorial coming!}. 

    So how do I still get work done after having a first baby? Here are some tips I've learned so far:

    1) Prioritize

    First of all, decide what is most important to you. There are basic needs for everyone in the family--decide what you must do everyday and then work your way from most important tasks to least important. Write them down!

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    I've learned that I easily make time for food and drink--hands down, that's easy. But after providing basic meals for Ryan, Aila and I, it gets a little harder. After years of trying to justify not doing things "I know I should do", I have started to really prioritize the things most important to me--like actually put them into action. If I don't do my quiet time first thing in the morning, it likely will not get done. But something I am even less motivated to accomplish on a regular basis is exercising! I will get in the Word and study my Bible for hours to avoid a workout! Ugh... So just this week I have started making myself go to bed by 10:00pm. Wellness Mama, Katie, talks about the importance of enough sleep here and the Holy Spirit has just not let me get it out of my head. I need seven to eight hours of sleep and I am making it non-negotiable. Going to bed at 10:00pm has enabled me to wake up at 6:00am every day to exercise before Aila wakes up around 7:00am. 

    2) Utilize nap time

    Nap time, glorious nap time. Ryan and I implemented The Sleep Lady's Goodnight Sleep Tight Sleep Solution for Aila when she was about five weeks old and we do not regret it for a second! Since she was 9 months old, she has been sleeping 12 hours straight at night and napping for an hour and a half for both of her naps {in the beginning it was 2hrs for the first and 1.5hrs for the second--it will continue to change as she gets older}. In the beginning, I took naps when she did, but as my sleep deprivation lessened, I started utilizing nap time more and more. 

    Because I've started working out before Aila wakes up, I have two nap times to accomplish tasks that I just can't do while she is awake. It took time to figure out what those were: I can cook and clean while she is awake--she just plays next to me while I am cleaning or enjoys sitting on the countertop playing with ingredients as I prepare meals. She also enjoys playing in new places for short periods of time--for example, exploring the basement while I do laundry and pulling out bottles of hair product from their drawer while I do my hair and makeup. 

    If you try this at home, do NOT walk away while your child is three feet in the air and unrestrained! I thankfully know this from common sense, not experience! 

    Tasks I can not accomplish while she is awake: paperwork, computer work, reading, sewing--pretty much anything where I am sitting still. She will forget her toys exist and only want up on my lap to check out {destroy} whatever it is I am trying to accomplish. After I figured out, in general, what I need to do only when she naps, then each day I just decide what I need to accomplish.

    Closet-cleaning at my parent's home when Aila was around 3 months old.

    Just as I won't exercise if I don't do it before Aila wakes up, I also will not likely spend intimate time with the Lord if I don't do it during her first nap. It's as if once my task-mode turns on, it doesn't turn off until night time. My intimate time with the Lord can just NOT be 'done' in task-mode. Sometimes I journal: my thoughts, feelings, desires, frustrations, what I am learning, fears, details of special events or conversations, etc. Other times I do actual Bible study by finding scripture on my own and digging into it's original meaning using a Strong's Concordance or study tool. Or I study the Bible by using a guided study, such as the 'Daniel' study I am going through right now by Beth Moore. One other method my Aunt Linda enlightened me to recently is the Lectio Divina method. You can read more about this method here, but basically you follow a four-step process of meditating on scripture. 1} You read your scripture of choice all the way through at least once and then listen for the "still, small voice", or a word or phrase that sticks out to you. 2} You reflect on that portion and think about how it applies to you--WHY do you think it spoke to you more than the rest of the words in that portion of scripture? 3} Open your heart to God about your thoughts and feelings regarding what spoke to you--it may be praise, confusion, anger, frustration, joy, relief, etc. This step ushers you into conversation with God--the act of relationship with Him. And lastly, 4} listen to what God says to you in response to what you shared with Him.

    "This is a freeing of oneself from one's own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God." ~S. Michael Houdmann. 

    3) Accept help or "me time"

    My 'mother-in-love' has occassionally and graciously offered "Kory time" to me to do whatever I want to do! It's usually a few times a month for around four hours at a time. It. Is. Glorious! Though I have adjusted to life with a baby, there are some things I definitely miss from my former, 'married without a child' life. What I miss most is being able to leave my house to study, read a novel, or spend intimate time with the Lord--whether that is at a coffee shop, a park or at a restaurant over a long lunch. I used to spend hours with a book or computer and headphones studying. Now, I am lucky to get an hour and a half straight with no interruptions. I also miss going to the grocery or shopping without making sure the diaper bag is loaded, spending five minutes loading her and her belongings in the car, constantly using disctraction methods to keep her patient while actually doing the shopping, and then spending another five minutes packing her and my purchases back in the car. I will never take 'just jumping out of the car' and running into a store for one item for granted again. I miss running easy errands! So during "me time" I don't usually clean the house or do laundry--I do whatever I want to do. If someone offers to watch your baby for a few hours, take it! 

    Aila with her "Suzu", my "mother-in-love".

    Aila with her MeMe Reichert, who often comes from Indiana to babysit for us.

    4) Give yourself some slack

    In a post about 'getting things done' I must mention that you should give yourself a break until your baby is 6-12 months old. If you are exhausted--sleep! Take care of your self, your basic needs, and the needs of your family first. The house can collect some dirt for a month or two until you are back to your motivated self. And let's be honest, it's more fun to clean a really dirty house than a clean one--you can see the results more easily! 

    5) Teach your child patience

    I strive to provide Aila opportunities each day to learn patience. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children that they are not the center of the universe. Cloud and Townsend explain 'delaying gratification' great in their book, "Boundaries":

    "[Delay of gratification is] the ability to say no to our impulses, wishes, and desires for some gain down the road. The Scriptures place great value on this abilitiy. God uses this skill to help us see the benefits of planning and preparing. Jesus is our prime example, "Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). Generally, this skill isn't relevant until after the first year of life, as bonding needs to take precedence during that time. However, teaching delay of gratification can begin quickly by the beginning of the second year. Dessert comes after carrots, not before."

    Though it breaks my heart to see Aila's big 'ole tears falling down her cheeks, I know as long as her basic needs are being met {her diaper isn't dirty, she's not starving, she's safe and she's not in severe pain}, then she is learning a very important lesson by not getting everything she wants immediately. I want to love her well--to give cuddles, play time and plenty of attention--but discipline is just as essential for her to grow up as a mature, self controlled, humble and healthy child and adult. 

    One of my favorite books, "Bébé Day by Day" by Pamela Druckerman perfectly words Ryan and I's parenting goal for Aila and the virtue of patience:

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    "The secret to patience isn't expecting a child to be a stoic who freezes and silently waits. Scientists have found that kids become good at waiting once they learn how to distract themselves--by inventing a little song or burping at themselves in the mirror, for instance. This makes the waiting bearable.
    French parents have discovered this too. They know that they don't even have to teach a child how to distract himself. If they simply say "wait" a lot (attend in French) and make a child practice waiting on a daily basis, she'll figure out how to distract herself. But if they drop everything the instant she complains that she's bored, or if they get off the phone when she interrupts, the child isn't going to get good at waiting. She's going to get good at whining."

    So that's where I am right now!

    I am learning how to do this whole Motherhood thing as I go along. I am sure Ryan and I will modify and adapt our methods to Aila's developmental changes as they come. I can only imagine what moms of multiple children are thinking while reading this advice. I wonder if it gets harder and harder or if you become more and more efficient with each additional child!? Hopefully Ryan and I will find out one day!

    I'd love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions--leave me a comment below!