A newborn can make you see your family with new eyes.
I see the way my son looks at her and strokes her head when she’s crying. He makes that small sideways smile and squint. He gives the tiniest of nods because he knows I’m watching him, and he knows I’m pleased, and he’s proud of himself for caring for her. “I like our new sister,” he says.
I see my eldest daughter’s adoration for the baby. “Hold her!” she cries, arms opened to receive the squishy little bundle. She slathers noisy smooches on her little sister, and clings when it’s time to give her back. She bolts to get a diaper for the baby, and asks to “helpie” at every opportunity.
My husband? He choked up when baby I was born. She makes him light up after a difficult day like nothing else. He holds her gently, and gets that smile that makes crinkly wrinkles at the corners of his eyes He talks to her and sings to her. He spends time playing with the older two and carries them in tired little heaps up to bed. And after a full day of caring for his family and healing wife, he still puts his arms around my floppy, soft middle, and kisses my forehead. He gives us so much love.
I look at sweet baby I, and I remember how very fast it all goes. She’s two weeks old as I write this. Can that be? Didn’t I just have her last night? Were my other children ever this small? She’s not going to grow up too, is she?
The busy daytime hours and exhausting nights gather up into days and weeks and months and years, and the kids are ever growing and ever changing. My husband and I ride the ups and downs together- sometimes easily, sometimes not- but always together. These children have made us very different people than we were five years ago.
My baby carries with her enormous power. Children lavish unsolicited love on her. Adults weep over her. She brings transparency to our faults, and strength for us to try to change them. She gives us perspective and helps us to value the more important things in life. She teaches me to fall in love with my family all over again.
These kids. They don’t necessarily get easier. But they are good, in more ways than I can properly express.
I would love to tell you that having a newborn hasn’t affected my newly-established morning routine. It would be great if I could brag that I’m still up before the kids are up, working on making the earliest hours intentional, refreshing, and efficient. That by the time 7 a.m. rolls around, I’ve already accomplished some tasks and I’m ready to face the world.
But that just wouldn’t be true.
About two months ago, I completed and reviewed Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings e-course. (This post contains affiliate links.) Even though I am normally suspicious of self-improvement gimmicks, I found that Crystal’s transparency and flexibility gave this course a sense of honesty and attainability that many similar courses lack. (You can read my full review here.)
But when I got to the end of my pregnancy, I had to learn to slow down a little bit. Those new routines I created had to be pared down and adjusted. Then I went and had the baby. And now it’s not me who’s making over my mornings anymore- it’s the littlest one in the house who is delegating tasks! (And apparently, she values fresh milk over a clean kitchen any day. 😉 )
So I’m learning, once again, to step back and accept this phase in life instead of trying to fight it.
One thing I’ve learned, however, is that even though I’m not getting nearly the same amount done as I did before, I can still adjust my routines for this season- even though they will be very different. I can still be intentional about my morning. I can still plan out my priorities for life with a newborn. And I can still work to take care of my family and my personal health- even though those things look different now too.
For example, Crystal says that the tone for your morning is set the night before. My current evening routine doesn’t focus so much on cleaning up as it does getting the kids and myself down at a reasonable hour. This helps us to get a better rest, have a little more energy, and consequently be in a more stable emotional state for the next day. (Something postpartum moms can definitely use a little more of.)
My morning routine? I am not waking up early unless my kids necessitate it. The priority that rules my mornings now is focusing on the babymoon. That means I get up later, spend time snuggling with my littlest one, and have a slow breakfast talking with the older kids. I’m making a point of putting my smart phone down. My new summer pastime is sitting out on the porch while I nurse baby I and watch the older kids play.
My daily to-do list that I write in the mornings? It’s very minimal. I have one or two simple tasks that I want to accomplish, and I try to do them in a way that promote rest and healing for my body. (I.e., sitting down to fold laundry or prep fruit for the canner, etc.) The rest of my to-dos are simply to spend time with my children, nurse the baby, and take a nap or shower as needed.
This season in life isn’t about getting things done efficiently. It’s about adjusting to life as a family of five and getting to know my newborn. It’s about allowing my body to heal and taking care of my emotional health. It’s about falling in love with my family again. These are “the big rocks” that need to go into my jar first right now- my highest priorities for each day that should happen before anything else.
How do I manage my mornings with a newborn? At the pace of molasses.
I’m working on accepting the slowness of these early weeks. I’m trying not to stress when I don’t get enough sleep. As my children require me to give more of myself to them, I’m trying to let go of all the other things that I think I would like to get done. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not superwoman.
Soak it in, I tell myself. My productivity is not nearly so important as remembering and cherishing our days with these little ones.
Maybe you’re like me and you’re in a phase with a sleepless newborn too. Don’t force yourself to get efficient too soon- enjoy this freshness, this newness of life. Savor their tiny fingers and toes. Smell their hair and feel how soft their skin is. Listen to how tiny their cry is. These are your to-do’s right now. This is all you need to manage for the time being.
Babies are only this small once, and their grown-up days will come all too soon. The tasks will be waiting for you later.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
-from Babies Don’t Keep, by Ruth Hamilton
(If you are interested in finding out more about Crystal’s e-course, it is a great deal for you new mamas who want to “save the course for later,” so to speak, or for women who aren’t in the newborn phase right now. I know I’m planning on reviewing it again as I get back into the swing of things!)
This post contains affiliate links. Thanks in advance for supporting my efforts with this little blog!