Best practices.

fall2016-38fall2016-45A couple weeks ago we had a really rough week around here. Henry had a couple nights of awful sleep, and then I inexplicably had a couple nights of terrible insomnia, and our babysitter was out of town so I tried squeezing work in all the little spare moments throughout the week instead of my concentrated two days. The result was escalating exhaustion, tension, and anxiety that finally exploded in a massive Saturday morning sob fest. During one park date where I was so tired,  and I told my friend Anna that I was sucking at being a mom that week. She corrected me to point out that I was only sucking at enjoying being a mom. So true.

On the whole, I would say that we have been doing pretty well over here since Henry’s arrival-thanks in large part to the buckets of help extended by our near and dear. But a couple weeks ago? There was definitely a couple days where I was not, not, NOT doing ok. I hate that feeling, that slipping-out-of-control-too-tired-to-function-weepy feeling, but it did prompt some constructive reflections on what wasn’t working in our lives, what needed to change, and what little things made days better. I took a couple weeks off blogging (what?? You didn’t even notice?? Ouch.), which I rarely do, but it seemed the healthy and wise thing to invest time elsewhere. I’ve been reveling in these best practices over the past couple weeks, keeping them around me like a buffer from rising stress and they have helped – even in the miss of busyness and travel. In the spirit of the life hacks I shared last spring, here are the best practices of now.
Go back to what really worked. After Henry was born, I felt that it was impossible to lay out concrete goals for every day, because who knew WHAT the day would bring, whether naps would happen, etc. My beloved notecard system seemed out of touch with our current reality. But things change, babies grow, naps evolve and stabilize, and I realized that I needed to go back to that system to be more productive and avoid getting overwhelmed with tasks coming later in the week.

Constant Nesting. Everything in my life is better when my space is pleasant. One night I went to Target after Henry was in bed and spent way too long browsing, and way too much money purchasing, candles. But you know what? Lighting pretty candles around my home on gray days and in the evenings makes me love being here more. It soothes me, makes me look forward to hunkering down and working. I vacuum every other day, keep things tidy, and have flowers or seasonal decor from time to time, because I know that my mind reflects my space and if one is cluttered and ugly, the other will be too.

Indulge in habits. I have worked on loving the little habits that fill my days, thinking about them and anticipating them. Crap night where none of us slept? Good thing I get to have coffee in my favorite cup in the morning. Too much work to do? Luckily I can look forward to an afternoon in my favorite coffee shop to tackle it. Wrapping pleasant routines around unpleasant realities makes all the difference in how I move through my days.

Chug that water. I have ALWAYS been a water chugger… but somehow the busyness (and recent coffee love?) have basically relegated me to a state of constant dehydration, which is definitely not ok while nursing. I’m trying to make myself chug water before coffee, when I pass through the kitchen, before nursing, etc. It seems silly, but the mere act of intense hydration makes everything in life better.

Sleep like a baby. I am so obsessed with baby sleep information. I love reading about sleep cycles, sleep developments, associations, object permanence, etc. It doesn’t always result in Henry sleeping, but it does mean that I usually know the scientific reasons why he isn’t and there is comfort in that. But one day, I had that light-bulb moment where I realized that I basically sleep like Henry. Too tired? WON’T SLEEP. Not tired enough? WON’T SLEEP. Bedtime not almost exactly the same every night? FORGET ABOUT IT. I’m trying to be better about having better bedtime habits because my sleep has a direct impact on everything else.

We are doing better around here now. A couple weeks of better sleep and best practices has me feeling calmer and happier in everyday life. This is a pattern that repeats itself so much in life. Things are good, we stop focusing on what makes them good, they spiral out of control, regroup. Repeat. But hopefully the cataloging of what makes life work will make the good cycles last every longer and longer.

What are some of the best practices you fall back on when life gets hard?

 

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21 Responses to Best practices.

  1. E.H says:

    I NOTICED THAT YOU WERE MISSING! And I freaked out.😉 Your posts are my weekly fixes and inspiration to enjoy each moment of life. I always appreciate your honesty on your blog. You are an inspiration, Miss Hannah. I’m glad things are looking up again.❤

  2. Ashley Smith says:

    I NOTICED TOO!! And for what it’s worth, you seem like a really great mom.

  3. Jenn says:

    Oh, you most definitely were missed!🙂
    I always look forward to your posts on motherhood! You encourage me on this journey. If I had any say in the matter, I’d vote you become a full time writer/blogger😉 haha. Just my two cents from over here in Canada.
    Thanks for your honesty, and for the reminder to guzzle water to keep up with this nursing thing. And sleep! Oh, glorious sleep.

  4. Caroline says:

    I noticed!!! I also completely understand about life getting busy and downright hard. I love this post! I also have to have a clean, uncluttered, and decorated ( to some extent) house. If I don’t I just feel blah. Lately I’ve been trying really hard to put on makeup each day because that seems to help me be more productive and just feel better about life silly as it sounds. And yes water is soooooo important when nursing!!! I’m telling myself this now as I make myself down my cup of water so I can make some coffee!! ☺️

  5. Kimberly says:

    When I was home on maternity leave, everything was okay. I didn’t absolutely have to do everything on a schedule, but once I went back to work that all changed and I very quickly became overwhelmed. I think that C could tell i was overwhelmed because he was getting more and more fussy (which led to me being even more overwhelmed), so I knew something had to change. It sounds crazy but the simple change of me deciding to pack my gym bag at night, and then go workout for half an hour before work has been life changing. It gives me some much needed “me time” and i’m more likely to actually do my hair and makeup when I get ready at the gym because i’m not trying to also do 100 other things.

    side note, i think you and your husband are pretty great parents and I totally noticed you were missing for a bit. I know we don’t actually know each other, but I do love reading your blog. Hope you have a great weekend!

  6. sarah says:

    also raising my hand to say, i noticed. yours is at the top of my to-read list, and each day you were silent, i threw up a quick prayer that a– y’all were working out what you needed to work out, and b– you’d be back soon.
    totally get it, but you were definitely missed.

    “my mind reflects my space” – stealing this, whenever anyone says my bed doesn’t need to be made in order to write. it DOES though, doesn’t it?

    i’m not sure i have many best practices sorted out yet, but i do always come back to drinking more water, like you said. and grace. when in the process of trying to figure it out, offer yourself grace.

  7. I noticed the lack of updates in my emails. Thanks for the notecard hack, i need to try something new for productivity, what with work, a 2nd grader and a new boyfriend. time disappears and i feel as if i havent gotten anything done. glad you guys are thriving though!

  8. Kristi says:

    I would love to see a blog about the baby sleep information!! I have an almost 2 month old and we have had “the 45 min intruder” 😬 I so enjoy your blog though! You were missed 😏

    • Hannah says:

      Check out PreciousLittleSleep.com – I am obsessed!

      Oh that intruder. Here is the thing: it is the norm for a couple months, not the exception as BabyWise pretends. At least, that is my theory, based on the fact that it is brought up at least 3 times a day on a BW forum I am on. Mastering wake time length and paying attention to actually playing/ getting the right stimulation helped- but I think ultimately they grow out of it.

    • Hannah says:

      Ok, comeing back once more to say that all the sudden, the 45 minute intruder just disappeared for us. Like, all but one day in the past week has been a textbook perfect nap day, and we haven’t changed anything… so take heart that yours will grow out of it! It started around 2 months for us and cleared up at 5, though the first nap was usually good throughout.

      I am no expert, but I might just have to collect all the sleep things we have done into a post.

  9. Johanna says:

    Glad you’re back but I just want to say GOOD JOB taking a break from the blog! It’s hard to lay down something that gives a lot, but also takes a lot. You are a master prioritizer! WELL DONE!!

    My best way to keep myself together is to listen to my body. For the most part that means work out once or twice per week, not drinking coffee in the morning (cause my stomach freaks out) and lay aside thoughts of school during the afternoon when I’m with my son. Also I leave him earlier at his kindergarten (he’s 3) so I can go back home and get ready in peace before class. I also try to squeeze in one lunch a week with my best friend and at least one hour working from home, alone. That’s what I usually need. But sometimes my body says “Go to that party” “Call that friend” “Eat a whole bucket of ice cream” “DON’T go to the gym whatsoever” “Have a good cry”. The key is in listening to what I need right now. Did I mention I always lose my keys?

    • Hannah says:

      Trying to be!

      Laying aside thoughts of anything is sooooo hard, but so important! I hate getting to the end of the day and feeling like I was only half there in both parts of my life!

      Also: I lose everything. Such a problem!

  10. Kate says:

    Hannah,
    Be sure to include 60-100 grams of protein in every 24 hours as a habit (for nursing). In addition to needing it for making Henry’s meals, you need protein for your brain to be sharp. It can come from any source: meat, dairy, legumes, greens. Every time you nurse, drink 8 ounces of water and have a protein 😀

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks for the tip!!! I am usually pretty good about protein, but my resolve goes downhill as the day progresses! Breakfast is always eggs sauteed with crazy amounts of spinach… and by 4pm I am eating tortillas slathered in nutella. Oops.

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