“Just wait until you have two,” She laughed. “One is a vacation.” As a new mom, I was the object of much unnecessary, negative input regarding my solitary offspring. Once I had two – I was told – life would fall apart and all semblance of routine would go down with it.
Perhaps it’s my personality, but when someone tells me something is impossible, my first inclination is to prove them wrong. But really, it’s not even about them: I want to prove to myself that it’s possible to enjoy motherhood, enjoy my kids, and enjoy life – all at the same time.
I’ve been a mom for going on three years and am deep in the toddler and baby stage. And while there are hard days (there are hard days in ANY SEASON) for the most part, I’ve found this season overflowing with joy and fulfillment. But it didn’t happen by accident. I went into this season with intention, creating specific patterns, routines, and priorities to help me be the best mom for my particular family.
Today I’m sharing my “secrets” to enjoying life with two small children – because, contrary to the mom in the grocery store, it’s possible!
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My Instagram followers know I’m alllll about the routines. Routines help me stay ahead of laundry, keep my house clean, and do my work without living in a constant state of chaos and stress. To learn how to develop your own routines, join my free productivity ecourse – over 1000 women are already members and our Facebook group has almost 500 women!
I developed my own routines shortly after having Adeline, my first daughter. I’ve tweaked them since then as we’ve moved and added to our family, but they are still pretty much the same. Flexible routines allow you to do things automatically and save both time and mental energy. Here’s a post about developing a daily routine.
Establish a Sleep Schedule
Caveat: Not everyone sleep trains their kids. I get that. But we do, and it’s central to our family dynamic. We love sleep training and have seen our girls benefit greatly from the structure it provides. Each afternoon my 2.5 year old and 5 month old take a nap at the same time, which is when I do the majority of my work. This way I can focus fully on the home and kids in the morning, and spend time with my husband in the evening.
It also helps them sleep through the night sooner, which gives me and Josh more rest and gives me the energy to face the day.
I shared my sleep training method in this video and I use this book as the basis for my training.
Cultivate Your Passions
One of the biggest complaints I hear from fellow moms of young children is, “I have no time for the things I love!” I truly believe that taking some time for your passion gives you MORE energy and desire to spend time with your kids! I am far more present and attentive when I’ve had a little time away.
Some things I cultivate:
- watercolor painting
- weekly Zumba class (and running at home)
- reading daily
- running my business
Yours might be simpler or fewer, but by implementing routines and systems you’ll have more time for the things you love without taking time away from your family. If you struggle to find time for this, check out the aforementioned productivity course and the book The Fringe Hours.
Make Time for Reading
Reading is one of my passions, but it’s also important to life in general. All that Netflix time can be re-routed into some amazing books! You’ll learn so much more and teach your kids a love of reading from a young age as well.
I keep stacks of books everywhere I feed the baby, as well as on my bedside table and on my Kindle. I make the library a regular visit for Adeline’s preschool books, which we try to read aloud every day. And in some seasons Josh and I will read a novel aloud to one another. For more on reading, check out these posts:
How to Read More, Faster, and Retain It
Get Out of the House with Your Toddler and Baby
This is especially important for moms who live in northern climates like me. In northern Michigan, winter lasts a very long time (it’s April 11th and it snowed two inches this morning). Getting out of the house with two kids bundled up is NOT my idea of fun, but I’m always happier when I’ve taken them out! Library visits with friends, coffee shop stops, and play dates are a few of our favorites. I am about to re-start my Tuesday scone dates now that Eva is bigger and the snow is (hopefully) close to melting. For Adeline’s first year we’d go on “dates” for coffee, scones, and the library. Now that I have two, I’m carrying on the tradition!
Another big part of this is community. I’ve done multiple videos on the importance of cultivating friendship and community, especially as a mom. You cannot do this alone! So take time to invest in friendships, whether inviting others to you (we have people in our house a minimum of three times a week, with stopover visitors in addition to that!) or going to meet them. Introvert or extrovert, you need it! (There is also a video on my Facebook page regarding I/E friendships).
Tend to Your Marriage
The old adage “the first year is the hardest” proved absolutely false for us. It was the year after we had Adeline that was the hardest. It’s pretty easy to maintain a marriage when it’s just the two of you; add less sleep, physical stress, hormonal changes, and the demands of small children, and you’ll learn a LOT more about your spouse! Josh and I have always been open that we don’t have much in common, that we’re opposite personalities (ENTJ and ISFP) and that we don’t share hobbies. So tending our marriage has to be VERY intentional, especially with small children.
For us, this means monthly or bimonthly dates, attending church together weekly, being in community with other godly couples and believers, and putting down our phones to talk to one another. We also split the care of the children and household work so we can take time for these things.
Some of the most helpful books to our marriage have been:
100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife
You and Me Forever (our favorite)
Ask for Help
Lastly, we aren’t meant to do motherhood alone. If you’re actively doing the above and drowning, it’s probably time to ask for help.
Do you know the only reason we don’t ask for help, from our husbands or otherwise? Pride. We want to appear as if we have it all together, we don’t want to look weak, or we don’t want to inconvenience others – when most people are BLESSED to be asked. I have a whole post on asking your husband to help. But when asking other people, don’t let pride stand in the way.
You can also hire a mother’s helper. I had one when my oldest was a baby – a twelve year old girl who needed babysitting experience. Now I have a lovely 16 year old who works half days for me until nap time. Totally worth it!
It’s completely possible to LOVE being a mom of small children. But it takes intentionality! To get your routines in order and feel like you have some control over your life again, join the aforementioned productivity course at the sign up box below.