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photos by Ban Avenue Photography
Now that Boone is 6 months old as of Friday (cue the waterworks here), I feel like we're finally into *somewhat* of a routine. That probably has more to do with school starting and forcing us into one, but either way our days have taken on more of a set schedule which I truly believe helps both of my boys thrive. Kids seem to do better with routines and if I'm honest with myself, while I love spontaneity in all things, I do better with a schedule, too. The biggest thing I wish I'd realized the first time around with Bear is that every baby is different. What one mom tells you worked for her might very well not work for you- it's important to take the time to really find out what works best for you and your baby. Another thing I had to learn with Bear was that routines change constantly with babies. Every few weeks, naps and feeding times would change as he grew and needed less sleep/could nurse faster. It's an ongoing process to figure out and meet the needs of your baby, but the fact remains that babies thrive on routine and are more emotionally secure when they know that their needs are going to be met in a predictable way.
As important as routines are for all of us, it's equally as important (especially for my own sanity) to get out of the house. A question I'm asked quite a bit on Instagram is how I get out so much both with and without Boone. From the time he was just 6 weeks old, we've been doing brunches with girlfriends, playdates at the splashpad, and road-trips all across Texas. I'll be honest and say I did not get out half this much with Bear- I wouldn't even nurse in public with him, ever. I'd go to a bathroom stall or sit in the car and never even used my nursing cover. Now I'm the opposite and not shy about breastfeeding in public at all- I still will cover just by my own choice but I'm happy to sit at the table and chat with friends while feeding my baby. And Boone has gotten used to all the noise/Mom eating pizza while he eats so it works! I also never got out by myself unless it was for an hour or so in the evening while Zach watched Bear, and I feel like getting out some on my own has been really good for me mentally, as well. I come home recharged and missing my boys which helps me be a better Mommy.
There is no rhyme or reason on how to successfully get out after you have a baby- the biggest thing is you just have to do it. You'll be surprised at how refreshed and rejuvenated your spirit feels after the fact- cabin fever post-baby can be a serious thing and studies have shown that moms who don't get out much those first several months after baby have higher rates of post-partum depression. Even if you just drive to Sonic and get yourself a Route 44 sweet tea, go for it, mama! You deserve it.
For those who have asked how we get out so much, I will share a few ways that help me in the process below. As I said, there's no real secret to it, but I do think staying organized helps!
Tips on getting out after having a baby:
1. EAT. This may seem random and off topic, but honestly it's a really important step to getting out after having a baby. You need to keep your energy up as well as your milk supply if you're nursing, so keep the calories coming, mama. Schedule a brunch with a fellow mom you're comfortable with who will understand if you have a messy blow-out situation at the table. Depending on the age of your baby, it's also vital not to over-do it with walking/heat/etc. so a comfortable restaurant is a good place for both you and baby. A lot of new moms are trying so hard to lose the baby weight that they don't realize how crucial it is to get enough calories. The baby weight will come off in time but you'll never get these moments back with your precious new bundle.
2. Be prepared. Have all the things at all times. I don't carry a regular diaper bag most of the time- I'm just a tote person. But in that tote I organize by bags: I have a large make-up bag full of my personal items like lipstick, sunglasses, gum, etc. and an even larger make-up bag full of Boone's necessities like diapers, wipes, pacifiers, extra onesie, disposable bags, teethers, etc. I also keep a bag in the car full of back-up items with all the same things for Boone plus extra toys & clothes for Bear in case of an emergency. I also keep a towel (can't tell you how many times I've needed this if we stumbled upon a splashpad or had a accident) and extra clothes for myself (those baby blow-outs wreak havoc). You just never know & even if you don't end up using a lot of what you've brought, the peace of mind in knowing you're prepared just in case goes a long way.
3. Start early. The sooner you get your baby adjusted to going out in public, the more used to it they'll be and smoother it will go for everyone. As I mentioned before with breastfeeding in public, distractions and noise can really affect a baby's ability to feed if they're not used to it. If you keep a baby sheltered at home for 4 months straight and used to eating in silence, they likely won't be able to stay latched and nurse when in a noisy restaurant. It's important to get children out early not only for your own sanity, but so they'll know how to act and what to do in social situations (especially important as they get a little older!).
4. Find a good sitter. This topic needs an entire post on it's own because there's so much to say! I feel like I've seen all sides of this because with grandparents/family all 7+ hours away, we've struggled to find someone we trust to watch our boys. In fact, we never had a babysitter for Bear, except for grandparents on occasion, until this summer. I reached out to my cousin looking to find a summer sitter for the boys and luckily she had a friend who has a ton of experience and was available. Bethany has watched our boys 12-20 hours a week all summer and it's been AMAZING. I work basically full-time from home and needed help, and didn't want to have to drag the boys out to shoots and meetings in this Houston heat. This is a actually Bethany's last week with us sadly but in the future (until next summer!) I will still have her watch the boys for date nights, events, etc. If you can't find someone on a referral, care.com is a great way to find a sitter. I actually used to nanny and that's how the families I worked for found me! If you're going this route, you might want to start the process while you're pregnant since it can take awhile to do interviews, run background checks, and find the perfect person. You'll be glad you did, even if it's just once or twice a month. Having gone without one with Bear and having a trusted sitter now with Boone, I can tell you it's worth it!
5. Give yourself grace. While this may be an obvious point, it's by far the one you should take to heart most. There will be days when you're running 30 minutes late, spill coffee all down your white shirt (hint: white clothing and babies don't mix well- I've learned from experience), forget the stroller in the garage, realize you don't have a diaper as you're changing an epic blow-out, and want to cry all the way to liquor store. Until you remember you're breastfeeding and shouldn't hit up the liquor store. Just know that these days happen to all of us and believe it not, you'll look back and laugh at some of the crazy things that happen after having kids. It's not always pretty but it's always, always worth it.
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