Small Acts of Organization

No one has free time anymore. And if you do, it’s spend scanning emails or sitting and thinking, trying to remember that one thing that escaped your mind earlier in the day. Your house is a constant mess, you could never have friends and coworkers over spontaneously. Laundry is not done when you need it, let alone ironed! Your nails are chipped, your hair is over grown, and you cringe at the sight of your dirty car interior.

You may relate to one, or all, of the above scenarios. Just typing brought on a rather intense amount of stress. The point is, we’re all too busy and distracted. We spend hours pinning cleaning schedules and recipes, but never implement them into our routines. I am absolutely guilty of this, I adore an all encompassing to do list. Yet often times, all the tasks remain unchecked, in eternal undone limbo.

So without further ado I present to your my November series “Small Acts…” I intend to provide you with fast, valuable ways to improve your daily life. The holidays are here and New Year’s Resolutions will be made before too long, so what better time to start improving ourselves in the smallest of ways? We’ll kick off with possibly the nearest and dearest to my heart, organization. I’ve mentioned previously my affinity for planners – I even color blocked my daily time line back in college, long before it was cool. I have also posted about the importance of schedules, whether for cleaning or for your family. The point is to prioritize what will make your life easier.

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Meal planning – I plan by the week, not the day. I have a set list of recipes I will make for the week (meatloaf, tacos, chicken and rice, chicken with barbecue sauce or a good french mustard…) and the other dinner are pasta, frozen pizza, or leftovers. Something quick and easy that we always have on hand. Which way do you prefer? If you prefer the set schedule so you can prep in advance, plan by the day. Sometimes we’ll have just had chicken for lunch or my husband ate lunch late, or didn’t have time for lunch at all. I am able to adapt to each situation.

Scheduling – We don’t have a lot going on outside of the home right now. Once Clint is old enough for sports, school, and activities, he will get his own color coded pen. Scheduling currently involves housework, exercise, pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, and any appointments for myself. If I have an upcoming time period where I will be away from Clint, that means I need to prepare and pump a bottle for him. Knowing my grocery days aids in my aforementioned meal planning. Scheduling my workouts helps keep me accountable, I schedule five a week, though often I get in three or four. Since we go on frequent walks and I am currently breastfeeding, I don’t sweat it too much.

Planners/Calendars – Bullet journals are awesome. Well, they look awesome. At the moment, I don’t have the time or energy to create a weekly layout and plan, so I need a good planner instead. I love planners you can take with you, something large enough to hold an extra notepad or birthday cards to send out. Another alternative is keeping everything digital in an Apple or Google Calendar. I do both, a digital and physical calendar. You can share events on your digital one and I like the tangibility of having things written down as well. For a family, you may want to add in a calendar command center as well. A prominently displayed wall calendar with everyone’s schedule on it. This makes cross referencing easy and provides visual reminders.

Daily cleaning – I keep my housework on a weekly schedule, but there are certain tasks I do every day. Sweeping the kitchen, either washing dishes or running the dishwasher, wiping down surfaces as I go in both the kitchen and bathrooms. There are also certain windows our dog is obsessed with looking out of, I have to clean them every day or every other day. If I spend five or so minutes a day doing all of this, at least I am not totally off guard when someone stops by. Yeah, I would love for everything to be perfect all the time, but at least things are mostly clean.

Single tabbing – The majority of us have the tendency to get online and open up a few websites at once. Netflix, your favorite blog, something you intend on researching maybe, next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and your haven’t done much of anything. This is a bad habit of mine. I am working on only opening one thing at a time, I watch the video I want or look up that one thing I was curious about and am able to get off the computer faster. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes.

Keep an open mind. Try a couple of these tips out and see how they do, or don’t, work for you.

Surviving Sleep Regression

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Around two and a half months into motherhood, I got really cocky. Clint was sleeping through the night (8 pm – 5 am, nurse, sleep until 8), and I was beginning to catch up on my own deficit. Three weeks ago, that all went away. Clint is now getting up two to three times a night, and though I am able to phase him away from that some nights, we have a ways to go before things smooth out.

The regression is frustrating. I feel like we’re back at square one. Some days my patience does not exist, and we have a relatively calm baby! We are fortunate, but those fussy moments can be grating for any parent, especially as your one sleep cycle is increasingly thrown off.

I know we will get through this soon, but until then I’ve needed some help.

Collagen is awesome. We’re all familiar with collagen and its anti aging effects being plastered on skin care products for years. Now, a lot of collagen supplements help improve the appearance of your skin by keeping it hydrated.

I don’t have the time, or the desire, to apply a lot of make up in the morning. Prioritize. A good concealer is a must, I am really liking Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser. It offers coverage without being super cakey, because sleep deprivation and poorly blended concealer is a horrible look on anyone.

Cold brew gets me through my mornings. I make it with some mocha syrup, or just cinnamon and almond milk depending on what I am feeling that day. It helps keep me full and energized as I workout and sneak in a few household tasks while Clint naps.

The Office/Parks & Rec/Golden Girls, essentially, comedic relief for when things get rough. We aren’t big television watchers, but I enjoy the background noise of my favorite shows. They help to keep me entertained and laughing without requiring any concentration. If I get a quiet moment, I enjoy my Poirot episodes on Netflix, or if I am really lucky I can knock a few pages out of a book. It’s rough going at the moment!

Prep your breakfast the night before. I will make either a smoothie or oatmeal with fruit and pop it in the fridge for the morning. Some days the thought of throwing together something to eat is exhausting. If you want more energy, add some spinach or green powder to your smoothie. I love The Daily Good greens from Aloha. Plus, the additional vitamins help keep your immune system up, something easily compromised as you lose sleep.

Weekly outings with Clint are important for me. You need to know there is life after sleep regression. You also need to know it is possible to have a relaxing life with your baby. It can be something as small as a quick trip to get groceries, or an all morning outing with the family on the weekend. Being in new environments also helps build confidence in yourself as a mother and increases a bond with your baby. At least, that’s how I feel about it. The background noise and different surroundings are good for your baby to be exposed to, while providing a welcome change of scenery for me as well!

Parenthood

Well our baby has arrived. After a very chaotic day of minor contractions while attending an OBGYN appointment in the city and running errands, that evening found us fighting rush hour traffic to get back downtown as my labor contractions hit hard late afternoon! Our little guy, Clinton (Clint),  arrived at 1:52 in the morning on June first after a relatively quick labor and a speedy delivery. To say you have no idea how much you can love someone until you have a child is undoubtedly true. I kept waking up and poking Clint just to make sure he was okay and I still think he’s the cutest thing ever created.

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We went home on Friday and the first few days and nights were rough, babies apparently have their days and nights confused which makes for a lot of long nights. Thankfully, Clint took to nursing easily after a couple of days and has been packing on the pounds ever since. We have established a relatively consistent schedule, and there have been two nights where I have been able to get four hours of consecutive sleep! He has already outgrown his newborn clothes and while I long to for full nights of sleep, I also know time will be going by all too quickly now. Dahu has proven a great, and surprisingly gentle, watchdog. She’s still working on some things but the most she’ll do is sniff him during tummy time, and even more intensely when he has a dirty diaper.

While we have years of learning experiences to come, here is some new parenting insight I can offer thus far:

  1. Don’t sweat what’s in your hospital bag. All really needed was clothes for the baby and I to go home in, though I could have even worn what I wore in, the clean clothes were nice.
  2. Stock up on freebies. When going to get the car, Tom had his hands full and then some. Take all the diapers and supplies you can get your hands on. We were also told the hospitals baby blankets, though not too cute, were excellent for swaddling once you got home.
  3. Don’t let the crying drive you insane. Clint isn’t too fussy. When he is, it’s pretty minor, unless it’s bath time, tummy time, or during a diaper change. He’s rather dramatic during all three. Babies sense stress and if you’re getting worked up, it will only make the baby worse. Stay calm and do the best you can. Easier said than done, I know, but I’m determined to raise calm children and this is the best method I know of at the moment.
  4. Sleep when they sleep. Sometimes. It sounds crazy, but maybe you’re too sleep deprived to sleep. Or maybe you need to use that nap time to do things around the house, take a shower, or just sit and do nothing for the first time in a few days. Eventually those naps will be used to run errands with him in the carrier and to get back into a workout regime, but for the first few weeks give yourself a break.
  5. Follow a healthy diet. If you’re breast feeding, drink as much water as you can stand. It helps your milk supply and it makes sure you and baby don’t get dehydrated. I eat three meals and two snacks, even if I don’t feel all that hungry. Otherwise, I start to get lightheaded or worse, hunger hits in the middle of a breast feeding marathon where I can’t move from the couch for and hour or more. Limit your carbs, stock up on protein and vegetables.
  6. They don’t need to be in a new ensemble everyday. Currently, I change his onesie every one to two days – obviously more if there’s spit up or a poop situation, or if he’s just had a bath. But keep the outfits simple. A onesie, socks, and baby mittens to keep them from scratching themselves is more than sufficient, especially for summer. Cover them in blankets when outside or during naps, and at night pajamas with buttons over his day outfit is our go to. The buttons let you take off the pj’s from the waist down for diaper changes without a drastic temperature change for the baby. I couldn’t imagine wrestling with pants or shorts every diaper change, regardless of how cute they made him look.
  7. Use your resources to your advantage. I feel badly for my mom. Every time she comes for a visit, she ends up helping me clean the house. I do what I can each day, typically one thing gets done: a load of laundry, sweeping the floors, wiping down the kitchen, but that’s my max. As it should be. Your priority is the baby, not a meticulous home, even though that admittedly drives me crazy at times.
  8. Read and sing to them. This study addresses the benefits of reading to your child beginning in infancy. Plus, it’s a wonderful bonding experience and a way for them to be exposed to the English language outside of all the baby talk they will have to endure. On that note, some baby talk is okay. I get it, they are really cute. However, you can always tell the children whose parents have actual conversations with them. They’re more rational, calmer, and are honestly more pleasant to be around than other children of that age.
  9. Don’t rush feedings. Feed them as much as they want, burp them properly, and rock them a bit before putting them back down. We have Clint in a swing during the day and his crib at night. The swing isn’t always on, as I don’t want him to get used to that! To shortcut feedings when you’re tired is tempting. Even when you don’t rush through things, they often fuss for an hour afterwards. Doing the process full out increases the likelihood they will sleep better, and for longer. Also, change their diaper whenever they wake up for feedings. Don’t wait until the diaper smells, is ready to explode, or there has already been a blowout! That makes everyone cranky.
  10. Bonus hospital tip: get the epidural (if you want)! I was determined to have a natural childbirth. How bad can it be? I thought! The contractions were bad on the way to the hospital, and once we arrived, they grew even worse. Like can’t talk, can’t breathe, pain in my abdomen and back and legs! We were at one of the best, if not the best, women’s hospitals in the city so when the time came, I opted for the epidural. Doing so allowed both of us to get some sleep before the delivery and made the delivery itself much less stressful for everyone involved. To each their own, but if you are comfortable with getting an epidural and have a knowledgeable medical staff on your side, I recommend it.