This past week was my daughter's first birthday as well as Mother’s Day. It was a sweet time to reflect on this year and all of the challenges and joys that having our baby girl has brought me. There are so many things I've learned this past year, especially what it's like being an introvert with a newborn. Before I had Ellie I often wondered how I would be able to handle caring for a baby while needed time alone to re-charge. So, I decided to write about a few things that have helped me. I know that there will be different challenges as Ellie grows and we add more children to our family, but I wanted to share a what I've learned as a new mom.
I’m a dye hard introvert. I can’t go out more than three nights in a row before I have a meltdown (ask my extroverted husband, he learned the hard way.) If the main way that an introvert re-energizes is by being alone, then how does a mom, who’s an introvert, function with babies and small children needing 24/7 care? This is a question I asked myself constantly when I was pregnant. All of my extroverted mom friends seem exhausted, so what am I going to do? Constantly cry? Pass out? Never have energy again? Well I’m exactly a year into parenting, and while I’m still learning everyday I’ve found a few things that help me re-energize myself in this new season of life.
I want to preface this post by saying that by no means am I saying that any of these tips are for every mom or even for every mom who’s an introvert. I believe with all of my heart that every mom knows what’s best for them and their children. I am only sharing what has helped in hopes that it can help other new moms.
I’m one of the most non detailed, non scheduled people I know. I rarely use a planner, I hate lists, and I usually don’t know what I’m doing the next day, until the next day. Naturally, I thought I wouldn’t want a schedule for my baby either. WRONG. I was DESPERATE for a schedule about two weeks into having my baby girl. I never knew when she wanted to eat, sleep, be held, put down, I was utterly lost. Since I didn’t know any of these things, I also didn’t know when I would have any free time. So if I was having a horrible day, there was no end in sight for me because I had no idea what was coming next. I read Moms on Call (listed below) and it changed my life. While Ellie never perfectly followed the Moms on Call schedule, at least I knew in general when she was hungry, when she’d take a nap etc. If Ellie was having a bad morning I could think to myself “she will go down for a nap in an hour.” This helped me tremendously in knowing when I would have some free time for myself.
2. Early Bedtime
In the same way that schedules help during the day, an early bedtime helps at night. I lived for the nights in those first few weeks of having a newborn. I could rest, watch a show, chat with my husband, it was glorious. I also think this helped our marriage tremendously. People often ask me if my marriage suffered in my first year of motherhood, and I can honestly say that it hasn’t. That’s mostly a testament to my amazing husband, but I also believe that having those nights with each other really helped us stay connected in the midst of a huge transition.
3. Find an Outlet
This is probably the biggest thing that has helped me as an introvert. I’m currently a stay at home mom and while I am so blessed to be able to be at home, there are some challenges that come with it too. Besides the two naps during the day, there are no breaks. If a full day goes by and I’ve stayed at home all day with Ellie I feel like my energy has been completely sucked out of me. This might sound dramatic, after all I get to be with my baby all day right? But it also makes sense being an introvert. I’m with a little person all day. If I’m with anyone all day, even my husband, I lose my energy because I haven’t had any time to re-charge. So I found an outlet, this blog! I actually have a lot of outlets including, crocheting, reading, calligraphy, painting, decorating etc. But this blog is a combination of a lot of my passions and it’s been a huge blessing in my life. I can work on it during nap time, take pictures while watching Ellie play. It’s really been a game changer for me. That’s why I would highly recommend finding an outlet that’s just for you. It can be anything from working out, reading, crafting, boxing, anything that will give you energy and make you a better mom.
4. Stay Connected with Friends
This might seem counter intuitive for an introvert to stay connected with friends but it's been an essential part of becoming a mom for me. Yes I need my alone time to re-charge, but I also need friends to talk to. I need mom friends to bounce of questions when I don't know what to do when Ellie is sick, and I need non mom friends to remind me that there is life beyond being a mom. The saying is true that “it takes a village to raise a child.” I need my village to help keep me sane. Along those lines of "it takes a village" babysitters are also vital to our life because we don't have family nearby. Developing a relationship with a babysitter who you trust and who your baby loves is extremely important in order to be able to have a date night here and there.
5. Consistent time in the Word and Prayer
One of the biggest changes and challenges I've found in becoming a mom is having time for a quiet time. Most of the time it's just not practical for me to get up before Ellie to have a quiet time. I started having quiet times when she naps but sometimes she takes short naps and I also need to take a shower, clean the house, take a nap etc. While all these factors make it harder to get in the word, it's also vital for my emotional and spiritual health. My quiet times are often shorter, at different times of the day, and not as consistent. But I can tell a difference in myself on the days that I haven't been in the word.
These are just five things that have helped me tremendously this year as a first time mom. I hope some of these ideas can encourage you in this crazy adventure of motherhood!
Here are a few books that have helped me with scheduling and encouraged me throughout this year.