Wellness comes in many forms and becoming a mom has certainly shown me that …
In the past three weeks, I’ve gotten more sleep than I have in the last seven months, and it’s pretty awesome. Now, don’t get me wrong — I don’t sleep through the night for a full eight hours and wake up completely rested. Far from it. I do, however, only have to get up and out of the bed one time in the middle of the night to feed/take care of Brady, as opposed to the multiple times that I was doing just a few weeks ago, and I’m averaging around seven hours total a night put together, and I feel good about it.
I’m hesitant to say that we’re getting the nights under control, because I do know that many babies who are Brady’s age sleep the entire night through, and we’re not there yet — but it’s such a vast improvement, I’ve got no complaints (I mean, other than the consistent napping thing, which I long for). I also know that things could change in an instant as he continues to grow — but right now — it’s doable.
If you’ve been following our journey, you know that our little angel Brady man has been a bit challenged in the sleep department (both naps and nights). And of course, that’s because we weren’t very strict with him, and he had been snoozing a good portion of the night in our bed up until just recently too. However, after we came back from our trip to Atlanta for my brother’s wedding, we decided to keep him in his crib for the full night in spite of fussing (we still go in and comfort him, etc., just always put him back), and it’s (knock on wood) working so far. Thank the heavens.
What I’ve learned about wellness since becoming a mom
Sleep talk aside, I’ve been reflecting on motherhood a lot lately and how being a mom is so all consuming.
There are just so many things I never considered or understood until I actually became a mom to a human — not just a pup — particularly in the wellness world — which is a space I’m definitely part of as a fitness professional and healthy lifestyle blogger. And experiencing my first Mother’s Day with Brady in the world seemed like the perfect time to put all of my thoughts out there to share with you.
Sleep, as important as it is, is a luxury and is not always in your control.
How long have you heard me tell you to work on your sleep since reading this blog? I’ve written multiple posts about it here and here, and sleep is always on the list of things you need to fix in order to reach any wellness goal. I always figured that sleep was something we were all in control of. Well, I realize now that we’re not always in control of our own sleep. Like, it’s hard.
In spite of our trials and tribulations with our non-sleeping baby, I attempted to get as much shut-eye as I could with good sleep hygiene (cold room, no technology before bed, wearing a slumber mask, etc.) for the first seven months of his life, but I could only take that sleep hygiene as far as Brady would let me. And with a bright baby monitor next to the bed for the near future, it’s not to easy to remove all the lights from the room moving forward either, by the way. There’s no getting around that.
What I know now is that you can do the best you can with your sleep, but if you have children, you’re going to have a harder time getting quality zzzzs. Either the kids wake you up in the middle of the night, or they wake you up early in the morning, OR, you have to stay up later than you want in order to get things done after you’ve put your kids to bed. And if you’re like us and have a baby who constantly wakes up, then you may also notice that you seem to stay in a lighter sleep all night unconsciously, because your mind and body are just awaiting the next disturbance. None of this is ideal.
To all my momma friends out there — you really should be trying your best to sleep as much as you can. But I get it. Sometimes finishing up an episode of Real Housewives at 10:30 p.m. alone feels right, and you skimp on a few minutes of sleep for one night because of it.
So here’s the deal: Yes, you have other people to worry about, who make your sleep harder to come by, but remember that your day will be better if you give your body and mind the chance to restore as much as is possible. Even if it’s never going to be quite as much as you’d like.
From what I hear from my friends who have kids older than Brady, it does get easier, but there are a couple of years in which you think every sound is a baby crying and you just don’t get as much deep sleep as you’d hope.
So once again, all we can do is the best that we can. Try and get into your bed around 10 p.m.-ish if you can (the prime sleeping hours are 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for most peoples’ systems), and when you do have a kid-related wake-up, don’t do other things — just take care of the kid — and hop back in the bed as fast as possible, and do NOT look at your phone (or at least not without the night-safety mode on). Good luck! I feel for you!
Patience is a virtue, and it sometimes runs out even from the best and most grateful of us.
Would you believe that motherhood has given me more patience? It totally has.
While I’m not a patient person, for some strange reason, I have nearly all the patience in the world for Brady. I don’t know how or why, but I can handle SO much from him without getting upset or losing it. But then … the patience runs out. On some of our long days together, toward the late afternoon, I just don’t have as much patience as I did earlier in the day. My seemingly endless ability to brush things off and keep on keepin’ on wanes. And I get on edge and can mentally freak out at the smallest fuss. Brady doesn’t know it. I talk to myself, stamp the ground, grit my teeth and let him whine for a little longer than usual in his little play place while I collect myself.
On days when Dave is gone all day and night working (which is a multiple times a week occurrence during basketball season), I find myself counting down the hours until bedtime for Brady. I love him more than anything in the entire world and cherish everything about him, but even the most loving of mothers and patient of people … well … we get impatient. And we long for alone time or assistance.
We’ve been told that grateful healthy people should be able to take every challenge head on and be mindful and thoughtful and caring. And that’s all well and good, but real people get impatient, and if it happens to you, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It happens to us all — even those of us who ARE grateful, did wait a long time to be a mom and have a good life. Patience runs out, and you know what — just a few minutes away from your little tot can totally recharge you. Oftentimes, after I’ve put Brady to bed, I start to miss him about 30 minutes into his night of sleep. No — I don’t go wake him up or anything, but I feel like my patience has been restored at that point.
Nobody told me the guilt I would feel for becoming impatient, but it’s a real thing. And then once I see his cute little face after he wakes up from a nap or in the morning, I wonder how I ever got even slightly annoyed at anything he could have done.
It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, that’s for sure. And it’s totally okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person or an ungrateful person. It makes you normal.
You have to pick and choose your wellness rituals, and you can’t do very many of them, so you have to choose wisely.
If you scroll through Instagram these days, you’ll see a lot of wellness influencers talk about their 2-hour morning rituals, which include sage-ing their house, meditating on a mat in silence for 30 minutes, dry brushing their bodies, popping into an infrared sauna and making fresh cold-pressed organic juice, etc. etc. And it’s the ONLY way they can start their day and be successful. Well, I’ve learned that as a mom — that’s not happening.
My morning routine is not what it once was (I used to teach classes before the sun came up and be home reading news on the computer, fully dressed and ready for the day at 7:30 a.m.). These days, I have a tiny semblance of a morning routine, and it’s fine for me for now. My primary concern is getting up when Brady does — snuggling with him in our bed, feeding him, changing him and getting him situated in his play place for a few minutes while I get organized. I make the bed, turn on my tea kettle, drink a glass of lemon water, and then everything is fair game. I usually try to peek my head outside in the fresh air as I let Rudy run out into the backyard for a quick wake-up from the natural light, and that’s helpful — but it’s not the morning walk that I used to do for him.
I also don’t do any stretching or meditating or journaling or jotting down my to-do list or hitting up super-early workout classes. Those are awesome things, but they aren’t in my reality right now. I do make a pretty fancy tea concoction and try to drink that while using the computer, answering some emails and doing blog work until it’s time again to take care of Brady and get him out of the play place. I know that once Brady goes off to pre-school (not coming any time soon), I will have more freedom — perhaps — and the ability to switch things up.
But I know now, for me (a sort’ve stay-at-home-working-mom-hybrid) and for moms who are getting ready to head off to work and drop their babes off at daycare or school — you just don’t have much extra time to spare for all the amazing wellness rituals out there. And that’s okay. You do what you can, and you’re not an unhealthy person if you actually have hardly anything like a “ritual” each morning.
So here’s the deal: If you have no time at all, just drink a bunch of room temperature water from a reusable water bottle while hanging with your kiddos on the floor or while getting everybody dressed to start your day super hydrated. If that’s all you do, that’s a win. I promise. One day, you’ll have more time to yourself to attack all those rituals that you’ve been dying to do. And no, don’t wake up earlier to fit them in if you’re already low on sleep. See point #1 about sleep — that’s your priority. You will be just fine, even if you can’t do 10 sun salutations before the sun comes up or pick herbs from your organic herb garden. I promise.
Fitness and working out is something to be grateful for, and a little goes a long way.
I used to teach so many classes and work in gyms so much that I would PRAY for a day off from exercise. Wow. How things have changed. For the first six months of Brady’s life, I went to the gym maybe a dozen times total. And that’s not a lot. Instead, I worked out at home for less than 30 minutes, while trying to keep him entertained, and I LONGED for the ability to go to the gym during the week — but I made it work and I felt so good after completing every single one of those short home workouts, no matter what time they took place — even if they were outside of my preferred morning workout window.
I started teaching a once-a-weekend class when Brady was around four months, which was nice. Then, after Brady turned six months, I was able to take him to the childcare at my gym, and that has been game changing. Although, I still have time limits and can only use the childcare when it’s open in the morning and afternoon, of course.
Before having Brady, I never once asked whether a studio or gym or class situation had childcare. I never cared nor wondered. Now, I wonder why more studios don’t have childcare. There are plenty of people out there with little ones who they are responsible for during the day. The greater fitness world really isn’t tailored toward moms that’s for sure.
I feel SO lucky to be able to have access to childcare at my gym so that I can teach classes and take classes and do my own workouts, but part of me wishes I could pop into yoga studios and other places to diversify what I’m doing, but that’s just not possible because of the childcare issue right now.
Moral of the story? As a mom, getting to work out at all, especially work out away from home, is a total treat, and it’s so good for us. I love my gym time now more than ever. But if you have to keep your workouts at home, that’s fine too. Once again, you just have to do the best you can and hopefully stroller walks are a big part of your routine to get you outside too.
Instead of thinking that you HAVE to be out there doing the latest fitness trends at fancy boutiques, remember that anything you do to get active is good for your body and will give you some benefits, so just do it. Be grateful for movement in any form, because I sure am. Movement is medicine — every little bit of it.
Overall thoughts on what I’ve learned about wellness
Overall, I would say that my view and vision of wellness is more accommodating, simple and flexible than it was in the past. I know that you can put your own health as a priority, but still care for and love your child and give them absolutely everything they need without sacrificing your own wellness.
You can also still be a very healthy and vibrant person, even if your workouts are short and done at home, and you have to fit them in at non-ideal times. And you don’t have to try and do every single wellness trend out there in order to be considered a healthy person. Far from it.
I know for sure that I will continue to focus on my health — sleeping as much as I can, exercising smartly most days, eating quality food and giving myself grace for all of the feelings I feel day in and day out as a mom.
I love to see Brady learn and grow, and I’m pretty darn certain that he is going to understand the value and benefits of a sustainable healthy lifestyle pretty early on, and that’s awesome.
Mommas out there, you just keep on doing your very best. Feel all the feels. Move around. Stay hydrated. And next time you’re scrolling Instagram and feeling bad about the fact that you didn’t take an apple cider vinegar shot in the morning or do a meditation visualization in a matching-sports-bra-and-leggings-combo, remember that wellness and healthy living comes in many simplified forms in many informal ways, so you do you!
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts! I’d love to know yours as well in the comments!Mom life! Check out what @apstyle has learned about wellness since becoming a mom on A Lady Goes West ... Click To Tweet
Questions of the day
What’s something you’ve learned about wellness lately?
Do you have a morning routine?