What I’ve learned about wellness since becoming a mom

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

What I've learned about wellness since becoming a mom by A Lady Goes West

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.

Bed by A Lady Goes West

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.

Golden latte beverage by A Lady Goes West

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.

Water bottle by A Lady Goes West

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.

Ashley at the gym at 31 weeks postpartum by A Lady Goes West

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!

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Questions of the day

What’s something you’ve learned about wellness lately?

Do you have a morning routine?

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28 Comments

      1. Oh….just wait! ::Bahahahawaahahwahaha:: Lol, just kidding…it’s all worth it, but a billion times more difficult maintaining your wellness!

  1. As always, I enjoyed your post. And I appreciate your authenticity, even though it might be hard to share all the raw stuff. While I cannot relate to the motherhood portion of this, I certainly can relate to striving to do your best at all times, and maybe not always getting there. Some days are kale salads and protein shakes with a really solid workout, others are half-assed workouts and several extra treats…

    Happy Monday to you! Xo

    1. Hi Court! You betcha — things are never quite perfect, and that’s not really the goal anyways hehehe! I’m realizing that there are seasons of life, and you do the best you can during the season you’re in and take the very best out of it as well. Thanks, as always, for reading, my friend!

  2. Great insights and I really relate. I work really hard on getting as much sleep as possible. I had a sweet spot when my kids were little kids (like 1-9yrs old) where they went to bed early. Now that my oldest is 13 and definitely staying up later- with activities, homework, sleepovers- it’s getting a little harder again.
    Adaptability and balance as much as possible!

    1. Hi Amy! I bet — I have already learned that things continue to change — so being flexible is key. It must be fun to see your kids grow up and be out in the world with all their activities and such — although scary too!!

  3. I don’t have kids but I have definitely seen the struggle from the outside with my friends who have kiddos. I have to agree about sleep being the main priority. It’s so silly some of these routines that people have on IG and to expect moms to be able to do that as well. And I agree with the childcare option. More places to should have but I think that has something to do with the way we view children in this county (maternity leave/paternity leave, etc.). Hopefully more places start offering it soon!

    1. Hi Virjinia! Yess — that’s a whole different topic for sure, but the maternity/paternity leave issue is a major thing. Thanks for reading and relating, lady! 🙂

  4. It’s definitely a struggle to fit in a regular fitness routine among all the mom responsibilities, and working full time. I fit it in where I can and try not to get too down on myself if I find myself going 3-4 days without a workout. I remind myself, that walking to and from school to pick up my son on my remote days COUNTS!

    1. Hi Erin! Walking TOTALLY counts, so if that’s all you get to, then that’s a win. And having a positive attitude about every single “healthy activity” or meal you eat or do is a benefit to you — each one helps, then you never need to be upset about the days that have less healthy food and less movement hhehe. You’re doing awesome, momma! 🙂

  5. Hi Ashley, I am glad that Brady is getting more considerate with his mom and letting her get just a little bit more sleep. You do have something look forward to. Before child your time was unlimited. With child your time revolves around his needs. But when he grows up and moves out on his own your time will once again be yours. That comes with retirement. Oh I forgot something. Then you will become a grandmother. There goes all that free time. lol

    1. hahahah ohhhh geez, Richard! Life is very cyclical in that way, isn’t it? I can’t even imagine him going to preschool, letting alone moving out heheh! Good thing I’ve got time to absorb it all! Hope your weekend was great! 🙂

  6. Oh my gosh, my morning ritual is not what it should be sometimes LOL. Like you said, right now, sleep is a priority so I typically wake up 15 minutes before Donovan wakes up so I can shower alone 🙂 I wish I could get up even earlier to make some coffee and read a book or blogs or something, but that’s just not happening yet!

    1. I’m glad you are putting your sleep first, Marielle! That’s important! 🙂 heehhehe and I am also impressed you shower every morning — now that’s a routine hehehe

  7. YES to everything in this post! When my daughter was first born it was a difficult adjustment for me because I tried to keep up all that I was doing before, wellness wise, and it just wasn’t realistic and I felt a sense of failure. I know now that wellness can look so different for us all and can change week to week and that’s ok. All we can do is the best we can do. Thank you Ashley for putting these thoughts out there and for being so real, I know they will help some newer moms❤️

    1. Hi Erin! You’ve got it! We can only do the best we can do. Thank YOU for being an awesome mom and for reading, my friend! 🙂

  8. “do a meditation visualization in a matching-sports-bra-and-leggings-combo” — cracked me up!

    You’re doing great lady!! All you moms out there are amazing! <3

    1. Thank you so much, Jessie! And for reals … who REALLY wears sports-bra-leggings that match with no shirt while they are at home? Not me. hahahah

  9. Your morning ritual descriptions cracked me up!!! I can totally relate to all this. I just went back to the gym and can only go when my husband is home, and there’s the pressure to time it perfectly with nursing. Plus I’m so tired! I feel like I sleep with 1 eye open. I’ve been gym shopping a little bit but childcare is a MUST! Even grocery shopping is hard. The car seat goes in the cart then there’s no room for food! So we’re often out of fresh vegetables. I drink green veggie powder water and hope it works. Anyway, thanks for all this! Glad Brady is sleeping better at night 🙂

    1. Hi Alie, I feel for you! I did home workouts until I could take Brady to childcare or did weekend gym sessions, but it’s SO nice to have the kidcare option now. As far as grocery shopping — I usually do a few trips a week instead of one big one, and I use a handcart, then put the heavy things under the stroller. I also tried the carseat in the cart thing, and I was NOT a fan of that hehehe. But frozen veggies are a MAJOR go-to for us — like the frozen cauliflower at TJ’s — you can buy a ton at once and always have it on hand. Anywho — keep up the great work, lady! 🙂

  10. Hello! Such a great and relatable post. The patience thing. Hoo boy yes. Haha. But as one of my mom friends says, every cry has been answered every hungry belly filled and every diaper changed so we are bating 1000 so far ? And I so so love how you mentioned that about morning routines because that’s all I think now when I follow certain people I did pre baby, and hear the podcasts like are you kidding me? Right now I try and get up maybe 30 mins before my girl, take a shower and make a cup of tea or coffee, which I sometimes get to drink myself and sometimes don’t lol. Then she gets up, she eats, we play and I get her set up while I do my little work out, and then the day proceeds. She’s almost 6 months but I don’t quite have the guts to bring her to gym daycare ? I knowww I should and I’d love that window of time so maybe soon. Anyways great post and crazy how much changes and the littlest things make you feel so good! I also include some wine and ice cream in my mom wellness game hehe.

    1. Thank YOU for reading, Rose! And I was SOOOO nervous about taking Brady to gym daycare, and it’s no big deal at all now. But I totally get it that you’re a little scared. When you are ready, you go! And good for you for getting up before your girl … I take the extra sleep hahah! 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, momma!

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