After my fifth baby, I was sick for three weeks. My throat hurt, my head hurt, I blew my nose constantly, and I still had four other little people to care for.
Did I mention I was healing after delivery, also? Not exactly the dreamy postpartum bliss I’d hoped for!
Settling into a new normal after having a baby is hard. And, it’s pretty common to end up feeling like you never get anything done and like life is a little out of control. But I don’t think it has to be that way!
If you are a new mother or are about to be one, I want to help you ease into your season of transition by encouraging you to think ahead and plan your priorities for life after new baby.
While it doesn’t eliminate toddler meltdowns, diaper blowouts in Target, and exhaustion from middle-of-the-night feedings, nailing down just a few priorities will help you better respond to the unexpected mini-crises.
As women, we tend to set the bar for ourselves pretty high. Unrealistically high. And often, we don’t consciously do it.
But, when we begin to feel like a failure and convince ourselves that our three-year-old will probably need counseling as an adult because, to our horror, we discover that her hair hasn’t been combed in three days, it’s an indicator that something’s off.
Am I alone?
Prayerfully Consider Priorities
I’ve found it extremely helpful in my last few months of pregnancy to prayerfully consider what the Lord and my husband want my priorities to be after the new baby arrives. Life needs to slow down so that my body can heal, I can learn my baby, and everyone in the family can adjust to a new way of life. For me, things get basic.
Because I tend toward being a task-oriented person, I need my husband’s help to determine what really is important. I can’t tell you how many times he’s told me that he’d rather have a happy wife than a clean house.
Limit Your Priorities
I narrow my priorities down to four. I’ve found this to be the most realistic number to enable actual execution!
My daily priorities have been:
1. Time alone with the Lord
2. Teach my children the Bible
3. Fix my family food
Notice that I don’t have any cleaning on my list. This isn’t because I’m lazy, but because if I put that over the priorities listed, I get out of whack. And we all know that when mama is out of whack, everyone is out of whack.
The cleaning will get done, eventually. My husband told me this when we were adjusting to life with two kids. It was his way of reminding me that I’m not lazy, and it’s not immediately important to load the dishwasher. Waiting until tomorrow really is okay.
Be Excited When You Get to Accomplish More Than Your Priorities
Here’s the beauty of having only four priorities daily: some days, you’ll find that you can do a lot more. Don’t you love that feeling of getting more done that you thought you’d be able to?
It won’t happen every day, but that’s okay because the extras weren’t on your list to start.
You see, when you eliminate things like, “Do the dishes,” on days when things are crazy and you just can’t get to the dishes, you don’t need to feel like a failure. They’ll get done tomorrow probably, and that’s okay.
There is no prescription in the Bible as to how often your bathrooms should be cleaned. So, go ahead and relieve yourself of the unspoken rule in your mind as to how often that needs to happen. And, as you have time, clean it.
Now, I probably don’t need to say this, but, I’m not advocating laziness and nasty toilets. But I am suggesting that a tranquil heart will yield much more fruit than a harried wife and mom will. There will be time to clean toilets and vacuum floors (and eventually, you’ll even have help from your children!).
I’m still growing in all of this!
Seek the Lord
Being a mom is demanding, exhausting, and depleting. If we don’t take regular time to go to the Lord in prayer and Scripture, we’ll find ourselves worn to a frazzle, and I believe we’ll battle condemnation. He is our source of life and strength! So, spending time seeking Him, even in the littlest of moments can’t be negotiable.
Please take care of your soul by taking time to seek the Lord. Spending uninterrupted hours at a time in quiet with the Lord is great, but that isn’t the 11th commandment! However, the more time we seek to spend with Him, the more able we are to cultivate our relationship with Him.
Simply reading one sentence of Scripture and praying it back to the Lord, and meditating on it is doing something in the Spirit. As your baby grows, take advantage of the longer periods of time you have, and spend them with Him! He wants to know you and to help you, but you must go to Him. He is waiting like the tender Father He is, and delights in any amount of yourself that you’ll give to Him.
Transition isn’t easy, but I pray you’ll be helped and encouraged as you seek to submit your priorities to the Lord!
Kelly has been married to Blane for 17 years, with five children that keep her very busy. She’s a transplanted yankee married to a southern man, living the country life. Her first love is Jesus Christ, and she desires to joyfully walk with every crack and crevice of her heart aligned with His– a daily process laced with the reality of pain and suffering on this earth. She’s an avid reader, runner, and learner. Hospitality is one of her favorite hobbies, along with writing encouraging notes to others. She’s the Women’s Ministry Director at her local church and a Biblical Counselor. She blogs at kellytarr.com.