Motherhood: Tips to Survive & Thrive the First Year

A year ago today, Daniel and I brought Aria home from the hospital. She was dressed in her adorable hedgehog coming home outfit and her grey homemade knitted hat. The house was spotless from months of obsessive nesting. There was a vase of purple tulips on the table that Daniel had had delivered to me in a snowstorm a day or so before she was born. Everything was calm and peaceful and perfect- but inside I was falling apart.

The reality of motherhood had hit me hard. I struggled with PTS from the years of Daniel being ill and I brought it with me into pregnancy and beyond. Aria was so tiny and helpless. The nurse who assisted during delivery had told me some less than helpful things that terrified me to the core (looking back, she should have been fired for what she told a first time mother fresh off the delivery table). I was paranoid and felt I had to watch over Aria every second while she was asleep. My body had just been through Armageddon. I was exhausted. I had no idea what I was doing but I felt the pressure to figure it out fast because I had a human life totally dependent on me!

We survived the first few days- thanks to my mom and sister in law giving amazing support and advice, and here I am today realizing that we survived our first year! I’m sure every mother would do things differently and enjoy the first year more if they could go back and do it over again knowing what they know now. I am going to do a series of posts about my journey from trying to get pregnant all the way through my first year. This series will offer tips, encouragement and insight for anyone embarking on the amazing (and sometimes daunting) journey of motherhood! However, before I go back to the beginning, this particular post is going to be a recap of some of the BIG takeaways looking back on this past year and what I would suggest for not just surviving, but also THRIVING as a mother. If you like what you read here, stay tuned for more in depth content in the upcoming series!

1. Allow Yourself to Put Your Needs First

Obviously when you have a baby, your main job is to take care of this tiny, completely dependent human life. Don’t get me wrong: Baby comes FIRST. However, looking back, I know I didn’t put MY needs where they should have been. As a first time mom, I didn’t know what to expect or what lines to draw. I didn’t nap or have my husband help out at night the first week because I was scared that once he went back to work I was going to be totally on my own and wouldn’t be able to handle it if I took it easy now. I felt pressured to let people visit because they wanted to see the baby right away. I remember not being able to meet with the lactation consultant in the hospital because I had visitors there. Think about that- I needed help learning how to do my MOST important job of feeding my baby, and I was putting other people’s desires over my and my baby’s needs.

Never again will I make that mistake. YOU are the mother. You have one job, and that is to take the best care of your baby that you can. In order to do that job, you have to take care of YOURSELF as well. Nap when you can, take a soothing bath, have your husband take a turn feeding baby at night, don’t feel bad about limiting visitors if you’re not ready for them, and don’t ever feel like a copt out if you need to ask for help. Nobody else in the world matters right now accept for you and your baby. Do what is best for you and don’t feel bad about it!

2. Survive

Sleep. Eat. Go to the bathroom. Cry. That’s about all your baby is doing the first 6 weeks of life and let’s be honest, that is about all you are doing as well. Life becomes very primal in the early days of motherhood. A simple task such as taking a shower is suddenly a major accomplishment. For me, I had been working from home and was in the final stages of launching my company, so I definitely didn’t take it easy like I should have.

My advice: Have someone come hold baby while you shower or nap. Make sure you are eating and drinking well. Go to the bathroom (baby wearing is super helpful for this. I loved my Moby Wrap while Aria would tolerate it because it freed up both my hands and opened a whole new world of possibilities!)

Realize this is just a STAGE. It will pass. Baby will become more independent and you will slowly get your life and your routine back. I was trying too hard to get my routine back immediately because I thought this was the new normal. It’s not the new normal. The newborn phase (and every phase) is exactly that: A PHASE. Do what you need to do in that particular stage to survive, to take care of yourself, and to enjoy your sweet little baby. The stages go by so quickly. Don’t wish any of them away and allow yourself to adapt and do what you need to do to survive through each one.

3. Thrive

This final point is a topic that has been on my heart quite a bit this past year. I am so thankful that I am able to be a mother, and I love my daughter with all my heart. If motherhood and homemaking is what completes you, then I hope you are enjoying every second of it to the fullest. However, for me, I didn’t feel that way about motherhood right away- in fact, I still don’t.

I have aways been a career woman. I have big goals and I am on my way to accomplishing them. Now, I KNOW 100% that being a mother is the most important job I will ever have. That is why I decided to stay home and created a business where I could achieve my career and lifestyle goals while being home with my kids. That doesn’t mean everyone should do that, it’s just what I decided to do.

Whether you are going back to work, or working from home, or letting motherhood be your full time job (which it totally is- accept for even more exhausting and more demanding hours than a traditional full time job) my best piece of advice is to make sure that you are still finding ways to feed your soul.

You don’t cease to exist once you become a mother. You have your own unique gifts and abilities that you bring to the world. God has given you a purpose in this life. Yes, part of that purpose is now to raise your child. However, I want to encourage you to continue to thrive as a person as you do that. If you love to read, continue to make it a priority to read. If you love to workout and be healthy, keep finding new ways to do that for yourself. If you are creative, allow yourself some margin and alone time to let your creative juices flow. If you want to be home with your children but don’t want to be penny pinching your whole life, there are tons of ways to make money from home- find what works for your life and feel the satisfaction of providing for you family financially as well as all the other ways you take care of them.

As I mentioned earlier, each stage may look a little different as far as what you are able to do, but I want to encourage you to not put your own passions on hold for the next twenty years. God still wants to use you in those ways. He is big enough to be working in multiple ways in your life. Follow His calling for you and make time for things that give you life and renew your soul.

I hope this added some value into your life today! If you like this and want more, stay tuned for my upcoming motherhood series! I hope we can grow and thrive in this journey together!

Goal Crusher Guide: My How-To System for Achieving Your Dreams

Top 10 Goal Setting Tips to Make Your New Year Resolution a Reality!

Setting a New Years Resolution is a habit for most people. Unfortunately, the habits that follow are what determines if those resolutions are ever met. I am a goal junkie. I have goals ranging from 20 years, to monthly, to hourly. Below are my Top 10 Tips to setting a goal and making it become a reality!

1. Don’t Make a NY Resolution!

Hear me out: What I mean by this, is don’t JUST make a New Year’s resolution. 12 months is a very long time for goal setting. If you want to get in shape in the next year, that leaves quite a bit of wiggle room to procrastinate, indulge in bad habits, and ultimately forget. Try to set more short term goals, such as 90 days. Having a 90 day goal is a great way to spur you into action as well as provide a checkpoint for you to evaluate your progress.

2. Accountability

Share your goals with others! If no one else knows about your goals, then you don’t have much skin in the game. There’s not that much at stake if you fail or decide to quit. Telling someone you trust about your goals and asking them to help keep you accountable is critical- especially on the days when you’ve lost your motivation.

3. Have a Blue Print

When setting goals, it’s important to be specific. If your goal is too general, it will be difficult to track your progress, or to even know where to begin. Let’s say your goal is to get in better shape this coming year. Instead of leaving it at that, you could make it your goal to walk 3 times a week for the next 3 months. This makes the goal time sensitive and it gives you a plan to actually accomplish what you are working towards, therefore setting you on the path to success!

4. Attainable

I am a big fan of stretching and pushing myself. However, it is crucial that you take your goals seriously and actually BELIEVE that you can attain them. If you don’t think you can accomplish them, you won’t. Set goals that push you to be better and work harder, while also being realistic. If you’re not a serious writer, you probably won’t get your first book published this year. But if you love writing and want to devote more time to it, you can set an hour a day to finish that novel you started 3 years ago.

5. Visualization

Visualization is proven to be effective in accomplishing your goals. As the saying goes, ‘The stories you tell yourself are always true.” Your brain does not know the difference between the truth and a lie. Your thoughts will either drag you down or move you forward. When you visualize achieving your goal, and allow yourself to experience and enjoy that feeling, your brain believes that it has already accomplished it and will subconsciously guide your behaviors in the direction you want to go. You act the part before you become the part. Visualization is the first step in the process. Try visualizing once in the morning and once at night. You will be shocked by how it changes your attitudes and behaviors.

6. Affirmations

As mentioned above, your brain does not know the difference between a truth and a lie. However, YOU do. Saying affirmation to yourself is a powerful tool, but only if you don’t sabotage your own efforts. Let’s say you are a salesman, and your goal is to hit a certain promotion this month. You can repeat affirmations to yourself such as “I am the lead salesman of my company.” Now, let’s say you are actually the bottom salesman in your company and you struggle to allow this affirmation into your mind without immediately doubting and telling yourself it’s not true. If you really struggle with belief, then you can use a trick that I learned from Ray Higdon, a highly successful multi-million dollar earner in the network marketing industry. He suggests, that if you really struggle with belief to ask yourself a question relating to your goals. For example, instead of “I am the leading salesman in my company.” You can say “Why am I the leading salesman in my company?” Just for that moment, your brain is forced to ponder that question and be positively effected by it.

7. Decide What Controls You

Fear, doubt, anger, pain- these are all emotions. My mom used to always tell me, “Don’t let feelings drive the train.” You can decide which thoughts and emotions you are going to identify with. Just because they happen, does not mean they have to control you. Let your logical side drive the train- operate on what you know is true and right. Although it may be difficult to break lifelong patterns of negative or unhealthy thinking, you can work on only thinking on what is true and what moves you forward. Your thoughts will drive your actions, and then lastly, little by little, your feelings will follow.

8. WHAT vs. WHO

What you want to accomplish is not nearly as strong a motivator as who you want to be. Do you want to be someone who never gave up? Who pursued their dreams in the midst of obstacles? Who is an inspiration to others? WHO is much more powerful. Ray Higdon says that who he wants to become is his boss, not what he wants to accomplish. Ask yourself who you want to become on your journey to achieving your goals. Who can you look at in the mirror and be proud of at the end of the day? If you don’t achieve your goal in the desired time frame, will you still be proud of the lessons you learned and the person you became?

9. Positivity

Positive thinking is key to avoiding discouragement and self doubt (the opposite of affirmations). Here’s a few tricks from ray Higdon on how to flip your thinking into being more positive: Add the word YET to the end of your negative thinking. Example: If you’re thinking “I’m not where I want to be.” Try changing it to “I’m not where I want to be YET.” Feel the difference? Another thing you can do is add an affirmation onto the end of your negative thought. “I’m not where I want to be.” Or, “I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting closer everyday.”

10. Embrace the Journey

Working toward our goals can be exhausting when we only gain energy from achieving them. Learning to embrace and appreciate the journey to your goal will allow you to enjoy life along the way and get the most out of the entire experience. As I mentioned earlier, WHO you are becoming is more important than WHAT you are accomplishing. Maybe getting into shape is harder than you thought, or making the money you want is taking longer than you had hoped. You may have set backs, but if you can become a better person in the process. isn’t that worth every obstacle and every low point? Character is created through trials. Enjoy the journey and allow it to add even more value to the destination.