Ever since I had a baby, I don’t get out much. Truthfully, I wasn’t incredibly social before, it’s just that people want to see my baby and that usually requires seeing me, so they’ve only now begun to notice. I’m laughing, but I’m not kidding.
The thing is, when you’re a new parent in this day and age, you begin to realize that it can take a massive amount of effort to go anywhere with your tiny human, i.e.:
Do I have enough diapers? What if the baby poops? Do I have one of those scented bags, and will it contain the near-toxic fumes? What about baby powder? If we go out for an hour, is my child going to scream and cry uncontrollably because he’s tired or hungry? Okay, pack his bottle warmer, an ice pack, a teething toy, two books, his favorite book, tissues if he spits up, an extra outfit, a blanket if it gets drafty, a lighter blanket in case it’s too sunny but I don’t want him to get hot-
No no no no no no no no. It better be worth my time, like super worth it, for me to haul half of my 6 month old’s life, and what now feels like his 50 lb. car seat, into my SUV, and out into the world.
I’m not saying that working on social relationships and getting out into the world isn’t worth it, but at this point in our lives, it’s simply more enjoyable to keep to ourselves a majority of the time. The key adjective there being: simply.
The greatest compromise to achieve happiness in our household was to simplify: relationships, routines, feeding, etc.
Our house is no longer in “shambles” like in the first weeks, and admittedly months, when we became parents. However, it remains far outside the realm of “aesthetically pleasing” like in the time before our son was born. Now? It’s set up to support the most efficient manner in which our son’s daily routines are played out.
On one side of our coffee table, our son’s chair that we feed him in sits, while on the the other side is his rocker. Just a few feet away from his rocker lays his little play gym, not far from our bookshelf which now has a section full of baby books and his favorite stories. Enveloping the most living room real estate is our son’s pack and play, which has rarely moved from its spot since we brought our baby home.
That pack and play won’t move until this kid is out of diapers, because I simply don’t trust our son won’t roll off the changing table in our nursery(our adorable nursery, that my husband and I labored over with such love and effort, which is seldom, if ever, used).
As new parents, we’ve just found it easier to have 95% of all things we need for our son in a single room. Honestly, if our son would sleep in the brightness of our living room during the day, he’d probably take his naps in that pack and play too. As a newborn, when he fit into the bassinet attachment, he used to.
Still, we spend probably 90% of our time at home in our living/dining area, because when all the things that you need are organized to be close at hand, you spend less time searching for, retrieving, or worrying about them. And you spend more time enjoying the people that you love.
When it comes to feeding baby, the ability to make formula(still the mainstay of our son’s diet) in bulk is truly a lifesaver.
This was something that we learned when we switched from breast milk to formula for our son, waking up at 2 a.m. and shaking up a bottle of formula, then warming it up, had the consequence of being inefficient and giving our son a lot of air bubbles.
There were a variety of very expensive(hello $200 electric mixer) and inexpensive($9 mixing pitchers abound) options for quick formula preparation. Still, I would’ve had to wait a few days for delivery, sanitized the new equipment, and made permanent space for these things. But free is usually a better deal than $200 or $9 any day.
So I ended up mixing a pre-measured amount of water and formula powder into an old Pyrex measuring bowl with a whisk. Then I poured my formula into bottles for baby in the increments at which he usually drinks them, making increases as needed. Now, whenever we feed baby, we just pull out a bottle and throw it on the warmer. It’s both fast and easy enough to make new batches as needed during his naps, and we aren’t taking up any more space since it’s all stuff we already had.
My time spent working in a kitchen made it necessary to have a pen and roll of scotch tape nearby to label times and dates for all formula, and now food, that we make for our son. So it seems like we’re running a well organized, well oiled baby-feeding machine.
Recently, at a friend’s wedding, my husbands classmates commented on how easy we made our parenting processes look. For some reason, I had some difficulty in explaining how hard we worked to make it actually just easy.
It was necessary to make all of these processes and routines easy, because parenting, regardless of what you do in terms of process or routine, is always going to hold some exceptional difficulty. My husband and I are just fortunate, extremely fortunate, that our son is actually a relatively easy baby to take care of(as long as you keep him comfortable and don’t disrupt his routines).
I do as much as possible to maintain these routines, that with their predictability, have become very easy. This kind of organization really maximizes the quality of time in between preparation of these necessary routines, while our son develops normally and receives that which he needs most in life: nourishment and love.
The area in which I feel like I’ve had to sacrifice and compromise most is my own ambitions as an individual before motherhood.
We’ve already established that I walked away from my career, which had some really good potential to contribute to, or be cultivated into, something much bigger. I’m not certain how being apart from the business world for a long period of time is going to impact a decision to return to it, what with how fast industries move with advancing technologies and ideas. But then there are things too, like this blog, that I long to pursue.
In the times when my son is napping, or asleep, I will take a moment to breathe, rather then rush to write, draw, or work on some other project. This is the reason that there is such an expanse of time between my posts, because I believe it is important to simply be sometimes.
I no longer get to do everything, but I do get to do everything that I absolutely need to, in the time when it comes to me, and with the energy I am so blessed to have. And that’s fine, because I’ve chosen to prioritize my son’s well-being before my ambitions.
My first priority as a parent, is to parent. But that entails more than a checklist of what I should do beyond the essentials, and more importantly entails that I help establish, nourish, and support character that will guide my son in his life, long after he needs me, or I’m gone.
Because we don’t disrupt our simple routines to go out every day, or do stamina-draining activities even every week, I really enjoy the time spent reading to my son, or cuddling and playing with his hands and feet.
My son’s sleep schedule usually allows for me to sleep in quite a bit. So I sleep in a lot, because being well rested makes my mind and soul feel well. This allows me to get through each day with a degree of relative ease.
While I may not be using my free time to create as much as I could, I am availing myself the awareness to truly cherish my life, and therefore my son.
Some days, it feels like a really lazy kind of life. But with this crazy world we’re living in, man, I think I’ll be able to live longer and appreciate it all if I can live it in the most relaxed way possible.