Before becoming a mom of two under two, I had never even heard of the term “self-care.”

Before babies, I also never had to be intentional about looking after my own needs—I just got around to them when I got around to them.  No big deal. But when you have a baby (or two) it’s easy to keep putting your needs aside over and over again…and never getting around to addressing them. This became a serious problem for me when I had two back-to-back babies, especially because I suffered from postpartum depression. For me self-care has become an essential part of being a good mom—it’s what’s keeps me energized and happy.

In Matthew Kelly’s book Building Better Families(pg. 77), Kelly addresses four legitimate needs that we all have.  These needs are essential to any person being able to thrive in life. I have used these needs as a roadmap to assess and address my wellbeing each day.

Your turn for a self-assessment. For each of the categories below, ask yourself: “Am I getting…?

Physical Needs

√ Regular Exercise

√ Balanced Diet

√ Sufficient Sleep

Emotional Needs

√ Opportunities to love and be loved

√ Carefree time with children and spouse (playtime)

Intellectual Needs

√ Opportunities to stimulate and nourish your mind

Spiritual Needs

√ Silence and Solitude

The way you meet these needs might be slightly different from the way I meet my needs.  For example, to meet my Spiritual Needs I make time to read the Bible and my daily devotional every morning before the kiddos wake up.

My husband and I have also had to work together to find ways for me to have my Intellectual Needs met. In this season, unless I make time to read and write (which often is only possible when someone else is babysitting) it doesn’t happen.

How are you doing? In which areas are you struggling? Is there a way you can be more intentional with your time, so that you can be sure these essential needs of yours are being met?

How to find your Mommy Tribe

finding-your-mommy-tribeI strongly encourage any mama with two under two (any mama, really—both SAH and working) to find a mommy group. It makes a world of difference to have a network of other mamas who are going through similar things, and from whom you can draw strength and support to overcome your own struggles (and share your joys!). Particularly as someone suffering with PPD, I have found mama friends to be vital. They get you out of the house, and it’s so nice to have social interaction with someone your own age! I had a great group of mommy friends before we moved cross-country this past summer, and I have been working hard to find my new mommy tribe in our new home. Here are some tips for finding your mommy tribe:

Check your local hospital. This is where I met my first mommy group, after DD was born. The hospital sponsored a ‘Mommy & Me’ postpartum group for new mothers, and after we had all been going for a while we started getting together outside the formal group. This is the best option for first time mamas with infants. This is where I found one of my new mommy groups (after we moved cross-country). Just search for mommy and me groups in your area.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  There are groups everywhere! The trouble I’ve found with MOPS is that the groups are often full and so you get put on a waitlist until spots open up. I have yet to be able to go to a meeting, but I look forward to the day when I do!

Check out your church or place of worship. The cathedral in the city where we used to live had a mommy group, as did many of the smaller neighboring churches. The church we’re planning to attend next year (when we move BACK across the country) also has a mommy group.

Library story times & the park. If you go during the week, there are often many SAHMs to meet!  Be brave and strike up a conversation.  Talk about your kids; there’s an endless amount of conversations to be had!

Google. I literally Googled “Mommy Groups in [insert your city or town]”, and this is how I found the other group I am a current member of. You can also use Google to find mommy and me classes in your area (music classes, swimming lessons, etc.).

Sometimes (if you’re an introvert like me) joining new groups–often ones that are already well established–can be daunting. I always feel super awkward the first few times I go (heck, it’s the end of November and I STILL feel awkward going to the mommy groups I’ve joined in our new town). But when you keep showing up and making small talk, over time IT DOES GET BETTER. Even though I feel awkward when I arrive, I always leave happy with at least one fun conversation I had with another mom. You will slowly find your place in the group and start to feel like one of them. Just be friendly, smile and ask the veteran group members questions (this takes the heat off you!).

Did I miss anything? Let me know where you found your mommy tribe!peace-be-with-youlove

My Evening Routine As A Mama of 2 Under 2

my-evening-%e2%80%a8routineI have found that in order to keep my sanity as a SAHM of two under two, I need routines (see my morning routine).  Routines help me to ensure that I’m getting enough sleep, that I’m taking care of myself mentally and physically, that I’m being present with my husband and loving him well, and that I am devoting time to building my relationship with Jesus.

I wasn’t always like this!!! Before kids I was pretty disorganized and had poor time management skills.  But, as they say, a baby (or two) changes everything.  Now I find comfort in routine and structure, and honestly, having a daily plan is refreshing to me.

Here is my evening routine as a SAHM of two under two:

6:30-7pm: Kids in bed.  They are ALWAYS in bed by 7pm (I can only think of one time in the memorable past that DD wasn’t in bed by 7pm; she was sick and it took until 7:15 to calm her down).

10 minutes post kids in bed: Sit on the couch, catch up on emails & social media and drink a tall glass of water.  The pre-bed evenings with two under two are pretty hectic (especially since my husband is still at work most nights).  A glass of water is very refreshing, and as a breastfeeding mom it’s important to stay well hydrated.

Post-water break: Finish picking up the house; wash up any dirty dishes and run the dishwasher; and get organized for the next day (restock the diaper bag, lay out tomorrow’s clothes, etc.).  I find it’s really important to my mental well-being and outlook to have an organized house.  Clutter causes me stress, and waking up to a messy house in the morning does not make for a good start to the day.  I also do what I can to eliminate frantic running around in the morning.

7:30-8pm:  Dinner & date time with my husband (if he’s home from work).  If he’s not home from work I’ll use this time to take an extra long shower and then read.

8pm: Quick shower and get ready for bed.  Once I’m all ready for bed, I usually sit on the couch for five minutes with my husband and sip on a mug of Sleepytime Tea.  This really helps me calm down and relax.  I have also been taking Melatonin lately to help me get back into a regular sleep cycle after 7+ months of night waking’s and weird bedtimes (Note: Consult your doctor before adding any dietary suppliants.  I am not a doctor and am only sharing what has been helpful to me).

8:15-8:30pm: Dream feed for DS.

8:30-9pm: Lights out.

What does your evening routine look like? Is there anything special you do to wind down?