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

A Daily Schedule for the SAHM with 2 Under 2

sahm2u2My babies are 10.5 months apart. I’ll be honest: for the first several months, we had no regular routine. It was all about survival and making sure everyone had slept, was fed and had clean clothes & diapers. I did try to get us out for a walk every day, so I guess you could say that was somewhat routine.

Fast-forward 8 months: we now thrive on schedules in this house (see my morning and evening routines here). My kiddos love knowing what to expect (and so do I), and regular meal and nap times help keep baby batteries charged. Here’s what a typical day in our life looks like:

5a-7:30a: Wake up and prepare for the day. (You can read about my morning routine here.)

7:30a/8am: DS wakes up and nurses. He is easily distracted when feeding, so I always try to get a good nursing session in before DD wakes up.

8a/8:30am: DD wakes up. Put on music (yey for the Toddler Dance station on Pandora) & have kiddos play independently while I make breakfast for DD. DD and I sit together at the table while she eats breakfast, and then it’s time for more independent play.

8:45a: Empty the dishwasher and put laundry on to wash. Pick up the house and do some light cleaning, such as vacuuming (Note: heavy cleaning, i.e. the bathrooms, has to wait until there is someone else around to monitor the kids).

9:30: Feed DS and put him down for a short morning nap.

10a/10:30a: In home educational activity for DD, and then once DS wakes up we head out to story time or go to a mommy & me play group. I’ll also use this time to go grocery shopping or run other errands on occasion (today we got our flu shots, yuck!).

12:00p: Lunch for DD & DS; DS nurses.

12:30p: DD & DS down for afternoon nap.

2:30p: DS & DD wake up from nap. We play for a bit and then I feed DS while DD gets 30 minutes of screen time (We stick to PBS shows right now—Daniel Tiger & Thomas and Friends are the current favs).

3:30p: Walk, park &/or errands.

5p: DD & DS eat dinner.

5:30p: Baths for both kids.

6p: Clean up toys and read together.

6:30p: Bedtime.

6:30-8:15p: See my evening routine here.

8:15p: Dream feed DS.

8:30p: Bedtime for me!

I also do dinner prep throughout the day. I use the crock pot a lot, try to have enough for leftovers, and make a fair number of simple meals (i.e. spaghetti). I love cooking, but this is sadly not the season for many exciting meals.


Finding Hope in the Midst of Postpartum Depression

ppd_hopeFor the past few days I’ve felt like I have been slipping back down into the deep, black pit of postpartum depression.  That’s how it always goes for me: I slowly start loosing more and more of my joy, of my hope.  In the place of joy and hope, my heart begins to fill with pain (literally, I can press a hand on my chest and ease the ache).  Next comes the feeling of being weighted down, as if my blood has been replaced by lead.  My thoughts get lost in mental fog, and every task—down to changing the last dirty diaper—becomes so. incredibly. difficult. to. accomplish.

Yesterday morning I began my prayer time by writing a note in my prayer journal begging Jesus to “remove this cup [of depression] from Me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus responded to me right away in my readings, first in my daily devotional: “If you have hope, this will make you cheerful.” (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 76).

Yes, I thought to myself, this is true: I have experienced this for myself recently.  We are moving back to my hometown next year and will live near family again (currently we live on the other side of the country from family).  I have been so excited about this move, about buying a house and about settling down.  I have had so much HOPE lately for the future, but yesterday morning that hope was not enough to make my soul cheerful.

That is when Jesus gently directed my thoughts to this verse: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Heb 6:19).

I struggled to find the meaning of what the Lord was telling me.  The hope in our new home that had buoyed me just days before had faded and my soul did not feel anchored.

Finally, the Lord gently reprimanded me, saying “set your HOPE on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:2).

A light turned on for me: I realized that the excitement—the hope—I had been feeling about our future house was good, but that it had blinded me. If I was so hopeful for my future earth house, how much more hope I should have for an eternal home with God in Heaven!  How much more glorious will my Heavenly home be than any home I could ever find on Earth!

I realized I have been placing my hope in earthly things; I have idolized these things and that is why hope has not been a sturdy anchor for me.  I do believe that my depression is a mental illness that needs to be medicated; however, I also believe that focusing my hope on things above—God & Heaven—will provide me with that steadfast anchor.