If you had asked me three months ago if I felt like I had it together, I would have probably told you that I felt like I did most of the time.
My life wasn’t in picture-perfect order, but overall I felt like I created a life with just enough organization that I wasn’t usually blindsided by anything. In fact, I will admit I prided myself on my ability to prepare for situations.
Then Things Changed
But then things changed. The addition of our newest little babe was wonderful and magical but also unexpectedly difficult.
Our sweet little girl came into the world ready and wanting to nurse, but we learned she had a high palate and both a lip and posterior tongue tie. Initially, I believed these would be easy fixes. Just get the ties revised and move on.
The ties were revised at 4 days old and she latched right on shortly after we got home. I felt like we were out of the woods. I thought all possible breastfeeding roadblocks had been addressed.
Little did I know at the time that babies with high palates often have continued issues with feeding. To make matters worse, the tongue tie revision, while absolutely necessary, highlighted a whole slew of oral weaknesses.
It was discovered around 10 days postpartum that our baby girl had an incredibly weak and disorganized suck. Long story short it was advised that she begin suck training with a therapist A.S.A.P as well as soft tissue work.
My well planned, well-orchestrated world came crashing down as I became buried in therapy appointments, visits with lactation consultants, weight checks, trying to maintain my milk supply through round the clock pumping, balancing the needs of three kiddos, and on and on.
My life was a blessed but very chaotic mess.
I was struggling.
On more than one occasion, in the weeks after her birth, I broke down because the weight of it all felt like too much to handle.
I felt like I was dropping everything and letting everyone down.
Finding a New Normal
Now let me preface this by saying I believe whole-heartedly in the 4th trimester. Those weeks after baby is born are crucial for you to bond and heal and basically just veg on the couch with baby.
With that being said, the addition of feeding stress and therapy added an element to the 4th trimester I wasn’t prepared for. And the existence of my other kiddos meant I had to focus on climbing out of the chaos as soon as possible.
1. Ask for HELP
First and foremost, know you are not alone!
Many of us women struggle with all that we have to handle on any given day. So when life throws a wrench in our plans it is no wonder we feel like we are drowning in the chaos.
Seriously we women are already pretty amazing so don’t feel like you have to be some sort of a hero. Ask for help and be willing to accept it as well.
This has always been something I struggled with but it truly is so important to let someone else handle something so we can lighten the load a bit.
Since the birth of Amelia, for me, it was cooking. When I released the “feed my family” ball and accepted the help those around us wanted to give, a huge weight was lifted.
And I felt no guilt. I needed help.
2. Give Your Season Grace
It is important to remember that sometimes life throws us curveballs we aren’t prepared for. No matter how organized or prepared we feel we are, sometimes things happen.
When you feel like things are getting out of control, it is important that you give yourself and the season of your life grace as you are working to find your new normal.
There were many times when I felt myself spiraling after all the chaos the weeks post-partum held. But then I tried to stay focused on the fact that this is just a short period in our life.
Remembering that these difficult times that throw us off our typical schedule are only temporary means helps to keep a level head and reasonable expectations.
3. Embrace the “suck”
After a long vent session with one of my best gals, I felt so guilty. After all, I had a beautiful baby girl and despite a few hiccups with feeding, she was healthy. But then my friend said something that helped to wipe away that guilt…
“It’s okay to say it sucks!”
And you know what, it is! Life can be hard sometimes. Life can flat out suck sometimes. And that is okay.
Embrace the suck. Let yourself feel the weight and the emotions of a difficult time. Wade through them a bit and feel and process those emotions as you need.
4. Find Your “Silver Lining”
It is important in life to remember that sometimes things can (and will) be hard. But that doesn’t mean life, in general, is awful.
Positive thoughts, affirmations, showing gratefulness or finding the silver lining. All of these are healthy ways to try and see the positive in difficult life circumstances.
Things will end in ways we didn’t expect. And life will throw us curveballs but it helps to try and see the positives that can come from a situation.
For instance, I have come out of rocky breastfeeding experience feeling stronger and accomplished. I am proud of myself for pushing through to achieve the outcome I was hoping for. It wasn’t easy but I feel like it was worth it.
When on your way to finding a new normal, it can be difficult to see past the events that crumbled your previous routine. But if you can, you will be able to create a new routine!
Try to look at your situation with alternative lenses. Is there something you can learn from this struggle? How will this difficult time make you better or more determined in the future? Did a struggle lead you to something better?
5. Brain dump
When I feel myself starting to feel overwhelmed and bogged down by all that needs to be done, I stop trying to actually do anything. Instead, I grab my planner and brain dump.
I have talked about brain dumping before when I talked about organizing mental clutter.
The process of brain dumping involves grabbing a blank piece of paper and a pen and simply writing out everything that is taking up mental space.
And I mean everything.
Doctor’s appointments. To-dos. Grocery lists. Bills that are due. Household projects. Birthday presents to buy. Literally everything.
By “dumping” everything out onto paper you are able to clear your head and go into making your to-do list with less stress.
6. Create a To-Do List
Now that you’ve written out everything that you feel like you need to get done and everything that is wearing you down, it is time to make a to-do list.
This to-do list will take all that you wrote out in your brain dump and turn it into a manageable project.
Often times the anticipated volume of what we need to get done is what is so overwhelming. When we feel like we are stuck it makes finding a new normal difficult.
When we write it out in a to-do list format, we are able to see a plan of attack. We can reduce stress by simply seeing that it isn’t as unachievable as we once thought.
7. Prioritize Your To-do List
One important step in attacking a to-do list as a busy mom is to prioritize. Moms have a limited amount of time to do things in a day so it is important to make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck if you will.
Go through your to-do list and break up your list as follows (a highlighter works great)!
- Vital or right away to-dos
- Within the next week to-dos
- Within the next month to-dos
- Within the next 2-3 month or beyond to-dos
By breaking up your to-dos you are able to focus your energy on what is the most pressing.
8. Small wins early
There is something paralyzing about a long to-do list. It is like our minds reject the idea of accomplishing anything when the list gets to a certain point.
I know over the last several weeks it has felt almost too overwhelming to get anything accomplished. There was just too much to get done!
I found the best way to stay positive and minimize the overwhelm was to focus on the quickest things on the list and get them done.
Sometimes this can mean breaking up big to-dos or projects into small parts. So if cleaning the upstairs is on your to-do list, break it up to vacuuming the upstairs, dusting, washing the windows, and collecting the laundry.
It is easier to cross off a few of those items and feel productive rather than only getting part of the way
9. Creating a New Normal
The key to life not feeling chaotic is routine. When you have an idea of what to expect life often feels more peaceful.
So while I love spontaneity every now and then, for day-to-day life I require a routine of some sort.
When the chaos of life makes you feel wonky and offset, start small. Find a single thing you want to incorporate into your routine and stick with it. Maybe it is establishing a set bedtime for the kids or picking a time for yourself to get up each morning.
Start with one or two small things and add to your new routine until you feel established and more grounded.
A few areas you can include when finding your new normal:
- Waking time and bedtime
- Set dinnertime
- Meal planning
- Adding a 30-minute workout a few days per week
- Making a grocery list
- Setting aside time to set up and review your upcoming week.
10. Finding a New Normal Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
I think as moms we get so wrapped up in what is “best” and “right” for the family that we inadvertently allow ourselves to get buried under the weight.
We stretch ourselves so thin that when chaos comes, it blindsides us.
Finding a new normal doesn’t mean having everything perfect. It is okay to have a messy house sometimes or an ever-rotating pile of laundry to fold. You are still amazing even if your house isn’t perfectly styled or if you haven’t changed out of your pjs yet today.
So when chaos hits or when you feel like you are drowning under the weight of it all. Re-assess. Take some time to see what is really important. Then slowly start finding a new normal.
Make a plan. Write a list. And move forward one step at a time.
Has life knocked your world off its axis and caused chaos?
Do you feel like you are struggling to find a new normal?