Leaving the Baby Years Behind: New Habits for a New Chapter of Life

I am in a new season of life. I have been either pregnant or nursing for the past ten years with just a few months in between.
2009 Baby #1
2011 Baby #2
2013 Baby #3
2016 Baby #4                                                                              photo by Megan Talbert
2016 Baby #5                                                                                 photo by Kerie Griggs
It hasn’t been easy. We had two miscarriages along the way (2008 & 2015) and lost our 3-week-old son Joey in 2016. With the arrival of our rainbow baby and grand finale Charlie in 2017, I felt such relief that we had “run the race” with the baby years and were ready for the next chapter. I have the family I dreamed of and this incredible blessing is not lost on me. However, here I am 10 years later and, ahem, some chaos has crept in along the way as we have been in survival mode more often than not.  So in 2018, I made some changes.  I was determined to take a few steps back towards myself and a few steps towards routine and order after years of focusing on my sweet babies. I found some things that REALLY helped me progress and I want to share them with you here today in hopes that someone might find something helpful. 



I decided to scale back homeschooling. Being a stay-at-home mom and a homeschool mom was a dream that had come true for me, but it wasn’t working and I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I  registered my two oldest children to start school in the fall.  This was an enormous relief. 



I decided to start writing. I started a personal blog and was selected as a contributing writer for the newly formed St. Louis Moms Blog.  I had been collecting stories of faith, health and motherhood for years and it was time to tell them. It felt right and continues to feel right. 
I started an at-home business. After years of being helped tremendously through whole food, plant-based nutrition, I decided to join the mission of inspiring healthy living around the world. I am committed to being a stay-at-home mom for these years, but I really needed an outlet for work and this has been a great fit and has added so much to my happiness as a mom. 



I joined the YMCA. Repeat after me. Two hours of childcare daily. Sweet time to take care of myself while my kids have fun. 



All of my kids went to school for the first time.  They are in Pre-K, 1st and 3rd grade. Operation declutter commenced. Between August and December, I filled up my minivan six times and sold some of  it to a resale shop (Kangaroo Kids), then donated the rest across the street at a resale shop (Ditto).  Minimalist mom – I am coming for you!  
I have a friend, who is basically Joanna Gaines. I asked her to come to my house and go through every room giving me ideas for improvements.  We had so much broken furniture and “deferred maintenance” that it was overwhelming.  While in survival mode, none of these things mattered.  Over the next few months, I checked off ten things from this list by December. Super helpful. 
Community Bible Study started back up. This provided time for my spirit and regular fellowship with other moms on the journey. 



I found Norwex products which helped me to reinstate cleaning routines. Apparently, these magical cloths remove germs and bacteria without chemicals and you only have to wash them twice a month. This was a cleaning and laundry game changer. I feel like I drew the Monopoly card that says, “Advance to Go, collect $200“. 
Instacart added Aldi and my life changed forever.  Meal planning and home cooking also took a hit during these survival years.  Finding a good system for feeding a large family is a big goal for me. Instacart has helped me to meal plan and eliminate unhealthy impulse buys…and I don’t have to take my baby out in the cold or use his wake times for car rides. I love you Instacart!!
I am so encouraged because even though I still have lots of baby weight hanging around, my house is still a cluttery mess, mealtime is chaos, and I struggle to properly supervise homework, I have taken steps forward. Progress, not perfection. Grief and baby years require an enormous amount of energy and sometimes, you are just surviving.  
I have learned lessons about asking for help, letting things go, and above all, being kind to myself and staying connected to God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 has been my battle cry.
Mama, if you are in chaos right now I want to encourage you, small steps can make a big difference. You were chosen for this race and you can do it. It is a new year and we’ve got this!