Monday, September 13, 2010

new mom questions... dinners and house cleaning

Okay friends in blog-world... this is the last week of my maternity leave with little Moriah. Beginning next Monday I'll return to my pre-school teaching job with the three year olds, while baby girl Moriah goes to the baby room across the hall. I'm SO thankful that the Lord provided this job when He did. It's as close to ideal as we can get right now since she'll be near me all day (I'm even able to nurse on my lunch break), I have much less stress and responsibility than I did as a public school teaching (meaning I come home with more patience and energy), and I'm still helping support us as Matt works through Seminary without any debt. *In other news, the Lord has been very good to us lately and we're almost debt-free entirely (then I'll consider donating to SBU someday when my college is actually paid for)!* So back to the point of this post... I know things will change when I return to work and that our evenings will feel full and time will fly. I'm trying to be as prepared as possible in order to make a more smooth transition for myself and our family. I've been mostly thinking about dinners and house cleaning. I'd love your tips on these two areas of life.

Have you ever made a meal plan of sorts? How does it work for you?
*Before now, I typically thought about tasty dinners made a list of five or six for the week, and then wrote my grocery list from it. Each evening we picked a meal off the dinner list, I had what I needed on hand, and we ate! That took more brain power and time than I feel like devoting these days so... I'm thinking of going through my commonly prepared recipes and sorting them into types of food and ease of preparation. Then I think I'll try to fill out a calendar with meals for an entire month, varying what we're having throughout the month and leaving room to try new recipes from time to time (I still love looking at cookbooks and magazines, so I can't give that up yet!). I hope that will allow me to plan grocery lists for each week, so that shopping on the weekend will be a no-brainer, and take much less planning time in advance. I'm also hoping to jot down five or so specific lunch ideas for Matt and I as we both brown bag it with our jobs. This would ensure that we always have something we could take for the day. I know this sort of planning would be insane to some people, but I thrive with structure and planning. For now, it seems like it might help and if it doesn't I'll stop, that simple! Let me know if any of you have tips that have been helpful for your families.

If you lived in a relatively small space would you clean it all at once or divide the tasks? How do you divide them... do you have a job every day? When do you do your cleaning?
*I've been cleaning our apartment well on the weekends... usually Saturday morning while Matt works at the bank or Sunday afternoons. It really doesn't take me long to do the things that seem most important to me, and I just do it all at once even though it can take me awhile to get motivated. These cleaning days have entailed: kitchen cleaning (refrigerator clean out of leftovers, counters, floor, etc.), bathroom cleaning (shower, sink, mirrors, toilet, floor), house cleaning (dust bedroom, vacuum everywhere). As I notice other "deeper cleaning" tasks I add them to the list. So it works well, but takes a chunk of time. I anticipate wanting to enjoy my baby girl as much as I can on the weekends and would love to have my cleaning done at other times... I also know I'll be tired in the evenings and they'll be full too. I'm not sure what might work best. I've also considered joining the GirlTalk blog ladies (C.J. Mahaney's daughters and wife) as they practice a 5am club, though I know sleep is important too. Again, I'd love your thoughts!

As a disclaimer, for those of you who know me well... I often set myself up with ambitious plans that just aren't realistic. I know that about myself, and I really don't want to do that again. I'm just wanting to try new things that might be helpful. Really don't worry about me - I'm offering myself much grace (Matt does too, always!) and flexibility as I try to balance these things!


The Blackley Tribe said...

Laura, these next few months will be a major time of transition...not only with you starting back to work, but also with Moriah. Their development changes SO much in the first year, but I feel like the first 6 months is the biggest. While it is good to have structure with your cleaning, looking back I wish I would've been more realistic about my expectations when he was so little. Jason was great to point out the reality, and the things I WAS getting done, but I still felt like a failure as a wife/keeper of our home. When you have those days where you feel like you've failed in all areas, remember these two things...1-this too shall pass, and quite quickly and 2-you're not alone. Life as a mother is all about balance, sometimes the kid waits for you to finish the dishes and sometimes the dishes wait.
I'm loving 'watching' you become a mother!

Gretchen said...


I totally didn't know you were going back to work, but let me just encourage you with what has worked for me -- of course every family and household is different, so you can certainly feel like skipping my ideas. :)

As for household chores, I assign one job to each day. For example, grocery Monday, laundry Tuesday, clean bathroom Wednesday, vacuum Thursday, and so forth. This has moved around a tad as our schedules shift, but in my mind, I know I can handle doing that ONE JOB each day. I do not prefer to spend my only whole day I have at home (Saturday) doing everything. I'd MUCH rather feel free to use that day spending time with my fam and making memories. Of course, if we are hosting on Sunday, or I have extra laundry to catch up or something, I can always jump in and do a few extra things that day, but generally I leave it as free as possible.

Sounds like you have great meal planning ideas. The only suggestion I would add is to stock up and keep a few things on hand that would be easy for your husband to prepare quickly. For us that usually means having a box mix of red beans and rice or a frozen pizza on hand, or maybe eating scrambled eggs and toast for supper. Josh is great about making supper once a week (at one point it was a little more often than that). If you make it easy for him, that can be something he can easily take off your plate.

Gretchen said...

Oh, and one more thing . . . :)

One thing I did not anticipate was how much of my evening time would be filled up with just preparing for the next day -- washing my pump (will you have to pump even if she is right there, or can you nurse her on breaks?), preparing her bottles (I'm very thankful that I never had to substitute formula, but it is a lot of work to make sure you've got enough BM ready), packing diaper bag and lunches for you and your husband. It can be exhausting just tackling all those little extra things, so just give yourself a bit of a break on other commitments or how perfect your house needs to be. I would have to consciously tell myself "it doesn't matter if it doesn't look like Martha Stewart lives here, you are doing the most important things first, caring for your baby and husband."

I gave up a few other extra things when I returned to work, including my blog and teaching children Wednesday nights at church (both of which I have now picked back up since I moved to part time!). My reason for this was that I knew my spare moments ought to be free to just snuggle my daughter or play with her, or collapse with my husband. I'm sure you've already thought about clearing your plate from extras, but if not, maybe as you get back to work, things will become apparent. DO NOT feel bad about this! It is a season. You are doing the most important FIRST. And in another season, you may have time to cook like Giada and have a gorgeous home like Martha Stewart. At least that's what I'm still telling myself. :)

Gretchen said...

Sorry for the multiple comments, but I keep thinking of more I want to say. :)

Just want you to know, Laura, that I will PRAY for you as you go back to work. Every woman handles it differently, but for me, I felt like my heart was ripping out. And I had GREAT care for her (a dear friend to babysit or she was with her daddy). I will pray for your heart and mind to be joyful in all circumstances, and that you will not entertain thoughts of jealousy or discontent. I especially had a hard time (and I still do to a large extent) hearing SAHMs complain about all the time they are "cooped up" with their kids because I SO longed to be in their position. . . This battlefield of envy is very real, and though I pray it will not be an issue for you, I can see how likely it will be that you may be tempted to that (the tempter takes a good desire in our hearts and tempts us to make them into idols).

Bless you!

laurapeery said...

Thanks ladies! You both had such encouraging words :) Gretchen, I think I'll try to have one "chore" per evening because I too would love to enjoy my free days with sweet Moriah without filling them with other to-do's. We'll see how it goes, I think it will be helpful in the long run for sure! I will be pumping at work (I get to nurse on my lunch break, but will otherwise pump and store it for the next day) so I'm sure you're right about all the little things that add up in the evenings. Here's another question along those lines, do you always sanitize bottles after each feeding or can they just be washed and sanitized less often? Just curious... I did get a microwave sanitizer so it's not too hard, but I just wasn't sure!