You’re reading this so I’m guessing that you have a child, have one on the way, are expecting a child or are thinking about starting a family- I’m glad you are here; no matter the reason.
Honestly, I wish that I would have read something like this when I was expecting my twins, or shortly after giving birth to them. Being a mom is glorious and rewarding; it is like everything and nothing I expected all at once. It’s all of those positive descriptors and even some negative ones, too.
I really wish that someone would have sat me down and told me how very difficult the days and months after having them would be; not the “you have two new babies and will be sleep deprived and will suffer from an exhaustion that you never imagined, part.” I wish that someone would have told me how much more difficult the day-to-day tasks would be after giving birth and throughout the first year of the twins’ life.
My girls are 15 months old, so I’m definitely not an expert on making things easier. But, life has gotten easier so I’m learning - and we (my husband and I) are learning as we go. Here’s what we have found to make life easier, more efficient, and allow us to spend more time together, after having babies.
Simplify cooking and be strategic with grocery shopping.
Cooking: Ugh. Cooking was such a fun thing that we did together before the twins arrived. We had countless hours to spend hunting down the perfect recipes, buying ingredients from the farmer’s market or local specialty stores. Although we still cook some fancy meals here and there, we just don’t have the bandwidth to do it very often. Honestly, grocery shopping and the mental energy to figure out meals at the last minute was a real time suck. The biggest things we’ve found to help with cooking meals are to plan our meals and to grocery shop on the weekend when we are both home. We’ve started all going to the grocery store as a family and it turns out to be a pretty fun experience for my girls. They love to sit in the grocery carts (yes, we each take a kid and we each have a cart), and play with whatever we are adding to the cart. Maybe going to the store as a family is a no brainer for many people, but for us, it’s quite a chore to even get out of the house, so this takes some effort!
We’ve also simplified the types of meals we make, especially now that the twins are eating what we eat. When we grill, we grill a bunch of different things at once, that way we have several meals already made for the whole week. Even if we aren’t grilling, we always try to double the amount we are making so there are left-overs for dinner the next night. Our goal is to only cook 2-3 nights a week, which enables us to spend more time together in the evenings.
I haven’t done this yet because we don’t have the service available for the store where we do most of the grocery shopping, but many of my mom friends use grocery delivery services like Instacart, or the do grocery pick-up that some of the big grocery store chains offer. So, if you are short on time and need to get a grocery shop in, this could be a more efficient way to do so.
Automate. Automate as much as you possibly can. Automation is the key to making our lives easier, less chaotic and enabling us to spend more time together and as a family.
Shopping: Along with grocery shopping, we tried to figure out how to spend less time running errands and how to become more efficient with our shopping in general. Getting rid of special trips in the middle of the week has been a huge timesaver! For example, “Oh crap, we just ran out of wipes!” Some of my mom friends choose to do this by making big trips to Costco or Sam’s Club, which is great if you can do it only once a month. For us, the thought of going to Costco on the weekend with twins sounds like a holy nightmare. What has worked really well for us is our Amazon Prime Subscription. We try to order everything that we possibly can from this service and the items get delivered once a month (paper goods, baby wipes, diapers, baby lotions, baby bath items, dishwashing soap, etc). If you use Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” option, you save approximately 15% on everything you order! This has been tremendously helpful in cutting out those one-off trips to the store and giving us more time to spend doing other things.
Accept Help And Pay For Help When You Are Able.
Two Types Of Help: As I see it, there are two types of help: free help and help for which we pay. After having the twins and putting my career on hold to stay at home with them, two things became very apparent: My house would never be as clean as I wanted it to be ever again and kids are expensive! Continuing to pay for someone to clean our house twice a month wasn’t cheap, but we were very lucky that my parents also saw these things and generously offered to pay for our cleaning services. Honestly, it was kind of hard to accept the help (I mean we are 40 years old, it’s not like we are kids who need to depend on their parents financially), but I guess the real lesson here is to accept help when offered. In the days where social media and society tell us that we need to be super mom or super dad, it’s easy to live under the illusion that we are capable of having an impeccably clean house, of always looking put together, having everything under control, etc…but this is just not a reality for most of us. So, when people offer to help you, accept the fact that you may need it and take them up on it. Let them hold the baby while you shower or take a nap, let them do a load of laundry for you, let them empty the dishwasher. Ride that, “I have a new baby” wave as long as you possibly can because the days of people offering to help will end sooner than you think! I wish I would have done this more when the girls were younger. I wish I would have taken my friends up on their offers to come and hold the girls so I could get out of the house or take a shower!
If you can afford to, figure out where it makes sense to hire help. With very careful budgeting and finding affordable services, we’ve been able to hire help in certain areas and it’s freed up time for me to focus on getting healthy, and honestly, just having a mental break. It’s also allowed us to spend more time either doing things together so we can reconnect, or doing things with the girls instead of one person working on a household chore while the other person is on kid duty. I’ve been able to use the Next Door app to find someone that we can hire every so often to help with yard maintenance. We were also able to use care.com to find a college student to come and watch the girls for 6 hours a week, so I can go to the gym or do other things for myself.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek out and get help. We just can’t do it all and despite the plethora of free information on the Internet, sometimes you may need an outside party to help you navigate the storm. When the girls were 6 months, it became very apparent that we needed help. We needed them to sleep at night and we also needed sleep. We were losing valuable time together in the evenings because we couldn’t get them to go to sleep. We decided to hire a sleep coach. I came to The Cradle Coach as a client before starting to work here. Truthfully, this is probably the best money we’ve spent to get help since having the girls. The gift of sleep is a gift that my babies will have for the rest of their lives. Getting more sleep was paramount in helping me to overcome my postpartum depression and to be the best mom I could; not to mention, allowing my husband and I to reconnect in the evenings.
I’m hoping some of these tips will be useful and applicable to you. Find out what works for your family and do it! If something is harder than it needs to be or if it is preventing you from spending time with your family or partner, then a simple fix like more automation, simplifying, or getting help may be the key in fixing it.