Postpartum Rules of Engagement

As I stated in my previous post, I’d be writing about my postpartum rules of engagement. To learn more about what I mean exactly by “rules of engagement”, check it out my previous post.

I am an extremely analytical person. I need structure, I need rules, or I go crazy. And when I am tired, hungry, irritated, restless, etc and not on my usual routine I get more irritated and frustrated and I can start to engage in unhealthy habits like avoiding feelings through eating or being overly busy. Having rules and routines and knowing how to manage my expectations makes a huge difference in my overall feeling of calm. I can be a slave to my expectations and it just adds frustration to my life. For instance, instead of expecting this will be the night that the baby sleeps more, it is more helpful to expect that the baby will wake up swveral times and if he only wakes up once or twice I can be thankful. Expectations can be tricky things! Knowing the facts helps and setting guidelines also helps.

Let’s start with the facts.

Fact: I just had a baby.

Fact: My sleep is therefore unpredictable.

Fact: My schedule is unpredictable.

Fact: I have other people who need me.

Fact: I have needs.

Fact: We are in a pandemic.

So based on the facts, I am not in a normal everyday, predictable circumstance. This means that even if I am on top of the things I can control like my eating habits and exercise, I still am going to be coping with some yucky feelings from time to time because of being off my routine and from lack of sleep. So what to do?

Make a Plan

Here are my postpartum rules of engagement, if you will:

My mission: Take care of myself and everyone else in as calm a manner as possible, let go of expectations and practice gratitude. Help my baby learn to sleep and guide him onto a flexible routine.

My goal: Thrive in current circumstance and give myself grace because the battle IS harder right now.

When will I re-evaluate my goal? July 6, 2020.

How will I know I am succeeding? I practice self-care (get dressed presentably, bathe, read, write, move) each day even for 5 minutes. The dishes, laundry, and tidying aren’t necessarily COMPLETE but worked on. Everyone is hugged, kissed, fed, and loved. My baby is well fed and well rested. He is woken up around the same time each day and has his last feeding at the same time each day.

What are some possible obstacles and what will I do when they occur? (My if, then plans) When interruptions occur: Go back to where I was I. My routine.

If baby needs me: Delegate care to husband or go to baby.

If I am hungry, angry, lonely, tired: Eat, talk to someone, exercise or take a nap accordingly. If one or more isn’t possible, make my life easier – ask for help, get paper plates, get take out, or just try to make the things I have to do more fun. Delegate, Delete, Delight.

If I feel like emotionally eating, do it just make it a fruit and healthy protein snack.

If I feel frustrated because the house is a mess, practice self-care and then make a REALISTIC plan to get things in order.

If I am mad because I am “behind” on my routine, remind myself of my expectations: the routine is there to help and can be followed in a flexible manner according to the family’s needs.

My rules help me to be in the present moment and help my rigid mind have something to expect. If it’s time for lunch, make lunch. If it’s time for dinner, make dinner. If it’s time for winding down, wind down. Respect the boundaries of the day. They are there to promote a sense of calm and peace. Drop unfinished work and accept progress, just for now.

Rules of Engagement

I can’t take credit for the concept of “rules of engagement”. A good friend of mine and my family coined this phrase.

So what do I mean by rules of engagement, first of all? They are the rules we set for ourselves to cope with life in the best, healthiest way possible with our current circumstances.

Why is it important to have rules?

Well, if you are anything like me, you are a perfectionist who has an ego to contend with that loves to beat you up for your decisions. When you have rules it helps alieviate some of that nonsense. It also helps you see what is realistic for your current circumstance, avoids decision fatigue, and defines what success looks like in your life as it is right now. You can also lay out terms for when you give yourself grace and when you are making an excuse ahead of time so there won’t be any in the moment “I don’t feel like it” stuff going on.

A good book called the Kindness Method lays out a framework that can be applied to many different life goals. Answering these questions helps you develop some “rules of engagement”:

What is your goal?

When will you reevaluate this goal? Set a date.

How will you know you are succeeding?

What are some possible obstacles that will occur and what is your plan for overcoming them? (If…then…)

What are unavoidable circumstances, events, interruptions, emergencies, etc. that could cause a lapse to occur?

What will you do to make sure the lapse doesn’t become a new bad habit?

How will you celebrate your wins?

Stay tuned for another post about my postpartum rules of engagement!

Managing Expectations During Postpartum

I have just become a momma of three!! 馃帀馃帀馃帀馃帀

I love all of my babies and a new baby brings so much joy.

But it’s hard! Hard to balance the competing demands of the children, the house, my own needs and my husband’s.

And since I’ve never been a mother of three before, I don’t really know what to expect and how much time will be dedicated to caring for everyone. Over time, things will get more predictable but meanwhile, I need some sense of normalcy . Here’s my plan:

  • Get dressed and wear clothes that fit now/buy a few new ones
  • Try to keep my routines but loosely
  • Keep writing
  • Keep reading
  • Keep family traditions like movie night
  • Prioritize special time with my older kids even if it’s once a week.
  • Utilize my kids help
  • Involve my kids in the babies care even if it’s having them choose the babies outfit for the day
  • Prioritize getting to bed at a decent time but have some time with husband watching a show
  • Make time to laugh. Jim Gaffigan anyone?
  • Take little walks to process any anxiety/stress
  • Give myself grace to get the help I need
  • Recieve help graciously.
  • Try to delight in the dishes and laundry …thank God I have so many people to love.
  • Practice awareness with my emotional state and talk about it and take action to alleviate and process difficult emotions.
  • Eat the cookie, buy the shoes. Give myself grace to let go a little when it comes to all the things I try to be on top of all of the time.

What helps/helped you navigate the postpartum time?

When the Battle Gets Harder, the Needs are Greater

I was listening to Jennifer Fulwiler’s new podcast and on her episode about “now we are all fat and broke”, she talks about how we need to give yourself grace when we are in hard circumstances, such as a global pandemic. She talks about how she’s been eating junk food, drinking too much and buying too much and the difference between addiction and just using things to cope for a short period of time.

Human beings have ever-changing needs

This really resonated with me because I can be too hard on myself and want to operate and maximum efficiency every single day no matter what. I have difficulty looking at my circumstances realistically and I can burn myself out by creating unnecessary pressure. I can also add stress to my home by taking on unnecessary tasks. I forget as human beings we have dynamic needs and everyday is different.

Eat the cookie, buy the shoes

Guys sometimes we just need to eat the cookie and buy the shoes. (As Joyce Meyer would say).

The “responsible” part of us, our ego, tells us that we aren’t trying hard enough. That we can’t be trusted to get on track at a better time and if we are tired it’s because to there is something wrong with us instead of thinking oh wait it makes sense that I feel this way and talk about it with someone some solutions.

How do you know you really need a break and it’s just not laziness?

It greatly helps me to make a list of serious reasons that would prevent me from following “rules” I have for myself. Under these circumstances, as Jen Fulwiler’s husband pointed out, the needs will be greater. I’ll need more food, more rest, more recreation and more help. Help could be meals out, a person helping me, child care, more screen time for everyone, etc. This also may mean spending a little more money. I think it’s important to set a date though where you will evaluate if you are still in survival mode so things don’t get out of hand and your temporary ways of coping don’t become problematic. Serious reasons to “break the rules” :

  • A global pandemic
  • New baby
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Illness
  • Emergencies
  • Unexpected guests
  • Major life transitions
  • Moving
  • The loss of a loved one

You just have to give yourself grace when the battle is harder. Most people I know just blame themselves and push themselves more when the battle is harder…but then they burn out. You gotta carry on , refuel, rest, and refresh so you can keep going long term. There’s nothing wrong with you, things aren’t normal right now, they may just truly be harder. If there’s something you can change, change it but if not just give yourself a break. 鉂わ笍

Share How Grateful You Are

Guys, I just got so inspired by this video:

 

The video has so much great information , definitely worth watching the whole thing but the part about sharing how grateful you are, instead of how great you are, really resonated with me. But I’m going to put a slightly different twist on it.

You see, I haven’t posted anything social media for some time because I am turned off when people use it to brag and I wouldn’t want to be that way toward someone else. But, not sharing doesn’t do any good either. Sharing the ways God has blessed me definitely make me a more secure and confident person but they can also glorify God. I repeat: sharing the talents and knowledge I have in a humble manner is not bragging, it’s glorifying God.聽聽

 

What is bragging anyway?

brag路ging
藞bra伞iNG/
noun

 

And here is the defininition of gratitude and humility:

 

grat路i路tude
藞伞rad蓹藢t(y)o蜑od/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
hu路mil路i路ty
(h)yo蜑o藞mil蓹d膿/
noun
  1. a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

 

So if I am bragging, I’m saying “look at me, I’m so great” but if I am grateful I am saying “look at how great God is despite all of my weaknesses, failures and faults.”

 

So not only can I glorify God by sharing and celebrating the goodness in my life, I can also nurture relationships and make those I love, but don’t see very often, feel included in my life. That’s how and why I plan to “show up” more in the social media world. After all, how can your friends and family be happy for you and cheer you on if they don’t know about the happy things in your life?

 

How about you? Are you tired of the way you see social media being used? How do you seek to “be the change”? Let me know in the comments below!