Surviving Summer with a Newborn

4th time around, I have really learned to love and treasure the newborn stage. The first run left me confused, frazzled, and extremely exhausted. The second was mostly terrifying as I lived in this dark, dark mentality of: "This will never end. I will be picking up toys off the floor until I die. Nursing lasts forever and I'll never see the sun again." The third I definitely enjoyed more, having two "older" (um they were 2 and 3) kids and seeing how independent they can become gave me hope.

Now with Charlie, I really am soaking up these days and reminding myself often --basically every 5 minute-- that the hard things about having a newborn--weird sleep schedules, feeding drama--- (today our pediatrician told me he hadn't gained weight since his last appointment: cue the mama tears and driving to buy formula on the way home from the doctor), and just all the mental intensity of being someone's lifeline 24/7 all ends so, so quickly and you REALLY, TRULY do feel like "yourself" again, thank God...

Summers can be especially tricky with little babies as I find myself constantly walking the line back and forth between "Summer is amazing! Let's spend every day having popsicles by the pool and host backyard barbecues for the neighborhood and eat outside every night!" versus "I don't care how beautiful the weather is I am going to pretend like it's raining and spend all day watching movies with my kids and hiding under blankets because the AC is turned up too high and I am too lazy to get off the couch and adjust the thermostat."

I blame my fierce devotion to summer on my never-ending childhood nostalgia and there really is something so great about having kids to recreate those memories with. But because of a few things, most of them being "I, Me, and My-Runaway-Brain" I can start to feel the pressure mounting come the second or third week of June. Summers with a newborn are just a little trickier. This is your life, should you choose to accept it. And sometimes you gotta listen to that old lady at the CostCo check-out, buckle down, and remember "they grow up so fast, this isn't going to last forever (I promise!)"

Here are a few things that are helping me so far:

1. Set up a good outdoor space

Charlie has a nasty, hand-me-down bouncer that stays outside. I sometimes remember to put it under the porch before the end of the day. I also bring out his bumbo seat, a pile of baby toys, a pop-up-beach tent, the playmat, whatever feels right in the moment so I can spend 20 minutes moving him from place to place until he settles in and seems content. Then eventually I give up and take him in for a nap!

It is not fun to take babies to the pool. The cute swimsuits are super misleading. Don't give in to the pressure! If you're dying to put them in the swimsuit, do it in the front yard, snap a few pictures, and text them to your mom and best friend. Baby will not be impressed by the pool float you bought them and if they are young, they won't be able to even hold their head up so you will be pushing them around in their giant turtle, supporting their head, and then later you're going to have to peel all their bikini straps off their sweaty little bodies and it sucks. Trust me-- Emmy had 5 swimsuits her first summer and it took me a while to figure out that you bring your baby to the pool in a t-shirt onesie, splash their feet to cool them off, leave after 15 minutes so you don't even have to mess with the sunscreen, and call it good!

2. Early morning walks

It is sad but I am too out of shape to walk the hills in front of my house so I keep our double jogger in the trunk so we can drive to our neighbors' house. Even though I don't LOVE loading everyone and their gear in the hot car-- a change of scenery does us good! Mike works crazy hours this time of year so if we miss the early in the morning slot we go after dinner to kill time before bed.
Muslin blankets are my best friend to help protect him from the shade and we use those often to cover his carseat to block the sun (still applying an SPF just in case!)

3. Take the trip!

I love getting out of town with my people, I have super low expectations and even if it seems daunting, leaving the laundry and dishes behind for a few days are worth whatever drama your kid might bring to a weekend getaway. We recently drove to Colorado and to be honest, I thought it was going to suck, but it was awesome and felt so good to have a "win" under our belts during a stressful season of parenting. Getting a hotel room in a place that has suites is key (so you can keep the high maintenance sleepers on routine) and of course we set up a pack-and-play in the bathroom which is always our go-to (someone may have peed in the sink that night to avoid waking the baby so hey, count the cost).

4. Make the most of nap time

If it is above 60 degrees and the little boys are napping, 100% of the time you will find me sitting on a lawn chair in my driveway reading a book or magazine. Most of the time it doesn't last long, but I tell myself even the 5 minute break is refreshing enough. I like to save the cooking, cleaning, and laundry for around 5 pm when everyone is cranky and wanting to eat at the same time.

When Emmy was 1 and Mack was a newborn, we used to use his nap times to sit outside together in the kiddie pool or work in the little garden we planted. Taking a newborn outside felt too overwhelming back then and Mack was kind of a crotecty old man as a baby (my pediatrician often told me to leave him crying inside and go for a walk up and down our driveway just to get a break! The kid cried all day and never slept! Now he is the most easy-going person you'll meet so hang in there new mamas :)

5. Avoid Social Media (if necessary!)

Social media can be so wonderful when you have a new baby. I honestly dive in deep during the seasons I am nursing and feeling more isolated-- it is a fun way for me to connect and overshare pictures of my kiddos. But other days I will be walking around my house feeling crummy, snapping at people and if I am feeling reflective, I'll stop and wonder at what point in the day my attitude changed. Often I can trace it back to the Instastory I watched of another mama and her kids loving life at the pool (ironically I even posted one last week) or a husband and wife enjoying a mid-day lunch date (never gonna happen for me) and I'll start to take a trip down bitterness lane.

That is 100% my own insecurity and never a knock on the people posting, I am totally guilty of loving to share our family's high moments-- like a fab vacation versus our low moments-- like yesterday when Archer stuck his hand down the back of his dirty diaper and rubbed poop all over the house. Bless!

Some days I intentionally leave my phone out of reach for an entire day or decide to take a 9 am-5pm Facebook/Instagram fast. Others  I am feeling a little more lonely and it is glued to my hip-- that is when you usually find a dozen 12 second videos of Archie eating potato chips.

I am constantly evaluating whether or not social media is good for my family and I and right now, I deem it good! I love the friendships I get to "keep up with" even if some of it is a little bit pretend-- I need all the connections I can get out here in no man's land! Also, I have found endless encouragement following some blogs and people who I look up to in this parenting journey (cue: @thegraygang among others...) and am always thankful for YOUR feedback and friendship as well!

6. Accept your Limitations

Okay so you and I both know your baby is not an inconvenience. They are a precious little life that really needs nurturing right now. Use this season to slow down, find a new family rhythm, and enjoy the change in pace. You can't make all your summer dreams come true, but maybe there is a project you have been wanting to work on that you can start. When Emmy was a baby, I used to paint all the rooms in our house during her nap time, ha! It was a project I had been wanting to get to and it was something mindless that I could stop and start depending on how much (or little) she slept each day. I also briefly took up refinishing furniture and then later starting a few different direct sales businesses to pass the time! Right now, I am using our nights at home to binge watch the Office, learn to cross stitch, and drink an occasional vodka lemonade. And honestly, often I am just too tired so I lounge around chugging coffee and moving things from room to room pretending to "deep clean" while this book lays on my counter, taunting me at every turn:

My kids are keeping me b-u-s-y this summer and not in all the fun ways. Let's start with Mack, probably my most easy-going kid. This week I had to give him an impromptu hair cut-- "I wanted to see if the gum would stick to my forehead!" and on the same day, discipline him for peeing on the outdoor toys "But Mom, you said I could pee outside." True, but not on your brother's Little Tikes car!

Then there's Archer, few words are needed to explain the limitless number of catastrophes in this 25 lb, 30 inch frame. Last week he pulled a new one on me, hadn't seen this yet-- I walked into the bathroom to find him emptying a box of tampons, and dipping them one by one into the toilet, and licking toilet water off them like they were popsicles. This is not the first time I was so hurried to give him a shower, I went in with him still wearing all my clothes-- but it was definitely the grossest!

And then the other day I cried after losing my temper at the big kids, of course it was the same morning we had gone over the verse: "Love is patient and kind" so glad I can give them an unending example of what NOT to do ("you're sinning a LOT today Mommy!" they cried from the backseat), and now they'll have 100 reasons to get therapy some day.

I hope your crazy is bringing you joy. And if not, let's all pause and reflect on one of our favorite parts of parenting-- the little baby butts. I die!

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