Whether you have kids or not, the juggle of hobbies/work/social life/love life/showering/etc. is a challenge in itself. But I’ll tell you what, throwing a baby into the mix has you leaving behind certain parts of who you were whether you like it or not.
The Harsh Realisation
I wont lie, I have cried (more than once) over how different things are these days, like the mourning for my carefree, rarely-sober weekends pre-baby. I remember very vividly the first time I realised my life had changed. I was almost 4 weeks into motherhood, vagina heeled, back on a horse, and all feeling very do-able, I was about to get smacked (hard) in the face by that bitch, Lady Reality.
It was January, we had already declined an invitation to our local hunt ball because of baby related reasons/justification of finances now we have a baby, but we decided to go (on foot) to the meet that morning as a consolation prize, followed by a ride in the field afterwards.
We arrived at the meet, got all the baby sh*t out of the vehicle, dressed the baby up in every layer we had and walked to get a drink and socialise just like old times. HA! George cried (loudly) every time the buggy stopped moving, and occasionally when it was moving. I tried to feed him, I tried a dummy, I tried holding him, laying him down, rocking him… it wasn’t happening.
We left after 10 minutes of torturous baby wailing and I just sat in the car and cried all the way home. I didn’t even attempt to ride afterwards, it was over.. all of it was over!! It was the first time I had felt like I couldn’t do something I wanted to do, in the way I used to do it, with a baby in tow.
Learning To Juggle
Once I had moved George entirely onto formula, things got SO much easier. He slept for longer periods and I wasn’t pumping or sitting with a human hanging off my tit all of the live long day. We got a routine in place and by the end of February, both of my horses were ready to go eventing. I was riding before my husband went to work, walking to the yard with my baby buddy in the day and I felt as though I was properly nailing it again.
I would get up at 5.30am, feed George and be out the house by 6.15am. in the 1hr45m that I had, I worked out that I could either ride and lead a 4 mile route in mostly trot/canter or ride both horses in the field for 30 minutes each. I would then get home for 8am and Gary would go to work at 8.15.
At 9am after a bottle feed, we would walk the babies back to the yard and do hay and poo picking if they allowed us to and if not, we would just walk home (a 3 mile round trip) – perfect for losing the baby weight and gaining fitness for eventing!
11am would be another baby bottle and by the time you’ve changed them and washed a few bottles whilst the baby is in a bouncer, it would be lunch time. The afternoons were (and still are some days) a tougher gig than the mornings for us… George naps 2.30 – 4pm but by this point, I’m knackered and I just want to lay down!! Quite often I do lay down, but it makes me feel GROSS! The last few weeks, I have been MUCH more strict with myself. I have got washing in, tidied the house, done an hours work or planning and I have felt SO much better for it.
The MUST have’s for juggling
- A sense of humour! It is so easy to lose this when you’re covered in sick and the baby is smearing his hands in his own sh*t again, but laughing WILL make you feel better… take a photo of your disgusting offspring covered in crap and send it to your mate, it’ll make them feel better about their day if nothing else!
- A bouncer/swing chair/cage/walker/playpen. Depending on age, each of these items will buy you a quick sit and a cuppa when you need one the most. George would spend an hour in the bouncer watching mind numbing nursey rhymes on YouTube between 5-6pm EVERY day. I could get bottles washed, dinner prepped, hoovering done and tidied up before Gary got home from work and I just felt that this was the best thing for all of us! Now that he is on the move, the walker at home and playpen in the field are an absolute Godsend for the same reasons!
- Time management. grasp every opportunity if you want it. I’m not saying all mums should be out there keeping two horses fit and competing with a newborn but if that IS what you want, you CAN do it if you manage your time well. Plan ahead and you will be much more organised.
- A supportive partner/family. My husband is AMAZING and he will happily have George every morning before work and at weekends for competitions. However, it is all about give and take. I NEVER book shows for a Sunday because Gary plays football, I NEVER begrudge him time at training in the week or complain when he is late home from work, heck! I’d stay late at work if it was that or coming home to a teething baby! He would always be allowed to go for a beer with a colleague or have a night off feeds if he was tired, because he encourages me to keep riding and eventing and that is PRICELESS.
- Time off. I am learning the importance of this more and more lately. I have juggled 3 jobs all through my pregnancy, birth and I’m still doing it now. I am lucky that I work for myself and can schedule stuff in the evenings, work around George’s naps and make calls in the car when I’m driving him around to get him to sleep longer 😉 But I have recently had two nights off with my husband leaving George with my sister and we LOVED it. I had the freshest eyes coming back to him and I felt as though I finally got on top of everything in the house (literally – wink wink!).
- YOU DO YOU! Decide and make a list of what is important to YOU, and prioritise it. Have a few things that you are absolutely not prepared to give up (for me this list includes; Reading EVERY day (min of 20 minutes), Working EVERY day (min of 1 hour), Riding 3 times a week and going to at least one outing with a horse per month. These days I have given up on; over indulging in the bath, getting my nails done, washing my hair regularly and keeping on top of the washing! It’s all about priorities and I don’t give two sh*ts if my hair isn’t brushed these days!
The Shell of the Nut
No-one can prepare you for that first step into parenthood. You will never know what tiredness really feels like, how controlled your gag reflex is when dealing with excrement or just how much love you will feel when you look at your baby. You won’t have time for everything you used to do in the same way that you did before, but you will have a different and more patient outlook on life, and the time you do get to do your special things will mean so much more.
I also still feel so grateful to even be a mother that actually, on a whole, I very rarely complain. And if I remind myself of all those negative pregnancy tests leading up to our positive one, I soon snap out of the blues.
I think my parting shot should be something about stepping back and being able to look at the bigger picture but the truth is, I’m enjoying this chaos of living in the moment, it really isn’t all that bad <3
Love and so many best wishes