3 Daily Rituals to Help Mothers of Littles Stay Sane

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Little folks are awesome. I get to wake up next to a sunny baby girl to the sound of our three-year-old boy singing the Zulu chant from the beginning of The Lion King’s Circle of Life Song at the top of his lungs. It is indeed a splendid life.  But, as wonderful as young motherhood is, there are some (many) moments of insanity exacerbated by never having a single moment to myself.

After our firstborn was born, I was entirely unprepared by the reality of never getting to be alone. “Can’t I just sit BY MYSELF for five minutes to read a book and drink my coffee?!,” I pleaded hysterically. And I’m quite a people person so I can only imagine how draining it is for introvert mamas who really need alone time to recharge.  I have discovered that adding some ritual down time to my days and weeks really helps me maintain some semblance of sanity. A few pages of good literature is also crucial for my well-being and happiness so I’ve figured out a few times to sneak that in as well. Our society is so focused on being productive that often taking the time to just SIT AND BE is considered lazy and followed by mama guilt. I probably swing in the opposite direction of productivity. My house might be a disaster, but boy, do I know how to relax! Mamas, here are my suggestions for implementing daily rituals of calm so you don’t lose your mind:

Nap Time (Snuggle and Rest): I know many mamas use naptime to do everything from prepping dinner to cleaning the baseboards. If that works for you, great, but for me, being a rested, cheerful mama takes priority above having an immaculate home. After reading some books with the toddler and tucking him in for nap, I usually nurse the baby down and snuggle her, then sleep, read, or listen to an audiobook with headphones as I lie next to her. By the time I hear the dulcet tones of my three-year-old saying, “I toooook a goooooood naaaaaap, Mama!” I’m energized and excited to spend the afternoon with him instead of getting grouchy and losing steam before dinner even gets started.


Tea Time (Create Beauty and Calm): How very Downton Abbey of me, don’t you think? But really, the ritual of drinking a hot beverage (or iced in the heat of summer) is so therapeutic. After everybody naps I make a cup of coffee or tea. It makes me calm and gives me a mood lift for the afternoon. Often, my toddler wants to participate and I help him make blueberry herb tea. He feels mighty fancy and I get to sit for a minute while we drink our treats and the baby plays. I often pull out a lovely china cup (for me, Benjamin has to stick with a mug) because why not, amirite? See how pretty? Don’t you feel better already?

Bath Time (Read and Relax): Especially in late pregnancy and early post-partum, I love to take a bath before bed. Often, the kids will be asleep or settling down for the night and Daniel will listen out for them so I can be ALL BY MYSELF for 20 minutes, hot tea or a cocktail on the edge of the tub and book in hand. Of course, mama taking a bath seems to have a magnetic draw and all littles will emerge from bed to go potty as soon as they hear the bath water running. So, be prepared to be interrupted by a little voice on the other side of the shower curtain saying, “Are you reading in there? Don’t drop your book in the water, silly Mama!”

 What daily rituals do you have that help you keep your sanity?


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  1. says

    I also made some “need to be alone” commentary on the bloggy today. I do believe it’s in the air!

    I use naptime for my quiet internetting & writing. It’s my fave 2 hours of the day, truly. And then no matter how late the big ones go to bed, I have to stay up an extra hour and just listen to the silence in my house. Going straight to bed makes me feel like I’ve missed out on being myself for just a bit 🙂

    • Haley says

      I’ll have to mosey over to House Unseen to read your post after the younguns go to sleep 🙂 The evening silence is lovely. I’m just starting to enjoy it again because until a couple of weeks ago, Lucy was still waking up 6 times a night and as soon as she fell asleep I was OUT. (It’s amazing how much better 3 times a night feels compared to 6 times a night.)

  2. says

    I totally agree about the tea thing. Whenever I start to get overwhelmed with the day, I go and get myself a cup of tea, and my whole body relaxes as I take those first few sips.

    Also, so glad to see I am not the only one completely ignoring housework during naptime! Gus is 18 months old, and I still spend many a naptime snuggling with him as I read. The other days, I am usually in the next room, internetting, and usually with my cup of tea 🙂

  3. says

    Night time down time is a must for me – and it was thing I was most afraid I’d never have again. But, we do the same thing – after the kiddo is asleep we both get a little alone time and at least 3 nights a week Ben listens for the kiddo while I take a bath. I don’t care what I need to do when the next or more arrive, I will keep this up! I think it helps me during the day when I can’t even use the bathroom alone to know that there is some alone, quiet time on the horizon!

    I sometimes use nap time for a big clean up or something related to food, but it’s usually used as down time for me too.

    • Haley says

      Yes! I think the anticipation of some guaranteed alone time really helps my attitude. And for me, for the first few weeks after Baby #2 came along, I would just bring her into the bath room with me and she would chill in the bouncer and smile at me while I enjoyed my bath. It was kind of like being alone because no one was talking to me, haha. Of course, she is the happiest baby ever, B would NEVER have endured 15 minutes of not being held ; )

  4. colleen says

    i loved this post and hearing your heart via internet! can’t wait to see ya in another week! also- lucy’s pic was too sweet…i mean TOO sweet!

  5. says

    Such great advice! But I have one question – I’m pregnant for the first time and I thought baths were a no-no? You’re talking to a girl who LOVES a good bubble bath with a magazine – do you get away with it because it’s not overly hot? I can’t figure out the how-hot-is-too-hot thing yet, so I’m erring on the side of not at all. But would love advice from someone who’s a pro!

    • Haley says

      From what I understand, Bethe, baths are OK as long as they’re not super hot (like hot tubs or saunas). The concern would be that your body temperature rises to a point that is unsafe for baby. I probably push the limits a little bit because I hate to be cold in the bath tub, but I do tone down the heat during pregnancy (instead of my usual scalding soak). If you feel anxious about it, you can use a thermometer to check that the water is around 100 degrees (I think that’s right, but maybe google it?) and stay in less than 20-25 min. The thing is, because baths lose heat pretty quickly, you’re probably not in hot water for very long, so I wouldn’t worry too much. I looove reading in the bath tub and I’m not sure I could survive life without baths! Hope that helps 🙂

  6. Ally says

    This post along with the latest podcast is exactly what I need to hear right now… I’m basically finding that moments of rest are essential for me and until hearing the podcast I felt terribly guilty about it… but after reading these three things i realize thst they totally work for me as well, so thanks for sharing and inspiring more rest in me!

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