Realistic Expectations – 6 Weeks Post Baby

posted by Andrea | 11/6/2017
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Life with a newborn… need I say more! 

We’ve definitely had some rough days and a few sleepless nights; but overall, I feel pretty good about how our family transitioned from 5 to 6.

Our older children have seemingly accepted the arrival of a new baby (who requires LOTS of my attention) fairly well, Dave has stepped up and taken on so much more responsibility around the house (even with a busy school schedule), and I feel like I have handled the task of caring for a newborn – in addition to 3 other young children (and everything else I need to do each day to keep our home and lives afloat) really well.

Clara is 6 weeks old today! 

I know it might sound silly — maybe a little naive — but I honestly believe that one of the main reasons I’ve been so pleased with how the past 6 weeks have gone is because I had VERY REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS for myself, my family, our home, and my life.

I did not expect to feel or look fabulous after birthing my 4th child — so I was pleasantly surprised when I felt and looked better than I expected.

I did not expect anyone to bring us a meal after our 4th child in 5 years — so I was pleasantly surprised when a few friends and relatives brought meals and goodies over (we even got a few Culver’s gift cards!)

I did not expect to get much sleep for the first few months — so I was pleasantly surprised when Clara quickly got her days and nights figured out (she usually gives me at least 4-6 hour stretches of sleep at night.)

I did not expect the older children to be super happy about my lack of time and attention for them — so I was totally OK with letting them watch a little extra TV and snuggle with me on the couch while I feed Clara or let her sleep in my arms.

I did not expect our house to be as clean or organized as it usually is — so I didn’t stress over picking up every last toy, book, and game while the boys took a nap, and instead, I often took catnaps myself!

I did not expect to have elaborate meal plans or fancy foods, and thankfully my family seems to be content to eat the same things on a regular basis. We’ve all been happy to rotate through my freezer stash of soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and Mexican meals each week.

I did not expect to get out and about with 4 children on my own — so I haven’t felt house-bound at all (even though I’ve only gotten out a few times in the last 6 weeks!)

Part of my ability to have realistic expectations is because I’ve had 3 babies already and knew a little more of what to expect.

However, in general, I’ve been much more aware of my expectations in all aspects of life — which often alleviates the disappointment and discontentment I feel when things don’t turn out like I thought they would.

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I’ve shared my thoughts on “expectations” before — specifically how important it is to have REALISTIC expectations for ourselves, our spouses, our children, our homes, our schedules, our work, our finances, etc.

In my experience, any time I worry or wonder about what someone else thinks of me, my family, my home, my job, or my finances, I instantly feel less content, less happy, and less grateful for everything I have.

Similarly, the minute I start comparing parts of my life, family, home, job, or finances to someone else’s perceived perfection in a certain area of life, my own very happy, normal life immediately feels lacking.

Now, obviously comparison is just part of life. There will always be people in our lives who are (in our own opinions) prettier, thinner, and more successful, with better behaved children, a more loving spouse, and a more organized home.

However, what we rarely ever see are the situations when things don’t look so great — their toddler has a complete meltdown, their teen rebels, their spouse drops the ball again, their finances are extra tight, their job security is up-in-the-air, and their home is in disarray. (And we all know those things happen to everyone at some point!)

Simon @ 18 months, crying by the washing machine, because I had to wash his blanket

While I completely understand how easy it is to compare ourselves and our lives to others around us, I also know first-hand how helpful it is to focus instead on creating realistic expectations for my own family, home, and life.

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If you feel like you are constantly struggling in one area of your life (finances, parenting, marriage, work, home organization, fitness, meal planning, etc.) I’d highly recommend reevaluating your current expectations. Maybe you’re simply expecting too much from yourself, your spouse, your children, your boss, your friends, etc.

Of course, I’m not encouraging you to give up on your goals or settle for less than your best; however, I DO think it’s important for our overall happiness that we don’t spread ourselves too thin or become too stressed because we’re trying to achieve perfection in every aspect of life.

How do you create realistic expectations for yourself?

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21 comments

  1. Kelly Pols

    11/10/2017

    Great article!

    I have 4 kids myself, what helps me kind of “re-prioritize” my thinking when I feel like I’m not getting enough done, is thinking of what my Mom did when we were growing up – back in the 80’s here in West Michigan.

    I am the oldest of 4 kids (quite the theme, ey?) and my Mom was a stay at home Mom.

    When I was sick and stayed home, I got to see what she did on a daily basis, and it involved laundry, dishes, ironing… and LOTS of soap operas!! 😀 It was like her schedule was based on the soap operas and maybe Jesse Raphel show, and she always did her folding of the laundry & ironing in the living room, in front of the tv. (AND, i had to watch HER shows… no ipads and our shows back then, and no cartoon network… if you were sick, you were going to be watching soap operas or the price is right, so it wasn’t so much fun to be home)

    Our house was always clean, but I look back and remember we didn’t have hardly anything for clutter. Very minimal. We had a small house, 3 bedrooms, and only ONE bathroom. But we managed just fine.

    The main thing that was consistent every night was that supper was on the table by 5:30pm, when my Dad would get home. She was a good cook, we always had like a “full” dinner every night. By “Full” I mean, a meat/a starch & a veggie.

    So now when I look at my daily schedule and to do list…. I think she would think we are CRAZY. It reminds me to keep the main thing the main thing, and whatever keeps everyone happy & fed & clothed, is a score in my book!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well said Kelly — thanks for sharing!

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  2. Melissa

    11/07/2017

    Thanks for a great reminder about expectations! Keep up the great job with those babies!!

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  3. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    11/06/2017

    Andrea,

    That is wonderful that you did not stress yourself out over every little thing right after giving birth!

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that my day’s plans are really a week’s worth of plans. Prioritizing is something I still have to work on! I tend to be an over achiever, but I can’t overachieve in every area of my life.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — what I used to do in one day (before kids) could easily take me a full week now. Oh well, it all sort of gets done eventually 🙂
    Over achievers unite!!

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  4. Meghan

    11/06/2017

    Great post! Having realistic expectations certainly leads to a more enjoyable life! I too could write a list of ways having lower expectations has made everything easier to deal with.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    It really is such a simple way to change how I feel about my life. And yes, I too could write a LONG list 🙂

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  5. Karen Miller

    11/06/2017

    Andrea, Things sound very good on that end. Congratulations on doing all that you do and don’t worry about what bad people say. Keep up the good job!

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  6. Alicia

    11/06/2017

    I had to readjust my expectations after our 4th was born 4 weeks ago. For some reason I listened to alllll the many people in my life who told me having 4 would be super easy and not different than 3, it took me about 2 weeks to realize that’s why I was struggling so much, I had totally unrealistic expectations about what I’d be able to accomplish, fitting into my old clothes, etc, and it was really messing with me! because it IS hard and that’s ok, and no I can’t do everything I used to do right now, and that’s also ok.

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    JJ Reply:

    I feel for you! My first born was high maintenance, and everyone said how their second child was so easy. Or they’d say that if the first was hard, the next one would be easier. So when my second was born and nursed every hour for the first few weeks and was screaming for long periods of time with nothing helping, I was all . I felt guilty for the feelings of frustration and disappointment and loved her so much but was so overwhelmed(my husband was working 10+ hours 5 days a week, and my other baby had turned 14 months the day after she was born). Then when we found out she had a dairy allergy and eliminated dairy(for 2 weeks to test…it takes that long to get it out of your milk), and she was a different baby–so much happier and slept so much better! My third baby just turned 2 and doesn’t consistently sleep through the night. So now I just expect him to be up in the night and am pleasantly surprised when he sleeps through! I love this post, and I love what you said, Alicia, about knowing it is hard and that’s ok. Your perspective is a huge advantage!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ahhh… yes… those high maintenance babies are a struggle! Glad you finally figured out the dairy issue — what a relief!
    Nora didn’t sleep through the night (ever) until she was almost 3.5… but now she sleeps 11-12 hours a night every night with no issues. There is a light at the end of your tunnel 🙂

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    JJ Reply:

    You have no idea how many times I have thought of you and Nora! It has definitely given me hope! Thank you for all of the time you put into those posts and for being real and raw! My youngest is high maintenance like my oldest with the sleep patterns of what you have described Nora used to be. Thankfully he isn’t up 4-5 times a night now. Those were hard times! Sleep deprivation is so hard! But man, he is so cute! Clara is an absolute doll like the big 3! She is looking a lot like Simon’s pictures to me. She might be a blend of all 3! My SIL has a son who is a blend of all the other siblings. It is fun to see resemblances!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, everyone says Clara looks like Simon — I honestly don’t see it, but I think it’s because they were both cross-eyed as infants 🙂
    Cheers to more sleep!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I hear you — and congrats by the way!
    I was basically expecting Clara to be a crying-all-the-time, non-sleeping baby like Nora was — so I was more than pleasantly surprised when she wasn’t. I also basically cleared my entire schedule for 3-4 weeks so I didn’t feel pressured to do ANYTHING while I was recovering and finding my new normal routine.
    It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, but I definitley feel like we’re headed in the right direction and I’m not completely exhausted all day long — so I count that as a “win” in my book 🙂

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  7. Chris

    11/06/2017

    I’m very happy for you! You also have such a great attitude about things in general! And yay for Culver’s!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes… yay for Culver’s!

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  8. Todd Daniel

    11/06/2017

    I enjoy your blog. Keep up your good work.

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  9. Laurel

    11/06/2017

    I rather suspected you would transition from three kids to four fairly easily. We did. I thought there was pretty much no difference in having four kids from having three. Two kids to three kids was the one I really noticed. I have had to go back and readjust my expectations from time to time as well and it makes for a much more peaceful state of mind.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I honestly wasn’t too “worried” about adding another baby — but I think that’s because I sort of knew what to expect (even if she was really fussy). However, I was still somewhat “anxious” to see how quickly (or slowly) our new family of 6 would settle into a new normal and a new routine. Thankfully, it has gone better than I was expecting so far!

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  10. Myka

    11/06/2017

    Andrea you are doing a fabolous job! 4 young kids ia alot of work, and you seem to be doing great plus running a awesome blog. Go Girl!

    Myka
    http://www.supersimpleways.com

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Myka!

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