Today for Moms and Babies I'm featuring my dear blog friend, Amanda from A Sweet Serenity! I met Amanda back in the very beginning of my pregnancy with Wyatt, and she is one of those girls that I know I would be great friends with if we only lived closer! She has such a sweet heart and she has been such an encouragement to me through the last couple of years. Check out her interview below to learn more about her and her adorable baby girl!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I'm Amanda. I'm a 26 year-old stay-at-home-mom, married to my husband, Alex, for going on 4 years. I love being crafty, spending quality time with family and worshipping Jesus.
What is your baby's name and how old is she?
My daughter's name is Natalie Grace and she is 9 months old.
Give us an idea of what a typical day looks like for you.
My day starts whenever Natalie wakes up, usually between 7 and 8 am (I haven't gotten to that place where I rise early to get things done before she wakes up. I was a morning person until Natalie was born!).
7-8 am: wake up
8 am: feeding
9:30 am: nap (can last from 30 to 90 minutes. She's still unpredictable. Someone please tell me that their child is this way, too!!!)
11 am: feeding
11 am - 2 pm: run errands, play time at home, sometimes Natalie naps during this time if she only took a short morning nap, which means I get lots of time to clean the house, take a nap, browse Pinterest ;) .
2 pm: feeding, play time
3 pm: Natalie may take a long afternoon nap if she was awake in the middle of the day, so this is when I would clean the house and get things ready before Alex gets home from work, otherwise, we play some more or run errands now.
5 pm: feeding
6 pm: Alex gets home from work, we juggle the baby while we eat dinner
7:30-8:15: Feeding and bedtime. Depending on her naps that day, Natalie may be ready at 7:30, but if she took a good afternoon nap, she'll stay awake a little longer.
8:15-? Time with Alex. We usually talk and watch a movie or a tv show on Netflix.
If you had to choose three words to describe your baby's personality, what would they be?
Cheerful, determined, and energetic.
What's your favorite part about being a mom?
Everything! I dreamed of becoming a mom starting as a little girl. Motherhood was quite a shock at first, dealing with the hormones and life just being different than ever before, but soon it became everything I'd hoped for. I love being able to stay at home with Natalie and be the one who takes care of her and teaches her about the world around her. I love the privilege of being entrusted to teach her about God, to hide His Word in her heart, to discover and live out her destiny. I love the connection that Natalie and I share and the way that her birth has changed the dynamics of my relationship with Alex. It's just all so incredible! There are some not-so-fun moments, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Do you have any tips on losing the baby weight and/or keeping up with your appearance after baby?
So many people have said it before, but since it's what worked for me, I'll say it again: breastfeeding. When I was pregnant, I didn't have any cravings, and I tried to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks to keep the nausea at bay. Not going overboard thinking I was "eating for two" probably helped me to gain a healthy amount of weight in the first place, which made it easier to lose after the baby was born. I'm not the best at keeping up my appearance, as I tend to go without make-up more these days, but I would like to make a more conscious effort to look put together for Alex's sake. On the days that I keep that in mind, I do tend to put forth the effort to fix my hair, wear something cute and put on mascara!
What have you and your husband done since your baby's arrival to keep your relationship strong?
I'd love to say that we have regular date nights, but that is definitely not the case right now. We keep the lines of communication open and work through issues before they become bigger problems. I'm so thankful that we have had an easy time agreeing on how we want to parent our children thus far. Even if we disagree at first, we've been able to talk it through and come to a solution. We also try to get out of the house a couple times a month as a family to do something out of our ordinary routine, like trying the new frozen yogurt place around the corner from our house as a treat after dinner one night. Living on one income as definitely put a strain on our finances and there isn't a lot of disposable income, so little things like that are special. I'm a tight-wad and Alex is a spender, so we balance each other out.
Are there any must-have products you would recommend to other moms?
It seems like there are different 'must-haves' for every phase of motherhood thus far, but one thing that has been a lifesaver multiple times is some sort of baby-wearing 'apparatus'. We bought a Baby Bjorn carrier at a yard sale and Natalie fit in it for the first few months and then I started using a ring sling. The Baby Bjorn made those long evenings with a fussy baby more bearable and now that she's older, I use the ring sling when she refuses to sit in the stroller or shopping cart or when I'm at music practice at church. A few other things that I have really used a lot along the way are a Boppy pillow and the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder, which occupies Natalie so I can cook dinner or work in the kitchen during the day.
What has been your favorite moment or outing as a family so far?
This is a tough one! We haven't gone too many places together yet, but lately we've really enjoyed playing together as a family before Natalie goes to bed. She usually still has quite a bit of energy to get out before calling it a night, so we've had a lot of fun playing with a ball on the living room floor or taking her outside for some time in her swing. Recently, the three of us were sitting on the couch and she leaned over and gave both of us big, wet, open-mouthed kisses over and over. Even though they were slobbery, they were the sweetest kisses ever.
Any advice for first-time mothers?
Motherhood is gift. It's overwhelming and challenging and might be completely opposite of what you had dreamed of, but God is only a desperate, tired prayer away and He'll give you the strength to make it til bedtime and to make it through endless middle-of-the-night feedings. Keep an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving so that you don't let all the exhaustion distract you from the blessings that are right in front of you. You are the best mother your child could ever have and these short moments of babyhood will be gone before you know it, so choose to savor it and don't beat yourself up over the moments that you weren't the 'perfect mom'.
Thanks Amanda! Check out Amanda's blog to read more about her sweet family!