How to Plan for the Unpredictability of Motherhood — Momma Jazzmyn Maughan
Momma to a 3-year-old girl, a 2-year-old boy, a 2-month-old breastfeeding boy — and a dog — Jazzmyn Maughan is a stay-at-home mom who loves the outdoors. She also loves planning . . . which may be an understatement.
She makes Christmas plans in January and maps out vacation trips years in advance. Her love for planning, and crafts, led her to establish an Etsy shop where she designs and sells printable planner pages.
But has her obsession with planning made motherhood easier?
Prepping the Toddlers
Before she gave birth to her new baby, she conditioned her other kids for the new addition to their family by “weaning” them off her.
“The best way I found to help prepare them for the new baby was to ensure that before the baby came they were not ‘the center of my world’ and so the new baby taking so much of my time wasn’t a huge issue there. I have also kept a consistent “nap/quiet time” schedule and this really helps me keep up with the house, and also have the much needed alone time with the baby. We also have a dog and I feel helping with the dog and learning to be gentle with her has helped them learn how to be gentle and understand that sometimes I need to take care of other things before I can get right to them,” says Jazzmyn.
And Jazzmyn the Planner’s plan worked!
There was no jealousy at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, with the elder kids touching and kissing their baby brother whenever they could.
Forced to be Flexible
Flexibility isn’t a trait that comes easy for self-confessed plan-a-holic Jazzmyn. And she’d be the first to admit that, “I am usually a person who schedules and plans everything so trying to keep things flexible is against my nature.”
"Trying to keep things flexible is against my nature."
However, the best laid plans and schedules belly up once toddlers and babies start wailing. So, Jazzmyn had to begrudgingly embrace flexibility. “You really have to be flexible when it comes to parenting, especially when it comes to nursing and taking care of two toddlers at the same time,” she explains.
That’s why Jazzmyn feeds on demand instead of on a schedule, which is what she would prefer. ”I try to feed him whenever he seems hungry and try to work my and the other two’s needs around that,” she says.
Finding Her Zen
“Flexibility helps me mentally deal with the unpredictability of motherhood,” are words Jazzmyn never thought she’d utter. But that’s exactly what being a momma calls for.
Rather than allocating specific times for certain tasks, Jazzmyn has adjusted to going the “general route.” She creates a list of tasks to get done in the WEEK instead of on specific days to avoid disappointing herself when she can’t get much done. This gives her a whole week to complete tasks, and come weekends her husband extends a helping hand with some of the things she missed.
"Flexibility helps me mentally deal with the unpredictability of motherhood."
Making her peace with flexibility is one task the Etsy shop owner can check off her to-do list, “The biggest thing is maintaining an attitude of flexibility, having minimal plans and being calm when things don’t go according to plan. You want to ensure needs are met and keep the other things as tasks you will get to when you can. I try to keep a balance between all of the kids as well as my own needs and sometimes that means the baby cries for a little bit while I make sure the other two get some food. Or the other kids have to find something to do on their own while I make sure the baby gets fed.”
Planning for the Unplannable
Fortunately for Jazzmyn, planning the unplannable is eased by her baby’s “cooperation.” Her 2-month-old bundle of joy can now sleep through the night, with his last feeding around 10 to 11 in the evening before waking up between 4 and 5 the following day.
Daytime is becoming a breeze too as the newborn generally goes back to sleep for a few hours after his morning feeding, giving his momma time to prepare breakfast for his older siblings as well as playing with them before nursing again.
"...me-time with the hubby is often interrupted by having to go back and forth to feed and burp the baby."
Evenings are still a little rough though, having to make dinner while the baby has gotten gassy or is still in a cluster feed from the afternoon. As for the rest of the night, Jazzmyn says, “We eat dinner and then put the kids to bed and my husband and I try to enjoy the evening watching TV hoping our baby takes a mini nap.” But this me-time with the hubby is often interrupted by having to go back and forth to feed and burp the baby.
Like most mothers, Jazzmyn has had her share of nursing woes. She explains, “Sadly, I started dropping in (milk) production with my second child around 4 months and was not able to breastfeed him as long as I would have liked. And due to early loss in production with my second, I am not currently breastfeeding any of my other children (other than her newborn).”
Aside from her lack of milk production, the other breastfeeding issue came from her other children, “When I breastfeed, my other children can get a little jealous but not in a misbehaving way. I can just tell that they miss the attention because when I am feeding often this is the time that they ask me to read them a book or play with them. I manage this by calmly letting them know I can read them a book but they will need to wait until the baby is done to play with me.”
"I try to feed on demand instead of a schedule, and while a schedule would also be nice I mainly do it to hopefully reduce my chances of losing production again... I try to feed him whenever he seems hungry and try and work the other two’s needs around that. Thankfully my other two often can play by themselves and with each-other, so they are usually entertaining themselves while I feed the baby."
Toddler-proofing, independent Play, and Nap Times
Two toddlers and a newborn certainly calls for some serious momma-level management skills, which Jazzmyn has in abundance. Fortunately for other mothers out there, Jazzmyn is as good a sharer as she is an uber planner.
Her first advice is to toddler-proof your house. Safety first should be on top of every mom’s priority list: use bumpers and safety padding to cover sharp furniture edges and corners, use safety plugs on open outlets, make sure there aren’t any looped cords lying around, etc.
Being able to leave the toddlers do their own thing is also important, which is why she advocates fostering independent play, as she elaborates, “One thing I know is huge in my parenting style is instilling independence, and I feel like it has really helped when it comes to nursing and not being able to constantly keep the other kids attention while I feed the baby. From day one I taught my kids that they can play on their own. I love to play with them sometimes but I also make sure they know that I can’t always play with them, and so they learn to entertain themselves and each other.” This has left it much easier for Jazzmyn to keep up with the house, deal with being pregnant and exhausted, and be able to feed the baby without having to constantly attend to her other children.
"As a new mom or a mom in general, you need time to yourself . . ."
She also suggests killing two birds with one stone by combining nursing and story time, “If your kids love story time you could also make nursing time; story time for the other two and read a story to them while you nurse.”
Finally, she advises moms to have time to themselves, “As a new mom or a mom in general, you need time to yourself and the best way to get that is to have a time of day where the kids are playing quietly in their rooms or sleeping.” During these moments, Jazzmyn exercises, does house chores, works, makes lunch, or just relaxes and recenters.
Jazzmyn, Mother of Dragons
Faith and family are on the top of Jazzmyn’s hierarchy of values. That’s why she makes sure her kids get to see their grandparents on a regular basis. As for her love for planning, this is evident in her Etsy shop where she sells printable planners that she designed herself. In the future, she hopes to add sewing to her craft skills so she can create a world of dragon stuffed animals. We’re sure her kids will love that.