How to Stop Procrastinating When Perfectionism is the Problem.

How to Stop Procrastinating When Perfectionism is the Problem.

In school (which seems like forever ago now) I was one of those students who could write an essay the morning it was due and still get a A.

Growing up I had no consequences for not doing chores daily, there was no allowance and no punishment. Over time I developed a habit of only doing them once a week, putting them off until I wanted something.

These things highly reinforced my tendency to procrastinate. I had a belief that I worked well under pressure.

In my adult life, I have uncovered a new truth of the matter: I procrastinate out of perfectionism. If I’m not going to do it perfectly, I’m just going to wait until I’m ready to do it. Then the timer runs out and perfectionism goes out the window and getting the task done is all that’s important.

Waiting until the last minute means overcoming perfectionism out of necessity, rather than choice.

I’ve always been great at planning. I love planning projects. I’ve planned my home renovation, my garden lay out, my monthly meal plan, our weekly budget and I write extensive packing lists. My follow through, however, is often lacking.

When I used to work as an hourly manager in retail, my boss had a saying, which I heard often:

“Planning is only 10%, execution is 90%”

In other words, you can make all the elaborate plans you want, but if you don’t actual DO them, they don’t really matter all that much.

Recognizing the problem is half the battle.

My struggle with decision anxiety has played a role in this form of procrastinating. I find it so difficult to make a decision, so it gets put off until I have no more time to think about it. Either I panic and make a choice or someone else chooses for me.

So many years I’ve planned to have a garden, and for so many reasons I’ve always failed. But perfectionism has caused me to set myself up for failure before I’ve ever started on a number of occasions.

It would usually look like this: I’d write a list of all the veggies I want in my garden, I’d research which make good companions for one another, I’d decide how many plants of each to have, I’d plant my seeds (exactly enough), some wouldn’t grow, some would grow a lot, I’d readjust my plans for what grew, I’d visit my garden patch to check out my spacing, it wouldn’t look right so I’d start all over, I’d transplant what was left of my seeds and try to keep them alive.

Often I never reached the end of this plan. Somewhere along the line I’d get tired of all the planning and stop with all the doing.

I’ve killed a lot of plants in my lifetime.

Last year we bought a house with 2 acres of land and I was given 10 months to decide where I wanted my garden. In those 10 months I changed my mind nearly every time I was asked where my husband should put the fence or where my dad should till the land with his tractor.

One day in March my dad came out unannounced with the till behind his tractor and I had to make a final decision. I had to tell him where I wanted him to till and how big of a patch I wanted.

As I anxiously weighed the pros and cons of two promising garden placements, my dad’s advice comforted me.

“Well, you’ve got good sun here and you can always make it bigger later.”

My dad isn’t a very outspoken person, what he was telling me in this statement was that he was done waiting on my indecisiveness, and I needed to just start.

The sun was the same for both places. I was struggling to decide if I wanted the garden in front of the red wood tree or beside it. It really didn’t matter which spot I chose, which made it even more difficult of a decision.

I saw them that my perfectionism was my problem. I kept this in mind as I began planting: “Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”

As I dug my second hole for a tomato plant, I thought “What’s so bad about crooked lines? Nature doesn’t grow in perfect lines.”

With my third hole I realized “Perfect spacing is a man made construct. In nature these plants would never grow with exact spacing between every plant.”

After the last plant was in the ground I looked out at my hard work. I knew lines weren’t straight and spacing wasn’t even. Perfection is impossible, but it looked GOOD.

I still have more plants that need added to the garden, and a past version of me would have cringed at the thought of different aged plants growing in the same lines. I had to realize that my garden will never be perfect, some plants will thrive and grow taller than others, some will die and leave gaps. This is nature.

My garden will never be perfect, but it can still be fruitful, and so can we.

How Can We Overcome Perfectionism

1. Realize perfection is not natural.

A tree does not grow in perfect symmetry, but it’s roots are still strong and it’s branches are still balanced.

2. Realize perfection is not necessary.

The tree does not need a clear path to grow. The roots wrap around the obstacles, it uses the rocks and hard places as anchors. The bigger the boulder, the better the anchor, and the more difficult it is to uproot that tree.

3. Realize perfection is not moving you forward.

If the tree waited for the boulders to move out of the way, if it waited for a clear and easy path, it would never grow. The challenges aren’t going anywhere, make sure that YOU are and keep moving forward.

4. Realize perfection is not good for you.

Imagine if a tree tried to grow in soft, easy dirt. The roots wouldn’t be very strong, because they wouldn’t have to be. The tree wouldn’t be very tall and mighty, because it would fall over in that soft soil. The foundation wouldn’t give the roots anything to hold onto, they would have anything sturdy to ground themselves to, they’d have no anchor.

How weak would you be if you’d never faced a challenge in your life?

Are you making fear based decisions?

Are you making fear based decisions?

Every day we make thousands of decisions, from what to have for breakfast, to where to send our children to school. Some decisions we don’t even realize we are making, and some take a lot of meditation, thought and prayer.

How often do we stop to think WHERE our decisions are coming from? Are we making decisions out of fear or faith?

Almost immediately after I gave birth to my second son, friends and family (and honestly, strangers too) have been asking if “we’re done” or if we plan on having more children. My response was always the same: “We want more, but not until both of these two are out of diapers. I’m afraid to risk three boys this close in age.”

I was living on an automated decision based on fear. In the very moment I realized I was using the word “afraid” in my response, a switch flipped, instantly I had no reasoning to not have more children at a sooner time.

What made me think I couldn’t handle three boys? Fear. My history with anxiety.

How to tell if our decisions are fear based

Some decisions we make after carefully weighing the pros and cons, others we make on impulse, even some we consult a close friend on.

To discern whether or not your decisions have been based on fear we first have to look at your reasoning for the decision you made.

Let’s take quitting a workout plan for example. I’d have to think WHY I gave it up. Was it too difficult, did I need a lower level program? Was it not right for my lifestyle or for my body?

Did I quit because I was afraid to fail? Sometimes we give up on things before we can fail them. It’s like dropping a class in college because and INCOMPLETE looks a whole lot better for our GPA than a big fat F.

Or did I quit because I was afraid to succeed? Sometimes we are so set in the ways of who we are right now, the idea of change is unsettling. We get close to the things we want and we get scared. What happens if I succeed at this?

Fear continually seeps into our lives any way it can

I’ll be honest, I gave up training for a half marathon three years in a row. I had an excuse every time: I had bad knees, the shin splints hurt, I got pregnant, I’d just had a baby a few months before. *This specific race also had a 5k walk/run option. At three months post part I’m I could have easily walked this as I was already back to regular physical activities but I let it be an excuse not to. I also could have walked it while 8 months pregnant two years before.

Here I am training for that same race, determined to run the full 13 miles. And here I am trying to talk myself out of it again. I’ve already pushed past the shin splints, my knee hasn’t bothered me, my body has fully recovered from my last birth and no current pregnancy in sight. Yet here I am, talking myself out of the training. And why?

I’m scared of the hard work and commitment. If I run my 20 minutes this week, I have to do 30 next week… the commitment keeps growing and it’s terrifying me. But because the decision to end my training would be 100% based on a silly fear, I will press on, however reluctantly.

We have to move past the fears and the struggles. We have to push through. We have to keep moving forward.

Sometimes fear based decisions are the smart decisions

I do want to say, there is a level of healthy fear we should live our life with. Self preservation is important and we should definitely avoid situations that might physically injure us or kill us.

Those are not the kinds of decisions I’m telling you to stop making. I want you to live our life to the fullest because you deserve that, and you can’t do that if you’re dead.

How to stop making fear based decisions

Put to death that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough.

  • You are enough and when you start believing that, wonderful things begin to happen in your life.
    1. Realize your decisions are fear centered. When we know the core thoughts and feelings at the center of our decisions we can better understand why we’ve made that decision.
      Weigh the danger. Ask what are you afraid of? If the fear has anything to do with you not being strong enough, smart enough or good enough, ditch that reasoning. You ARE enough, and whatever you do lack you can gain. If you need to be stronger, get stronger. If you need to be smarter, study up. You can do what you put your mind to!
      Decide to be brave. Courage and bravery are decisions that don’t come naturally to all of us. We have to make the decision to be brave and to turn from fear and go after what we want. Not because we aren’t afraid, but because we won’t let the fear stop us. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.

    “Be strong and courageous!

    Do not be afraid or discouraged.

    For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

    Joshua 1:9 NLT

    Stop being a bad friend to yourself.

    Stop being a bad friend to yourself.

    Making friends as an adult is hard. We’re surrounded by so many lies that make us feel unworthy of friendship, and most of those lies are coming from ourselves.

    Take a minute and ask yourself: am I a good friend… to myself?

    Really think about it.

    Are you. A good friend. To yourself?

    How do you talk to yourself?

    What does your inner voice say to you? Does she constantly criticize you? Does she always have something negative to tell you about yourself?

    Don’t listen to her. Break up with that version of you. You literally don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

    How would you talk to a friend in your situation? If your friend was trying to lose weight would you congratulate her for all her hard work, or would you tell her she hasn’t lost enough?

    Would you tell your friend she’s a bad mom for giving her kid chicken nuggets for dinner, or would you be understanding that she’s had a rough day and just needed to feed the kid something he would eat without a fight?

    Would you tell your friend that you still remember that dumb thing she said in front of the whole class freshman year, or would you have some grace and realize it’s not worth remembering?

    Can you count on yourself?

    How many times have you told your self you would do something and then flaked out for a lame excuse?

    If you had a friend that was always cancelling plans to watch Netflix or to waste time on Facebook, would you still want to be her friend?

    If you had a friend that was always giving up on her dreams, what would you say to her? If your friend wanted to run a marathon or start a business and gave it up with no real reason, what would you tell her?

    Do you make time for yourself?

    Would you want to be friends with someone who never prioritized spending time with you?

    Yeah, adults get busy and we just don’t have time for friends sometimes, but what if your friend had the exact same schedule as you? What if you KNEW she had the time to spend with you, but chose not to every single day?

    Then how would you feel about that friendship?

    10 things you can do to be a better friend to yourself.

    1. Start talking to yourself like you’d want to be talked to. Compliment yourself and move past those complaints. Turn your focus to the positive things about yourself and the negative voices won’t be so loud.
    2. Realize when your being mean to yourself. Stop the thoughts before they turn into feelings. Every time you find yourself tearing yourself down, stop and build yourself up immediately.
    3. Keep your promises. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Whether it’s a diet, a work out program, a beauty regimen, journaling, starting a business, whatever, stick with it until it doesn’t make sense anymore.
    4. Remember it’s okay to change your mind, but it’s not okay to give up. It’s not breaking a promise to yourself if you decide what you’re doing isn’t right for you. But just stopping because it’s too hard, that’s not okay.
    5. Practice self care. Take time to intentionally be with yourself, take a walk or a bath or read a book. Do something that makes you happy on a regular basis.
    6. Treat yo self! Don’t be afraid to spoil yourself once in a while.
    7. Get to know yourself. Sit down in a quiet place and do some self reflection. Who even are you anymore? What are you like? What are your dreams and goals?
    8. Do yourself a favor and pay it forward – to yourself. Don’t procrastinate the little chores for tomorrow. Do them today, so you can thank yourself tomorrow.
    9. Invest in yourself. Invest your time and money to be the best version of yourself. Enroll in a course to help you where you’re struggling. Spend the time it takes to declutter or organize your home. Buy that self help book. Meal plan to save yourself time and stress later this week.
    10. Believe in yourself. Chase wholeheartedly after your wildest dreams. Believe you were created for more and that you are capable of fantastic things. Why not you?
    Being a ‘Hot Mess’ is NOT a Job Requirement for Motherhood

    Being a ‘Hot Mess’ is NOT a Job Requirement for Motherhood

    There’s a number of lies I was told by society.

    The lie that hurt my joy most was this:

    Being a hot mess is just part of being a mom to young children.

    I believed that ALL women in the same season as me were handling it the same way. I thought we were supposed to be be behind on chores, always running late and dependent on caffeine because that meant we were too focused on our kids to care about anything else.

    I was so fooled by this lie, I didn’t see it was an excuse to be lazy, unreliable and unkempt.

    I recently read an article posted on Portland Mom’s Blog called “Why I’m Not a Hot Mess, and Neither are You.”

    There is a season of your life where things may seem like a mess, but only because you’re going through so much all at once. And if that’s you, THAT’S OKAY!

    It’s totally fine to not have it all together when you have a newborn, you’re changing careers, you’re in school, you’re starting a business, or whatever else. On behalf of the mothering community, you have our permission to not “get it all done.”

    Here’s where I disagree with the article: I was a hot mess.

    I really, really was. And it had been going on a very long time. I never liked to clean, and I wasn’t good at keeping up on dishes and laundry. I don’t mean that I had dishes in my sink or that I’d consistently forget wet clothes in the washer.

    My house was a disaster:

    • I couldn’t cook because I had no clean pans
    • I couldn’t wash my pans because my sink was full of dishes
    • I couldn’t put the dishes in the washer because it was full of mostly clean dishes
    • I couldn’t put those dishes away because most were dirty since I didn’t rinse them first and now there’s a bunch of yuck clogging up my dishwasher

    Also:

    • I had 5 loads of laundry that needed washed
    • I had no baskets to put them in since the baskets were all full of clothes that still needed folded from last time I did laundry
    • My husband was out of clean work clothes
    • I had a bag of stinking clothes diapers that needed cleaned, too

    And:

    • The dog needs a bath, but I can’t use the sink
    • The fridge needs cleaned out because something stinks in there, but again I can’t get to the garbage disposal
    • The cat litter needs cleaned
    • There’s nothing for dinner
    • My toddler needs a snack, again

    And that was my life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    You see how I had no time for myself? I was on a hamster wheel, chasing my to do list. I had all these things that always needed to get done, and I had zero motivation to do them. I was lazy, right?

    Then something changed.

    I forgot what society had to say about moms, and I was reminded what God had to say.

    “John 10:10 says that we are called to abundant life, and mothers are no exception.”

    -Allie Casazza (The Purpose Show)

    I wasn’t lazy. I was overwhelmed. There was just so much to do, that I didn’t want to do any of it. It fed my anxiety. I had a low self image because I was ‘failing’ at my wifely duties, which lead to depression. I began to see myself differently.

    Being a hot mess, I was NOT living abundantly. I was not living life on purpose. I was aimlessly living the same, unfulfilling day over and over.

    I got inspired: if we’re called to abundant life, what does that look like?

    • Not worrying about a sink full of dishes
    • Not having a mountain of laundry to wash and fold
    • Knowing what’s for dinner every day and that I have everything I need for that dinner, too
    • Enjoying time with my kids, playing with them, snuggling them and not feeling guilty about a mess waiting for me
    • Having company over and not feeling embarrassed about the mess
    • Spending quality time with my husband, instead of endless chores

    I had a new hope.

    I joined Allie Casazza in her #DeclutterLikeAMother challenge. It was a month of intense, focused decluttering my home. I threw out boxes of toiletries I’d brought with me when we moved 6 months before and never even unpacked, I donated clothes and blankets, I stopped storing appliances on my countertops.

    A huge weight was lifted. I felt like I could breath as I walked into my kitchen to see it clean, over and over again. I can handle my dishes because there aren’t as many. I have the time to fold my laundry as it comes out of the dryer.

    Not having to chase that constant chore list means that I have TIME to get ahead on other things. I have the time to meal plan and to prep snacks for the kids. I have energy to pack my husband a lunch for work. I have the time to take care of myself, too! Showering is so important.

    I’m not pouring from an empty cup anymore.

    We all fall behind from time to time. We get into seasons of overwhelm, that’s part of life.

    But if you’re living in a constant state of overwhelm and anxiety, life has a lot more to offer you. Fulfillment and overwhelm cannot live in the same space.

    Are you ready to break free from the hamster wheel?

    They’ll remember the love, but will they remember the mess?

    They’ll remember the love, but will they remember the mess?

    I can’t recall how many times someone has said this to me as a word of comfort:

    “They’ll remember the love, but they won’t remember the mess.”

    For a long time, I believed that. After years of struggling to keep a clean house I have to stand up and say, that’s complete BULL HONKEY.

    Yes, your children will remember the love you gave to them, that part is absolutely true. No, they won’t remember every time there was a pile of dishes in the sink, because honestly kids don’t care about that. But they WILL remember the condition of your home, and if your home is always a mess, if YOU’RE always a mess, that memory will stick with them.

    I speak from experience. My parents are amazing and I love them dearly. They taught me many important life skills, but there’s one very important one they neglected to pass on simply because they didn’t know it themselves: how to keep a clean and inviting home.

    I did not grow up in a minimalist home. I did not grow up in a clean home and I did not grow up in a hospitable home.

    My parents never would have anticipated the troubles this would cause me in my adult life. They likely believed that I would only recall all the things they did for me out of love, that I was blind to the mess around me, but that wasn’t the case.

    My parents are children of depression era parents. Their parents saved EVERYTHING on the chance that they may need it in the future. This is a completely fear based decision, to save things for a rainy day. Yes, you should absolutely have money set aside for emergencies, but you you shouldn’t keep old things that you MIGHT one day need.

    Last year my grandma moved into a fifth wheel, and left her house to my parents, which meant that I got the privilege of helping clear out what she left behind. Bless her heart, but the woman had a box labeled “STRINGS TOO SHORT TO USE.” What was in the box? Exactly that. It was full of tiny bits of strings that couldn’t possibly be used for anything. This is the kind of mentality I was raised with. Nothing was thrown away, because we might find a use for it in the future.

    What really happened was, my dad would go looking for something he knew he’d kept years before, and he would spend half a day looking for the thing. That time spent looking was all wasted, it would have been more productive to spend the money on buying a new whatever-it-was, than the spend more time looking for an old one than it would have taken to earn the money at work for to pay for a new one.

    This taught me to keep everything, I was a borderline hoarder, keeping things out of fear that I might need them. I’m so thankful that I changed this belief as an adult.

    Letting go of fear based decisions has freed me to use logic and faith to make my choices. Letting go of fear is what gave me my second son, deciding that I wasn’t afraid to take on two children under two years old, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    Everything kept out of fear has an emotional value to it. Every time you look at the item you kept out of fear, you’re reminding yourself of your fears! Let it go! Let go of the fear and let go of the clutter.

    If you’re hanging onto an item out of fear that you may need it SOMEDAY, it’s not serving you and it’s useless to you and your home. It’s clutter and it’s needs to be cut from your life.

    My mom didn’t teach me to keep a clean house.

    My mom would take one day a month to deep clean, and that woman could CLEAN HOUSE! She got a lot done in a single day, especially when she’d recruit us kids to help out.

    But what she lacked was routine. She didn’t keep the house clean day to day, and I didn’t realize at the time that it was a matter of anxiety and overwhelm. I didn’t notice that was the problem, until it was my problem.

    I adopted the same mentality she carried. I held onto the same overwhelm and anxiety. If the house was a mess, I lacked all motivation to take care of it, until it was a HUGE mess of a beast that needed courage and ambition to slay.

    As a kid, there were always mountains of dishes and laundry to be done. I’ll give her credit here, because she does keep up on dishes now and has for the past few years. But the damage was done when I was young. That’s the habit I saw daily and I kept for myself.

    These chains took years to break because I didn’t know HOW to break them. It wasn’t until I discovered decluttering and routines that I began keeping a clean house consistently.

    Cutting the clutter in my home has reduced the feelings of overwhelm that kept me from getting housework under control. Getting rid of the unnecessary things in my life has freed up more time to clean, also.

    Developing the routines of always keeping counters clear and washing, drying, and folding one load of laundry each day, has given me a head start on house chores. I no longer have to say “I can give the dog a bath AFTER I do the dishes and have my sink clear.” I no longer have to feel guilty spending a day out, knowing there’s a mountain of laundry waiting for me at home. I no longer have to be filled with stress the moment I get home from a trip and see my house is just as filthy as I left it, because it was left clean!

    We weren’t very hospitable.

    We rarely had house guests. I remember my mom would always get freaked out when I asked to have friends over. It was always a big deal to have anyone come to our house and would send my mom into one of her cleaning sprees.

    As an adult, I kept this with me. My stress levels would peak when guests were coming over.

    1. Because my house was always a mess.

    2. Because that’s what I knew.

    My husband has always loved to host gatherings, and I didn’t. I hated having anyone over, because there was SO much to do before anyone could see my house. I was so ashamed of the house I lived in and I finally understood why my mom never liked to have guests.

    What she didn’t know would happen, was that she would raise a daughter full of conflict.

    I knew I was called to be hospitable, God tells us to open our homes and our hearts. I closed off both for a very long time. I was embarrassed of my housekeeping skills, I was afraid they would judge me for my home. I made it about ME.

    The point of being a hostess is not to show off your perfect home or your cooking skills, it’s about being there for others. Opening your home and your heart to those who need your care and friendship, that’s the point.

    I do remember the love.

    My parents love me with all they have. They give me absolutely everything they possibly can. My parents have always been there for me, even when they weren’t there for themselves.

    Children will always remember the condition of your home, but also the condition of your heart.

    If you’re under stress every day because you can’t keep up on the housework, that’s what they will remember and that’s the behaviors they will learn from you.

    I keep a clean, decluttered and welcoming home now, BECAUSE I love my children.

    Having experienced it myself, I know that my children will take MY habits and make them their own. I don’t want to see them struggle as I did, I want to see them shine. I don’t want their every day to be an uphill battle with a messy home, I want them to spend their time and energy on things they love.

    I want to spend my days enjoying time with my family, not constantly cleaning up after them. This is why I’ve adopted the minimalist attitude, developed my routines, and make the effort to reach out to those in need. I want them to see that this is normal. I strive to be the person I want my children to become.

    Are you ready to set the example for your family and to be present for their lives?

    Visit the Hot Mess Toolkit to find my favorite ways to make your life easier!

    When I Stopped Breastfeeding…

    When I Stopped Breastfeeding…

    I wasn’t planning to share this story right now. I’ve even tried to write it before and couldn’t. Tonight I was feeling a weight on my heart, a small word that said “someone, somewhere, needs to hear this right now”.

    I effortlessly breastfed my first son until he was 13 months old. He had a great latch, rarely bit, and had perfect weight gain. He self weaned shortly after I became pregnant with my second son and we were both totally ready for it.

    That’s a beautiful little true story, but it’s clearly not the one you came here to read.

    This is about my second son, Dash. The one who cried all the time, only gained 1 pound in the his first two months, and was at risk of being declared Failure to Thrive.

    I loved breastfeeding my first son, it was so easy. He was hungry, I pulled my boob out and fed him. I had a strong let down and over supply. I could pump 6 oz just an hour after feeding him if I ever needed to have a bottle for him. He also took bottles with no issue. I even gave him pre mixed formula a few times because it was even easier (and they were free samples).

    Again, that’s not the story you want to hear, but it’s important to know I went into breastfeeding my second son feeling like a rockstar, and came out feeling very different.

    I had a few suspicions that Dash wasn’t getting enough, but because Des always had plenty, I didn’t have much reason to believe I’d have any problem making enough milk. It was at our 1 month child well check that we found out just how poorly Dash was gaining weight. I mentioned earlier that he’d only gained 1 pound in his first two months. He was born at 7.5 pounds, and weighed in at 8.5 pounds at 2 months. This put him in the first percentile, normally I don’t concern myself with percentiles, but first percentile is a big deal.

    We were lucky that he was meeting all other developmental milestones for his age. He had great head control and had even already rolled from stomach to back, which was awesome. I think this was the only reason he wasn’t declared failure to thrive right then and there. He was doing awesome in every way but his weight.

    Being told that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby was soul crushing.

    Our healthcare provider gave me an extensive list of things to add to my diet, to eat more meals more often, orders to drink tons of water, and to breastfeed-pump-supplement ever TWO HOURS. She even whispered to me, I may have to give him 4 oz of formula after every feeding. (We see a holistic provider, so referring me to formula was a pretty big deal for her).

    As a stay at home mom, I had all the time for all the feeding and pumping (of course I wasn’t doing ANY housework at this time) but as a mother of two under two, I barely had enough time to blink. Every moment that wasn’t spent changing and feeding the baby was spent changing and feeding and entertaining the toddler.

    Pumping took over my life. I was obsessed with upping my supply. I ate lactation cookies, drank the teas, took pills, drank water, and pumped, and pumped, and pumped..

    I would feed Dash until he wouldn’t take it anymore, usually about 15-30 minutes. Then I’d give him formula, then I’d pump for another 30-40 minutes, both sides. He’d wake up, I’d change his diaper and feed him again, then pump, the change him, feed him, pump…. on repeat, every day.

    We went in for a series of weight checks between his next well child check.

    10 weeks – 10 lbs 1 oz. That’s right, just two weeks of supplementing with formula and he was up almost 2 pounds! This put him back on his growth chart.

    11 weeks – 11 lbs 6 oz. Nice work, baby!

    12 weeks – 12 lbs 4 oz. At this point, they sent us home happy, with no other weight checks scheduled.

    He was gaining great weight, but it wasn’t because of me.

    One day I got 5 oz, not at once, but for the whole day. I pumped for hours, for days, and I couldn’t get more than 5 oz.

    I’d pump ALL day, and couldn’t come up with even half the milk he needed. Most days I couldn’t even get 2 oz pumped.

    Every day I would wake up with a burning determination. Today I was going to pump enough for my baby.

    And every night, I’d be crushed.

    I lowered my expectations. Today I was going to pump half of what he needed.

    Every night, crushed.

    Today I was going to pump 1 oz more than yesterday.

    Crushed. Again and again, I was crushed. I couldn’t feed my baby. Formula was expensive. Breast is best.

    I thought about giving up.

    But the antibodies. But his immune system. But, but, but…

    This went on for 3 months. This struggling to produce milk, this emotional anguish of not being “enough” for him, this draining burden of pumping. I gave myself 3 months to fix my supply, and it never happened.

    But I couldn’t keep wearing myself thin. That’s what it came down to. I was exhausted, and not because I was giving all my energy to my sweet boys, but because I was giving it all to that pump!

    I spent more time pumping that I did actually holding my newborn.

    It was at our 4 month well child check, when he weighed in at 14 lbs 11 oz (48th percentile!) that I finally went home happy with his weight. He was exactly normal with his weight.

    And suddenly I realized that I missed everything else.

    I wasn’t just obsessed with trying to make enough milk, I was obsessed with his weight.

    I could have spent so much more time enjoying both of my boys. I don’t regret trying to breastfeed him, but I do wish I’d stopped trying a lot sooner.

    I finally accepted defeat.

    He was 4 months old when I finally put the pump away. I accepted that spending 10+ hours of my time, pumping an average of 1 oz per day wasn’t a good use of my time.

    I cried for about a week. I tried so hard for so long and it was HARD to give it up.

    There were a lot of lies going on in my head at this point. I was feeling really broken, like I wasn’t woman enough to raise my children. I was feeling like my body had failed my baby. And I was feeling really bummed out that my period came back. (I’d never gotten it back after having my first, since he breastfed up until I was already pregnant with Dash, so this was a really big deal for me).

    I had to feed myself the truth, repeatedly, until I finally started to believe it.

    I am enough. I am all my child needs. He relies on me 100% to feed and clothe and diaper and love him.

    My body has done amazing things. I gave birth to two healthy boys with zero pain numbing medication. I exclusively breastfed my first son, and that was still amazing, even if I couldn’t do it again.

    My time is better spent loving on my children. My boys need my full attention, even still, and they weren’t getting that when I was pumping nonstop.

    I hated pumping. I hated it! I spent a lot of time doing something I hated for someone I loved.

    Dash today.

    Today, Dash is healthy and spunky and thriving. He’s 9 months old, weighs 18 lbs and is very close to walking. He holds his own bottles and eats almost anything else we give him. He chewed into an avocado at the grocery store the other day when I wasn’t paying attention.

    He plays with his brother and chases the dogs. He also is very determined to eat dog food, but we are pretty good at stopping him.

    He loves to play with his brother, and sometimes Desmond is even nice enough to share his snacks with his baby brother.

    You’re not alone.

    I felt alone when I went through all of this, just a few months ago. If I had to do it again, I would have found a support group that meets locally. (Actually, just two months after I gave up, my healthcare provider’s office started offering a breastfeeding support group, how’s that timing?)

    I had a lot of people in my life who supported me, but they weren’t going through what I was going through. They were bystanders with nice words of encouragement, but they weren’t in the trenches with me. They didn’t know how it felt to fail at this.

    And I’m brought to tears, not because it’s painful to relive these feelings, but because there’s another woman who is feeling them right now.

    Because someone, somewhere, needs to hear this right now:

    You are enough.

    Your baby loves you.

    Your body has done amazing things.

    You are not alone.

    If you’re currently struggling with supply, how long you keep trying is completely up to you. But if you’re waiting for permission to quit, because pumping is taking up all your time and actually keeping you from enjoying that sweet child, this is it. You have my permission to do whatever it takes to be the best momma you can for your baby.

    The lies I believed about love and marriage.

    The lies I believed about love and marriage.

    Remember what it was like to be young and in love?

    Remember when you ALWAYS had to sit right next to your significant other? Holding hands, touching thighs, stealing kisses.

    Remember when you were always excited to see him? When you’d happily greet him with a kiss?

    Remember when you posting about your Man Crush Monday every week? When you had no shame to publicly expose your husband’s hunkiness?

    Remember when you HAD to fall asleep in his arms? When you were excited for a spontaneous romp? (Yeah, that’s how I’m going to refer to that… sorry, not sorry.)

    When did that stop?

    Why did that stop?

    Somewhere down the line, I think we get told a few silent lies about what marriage is supposed to look like. Sometimes no one has to say them out loud, but through observation we pick up on it.

    Lie #1: you don’t have to always sit together.

    I remember when this first occurred to me. I was at a big family dinner and I saw that all the older couples felt no need to sit next to each other. They freely sat wherever they pleased and weren’t concerned with where their other half wanted to sit. It seemed freeing.

    I suddenly felt as though my husband was my safety blanket, and I only wanted to sit with him because of my incredibly small comfort zone. So I sat away from him for the first time.

    It didn’t take long before that “need” to sit with him at all time dissipated completely. And with it, a flame extinguished.

    Lie #2: healthy couples don’t feel the need to tell everyone else how happy they are.

    I do remember someone saying this to me. It was my sister, and we were talking about how annoying some couples are when they constantly post on social media about their love for one another.

    Did you know when you stop sharing with others all those little things you love about someone, it becomes really easy to forget all about them? At least for me, it did.

    When I stopped posting pictures with my husband, stopped sharing online all the ways I loved him, stopped talking about him positively to others, I stopped noticing all those things and began taking him for granted.

    Lie #3: couples who’ve been married more than a year, just don’t DO it all the time anymore.

    This one hurt us the most. This is where most of our disagreements happen. Simply because I believed it was NORMAL to withhold. Any excuse I could find, I used.

    Any couple who’s been married many years, will tell you it’s the key to a happy marriage.

    If you’ve read (or listened to) Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis dedicates a whole chapter to why you need to just get on with it. Her suggestion is to have a Sexy September- or whatever month it happens to be- and just DO IT every single day, no excuses, for the whole month.

    Lie #4: your kids and house come first.

    This is a lesson I had to learn from my son watching Sherlock Gnomes a million times.

    In one scene of this animated child’s movie, Juliet (the leading lady) is having an arguement with Gnomeo. Gnomeo is desperate for her attention and just finished a daring act to retrieve a flower for Juliet. She couldn’t care less, he foolishly risked his life and she is only concerned with saving her garden (and home to all her family and friends, which she and Gnomeo have just taken rule over).

    She says to him “the garden can’t wait, you can!”

    And instantly he is heart broken. His face falls in a way I’ve seen only too often on my own husband’s face. The look of disappointment, feeling unappreciated, a feeling of shame and uselessness.

    How often have we told our husbands that they can wait? We’ve told them they are less important than whatever else we are doing at the time.

    When did your husband stop being the most important person in your life?

    When did our hearts stop skipping a beat when they walked in the room?

    I think it happened some time after we started believing these lies about what our marriage should look like at any given time.

    What lies have you believed about love or the expectations of marriage? Share in the comments.