We’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.
How do you get through the baby/toddler phase during football season without feeling alone and lost? Between supporting my husband in a sport that I'm not really interested in, working through the stress of my own demanding job, and trying to keep two tiny humans under the age of 3 alive, how do you keep from losing yourself?
QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE
Dear Feeling Lost and Alone,
I know I don’t have to tell you this, but the little kid stage is hard. There is just no way around it. Having young kids depend completely on you with very little help from coach WILL cause you to lose yourself at times. I hope it comforts you to know that it isn’t just you.
You are not alone in this. I had 2 under 2, we had moved to a new town when I was 6 months pregnant with our first, and I stopped working for the first time in a decade. To say that I lost myself is an understatement.
Looking back on it now, I can see it was an opportunity to figure out who I actually was. I was forced to prioritize what was the most important to me.
As I started to find myself I chose things I could add in that didn’t create more stress. It meant finding things online that I could do after bedtime, like a workout program. I occasionally got a babysitter or a mother’s helper during the day just so I had some quiet to think or get a haircut. And it sometimes meant sacrificing the small amount of time I did have with coach to go do something for me while he stayed home with the kids, like joining a church group that could pour into me.
It wasn’t a quick or an easy fix, but it was definitely worth it. Not only will you start to feel better, but the time with your kids and coach will improve too.
Hoping you find the strength for one step at a time,
Dear Feeling Lost and Alone,
I love that you're committed to your family. Even though you aren't interested in football, you are still supporting your husband in his passion. That's amazing. Not every wife would do that and I want to acknowledge that.
You have a demanding job and you are balancing a season of life when your time at home demands a lot from you as well. This, most likely, is the most intense season of life you'll walkthrough.
There are so many practical tips we can offer, however, I truly believe that the best way through these years is with the support of a few good friends. They don't have to be other coaches' wives, however, having another wife around who understands the crazy schedule is sometimes helpful!
I found that with two kids 20 months apart my MOPS group was my lifeline. I know that many groups meet during the day, but there are plenty of working moms out there. Check your local neighborhood app, Facebook groups, or church community groups. Find something for you. Join a running club or take a knitting class. Whatever it is that gives you life and reminds you that you are more than your work.
If you aren't sure where to start that's okay too. Try something new! You may even meet your new BFF.
Practically, during the season when your husband isn't around as much figure out the things you need help with and determine how you can fit a few of them in the budget.
Here's my biggest lesson learned. I've finally accepted that even though an additional cost is included with grocery delivery, I actually save money by using this service. Besides the hour or more in the store (time is money) I also avoid all the impulse buying that happens when I'm wandering the aisles hunting for the things on my list.
Keep meals simple. Buy a rotisserie chicken and make chicken salad with the leftovers. Check out crockpot dump meals on Pinterest and double a meal every time you cook. Toss half in the freezer right away and then you only need to cook half the month.
Hire that young neighbor to mow the lawn. Sure, it may not look perfect, but ya know what? It's good enough. And many times that's the reality of the months when you have toddlers and coach is in season.
Take things week by week. Give yourself grace. It's okay to say no to overpacking your schedule. It's okay to stay home from the game to catch up on things that are more important to you. It's okay to just rest.
Remember, you aren't alone. FNW is here with you!