As I reflect on all the things that happened in 2018, I realized it was a year of tremendous learning, letting go and personal growth. From motherhood to self-care to business, here are 15 of the top lessons I learned… the good, the bad and the ugly.
(If you missed Part 1: Gratitude in my 2018 Year in Review series, check it out.)
Motherhood played the largest role in 2018 for me. From being pregnant to going through a second C-section to taking care of 2 children and not having childcare for the baby, I learned a lot about motherhood.
When my first, Chase, was 3 months old I went back to work full-time in an office. I had a full-time nanny and a mom who did more than her fair share of babysitting. But with Mia, I hesitated on childcare and now with 2 kids, babysitting for my mom is so much harder. I also wanted to spend all the time I could with my little baby soaking in every second. Deep down I think I felt guilty I missed out on Chase’s first year that I didn’t want to do the same with Mia.
Lesson #1: 2 kids are EXPONENTIALLY harder than 1 kid
I can’t tell you the number of times people told me this when I was pregnant. “Oh Stephanie, you don’t even know. 1 is easy… 2 is way harder. You just wait.” Just like a first-time mom, you “hear” things, but it doesn’t really resonate or sink in. I didn’t believe it. It didn’t even sink in in the first few months – I mean I was out and about 8 days post C-section at the splash pad with a preterm 8 day old and a 3 year old… it wasn’t so bad right?
People also “say” these things, but they don’t really articulate the WHY it’s so hard. So, I chose to ignore the advice and think “I’ll be different.” I needed tangible examples people!
Then the days passed and every day started to feel like Groundhog Day… All of a sudden I was that mom who only had time to shower if it was done simultaneously with the two kids (who has time for shaving and blow drying anymore?). Every minute is a juggling act and a decision on which kid to prioritize in that moment: wake the baby up from a nap to pick the preschooler up from school OR let the baby nap and leave the preschooler at school until 5:30pm?
I was an only child, so I couldn’t even relate to what 2 kids was like and the sacrifices made for each sibling. To those moms with 2+ kids you are probably laughing at me, but seriously, major props to you!
Lesson #2: FLEXIBILITY is essential
Hi, I’m a planner… an OCD one to be exact. I like to know when, where, what is going on at all times. I like to have control over situations. Enter a baby + toddler…
I had my first kid on a strict sleep and feeding schedule. Every nap time was done in the dark at a certain time in the exact same location and he was sleeping through the night (like 10-12 hours) at 8 weeks. I had a timer on my nursing schedule and tracked everything. Routine and structure!
Enter second kid… I have come to accept that nap time in the car to/from driving the 3 year old to preschool is okay and waking up 2 to 3 times a night still at 6 months is the new norm.
Lesson #3: Newborns are EASY (oh and they don’t move)
I’m sure a lot of you want to punch me for saying that. But I’m serious… as a first time mom I would’ve thought I was psycho… As a second-time mom I realized that all newborns really do are nurse, sleep, poop, cry… AND don’t move (or talk back). Not too bad compared to a 3 year old creating pillow crash pads and diving off the top of the couch or throwing a tantrum because you wouldn’t let him sleep with 5 Transformers in his bed or you gave him grey socks instead of black.
Newborns actually cuddle. So enjoy the snuggle time.
Lesson #4: The importance of being 100% present
The one big takeaway I learned in my 2nd/3rd time mommy class is that little kids only need a small amount of one-on-one fully present time to fill them up. Put down the phone, don’t try to multitask, just take 10 minutes to be 100% present and play whatever game, sport, activity they want with them. Trust me it’ll be worth it.
Especially with a new baby, having to constantly tell Chase “sorry mommy has to feed Mia or hold on, I have to change Mia’s diaper” he started to feel like he wasn’t getting any mommy time. So I started making a conscious effort of finding small moments of time where he and I could play and where my attention was 100% on him. He was in charge of what we were doing and that attention changed our relationship for the better!
Lesson #5: Stop Googling Things
You’ll only end up thinking you or your kids are dying or you’ll go down a rabbit hole of 100 different ways to sleep train your kid. Reach out to your mommy tribe for advice, join a local mommy group or actually call your pediatrician.
This is an area I want to focus on more in 2019. I pretty much ignored self-care and myself for 70% of 2018 and I suffered.
I didn’t work out at all (like literally still haven’t once in 2018… actually since Dec 2017 when I was pregnant).
I ate like crap (Sidecar Doughnuts were literally my best friend… just ask my husband).
I stopped prioritizing myself.
Trust me, I know a lot about self-care. I can teach all about it. I even have an entire blog series ready to go on self-care, but it’s sometimes hard to follow your own advice!
Lesson #6: Sleep is the most important pillar of self-care
I love sleep, yet I definitely don’t prioritize it. It pains me to wake up and look at my FitBit sleep analysis. Some days I get less than 45 minutes of deep sleep. Since my 6 month old still doesn’t sleep through the night, I average about 3-4 hour stretches (if I’m lucky).
What I learned, but have yet to implement, is actually going to bed at a reasonable hour (as I type this at 12:30am). My days of being a “night owl” and working from 9pm – midnight need to end in 2019 and I need to prioritize getting to bed earlier, getting off of my electronics and improving my sleep quality. Any suggestions?
Lesson #7: It’s okay to ignore social media, not have the perfect post and unfollow people!
Social media (especially Instagram for me) gives me anxiety. I literally had signed up for multiple Instagram online courses trying to figure out how to maximize my reach (for my business). But instead what it did for me had a negative effect.
On Sept 20th I posted this message on why I stopped posting on Instagram. I needed a break… a detox. I became obsessed with vanity metrics, creating the perfectly scripted post, and picking the perfect photo. I would get FOMO and jealousy when scrolling my feed at all these people doing what I want to be doing. Everyone is always “perfect” on social media. All these negative emotions came out and it wasn’t productive. So I stopped. I started unfollowing people and I stopped posting.
Instead, the social media I did stay connected to were the Facebook groups that were valuable and I liked the people who were engaged. Those filled me up. I disabled notifications for almost everything else.
Lesson #8: Embrace gratitude
I was so hard on myself this year. Feeling like I was failing at everything (re: Part 1 of this series). I wasn’t compassionate toward myself and it really affected my well-being. Part 1 pretty much summed it up, but when I was doing daily meditations, my gratitude journal and affirmations, mentally I was in a lot better state.
Business & Personal Development
Lesson #9: Investing in yourself is the best investment
In the first half of 2018 I invested a lot into my business and myself. I think I had this whole “go big or go home” mentality before the baby came. However, when I tallied up the amount of money I invested in my business and personal development and I sort of scared myself.
I spent thousands of dollars on education (online courses), masterminds, live events and coaching. I practically spent the same amount as one year of tuition getting my MBA at USC. Some of it was super beneficial and some was a complete waste, but in the end, I’m happy I did it.
I made mistakes, trusted people I shouldn’t have, jumped on shiny opportunities that didn’t play out like I had hoped, but now I know better!
Lesson #10: Letting go
I started off the year with a list of everything I was letting go of from 2017 and I tried to keep that up. It was freeing and allowed me to create space for new things to grow.
Lesson #11: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses
I used to love all those personality quizzes and tests – until I met the HumanOp test. Instead of basing your results off of your opinions of yourself and how you would react in certain situations (like Myers-Briggs or 16Personalities), this one is based off of physicality. The results were unreal and helped me understand how to maximize my strengths, how to operate on a daily basis more efficiently and how to use what I thought were my weaknesses, to my advantage. For example, I have now learned that I have to take a quick nap sometime between 2-4pm to recharge (haha… I’m serious).
Lesson #12: Outsource tasks that aren’t in your ZOG (Zone of Genius)
Call me a control freak, but I liked to do everything myself because deep down I didn’t trust that anyone could do it as good as me or would do it with “Stephanie” style. I definitely learned my time is better spent elsewhere!
Outsourcing and asking for help in life and business are so important. Hire a bookkeeper to get you ready for taxes, hire a VA, hire a housekeeper (trust me those 5 hours of my time paying someone to clean my house is WELL worth every penny)… even outsource meal prep by subscribing to a food delivery service. If you’re thinking “I don’t have money to do that” just think “is my time worth that amount” and if it isn’t and you could be doing something higher dollar to build your business or add more value, then outsource.
Lesson #13: Relationships and In-Real-Life interactions are the key to success
I always said, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know in life that will lead you to success.” This year I made an effort before the baby came to attend as many live events as possible. The people I met at those events have helped me tremendously in my business and life! Some of those people have now become close friends and it was all because I made the effort to maintain relationships and get out there and meet new people.
Bring your relationships from @ handles to real life!
Lesson 14: Learning to say no
This is something I have struggled with my whole life. I love to say yes, please people, do it all and help. However, at the end of 2017 I started saying no more and then in 2018 I really put it into action especially since I knew I was going to have a lot more on my plate with two kiddos. I always go back to my post on Learning to Say No as it is always a good reminder!
Lesson #15: It’s okay to put out B- work
Thank you Brooke Castillo for this awesome advice on Amy Porterfield’s podcast! I struggle with perfectionism and so this episode really hit home. “You want to produce at the level of B-. Here’s why that is. B- work can change people’s lives. Work that you don’t produce at all does nothing in the world. Nothing in the world.” AMEN!
As I wrote this post I got more and more exhausted and perfectionism started to creep in. I wanted to write more and elaborate on points, but I realized, if I kept delaying, I would end up posting this at the end of 2019 instead!!! So here’s to B- work, getting shit out there and hoping that in 2018 you all learned some important lessons too!