motherhood, working mother

FAQ: Going Back to Work

A couple weeks ago I had my first day back at work (well, traditional office work ;)) since December of 2016. I shared the news on Instagram and got a lot of great questions about my decision/new setup, so thought I would do a blog post answering! I attempted to answer through Instagram stories and realized I have so much to say on the subject that a blog post made more sense! So here we go…

What will you be doing? Are you doing the same job as before you left? There have been lots of organizational changes at Nike since I left, but I am back in digital marketing on the operations side, which is where I was right before I left. I accepted a 6-month contract, so it will be over at some point in July. That’s as much as I feel comfortable sharing with strangers on the world wide web 😉

How many hours a week will you work? I worked it out so that I have Fridays off (home with the kids). I am working on a specific project, so my hours each week will vary depending on what is happening with the project, but it will probably be around 32 hours/week give or take! Most days will be 8-5ish, so traditional working hours.

How did you negotiate 4 days/week? It is honestly just the situation I am in, I could only get one day of childcare covered a week so it was a non-negotiable. When I started putting feelers out there with old coworkers and managers I made that requirement clear since I couldn’t budge on it. There were some opportunities that didn’t work out because I couldn’t work five days and that’s okay!

After 6 months, will you have the choice to stay? The specific role I am doing is really project based, so after 6 months the need will no longer be there for that role. That said, if I do a good job and I really want to continue working at Nike, I am confident I could find another job. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel in six months, but at this point the plan is not to continue past July. I’d like to give our family the space to navigate Elodie’s transition into Kindergarten in the fall. After we’re settled in to life with an elementary schooler I am sure I will know more about how I want to proceed (or not) in the corporate world.

Who is watching the kids while you work? James and Elodie are both at the Nike childcare center 3 days a week and have been since September (Elodie has actually been there for preschool 3 days a week since September of 2017, James just started in September). I will be home with them one day, which leaves one day that my mom and mother-in-law will be covering. We are SOOOOO lucky we have both of them locally so I could do this, otherwise taking a short-term contract would have been a lot trickier!

How did you determine now was the time? I knew that life would shift after James started part-time care in September. At that point we had both kids in school the same three days each week and no concrete plan on how I was going to be spending that time. Corey knew my wheels were immediately turning, but wisely suggested I not make any rushed decisions on what to do with the 3 days/week until I had the chance to really experience them and see how life was flowing and feeling. So I gave myself until the end of 2018 to just feel things out and do some soul searching on what I wanted my next steps to be.

It became clear pretty quickly that I was not happy with that much “free time”. On the one hand I was so appreciative of the time I had to get all those things done that most people just never have time for …like keeping their house mostly clean, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prepping, cooking, organizing closets, running errands, taking the kids to the doctor, dentist, etc etc. Yes it was glorious to have the space and time to accomplish those things …. But that got old really quick. While I loved supporting our family, I didn’t feel deep fulfillment in these tasks. And I put SO MUCH PRESSURE on myself to make every hour count, constantly questioning if I was making good use of my time. It was mentally so exhausting. I felt empty at the end of the days I didn’t have the kids. I was also experiencing feelings of extreme guilt. How many people would love to have this privilege? I felt so lucky and grateful that we had the means to put our kids in part-time care while not needing me to bring in income. But why me? I didn’t deserve this more than anyone else. I just felt bad about the whole thing. I couldn’t ENJOY the kid-free time pretty much at all, but I was also really grateful for it and totally understood my good fortune. I was feelings all the feels, basically.

So all that said, clearly I needed a change. I had a lot of people suggest ramping up my blog and Instagram or making my photography more of a business. I enjoy those things SO much asa hobbies and creative outlets, but truly feel no desire to make them my full-time business. I love the community I have created through Instagram and my blog and LOVE the companies I’ve had a chance to partner with because of that community, but that said… I never want money to be the driving force behind those creative outlets for me. Yes, I make some money from affiliate links and sponsorships, but those are just icing on the cake when sharing a product or company I truly LOVE. Even if I didn’t make a dime I would rave about these products and companies! It stifles my creativity when I feel like I am posting in an effort to gain followers or make money, etc. I find it kind of hard to explain all this, so I hope I’m making SOME sense, but basically I just have no desire to try to make my blog and Instagram any bigger than it is by pouring any more time and effort into it than I already am.

After a lot of soul searching and a visit with a life and career coach I decided that exploring other avenues of more traditional work, temporarily, would be a great solution to continue to learn more about what it is I want to do at this point in my life. That’s a really long-winded response to how I knew it was time … I just stopped feeling inspired and happy being home and wanted something different.

When you originally decided to stay home, did you think you’d go back?  I forget how much of this I shared, but deciding to stay home wasn’t something I thought a lot about as a working mother. I didn’t think it was financially feasible so it wasn’t a decision I agonized over or even thought about at all. After James was born I decided to leave Nike to take an opportunity with a small startup, heading up their marketing. It was essentially my dream job, but the realities of working in a startup environment really didn’t jive with having two young kids in daycare, including a 5-month-old who was getting sick every three days, requiring Corey and I both to miss a lot of work. It was a really hard decision to make, but I was at the end of my rope — my stress level was insanely high, I was constantly getting sick, I seriously just felt like my body was shutting down and I was not in a good space mentally, spiritually or emotionally. I needed to step back and reassess. That’s how I ended up making the decision to take a break from my career. Financially we had to pull the kids out of daycare, so it’s not like I could take a break, recuperate and then get back out to the working world. Essentially I was forced into being a stay-at-home mom, something I never thought I would be, but honestly came to love deeply and feel incredibly fulfilled by.

I spent most of the past two years I was home with the kids feeling pretty sure I would never want to go back to corporate America. I experienced life without the stress of a demanding job, I was happier than ever, ended up finding my groove with exercise, felt like our home and our family was just more balanced than ever.

Then around the time James turned two I just felt like he could use some more structured social interaction. I felt strongly that he would benefit from being in part-time care, so after we got a call that he had gotten a spot in the Nike 3-day class after being on the waitlist nearly 18 months, we decided to take it. Having the kids both gone three days a week made it clear that being home no longer gave me that amazing, happy, balanced feeling. I felt like something was missing.

While my indecisive nature tempts me to make every decision as if it will be the last decision I’ll ever make, in each of these scenarios I have tried to step back and remind myself that this is only a moment in time. Yes, I decided to quit my job and stay home with my kids two years ago, but nobody every told me I could never go back to work or never find a different way to work. Yes, I have decided to accept a 6-month contract, but that is the only thing I have decided. This new job works great for me RIGHT NOW. And that’s all I can really say. I might love it so much I can’t imagine not going back full-time in a more permanent role, or I might appreciate it for what it is and find more gratitude for the freedom I have once July rolls around and I am jobless again. I just don’t know, and that’s okay. I’m going to take things as they come.

Is this going to impact your barre3 schedule? How do you plan to balance work/life/fitness? It will definitely impact the times of day I go to class, but it won’t impact the number of classes I attend a week (3-5). My schedule is now mostly 6AM classes which allow me to get home, shower quickly and still be at work between 8-8:30AM and 6:30PM classes, which require Corey to handle bedtime. Also the weekends of course 😉 Fitness has become an integrated part of my life — it’s a habit, something I love doing and something that makes me a truly better mother, wife, employee, PERSON. Essentially it is extremely high on my priority list, so I will find ways to make time for it, even if it’s not as convenient as it has been in the last few months!

As far as balance — I think balance is a myth. Being back at work has required both Corey and me to reexamine the tasks that fill our days and prioritize them.Keeping the house as clean as it has been the last four months is going way down on the priority list. Family time is the highest priority, so making sure we are eating together as a family each night and being intentional with the time we do have together — meaning hyper-focused, no phones out in the morning/evening hours, etc. Time for us as a couple is also super important and nothing will change there. Time for fitness is very high for both Corey and me. Luckily he loves at-home workouts and last year we invested in a rower and a treadmill for him to have at home, so he can do an early morning workout while I am at a barre3 class on the weekdays and he likes going to Orange Theory classes on the weekends. We make it work! Things will be messier and more complicated than they were when I was home managing the household and the kids, but that’s okay. It’s just a season we’re in and having been out of the work force for two years I am now even more aligned to the things that are important to me as an individual and us as a family, and I’m just going to worry about those and brush the other things off. One thing I know for sure: I can’t do it all. Period. So not even going to try.

How do you get out of the house on time? Well, we’re only two weeks in, but the last couple weeks have gone really smoothly. The fact that Corey and I both work in the same place and our kids go to daycare onsite is HUGELY helpful, so we have that working in our favor. Otherwise, the BIGGEST determining factor of getting ourselves out of the house on time is how much we prepare the night before. Making sure coats, hats, gloves, blankets, lovies, WHATEVER needs to come with us to daycare the next day are either already in a bag together or in the car is number 1. The second biggest factor is getting up before our kids and being completely ready before they are awake. We get up around 5:45 (earlier if we are working out) and shower and get ourselves put together, get the kids’ breakfast ready, unload the dishwasher, etc before the kids are up around 7 (give or take). We lay Elodie’s clothes out the night before and she goes potty and gets herself dressed before coming downstairs for an easy breakfast. Think wholegrain waffle with almond butter and banana, a smoothie, cereal, etc. Those two things have helped tremendously!

Can you talk about meal prep as a working mom? Such a struggle! This was one of the biggest conversations we had before I accepted this new job. I think I have PTSD from the dinner/bath/bed hustle when we were both working before. It’s been pretty dang amazing to be around the house at 4PM able to get dinner started and have it ready when Corey gets home around 5:30.

Here’s what we’re trying this time around. We’ve divided the food tasks as such: Meal planning: Liz, Grocery shopping/online ordering: Liz, Corey: Meal prep on the weekends or the night before, making dinner: whoever is home earlier and cleanup: whoever didn’t cook. This week it worked out pretty good. Offering the kids a healthy snack (cashews, cucumber slices, apple with almond butter, etc) as they settle into being home after school and while we get dinner going has also been key.

I have no doubt we will probably be leaning on more takeout, meal and grocery delivery services and the like to help keep us sane, and I’m cool with that. Whatever it takes!

So, what’s it like being back?! Oh my gosh you guys… I’m only two weeks in, but it feels SO GOOD. I am invigorated. Inspired. Confident. Excited. ALLTHETHINGS. Also, it truly feels like I never left, like I just picked up right where I left off, which is such a trip! In the best way possible! Being at work because you WANT to be and not because you feel like you HAVE to be is a freaking game-changer to say the least. I also think leaving the corporate world and living life outside of Nike (I started there right out of college so it’s really all I knew) gave me such incredible perspective I am bringing back with me. Taking a little career breather so far seems to have been a very, very good idea (and one I know 95% of people don’t have the privilege of taking). Short answer is I LOVE IT. I AM SO HAPPY. And I am super curious if and how these feelings change as I get deeper into this new job!

You know I’ll be over-sharing my way through it! 😉 Any more questions? Leave them in the comments!



lifestyle, motherhood, photography

Mommy & Me Photos with Brittany Rossman Photography

So last Father’s Day I got Corey an amazing present. Well, I think it’s pretty amazing. But when I really think about it, it’s a gift I would have loved to receive myself. I put together a 700+ page photo book of special photos of mostly him and the kids throughout the prior year. Mostly sweet, candid shots of him playing with the kids, cooking breakfast with the kids, snuggling the kids, reading to the kids… You know, the everyday stuff. Not the perfectly-posed-in-front-of-whatever pictures, but the photos that really evoke emotion and take you back to a specific, mundane yet magical moment in time. The kids LOVE looking through its pages and no matter how many times I thumb through the pages I never get sick of it.

But here’s the sad truth: Corey wouldn’t be able to make me the same kind of photo book, not one that has nearly the same number of pages… And that’s because he just never thinks to take photos of me during those ordinary moments that make up motherhood. If I want a photo with the kids I have to specifically ask. And usually that turns into the kids running away from me or giving a fake smile to the camera for half a second then running off. Wah wah. (Let it be known that Corey is way above average in pretty much every other way as a husband and father and I love him like crazy, this is just not his thing! haha)

Photos are my love language, they hold a lot of value to me, so even though this seems kind of silly it really does break my heart that I don’t have these candid moments with the kids captured. I want to remember the way we look when we snuggle up, read books together, laugh and play. I don’t need a million pictures of me smiling at the camera holding on to them with a death grip hoping they’re making a semi-happy face ….

So you can imagine the flood of emotion I felt when Brittany sent me the photos from our mommy + me session a few months back. CUE THE HAPPY TEARS. She captured everything I dreamed of between the kids and me. Those small in-between moments of love and magic between a mother and her children. The photos that despite my constant nagging never really come to fruition from Corey. If you find yourself in the same situation I did, PLEASE do yourself a favor and schedule a mommy + me session with Brittany. She is so calm, sweet and great with kids. She is patient and kind and just knows how to get children to come out of their shell and be themselves. These photos are such a gift to me. More of a gift than any physical thing anyone could ever buy me.

Ask for the session for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or just because. Because you deserve to have these fleeting moments captured. You will never regret spending the money to have this special connection between you and your kids captured forever.

It was soooo hard for me to narrow these down to my favorites, but here are some of my photos from my Mommy + Me session with Brittany Rossman Photography. Seriously cannot sing her praises enough! She is hosting a special Mommy + Me event on February 9th and 16th — you can sign up for a time slot here!


{All photos by Brittany Rossman Photography}


How We Quit Screen Time

Photo: Brittany Rossman Photography

Yesterday in my Instagram stories I mentioned in passing that four months ago we cut out screen time pretty much completely and the response was OVERWHELMING. I was immediately flooded with questions wanting to know how we did it and if I had any tips to help others achieve the same. I decided the best way to answer the questions was through a blog post that can easily be referenced in the future, too. 

First, it’s worth mentioning where we started. I would say that the kids got on average around one hour of screen time/day, give or take. Some days it was more if we watched a movie, some days it was less if we were out of the house most of the day. I mostly used screen time when I needed to get something done like cook or clean. It was the easiest way for me to preoccupy the kids so I could get stuff done. There was also a period of time we used it during dinner time because James seriously would not eat if he wasn’t distracted by the TV. This is something I would have TOTALLY judged someone for prior to being in the situation myself … But alas, that is what worked for us and I decided it was more important to me to have a peaceful mealtime where my baby’s belly got full instead of a nightly battle where he ended up not eating much at all.

Elodie got virtually no screen time until age two. She would watch the occasional Elmo video here and there but nothing crazy. Then James came along… And we had two kids two years apart … And lets just say that TV came in handy! Haha! This is where our perceived dependency on screen-time started. And because Elodie was getting more screen time so we could survive life with a newborn and a toddler, eventually this meant James was watching TV at a much younger age and frequency than Elodie ever did. Honestly, looking back I have no regrets. We did what we had to do and felt was right for our family at the time to get through a really freaking hard period in our lives. The TV served its purpose and I am grateful for that. I wish I could say I did it without guilt, but that would be a lie. I wish I had given myself more grace and not judged myself so hard for it, but that’s just who I am. If you are in this situation.. If you are pregnant or have a tiny baby or are home full-time with your kids and need screens for sanity and to just get s#&% done. DO IT. And don’t feel bad about it. Own it!

So, all that said, lets fast forward to this past June. James was 26 months and Elodie had turned 4 a few months prior. Seemingly out of nowhere I decided I wanted to do a screen-free day with James (Elodie was in preschool three days a week). I had gotten to a point where I just felt like I was using it as a crutch. If I needed to get something done, I turned on the TV. If I needed them to stop fighting, I turned on the TV. At the end of that first day without screens I felt so accomplished and happy, and I found that it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. So the next day when Elodie was home I decided to try for another day without screens. And that is where our journey began. 

There are a few things that I believe have made these screen-free months possible. 

>For one, I started a week before Corey went on sabbatical and was home with us for six weeks. I had an extra set of hands to help entertain the kids and we had tons of fun plans while he was off work, so that kept us super busy. 

>It was summertime, which meant we got outside a TON.

>The kids’ ages. They were both now old enough to truly play together and their attention spans were longer than 5-10 minutes. 

>We only had three weeks between the end of Corey’s sabbatical and James starting in school three days a week. So these days I am only on my own with the kids two full days. The fact that I am able to get most chores and cooking/shopping/errands/meal prepping done on the days I don’t have the kids makes it a LOT more manageable to go without screens while they are with me. 

Now on to the frequently asked questions I got from followers on Instagram:

Did you go cold turkey? Yep. 

How did you explain the change to Elodie? This is probably going to sound bad, but this whole idea kinda came out of nowhere so I didn’t exactly have a grand plan. So I just told the kids the TV was broken. It worked! Even now when we watch something it is a movie and we make it into a super special thing and set up our projector in the playroom, so they never see the TV on.

How long did it take for them to stop asking for screens? Hmmm I wish I could remember exactly. It was probably in the vicinity of 1-2 weeks. Because I told them the TV was broken I think they had the notion that at some point it would be fixed and at that time they would be watching shows again. So it wasn’t a huge deal to them. There weren’t any epic tantrums. There was some whining but I just would distract them with an activity and they would forget about it. After two weeks for sure they just stopped asking altogether. I’m not sure if they got tired of asking, didn’t care about the TV or just knew that it wasn’t going to happen, but either way after a couple weeks it became a total non-issue.

What do you do with them when you need to get something done? At this point I really don’t need to do much, they have learned to just play together and mostly preoccupy themselves with our toy baskets or a game of cat family. That said, if they are having an off day I will often sit them down with a healthy afternoon snack like fruit or nuts that will take them a little while to eat while I prep dinner or tidy up. I won’t lie and say I don’t get interrupted my arguing or someone needing help with something while I am cooking or cleaning, but I am fine with it, it’s rarely so much that I feel like I need to give up on what I am working on.

Does no screens mean no iPads or iPhones at restaurants or on car rides? Yes, these were the two I wast MOST skeptical we could do without screens. We would always start meals out or car rides with no screens, but inevitably as soon as one of them got antsy we took our phones out at dinner or gave them an iPad on a car ride. 

It has taken more preparedness on my part to make sure I have activities for them to do while we’re out to dinner or going on a car ride (love the Target $ spot or $ store for these) but honestly they are just so much more focused on whatever activity we give them now it has been a non-issue. A coloring activity used to keep James’ attention span for three minutes, now he stays focused for MUCH longer. That said, if we were doing a longer road trip — say, more than three hours — we would absolutely be fine bringing the iPads along. And for us, anything goes on airplanes, so we’ll see if we can make it through our 2.5 hour flight to Southern California in a couple weeks without screens. I’ll report back!

What about apps? We really didn’t use any apps to begin with, it’s just not something we ever got into. We were recently starting to work on sight words with Elodie and did find an app that could help her learn letter sounds and practice them (Montessori Crosswords). We let her do that for 15 minutes at a time a couple days a week if we think of it, but we just don’t even have the iPad around so often forget!

Do you feel like you need to come up with more “stuff” to keep them busy?100% yes. There is no way to get around the fact that no screens means more work and focus for mom and dad. As I mentioned earlier, this is okay for me because I only have two full days on my own with the kids and the two weekend days with Corey so this feels manageable. I honestly don’t know if I could do this if they were both home with me full-time. So give yourself grace and if you use screens to keep your sanity and run your house, don’t feel bad about that for a second!!

What are your favorite screen-free activities? Where do you get ideas for things to do with the kids? I love following my friend Meghan @craftandboogie for fun and easy crafting ideas for young kids. She sells the most amazing craft kits that Elodie LOVES (James is still a little young for them). I also love following @busytoddler for activity ideas — she has great ideas for kids in that really trick age between 12-24 months where they need constant entertainment, but a low attention span. We do a lot of magnatiles (amazing Christmas gift!), legos, puzzles, we have a train table the kids love as well as a little play kitchen that they love.

We have so many toys and activities and before being screen-free they would play with their toys for ten minutes and then get bored or antsy. It drove me nuts! All these toys and all they wanted to do was watch TV. But I realized it had become THEIR crutch too. It was easier to just sit and veg in front of the TV than get imaginative and creative, so their attention spans and ability to focus were shorter. It’s so different now. We can sit and play in our playroom for easily over an hour, then we’ll read books together, then we’ll bring out some play-doh or rainbow rice or something else. It is totally manageable.

Another thing that is a MUST is getting out of the house. This makes the time go by so much faster and takes the pressure of needing to find things to do around the house. We go to parks, to the library, have play dates with friends, visit family, take rec center classes (they are cheap!), run errands together, etc etc. 

How do you handle it when your kids go to someone else’s house and the TV is on?Honestly this hasn’t been a huge issue for us. When we go to friend’s houses we are getting the kids together to play so nobody really turns the TV on. Both sets of our parents know that we have cut out screen time so they know not to turn the TV on at their houses. That said, if we walked into a friend’s house and a TV was on we would just let it go. We’re not going to be that crazy strict about it! 

What motivates you to keep it up? Is it worth the extra work? We are 100% motivated by their behavior and improved attention span and increased imaginative play. I thought I was just imagining it myself and mentioned it on my Instagram stories a couple weeks into being screen-free and I had near FIFTY messages saying that no, it is actually a studied and proven fact that screen time affects behavior and later in life even depression and suicide rates.

I don’t think an hour of TV a day means your kids are doomed for life. I think finding a balance is what is important. This is what is working for us right now. Do I think we will be screen-free forever? Heck no. Do I think we will always be making conscious choices to limit screen-time in favor of sports, reading, time with friends and more? Absolutely. I think you need to do what feels right for you and your family!

How do you manage your own screen-time when your job involves a lot of phone use? How do you model good behavior for your kids?

This is such a great question and something I am always working on improving. I will admit I am far from perfect here. I try really hard to have my phone in a place that is away from the kids so if/when I am checking it and posting to Instagram or answering DMs, emails, etc. they don’t see me on it. This means I do most of my posting in the morning before they are awake, during naps and on occasion in the evening. I also try to protect my time with Corey and at least a couple days a week I like to turn my phone off around 8PM and not look at it again until the morning. Do I fail at this a lot? Yes. But when they see me on my phone I try to verbalize what I’m doing: “I am responding to a text from grammy, can you be patient with me for a minute?”, “Mommy is answering a work email, I will be able to give you my full attention in five minutes”, etc. I think it helps them understand how and why I am using my phone. 

Practically everything we do is on our phones these days. It’s where I meal plan, communicate with friends and family, it’s how I make a small income for our family…. so my kids not seeing me on my phone is completely unrealistic. I think being open and communicating about its uses helps a ton and it also keeps me in check so I am not just sitting on my phone scrolling aimlessly while my kids are with me!


I think that covers the vast majority of the questions. Trust me when I say the fact that my kids are mostly screen-free does not make me better than any other parent and certainly doesn’t mean I have my ish together. Yesterday I had the kids home with me and Corey walked in the door at 5:30 to me still in my pajamas and robe, James with no pants on and a really wet diaper that needed to be changed and Elodie in her halloween costume … Toys strewn all over the place, dinner not started … I am far from perfect so don’t you dare put me on a pedestal 🙂

This felt SO IMPOSSIBLE when I started back in June. I am honestly shocked we’re here. And I have no idea how long it will last. We will continue to reevaluate and fine-tune as time goes on! Hope this was helpful! Feel free to leave additional questions in the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer!

family, lifestyle, motherhood, photography

Tips For Stress-Free Family Photos with Young Children

Tips for Stress-FreeFamily Photos withYoung ChildrenA few months ago I wrote a heartfelt Instagram post all about why I prioritize getting professional family photos at least once a year. Especially at these ages they are truly growing so fast and they are such different little people each six months. The thing about family photos is we do them for the end result, but it is certainly a big financial investment, and aside from that, we know that it can be a somewhat stressful experience. From trying to find the perfect outfits for the whole family, to worrying how the kids will behave for the session, it’s not exactly anyone’s preferred way to spend an afternoon. BUT, it’s ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Since we’ve done this a time or seven and I take family photos myself, I thought I’d give you my expert opinion on how you can temper the sting of family photos and give you my best tips for stress-free family photos with young children.

Let go of the “perfect” smiling photo: If you have ever tried taking photos with young kids you know it’s nearly impossible to get a photo of everyone looking in the same direction at the same time, let alone have everyone giving their best/cute smiles all at the same time. A photographer can work some magic, but they can’t turn young kids into obedient robots, so don’t go into the shoot thinking about just getting that ONE GOOD smiling shot. Not only is it far fetched, but to be honest, those photos are boring. Who wants everyone smiling perfectly at the camera when you can have this: 9982

Let them be little: The best photos are the ones that capture the spirit of your family. The only way you are going to get these shots is by letting your kids run wild and free, be themselves, play, giggle and smile. The less direction you give them the better, because the more direction you give them the more they really don’t want to follow those directions anyways 😉


Don’t be above bribery: There will be times where you need your kids to cooperate to a certain extent (come sit on mommy’s lap, give your brother a big hug, etc), for those times, don’t be above a mess-free bribe like a jelly bean or a smarty (don’t use chocolate or anything else that has the potential to get their clothes and hands super messy). You can also plan to go do something fun after, like get ice cream, as a reminder to be on their best behavior during the photo session. Bribery is not my typical go-to parenting strategy, but I have no problem using it in desperate times!


Stress less: Kids can FEEL your energy. If you are stressed and frazzled and clearly not enjoying yourself because all you’re worrying about is your kids listening or looking a certain way or doing a certain thing, they will pick up on that and all of a sudden taking family photos is going to turn into a really NOT FUN experience. Seriously, just take a deep breath and trust your photographer to capture your family in all their crazy glory. You don’t need to worry about your kids being super well-behaved or perfect listeners, they’re kids, they’re not going to be perfect sweet angels! Your photographer doesn’t expect that and neither should you. Just go with the flow!


HAVE FUN! Truly, genuinely have fun! Go into it telling your kids they just get to play and have fun, and then follow suit yourself. Family photos don’t need to be stressful. Find a photographer who is good with kids and families, who will set the vibe for a fun session and bring out the best in your kiddos 🙂

{All photos by Fiona Margo Photography, who is based out of Bainbridge/Seattle and truly could not recommend enough. She blew us away with the photos she got, the process was painless and fun and our kids — and us parents! — had a blast with her!}


baby, family, motherhood, pregnancy

Are We Done Having Kids?

denfeldspring-112.jpgAre we done having kids? How do you know when you’re done? I’ve had this blog topic on my mind for oh, I don’t know, at least a year. And it seems like even longer than that I have had a pros and cons list running in my head.

Struggling to get two kids in the car for a playdate: con. Can’t handle trying to get another child in a carseat. 

Rocking a drowsy James in my arms before bed: pro. How can I NOT have another? This is too sweet! 

Going on vacation anywhere — on a plane or in a car — huge con. This circus is crazy enough as it is, I don’t think we could handle another. 

The thought of never again feeling a baby kick inside my belly, never nursing again, never giving birth and spending those two magical days in the hospital getting to know a newborn again? PRO — GIVE ME ALL THE BABIES.

I spend a lot of time trying to envision our family in twenty years and try to push all the incredibly hard times of the first year (and second year if I’m honest) out of my head and try to get a clear picture of what I really want. Do I want another baby or am I just nostalgic for what has come and gone? Do I see a bigger family sitting around our thanksgiving table in 20-30 years? What if Elodie and James absolutely hate each other when they grow up and they’re the only siblings they have? What if five years go by, or ten, and I live with regret that we never had a third child. You’ll never regret having a child, but you could regret not having one. I ask myself these questions over and over. And for a long time my answers waffled. Some days I was so sure I could not see us having anymore kids and other days I felt like we had to have another. I know I drove my friends and family totally crazy with my back-and-forth, and honestly I drove myself crazy!!

But James’ second birthday is approaching and I remember when he was an infant thinking that by the time he was two I would know. I’d be out of the sleep deprivation, things would be feeling more manageable and I would have a more definitive sense of what was ahead for our family. And here we are — just weeks away from James turning two and things are easier and more manageable (still hard for sure, but easier than year one and the majority of year two), and I still don’t feel the longing I would expect for a third baby. 

The truth is, after a lot of soul searching and many, many conversations with Corey, it feels like we’ve known our answer all along: Our family is complete. I truly don’t have that feeling that someone is missing from our family. I don’t yearn to be pregnant again and have a newborn again. I mostly just really mourn the loss of my child-bearing experiences. I so wish I could go back some days and relive them, but if I had another baby, I know when that baby is one or two or however old I would be sad again that I’d never experience all the wonderful parts of bringing a baby into this world again. While sleep-deprived life with a newborn is really freakin’ hard (especially when you have other kids to take care of), it is also pure magic. The newborn days with both of our kids are some of my most cherished memories. I will forever long for those days. 

So while we haven’t done anything permanent (yet) to solidify our decision, that day is most likely coming. For now it still makes me feel good to have the door very slightly cracked (like the tiniest sliver, guys), but I have a feeling we’ll be ready to shut it completely in the not-so-distant future. 

So what about you? How many kids do you have? Did you always know you wanted that many? Do you know you’re done? Was it a hard decision? I would especially love to hear from anyone who went back and forth between wanting to add a third and ultimately decided not to. Are you still happy with that decision? 


Bundle of Joy Box

BundleofJoy-24.jpgBecoming a mom was one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever experienced. Okay, it was the most life-changing thing… EVER. It’s one of those things that you can’t explain and no matter how much you read, babysit, are around children, etc etc. It’s just different when you have your own. All of a sudden you’re like “ohhhhhhh, I get it” in a way you just couldn’t before kids. You get how something can literally be the hardest thing you’ve ever done and yet you would never ever trade it in for anything. You get all-the-things that go down with breastfeeding and postpartum care and sleep and no sleep and all the products and all the reviews and oh my gosh your head might explode just thinking of it all!

What also happens is you feel like you’ve joined this super-exclusive club. Being a mother instantly connects you on a deep level to every other mother out there. And when those moms are you friends or your sisters… Oh man, you just want to be there for them and help them and guide them in every single way when they welcome their first bundle of joy and their lives change forever.

Since becoming a mom, what I gift to new moms has become profoundly different. I want to give something incredibly meaningful, but also really useful. Yes, think nipple cream and bottom spray! And while you have the best of intentions, you’re also a mother now, so you don’t have the time to put together this really thoughtful care package you so desperately want to give… Until now.

The Bundle of Joy is one of those genius things that makes you say “why didn’t I think of that!”. It’s a way for people to give meaningful gifts in an easy way. These bundles are carefully curated with the perfect mix of sweet, necessary, meaningful gifts for mom, dad and baby.  It would be an amazing gift to have shipped to a dear friend who lives far away or to bring with you to a baby shower.

Each bundle is fully customized and accompanied by a handwritten note, which is the perfect touch for this beautiful box. I was lucky enough to get to gift one of these bundles to a close friend and I am so excited to share what was inside! If you want to gift a bundle, head to their website and you can easily do so 🙂


Here’s what was in our bundle:

LuluJo swaddle blankets — I’ve sung the praises of swaddle blankets before, you can never have too many!

Mom’s One Line a Day Journal — I have one of these and love that it makes writing down memories way more manageable. Who has time to journal pages and pages when you’re a mother?

Motherlove Diaper Balm and Sitz Bath Spray — This is one of my all-time favorite baby mama/baby brands. I used their More Milk Plus lactation pills when I had low supply issues with Elodie and they worked wonders. These two products were new to me, but give my love for the brand I have no doubt they are amazing!

Hashtag Teether — I love when good design meets necessary object. I mean, could this be teether be any cuter?

I Will Love You Forever and See & Say Book: The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to starting reading to their babies from birth, noting that it helps build language, literacy and social-emotional skills. Books like the See & Say Book including in the Bundle of Joy are perfect for small baby’s eyes that love high-contrast images.

Aiden and Anais Bandana Bib: Elodie was a spitter so she practically lived in bandana bibs when she was a little one. This one is so adorable and will be used a ton for the first couple years!

Dr. Brown’s Pacifier & Bottle Wipes: Admittedly, I got a lot more relaxed with pacificer cleanliness with James, but I loved having these wipes in my diaper bag when Elodie was little! So convenient and gave mama more peace-of-mind that yucky germs weren’t getting into baby’s mouth!

“Many Thanks” Gold Embossed Thank You Cards: This is such a great thing to have included in this box. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to Amazon Prime thank you cards, and those were never nearly as cute as these ones. You can never have too many thank you cards laying around during the infant days where sweet friends are showering you with gifts and help (I hope!).

All of this comes in a sweet and simple sack within a beautifully branded box (hey, after 8 years at Nike I am a sucker for good branding!). There’s never any extra packaging or paper or — excuse me — crap that will end up cluttering your home.

I am so incredibly impressed with this box and it is definitely going to be my go-to baby gift from here on out!



Q&A: Transitioning From Working to Staying Home // Finances + Career


How did you make it work financially to go from a two-income household to a one-income household?

There were tons of questions on finances that were all a bit different, but the gist is just that I think people want to know how we managed to kiss my paycheck goodbye and still survive life. I wonder this same thing some days (haha…)

I think first it’s worth mentioning our financial setup prior to me staying home: All of our finances were combined. I know that’s not the case for everyone and if your finances are currently separate and you’re considering staying home and forgoing your income, things might feel a little harder and/or trickier. Unfortunately I’m not much help with that since that’s not the situation we came from…

Moving on… Finances were definitely the biggest thing holding us back from me staying home. Even pulling both kids out of daycare put us at a pretty large monthly deficit (a blessing and a curse to being successful in your career!). The good news, and simultaneously somewhat shameful news, was that prior to considering me quitting my job we were on no budget whatsoever (face slap). We basically bought what we wanted when we wanted it.  It’s not like we were rich or anything, but we made enough money that we didn’t really have to question everyday purchases like clothes, vacations, dates, etc. We weren’t in any credit card debt, but did have a house payment, car payment and student loan payments that were of utmost importance.

The first thing we did was just to try to make a best guess on where all of our money was going — we tried to list out literally everything, from the big house and car payments to smaller things like buying makeup, shampoo, cleaning supplies, gas, etc etc. I was shocked to find how much money we had going to things we weren’t actually using – like memberships we weren’t utilizing or doubling up on things like iCloud storage and Dropbox storage (but only actually using one of them). We “found” money in all sorts of places when we took a critical eye on our finances. I used to do dumb things like shop online then forget to return things that didn’t fit or I didn’t like. I have boxes of stuff at my house of brand new things that just never went back – so wasteful!! We were frivolous with our money because we didn’t have to be strict with our budget,  and because we felt we didn’t have the time or energy to pay close attention. In hindsight I see how absolutely terrible that is. I am actually so, so grateful we made this decision for me to quit my job because it has taught me so much about money management and I keep a much closer eye on everything.

What this meant exactly was that instead of having the mentality that we could pretty much have anything we wanted, we flipped the switch to think that unless we truly needed it, we weren’t buying it. Need = mortgage, car payments, student loans, diapers, food, clothes for the kids, gas, personal hygiene products, etc — you get the idea. Want = Clothes for us, home decor, vacations, etc. Now, we weren’t totally unrealistic and left room in the budget for things we knew we needed for our own sanity — like date nights and take out food and a very small clothing budget (that I mostly need to save and lump together to get anything worthwhile hah!).

Possibly the trickiest part about this was we were totally going off of our best guesses and were in a situation where we didn’t have much time to make this decision, so we made a leap of faith hoping our estimates were close to right and we could work within this new budget. Our first month on the new budget we had our lowest credit card bill ever — by half. And it honestly didn’t even feel that hard!… The hardest part came months in when it just felt like depriving ourselves of anything extra couldn’t possibly be realistic longterm. My photography has helped supplement our income as well as this blog (a tiny bit), but otherwise we are solely living off only Corey’s income.

One of the hardest decisions to make was coming to terms with the fact that during this period of me staying home we just wouldn’t be saving any significant amount of money — I talk more in the next question about some ways we are investing/saving our money, but it’s definitely not to the extent when we were a two-income household.

Tell me more about the 401k situation:

Right now, we contribute the max to Corey’s 401k with a company match, but aside from that and contributing to college savings for the kids each month, as well as utilizing Corey’s company’s employee stock purchase plan, we aren’t saving any extra money. While this is a tough pill to swallow sometimes, I know there are seasons in life where you can save more and some where you save less. Right now we’re in one where we’re saving less, but also not dipping into the savings we have built up so far, and I’m okay with that.

Do you use a program or app to manage your budget?

Yes, we use the Mint app. It’s not perfect, but it is good enough for us. We set our budget targets right within the app so it pings you if you are going over or close to going over on something, which I really like.

How do you handle buying gifts for each other or if you want to go shopping? 

So as far as shopping, we both have a set shopping budget so that makes it easy. In terms of gifts, we aren’t really a material gift-giving couple, so we actually don’t gift each other things that often — we usually go on trips together or go out to dinner to celebrate occasions. For Father’s Day, though, I did get Corey a few small things and basically just told him not to look at the credit card charges for a week or so before 🙂

Were you 100% on board when you made the decision to stay home?

Much like any big life decision I think 100% is unrealistic haha! I would say I was 80%. Staying home was something I always sort of had in the back of my mind since the moment I went back to work after having Elodie, but not something I actually thought I would ever do. Once we made the decision, I was mostly excited, but also worried about if I’d be able to be home with two kids all day without going nuts. Worried about the money situation and worried about if/how things would change between Corey and me. So I wast mostly on board, but had my hesitations.

Do you ever regret your decision?

Never.  Not once. Truly. Of course I have moments of missing working for various reasons, but I have never thought “Why did I do this, this was a mistake. I regret this decision”. Not even close!

Why didn’t you do it sooner?

With a decision like this I really do believe timing is everything. There’s part of me that sort of regrets not being home when Elodie was a baby (aside from maternity leave), because I see how much more of my attention and love James is getting every day than Elodie did being in daycare from 5 months to almost 3 years. But the truth is, I wasn’t ready to take that leap after I went back to work with just Elodie. It still made a lot of financial sense to have me home and I was still finding my way in terms of what I wanted to prioritize and how we could do it. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and had I gone back to Nike after having James (and not the smaller start up company), I truly believe I would still be there. But something pulled me to this new opportunity, and this new opportunity ended up feeling really incompatible with our lives due to its inflexibility. It sort of forced us to take a harder look at things and make this tough decision. And I’m so glad it did.

I have always been a creative person with skills I thought could work well for a freelance lifestyle, and in my mind I always wondered how our lives would work logistically once our kids were both in school and we were both working corporate 8-5 jobs. It would be hard. And I know a lot of people do it, but I always wondered if I could take the leap and build the foundation so that when our kids are in school I’m working a job that gave me the flexibility to drop the kids off and pick them up and work in-between. I’m clearly not there yet, but this is a step in the right direction, and the fact that I get to be home making these special memories with the kids while I figure out what’s next is so worth it to me.

Do you miss working?

Yes and no. Some days I miss going into the office and chatting with coworkers, working on projects and talking about things other than Elmo and playdoh. I miss “leisurely” lunches (between meetings) and making good money (haha just being honest!), but most days I am so grateful I don’t have to miss the kids all day and squeeze in all our quality time during evenings and weekends, I’m so happy I am not hustling to get them dressed and out the door in the morning and feel so lucky I get to spend my days doing fun things with them. This little piece is so good and explains exactly what I feel knowing both sides of the coin.

How do you feel when people ask you what you do? Meeting someone on a plane, at a party, etc. 

Staying home is still so fresh for me that right now my response is something like “I was at Nike working in e-commerce and digital marketing for 8 years, but recently left my career to stay home with my two kids who are 3 and 1.” — give or take depending on the audience. I 100% feel awkward about answering this question and it will probably take me a really long time before I’m comfortable answering it, and frankly I’ll probably be on to another career or job or lifestyle by the time I get comfortable. It makes me sad that there is shame in my answer, but I just want to be honest that this is something I struggle with. I’m open to any advice anyone has 😉

Are you worried if you ever go back to work you’ll be behind in your field/industry and won’t be relevant?

I have definitely worried about this at times, especially the industry I’m in (digital marketing/e-commerce), it moves really fast and there is probably a lot that can/will change before I’m back in the workforce. BUT that being said, it’s also the reason I do as much as I can to keep up with the industry and stay a part of it through my personal endeavors like blogging and social media. I am also confident that I could pick things up quickly if/when I ever went back.

Do you know if you want to go back to work and if so, what would you want to do? / Will you go back to work when the kids are older?

I honestly have no idea if I will go back to work. I do think about it a lot, mostly because I’m a Type A planner, but so far nothing definitive has been decided. I think it would be really hard for me to go back to a full-time corporate environment. What I really crave is more freedom with my schedule so I can be there for the kids when they need us — I don’t want to feel extreme guilt when someone is sick or has an appointment, I want to be able to drop them off and pick them up from school most days, etc. So I guess in my ideal world I would either work part-time 2-3 days a week in some capacity or be fully freelance whether that be photography, blogging or something else. Only time will tell! (more on this in the last question’s answer!)

I am a part-time working mom, but I struggle with deciding if I want to work more and advance my career or if I should just stay with my part time super easy schedule. I have a daughter about the same age as yours. I feel like I want my daughter to see her mother following her passion, and see an example of an independent working woman, but I know doing so will be at the cost of family time. Do you ever struggle with wanting to model being a working mom for your daughter?

Oh my gosh I could just hug you and yes yes yes yes yes. This was another HUGE reason I questioned if I should stay home with the kids. My mom was a single working mom who owned her own business. She worked her butt off my entire life (and still does) and I know having her as a role model is one of the reasons I am such a hard worker myself, so independent and feel that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. BUT she also couldn’t be around for a lot of my childhood. She never came to my dance performances, had to work weekends and just missed out on a lot. I just don’t think there is a “right” answer on this one – there are going to be tough compromises on both accounts. I think even working part-time your daughter will see a hard working woman who is staying connected to her passion. I don’t think you need to be the best in your field sacrificing tons of time with your family to be that role model. But if you don’t feel fulfilled in the current part-time working situation and your career is super important to you, maybe you do work on advancing it now? From what I hear from more seasoned moms, the time to work is (surprisingly) when your kids are little. Once they’re in school their school schedule isn’t as conducive with work schedules which means before-school and after-school care and their needs aren’t just physical like they (mostly) are now, they are mental and emotional and generally just heavier. So if you are feeling a pull to give career advancement a go – maybe now is the time to do it and then you can reassess again when your kids are in school? Good luck mama, I know this is something we all question and struggle with!

What are your plans/goals/dreams for your blog and photography business? Fun hobby or something you’d like to grow into a work from home gig? 

This is such a great question, and one that has definitely been on my mind a lot lately! I think ultimately I would love to be able to grow my blogging/photography/social media freelance work to something that can be more “full-time” once both the kids are in school, but for now I love having something I can do on the side that is fun for me, fulfills me and also brings in a little (and I mean little 😉 money. I recently took on a freelance blogging gig for a mama + baby brand that is right up my alley and I’m really excited about! But unless I get more childcare help for the kids I am maxed out on time … So we’ll see what happens 🙂

If you got this far and have read both Q&A posts.. Thank you! Thank you for thinking my opinions and experiences are valuable and for asking me so many thought provoking questions! I value this community so much and love the dialogue posts like this open up. I think I got to most every question that was asked, but if you still have a burning one, or would like clarity on something, feel free to comment below or if you feel more comfortable — email me at liz {dot} denfeld {at} gmail {dot} com.


Q&A: Transitioning From Working to Staying Home // Home + Marriage


Are you responsible for all house-related chores or does your husband help out as well? Do you feel guilty if you’re not on top of things around the house?

I am definitely not responsible for all house-related chores. Corey and I are both of the belief that my job is taking care of our kids, aside from that he has zero expectations as to what else gets done while he’s at work. Having said that, I of course try to keep the house tidy and at least have it as clean as it was when he left in the morning and my goal is always to have dinner at least started if not nearly done by the time he gets home, but like I said, that’s all “extra” in both his mind and mine. And honestly, the fact that he doesn’t put the weight of those chores/responsibilities on my shoulders makes me want to do them even more!

I most definitely do more housework than Corey because I’m the one who is home and can do it more easily, and when he gets home from work he takes over the kids while I finish cooking dinner, then clean up the kitchen, etc. But that being said, Corey absolutely helps around the house whenever he can, like on the weekends.

As far as feeling guilty if I’m not on top of things around the house, no, not at all. We have the luxury of knowing what our lives were like when we were both working. We were basically just trying to survive Monday-Friday, doing only the bare minimum around the house then using weekends to catch up on chores, go grocery shopping, etc. Now with me home I have alleviated a huge amount of that work and stress as a lot of things we could only do on the weekends before I can get done during the week (like grocery shopping or doing loads of laundry). I’m not going to sugar coat it – Corey’s working life got a heck of a lot easier when I started staying home, so if he comes home sometimes and things aren’t in order I’m not going to feel bad about it, and neither should you 😉

Do you get any help from grandparents? Cleaning lady? How do you get “stuff” done with kids around? (I ask as a working mom who has a cleaning lady and uses working from home to get things done. Sometimes I wonder if I’d like staying home)

Oh man, such a great question!! When Corey and I were both working, I had visions of how much better it would be if I stayed home because then we could stay on top of laundry, grocery shopping, buying birthday gifts for the 57 kids birthdays we attend a month, mopping the floors, doctors appointment, etc etc. As it was, with both of us at work so much of the day and then doing the dinner/bath/bed hustle in the evening, there really wasn’t much time left for anything at the end of the day. We were hardly ever in the house so we were perpetually behind on chores and too exhausted to run errands or do anything meaningful once the kids were down. Now that I’m home we’re definitely less behind on most of these things, but I’d be lying if I said it was as good as I thought it was going to be.

Watching both kids is a full time job. As I see it in any given day I can: Play with the kids giving them my undivided attention, get them out of the house to socialize and/or learn something, do laundry, vacuum, mop, prep/make dinner, work on my side hustles (blog/photography/etc), the list goes  onnnn and onnn and guess what? There is not enough time in every day for everything.  Period. If Corey comes home to a spotless house and dinner on the stove he knows the kids probably watched more TV than usual. If he comes home and the house is a mess and I’m barely getting started on dinner he knows I was probably out with the kids most of the day at the zoo or the children’s museum or the park. Or I actually worked on my blog or edited photos for a session I have due back to a client.

In terms of help from grandparents/babysitting help: My mom tries to come over once a week for at least a few hours to help me out, but during this time I’m usually taking Elodie to dance class or taking one of the kids to an appointment. It’s a rare occasion that I leave her with both kids. My MIL is also local and has two days a week off, so if I have another engagement I definitely lean on her for help sometimes too! And even with that help I still fall behind on a lot 🙂

Are you worried if you ever go back to work you’ll still feel responsible for all your SAHM responsibilities? 

Hmmm I guess I’ve never thought about it, which probably means no? Corey and I have always just had a really great “team” mentality between us. We try really hard not to keep score and realize that we’re both working hard for the same goal – our family and our beautiful life. Yeah, I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true! I know that if and when this current situation changes we’ll learn to readjust and figure out our new normal and the new balance of responsibilities.

Does Corey travel for work and how do you manage several days alone with the kids if so?

Right now, no, Corey hardly travels for work. In fact, he hasn’t been on one work trip since I started staying home. I’ve been really lucky. We have talked about this a lot though, because I know this won’t be the situation forever, and we know that we’ll probably have to lean on family and maybe even hired help if/when he travels in the future. Obviously the hope is if he were in a job that required a ton of travel that he would be getting paid enough that we could afford to pay for help. If not, that job just wouldn’t be worth it to us (in my opinion). Being brutally honest, if I had a husband that had to travel for work a lot I would not be a SAHM. I just know myself and I couldn’t do it, I would not be happy and I would be way too bitter and exhausted.

How has the dynamic in your marriage shifted (if at all) or how do you work together differently now?

This is something that was at the top of my list of worries or reasons I might not want to make the leap to SAHM. I am so prideful of my career and just being a strong woman in general, and if I’m being brutally honest I think before staying home I did subconsciously  think SAHMs just kind of bowed down to their husbands … And I wondered what our dynamic would be like if/when I did leave my job. While it has definitely taken some adjustment, I see now my worries were all for not. Corey respects me, still comes homes and talks work with me because he values my insight and my career experience. He truly doesn’t treat me any differently and I can tell he doesn’t think of me differently, either. I think maybe this has a lot to do with the fact that he has seen both sides – me as a working mom and me as a stay-at-home mom and I think he respects and values both of those people in different ways for different reasons. It also is easier for him to be a heck of a lot more grateful for everything I do as a SAHM because he knows darn well what his life looked like when we were both working. My suspicion is maybe if you go straight into staying home there’s the possibility your husband could completely miss how much you are actually holding the household and the family together by staying home — and truly understanding what a big sacrifice it is for the family that you are home. We just don’t have those issues because Corey knows how valuable my job at home is!

As far as how we work together differently… It feels like the needs for each of us is just more clear now. When we were both working all the responsibilities meshed toghether — when we got home from work the same things needed to be done: dinner cooked, kids bathed, kids put to bed, house cleaned/tidied, but we both had been missing the kids all day so we both wanted the task that involved more time with them and we were both equally exhausted after work to clean, etc.

Fast forward to now … It’s just really obvious when Corey walks in the door I need a break from the kids (just being honest!) and he is so happy to take them off my hands and play with them while I finish cooking dinner. We don’t bathe the kids every night, but the nights that we do I am almost always sticking behind downstairs to clean up after dinner while Corey is giving the kids baths (tonight he actually gave James a bath and I helped Elodie with a shower) and then he always puts James down (since I did it for 13 months while nursing and he truly wants to!) and it is totally all over the place who puts Elodie down (she usually likes to choose). So the way we work together hasn’t necessarily changed. The weekends are pretty much exactly the same as they always were — we split everything from parenting responsibilities to household chores 50/50 (or as close to that as we can).

One thing about Corey that really makes a big impact on me is he never ever expects to walk in the door to a clean house and dinner on the stove and happy kids. He is truly in awe of me being home with the kids all day and staying sane (and more than that, feeling happy). The fact that I can feel that genuine respect and admiration from him goes a REALLY REALLY long way. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t have times I felt inadequate next to my working mom friends or when we run into a colleague of Corey’s and his wife and they ask me what I do and I “just stay home” and the colleague’s wife is some powerhouse career woman. But there are two sides to every coin and I’ve seen the working mom side and I know it’s advantages and disadvantages. I’m just feeling grateful we were able to make this work so I could give being home a try.

How do you make time for yourself to work out or meet with friends, etc?

Wellllll I haven’t exactly made working out a priority the last few years, but lately I’ve been doing research for places that have child care so I can get a work out in while I’m home with the kids. That would probably be the only way I could fit it in right now because I am not a morning person so that kills the plan for a morning workout and I am wayyyyy too tired once the kids are in bed and we are doing dinner right when Corey gets home from work, so yeah.

As far as going out with friends, I am a bit of a social butterfly, so I just make plans with my girlfriends for after James goes down since he’s going to bed at 6:30 and Corey covers getting Elodie down for bed so I can go out! I probably do this 2-4 times a month and Corey is really great and encourages me to do it – he knows it makes me a happier wife and mom and it’s no skin off his back since he wants the extra quality time with the kids anyway!

I’d be interested to hear about how you’ve adjusted socially! I’m so overly dependent on work friendships that I’m anxious I’m going to struggle if/when I leave. 

I have to admit I worried about this too because the vast majority of my friends are working moms, and more importantly, friends I made while working at Nike for eight years! Would things be different? Would they lose respect for me? Would they just forget I existed? I see now all those fears were for not. I still get invited to baby showers and happy hours and I still keep in touch and see my old coworkers, with and without our kids. If they are truly your friends, you will stay friends!

lifestyle, motherhood

9 Diaper Bag Backpacks for the Modern Mama


one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine

One thing that saves my sanity on my daily adventures with Elodie and James is my diaper bag backpack. I had a Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag I absolutely loved before James came along, but after he was born I realized a backpack would be so much more comfortable and easier to carry around. Any opportunity to keep my hands free, especially with two kids, is a huge win. Carrying around a backpack has proven to be so easy, I now wonder why I ever carried anything but a backpack! I’ve rounded up nine amazing diaper bag backpacks, including the one I carry around daily, which is less than $50!

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{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}



10 Tips for Surviving the Fourth Trimester

WilliamDay3 (5 of 20)My little sister gave birth to her first baby last week (!!!) and it is taking me back to those magical, hard, painful, beautiful first weeks and months of parenthood. Giving birth to your first baby is such an indescribable experience. It is most certainly full of heart-bursting moments and happy tears, but it’s also really, really hard. Parenthood is a whole new world — feeding, (not) sleep, swaddling, burping, soothing … it’s new territory and it can be tough to navigate. A couple years ago I wrote a guest post on my friend Lydia’s blog with my personal tips for surviving the fourth trimester and I thought now would be the perfect time to re-share it as my sister embarks on this journey of motherhood.

I’d love to hear if you agree with any of these tips and if you have any of your own to add to the list!

  1. It’s true what they say – you won’t be sleeping much those first few weeks. My advice is to forget the concept of “morning” and “night”. Just think of time as continuous, and then you won’t be as depressed when you’re going to bed (aka taking a 3 hour nap) at 7PM and up nursing at 3AM (instead of getting home from the bars…). This too shall pass.
  2. Shower and “get ready” every day (okay, most days). This will make you feel human and a whole lot happier.
  3. Take it easy for the first few weeks. There’s a lot of pressure for new mothers to be up and at ‘em not long after giving birth. Don’t give in to those pressures! Seriously. Lay in bed, cuddle your baby, RELAX. There will be plenty of time for getting out and about after the first month. Let people dote on you, bring you food, clean your house…
  4. Speaking of food. Don’t let anyone in your house without bringing a meal with them. Seriously.
  5. Before baby is born, go out to Trader Joe’s or New Seasons and stock up on your favorite snacks. Anything you can eat with one hand that isn’t just total junk. You’ll be so glad to have these healthy snacks around once dad goes back to work and you’re doing everything one-handed.
  6. Okay, this tip is going to sound a bit extravagant, but for me it was vital to my survival. Invest in a good coffee machine. For us, it was the Nespresso Vertuoline. Being able to whip myself up a latte whenever I wanted was not only necessary, but felt indulgent, too. I looked forward to it every morning (noon, and night…).
  7. Let your partner help. This wasn’t a big issue for me, but maybe it’s because I heard this piece of advice several times before Elodie was born. Let them change diapers, burp the baby, rock them to sleep, bathe them… The list goes on. It’s tough for some moms to let go and let their significant others do it their way, but your sanity depends on it. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all!
  8. Be kind to yourself. Of course I knew I wouldn’t be back in my pre-pregnancy jeans a week after E was born, but I will say that it was a lot harder for me to accept my post-partum body than I thought it would be. Things are squishy for a while, and it takes a bit for everything to move back into its place. Your clothes will fit different and that can make you feel weird (and maybe a little desperate). Just be patient and forgiving with yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight, but things will go back to normal!
  9. You really don’t realize just how fast an hour or two goes by until you have a newborn baby and they’re eating that often. You can easily come to the end of a day and feel like you’ve done nothing but feed your baby! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it was really important to find time at least once a day to do something for myself – take a bath, sit in a quiet room alone and read a few pages of a book or magazine, shop online, eat a cookie, whatever.
  10. Forget all the “rules” — the first three months (also known as the 4th Trimester) are all about survival mode. Hold your baby for every nap if you need (or want!) to, nurse him or her to sleep, give them a pacifier day one (or day two, like us). As a first time parent you are bombarded with advice and rules and you’re constantly questioning if you’re doing everything “right”. I’m here to tell you there is no right way to parent. Every baby is different, every situation is different. Trust your instincts (they will be there – you will hear them loud and clear) and don’t worry about anyone or anything else.

Most of all, just try to enjoy the tough but magical first weeks with your little one. I thought people were totally nuts when they looked at my two-week-old and said they missed the sleepless nights and newborn cries. Now I get it. It really is such a short period of time that passes quickly. Before you know it your little one will be eight months old, crawling all over the place, laughing and smiling! Life will be different, but it will be so very sweet.

If you missed it, check out my must-have baby items here!

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