Deep Thoughts on Stay-at-Home-Motherhood

I’m coming up on six months since I quit my job to stay home with Elodie and James. Like so many important life moments, it feels both longer and shorter than that. I’ve done so much thinking and soul-searching these last six months trying to figure out how I really feel about this new title — Stay-At-Home-Mom. There are some days I love it. I wear it with pride. And then there are days I can’t shake the feeling of shame and disappointment. There have been more times than I care to admit that when someone asks what I “do” — I bashfully say “I’m just home with the kids”.

I’m going to tell you something I’ve never actually said out loud, and it’s a hard truth to admit to. When I was a working mom there was a small part of me that judged stay-at-home-moms. While I preached, and still do preach, that everyone is just doing the best they can for their families, and that looks different for everyone, I’d secretly say to myself, “But I could never stay at home. I don’t know how they do that. I couldn’t sacrifice my career, my time, my money, to be home.” There was this tiny sliver that sort of looked down on SAHMs. Like I was a little better because I had a career. I was going to work. I was doing something. I know these thoughts were a defense mechanism. I felt huge guilt leaving my children 8+ hours a day to go to work. But I also felt really proud of my career, of my worth-ethic, of my paycheck. I simultaneously loved and hated dropping my kids off at daycare, because I hated saying goodbye to them, but I also loved having some time for myself — to do something I was good at and earn a living.

I wish I could say that six months at home has resolved these conflicting feelings, but if I’m honest, it’s only amplified them. I see things from the “other” side. I secretly always knew staying home would be hard… But it’s so much harder than I could’ve imagined. It’s physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I feel an immense amount of pressure to be present, to make healthy meals, to keep the house clean, to keep the kids socialized, to teach the kids about everything from numbers, colors and letters to empathy, kindness and hard work.

When Corey and I both worked full-time outside of the home it truly felt like we were barely making it through each day. We weren’t enjoying life and parenthood Monday through Friday, we were just trying to survive it. I so badly wanted me staying home to fix that feeling. And while yes, having me home has alleviated much of the burden that fell on our shoulders as two working parents, most of that burden has just shifted from both of us to me. Now I’m the one who is home all day and can keep up on the laundry and the rest of the cleaning. I’m the one who’s home during rush hour so I’m the logical person to get dinner started, I’m the one who’s always available to take kids to doctors appointments, or be home for a repair man when our dryer breaks or our internet isn’t working. Corey has no expectations of me — he doesn’t walk in the door and expect happy kids, a clean house and dinner to be made, but I expect that of myself. And if he walks in and we have crying children, a messy house and no idea what’s for dinner, we’re just in the exact same spot we’d be at every night when we were both working.

It has taken time to work through our new normal. My morning routine honestly helps me so much, but there are still times I feel twinges of resentment that Corey’s life has seemingly gotten so much easier while mine feels a lot harder. But then I remember that I got to be home with our kids all day. I got to see James take his first steps, I got to read them books, take them to the park, bake cookies together, have dance parties, I got to be there to kiss there owies and snuggle them while we watched a movie. It doesn’t feel like all rainbows and sunshine on a day-to-day basis, but the exhaustion I feel at the end of the day is rewarding in a way being in the office never could be.

I know I’ll continue to ponder both working-mom-life and stay-at-home-mom-life. There will always be pros and cons for each. I imagine I’ll go back-and-forth between the two many times for many different reasons. For now I’m just grateful I’m getting the chance to see it all from another perspective, to really live it. And now more than ever I really do believe there is no perfect way, no better way — working, staying home, working from home, it’s all so freakin’ hard. And I have so much respect for every single mother out there, no matter what they do or where they do it.

 

Nine Books You & Your Toddler Will Both Love

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 1.51.32 PM.pngI have a confession. I hide my daughter’s books. Not all of them, of course… Just the ones I find annoying, way too long or just plain strange. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this? It’s getting a little harder now that she’s three and she has a crazy good memory, but I’ll still try the ‘ol hide the book trick if I really have to. So from one parent to another, here’s a list of some legitimately awesome books you and your toddler will both love equally.

One: Gaston // It’s no surprise I love this book, since we have a Frenchie/Boston mix ourselves. But this has become one of Elodie’s favorites. The illustrations are so cute I want to frame them and the story is so sweet!

Two & Three: Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere Engineer // I’m grouping these two books together because they are by the same author/illustrator and both share the same concept —  these books are …”the perfect tool to remind both young girls and women that they have the intelligence and perseverance to achieve their dreams.” Does it get much better than that? Love the message, love the stories and love the illustrations — win all around in our book (pun intended hehe)

Four: Knuffle Bunny // This book was gifted to me before Elodie was born by a very dear friend who lives in the Netherlands. Knuffel means hug in dutch, so she couldn’t resist this book and I’m so glad she gave it to us. It’s an adorable story of a dad and his daughter who go run and errand when the baby’s adored bunny gets left behind. Elodie now loves asking Corey if he’ll take her on an errand – adorbs!

Five: Mix It Up // I don’t know how we went so long without an Herve Tullet book in our house, but this was gifted to us by Corey’s aunt (who happens to be a talented calligrapher) and I was obsessed from the very first time we “read” it. This is a really fun interactive and creative book that teaches kids about colors and mixing colors. Elodie now sits and reads this one to herself all the time. I love that it’s educational while being fun! Now I’m on a mission to get a few more Tullet books in this house!

Six: Little Kids First Big Book of Animals // Elodie is a huge animal lover (birds included), so I wanted to find her a book that was appropriate for her age and could teach her more  about some of her favorite animals and also learn about some new ones. This book delivers on both accounts! She loves learning about lions, zebras, giraffes, penguins and polar bears and has been known to recite some of her favorite facts to Corey and me (did you know there are 17 species of penguins and zebras sleep standing up?).

Seven: The Bear and the Piano // Most of our favorite books have been gifted to us. I think this means I’m pretty lousy at picking good ones myself! I just think this is a really cute story about a bear who learns to play the piano and gets “discovered”, makes it to the big city and then returns to his friends in the forest. The illustrations are also beautiful, which is such a bonus!

Eight: The Night Gardener // I think Amazon does a better job of explaining this story and why I love it than I ever could… “In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan.” This is a beautiful book that lights up the imagination, an easy favorite for both Elodie and me.

Nine: Last Stop on Market Street // This is a new book in our rotation and I truly couldn’t love it more. Elodie is really starting to notice the world and people around her and this book has helped introduce the concepts of volunteering, thankfulness, urban life and more. It’s a story about a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother who take a bus ride after church to volunteer at a soup kitchen. It’s about the sights and sounds they experience on their journey. Such a wonderful book with lasting lessons to take away from it.

We are always on the hunt for new books around our house — what are a few of your favorites?

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

The Morning Routine That Saves My Sanity

Rangeley-5There’s no pretty way to put it, I’m just not a morning person. I find myself walking around all day saying “I’m sooooo tiredddd” and then come evening time, I have a ton of energy and could stay up until 1AM. Unfortunately, that schedule doesn’t work well with young kids… Especially a certain one-year-old who has been known to wake up at 5AM.

On top of the fact that mornings aren’t really my jam, I’m also an introverted extrovert, which basically means that I recharge alone. When you stay home with two kids three and under (who are on opposite nap schedules), alone time is hard to come by, but I’ve found a morning routine that helps set me up for a great day and has me feeling ready to take on the responsibilities of stay-at-home-momhood.

So here’s how our morning goes. James is always the first one up — he gets up between 5:30 and 6:30. Corey gets up early, showers and gets mostly ready for the day before James is awake. He always unloads the dishwasher, takes out the trash and starts a pot of coffee. Around 6:30, he comes and wakes me up with a hot cup of coffee in hand. I know, he is a good, good man. He knows coffee is my love language 😉

From 6:30 – 7:30 I have my quiet time. My intention is always to use this time to get ready for the day, so after taking 5-10 minutes to drag myself out of bed I’ll usually take my cup of coffee into our bathroom, turn on a podcast and do my makeup.

This invigorates me for so many reasons. For one, I’m alone, which is how I recharge. Two, I listen to podcasts that either teach me something (This American Life / TED Radio Hour), inspire me (How I Built This), make me feel like I’m not alone in the trenches of motherhood (Coffee + Crumbs and The Longest Shortest Time) and make me think and feel (Dear Sugar).  I go into the day having spent at least a small amount of time feeding my brain with something other than toddler talk and baby care. I also love having this time because as soon as I have my makeup on I feel more awake and ready for whatever our day’s activity might be. And if I don’t get ready during this time, it’s inevitably harder for me to get us all out of the house for the day because somehow I need to get myself ready along with two stubborn kids (love them! ha!).

The best part of this whole routine is that it’s really a win-win for the whole family. When we were both working

the mornings were the worst. We were always scrambling to get the whole family out the door on time to jobs and daycare. It was stressful for everyone. Now Corey has an hour of true quality time with the kids, which he absolutely loves, and they obviously love it too! Our evenings are still a bit of a hustle with dinnertime and bedtime, but the mornings are slow and wonderful for all of us.

I know this routine definitely can’t work for everyone — I’m really lucky Corey works a pretty standard 8-5 schedule most days and doesn’t travel much. It took some time for me to figure out this was what I needed, but once I realized it I was really upfront and honest with Corey about what I needed to be set up for a good day at home. I think a lot of times it’s easy to think your partner can read your mind or will know what you need to make you happy, but I always find it’s best to over-communicate and be really explicit with your needs. He’s been so great about giving me this space in the morning and it has made a world of a difference in how I approach the day!

What’s your morning routine? Do you love it? Does it need a change? I’d love to hear!