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mom life

Family

How I’m Finding Mom Balance in a Crazy Season

October 11, 2018

The last couple months have been really crazy for our family. I try not to allow our schedule to get too packed during the weeks and weekends – particularly trying to avoid back-to-back weekends when we are away from the kids or traveling for work, or any number of things. And yet somehow our fall ended up much more chaotic than I had hoped or planned.

It started with me traveling to Nantucket for work for five days, followed by a weekend trip up to Minneapolis for myself and Joe, my birthday weekend, and another trip up north for a wedding. Add in Joe’s busy schedule with work and football coaching, the beginning of my busy season with Beautycounter (holiday collections and events!), Ainsley starting preschool and dance, Collins starting music class and trying to have any semblance of a social life. Well, you get the idea. It’s been busy. And I don’t, in any way, like to glorify the pursuit of busy. Because I think our culture’s obsession with being busy is gross. But somehow we’ve found ourselves in a little bit of an unusually fast-paced schedule as we’ve navigated these new roles, responsibilities, and activities.

During the first 2 years I was with Beautycounter and running my freelance business, I didn’t have many reasons to travel outside of the home. My work could nearly all be done from the computer and comfort of my home office or kitchen. But as my team and business has grown, and other opportunities have come my way through blogging and freelancing, I’ve found there are more and more occasions calling me outside of the home and on the road.

I shared about the tension of work and mom life briefly on Instagram stories the other day, and so many of you expressed that you had similar feelings of push and pull, of loving your babies more than life itself and yet feeling called to embrace and pursue opportunities outside of the home, too. I’m SO thankful that my work is so flexible and allows me to be around for preschool drop-off and pick-up most days and putting dinner on the table at 5:30 most evenings for my crew, but I’m also stepping into different roles. The opportunities that sometimes mean I’m not at preschool drop-off and that take-out pizza is the most viable dinner option. Sometimes it means dad puts the girls to bed while I work or travel occasionally.

While I’m certainly still learning the balance for our family and figuring out how to make it all work, there are a few things that I’ve found which seem to ease the crazy seasons and travel for everyone in our family. Here’s what we’re finding works for our family:

  1. Make the Plan Clear
    Since Ainsley was really little she has always felt more secure knowing what the plan is for our day or days to come. We frequently talk about “the plan” for our days together, and it’s especially important when I’m going to be away for any period of time longer than usual. She always does SO well while I’m gone, but I want to make sure that I do my part to make my travels easier on her.

    We talk about who will drop her off and pick her up from preschool, who will be with her at night (dad!) and who will take care of her during the day. Joe usually tells Ainsley how many sleeps it will be until mommy gets back which also seems to help her get a feel for the length of a trip and when she can anticipate mom being gone.

  2. Anticipate Challenges
    It’s always hard for me to leave my crew! Although I’ve found it’s gotten a little easier with more practice and reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. That said, it’s inevitable that there will be challenges, such as lots of tears from Ainsley or that feeling of guilt when I leave or ask Joe to take vacation time for me to be gone. I’m not the type of person who likes to burden others with my needs or ask for special schedules or allowances, so it’s hard for me when I have to do any of those things. But I’m thankful for those around me that push and encourage me when they know how hard it is for me to leave.
  3. Be Intentional
    This is something that I’ve been working on doing a better job of even when I’m not traveling. I’ve realized that it’s so easy to be “with” your kids without really being present, meaning that I’ve found plenty of times when I’m physically around my kids but mentally absent – thinking about my to-do list or checking my phone or just up in my own head. So especially when I have a crazy week or limited time with the girls, I’ve been laser focused on spending time with them in a very intentional and focused way. More play time together, a few extra books at bed, really looking at them and listening to what they are saying, doing less multi-tasking. It helps me to really focus on deep connection when I’m with them and not feel guilty when I’m away or even just off at a coffee shop to work.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few of the big things that come to mind. Of course, I should also add that PLANNING and COMMUNICATING as a family and as a couple is crucial. I’m not necessarily the most organized individual (ha!) but it’s an area I’m working on improving upon out of necessity.

That means very clearly noting who will have the kids when, putting out clothing for school and what Ainsley will bring to show-and-tell while I’m away, and making sure the house is stocked with easy meals, snacks, prepped lunches, etc. While Joe is an exceptionally (emphasis added) capable parent and navigates my absence with such grace, I try my best to make my leave as smooth as possible by being prepared and helping the day-to-day to run well while I’m gone.

Madison

Family

I’m Thankful for the Hard Weeks

March 21, 2017

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Last week Monday Joe and I had just returned from our trip out to California and I was looking forward to digging into a new week. Fresh off our trip, I had so many good ideas I planned to translate into work and great food finds I wanted to blog about. In my new schedule Mondays are always my at-home days with Ainsley. We go to music class, grab coffee, and do things like run errands, laundry, etc. But Monday morning it became very clear to me that what I thought was a toddler who missed momma was quickly becoming a toddler that was getting really sick really fast.

A day full of cuddles and Curious George gave way to a high fever, irritability and very restless sleep for six days and nights. Of course, we didn’t know that it would last so long at the time, so one day at home with Ainsley for me turned into an entire week, canceled weekend plans and a very tired, emotional and behind on work momma come Saturday. Was it the hardest of the hard? Absolutely not. Was it a really challenging and difficult week? Yes, indeed!

While I’m not eager to have a repeat of last week any time soon, as I found myself reflecting on the week we just had I realized how hard days, weeks and even months give way to such a season of gratitude in my heart. I can, like most people, become easily dissatisfied with the here and how. Sometimes I find myself trudging through a workout or not wanting to do that email follow-up that’s been on my to-do list for a number of days. Or maybe it’s the freelance bookkeeping – admittedly my least favorite part about my job – that I need to reconcile at the end of the month. Sometimes I bring a really crappy attitude to it all when I lose perspective of the gift of work and motherhood and finding a balance between the two.

But this week, with last week still very clear in my mind, I found myself SO eager, thankful and excited to do all the tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Suddenly doing laundry, making toddler lunch, cleaning up subsequent toddler mess, working through emails and making the bed had an added layer of sparkle. Heck, I was just glad we weren’t watching the same 10 episodes of Curious George over and over! But most of all I was very thankful to have my bright, expressive and even strong-willed toddler back. Seeing her listless and sick for days on end without her usual spark was so incredibly sad; even though I don’t relish the meltdowns and battles of the will that come with this age, I found myself thankful that she was feeling good enough to show off that spunk.

For me, I think one of the best and most difficult parts about motherhood has been that it teaches reliance on God by stripping you of the things you think you need the most. Basic needs like sleep become a rarity and personal space, which for an introvert like me is crucial, can be stripped in an instant. And while it’s important to find rest in the margins of motherhood, God’s grace and sufficiency becomes clear when we don’t have the things we “need” to lean on. (Side note: God’s grace is also very evident in the form of moms who come and spend the weekend with you, organizing your house and doing your laundry…)

I have a feeling that in eight weeks or so, with baby girl is here, I’ll be coming back to read this post and preach to myself as I learn to navigate life with two little ones. 🙂

Madison

Family

Mommy Martyr

January 26, 2016

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Yesterday was not a particularly shining day for me. I woke up feeling flat-out sorry for myself for a handful of reasons that now seem too petty and foolish to list. Most of the time Mondays as work days for me, but I had rescheduled our childcare for the week so we could take Ainsley to a doctor’s appointment in a city about an hour and a half away. My mom was planning on coming along so we could make a full girl’s day of it – shopping, Costco, Starbucks, but when the weather turned nasty that direction we decided to stay put and reschedule our appointment.

I was bummed. What was going to be a fun day out of our routine turned into a day at home with Ainsley in the middle of our construction zone with a bunch of mundane tasks on my to-do list. At breakfast Joe told me it would be a good idea to reschedule appliance delivery until another issue in the house was resolved. I snapped at him and told him how I had to have all the hard conversations and he got to “boss me around” (yes, I really said that!) Before he left for work, I told him to go to the gym after work, secretly thinking what a nice wife I was because I was encouraging one of his favorite activities. Meanwhile, I spent my day running errands, grocery shopping, trying to track down a specific brand of wine for a blog project I’m working on, and having conversations about our renovation.

When Ainsley when down for her (short!) afternoon nap, I did the “mommy hustle” and ran downstairs to put on workout clothes, get my 30 minute workout in, shower and be ready for inevitable wake-up 50 minutes after she went down. I felt rushed, per usual, and when she insisted on being held the last 2 hours of the day, more than a little frazzled.

Before Ainsley was born I dreamed about this type of schedule. Where I worked part-time in a creative job I enjoyed and got to invest time and energy into blogging part-time as well. When Ainsley came along it was so hard to be away from her 40+ hours a week and I longed to spend more time with her, something a part-time schedule allowed. But yesterday? Well, it got the best of me.

By the time Joe got home, I was in full-blown mommy martyr mode.

I had to spend the whole day with Ainsley, meeting her needs and cleaning up endless dirty diapers and preventing her from eating construction material. Poor me!

My workout was rushed. It didn’t consist of getting away to the actual gym but instead involved a workout video, free weights and a yoga mat in my messy basement. Poor me!

I had to have tough and/or uncomfortable conversations surrounding our house remodel. Confrontation is not my style. Poor me! 

The last two hours of the day Ainsley needed to be held, meaning I got dinner on the table while holding a fussy baby. My arm feels like it is about to fall off and there is a pile of dirty dishes in the utility sink waiting to be washed. Poor me! 

The list goes on and on. I was stuck in a pity party rut that ended with me blowing up at Joe for not being helpful enough. And then this morning, while doing my devotional and drinking a hot cup of coffee before everyone else woke up, I flipped the conversation and thought about things through Joe’s eyes:

He worked all day and spent precious time away from me and Ainsley while we spent time together. He works a full-time corporate job because he loves the structure, yes, but also because it allows for me to work my flexible job. When I couldn’t find the right wine at our local grocery stores he willingly ran after work to pick them up for me near his work. I got to workout during the middle of the day while Joe had to spend more time away from us to get his workout in later. After his workout, he ran to my mom’s house to pick up a few items for me for our home decor. He woke up early to let our dog out and let her out last thing in the evening, too.

When I flipped the conversation a bit, I realized that the story I was telling myself was SO one-sided. I was playing the mommy martyr game really, really well while Joe was quietly going about doing task after task without complaint. Have you ever had a day(s) that turned out like that? It was a light-bulb moment for me. Not to say that I’ll never act this way again, but taking just a few minutes to think about the other side of the equation put my own thoughts into proper perspective. Now that I’ve had some time for reflection, devotion and quiet time, it’s amazing how my heart becomes softened toward my husband and less focused on me, me, me!

For me, I’m realizing more and more that the key to a good day starts with getting up before the rest of the house. Mornings have always been my favorite time of day, and having a solid hour to sit, drink my coffee and eat breakfast, get in God’s word and then attack a few pressing tasks sets my day on a completely different trajectory than if I wake up when Joe gets up, just 30 minutes before Ainsley’s 7 am wake up time.

Today, I’m starting my day thankful. Thankful for forgiveness and fresh starts and the blessings that abound in my little corner of the world. And when you start your day thankful rather than in pity? Well, it changes your whole day.

Madison

Fashion

Stripes and Sunshine

September 14, 2015

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Dress_1I sort of wrote off Old Navy years ago because I had bad experiences with the quality and fit of their clothes. Everything felt a little, well, cheap. But lately you guys? Old Navy is giving me plenty of reasons to re-consider. I mentioned a while back that I was having a little bit of a style crisis now that I’m a mom. My new work-from-home schedule means I don’t have to be quite as dressed up each day, but I’ve found that putting myself together each day helps with productivity and puts my mind in the work mentality.

For me a great dress needs to hold it’s structure and wear well (even multiple times before washing) without bagging or looking sloppy. It also needs to be made of a material that’s thick enough to be flattering but stretch and give a little to work for mom life, running errands and sitting comfortably at a desk. This dress has it all. It’s incredibly affordable (it’s $18 right now!) and comes in a bunch of colors. I purchased this striped version and then went back and purchased it in black and grey as well because I love it so much! Plus, with the longer sleeves, I can see myself wearing it well into fall with tights and boots.

Dress: Old Navy || Bag: Valentina from TJ Maxx a couple years ago ||
Sandals: Nordstrom Rack (covered in paint from home renovation!)