A few weeks ago I packed up Harper and drove to Valley Forge Park to meet up with the beautiful ladies of Free People Philadelphia for a frolick in the park. I should say this is by far to the most self-indulgent and enjoyable part of my job!
For this trip out we had Ashley Jensen, guys she’s amazing check her out here, to photograph and transform this Sunday outing into pure magic! Getting to play dress-up with everything Spring from Free People was a blast, especially when an adorable little nugget can sneak in for a pic or two! Some days this mama needs to get pretty and frolick through a field, then end the day with pounds of queso.
Today I woke up and felt heavy, full of doubt in the life decisions I was making, fear in starting a new chapter with our family and confusion in how did I end up here?! Talking Heads anyone, “how did I get here?”
Okay so I know I am not the first working mother to wake up one day and feel completely defeated, but I also know how difficult it can be to talk about. Heck, it’s even difficult without kids. Adult life, it’s tough. It’s how we handle it that can help you avoid being completely devoured by these feelings of anxiety. Funny story, it’s actually becoming a mother that has helped me find a new perspective, and really a new way to conquer these feelings.
I wish I could give a step-by-step solution but I have devised a way to take a step back and try to survive these feelings.
// breathe //
Have you ever noticed that when you get really overwhelmed your whole body can freeze, and your mind goes at such a speed you forget to breathe. You forget to do something your body normally does without thinking!
This morning when I opened my eyes I immediately felt the heaviness of my thoughts of self-doubt “what am I doing? Can I really do this?” This first thing I did was sit up, close my eyes, breathe in slowly through my nose feeling the air fill every millimeter of lungs, then opened my eyes and slowly exhaled.
My doubts were still there but my mind had calmed and I could start the day thinking clearly.
// change //
I don’t mean change your hair color and good things will come professionally, I mean looking at what your problem you have really is and ask yourself “what can I change today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year?”
Great example, I remember talking to husband about feeling frustrated professionally because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled creatively at work. Instead of sitting down and finding a solution I let myself feel less than, like something was lacking. Then my husband said “you need a hobby, something to make you fill that void.”
So then this blog started, I started an Instagram account, and I started working towards a professional goal; to open my own store. I always talked about wanting it, but wasn’t changing my direction towards it. It’s still very far away, but I am hoping in the next month or so to have an Etsy store started to begin testing out my concept…and guess what guys it has me very excited.
Scared, but excited!
// let go //
The past is in the past, the future is in the future, but today is the only thing that is happening. Having to learn to let go of mistakes I have made, regrets I might have and just be present each day.
Some days you aren’t going to get something done, instead your daughter will want nothing more than to draw, and throw toys and want to sit in your lap. And guys…that’s okay!
Do you remember all the laundry your mom didn’t do, the dinners that weren’t crafted or the parenting books that weren’t read? NO! You remember the times your mom, or parent, was there. I want Harper to understand that everything has its time and place, but I want her to remember all the fun and laughs!
// list it //
Baby, when all else fails, make a list. I keep a notebook with me at all times for this purpose. Feeling overwhelmed? Write down what you have to do, and start attacking that list one by one. With every check you will feel lighter and lighter. Ever notice how you can spend more time worrying about what you need to do then actually doing it? It’s amazing what your mind can trick you into wasting time on!
// relax and connect //
Life shouldn’t be so serious, and sometimes we need to sit down with the ones we love and just focus on spending time with each other. It’s a way to realize you have support, get advice, laugh your troubles away and feel like you aren’t alone.
This has been the hardest part for me because I don’t have the same support system that I have had in other cities I have lived in. My husband has to be so much to me, and he does his best, but I know we are working towards getting this part in a better spot.
Stress will always be there, and I know I will feel swallowed by it many times, but I will cope with it. I will not let it weigh me down or keep me from my goals! PHEW! Feeling better already!
Because this week I am letting her art tell her story. This past week this girl’s love of coloring has only grown more intense. Every morning, the first thing she does is go to her cabinet and pull down her spiral-bound sketchbook and ask to draw. She is not scared to ask for help and encourages me and my husband to draw with her, makes requests and will spend hours pouring all her emotions and concentration into her work.
I love that she has this passion, and that it only is getting stronger. As an art school grad, don’t judge my Elmo, I hope to raise Harper to be a creative thinker. It’s things like this that make me feel like I am doing something right.
// favorite activity //
aside from coloring this girl wants nothing more than to dance, well really be carried around while YOU dance. It’s a great cardio, and I must admit I love it too! // least favorite activity //
hugs that she does not initiate, nothing will piss this girl off more. I was very lucky to have a sweet moment captured while at a photoshoot for work. I had walked away to have my picture taken and Harper had a stage 5 melt-down, I am talking snot covered face people. My friend brought her up and she clung to me, settled her breathing and sighed “mommy.” My heart melted and I am so lucky to have a momento of this sweet mommy moment.
In about two weeks I will get to experience my true second Mother’s Day, and I am not-so-secretly excited. Not only do I get a FULL family day, very much a rarity, but there will definitely be a brunch in there. Let’s all agree being a mom is probably the greatest gift, but there are a few things that if they appeared next to a stack of pancakes and a cup of coffee in bed, I know I wouldn’t complain. Here is a little compilation of gift ideas perfect for a mama you love…
This weekend finally felt like Spring, which means in my brain it is pretty much summer! Each summer I try to make a little list, whether physical or mental of my musts for the season. I have always felt like I needed to take advantage of every sunny moment, like wasting time was a crime. I have always felt affected by the weather and always feel I come alive with the start of Spring.
This year, unlike years past, I am not pregnant and Harper is at an age where she understands and interacts with her surroundings, so this basically means best summer ever right?!
Here is the start of our Summer Bucket List…
// beach //
Cape May is our favorite and we did not get to go enough last summer. I want to eat dinner at Congress Hall and explore here.
// read //
Okay this is not a joke, a girl can dream right? Here’s my summer reading list…
Obviously a two year old is still limiting our terrain but I love getting outside with her. She loves to explore, investigate and feel the nature around her (figuratively and literally). These places are top on my list for the views…
Because today was warm, the park was beautiful, and we got to spend the afternoon with some beautiful ladies taking magical photos. Harper, who usually suffers from some stranger-danger, immediately opened up to this group of women…up until mom was pulled away which did not sit well. It’s so apparent how much this little girl loves being outside which makes me so happy!
// favorite request //
“More…” fill in the item there. Right now this has more to do with food. Sadly it comes after the pasta I made is cooked and ready to eat, like “more crackers!” But I must say it’s incredibly cool that she is voicing her opinion and I can ask her what she wants and actually make her happy. By the way, I know my happiness may change very quickly.
// favorite activity //
Coloring is this girls #1 activity, right next to reading sporadic pages from Peter Rabbit. She is really into drawing circles and in identifying the letters your write on the page. I just wish she wouldn’t eat the crayons.
// biggest accomplishment //
After a few weeks of jelly beans and singing on the potty, we have officially peed and pooped on the potty! Granted beans are the main motivation, but we will take it!
I love plants but for some reason Basil has always hated me, but then something happened, my plant sprouted flowers!! I assume now this means I will be swimming in basil leaves all summer and am searching for great recipes to take me through to Fall! What is everyone’s favorite way to use Basil?
I always love it mixed with fruit…sorry started drooling. Here were my standout finds…
Because today we had an impromptu visit to the aquarium and even took along our little baby friend Asher, his mom came too. We spent hours watching sharks, sea turtles and sting rays. Growing up I always loved going to the aquarium and I am thrilled how much Harper enjoys climbing into these little nooks and watching the fish swim around. She was a bit unsure of what to do with the diver when he swam around…
// new step //
We are officially starting to dip our toes into the potty training pool. So far we have used it a handful of times, but are more excited about the jelly bean reward, and potty song, than anything else. Yes she is young, but after talking with our doctor she felt she was giving us the signs that she was ready. Any great tips?
// favorite word //
Everyday I think this girl has a new word she shares with us, lately her favorite is tea. She loves “drinking” it, “cooking” it and sharing it with anyone she sits down with. Perks of a British nanny I guess.
I am always looking for a healthy morning option to get my day started on the right foot. What you put in your body can affect your energy, your mood and how your body functions through out the day. For the most part I have fairly healthy options to get me through lunch and dinner but for breakfast I need fast and easy, which makes me overwhelmed when looking at the fridge with sleepy eyes. Enter chia…
Yes Ch-ch-ch-chia, for those of you from the 90s you may understand why I was little looking at this like “really?!” This simple combination fills you for the day, and starts your day with Omega-3 and high fiber! What’s great about this pudding is you can really add whatever tricks your fancy, here’s the combo I have been utilizing…
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
*try chocolate almond milk for a dessert fix
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tsp of Vanilla
Pinch of salt
Chopped up fruit (summer berries are my favorite right now)
Combine chia seeds with milk and stir in large bowl. Add in additives (Vanilla and salt) Cover and place on fridge overnight. In the AM give one more big stir. Place desired amount in small bowl and add desired toppings!
Let’s get real for a second, being a mom is hardwork. Being a working mom brings up emotions, insecurities, and fears you never knew you could have. Over the last 16 months I have been a working mom, and let’s be real for a moment it is hard. Much harder than I let anyone know. Things were tough when I went back, Harper hadn’t slept through the night yet and we were facing major regression, also I felt very unsure of my job being one of the few mamas in my position I didn’t know what this meant for me.
With out sharing the gritty details I survived, and I had a lot of learnings along the way. That’s why I felt I should share my learnings as a first-time mom, going back to work and making it through! This is my idea of a survival guide, or at least a path to sanity…
// Caring for your caregiver //
For me the biggest stressor was Harper’s care, initially we had my mother-in-law coming over 3-4 days a week. Sounds ideal right….nope, well not for us. My husbands relationship with his mother has never been a Norman Rockwell painting. I had hesitations but the price was right and we were both overwhelmed by daycare.
Over the next few months, while I struggled with pumping and keeping my supply up, I would come home to a laundry list of what we shouldn’t be doing. It was not the way to go, most days ended with anger or tears. Luckily, and unluckily, we found ourselves in need of new care. After our experience we knew what we wanted, and what we could afford. With our non-traditional work schedules in-home care made the most sense and we stumbled across the most wonderful woman. She holds the same values as us, her kids are a dream and Harper has flourished under her care.
Morale of the story…it it doesn’t fit don’t force it! You are going through enough trying to navigate all your new responsibilities. Your caregiver should be your partner not your burden.
// Setting a Schedule //
With babies being babies they don’t always follow the 8 hour sleep pattern you have been pining for since their birth. Talk to your partner and make a ‘midnight’ schedule….helps avoid those 3 am fights. We split the week up by days; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and every other Saturday were my night time duties. I have learned to sleep through a rave now!
Another schedule to set is your babies! After the famed fourth trimester we were still working out Harper’s schedule and around 6 months hit the sweet spot! Once we had a rough daily schedule, not too strict here, it allowed us to set up a daily routine for her so she wasn’t so out of whack when we were home with her. Once we were with our new caregiver, and someone followed our wishes, we had a happy who slept at night, ate regularly, and seemed happier!
// Find your Mama Muse //
We all need inspiration and when venturing into something so scary, it helps to have a spirit animal. Mine is my mother. My mom was the bread-winner, but always there to help you with homework, listen to your woes, and just be there. This is something I asked her about when I was getting ready to go back to work and her response was perfect…
If you are going to go back, don’t look back. Be confident in your decision and never let yourself feel like less of a mother. Always leave your day at the door, you are a mom first! And let life happen, it’s messy and full of undone laundry but it should be fun!
Pretty great right?! She is always open to talk about her struggles, she is there to let me know despite a tough day that I am a good mom, and in the end reminds me everyday of what is important about being a mom. Despite her high-level job I never felt like she wasn’t there, and I am so grateful to say that.
// Let your Creativity Flow //
Really I should say get a hobby, but that sounds so rude right? Towards the end of my maternity leave I started getting back into my old creative practices, it was great! Part of a stagnant feeling I had with work is that I felt I went from a very creative position to all business and that part of me was starving! My husband’s initial advice for a hobby seemed impossible, like naps or reading a book, but once we had Harper’s care and schedule worked out I looked at how I was spending my time. There was time, I just needed to put the phone down, turn off the TV and do it.
From that thought a few upcoming projects have arose, this blog, fabric dying and some more exciting prospects a little too fresh to mention. Even if it’s knitting during your nightly TV, do it! I mean guys they have adult coloring books now!
// Making time for US//
This part is obvious, difficult, and probably the easiest to let slide, but just as important. My husband and I both work in retail, which means non-traditional hours/days. With our schedules, and the cost of in-home care we can’t afford to have days off together each week. Guys this is how much I love our nanny! Date night, night-in movies, brunches, weekends away…really whatever you can swing.
Making time for your partner can feel impossible, I will be the first to admit I did it. After the baby, cleaning up and getting ready for the next day I felt exhausted. This ended in a fight where we blew up at each other feeling neglected by the other, but neither felt we could say anything. It’s that classic case of not talking the same “love language,” a new thing I have now become obsessed with. If you have not heard of this do yourself a favor and take a look, it’s like a love smack-yourself-on-the-forehead moment! We are still working on making this a priority, but we are trying and that’s key!
I by no means claim to be an expert, but know that it has always helped me to hear of others journeys. We are all in this together, with love and support we can make it through!