Parenthood & Life
We became parents in 2010, and now we're old and drive a minivan (not!). But seriously, what a ride!
Happy Tuesday, everyone! I'm guest blogging today over at Rockin' Green Soap's blog (our diaper laundry detergent!). It's my first time guest blogging, so won't you go over and join the conversation? Here's a little teaser:
I'm sure that everyone feels like they're failing in some way - even those who look like they are doing it all probably think, "oh, but I didn't even get to half my 'to do' list!"
A few people have said to me, "I don't know how you're doing all of this!" so I thought it might be time to write another post about how someone runs a business from home and cares for an a-little-bit-over-one-year-old (uh, how did that happen? Shouldn't she still be a bitty baby?!). Because honestly, although I am doing the essentials, doing much more than that is VERY difficult. And I'm not about smoke and mirrors. If it's hard, I'm going to tell you.
Let's revisit - just for a moment - what I thought about working from home before I gave birth. I thought that it was mean for parents to say "good luck! You'll never plan anything again!" and "I hope your kid actually NAPS because mine didn't!" Thirteen months later, I can say this: it might have been mean to scare a poor pregnant gal, but they were RIGHT. What they didn't say, though, is that although you can't plan anything and working during naps is no way to live, you can (and will) make it work.
The key is streamlining your work. Nothing has made me more efficient than having a baby. Wondering why I'm rarely on twitter anymore? Did you send me a personal email three months ago? That there is evidence of things I've had to let slip. Now instead of perusing blogs like I used to, my google reader is trimmed back to only essentials, and I only read it from my iPhone if Charlie is playing quietly by herself. Instead of coming up with new and uninspired products that will never see the light of day (which I have to admit, I used to do), I just...don't.
For awhile, I worked during every nap and after bedtime every night. It didn't take long for me to realize that working that much is completely unsustainable (especially considering I was up multiple times at night because my baby didn’t sleep through the night until she was a year old). At that point, I decided to take stock of what was really important to me, and here’s what I came up with:
- My child - At around 6 months, Charlie became much more mobile and engaged. Although she still liked to play by herself, she really wanted to play with me - and I wanted to play with her. I felt guilty doing any work while she was awake, and I didn’t want to leave her to her own devices in a play pen if I could help it. Between work & Charlie, Charlie wins.
- My sanity - I am a Type A personality, and I will go, go, GO until I completely run out of steam, because I generally don’t know my own limits. This is how my filing cabinet gets decoupaged with maps of Oakland and Charlie’s walls get a mural. If I have an idea, I am almost compulsive about needing to see it through. This is unhealthy, and I do not recommend it. When this kind of insanity is applied to both my personal life (ie, decorating) and work, I burn out - quickly. I made the decision that I cannot compulsively work on new products. Things will progress more slowly now, and I simply need to be okay with that.
- Custom work - When I make a commitment to work with someone, getting things done in a timely manner is extremely important to me. All other work (ie, the clothing line) take a backseat to my custom clients. This also applies to my work emails - I remember that as a bride, I was super excited and couldn’t wait to hear back from my vendors. I try to remember that feeling no matter how preoccupied I am.
Once I established what was important to me, I realized that I could accomplish what was important to me work-wise, and if I felt burnt out I didn’t have to go any further than that. Not getting burnt out means that the quality of my new products is much better, and I also have time to let ideas marinate before I waste time working on something that could be improved upon. So although I’m not getting as much done to grow my business, there is a bright side.
I know that there are some work-at-home parents that are able to schedule their days. These parents often get up really early in the morning in order to have dedicated work-time, then spend the rest of the day playing with their kid(s) guilt-free. This may be something I try in the future...but I’m really tired, and I can’t imagine getting up at 3am. Getting up at 6 is hard enough!
Any WAH (work at home) parents out there with experiences or tips to share?
I’ve now given you two lists of things I love for babies...but what about the mama? In the beginning, all sorts of strange things will happen to your body. And if you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will hurt and they will be HUGE. Also, you will feel fat. However, I’m not going to talk about what sort of postpartum pantyliners you should get. After all, that stage doesn’t last very long - and honestly I barely remember what I did during those first few weeks anyway.
So I’m going to talk more long-term about what I have found indispensible, and what I did in the beginning that I would recommend you do as well. All of these tips relate to the following philosophy: “You have to feel cute, or you’re gonna get depressed.” For real.
Here we go!
- Nursing tank tops - I resisted nursing tank tops for a few months, thinking that there’d be nothing out there supportive enough for my colossal chest. HOWEVER a woman in my mother’s group suggested the Glamour Mom full bust nursing tanks and OMG my whole life changed. I literally wear one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They are amazing and I have one in every color. I would suggest going to a local store to be fitted, but if they don’t have a good color selection, check out Figure 8 Maternity. I ordered mine from their online store and was really impressed by their customer service and super cute packaging (packaging goes a long way, I say!).
- Buy a new pair of jeans for every size. Yes, this can be expensive, but I’m not talking about buying a new pair of Sevens for every size. Post-partum I was an 8-10 and I’ve bought at least one new pair of Gap jeans for every size I’ve been at. I now have about 6 pairs of jeans that don’t fit, but I put them in with my maternity clothes for the next time around (whenever that is, haha). I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans (I blame breastfeeding), and buying new jeans saved my self esteem. Definitely worth the money, if you ask me. If you think you're like me and won't lose all the weight until you're done breastfeeding, go ahead and buy yourself a pair of Sevens. I wish I had.
- Purge your closet and buy new things - Nothing makes a girl feel less cute than looking at a closet full of clothes that she can’t fit into, I swear. Right after I had Charlie, I expected not to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants...but I also could not fit into any of my shirts. And I have to say, it’s now 14 months later and I still can’t. It took me about 8 months to purge my closet, and I really, really wish I had done it earlier. I’m not saying you have to get rid of all those clothes, but for the love of god, put them somewhere you can’t see them and buy yourself something pretty.
- Babies like to pull on things. A lot. This means that your hair is in a ponytail most of the time, and you can’t wear dangly earrings or necklaces unless you want to experience intense pain. I suggest finding cute ways to put your hair back, and buying some stud earrings that you actually like. I got bangs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, though, because I discovered bangs are just as fun to pull on as full-length hair. Sad face.
- If baby can’t pull on it, make sure it’s cute. This means that you need cute accessories like belts and shoes. These will make you feel happy.
I realize that none of this stuff directly relates to babies, but you know what? Sometimes it's not all about the baby. You're important, too! Anyone got anything else they think is important to add?
If you’ve been reading awhile, you may recall that I was actually kind of terrified of having kids. My main fear (or “dominating fear” as I called it) was that I’d lose myself in my children. One day, I’d wake up in the suburbs and have absolutely no idea who I was.
I am here to tell you, people, that I can definitely see how that can happen. And I, at 13 months post-baby, am letting it happen.
I recently got back from a week-long trip to Oregon (just me and C), and when my husband sent me a text message reading “I can’t wait to take you wakeboarding! You’ll love it,” a tiny piece of my heart broke. “When will I ever have a chance to go wakeboarding?!” I asked myself. And the answer, at this rate, is “in 20 years.” Why? Because I am the one who has to put C down for her naps. I am the one who has to put her down for bed. I am the one who has to comfort her in the middle of the night or when she falls down. I have a lot of "have to’s."
And that, my friends, is NOT GOOD.
This is how you lose yourself in your kids. In 13 months, I haven’t been away from C longer than 6 hours. SIX HOURS. Whose fault is this? It certainly isn’t hers, or Y’s. It’s mine.
My have to’s are not all related to C. They’re also every day chores, like doing the dishes, vacuuming, feeding myself, and taking a shower. They’re items on my To Do List for Stinkerpants. They’re emails, Facebook, bills, and grocery shopping. They are annoying.
I'm not going to lie - I like the "have to's" related to C. I like that she needs me. It brings me a lot of joy to be the one that brings her comfort. But it's better for her if she has more than one person who can bring her comfort, and it's better for her if she has a mama with a life. And of course, it's better for me too.
Unless I want to end up as the mother I feared (who has no sense of self), I need to make some changes.
My cousins J & P seem very happy to me. I would totally love to live their lives - they live right near the ocean in a very laid back, relaxed city. They don’t seem to be majorly stressed out about life. P takes time to himself every day to walk down the street and go surfing. Did I mention they have two kids? I'm sure I'm totally oversimplifying their lives (sorry J & P!), but the point is this: doing what you love, by yourself, keeps you sane. I need to find my version of surfing, and I need to take an hour to myself to do it every. single. day.
It’s about creating healthy habits now, so I don’t end up with no life later. Things are a lot harder to change when you have three kids and you haven’t paid attention to yourself in years. Right now, you hopefully know who you are and what makes you happy - so take that time for yourself now, to do the things that you love. Set the standard that you need you time every day, so that your family expects it. Not only is it harder to figure out what will make you happy if you haven’t thought about yourself in 10 years, but it’s harder to get your family on board if you’ve only been catering to them for 10 years. I mean, really, can you blame them? If they’re not used to taking care of themselves, they’re not going to like it at first.
So how do you take care of yourselves, people? I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to feel like me, not just like a mama. Here's what I've come up with: I need a full day to myself once per month. That means an ENTIRE DAY where I can go somewhere by myself and not have to worry about when I’m coming home. I want to have the freedom to have a night out with my girlfriends once per week, where we don’t bring the babies, and we - gasp - maybe have a drink. And I need one hour, every single day. Just one.
I think that, as mothers, we feel guilty about taking time to ourselves. I know that I feel guilty that I'm sitting on the couch watching TV when I could be working, improving my website, meal planning, or writing a novel. But in order to be happy people and positive role models, we need to be strong women with interests outside of our kids. They will emulate what we do - and I personally want C to put herself first, at least some of the time.
What about you guys? What do you need to feel like yourself? Do you feel guilty taking that time to yourself? Do you feel like you can take time for yourself?Comment
Hi all! I know I said that I'd be sharing our office next, but after waiting literally MONTHS for my darling husband (hi dearest!) to clear off his desk so I'm not mortified to take photos, I've given up and am moving on (for the time being).
Instead, I'm going to share C's big girl room, which I finished right around her first birthday.
Why redecorate her room, you might ask? Well, two reasons: 1) I was irrationally annoyed by how trendy the pompom lantern I made was, and 2) I wanted her room to fit her personality, and this is a very adventurous little girl. I wanted to create a "big girl room" for her that was her size - everything within her reach - and that had a theme befitting a tiny explorer.
Ironically, the room was inspired by a rug I bought from Ikea that we no longer have - Elvis Purrsley peed on it and ruined it (I love him, but he can be obnoxious, that cat). I always wanted a rug with roads on it for my matchbox cars when I was a kid, so when I found the super affordable ($15!) rug, I had to buy it. But it didn't match the rest of her room! What to do?
Over time, the perfect theme came to mind - a city. And when I thought about creating a little reading nook for her, I decided to create a park-themed reading area in a modern city.
How about a little tour?
This is the view from the door. The hot air balloons are made by Travels Light, and were a gift from my friend Reichel over at Copy Cat Chic (she bought them for her daughter's gorgeous nursery and didn't end up using them!). I think they look perfect above C's crib. And because I don't want you guys to think I've got it all together (as if you thought that anyway, ha!), here's the full disclosure: I was totally planning to DIY hot air balloons using paper mâché, but the project was really frustrating and I gave up. I'm glad I did - these are so much better!
Here's a view of the "park" reading nook. I love these LOVA leaf canopies from IKEA, and I've been surprised that more people online aren't using them in their kids' rooms. Sitting under them makes you feel like you're in a secret spot - they're awesome!
Underneath, she has "grass" (two little rugs, also from IKEA) and a cushy place to hang out. My mom made the big gumdrop pillows; you may recognize the one in the back from her original nursery, and the two new ones are made with tree fabric to fit the park theme. The pattern is Amy Butler's Gum Drop Pillows, if you're curious.
C also has three pillows with Stinkerpants animals on them - a deer, a squirrel and a skunk.
Here are a few close-ups of the reading nook. The bookshelves were taken from a post on Ohdeedoh - those are IKEA spice racks - $3 each! I love a good - and cheap - idea!
Next we move over to the changing table area. There's not much on the changing table itself, because C likes to throw things (haha). All of her changing supplies (wipes, etc) are in the bookshelf next to the dresser.
Over her changing area are two wooden biplanes with a special purpose. I am super proud of this idea - it was a stroke of genius in the dead of the night. ;) I needed a place to hang her barrettes - so I created little banners for these planes (thick floral wire inside white ribbon), and clipped her barrettes on them.
The planes are hung using fishing wire, which you can barely see when you're in the room. The planes themselves are actually part of a plane mobile, which I bought at a toy store in Berkeley.
Here's her Expedit, now filled out with more toys and fun stuff than the last time you saw it. ;)
A few more photos of some of the details...
The shelves on the wall are RIBBA photo shelves (from IKEA, of course). Behind them, I painted clouds directly on the wall (I was inspired by these shelves, but wanted something a little more handmade looking). Her original nursery included a lot of artwork, and I was sad that a photo wall didn't exactly fit in with the new theme - it looked weird floating in the "sky." There were a couple of pieces of artwork that I really wanted to display, though, so I put them on the shelves.
Here, the "Springtime" print, which is one of three I scanned from one of Y's favorite baby books.
And, the wish tree print, which Y and I spent a lot of time filling out and means a lot to us.
I also have toys and books from Y's and my childhood in C's room...
My grandfather (who C was named after) gave me this Felix the cat stuffed animal, for example:
And a little shadow box I made using the onesie she wore when she came home from the hospital (and various other "the day you were born" knick-knacks):
More of the artwork I couldn't part with (this one I drew for C with all of her animals) from the original nursery, plus my childhood toys & a toy left over from her circus birthday party:
There you have it! I am happy to say that C really seems to enjoy her room, especially the little reading nook. It's a lot of fun to watch her play!Comment
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