When You’re the ‘Small’ Family for the Holidays

The holidays bring about memories of everyone gathered under one roof, sharing presents and meals, laughter and cheer. Our home is a little more quiet and our place settings are fewer. The day is still special, yes; but far more simple. You see, we’re on the opposite side of the country from the rest of our families. We are the ‘small family’ for the holidays, with it being just myself, my fiancé and our son. Small in size, big on love.

When we made the decision to move from Massachusetts to Washington state, we knew the holiday season would be different. We knew our son, an only child, wouldn’t be bustling back and forth between different families houses over the celebratory days. We knew we wouldn’t be going to the same tree farm Patrick and I grew up going to every year. But that was okay; because as we grew older and started our own family, things changed in our extended families and the generations who seemed to uphold those traditions passed on. It was up to us to start new ones.

It can be hard, seeing other families at the school assemblies with tribes of people there to support their kiddo while it’s just you two, the parents. It can be hard, waking up on those holiday mornings and knowing it’s just on you to make this day special. It can be hard, remembering what the holidays were like when you were a kid and it seemed like there was a house full of people but your child only knows a morning of you three.  You wonder if he’s missing out on some fundamental part of childhood because he’s not building forts with cousins or careening down the hill going questionably fast on a sled in your grandparents backyard. (Though some would argue that we also miss out on the logistical nightmare that is holiday air travel!)

But it’s not the size of your dinner table, your tree, your list of gifts, or visitors cars in the driveway.

It’s the laughter in the room, the smile on his face, and how he will always remember the traditions we are making, Here and now. Instead of getting sad or anxious about how things aren’t quite the same for our son as they were for us, we’ve taken on the season as our own and made our own traditions. We found our own favorite tree farm here in Washington. we visit our favorite Christmas lights attraction and make our own playlist. We spend the morning in our home, laughing and enjoying simple gifts and a good meal.

It is always enough for them, mama. No matter what you do, the day is magical for them because they believe that it is. Don’t get so caught up wondering if you’re ‘big’ enough for them and forget to enjoy the wonder of the small things.

Being A Parent Is The Greatest Adventure

Tonight I sat alone on the living room couch, watching my husband soothe our daughter to sleep on the glow of the baby monitor. I reflected on how being a parent is hands down the greatest adventure I have ever been a part of.

Sure, it has its ups and downs. Some days I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn. Some days I want to pull my hair out in frustration with a baby who won’t stop fussing. And sometimes I wonder if I’m doing everything wrong raising this tiny human…

It’s definitely one crazy ride.

But I always try to remind myself on difficult days that I will never get this time with my daughter back again. I wonder where the time has gone already when I look back on these last ten months.

I remember the first few weeks my daughter was earth side. How quickly she learned I was her go-to person. She always needed me, always wanted me. I was her walking, talking, warm and comforting food source.

I remember I was able to soothe her cries quicker than anyone. I was the person who could whisk her to dreamland with little to no effort. I was the one she stared at with wonder or awe in her eyes. And I was lucky enough to be the reason for her first smiles.

She was completely a mommy’s girl.

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My husband would sometimes become frustrated that she preferred me over him. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t calm her cries as quickly, or put her to sleep as I did.

I understood his frustrations, and every once in awhile, I wished someone else could rock her to sleep so I could have a break.

But for the most part I secretly reveled in the fact that I was her lifeline. I felt on top of the world that I meant so much to this tiny human already, at just a few weeks old…

I remember holding my daughter and crying when she was just a few weeks old, knowing these precious newborn moments couldn’t last forever. She wouldn’t always be so small. She wouldn’t always rely on her mother.

I knew I would never get that day, or any of the precious past days back. She would never again be as little as she was in that moment…

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Then in the blink of an eye, ten months passed. About a week ago, the tables turned.

My daughter suddenly refused to let anyone hold her to sleep other than my husband, not even myself. All of a sudden when she wakes crying in the middle of the night, it’s my husband’s strong, comforting touch on her back she’s seeking. He is the only one who can soothe her wailing and put her back to sleep…

I thought to myself, when did things change so abruptly? When did she turn ten months old and become such a daddy’s girl? She already seemed to no longer need me as much. At least not at this current moment in time.

I’ve heard so many others say babies go through stages. Sometimes they prefer their mother, and other times they need their father. I, for one, can’t wait for my daughter to prefer her mother’s cuddles before bed once more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see my husband triumph now! To succeed in the little things when it comes to parenting, as I once did just a few months ago.

But the slight difference in parental preference at night serves as a reminder of just how quickly time passes and changes… How short these last ten months were. How fleeting the baby years are in general.

Even eighteen years of childhood are so very brief when you actually think about it. In the blink of an eye, one day I am my child’s hero, while the next day my husband is. One day I’ll be helping her learn to walk, the next I’ll be watching her head off to college…

So tomorrow morning when my daughter wakes, I will hug her a little tighter. I will embrace every stage of her life. Each milestone in her childhood as it happens, even the difficult ones.

Because one day she will wake up and no longer need me as much at all. And one day she won’t need my husband as much either. That’s the beauty of this parenting adventure. Doing the best you can to raise a little human being in the time you are given.

So soak it all in moms and dads! Do your best to enjoy this fast-paced, chaotic adventure, full of learning experiences and growing pains for all. You’re doing the best you can. You’re not alone.

And just remember, it won’t last forever.

There’s only one part of this adventure that I know will always remain constant. Maybe it’s the most important…

I will always remember my daughter as she is right now. Beautiful. Ever-changing. Full of life. Youthful… My baby, forever.

And nothing will ever change this love my whole heart holds for her. A powerful mother’s love that adapts with each new season of both her life and my own. A love like no other I’ve ever felt before.

This is the greatest adventure.

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Don’t Blink, Mama.

Don’t blink, mama. 

I have always struggled with my perception of time. When I was a kid time moved so slowly, I measured my years by my birthdays and they always seemed so far away. I would tell my mom all I wanted was to be a grown up. I didn’t want time to slow down, I wanted it to speed up. So I would blink as fast as I could hoping that one day I would wake up and find myself to be that “grown up” I had always wished for. Once I became that grown up I discovered that time sped up. The more I appreciated time the faster it went. I began to understand why everyone complained about time slipping away from them and how fast time really does change. 

Please blink, mama.

After my first was born I told myself to enjoy every moment. My pregnancy had gone by quicker than I thought but I was so excited to hold my baby that it didn’t matter. I had heard other moms saying “They grow up so fast.” and  “This phase will be over before you know it”. I knew they were right but still didn’t completely believe them. I tried, honestly I did. I tried to enjoy every smile, to appreciate all the cuddles, or every time she fell asleep in my arms. I tried to remember every outfit, or commit to memory her first smile or how she struggled trying to roll over. I tried not to worry about the laundry or the messy house, but the truth is I still did. I got distracted and would say I can cuddle tomorrow, she won’t grow that fast. I tried to breathe in her new baby smell and when I was rocking her at 3am because she wouldn’t sleep, I tried to tell myself how quickly this phase would pass, but I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t see through the tiredness, the loneliness, and the stress of adjusting to motherhood that those early days would go by so fast. Each day felt so long but so rewarding and those moms were right, that phase was over before I knew it. Soon she wouldn’t let me rock her to sleep, she stopped needing me to feed her, she wanted her independence. When did my newborn baby turn into this independent sassy little girl? 

You blinked, mama.

I did, and I woke up one morning to find out I was pregnant again. We were trying, so it wasn’t a huge surprise but in that moment I found myself asking, “How is this even possible, didn’t I just have a baby? I can’t be pregnant again, it just isn’t physically possible.” With this pregnancy I knew it would go by in the blink of an eye so I tried to take more time to enjoy being pregnant. To love my growing belly, to appreciate every kick, but even though I knew it would fly by I still blinked.

My first pregnancy- I didn’t believe it would go by as fast as it did, my second pregnancy didn’t allow me to fully soak in those nine months because I didn’t want to miss any of the huge milestones my first was hitting. When we found out we were pregnant I calculated when I would be able to find out the gender and thought 20 weeks is so far away, but I knew that in the blink of an eye we would be on our way to the ultrasound, making our announcement to friends and family and planning for her arrival. As the weeks went on I packed our hospital bag, we transitioned our first out of the nursery and unpacked the newborn clothes into the dresser. I knew she would arrive in a few weeks but the anticipation made it feel like the date would never arrive. I should have known better, soon she was here and we were already home from the hospital. We were introducing our new baby to her older sister who welcomed her with open arms. As I held our daughter down to meet her big sister I realized my brand new 5 lb newborn won’t be this little for long. My journey of holding on to each moment as they passed was starting all over again. I knew that her sweet innocent cries would soon turn into toddler screams and her little hand that couldn’t quite grasp my fingers would soon grow to hold my hand as she stood. I enjoyed the cuddles in bed. I didn’t guilt myself over laundry this time because I knew, this could be that last day; the last night feeding, the last newborn outfit, the last morning cuddle in bed. I took in every smile as they happened and tried to commit to memory every giggle but inevitably I also had to blink. 

You have to blink, mama.

As I looked down at my growing toddler I realized that each moment that seemed to disappear, that slipped out of my grasp too quick, led to new moments that created more memories. When I think of holding my daughter for the first time the memory is blurry. I remember the emotions but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in my life, but If time had stopped there, or when she was an infant I wouldn’t have gotten to hear her say “mama” or “daddy”.  I wouldn’t have gotten to watch her learn to sing and dance or learn how to go down slides all by herself. As quickly as time goes by and as much as Idon’t want to blink, I have learned blinking is necessary. In those fleeting quiet moments that I’m not chasing the toddler around the stairs, cleaning the house, or doing the million other things on my list, I remember. I remember what her first smile was like, how we would cuddle and she would fall asleep in my arms, how I would rock her to sleep at 3 am, and how precious her new baby smell was. Then I stop remembering and I start living in each moment before I blink and those too become distant memories. 

12 Tips For Visiting Disney World With Young Children

Disney World is often referred to as ‘The Happiest Place On Earth’ but sometimes the thought of going with kids can be overwhelming. I was always told to “Wait until the kids are old enough to remember it”, “wait until they’re potty trained”, “wait until they can ride all the rides”

I am here to tell you, NO THANKS! Waiting isn’t for me. I believe you should take kids while they’re young enough to believe in the Magic! So what if they don’t remember every detail? You will! They will have pictures to look back on and special memories and stories to hear from you. So what if they can’t ride all the thrill rides? There are so many other fun things to do! I have always had an outstanding love for Disney, and visiting the parks. As a single woman, I would show up at whatever time I want, ride whatever I want and eat whenever and where ever I wanted. Visiting with kids changes EVERYTHING. I tried to be as organized as I possibly could for my first trip with kiddos but I quickly realized, I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I thought I was. After a few more trips, I’ve learned a lot and I’m here to share some tips with you to make your vacay a little more stress free.

1. Disney World App

This will be your best friend while on your Disney vacation. From your Disney App you can mobile order food, pick up Fast Passes, get up to date wait times on rides, organize character meet and greets and shows, instantly download your PhotoPass pictures and it even has an interactive park map. It’s free to download and will help you navigate through the parks.

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2. Fast Pass 

Fast Pass selections can be made 60 days in advance if you’re staying in a Disney resort and 30 days if you’re staying off property.

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Fast Passes are a great way to avoid standing in long lines where kids tend to get impatient. You can book 3 Fast Passes per day before your vacation. It’s best to get Fast Passes for as early in the day as you can. Once you use all 3, you are able to pick up more..one at a time.

3. PhotoPass

This is 100% the best thing you can possibly buy on your Disney vacation. As a parent it will help take all the stress off capturing those sweet character interaction moments. It will allow you to be in the moment, enjoying the experience with your child. It also allows everyone to be in the picture. Plus you get Magic Shots! These are the cutest little experiences you can find all around the parks. Sometimes you get to hold Tinkerbell, sometimes you get to dance next to Olaf. The kids will love it! We got to the point where the kids would run up to every PhotoPass Cast Member they could find and ask them which Magic Shots they have. Also, if you buy before the trip you get a discount and trust me, it is so worth it!

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4. Strollers 

The one thing everybody dreads! Navigating a heavy stroller miles and miles around a crowded park all day is not ideal but trust me, you want to have one. We heavily debated on not bringing one but boy what a mistake that would have been! The kids will get tired and need a place to rest and honestly it is a lifesaver not having to carry the bags around the park all day. I recommended a stroller with a storage space at the bottom.

  • Do not bring multiple umbrella strollers if you have multiple children. I honestly thought that was a good idea on my first trip because yes they’re light and fold easy but Disney Cast Members are constantly rearranging the stroller parking areas and if you have more than one stroller you will spend your whole day searching for them. I never realized how many red strollers there are in the world until I was trying to find ours in a sea of strollers that all look exactly the same.
  • Put something on your stroller to separate it from the rest. Wether that be a flag or a sign – have something that is easy to spot to save time.

 

5. Bring Your Own Snacks 

I always bring an empty water bottle for each family member. If you have the dining plan with the resort cups you will be able to fill them before you leave but because of the design of the cup, you will be stuck holding them. So bring along a bottle with a sealed lid and empty your drink it to it and toss it in the stroller. Disney also allows you to bring food in to the park. We always do the dining plan so we typically stop in the cafeteria in the morning before we head to the park and each pick out a bag of snacks to keep with us to munch on while we’re standing in line. It is an easy way to keep the kiddos happy when there’s nothing else to do.

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6. Disney Resorts

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Disney Resorts are too expensive. I’d rather find a cheaper hotel close by and save some money.’ I used to think that way too but let me tell you…Disney Resorts actually SAVE you money in the long run. Yes, you heard that right. Let’s look at the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort.

  • Parking at a Disney park is $25 per day! Think of how much money you’ll save on parking alone. Not to mention gas and possibly having to rent a car, if you flew to Orlando. The Disney bus service is amazing. They pick you up right from your hotel and drop you off right at the entrance of the park. It is quick, easy, clean, convenient and fun! We actually love riding the Disney busses. It also makes nap time so much easier. Depending on the ages of your kiddos, they will get tired and they will need a mid day rest. Some kids can sleep in a stroller with all the noise and some can’t. The Disney bus makes it so easy to pop back over to your resort for a quick nap and then get back to the park ASAP.
  • Extra Magic Hours. These will vary and either be offered early in the morning, before the parks open or late in the evening after they close. All guests who aren’t staying at a Disney resort will have to leave the park, leaving it just for Disney resort guests. You would be surprised at how empty the park feels and how many rides you can ride with little to no wait.
  • Merchandise delivery. All of the gift shops in Disney Parks will deliver your purchases to your resort free of charge. I love shopping while I’m in the parks. You can find so many items exclusive to the parks but the last thing I want to do is carry around a bunch of shopping bags. Besides the inconvenience of carrying them, you also risk losing items. I love being able to send my purchases straight to my resort.
  • Dining Plan. You can only use the Disney Dining Plan if you are a resort guest. Dining plans make life so much easier! More on that in the next section.

7. Character Dining 

I never experienced Character Dining before I went to Disney with kids but it is a great way for the kids to have time with the characters and actually play and interact with them. Character meet and greets are typically a little more on the rushed side as they are trying to get lines of people through as fast as possible, but character meals really allow your child to have time and enjoy the characters. It’s a wonderful experience to watch and it allows you time to relax. Plus we’ve never had a Character Dining meal we didn’t love!

8. Buttons

One of the few souvenirs that are free! We usually collect ours at our Disney resort as soon as we arrive. Kids absolutely love them! The front desk will have “1st Visit”, “Happy Birthday”, “Happily Ever After” and “I’m Celebrating” buttons. We’ve managed to collect them all at one point or another. They’re fun to wear around the park or pin on your backpack. Cast Members notice them and often time create a little Disney Magic just for you and whatever it is you’re celebrating.

9. Rider Swap

This is so helpful for big thrill rides that little ones can’t go on or a ride that one child is tall enough to ride but another isn’t. Rider Swap allows one adult to go on the ride and as soon as they get off the other adult gets to ride without having to wait all over again. If there is a child tall enough to ride, then they get to ride twice!

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10. Zip Lock Bag

I always like to bring a zip lock full of essentials. Band aids, Tylenol, Sunscreen…things we are bound to need every day! If you forget something, don’t stress. There’s First Aid Centers at all the parks and they are more then happy to help out with any boo boos.

11. Shows

The shows are a fun way to take a break from all the excitement. Most of the shows are indoors so they can also be a great way to cool off during the summer months. Some of our favorites are Beauty and the Beast, Frozen Sing Along, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Disney Jr. Dance Party. That is the one show nobody talks about but the one we had the most fun at! I suggest a Fast Pass for that one. We got to be the very first people in with our Fast Passes. Everyone sits on the floor. We sat front and center. The characters come out and dance in the crowd with the kiddos. It’s a blast!

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12. Safety

Last, but certainly not least, Disney parks are big places with lots of people. It would only take a split second for a child to disappear in to the crowd. We always put our names and phones numbers inside the kids shoe. Make sure the child knows it’s there and how to find a Cast Member and tell them, so they can call us.

The most important thing to remember is to relax, Mama. Plan it out as best as you can but don’t stress over it.

I can promise you at the end of the day, no matter what, everyone will have had a great time and you will have a ton of magical memories to look back on.


 

Tips When Considering Embryo Donation to Create Your Family

In todays world there are many different ways to raise a child and/or have a baby. Finding out that you can not genetically have a child can be devastating and Can make you feel like there is no hope to have a “child of your own”. Many people struggling with infertility are made aware of donor conceived options, such as using donor eggs or donor sperm, but there is another, less talked about option – embryo donation.

Embryo donation is where a person is able to adopt an embryo from another family that has created embryos using IVF. They may have decided that their family is complete, yet still have remaining embryos that are frozen. There are also options of adopting embryos that have been created by donor sperm and a donor egg, but this is less common to my knowledge.

Every couple that is considering embryo donation/adoption (the terms are used interchangeably with generally the same meaning, although you should check with the clinic you are working with) will have different experiences. In my case, my husband and I were on the same page very quickly, we knew that adoption was always a realistic option for us, when we discovered embryo donation, we instantly fell in love with the idea of combining adoption with the ability to carry a baby through pregnancy. We decided to match privately with a family that was willing to donate 2 male embryos to us and we have since gone on to have a beautiful little boy and have grown to be close friends more like family with our donors. We were both open to having an “open adoption”, however we wanted the relationship to build naturally, therefore we chose to not put specific stipulations in our legal agreement and the let nature take its course. We now speak regularly, FaceTime, have met 3 times and are even planning to spend a holiday together this year. “The boys” as we call them will all grow up knowing each other and understanding that they are brothers. We already share their story with them and the oldest child (6) seems to truly understand. We also read picture books to our son regularly, and our hope is that he will learn to love his story and feel how much love it took to create him. This is what works for us, not all situations are like this, in fact most are not so it is important to communicate your needs, wishes and hopes for the future.

Here are a few tips that I suggest to any couple that is considering embryo donation. 

See a psychologist that specializes in donor conceiving.

Most fertility clinics will have this be a mandatory step before beginning the process, but if its not, definitely see a professional to help you navigate your feelings about using an adopted embryo to get pregnant. It is a great way to have a safe space to speak with your partner about all of your feelings and make sure they are on the same page as you. There are a lot of emotions surrounding using an adopted embryo, most importantly the grief of how you imagined getting pregnant and brining a child into the world. Many people struggle with the idea of raising a child that is not their DNA, they fear that they may not love the baby in the same way they would if the baby was genetically theirs. 

Research the different ways to adopt an embryo.

Do your research and decide what type of adoption you are open to or would like to pursue. Just as in traditional adoption, there are several ways to go about embryo adoption/donation. There are 3 main types of adoption: open, semi-open and closed. Open can mean that you talk very often to the family, have many visits, have them be in your child’s life in one way or another. Semi-open could mean that you both decide to only share pictures a few times a year, communicate only through emails but not meeting face to face. A closed adoption would simply mean you receive the embryos and the relationship ends, but you would still have the benefit of knowing the genetic parents and/or siblings. A good place to start is by talking to your fertility clinic and seeing what options they have available to you. You can choose to have a private adoption where you and the donating family work out your own stipulations with a lawyer, this can include how open you would like the relationship to be in the future. There are websites such as https://www.nrfa.org where you can create a profile and match with a family, you can still decide to have a closed adoption even if you were to choose to match privately. You can choose to adopt anonymously from either your fertility clinic or another one that offers embryo donation/adoption. 

Join a social media group for Embryo Donation.  

This is a great resource for anyone considering heading down this path, you will be able to read many first hand true stories that will help you decide what kind of adoption you are interested in pursuing.  You can find support from families that have been through the same experience, have access to a resource to ask questions as they arise and also potentially match with donor couples. 

Embryo donation was the right choice for my family. We couldn’t be happier with our decision, not only did it bring us our son, but we gained this entire village to help us show our son what love and true kindness is all about. If you are struggling to conceive your family, Im sorry, I know how hard it can be to navigate all of your feelings and think about options that were not always part of your plan, but when you are ready, embryo donation is a beautiful choice and just might bring you a miracle.

Brian with his brothers

Not The Nanny

I found myself in unfamiliar territory not that long ago. A sweet, young grandma asked me if I was the nanny to my twins. I figured this was bound to happen at some point. Perhaps it’s surprising it took this long. From the outside looking in, anyone could make this mistake.

You see, the twins are about as white as snow with the most stunning sea-green (yet sometimes blue) eyes. Their hair is wavy dirty blonde like their Dad and Valentina has the same dimple placement as her proud Papa. For the record, I really want to believe that Valentina and Victoria have my nose. And that’s about it.

In case you haven’t seen me in the flesh, I have tan skin, dark brown hair and eyes. Big sis, Gabriella is my spitting image. My “mini-me” in every way. There’s no mistake she’s my daughter. When we’re together I get the sweet sideways glances from strangers who seem to say, “Awwww, look at that cute mother-daughter duo.” I relish that we do look so much alike.

When I was pregnant, Ben and I would joke back and forth about how one twin would arrive looking like him and the other like me. I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought because it really wasn’t that important to me. I had bigger things to worry about with the twins impending arrival.

Back to this sweet grandma on a random day this Summer. The twins and I were having fun at an indoor gym and a light-hearted conversation started between the two of us. After the usual exchange of niceties, she socked me in the stomach when she asked, “Are you the nanny?” I like to think I’m not easily offended, but it did sting just a bit. And I know this is just the beginning of many times ahead when I’ll be in this same situation. Do I need to buy the matching Lily Pulitzer Mommy-Daughter dresses to send the message loud and clear?

I think most people are perplexed when they see the twins and I together. Working out in their minds if I’m the nanny or the Mom. If Ben happens to be around or come around later it’s almost as if there’s a collective “Aha” from the on-lookers. Now it makes sense!

You may be wondering what my response was to this unassuming lady who just sucker punched me. I said, “Nope, I carried them for 37 weeks and 4 days to be exact.” After the blood drained from her face, we laughed and I told her not to feel bad. And I meant it.

While the physical likeness between the twins and I is almost non-existent, I hope that the intangible mother-daughter bond between each of us supersedes any doubt of my role as their mom. They remind me everyday, that no matter how I look (which is usually pretty tired), I’m their mama. Not the nanny.


 

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Lillian Sowles is a wife and mom to 3 girls, residing just outside of Charlotte, NC. She enjoys reading fiction, having fun with her family, trying new recipes and sipping hot coffee. You can read more about her here!

Your Life Doesn’t Have to Be Over: 5 Ways To Reclaim Your Life After Baby

I hate to admit this, but I’m one of those girls who thought she had it all figured out BEFORE she had a baby of her own. I wasn’t so bad that I said my child would never use an iPad in public or would only eat organic food… I know better. But I thought I knew what life would be like—what I would be like once I became a mom. Spoiler alert: I had no idea.

 When we found out I was expecting, my husband and I talked about it and I decided I would quit my job and stay home with our son. I had wanted to be a stay at home mom for a while, and my husband was very supportive, so we figured out a way to make it work. Bryant was such an easy baby; Sleeping through the night at just one month old, really only crying when he was hungry or tired, and settling into his routine fairly quickly.

I on the other hand… did not adjust so well. I had zero routine. I was somewhere between going with the flow and getting run over. My husband would call me during his lunch break and ask what I had been doing, and sometimes my answer would be 100 things before 10:00AM! And other days, all I had done was watched Real Housewives and eaten a bowl of cereal.

I was constantly criticizing myself, feeling like a failure at the end of most days. Did I read Bryant enough books? Did he do tummy time for long enough? When was the last time I showered? What’s for dinner? I felt like the days were going by and Bryant was growing up, but what was I doing with my life? Was motherhood the only thing that defined me now? Did staying at home mean my life was truly over and all about Bryant?

I knew had to get some semblance of control back, but how would I do it? I decided I would set some non-negotiable “daily rules” now that I was staying at home. I do these things consistently, every single day, and I think it has made me feel so much more confident in my choice to stay home, so much happier as a mom and just makes me feel successful day in and day out!

1. Wash your face and brush your teeth.

I do this every morning before I get Bryant out of bed. In 20 years, your baby is not going to tell their therapist about all the times you didn’t go get them out of their crib the moment they woke up. He/she will survive you taking 3 minutes to practice a little personal hygiene.

It just makes me feel alive and awake and ready for the day ahead!

2. Get dressed.

I don’t mean get dressed up, by any means! If I’m being honest, sometimes I just change out of a pair of pajamas and into a pair of leggings! But some days I do put on a bra and a cute top. It just depends on what that day holds! But this is just a simple way I can feel like I accomplished something.

3. Set up a cleaning/laundry schedule.

This has saved me. I am a extremely distracted person, so having things planned out and written down is VERY helpful. At the beginning of this year I wrote out a cleaning schedule and stuck it on the fridge and it has been so helpful! Each day I clean one room in my house during Bryant’s naptime. For clarification, this isn’t a deep clean. I just do the basics: dust and vacuum and pick up clutter. But it helps! And it feels like I really got something done, and there’s usually still time to watch an episode of Law & Order before the baby wakes up!

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4. Meal Plan

I’m not big into meal prepping, but I ALWAYS meal plan. This is something that just makes me feel like I have a little bit of structure to lean on when the days are chaotic. I start at the beginning of each month and write down anything going on that month, and then plan meals week by week. That way I can see our schedule at a glance, and then plan supper around anything we have going on. I try and plan ahead for eating out and picking up fast food, too!

5. Journal

This is not something I did pre-baby, but I wish I had. I take time each day to write down something—anything! It doesn’t have to be a page full of your deepest hopes and dreams, but just what you’re feeling or what you have planned for the day. I usually do it in the morning, but doing it at night could be cool as a way to reflect on the day before you go to bed. I think journaling is just an easy way to feel connected to your life, especially when it feels monotonous.

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Of course, you don’t have to follow all of my “rules” – in fact, you don’t have to follow any of them! But when I felt like my life was spinning somewhat out of control, these are just some of the ways I found helpful to take back control. What about you? What “rules” have you set to make life run a little bit more smoothly day to day?

 


 

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Laura Beth Harpe is a wife and mother, living in small-town Georgia. She loves connecting with other mamas as they stumble through the new season of motherhood. She loves shopping and binging Bravo and Law and Order: SUV. Learn more about her here!