August 10, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Balancing Life as a Working Stay-at-Home Mother

It brings me so much joy to publish this twelfth feature article. Twelfth! It has been such a pleasure getting to know these women better and to read about their strengths. Doing so has lifted me up in so many ways.  And, I'm thrilled to introduce you to today's writer, my sister-in-law, Capria Fullerton! 

Capria (or Capi for short), is living in Southern California with her husband, Kevin, and their two adorable babes, Kaleo and Ezra. She is an entrepreneur and small business owner working from home all while raising their boys. She loves spending her time with family, especially at Disney Land or the Safari Park! Capi is quite literally one of the sweetest, purest souls I've ever met and I'm so grateful she is my sister and friend. I know you will find so much inspiration from her feature today and hope you apply her steps on how to better balance your life as a working mama!

When I was very young, every night at 8 o’clock I would let my parents know I was headed to bed. My mind and body knew exactly what I needed and when, and it was as simple as listening to what those were. Nowadays, I’m not so good at daily schedules but I do still like having a plan and sticking to it when possible. 
When I was 16, I thought I had my life mapped out for the next 10 years. Teenagers seem to just know everything about life like that. As soon as I could drive, I knew my plan: transfer to a Charter school, get a job (or 3), finish my high school courses, go to college. Check. Check. Check. Somewhere along the way I’d find a loving husband and maybe start having kids by the time I was 25. That was my idea of the typical and full life that I wanted.

Fast forward to today. I’m 23 years old, a college graduate, running 2 small home businesses, happily married (to the PERFECT man I might add), and we have two small kids. Not so far off from what I imagined as a teenager! On paper, I’m just checking off life boxes. In reality, I’ve truly struggled with finding a balance between my own independence and becoming a mother. I’ve struggled with finding the line between self-care and selfishness. It’s a constant push and pull but each morning I put together a little mental checklist to help me prioritize what needs to get done.

First, I consider what kind of day my kids had yesterday. Was it full of fun activities or was it more of a laid back and watch TV kind of day? I truly try to limit the amount of screen time the boys get but we all know it can save our sanity occasionally. I try to keep it educational mostly, makes me feel less guilty. 

When it all comes down to it, I just want them to have a good day. Even if we have a rough day here and there, which is inevitable, I at least want us to end the day on some sort of good note. Whether it’s a little ice cream we share, a quick tv show, or even just a big hug to let them feel my love. 

Then, I analyze where MY energy level is at. What is practical for me to do today that won’t overwhelm me? Becoming a mother has really pushed me to my limits. Between carrying babies full term, losing sleep, nursing my babies, and trying to keep up with them is exhausting! I deeply cherish the bonds that I have with my boys and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love being able to be a stay at home mom for them and help them learn and grow! 

The reality of it is though, I’m not going to have the same energy everyday and that’s okay. My boys don’t need someone who is high energy every single day. What they need is a happy momma who they feel is a safe place for them. I’ve come to realize that if I put too much on my plate, I get crabby. Who doesn’t? Knowing my limits has really helped me stay consistent with my energy and be that safe place that they need me to be. 

This one, to me, is actually my favorite. But not in the way that you may think! I have 2 at home businesses; A baking business and a 100% real nail polish strip business. Two completely different areas but I love them both! It is stress relieving for me to spend all day baking a wedding cake in a crazy hot kitchen. It is equally stress relieving hoping on my social media to do a live sale of nail polish. This was the part of me before becoming a mother, that I couldn't part with.

It gives me an opportunity to think creatively and have conversations with real adults outside my immediate family. This is what allows me to reconnect and be the best version of myself for my husband and children. I have to give a huge shoutout to my husband in this section because I literally could not do this without his help. He is so supportive of me and my businesses, he knows what it means to me and he does everything in his power to make sure I’m at my best for our family and my customers. We make such a great team and I truly wouldn’t be where I am (mentally, emotionally, physically) without him, his love and his support! 

Lastly (and my least favorite), I assess my home and what chores need to be done. Chores to me are daunting because they never cease. There’s always something that needs to be done and we never have enough hours in the day to do it ALL. We came back from a long vacation recently and it’s taken me nearly a week to get all of our laundry washed AND put away. Let’s not even mention the dishes that are piling up in the sink right now. 

I will always pick soothing my child over finishing those dishes because he needs to feel that reassurance from me. I need him to know that no matter what, I will stop what I’m doing to take care of him. There is nothing more important in my day to day than making sure these boys know, without a doubt, that their feelings matter to me. That they are my everything. 

I’ll ponder these four things at night for the next day, or in the morning, to try and map out our day. It is important not to push myself too far because I know I will get crabby with my children and that is NOT something I want them to remember about me from their childhood. It is a day-by-day balancing act on what I’m able to accomplish as a mother, wife, entrepreneur, daughter, friend and sister. 

We have so many hats that we are blessed to wear, but it is always important to take a step back and really find out how many we can balance on our head without every one of them toppling over. At the end of the day, I just want my family to feel the love we have for each other and be truly happy. Dirty dishes and all!

Thank you so much to Capi for sharing her insights on how to better balance your life as a working stay-at-home mother. It really does all come down to tackling life day-by-day, litte-by-little. She truly is an inspiration and such a hard worker - that shines through this piece! As a recap, here are the four steps she takes to ensure she can have a successful day:

Consider yesterday and evaluate how that affects your priorities for today

Analyze your energy and offer yourself grace on the low-energy days

Review your schedule to prioritize the things that need to get accomplished first

Access your home but always put your children first

August 3, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: How to Be the Parent Your Children Need

This week on Motherhood at a Glance, my sweet friend, Leah, will be talk to us about how to be the parent your children need - not the "perfect" parent that doesn't exist. But first, let me introduce you to this amazing human! Leah is a mama of two, Margot (2) and Knox (4.5 months)! Their little family has spent the last several years moving around the country but currently live in Saratoga Springs, UT. A few years ago, Leah became interested in photography and has loved it ever since! In her spare time, she shares her motherhood journey through instagram and enjoys eating good food, binging tv shows and spending time with her family!

Leah shares with us a little bit of her journey into motherhood and how it has taught her to focus on her children's needs and avoid attempting to be a "perfect" parent. I hope you find power in applying the tools suggested to find your voice as a mama and be the parent your children need!

Shortly after we brought Margot home from the hospital, I found myself doing some serious Googling during our middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. Those first few weeks home with a brand-spankin’-new human are rough, and I was practically holding my eyes open with clothespins to prevent myself from curling up and sleeping for about ten years straight. To keep myself occupied while my husband snoozed peacefully with his useless nipples, I asked Google all of my burning questions. I would google about baby poo: is it ok for breastfed babies to have green poop? I would google about infant sleep: how long should a newborn stay awake? What do I do if my baby won’t sleep? I’d google about postpartum healing. I’d google about screen time for babies. And as my daughter grew older and we later added our son to our family, I got stuck in a steady rhythm of seeking out advice from everywhere I possibly could: Instagram, Google, friends, family, you name it. It was making me pretty miserable, and that was because I was losing my own voice as a mother.

We live in a world where we have almost every answer in the palms of our hands. And while that may come in handy (no pun intended), I realized that I had become way too reliant on the voices and experiences of others and I wasn’t allowing myself to come to my own conclusions or make my own mistakes. There is a time and a place for advice, but sometimes all of that noise from external sources can drown out our motherly intuition. When we focus so much on what everyone else does we don’t end up doing anything. I am nowhere near perfect at it yet, but by cutting back on seeking out parenting advice , I’ve found myself in a much better place mentally. I feel like I’ve noticed increased patience within myself as I’ve given myself more room to make mistakes.

I think I had become so obsessed with being the “perfect” mother that I wasn’t focusing on just being the mother that my kids needed. I didn’t want to make mistakes, which I think was the root of my problem. I wanted to bypass all the trial and error and just get to the part where I could fix the problem that was in front of me. But by not allowing myself to make mistakes, I was missing cues from my kids, my husband, (and myself) that would help me find solutions to future issues more quickly. 

We need to find our own voice as parents because that voice is the one that our kids need. Our two-year-old doesn’t care that we read a hundred parenting threads about toddler behavioral issues. She just wants you to play with her outside. She just wants you to see her. By using external sources as a support rather than the solution, you’ll more than likely find the answers you need.

Listening to your own voice as a mother doesn’t mean you have to throw your phone in the garbage and live like you’re in Little House on the Prairie. Making sure you have phone-free time everyday is a great start if you find yourself overwhelmed and unsure where your voice starts and someone else’s stops.

A lot of my personal anxiety stems from researching too much about a particular topic. Milestones, food choices, sleep schedules, etc. Not everything we perceive as a problem is actually an issue, and by giving things some good-ole-fashioned time, those issues can often resolve themselves. Save yourself a bit of anxiety and unplug for 30 minutes a day. Turn your phone off, leave it upstairs, whatever you need to do to turn your attention elsewhere. I try to spend my phone-free time playing with my kids at their level. Although it might be tempting to do dishes instead, this time with my kids has been so valuable because it’s helped me learn so much more about their personalities. Seriously, phone-free time has helped me feel so much more in-tune with myself as a mother.

It seems like everyone these days has perfectly curated houses with oodles of Montessori toys and kids that eat more vegetables than most adults. And while that might be excellent for some families, that might not be what your family needs. So in those panic moments when you get worried that your toddler is only eating fruit snacks for what it seems like three meals a day, I’ve found that it’s helpful to change how I am seeing that certain situation. Instead of asking, *ahem,* googling something like: why can’t I make my toddler like vegetables?, I’ve started probing a little deeper and asking myself where the “problem”is coming from. Is it actually an issue that needs my attention? Or is this issue coming from a place of comparison? Am I truly wanting my child to eat healthier for her benefit, or am wanting her to eat the same food that Jane’s kids eat?

Although I of course want my child to eat balanced meals, maybe she likes fruit snacks better because she loves seeing the different colors. Although the sugar definitely might be part of it, how can I work with her and respond to what she personally needs? Maybe I can help her see that fruits and vegetables come in different colors too! Just turning that negative panic thought around a little bit can change your whole perspective.

Eliminating comparison is definitely easier said than done, but by keeping it a goal, I’ve found that I’ve not only been more compassionate towards myself, but I’ve been more compassionate towards others.

You are a good mother. You are a competent mother. You are a loving mother. Say that again three times. Find that voice within yourself. Acknowledge and accept that you will make mistakes as a mom. It’s literally impossible to never make a mistake, and I promise you’ll feel a lot better once you let go of that “perfect mom” ideal. Additionally, acknowledge that you have the tools within yourself to problem-solve. I am in no means eschewing the fact that it definitely takes a village to raise a child, so 100% lean on your support system when you need it. But remember that your support system doesn’t replace your inner voice. By trusting yourself, I promise you will become empowered. And empowered mothers raise empowered children. 

Thank you so much to Leah for sharing such wonderful insights on her strength of finding her voice in her motherhood and being able to focus on being the parent her children need. What an important skill that can ultimately help us in all areas of our lives! Especially right now when there is so much commotion and stress in the world, we need to learn to focus on our four walls and our family's needs.

As a recap, Leah's tips to be the parent your children need you can: 

Unplug for [at least] 30 minutes a day to have one-on-one time with your children to connect

Eliminate comparison by focusing on being a better version of yourself, not someone else

Remember that being human in expected and empower yourself in that truth