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Archive for the ‘Working Mom’ Category

It’s back to school time, kids! Most parents I know just feel like this:

I love that commercial.

Sorry. I needed a minute.

The truth is, yesterday was Max’s first day of KINDERGARTEN! I cried a little, I’m not going to lie. But the rest of the time. Oh, the rest of the time, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

That’s not true either. I made lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of monthly goals around the house. A list for the week for work. A list for the week for household stuff. A list of phone calls to make. All day long, more items kept popping into my head.

But that is all of what I could do versus what I was doing this summer, which was basically keeping both Max and Andy fully occupied as much as possible so they didn’t kill, harm, violate or scar one another. Many people in my real life have asked me how I do it, which is often short for, “How do you do it all?”

The truth is, during the school year, it’s not super difficult. My office is a gated off corner of the playroom, so whatever child historically has been with me during the day has an area to play while I work sort of normal hours while I occasionally get interrupted by a little person who has gotten stuck in the jumpy gym. Coworkers.

This is my cute planner. I realize I should add something to this cover.

This is my cute planner. I realize I should add something to this cover.

So in the spirit of lists and helpfulness, here are some of my tips and tricks and wisdoms for those stay at home working moms. Or outside working moms. Or moms. (Basically, all ya’ll.)

Be a morning person. Okay, not really. I am NOT a morning person. But morning is the best time to get stuff done. Partially because Andy is still napping in the afternoon, and partially because morning is when energy is better. In the summer, I’d work very early in the morning before breaking to get everyone clean and dressed. If we didn’t have an activity to get to, I’d work again while they played, as much as I could, until lunch.

Be mobile. This means if you have a laptop, take it wherever. I often worked outside this summer, while the boys rode their big wheel and pushed their toys up and down the driveway. If you have a project, take it where the kids are, as best you can.

My office for most of the summer.

My office for most of the summer.

Be ready for a working lunch. And dinner. And breakfast. Think about it. The children are occupied with food, and hopefully sitting. There is a table perfect for a laptop. You’ve got at least half an hour (or if you’re the parent of Andrew, an hour. That kid is a sloooooow eater.)

Be a planner. As in, during the summer I planned an activity every day. Park, play outside, zoo, lunch with dad, playdate, trip to store. Whatever, just something that occupied them and got some energy out before lunchtime. In the afternoon, I would plan something close to home for Max while Alex napped. Again, with play outside, work on a puzzle, bake some muffins.

Now that Max is in school that has shifted a bit. I still plan something for Andy to do every day, but not as elaborate. I get more one-on-one time with each child. It’s kind of nice.

Be a lister. So yes, plan an activity, but don’t schedule out every moment of your day. You will just end up disappointed, I promise! Children make you go with the flow, so I prefer a list. I have a monthly list of things to get done (usually house related things), and then a weekly list I make each Monday. (I also will do a daily list for work, or another task I have a deadline for). I will cross off as I go. And yes, I totally will do the dishes, go back to my list, write it down, and cross it off!

Ah, my list. As you can see, my plot to create this blog on Tuesday failed, as it's Thursday. :)

Ah, my list. As you can see, my plot to create this blog on Tuesday failed, as it’s Thursday. 🙂

Be prepared for interruptions. Unless you’re on a call, you can and will have your concentration broken. Andy fell. Max stole a toy. The sun is too bright. Whatever these two throw at me. It takes time to mentally shift your work mindset to “it’s okay. The work is still there. I can go back to it in ten minutes.” Some days I still totally lose my shit, though. I have been known to lock myself in my bathroom to finish an e-mail. Maybe.

Be accepting. As in, cut yourself some slack. There is not always going to be balance. Sometimes your children will not get the attention they want. Sometimes your client is going to wait a few hours before you respond to their requests. Almost always, your house is not perfectly clean (unless you hire a service). It’s okay. Everyone is still growing and breathing and happy.

So there you go! I hope this was helpful.

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This blog is being brough to you by my very new computer, purchased in a hasty click last week while I watched the last 20 minutes of my old computer’s battery die like a kind of horrible NYE ball drop. Dammit.

That’s the kind of holiday season we’ve been having around here. I ordered the wrong photos for our Christmas card. We got our tree two weeks late because of child illness and rain (and the post-rain mud put a little damper on things). Said late tree is crooked, and so about 1/3 of the ornaments are not on it. And at least half of our decorations for the house are still in boxes. The most festive part of our home is the outside–and that is because Ned/Thor/Gunnar put effort in to put up lights.

We’re celebrating a half Christmas.

Some years are like this, I know. The year Max was born, I told my friends and family that I would not be making Christmas cookies that year. There were some long faces. But what can you do? I got to the point this season where I wanted to just cancel putting up a tree.  I was missing the spirit. I looked at all the elfing I had to do and all I saw was work.

I partially blame Thanksgiving. It came too late. But this still doesn’t make me want to start the holiday season on Labor Day. I mean, c’mon. There were just too many deadlines and not enough time. Even though I cut back and even though I did most of my shopping online. The boys kept getting sick. It seemed like any moment I was able to stop and look around, all I wished I could do was take a nap.

I wonder if my mother felt this way. I know we never baked Christmas cookies together. She worked a crazy amount over the holiday season (she was the breadwinner) and didn’t have the time. She would stay up until 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Even to get the presents wrapped and if we were hosting, cleaning the house getting ready for company the next day. I wonder if she only put out half the decorations and skipped sending cards.

More than anything, I miss that luxury of being able to enjoy the holiday. To watch a Christmas movie all the way through, or spend an entire day shopping for gifts, or even being able to attend a church service. (We live in the country. Our church has one service at 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve … it’ll be a few years before they’ll stay up for that one.)

Moon-600So now the sick little man Max is in bed, feverish but still I think, sweet as pie as he falls asleep under his new moon nightlight. And little bug Andrew is protesting in his crib that Christmas is over. I think, in the end, we try and re-create our own childhood memories of Christmas. And often fail. But to them, it was perfect. This was an awesome day.

 

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20140205_085303A few weeks ago, I was calmly eating a stack of pancakes with warm maple syrup, enjoying my second cup of coffee as I peered out the window to an icy, icy day. It actually was quite beautiful. There is something peaceful about seeing the trees all frozen, much like a morning of fully-blanketed snow.

This quiet morning was the antithesis of my previous day, which made me laugh in hindsight, because I’m sure there are people who wonder what the life of a working-stay-at-home-mom (WSAHM) looks like. Here we go:

It’s 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night, and I’m in bed with my husband, Ned, aka Ned/Thor/Gunnar, aka NTG. This is early for me, but I’m not pumping tonight, and I’m exhausted from both kids waking up in the middle of the night the previous evening. And I have a giant proof to work on in the morning.

To ensure at least five hours of sleep, we’ve put the baby to bed rather late (around 10:00 p.m.) and nursed him twice in two hours. That oughtta do it.

At three thirty in the morning, I hear my eldest son, Max, begin to stir in his room. Thirty seconds later he’s in the hallway crying. NTG is up and out of bed, in his underwear, and I’m dragging myself out from under the covers. This is how it works, always. My brain wakes up and my bladder, which is processing about 100 to 120 ounces of water per day (breastfeeding momma), screams “I GOTTA GO!” So I go.

I get into the hallway and Max is lying in the doorway of his bathroom, NTG hovering over him going, “I dunno what’s wrong.” When Max sees me, he gets up. I pick him up and immediately am hit by the wall of smell: puke. I call to NTG, “Ned, he smells like vomit.” This also, is how it works: the kid wants mommy, so daddy has to go on puke patrol. Ned checks Max’s room and his bed, but there’s nothing.

So I get Max changed and calmed down and back to bed by 4:00 a.m. NTG cannot go back to sleep, so he camps out in the spare bedroom with his Droid. I, like most moms of young children, am asleep in seconds.

And then the baby wakes at five fifteen. I linger ’til five thirty, and then I spend the next half hour changing and nursing. I fall back into bed, and am re-awakened by the sound of Max getting up, seeing everyone else is asleep, and scurrying downstairs to make trouble. When I check the clock, it’s not quite eight.

So I drag myself out of bed and to the spare room to wake Ned, who I know has a conference call at 8:30 a.m. (Yeah, yeah, I’m Wife of the Year.) I go downstairs to check on Max, who still smells faintly of vomit, and try to get him to drink some water as I stumble around a full sink of dishes trying to make coffee.

And then, I feed the cat.

Max loses it. It’s his newest threenager move: he freaks whenever I’m feeding Andrew cereal, or the cat his breakfast/lunch/dinner. Terrible really, I totally don’t get it. I deal with that hot mess for about ten minutes until NTG comes downstairs to take over, and I go up and get the baby up. Again. I make a note while I’m in the bathroom to refill the soap dispenser.

Once Andy is settled into chewing a blue elephant rattle, I get to work stripping Max’s bed and throwing in a load of clothes. I, of course, have a load of dry laundry yet to be folded sitting in a basket, as well as a full dry load of diapers in the dryer. The morning starts to blur. NTG showers. I draw a bath for Max, finish folding all the laundry. NTG leaves for work and recaps the nights events saying, “I don’t know what that was.” In my head I say, It was puke. Just because you didn’t find it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The only thing in the world that smells like puke is puke! I go downstairs to gather up Max and give him a bath. The baby starts to fuss that he’s done for the morning and I leave Max to play while I nurse Andy to sleep. I swap out the washer for the dryer and throw in another load. Max is dried and dressed and refusing to have his nails trimmed. I turn off the light in the bathroom and make a mental note to refill the soap dispenser. I decide to take a shower when my stomach begins to urgently insist I do something about my no-breakfast. It’s ten thirty in the morning.

So I go downstairs to grab a cereal bar, and Max follows me, ready to eat. So I give him juice and water and dry cereal, and pray he keeps it down. Max follows me back upstairs when we’re done eating. I turn on the shower. He protests that I’m running water. I explain I have to get clean too. He’s not buying it.

I proceed to get “ready” for the day and crack open my laptop to check my e-mail. It’s now 11:30 a.m. Nothing urgent, so I enjoy a segment of The View and have a serious discussion with Max about why screaming in the room next to where his brother is sleeping isn’t a good idea.

I get downstairs to sit at my desk, which is in a gated-off part of our finished basement, and actually start working. I make one phone call and turn on the monitor. The baby is awake. *sigh* I trudge back upstairs to change his diaper, and end up changing his outfit because he’s leaked a bit, swap out clothes from the washer to the dryer, curse that I still haven’t remembered to fill the soap dispenser, and mentally decide to not take both boys out for a quick grocery run and make NTG do it instead. I get back downstairs to my office and as soon as I walk into the playroom, I can tell Max has pooped.

So all the way back upstairs to change a diaper (we cloth diaper, so trudging upstairs to our diapering station is a must.) I make another mental note to fetch the liquid soap from under the kitchen sink and refill the damn soap dispenser. Why is my stomach rumbling? It’s lunch time. I’ve not gotten a lick of work done. I decide to write this blog instead, because if I don’t, it’ll be 5:00 p.m. and I’ll be ready for a nap and a glass of wine. Or both.

I somehow get through lunch, another nap for the baby, a dozen emails regarding the font size of my latest book project, Max having a good twenty-minute door slamming fest, starting rice for dinner (cashew chicken, yum), getting the baby up from the nap, two more diaper changes and waiting for NTG to finally get home.

But he doesn’t get home. It’s the worst time of day, really, the witching hour for babies. By 6:00 p.m., I’m prepping food for Max, cereal for the baby, and prepping the meal for NTG and I so when he gets home, all I have to do is cook. In French they call this preparatory cooking mise en place. I call it the calm before the storm.

Max manages to keep himself busy enough while I feed Andrew cereal mixed with formula (because I didn’t pump last night, so I don’t have enough breastmilk to mix in). He doesn’t mind. We’re a little more than halfway through the feeding when Max climbs into my lap to whine about said feeding of his little brother. And … he smells. *sigh* Where is your father? So I quickly finish up the baby, wipe his face, carry the baby upstairs to his crib, come back downstairs and carry Max upstairs (’cause he’s still not over that whole Mommy-carry-me-I-still-want-to-be-the-baby thing). As I’m changing Max, Andy is crying. Max has leaked a little from his diaper, so I decide to just put pjs on him. Andy’s revving up. Where the eff is your father? I get Max set, and he wants me to carry him back downstairs. I call to Andy, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as if that will placate my non-speaking infant, get Max to the kitchen table and his dinner, tell him, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as I climb back upstairs to a now-screaming baby who just. Wants. To. Sleep.

Ned/Thor/Gunnar walks in the door just as I’m getting Andy to latch on.

I finally get to my proof once both children are sleeping. I finish writing this blog at 12:44 p.m.

And people wonder, what we moms do all day at home. I hope I was able to clear that up. We forget to fill soap dispensers.

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It is 6:45 p.m., the night before my cousin’s wedding. We are getting ready to attend the rehearsal dinner at 7:30 p.m., and I already have tried on and rejected two outfit options for the night, for legitimate reasons. I look a polka-dot and/or flower-stitched stuffed sausage in either outfit. Dammit.

No kids, this is not a picture of me.

I am now desperately trying to squeeze on a full-body piece of shapewear, in an attempt to smooth out my insanely puffy midsection, which to my eyes now resembles my first trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, I am trying not to sink into a full-on hormonal meltdown.

The post-baby mommy body varies for woman to woman. For me, it has fluctuated. I have Eh, I Don’t Care days, or I’m Getting Better, Allllmost Fit Into Those Jeans days. Sometimes it’s Dammit, Shouldn’t of Had The Cake nights or Why I Am I Still So Fat mornings in front of the mirror. At any rate, I am like most post-baby moms: Way too hard on myself about shaping up my body.

My blog has often taken on the confessionary tone of a lock-and-key diary when it comes to my mommy body, and exercise, and those still-hanging-on baby pounds. And frankly, it’s exhausting. Some weeks are awesome, I have time on my hands to yoga, or curse at Bob Harper while doing a workout DVD. Some weeks I want to eat Oreos. Or consume nothing but ice tea and lettuce all day.

But darn it, I wish I could find some acceptance of my body.

The issue with squeezing into black Lycra before putting on a rehearsal dinner dress is that the act is so damn embarrassing. I want to look hot again. And get a few cat calls. Max is almost two. Isn’t it too late to use the baby excuse for being overweight?

So as I laid my head down Thursday night, I sent a little something into the Universe, so I at least could continue walking around with my head held higher, no matter what type of water retention tricks my body was planning for the next day.

That morning, while easing into my first cup of coffee, I saw this segment on GMA.

Turns out, there is a movement out there to help us learn to accept our mommy bodies. Although the piece does focus a bit on the celeb angle (I didn’t have a “celebrity body” before Max, I’m not aiming for one now), it does teach an important lesson: Kids became the priority. Life changes. Time is precious. Being healthy is more important than a beach body. And that’s okay.

To check out CT Working Moms and their goddess gallery that inspired this story, visit http://ctworkingmoms.com/goddess-gallery/

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It’s time for this mommy blog to turn once again to mommy and mommy issues. Yeah, I’m talking about skinny jeans. And my lack of yoga.

I in a quasi-anonymous fashion, I have admitted many embarrassing things on this blog. I am about to do it again. My son was born 20 months ago, my husband and I are talking about another baby, and I am yet to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants. That’s right, I’m hanging on to that last 10 pounds like an … ugh.

I write that, or think that thought, and my blood just begins to boil. Now, it’s not because I have yet to make any progress in the weight loss department. I no longer fit into my “fat” clothes; in fact, most of those clothes make me look like a clown in training. (Picture me, too big pants, a toddler and a diaper bag navigating a crowded Chik-Fil-A parking lot. I’m turning into Justin Bieber.)

So I’m falling outta my fat clothes, and yet my pre-baby clothes are still one, single, out-of-reach size away. I’m a solid 12. I own one item of clothing in this size:

These are my pants. My hole-almost-in-the-crotch pants. I discovered the hole about a month ago, while sitting crossed-legged in a library music class, with twenty other caregivers and children in the room. I have worn them and washed them to the point where they couldn’t handle it any more. They have exploded. (And yes, I have thought about wearing them around the house in emergencies. But, the irritated voices of Clinton Kelly and Stacy London then pop in my ear and stop me.)

Those same famous fashion voices would tell me, “Molly, buy pants that fit your body now.” I know, that seems logical. But … and this sounds whiny … I can’t. My whole tall-shopping-catalog-cost issue is just too much to contemplate it. Plus, I have an entire closet full of beautiful, already-paid-for size 10 clothes.

This entire scene just makes my O positive temp rise. Why can’t I be skinny?! (For that matter, why can’t cigarettes and chocolate chip cookies be good for you?) Really. Some of my mom friends, those naturally tiny, sizes fours (or twos or zeros) don’t even look like they carried a baby. Me getting skinny (in my proportion to a natural-size-four mom) requires either near-starvation or training for a triathlon. What mom has time for this?

On a pretty famous television show about losing weight, there was a theme of not letting excuses get in the way of weight loss. One of these, of course, was I don’t have time to work out. And although that is true, the follow-up was forgotten: I am just too damn tired to work out.

I did an aerobics workout DVD one night, gleefully finishing, showering and collapsing into bed. I thought, “I have found it! Work out at night. It’ll tire me out for sleep, not interrupt what I need to do during the day!” Yeah, that was like, a month ago. Turns out it was a freak accident that I was even awake enough at that hour to do more than roll off the couch.

And beyond the tired factor, between those regular, daily mom activities—participating in a mom’s group, work, husband and house—I don’t get where it is supposed to fit. Yes, when Max is sleeping I could work out. More than likely though, I am doing one of the aforementioned activities instead.

The truth is, I miss my active days, and that freedom to wake up, have some coffee and take off for a walk, or put on my yoga pants and breathe through my stress in a quiet, empty house.

So, besides complaining about it, I’m forcing myself to do something about it. If I want to have another baby, I need to lose the remnants of the last one. My new tactic is to start yoga again, and if I can get it in more than once a week, I’ll be happy. I write this with the qualifier of having done yoga today. Go me! Now I’m ready for a nap.

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Mommy brain. It’s officially here.

In my house, on a daily basis, I ask the question: “Where is my phone?” To which my husband replies, “Have you seen my glasses?”

It’s a family joke. Lately, with moving across several states, setting up a house, getting ready for the holidays, traveling to Ohio, and generally settling in, apparently my brain has too many things to keep track of. Not to mention the usual day-to-day tasks like caring for a very active 16-month-old, working and trying to find time to write a new blog.

This forgetful mom though, has gone beyond constantly misplacing my cell phone. I’m forgetting orange juice at the grocery store, my new phone number, why I walked from the basement up to the master bedroom. The list goes on.

The cell phone, however, still is a problem. My mom and I were getting ready to drive to my sister’s house on New Year’s Day, and I had just finished a phone call with Ned, who was driving back to Virginia, and I promised to keep my often-wayward phone in my pocket, so I’d get his call when he arrived home that night.

After a few minutes at my sister’s, it began to snow. We take Max outside, who is just squealing and running in the snow, and I immediately get my purse so I can take a picture with my phone and send it to Ned. And … my phone is not in my purse. I put it there right after I hung up with my husband, and yet ….

So I use my mother’s phone to call said husband and leave him a message to call me on her phone; which results in a later comical call where I spend a few moment’s explaining to Ned that he is indeed speaking to his wife, not his mother-in-law.

It gets to be bedtime, so we pack up. I put my mom’s phone back into my purse, to find that my phone has wiggled its way between the lining and the side of the bag. AHA! I’m not forgetful after all! Apparently though, I’m losing my eyesight.

I climb into the passenger seat of the car and say, “Wait, the camera! My purse!” My brother in law, also named Max, is heading out the front door with said purse, which does not in fact, contain a camera.

It takes me a few minutes after Max is snuggled into bed when my brain clicks and I say, “It’s in the diaper bag!” Phew. Good day. Lost phone disaster inadvertently averted, and lost camera disaster inadvertently corrected.

And then I realize … I haven’t lost my forgetfulness after all.

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Normally this would be called: “The Stay-at-Home Mom versus the Working Mom.” We all know this one; it starts on the message boards during pregnancy. The women planning a life as a SAHM form a group on one side of the room, while the WMs roll their eyes at them from the other side.

I am a bizarre hybrid of the two: The Stay-at-Home-Working Mom. It isn’t that far of a jump really, I actually have gotten to know tons of moms like this. We long ago shod our high heels and casual work outfits for weekdays spent in our home offices, typing, taking conference calls, and checking email while juggling laundry and dusting the furniture.

And then we got pregnant.

This jump from being a self-employed, work-from-homer turned into a question of what I was to become once the baby got here, maybe not a SAHM at all, but something else entirely. I remember so many people would say things to me like, “It’s so nice that you work from home, how convenient.” Or, “That’s great that you’ll still be able to work after the baby comes.” And I looked at these people like they had six heads. Are you crazy?

And yet.

Back in January, I began to take on projects again. And although I’m technically working part-time, add part-time job (which does require brain power/functionality/decent sleep) with full-time job of Mom and I’m peering over to the other side of the room, a little envy for the WMs with their smartphones and their carpools and their ability to spend their work hours focusing on work, not jumping from diaper changes to taking a call to temper tantrums and trying to finish some billing to changing your shirt from spit up and then back to the keyboard.

I am thinking about this lately because it is bit of a conundrum. I believe that the overall consensus (or opinion of the world) on SAHMs is that they are lucky ducks. You are so blessed you don’t have to work. Getting to stay home and rock the baby, play with the baby, takes naps with the baby … tsk! There should be no complaining!

Yet I watch friends on all sides, SAHMs, WMs, part-time WMs, and SAHMs with side-projects, all trying to figure how to balance life, and figure out what our value is now, post-baby. Some moms don’t feel recognized enough by their spouse or former coworkers or family members because they are not the hunters that go out and chase down the money. Some moms carry around a giant chunk of guilt during the day, wondering if it’s worth it to give away half their paycheck to a daycare.

It makes me think about our foremothers; the ones that fought to get out of their kitchens, forgo their aprons and transform our reality to that of “working families.” It makes me wonder about what my days would be like if I didn’t work at all. It makes me worry about how my workdays will change when it’s time for a second baby.

The truth is right now, I feel that extra satisfaction and pride even, that my son needs me and clients need me and my own writing career needs me enough to try and juggle it all. (It also totally could be just part of my Gemini personality.) But in the meantime I’m carrying around a new awareness about respecting all moms, and their family’s choices.

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