January 9, 2018

This One Hack Will Revolutionize Your Parenting/Work Balance

tip parenting work life balance stay at home mom working mom work from home mom wake up earlyThis parenting blog post is about tips to achieve a better work-life balance. Tips working parents.

I started a habit about two or more years ago that has revolutionized my stay-at-home-mom/part-time-work-from-home life.

I started setting my alarm two hours before my kids (mostly) woke up, no matter what I had going on the next day. Wait! Before you click out of this article, hear me out.

This one habit has been a game-changer in my life. Period.

In the last two years I have played all of the following roles, at certain points I played all of them at the same time: stay-at-home-mom, contract public relations worker, master’s degree student, I was the communications director for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, a singer at church, I also run this blog and corresponding social media sites.

I have three children, one of my sons has special needs and requires therapy multiple times a week and my other son has health complications, so I am constantly at appointments.

How do you do it all? Is a question I get a lot. Here’s the answer: I wake up at 5 a.m.

When I was a new stay-at-home-mom I let my baby be my alarm clock. Unless you are in the sleep-deprived newborn phase- I just don’t think this is the best way to start the day.

I have a whole day of being at the kid’s disposals in front of me, so now I guarantee myself some time alone before the day really begins.

Here’s what waking up at 5 a.m. ultimately gets me—more time with family. By waking up at 5 a.m., I can be done with work before the evening rolls around. Which means I can have a glass of wine with my husband and truly relax with him at the end of the day.

Here’s what it also gets me: I start my day off feeling whole and not rushed.

With three kids under five-years-old, I find it crucial to have my mind awake and my heart grounded before being pulled in a hundred different directions. When I give into the temptation to hit the snooze button, my patience with the kids automatically becomes thinner. 

There’s a lot of unpredictability, with kids, especially really tiny ones, but I can count at a minimum the first hour, or a full two, of my day to be mine and mine alone.

A morning news anchor gave me this little piece of wisdom several years back—getting out of bed is hard whether it’s at 7 a.m. or 2 a.m. It’s just hard. So, why not give yourself the extra time to do some things you really want to do?

No single schedule works for everyone, I get that. Some get their best work done at night; I get that too. This works for me because I don’t have to sacrifice time with my husband to get my work in. He also wakes up even earlier than I do, so he can go to the gym without it cutting into our evening family time. Which is something I may also have to start doing with my current list of goals.

So, if you’re looking to have more time to yourself in 2018, or to be more productive, or both, set your alarm two or maybe even three hours (I’m seriously considering it) before you need to. Try it for a week or two and see if this habit works for you! I think it’s smart, I think it’s self-care, I think it’s a New Year’s Resolution that may actually stick.

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One HACK

By the way, here’s what a typical weekday of mine looks like. Of course, this doesn’t account for unexpected interruptions…which happen every single day, but here’s what a day loosely resembles:

5:05- I’m on the couch with coffee and reading my bible

5:30- Either working on a blog, PR piece, school or working out

6 :00- Either keep working OR Quick shower

6:30ish- Baby typically wakes up

7:00- All kids are usually up, start getting breakfast together

7:15- Let the kids eat breakfast in front of Sesame Street, get dressed (or stay in work out clothes and get more work in)

7:40- Get kids dressed

8:20-12:30- Out for preschool, doctor appointments, a fun activity, etc. I often get additional work done in these hours by taking the kids to childcare at the gym.

12:30- Lunch at home with the kids

1:30- Toddler goes down for a nap, I do some activity with my four-year-old

2ish- I work, four-year-old gets iPad time, does puzzles, magnet tiles, plays with baby brother, etc.

4:00- Toddler wakes up, turn on TV

4:30- Start dinner while kids either play or watch another show- depending on their moods.

5:15- Eat Dinner

6:00- Baths

6:30- Dance Party

6:45- Read Books

7- Start putting kids in bed

7:30-8- Husband I tag team picking up the house

8:00-9 or 9:30- Husband and I spend time together

9:30- Bed

 

December 18, 2017

To The Moms Saying “No” this Christmas

not sending christmas cards moms saying no this christmas

I decided not to do Christmas cards this year.

It’s been a hard year for our family. With all we have going on, it just felt like another thing. Another thing I was doing- just because I should. 

Of course, when the Christmas cards started filing into our mailbox, the guilt crept in. I should be reciprocating. But you know what? No. 

 We put so much pressure on ourselves to keep up all the time. This year I’m waving the white flag. I can’t keep up and I no longer feel sorry. 

It is what it is this year. If I had spent time making cards, I might have missed out on baking cookies and watching Christmas movies with my 4-year-old or sitting in front of the fireplace with my husband. 
 
Christmas is about giving, but I can’t give this way, this year. Christmas cards were not on the priority list.  Maybe the cards will go out next year, or maybe not. But I’m not going to do them because of pressure I put on myself to keep up.
 To the moms saying “no” this Christmas-

To the mom saying “no” to sending Christmas cards this year- you’re doing fine. 
 
To the mom saying “no” to bouncing around to different houses on Christmas Day- your family will be okay.
 
To the mom saying “no” to yet another holiday party- the party will go on.
 
To the mom saying “no” to more commitments this December- let them really go.
 
Dear mom, drop the guilt over saying “no” this Christmas. Drop it right now. Because in saying “no” to the extra, you’re really saying “yes” to the things that matter most.
 
Your “no” is a “yes” to your family. Your “no” is a “yes” to the peace the season is supposed to bring. Your “no” on spending time on stuff, is a “yes” to spending time together.
 
You’re saying “yes” to your own well being, which is perhaps the most important “yes” of all. Because, mom, you’re it. You may not be the reason for the season, but you’re the one who makes it sparkle. Whether your child is 3 or 23, you’re the magic maker, the dream granter, you’re the reason they’ve been waiting for this time of year all year long.
 
So, mom, it’s okay to say “no” this Christmas, because your “no” to something that doesn’t matter all that much, is making it possible for you to say “yes” to the things that really do.
 
Moms, you’re doing more than fine. You’re the memory curator, the heart warmer and the atmosphere setter. You’re the marshmallows on top of your kids’ hot chocolate. Mom, you’re it.
 
Merry Christmas, Moms.

To our friends and family- we really do love getting your cards. They make me smile when they come in and I love looking at them throughout the month. Thank you for thinking of us even though we could not give to you in this way this year. 

December 11, 2017

Soaking In The Moments

late to preschool soaking in moments kids kindergarten parenting
Today I was purposefully late to preschool drop-off.

The weather is nasty here. It’s cold and rainy; the kind of weather you only enjoy when you have the option of staying home. It’s the kind of weather you actually don’t mind around Christmas time because you have an excuse to be inside and curl up by the warm fireplace and take in the glow of the tree lights. It’s the kind of weather that makes your early bird children sleep in.

Today, I didn’t wake them. I let them sleep. With adding a new baby into the family, there’s always a transition period. It’s often filled with a blur of chaotic and sometimes incoherent memories. Things have been rushed. Every day is a challenge. As much as I felt the need for a break, I thought perhaps they needed one, too. So, today I decided to just be.

I read my book with the baby in my lap before the big kids woke, and when they did eventually come downstairs, I cuddled them while watching an entire episode of Sesame Street. While they ate breakfast, I got in a full workout. I even stopped at a donut shop to get them a special treat when I decided to finally leave.

I thought about skipping school altogether. But my son with Down syndrome only gets to go twice a week and I know it’s important for his development. So, we went. But instead of rushing, instead of stressing, this morning we just were for a bit longer.

The time is approaching, and quickly, where my daughter will be in kindergarten and my son with special needs will be in public preschool. Things will get more rigorous.

So, today, I said no being on time, and yes to taking our time. Today, I decided to enjoy instead of stress. Today, I decided to soak in these quiet moments while we still can.

soaking in the moments