Motherhood has changed how I think of myself. Right now, I’m just a mom and that’s okay.
I’ve done all kinds of things in my life. In my twenties, I modeled and worked in local theater productions. I even had a small stint as a regular occurring extra on NBC’s Friday Night Lights. For fifteen years, I worked as an insurance professional, handling major claims and being deposed in lawsuits. I’ve also worked as an artist and later an art curator. I’m a multifaceted woman, but before motherhood, I always staked my identity in my career.
After the birth of my first son, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Those first few months were hard. Honestly, I cried every day. Being a mom was so stinking tough. Being a stay-at-home mom meant I’d never get a break from my child. Everything landed squarely on my shoulders. The house. The chores. The baby. It was all me. I didn’t know who I was. I mean, who was I if I wasn’t the career woman? Who was I if I wasn’t being creative? I had no idea who I was anymore.
My life had turned into a mess of poopy diapers. The only conversation I had was with a babbling little boy who lovingly stared at me, while I toiled with emotions of regret. Had I made the wrong choice? My whole day suddenly centered around feedings and naptimes. I lost my identity. I wondered if I could handle the solitude, the isolation that comes with being a stay-at-home-mom. I literally, had no one. Co-workers soon forgot me. Childless friends moved on.
I hadn’t counted on the feelings of regret. At first, I was happy to leave the stress-filled job I had. Happy to – what I thought – was going to be a break from hard work (I know, I was naive). I thought motherhood was going to be nothing but joy, laughter, and contentment, and while those moments exist, there are just as many moments that have tears, and frustration, and sacrifice.
At about nine months postpartum, I realized I needed to stop wishing for my old identity and instead create a new one. But doing that would require a whole new mind-shift. It would require me to value what I was doing. Or maybe more precisely, it would require me to see this season as my most valuable. A season that utilized my gifts and past experiences in a new, precious way. That everything I had accomplished before now wasn’t actually for my sake, but for my sons.
I am now four years into being a stay-at-home mom and I’m not going to be done anytime soon. You see, I’ve decided to homeschool. So with that, I resign myself to many more years at home. Many more irreplaceable days where I get to watch my babies grow, learn, and become gentlemen. But these days, I love my new identity. I love being “just a mom.”
In this new identity, I have realized that I traded in an important job for the most important job. Any career I’d have would pale in comparison to what I’m accomplishing with my sons. (That’s not a dig at working moms. Every mom’s journey is valuable.)
Not long ago, I reconnected with an old friend. She scoffed at the idea of staying home with children and asked plainly, “don’t you regret wasting your education and talents at home?” Oh friend, if only you knew how intimately my talents and education gets utilized while I’m being “just a mom.” My oldest child is four and he can find Egypt on a map. He can identify the inner anatomy in the human ear. He uses musical terms like “fortissimo, accelerando, and crescendo.” He can identify the systems of the human body and describe their purpose. Trust me, my knowledge isn’t being wasted. It’s being passed on. My talents flourish here and my kids are the joyful recipients.
And likewise my wisdom and my faith. Being a stay-at-home-mom creates a uniquely intimate bond with a child because we are a witness to each other’s lives. We share the daily breathtaking surprises and unexpected adventures. The terrible. The mundane. The funny. The wow moments. Mom and child do it together. An “odd couple” team of sorts.
Those sweet babies? They see me fail. They see me fall short. They watch to see if I forgive first and love first. They watch me cling to Jesus and watch me praise Him in the storm. They’re watching to see how merciful I am to others and how I make friends. They are taking it all in, modeling me in every way. That’s a lot of pressure! I’ve realized this “dull existence” suddenly has a lot of meaning… and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My identity was forever altered when I became a mom – and it will change as my children grow up and need me less and less. One day, I’ll be hoping they pick up the phone and call me in the midst of their busy lives. Right now, I’m just a mom…and that’s okay.
Gotcha! You’ve entered a judgement free zone. This isn’t about parenting styles or choices. It’s about how to be good to yourself in this tough season of life. Here are 6 things you’re doing wrong as a mom.
I bet you saw this title and immediately thought I was about to judge you! I took a chance, knowing that the title of this post would turn people off right away. As you’ll see, that’s not what this post is about. This post is a loving reminder about being good to yourself. If there is anything we do wrong in motherhood it’s being overly harsh and critical with ourselves. We neglect ourselves far too often.
6 Things You’re Doing Wrong As a Mom
Y’all, I can be totally guilty of this. With all the things we have on our plates it’s so easy to put ourselves last. But you need balance in your life. You need a little fun, rest or relaxation. Sometimes just a couple of hours away is all you need. Mom burnout is a real thing. You can’t take care of your family well, if you’re depleted.
Taking care of yourself, needs to be as important as any doctor’s appointment or school function. It means planning ahead and scheduling time with yourself. I’ve already learned if I wait for it to happen it never will. It doesn’t matter how you spend that time. Maybe you take a long bubble bath or have a girl’s night with friends. Maybe it’s dinner and shopping trip alone or an evening at the gym. Just spend it doing something that recharges you and brings you joy. For ideas, take a look at my 30 Day Wellness Challenge.
Neglecting Your Marriage
Just as important as taking care of yourself is taking care of your marriage. We have a tendency to put kids first. That’s not a bad thing. But we have to remember to lovingly feed our marriage. If you don’t feed it, it will starve. I’ve always said that relationships are like bank accounts. When you are constantly making deposits, withdraws are easier to make. Withdraws are anything that subtracts from your marriage like occasional long hours at work or maybe some constructive “feedback.” Keep your marriage in the black. When you marriage is in the red it is strained and small withdraws can cause major upsets and fights. Hard times are easier to have when you are connected with your spouse.
This also includes making time for intimacy and sex. Yup…I’m going there. Sorry, me-maw! Girl, I know how hard it can be. You’ve been dealing with work and kids all day and the last thing you may want to do is “put out!” Haha! I know! Sometimes after a full day of being a human jungle gym the last thing I want is to be touched some more. But staying physically and emotionally close to your partner, really needs to take front and center stage. It gives your babies security and keeps your family strong. For ideas on small ways to connect, read my posts 25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse and Easy Cheap Date Nights At Home
Failing to Share Responsibility
Look, I get it. I really do. Sometimes…well, most of the time, it is so much easier to just to just do things yourself. Rather than listening to grumbling, whining, and complaining from a husband and kids it’s just easier to be the martyr and get it done. If you have control issues, you may even feel the only way it will get done right is by tackling it on your own.
However, two things happen when you do that. One, you shoulder the entire responsibility of household management which can lead to you having no time for yourself resulting in Mom Burnout. Secondly, your children miss out on developing vital life skills. I’m always amazed at how many women today can’t sew a button or cook something from scratch. It’s simply because they were never taught. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, I’m simply trying to illustrate that we lose generational skills and traditions when we fail to teach our children. Keep in mind, if you don’t teach your child, they can’t teach their kids. In my next post, I’ll share 100 Life Skills To Teach Your Child. Giving your child consistent responsibility not only builds character, but it prepares them for life. Be a little selfish – delegate!
Not Having a Mom Tribe
Okay, full disclosure. As I write this, I don’t have a mom tribe. I had one for a long while and I can honestly say it was the happiest time of my mom life so far. Then I hit a rough patch. I was struggling personally and I didn’t feel the support I used to feel. Kids were getting older and some moms had moved on once kids were in school. Others had literally moved away. For many reasons I began to question if I had outgrown my group. I still occasionally go, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore. It’s been a year since I made the very hard to decision to take a break. I don’t consider it to be a mistake, but I also feel like this year was incredibly hard doing mom life on my own.
There was no one to talk to for advice or empathy. I miss laughing and going out with friends. This dry season has taught me just how important it is to have a mom tribe. It doesn’t matter if you work or stay at home. You need some women in your life who “get you.” These days, there are lots of ways to find them – work, church, school, Facebook groups, Meetup groups, MOPS, etc. It’s scary at first to make new friends and you’ll probably have to go a few times before you feel comfortable. You may even need to go to a few groups to find one you jive with. That’s okay. Just get out and make some friends in the same stage of life as you. Don’t worry. I’m starting to get out there too!
Trying to Be Perfect
If you read this blog regularly you’ll know, I’m a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism can be really dangerous to your mental health. It’s also just a way to cover up insecurities. Goals are good and so is pushing yourself to do better. But some of us take it to an extreme and find ourselves crushed if we can’t meet our perceived standards.
The worse part about perfectionism is that it spills over to other people. We can begin to impose standards and expectations on family members and friends. It can turn into sanctimony and the judgement of others and nobody wants to feel judged.
Remember be kind and merciful to yourself. Give yourself room for growth and learning by extending grace to yourself on a regular basis. It will be good for you and your relationships. It has taken me a long time to learn that people don’t identity with perfectionism. They identify with flaws.
Okay, mama. This is a big one and I am guilty when it comes to this too. Mom guilt. It’s a real thing. It’s the sister of “trying to be perfect.” There are all kinds of things for which to feel guilty. Maybe you’re a working mom and you feel guilty that you don’t spend enough time with your kids. Maybe you feel guilty that you are overly harsh with your kids. Perhaps you feel guilty that you can’t keep up with your house or chores. The list is endless.
Guilt is a cognitive and emotional experience felt after a moral, personal, or universal standard isn’t met (accurate or not). Guilt is designed to be our moral compass to show us we’ve done something wrong. Shame and guilt are intended to be useful tools used to help convict us to do better. But something happens when it gets out of balance and it turns into excessive guilt. Feeling overly guilty can turn into self-condemnation and can lead our thoughts into very dark places. We may begin to feel unworthy of good things or happiness. It can lead to situational depression and unwarranted self-abuse. Remember, be compassionate with yourself.
Here are some steps to help:
Tell yourself you’ll do better next time
Remind yourself it was a learning experience and hindsight is always 20/20
Consider whether or not the situation was even within your control
Speak compassionately to yourself
Consider if your standards or ideals may be too high or rigorous
Remind yourself you are human and perfectionism isn’t possible
Before You Go
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Sure perfumes and chocolate are great. But that isn’t actually what I want. Here are 5 things I want for Mother’s Day. FREE Printable Mother’s Day cards included.
Mother’s Day is upon us. I love celebrating my own mother, my mother-in-law, and all the lovely mamas in my life. Presents are wonderful and there are always some things I’d love to have, but it got me thinking about what I really wanted. So here are 5 things I want on Mother’s Day.
5 Things I Want for Mother’s Day
To Go to the Bathroom By Myself
Every bathroom break is like a scene out of the Walking Dead. Hands are banging on the walls. Little fingers poke through the bottom of the door. I almost don’t remember what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself anymore.
My one year old is in a stage where he loves to pull magazines out of the basket, remove trashcan contents and shred an entire roll of toilet paper in 30 seconds flat. Watching me referee from the porcelain pedestal is quite the scene.
To Eat While My Food is Still Hot
It dawned on me the other day that hot food still exists. It’s been about 4 years since my meals were hot on a regular basis. Every mom knows that you are constantly jumping up from the table to meet the needs of everyone’s last minute meal requests. “More ketchup. Salt please. Can I get more ice? I’m out of water. Is there anymore corn?” By the time I sit down I’ve lost the will to eat.
And if moms aren’t getting up, we spend the rest of our meal convincing little people to eat their food, take sensible bites, and try their vegetables. I used to enjoy meals, but honestly – it’s exhausting. So on Mother’s Day, I’d like some piping hot food please!
To Have Someone Cook For Me
Yes, I want to be taken out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day. Please give me a break from the serfdom that is meal making. Somedays, I feel like a human vending machine. I spend a great deal of my “work day” dispensing drinks and snacks to toddlers – who are never on the same hunger / eating schedule. Then there is the constant cleaning, wiping and picking up of counters. Most days, I feel like I never leave the kitchen. So yes, on Mother’s Day I want someone else to take over for a day…or a meal…whatever.
To Do Nothing
Yes, I want to shirk nearly all responsibilities on Mother’s Day. I don’t care how ridiculous, selfish, or lazy that sounds. I want to do as little as possible. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming can all take a back seat for the day. Honestly, I don’t want a bunch of plans on Mother’s Day – just let me chill and do nothing. Unless it’s crafts. I’m totally cool with doing crafts all day.
To Be With My Family
Yes, I still want to be with my family. I don’t want everyone scattering away. Yes, I’d like some alone time, or maybe more to the point – some down time. But I love my family and I want my babies and my husband around me, loving me, and hugging on me. I want a break from the responsibility, not the people.
Free Mother’s Day Cards
As a special gift to all you mama’s out there, I’m providing some FREE Mother’s Day cards for the mothers in your life. I recommend printing this on white card stock. Trim on the horizontal dark grey line. Fold on the light grey vertical line. Use an envelope suitable for a 4×6 card.
To all the wonderful mamas out there, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you want for Mother’s Day
If you need support, advice, and help on how to navigate motherhood and marriage, then this post, 21 Bloggers to Help You Slay Motherhood, is a must-read.
This post, 21 Bloggers To Help You Slay Motherhood, contains some affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may make a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I love.
I know for me there are times when I feel alone in this game. Maybe I was naive, but I never expected to feel lonely and unsupported in motherhood and marriage. But the truth is, our journey is personal and it can sometimes feel isolating if you don’t have support.
That is one reason, I started this blog. I know I seek reassurance, knowledge and tips on how to be a better wife and mother. I want to feel like there is someone out there that can relate to my failures and problems. Frankly, I want someone in the trenches with me who’s got my back. Today I’m sharing 21 bloggers to help you slay motherhood. Some I’ve recently started reading, but most I have been reading for years! You’ll love them!
Before you leave, please subscribe to my blog (yup, shameless plug) and while you’re at it, subscribe to these lovely ladies.
Farmhouse on Boone
If you’re a fan of Joanna Gains, you’re going to fall in love with Lisa Bass at Farmhouse on Boone. Seriously, I think her and Joanna Gaines are spirit animals. Her site is stunning! She focuses on natural living, minimalism, farmhouse decor and a simple lifestyle. If you’re a crunchy mama you will love her wholesome, scratch recipes, natural remedies, and lifestyle tips. I also love that she provides homemade tutorials like basic sewing techniques (like how to thread a sewing machine and sew a seam), how to make a macrame wall hanging and your own body butter. Seriously, she’s what I aspire to be.
The Time Warp Wife
I’ve been following Darlene Schacht on The Time Warp Wife for some time now. It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten just how I found her. She is a New York Times best selling author. I love that her site is heavily Christian based (no problem if that isn’t your cup of tea). She is a mama of four and one thing I really love is her online bible studies. I love reading them over my morning coffee (and if I get to drink it while it’s still hot, that’s a plus). She also has tons of cute printables on her site. I would say Darlene focuses more on marriage and biblical living than anything else, but I find her posts bring me lots of peace.
The Dating Divas
I love the Dating Divas! I’ve followed them for a few years. Their cheery, happy site is dedicated to loving your spouse in the cutest way imaginable. If you are a mom or wife struggling with date night ideas, this site is for you! At home dates, group dates, sexy date nights, out of the house dates, you name it – they have it all planned out. They have the cutest ideas. We rarely get a date night so the at-home date nights have been amazing for us!
Two women run Rookie Moms. I personally love their product reviews. But they have lots of really helpful articles. From postpartum issues to sleep regression and toddler development, they have lots of informative posts to help you survive motherhood.
I’m choking up just writing this. Affair Recovery is more than just a blog / website. They’re also a retreat center for crumbling marriages, in particular ones that are going though an affair or other sexual addictions. They have lots of free resources, but my favorite is the Vlog series on YouTube. Early in my marriage, my husband had inappropriate feelings towards a co-worker as well as a pornography addiction. For years, I just couldn’t move past the hurt, especially since he continued to work closely with the woman. I watched one video per day, in particular with Samuel because I felt a connection with his words. It was painful to process those feelings at first. But I’m proud to say our marriage has completely healed from this and we have Affair Recovery to thank.
Tabitha runs this great blog, Meet Penny. Her blog is heavily focused on frugal living. I love all her helpful tips to save money. If you’re homeschooling, she has a huge library of free curriculum and resources to help you. Her parenting advice is also invaluable!
To Love, Honor & Vacuum
With over 42,000 subscribers, Sheila Wray Gregoire at To Love, Honor and Vacuum focuses heavily on marriage, marital sex, family, and faith. I found her when I was going through some heavy jealousy with a woman with which my husband works. A few of her posts, gave me some great insight on handling those feelings. I love that she focuses heavily on keeping the spark going in marriage. An author of eight books, she is also a public speaker.
On The Sunny Side of Something
I recently discovered Elease Colcord and her blog The Sunny Side of Something online and I can’t stop reading her! Her writing makes you feel like you’re her best friend and I have to remind myself, I don’t actually know her. Haha! She’s beautiful, entertaining, funny, but most of all – authentic. On her blog she shares recipes, parenting stories (both funny and tearjerking), personal growth, but my favorite section is MILP. Moms I’d Like to Punch. Oh em gee. It’s hilarious and totally relatable! Check her out. She’ll have you in stitches. Follow her on Instagram for more online fun.
Confessions of a Homeschooler
I’ve been following Erica for about 3 years on her site Confessions of a Homeschooler. On her site, she provides curriculum for preschoolers to grade school as well as homeschooling schedules for every grade, menu planning, lesson plans and tons of printables. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, I strongly recommend reading her site. She has a huge amount of learning resources for every age, including how to reduce test taking anxiety, how to take notes, and how to study for tests. You won’t regret it.
The Chic Site
How could I not include this, in 21 Bloggers to Slay Motherhood? If you haven’t heard of Rachel Hollis, you’ve been living under a rock. Okay, that’s harsh. But seriously, this lady is truly inspiring to me. On days when I totally feel like giving up on this blog, she reminds me not to take “no” for an answer. Her amazing book, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” is a best seller and her blog, The Chic Site is equally motivating. When I first found her (before her book), I think she tended to focus more on style, but she has really dug her heels into personal growth topics. I think her writing style is so sincere and authentic. If you haven’t read her book, you can find it on Amazon (link below). Also her new book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing” is now out in book stores. I can’t wait to read it!
Live Wise Love Well
I recently discovered Erika at Live Wise Love Well. Can I just say that she is such a beautiful lady, inside and out. She just did an outstanding series on the fruits of the spirit. If you’re struggling in areas like peace, patience, and gentleness, you need her in your life! Her message is beautiful and inspiring. She’s cute too! Like, really cute. If you need a chuckle, read her post, “How the Instapot Saved My Marriage.” She also does regular podcasts so go have a listen and subscribe to her!
The Purposeful Nest
I just recently discovered Ashley at The Purposeful Nest. A former police officer, she is now a stay-at-hom mom and homeschooler. Her lovely blog focuses on homeschooling, DIY and crafts, and family-oriented travel. Give her a read, you won’t be disappointed.
Club 31 Women
I’ve been reading Lisa Jacobson at Club 31 Women for years. One thing I love about Lisa is that she’s an older mother of 8 children. Yes, you read that right, 8. She brings wisdom and experience to her posts. Also, her recipes are delicious. Just sayin’. I love her focus on marriage and child rearing from a woman who’s been through it many times over. But what’s really special is that her husband, Matthew Jacobson has a “sister site” for men. His site, Faithful Man, is equally inspiring and full of encouragement. My husband and I like to read them both.
How To Be a Fun Mum
Just as the title suggests, New Zealander Kelly, wanted to be a fun mom, but wasn’t. That is until she totally turned her version of motherhood around and became a fun mom. She learned to embrace motherhood and enjoy it! Something I firmly believe moms should do. Her site, How To Be a Fun Mum, is dedicated to fun activities with your kids and they are indeed fun. My boys love to do the activities and I know yours will too!
Chronicles of a Momtessorian
Anitra runs a cute educational Mom’s blog called Chronicles of a Momtessorian. On her blog, she provides tons of Montessori based activities for your little ones that you can do at home. What’s really nice is that most activities are very easy to do…and we all want things to make life easier. Head to her blog for great educational resources.
The Measured Mom
A mother of six, Anna is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom. Her site, The Measured Mom, is dedicated to teaching children at home. She has both free printables and a shop. Furthermore, she has tools and resources for just about every subject. Handwriting, spelling, math, book lists, and themed teaching. She has 180,000 followers because of her great learning curriculum. Again, even if you aren’t homeschooling there are lots of resources that can be used to supplement your child’s public school education.
It’s My Sustainable Life
Calling crunchy moms! Suzan at It’s My Sustainable Life provides beautiful online content. Similar to Farmhouse on Boone, she focuses on holistic living. Her subjects include, up-cycling DIY projects, scratch recipes, gardening, food preservation, and natural remedies.
Jessica Plemons Kindergarten
This girl is amazing and I have so much for which to thank her! Her site, Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten offers the best tot school curriculum, baby activities and preschool curriculum I’ve ever come across. We used the tot school curriculum when my son was in the 2-3 age range. He learned so much from these lessons! Best of all they felt like play time to him and the lesson plans have a lot of flexibility. One of the best things is that Jessica runs a Facebook Group to go alongside of the curriculum. Here you can talk with other mothers and get advice strait from Jessica herself. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, you’ll love the themed activities that keep your little toddler’s hands busy!
Real Mom Nutrition
Sally at Real Mom Nutrition is a registered dietitian and mom. Her “no judgement” site is dedicated to getting your kids to eat healthy with her kid-friendly recipes and ideas. I love that she also posts often about picky eaters and provides real ways to get your picky child to try new things.
Mommy Knows Best
Jenny runs her blog, Mommy Knows Best. This blog is heavily focused on postpartum issues primarily lactation. Best of all she provides natural herbal remedies to treat low milk supply. If you are struggling to nurse, I highly recommend reading her blog.
Okay so Shay isn’t a blogger per se. She’s a vlogger on You Tube. But I think she is really valuable when it comes to budgeting, reducing debt and being financially responsible. She also uses the Happy Planner, Erin Condren and other cute methods to make boring household management fun! Hey 26,000 subscribers agree with me. Additionally, she has an Etsy shop with budgeting stickers and tools to make budgeting organized and more enjoyable.
I really hope this post, 21 Bloggers to Help You Slay Motherhood, was helpful to you. Please subscribe to these ladies if you feel like they speak to you. If you have found a blogger you love, I’d like to hear who and why you follow them in the comments below.
I know what you’re thinking. My title is dramatic! It’s just a planner. Wrong. It’s a Happy Planner and true to it’s name, it actually made me happier! Here is how Happy Planner changed my life.
One Hot Mess
With an appointment based job, I had always used a planner. When I left the workforce, I remember throwing away my dull, black hourly planner. After all, I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. What did I need a planner for? Stay-at-home moms have all the time in the world, right? Seriously, I thought there would be time for Netflix, Beachbody and scrapbooking. I know…I was clueless! Believe me, I learned the hard way.
Can I be really honest for a second? It’s going to sound awful. But for the first part of that first year, I really hated being a stay-at-home mom. I had lost my identity. But worse, I felt like I was failing at everything!
Mounds of laundry stared at me from my couch. Hampers were spilling over. Dishes were piled in the sink. I’m a hard worker. But I was seriously failing at every chore and responsibility I had. I double-booked myself all the time and flat out forgot my appointments. Also, I was struggling to adjust to only having one income supporting us. I was a mess.
Nothing Else Calmed the Chaos
I tried putting appointments in my phone. After all, this thousand dollar iPhone has to be good for something, right? It can set an alarm to go off so you don’t miss things. Honestly, half the time I forgot to even put things in it. I’ve always worked better with paper, where I can scribble thoughts and write notes to myself. The phone’s calendar really doesn’t allow for that. I even went back to my boring planner, but I had no motivation to open it up.
Discovering Happy Planner ®
I can recall the first day I discovered Happy Planner. It was an exceptionally rough day. I felt like a failure. I was at Hobby Lobby for some scrapbooking stuff and I stumbled across a Happy Planner. Let me say, this was years ago. Back when there was only a couple of covers to choose from. It was a simple black and white striped cover. I remember reluctantly putting it in my cart. Almost like it was a waste of money. Would I really use it? I specifically remember thinking, “maybe if it’s pretty and I can decorate it, I’ll want to use it.” (I’m pretty sure that is the business model of Happy Planner.) Isn’t that why many people don’t use a planner? They forget to open it up and use it!
And the sticker books? Girl, I was a Happy Planner babe before it was cool! Me and My Big Ideas had been around for a while. I had bought their scrapbooking stuff before. But this was still in the infancy of the Happy Planner. This is back in the day before value pack stickers even existed! There was a handful of 4 page sticker packs and the designs were fairly simple still. Can you imagine a time before metallic foiled stickers? It existed. I was there for it! These days, there are hundreds of gorgeous accessories!
Happy Planner Changed My Life
It Got My Creative Juices Flowing
Switching to Happy Planner totally worked. If you are unfamiliar with it, the pages within are beautiful and cheerful. The monthly dividers are gorgeous and often have inspirational quotes and sayings. Just thumbing through the pages is like opening a book of happiness! And no….Eric Condren doesn’t even come close to measuring up! (Sorry not sorry, Erin). These days, the stickers are to die for…like so pretty you almost don’t want to use them! So pretty, you convince yourself you need every single sticker book. So pretty that you’ll stand near an empty display shelf while a Michael’s employee unboxes the newest release. (Yes, I’ve done that!)
But in all seriousness, it worked. I had no time for arts & crafts. I was a trained artist in Europe. Living without creativity in my life was depressing. Being able to decorate my planner totally made me feel like I got my artistic yearnings out everyday!
It Increased My Self-Worth
Let me be even more personal. Being a stay-at-home mom is really hard. There are no raises or promotions if you do a good job. There are no IDPs and annual performance reviews. No one is there motivating you to do better. You can feel alone and invisible.
I doubt the ladies over at Happy Planner know just how much those cute little motivational quotes actually do motivate me. No one was feeding me positivity…that is until I found Happy Planner. There are days where I totally don’t feel like adulting and I open my Happy Planner and see exactly what I need to get moving. And as much as I hate to admit this publicly, I need my “gold stars” for a job well done. I need to feel like it matters.
I know what you’re thinking. “It’s a planner for goodness sake!” Happy Planner changed my life. First, it keeps me on task and helps me accomplish things (duh, it’s a planner). Secondly, it’s a record of my motherhood journey – every playdate, every birthday party, their milestones and memories are lovingly recorded in it’s pages. I use their wellness planner to maintain a work/life balance as a mom. It helps me prioritize “me time” and has helped me with my anxiety and depression issues. Their fitness planner helped me track my Gestational Diabetes diet (even my OBGYN was impressed). Furthermore, I use their budget accessories to keep me financially disciplined.
It Gave Me Back Control
When I first started staying home, I felt out of control. Frazzled. Overwhelmed. I was a steamy, hot mess! But using a Happy Planner has helped me gain control in every area of my life. I use the Faith Planner to help me maintain my relationship with God. Before the kids get up, I make my coffee, read The Word, and do my bible study. I use the Miss Maker one just for this blog. I use the Teacher Planner for our homeschooling. Honestly, I love it. When I wake up and am tempted to take a day off from homeschooling, all those inspiring teaching and learning quotes, make me want to get back at it and slay the day! It reminds me why I’m doing this! Happy planner changed my life.
One thing everyone loves about the Happy Planner is that it is completely customizable. It doesn’t matter if you need hourly, weekly, or a dashboard layout. They’ve got them all! But my favorite part is the discs. The innovative disc system allows you to remove and place any accessories where you want them. And boy do they have accessories! Plastic envelopes, dividers, folders, daily sheets, dry erase boards, more. I’ll be sharing more about the accessories in a follow-up post on how to use a Happy Planner to get organized. My point is just that you can tailor it to work for you and your needs. Above all, I love that it’s so flexible to fit my needs.
Over the last few years, I’ve converted so many people over to Happy Planner: friends, family, old co-workers, other moms – even my husband. I had to find a way to make it less girly for him, but he was anxious to see if would help him since he saw a miraculous transformation in me. It worked for him too. I’m so enthusiastic about Happy Planner because it really did help me plan a happy life.
Be sure to check out some of my other Happy Planner posts:
The feelings after surviving miscarriage are complex, but you aren’t alone mama. Surviving miscarriage is hard and I want you to know there is hope.
I was late. You see, I spent most of my 20’s as a doormat for meat-heads, young doctors and yes, even professional athletes. I dated sorry excuses for men. I didn’t believe men like my husband existed. In fact, it took nearly three years for us to get together and I did the asking. Although we had a whirlwind romance, by the time we married I was in my early thirties. Like many couples, we wanted at least one year together as a newly married couple. So at age 34, we began trying to start our little family.
We didn’t have to try long! I had stopped taking my birth control pill and didn’t even have one cycle. My expected period came and went. I recall laying in bed with my husband gleefully wondering if we had indeed become pregnant. After waiting a few days, I took a pregnancy test and nervously waited for those lines to appear. And appear they did! We were pregnant! That Sunday morning, my husband was still asleep before church. I woke him up, with that gross little pee stick behind my back. I could barely contain myself. It took him a moment, but he jumped out of bed. We were so happy.
You see, I almost couldn’t have children. A tumor and a pre-cancer scare left me minus one ovary. I had no idea if it would affect my ability to conceive. So when we got pregnant almost immediately, we felt like prayers had been answered.
Sharing the Good News
We immediately told our families, who were equally thrilled. We were so excited to announce it to the world. A few weeks later, I had the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor. Initially, I felt the early pregnancy symptoms: breast tenderness, nausea, etc. We immediately began planning.
Then a few weeks later, we went to my OB/GYN. I was about at week 9. As the doctor completed the vaginal sonogram, her silence told me something was wrong. We had lost the heartbeat. I tried to listen to her as she spoke to me, but the overwhelming feeling of grief and disappointment washed over me like an ocean. She explained, I could let the miscarriage occur naturally or I could under go a D&C. Honestly, the D&C sounded too akin to an abortion. I opted to go naturally. I went home and sobbed into a pillow.
Over the following weeks, the pregnancy symptoms faded away one by one. It was incredibly painful to experience. I didn’t know how painful miscarriage is. Nor did I understand the range of emotions I would feel.
We had planned a trip to Arizona to visit family and friends. Once there, I sobbed to my husband’s aunt, who told me of her own miscarriage some 40 years before. She insisted that despite having 5 live children, her thoughts still go back to the one she lost. She also encouraged me to name our baby so we didn’t refer to him or her as “the one we lost.” So after prayer, we named our baby “Gabriel (after the angel messenger) “Emmanuel (God is with us).
When we returned from our trip, I was 12 weeks into my pregnancy and still had not begun to miscarry. That is until one weekday afternoon around 3 pm. I felt the pain first. Then the contractions started and they increased in frequency and pain much like childbirth. I began to pass blood and tissue. I laid there on the bed weeping, moaning, and screaming into a pillow. My husband eventually came home and held me as it continued. We wept bitterly.
Surviving Miscarriage includes the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I absolutely went through all of them. The only way to get through denial is look at death square in the face. That’s why we have funerals. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. It allows us time to process grief. We need to see with our own eyes, they are no longer with us. That’s why I personally chose to go through miscarriage naturally. Even if you choose not to do that, you’ll find your way to “face it” because sadly, we can’t escape death.
Surprisingly, I felt angry at God. I was surprised to feel that way, but I did. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Later, I had anger at myself, which immediately moved me into the bargaining stage. This stage includes thoughts like “if only” and might even include asking God to bring them back in exchange for a promise on your part. The bargaining stage includes lots of self-blame. I wondered if I had worked too many hours or exercised too hard. Was it that glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Did I contribute to the death of my child? I felt like it was my fault. I felt like I had let my husband and our families down. It’s these thoughts that lead you down a dark road.
Depression hit me before I knew it. I no longer felt like a woman. What good was I if I couldn’t bear a child? Those thoughts seem extreme now, but my fatalistic thoughts seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. One time I broke down at bedtime. My husband asked why I was crying. “My child died alone in the dark. He didn’t even know his mommy was right there with him.” Now I know how silly that sounds. The fetus had no conscious thoughts yet, but that’s how badly grief terrorizes you. It’s confusing, overwhelming and it comes in waves. Like the ebb and flow of an ocean – one day you are good, the next day you aren’t.
We agreed to start trying again. We immediately got pregnant a second time. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried again. I was utterly devastated. It was hard to bounce back. Only after I started to share my story did I learn many women I knew had also miscarried. They’d dealt with it privately like a dirty little secret.
My husband and I agreed to take a break from trying and that’s when we conceived my oldest living son. I wish I could say, I enjoyed being pregnant, but honestly, I spent it terrified. I was always afraid of losing him. Miscarriage scars you by implanting deep fears. My pregnancies weren’t without complications. My placenta failed with both my sons. Both were born early – but both are amazingly awesome kids now.
Surviving Miscarriage & Restoration
Even though four years have passed, I still think of Gabriel and Daphne. I always will. I conceived them. I carried them. I was there when they died. Don’t let anyone tell you “it doesn’t count” because you lost him or her early in your pregnancy. Don’t let anyone tell you men don’t feel loss with a miscarriage. It is incredibly hurtful to them too. Let him know, he doesn’t need to “be strong” – it’s okay to mourn. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you it wasn’t a baby. The sound of the heartbeat has always been used to determine who is alive and who is dead. If you’re a Christian, cling to Jesus. Seriously, He helped me out of the pit and restored me (Ps 40:2). Surviving miscarriage is hard, but survive it, you will.
Staying home is a big decision for any woman. It’s hard to stay sane as a new stay at home mom. It doesn’t matter your background, although I think the more you’ve invested in your career the harder it is to give it up. Some women can’t stay home. It takes two incomes to make ends meet and there are some mothers who view staying home as giving up their independence. I’ve learned, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. You actually have to be extremely independent to be at home. It can be a very lonely road. There are no awards or commendations. No raises or promotions if you did an extra good job this year. And truly no sick days! I’ve learned it takes a very special person to do this and enjoy it.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I left a 50-hour a week job. It was a very stressful job full of confrontation and lawsuits. Moving from the corporate world to being at home was like shell shock but after lots of trial and error, I’ve learned what works for me. Here are some practical things that helped me stay sane when first started staying home. I hope they help you find your own way.
Create Routines and Schedules
My job was appointment based and so while I was working, I lived by a planner. When I quit my job, I threw it out. Who needs a planner at home, right? My first 6 months at home were awful. Let’s just say, I couldn’t get a handle on anything. I couldn’t keep up with chores. Laundry piled up. Dishes were stacked in the sink. I’d double booked myself or forgot appointments altogether. I felt unaccomplished and overwhelmed.
Then I discovered a Happy Planner. It’s a planner, except you can customize and decorate it. You may not be a planner person and that’s fine, but I will tell you that creating regular routines are good for both you and baby. You choose how stringent or relaxed you want it. Babies and toddlers do well on routines. It’s good for their circadian rythyms. When they know what to expect, it reduces anxiety and tantrums. They feel secure and you can better manage responsibilities without feeling frazzled.
Leave The House Often
I get it. I know how awful it is to leave the house with an infant. You feel like your packing for a 2 month trip across Europe. But the more often you go out, the more confident you’ll get doing it and eventually, it won’t even seem like such a big chore. This is key to staying sane as a stay at home mom. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. It’s easier to stay home, but I promise it will do both you and baby a world of good! You’ll feel like a prisoner in your own house if you don’t. I recommend one outing a day.
Meet your husband for lunch, visit parents or in-laws, or have breakfast with a friend. Take a walk with the stroller. It doesn’t even have to be outdoors. Walk a mall or shopping center. Target seems like stay-at-home mom hangout everywhere. You can stop at a coffee shop or schedule a play date with another mom. If you have shopping and errands to do, I recommend spacing them out one per day. You get a break from your house and one outing ensures it won’t be overwhelming. If it’s a very quick outing, make it easier on yourself by just bringing a diaper clutch. It’s scary at first, but over time it will become second nature.
Find Support With Other Moms
The most shocking thing about being a stay at home mom hit me at about six months. My phone stopped ringing. Maybe you’ll have a different experience than I did, but I was absolutely shocked by this. I was very quickly forgotten by friends and colleagues after a few months away from the workforce. I’m not blaming anyone.
When you have a baby, your life changes. It’s common to stop accepting invitations shortly after giving birth. After all, you’re not sleeping and you’re trying to find your feet. After a while, people stopped inviting me altogether. Severe post-partum depression compounded my loneliness. I didn’t have any friends in the same stage of life as me, but then I’m an older mom. Sadder still was that my poor husband, although supportive and attentive, was suddenly solely responsible for all my social and emotional needs. If you want to strain your marriage, this is a great way to do it. No one person can be your everything.
I needed friends. Not just any kind of friends. Friends who understood why it took me a couple of hours to leave the house and was still late. I needed friends who understood all the doubts and second guessing you do as a mom. Friends who force me to leave the house and have some fun. I needed mom friends. These days, if you don’t have any you know personally, you can find play date groups in Facebook groups, Meetup.com, churches, and local websites. I can’t tell you how my life changed when I made non-judgmental, supportive mom friends. I found out I wasn’t weird, inadequate or a failure.
Only in the last 50 to 60 years have women been in the workforce. Before that, all women were at home and had the support of other women at home. Your mom, sisters and neighbors were all at home too. They’d talk over the fence while they hung laundry on the line or did gardening. Women didn’t have to look far for support. Now women are divided between home and work. Those who choose to stay at home may feel alienated because we no longer have the support system we once did. But some awesome women out there have created mom and play date groups to help, so go join one!
Make Your Wellness a Priority
When my oldest son was about 8 months, I felt miserable. He was sleeping through the night, but I was still perpetually exhausted. If I’m being very honest, I had no joy either. I felt depleted in just about every way you can. That’s when I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself anymore. When you have a child, your focus goes from yourself to another person in an instant. That’s good, but don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself and you have to make it a priority. If you wait for it to happen organically, it won’t. Trust me. Don’t give yourself crumbs either. Make it a priority.
This means being deliberate and purposeful about making time for yourself, even if you have to pencil it in a planner. Talk to your partner and get them on board. Whether it’s exercise, a mom’s night out, or a long bubble bath, do things that bring you peace, restoration and fun. There are lots of ways to take care of yourself and I’ve written another post with a free printable if you need ideas. I used to think that “love thy neighbor as thyself” was just about another person. But it’s actually two commands in one. You can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t teach what you don’t know. Practicing regular self-love is about caring for yourself, so you can care for others.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
Attitude matters. When I was working, I went through a season of joylessness. I was working in insurance and was very unhappy that I wasn’t working in my field of study – psychology. But that’s when God revealed to me that I was using it, just not in the capacity that I had planned. Everyday I helped people recover when their house burned to the ground or was completely flooded. I was there when family members died. I was, in fact, doing the very thing for which I trained. Everything is a for a season, and it’s up to us to embrace the moment. To put it plainly, your happiness is up to you.
Some days you’ll have to dig deep to find it. It’s hard to remember there should be joy in this. It’s hard to remember why you’re doing this when the house is a mess, babies are fussy and toddlers are on the ground in a full blown fit. You’ll find yourself fantasizing about how perfect working was, even though it’s completely untrue. You had bad days there too. There will be days you need to adjust your attitude. Learn more about how to stay sane by Resetting Your Day as a Mom. Our kids grow up fast and these will one day be “the good old days.” The small things you do everyday are our children’s memories. Make it count, because their lives will be spent away from you longer than they were with you. Enjoy this season and bloom where you’re planted.
Give Yourself Grace
I saved this for last on purpose because it’s the last thing I want you to hear (or read, that is). We’re on our own journey. Your life should look like your own – no one else’s. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t homeschool and bake pies. It’s okay if your life isn’t Pinterest worthy. Trust me when I say Facebook, Instagram and other social media are full of moments that only make the highlight reel edit. It’s an illusion of perfection. Comparison will suck all the joy out of life. Don’t do it.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself grace for mistakes and learning. Make forgiving yourself a habit. Allow yourself to be human. Progress is more important than perfection. Just when you think you have the answers, children will change the questions and the learning begins again. Some days are going to be incredibly hard. Keeping little humans alive might be the only thing that gets done and that is perfectly okay.
Some days we don’t feel like adulting. Other days we’re just downright miserable, lonely and frustrated. Instead of wallowing in mom guilt, try these tips for Resetting Your Day As A Mom
It had been 9 days. Nine days of snotty notes, phlegm filled coughs and clingy, whiny children. Furthermore, I was sick and it was my fifth day battling this awful bug. All moms know there is no such thing as a sick day. Moms are expected to just chug some medicine and get right back to nursing others. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the coughing and sneezing, I had also managed to throw a birthday party for my husband.
By the time Monday rolled around, I was utterly exhausted and we were still sick. We hadn’t been out of the house in 9 days and let me tell you that cabin fever is a real thing. We were all sick of being sick and boy was it starting to affect my attitude.
Moodiness Is Contagious
From the moment I woke up, my toddler was under my feet following me around everywhere I went. I felt myself get irritated that I couldn’t even walk without feeling like I was going to trip over him. Normally pretty self-sufficient, he suddenly couldn’t do anything for himself. His mood crescendoed with a full-on meltdown when it was time for me to feed little brother.
Next, there was my infant who spent the better part of 5 days crying and refusing to be put down. The whining was so bad I felt like I could hear it even when he had stopped. Consistent baby cries are enough to make anyone feel like they’re going mad. I felt my blood boil. I just wanted to rest. The mess of the party was still looking at me and I had two babies that were requiring every ounce of energy I had. I wanted to walk out the door and run for the hills! My words whipped around the room like a scorpion’s tail. It’s a moment you pray no one ever sees. It reminded me of something someone said to me once.
If your pastor were to ring your doorbell right now, would your attitude change?
Ugh! Of course it would. It would,’t even have to be my pastor. But the answer tells you that you are totally capable of changing your attitude. You are in total control of how you behave. Therefore, if you could straiten up your attitude in a moment’s notice, it tells you that this crabby, ornery mood is totally on you! That’s right – it’s up to you. Believe me, I fail at this more than I care to admit. Moments like this that douse me with buckets of mom guilt afterwards. Here are some tips for resetting your day as a mom.
You Set The Tone
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a bad mood, you’re kids also seem to have the roughest, most emotionally charged day? That’s because you set the tone in your house. It’s true. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but girlfriend, it’s true. Your kids look to you to see how they should behave and they emulate what they see. If you are resistant and angry, they pick up on it. Worse, they mirror it.
The good news is that you can reset your attitude. It takes some determination, but more than anything it takes your will. You have to decide to change your attitude. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.
Take a Time Out
Stop. Just stop right in the middle of that fire-breathing sentence and pull yourself together. Listen to what you just said and how awful it sounded. Walk away from your kids for a second if you have to, but take a moment from spitting venom and cool down. It’s not easy to admit, but the truth is, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have meltdowns! If you need to, phone a friend. Sometimes distraction or talking with a supportive person is enough to change our attitude.
Breathe & Reset Your Day
Go strait up zen and breathe in and out meditation style. Listen to your breath. Let your heart rate fall. If you need to, talk to yourself. Pray. Mediate. It’s up to you. Because I’m a Christian, I often call out the enemy and rebuke him out loud. I recognize that I’m in a battle with an enemy who wants to steal my joy (John 10:10) and devour me (1 Peter 5:8). Compose yourself and decide not to act like that. You have the power to reset your day as a mom.
If there is one thing that I learned with my psychology degree, it’s that hurting people hurt other people. When we are hurting or depleted inside, it rears it’s ugly head in the form of lashing out. Normally there are rational explanations for our mood. Maybe we are running on a few hours of sleep. Similarly, maybe our kids aren’t feeling well. Maybe we’re just all a little tired of being cooped up in the house. It sometimes helps to get to the bottom of why we’re so moody. And if it’s your kids’ behavior that set you off, consider they are hurting or frustrated about something too. This is the place where reason and compassion meet. Gain some perspective and remember you control what happens next. You have a great life and you have so many things for which to be happy and grateful.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou
Resetting Your Day as a Mom
If you’re anything like me, you had grand plans for your day that suddenly feel like they have been hijacked. You must realize that that is a symptom of needing to be in control. Your plans; your way. Things don’t always go the way we planned and we must accept that. Be willing to let housework go for a day. It’s never ending anyway. I promise you, there would be housework tomorrow even if you worked today. No load of laundry is as important as loving your child.
Reprioritize and remove unnecessary commitments. Many times our moodiness comes from a place of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Take a good hard look at what you have on your plate. Remove unnecessary things that are weighing you down and reorder what you do have, spreading them out into manageable chunks. Delegate tasks to your husband. Usually most people don’t help, because they don’t know they’re needed.
Finally, ask for help. That friend, parent, in-law, sibling or neighbor who always says, “let me know if you need something,” is the one you need to call. People don’t go around offering help if they don’t mean it. If they offer, they truly don’t mind. Swallow your pride and ask for help. No one is going to think any less of you. If you’re truly struggling you need to call on the people that love you for help. Sometimes just having some support changes everything.
This is the hard part. Letting it go. Once emotions are settled and the moment has passed, we are quick to feel guilt and condemn ourselves. Identifying regrets is a healthy way to stop ourselves from making the same mistake, but it can become unhealthy if we wallow in self-pity and condemn ourselves. That’s because over time, we believe what we say about ourselves. If you constantly tell yourself you’re a failure and a bad mother, you’ll start to believe it. Don’t give into that. Part of self-care and self-love is forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes. This life is about progress, not perfection. Hold yourself accountable. Apologize if necessary. Commit to change. Move forward.
In conclusion, it is awful that are children see us at some of our worst moments. But even in our adult-sized tantrum we can show our children how to regain self-control. Don’t be hard on yourself, mama. You got this!