Hang in There, Mama

I started staying home with my kids when my oldest step-child was in 5th grade, my middle child was 1.5 years old and my youngest wasn’t even born yet. I had an idealized image of what that would look like… I thought it’d be a LOT of arts and crafts, puzzles, laughing, giggling, etc. And for awhile… it was! Then the baby was born.

I had a 21 month old and a baby at home and I was miserable. My daughter was THAT toddler… she hit me, she screamed at me, she threw fits at Target (I’ve written several blog posts about our Target misadventures)… and the baby cried. A LOT. Way more than I was prepared for…. The toddler cried about lack of attention and the baby just didn’t stop crying. The 3 month colic phase felt like years…. I felt like I was drowning. I never got out of my pajamas and I never did anything for myself. I was weighed down by so much mom guilt that I stopped enjoying the little things… I was anxious about my kids’ development, eating habits, temper tantrums, sleeping, EVERYTHING.

I’ll never forget the day that my husband looked at me and said, “Would you want to go back to work?” It was tough to consider: I felt like a failure. I am a MOM… I should be able to do this. My mother stayed home with me, I see other moms staying home with their toddlers & babies and they look so happy (and fit! Holy crap are they fit!). When my husband shined the light on my depression, I realized I wasn’t the best mom I could be by staying home. Staying home with toddlers and babies is the actual hardest job in the entire world. If I were writing a resume, skills include: patience, cooking, cleaning, cleaning again, negotiating, staying calm, not crying despite wanting to OVER AND OVER, vulnerability, and about 100 other attributes. I wasn’t vulnerable enough to admit that I needed help… and I quit. And I’m so happy I did.

Fast forward 2 years: I was so happy at work, I was a better mom than I had ever been, and we were a HAPPY FAMILY. We had arguments, a messy house, and my oldest became a teenager which was a huge wakeup call… but we were HAPPY. Then my mom became sick… like really sick. I realized that the mom guilt I felt when I was with my mom instead of my kids, or when I had to go to work because I had bailed on my team 5 times that month already to sit with my mom was overwhelming. I was torn between spending time with my mother who was dying, my family, and the incredible team I worked with. I chose to resign from my full time position so I could balance spending time with my mom and my family… and it was the best decision I’ve ever made because I was at her bedside when she passed… and I was with my family from then on to tell them about their grandmother and hold them when they cried.

So… what’s life like now with a teenager, a 5 year old and a 3 year old? Ladies… it’s a complete 180 from the picture I painted of life with a toddler and baby. Life is absolutely not perfect… I cry once a week because one of my kids will have a meltdown at Target or they don’t stop fighting EVER. I want to scream sometimes because I feel like no one in my house listens to me unless I turn into the Hulk… and then they tell me to calm down (which, as you know, is SUPER helpful to tell someone). But all that is so small compared to the constant joy. My kids can dress themselves (with a little help), they can make their beds (even if they argue with me about whether or not they need to), they can go to places like the Children’s Museum and, if I make sure to bribe them with a kids’ meal on the way home, they actually listen to me! They play with each other for HOURS… with minimal fighting! They can sit and watch a movie when I need a break… I now get breaks by the way! I can shower and have 10 minutes alone, knowing that they are entertained by whatever I put on TV.

Most of all… we’re happy. The whole frickin’ family. So hang in there, mama of babies and toddlers… it gets easier. And try not to punch the person that says, “Enjoy this time, it goes so fast!” when your toddler starts throwing eggs on the floor at the grocery store. Like, you’re hilarious, Karen, but stop talking to me right now before I punch you.

Here’s an actual photo of me getting space from the kids on a Sunday morning… #momlife

Space

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Weekend with Dad

I went to a wedding last weekend in Montana with my teen, leaving my two littles at home with Dad. Now, my husband is an incredible father: he plays with the kids, he takes them to the movies, he builds snowmen… all the things that I hate doing. I prefer to cook, read and cuddle with my kids… we are living in a stereotype people, let’s move on.

When I got home, I learned quickly that for 3 days, my kids:

-Didn’t get baths or showers

-Didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable

-Didn’t make their beds

-Didn’t clean their rooms

-Only left the house one time (to see Star Wars)

Messy RoomAt first, I thought I was overreacting. They had fun, everyone is safe and that’s all that matters, right? And then I realized: my husband is my partner…. A weekend with him shouldn’t really look any different than a weekend with me. I’m not saying they can’t skip some fruits and veggies, or go to Wendy’s, or stay in their pajamas for one entire day… but this isn’t a weekend at Grandma’s. This is a weekend at homewith their dad.

When I came home I was instantly the bad guy because I told them they had to clean up their toys before watching a movie. I asked them to make their beds and clean their room before we left the house… HOW DARE I ASK THEM TO COMPLETE THEIR CHORES?!

I think we need to start expecting our significant others to not just “get by” on weekends alone with our toddlers/young kids but to ask for partnership… I’m not asking for perfection but who wants to come home and be “mean mommy” for having them eat healthy, well balanced meals?

My husband will ALWAYS be the fun one… I’m the disciplinarian and the one who makes them feel better when they’re sick or scared. I’m the one they run to when they stub their toe but he’s the one they attack with a light saber when he falls asleep on the couch.

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong… maybe I’ll start falling asleep on the couch so I get attacked with a light saber. Maybe my husband can take over asking them to make their beds before going to Target for awhile…. Maybe that is a partnership. Regardless, that is marriage.

The 7 Parents You Meet at Gymnastics

Listen, all parents need to bond with with one another Whether it’s over lack of sleep, love of wine, love of Living with Landyn… whatever. We just need to unite.

That being said, I’ve noticed that there are a few different categories of moms and dads that you meet when you take your kids to an extracurricular during the day (which likely means that they’re a stay-at-home-parent). I am always one of the types of parents below … sometimes I’m more than one at a time (and don’t kid yourself, you’re one too):

  • The tired parent: this person can’t wait to tell you how little sleep they got, regardless of whether or not they know you. Today, one woman told me about how she has 2 toddlers and was woken up by each twice last night. Another woman with a newborn shared that she doesn’t sleep more than 2 hours every night. It’s not a competition, it’s comradery.

Tired mom

  • The Chatty Cathy: this is the parent that clearly needs some adult interaction. Many days- THIS IS ME PEOPLE. Craving adult interaction is totally normal when you stay home with littles all day. This person will ask you which kid is yours and then immediately talk about how cute your kid is. Then, they’ll quickly move into where their kids go to preschool, how long they’ve been doing gymnastics… whatever they can get out in the 30 minute class.
  • The parent who JUST WANTS TO READ THE NEWS—I’ve also been this mom before. There is constantly noise in my house and I never get a minute to myself. Those 30 precious minutes of quiet, where my kids are being supervised by someone else, are so infrequent that we need to make the most of it. To this parent, this is the time to get in touch with the world. You get 30 minutes each week—live it up.Woman on Phone
  • The one who brings a friend: there is always a set of parents that come together and they talk nonstop to each other but to no one else. This actually isn’t me… I like the quiet too much to sign up for a kids activity with someone else (let’s get real: my kids are WAY too badly behaved for my friends to see them on a weekly basis).

Young Women Travel Together Concept

  • The one with the perfect child: this is the person who literally stands at the window for all 30 minutes and is hanging on the teacher’s every word. At the end of the class, they march up to the teacher and ask how their child is doing… this person wants Simone Biles as their child. This person tells their friends that their 3 year old can wipe his ass already… I can tell you right now: this is never me either. Also, neither of my toddlers wipe their own asses. Add that to my resume.
  • The one who’s child has NO interest in the class. My son, Oliver, literally laid down during his gymnastics class when he was 2. He gave 0 fucks. I took him out after the second class because I wasn’t about to pay for him to lay down for 30 minutes. I feel bad for the parents whose kids want to go to the bathroom every 7 minutes just to spice it up a little. THAT WAS ME until I put myself out of misery.

superhero kid.jpg

  • Finally, the grandparent. This is the angel that was sent to rescue the stay-at-home-mom or dad and take their child to gymnastics. Who knows if the parent works full time or actually gets an hour or so to themselves (or, more likely, with their other children!).

How to Potty Train a 3 Year Old…

Ready to potty train?

HAHAHAHAHAHAH. Hilarious. 

Here we go:

-Buy a poster board and sharpies and make sure to carefully draw the lines between each day of the week…. Your toddler will get pissed if your lines aren’t straight.

-Buy about 3,000 stickers because they come in packs of 500 and your toddler requires Star Wars, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol AND Justice League. Obviously.

-Go pick out your toddler’s favorite underwear…. Just like the stickers, you’ll likely have to buy about 17 times as many pairs of underwear as you need… thanks, Target, for providing so many different types of Licensed underwear.

-Drive home and GET READY FOR FUN!

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-Now: throw all that shit into the garbage because this weekend will be hell. Maybe make a quick stop at the liquor store though.

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-Get out all 75 pairs of underwear because your toddler is going to pee JUST A LITTLE BIT IN EACH PAIR

-Your will and determination will be tested. It will make quitting smoking cigarettes seem like just a typical Tuesday with how many times you have to say, “This is worth it, this is worth it, this is worth it.”

-Your toddler will grow little horns on his head.

-And probably pee ON you at some point. Or 20 times. Either/Or.

-Your amazing partner who woke up Saturday morning with the same determination as you will either sink or swim, it’s every man for himself. He/She will either try and keep you in line reminding you that this is worth it or they’ll back out and go upstairs for some quiet time and leave you picking up the broken pieces of your family.

-Your two older kids will do literally everything possible to “try and help” but, in reality, will get in the way. They’ll complain that they aren’t getting M & M’s, that they don’t get stickers, that they aren’t getting attention….

-At some point, your toddler will go into a full on monologue (one that makes NO sense because, let’s face it, he’s 3) about how HE LOVES DIAPERS AND WANTS TO BE IN DIAPERS FOREVER. How on earth could you be so mean as to take diapers away from him??

And then…

-Finally… FINALLY: your toddler will pee for literally one second in the potty and you get so excited that he cuts the stream off and then pees on the floor 10 minutes later. And then you start over.

And then… he actually starts peeing in the potty. Consistently.

-After what seems like 19 straight days of full on potty training (when it’s actually been 3-4 full days), you’ll emerge from your house in victory. Sure…. He still wears pull ups for naps, bedtime, and some Sundays JUST BECAUSE HE ALWAYS WINS AND BABY GETS WHAT BABY WANTS…..

But: you’re free of diapers. Mostly. Until he starts wetting the bed because your oldest child shows him the movie IT when he’s only 5 and they hide a clown in his closet every night.

And they all lived Happily Ever After.

The End. You’re Welcome.

And then she said, “Damnit”

We were at Target… I feel like every story I have starts with those 4 words.

Anyway, we were at Target. I was sweating because the kids were fighting and I was wearing too many clothes for a 68 degree November day. Oh, we’ve come a long way since baby Oliver spitting up on his sister… he’s 2 now and full of opinions (mostly him wanting to do WHATEVER his sisters are doing). It has literally been almost 2 years since I wrote on my blog. WOW time flies.

Anyway, we were at Target.

We’re checking out and Oliver tries to climb into the seat Fiona is in. The cart shakes and he almost falls out, I save the day. WHEW. didn’t kill my kids today: GOLD STAR.

On the way out….. Fiona was pushing the cart into the row of carts and jammed her finger. Unlike most kids, she rarely cries when she gets hurt. Usually she goes, “aaarrgghhh!” Today, she said, “Damnit!”

2 men gave me a disapproving look while another mom snorted in laughter. I said, “Fiona! Where did you learn that?” She said, “umm.. umm….” and then named someone at daycare. But I know where she learned it.

She learned it from the many times I stub my toe against the wall. Or when I jab my eye with my mascara wand. Soon, she’ll be saying MUCH worse after listening to me when I try and fix things around the house because I’m a woman (hear me roar) and I don’t need a man. Until the thing I’m fixing falls apart or on me…. then come the REAL swear words.

What do I do when my almost 4 year old says, “Damnit” you ask? I LAUGHED! I’ve thought about what my reaction would be to the first real swear word (not dangit or crap but a real swear word) and I planned on, “Honey, here’s why we don’t say that word” or “Fiona, that’s not a nice word and here’s why” or my favorite/most realistic, “You’re going in a time out young lady.” But what did I do in real life? LAUGH!

As I was telling my husband about this he started laughing too. At the end of the day, you have 3 choices when your children f*** up in public: you can laugh, you can get mad, or you can cry. That’s not true…. a mom in the movies would calmly reply why Damnit is an inappropriate word. I, however, work full-time and have 3 kids. I leave work, pick up 2 kids from daycare, make dinner, help the oldest with homework, and often take one-three of them to sports or activities. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE CALM. A stay-at-home mom is the same. She is constantly cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, playing, keeping the peace, transporting, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and keeping the peace (go ahead and repeat all the above). SHE DOESN’T HAVE TIME TO BE CALM. The best thing we can do is make light of it.

So: I laugh. And then I drink wine. In that order.

12 Surprises of Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM)

I had an idealized image of being a SAHM when I found out I was pregnant with Oliver. I knew it’d be hard but I imagined playing with Play-Doh, doing puzzles, coloring, and having fun while being home with the kids. I knew there would be days that I missed interacting with adults (which is a big part of why I work part-time at Evereve) and I knew there’d be days where I didn’t get out of my pajamas. But, I thought overall, this would be a blast! Most days it is a blast. Everyday I do consider myself lucky that I get to stay home with the kids. To be honest, though, there are plenty of days that I wish I was getting ready for work with my husband and not being thrown 16,000 curveballs in the process.

Below are the things that I didn’t expect to happen while being a SAHM. I am not (I repeat, NOT) making a generalization about all moms so don’t flood my inbox with complaints. I am a feminist. I am a Stay-At-Home-Mom. They are not mutually exclusive and I am aware of this. Calm down.

1) There are no breaks. Ever.

When I was in my first trimester and managing a retail store, I’d run to the bathroom to get sick and tell my coworkers that I needed to sit down. I told Fiona that I couldn’t go down the slide with her at the park when I was 9 months pregnant and she had a meltdown. I somehow fit my huge self into the child-size slide and had the most uncomfortable ride of my life. Oliver came 2 days later. Coincidence? #howtoinducelabor

2) Meals? What are those?

My husband, Chris, called on the way home from work the other day around 5 PM. He asked what we were doing for dinner. I realized I hadn’t eaten since a bowl of cereal at 8 AM. You’d think all SAHMs would be super skinny but unfortunately, I snack on what the kids eat all day so it probably adds up to 7 meals in one day.

3) Running errands during the day isn’t worth it.

We had to go to Target to get Oliver some formula on Monday morning. I had him in the swing and Fiona was messing around in my room while I got ready (which means emptying the drawers, hiding things, laughing and running away). I straightened my hair, threw makeup on and put clothes on (I can’t wear yoga pants outside my house. It’s just not in my DNA). Then, I got Fiona ready: new diaper, clothes, brush her teeth, hair.  Check. Then, we got Ollie ready: new diaper, clothes, hat, put in carseat. Check. We make it downstairs in record time.

Then I smelled it. That smell that every parent knows when you’re sweating from spending the last half hour getting ready to go on a super quick trip. Fiona had pooped. I say, “Okay, Fiona, let’s race upstairs and go change!” We change her diaper and then come back downstairs. Ollie had spit up all over himself. He needed a new shirt. We finally left about an hour after we started getting ready. I was pouring sweat and in that crazy/determined state of mind (Fiona would say, “Home? Home?” and I’d reply, “WE JUST LEFT HOME, FIONA, WE’RE GOING TO TARGET. WHY DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN TO ME?”)

4) The downtime is AMAZING. Cherish it. It’s rare but beautiful.

When it’s half an hour until Fiona’s nap, we’ll put on a movie or a show and sit on the couch and cuddle. There is NOTHING BETTER IN THIS WORLD. My favorite is when I’m holding Oliver and Fiona wants to cuddle on my other side. Literally the best thing in the world. That and wine.

5) I am now the default parent/family person.

Dentist appointments for the family? Bills? Husband’s doctor’s appointments? I make ‘em and take care of ‘em. My husband better never leave me or his health will quickly decline (and no, that isn’t a threat).

6) My idea of pop culture has changed.

3 years ago, I was working at Evereve and a customer told me they hadn’t seen The Godfather. My response was a horrified, “WHAT?!” I didn’t understand how someone my age hadn’t seen one of the greatest movies ever made.

2 weeks ago, my customer said she hadn’t seen Frozen and my response was the same… horrified. How could she not see the greatest… kids movie in the last… year? I didn’t even realize how ridiculous that was until I was telling my husband about it later.

7) The movie Groundhog’s Day is too painful to watch.

This is my life. 90% of the days are the same.

8) Instagram is NOT REAL LIFE.

If you follow me on Instagram, please note that those moments are 1/200th of what happens. When I post a picture of my toddler hugging my newborn, it was right after she was attempting to pick him up by his head. If I were to EVER post food on there, please realize that there is no way in hell that I made it myself. I picked that shit up from Byerly’s.

9) Being a SAHM is perfect for someone with AD/HD like me.

The attention span of my toddler is 10 minutes, 15 at best. I’ll spend 20 minutes getting fingerprint out, moving her high chair into the kitchen, stripping her, prepping the kitchen to avoid paint splatter and she paints for 5-10 minutes. Then it’s time for a bath, clean the kitchen, and get her to start a new activity so she doesn’t get in the way of cleanup time. The whole process is an hour for a 5-10 minute activity.

10) I spend WAY less money on a daily basis.

Go out for lunch? Yea right. I’m also not using my car as much so I save a ton of money on gas (I know that when they start sports that is over). I don’t go out for drinks with friends as often and, when I do, I have to leave by 9 so I don’t fall asleep on the bar so I only buy a drink or two.

11) I never pee alone.

‘Nuff said.

12) I get to witness my kids’ constant transformations (no matter how small!).

Fiona loves the baby doll and stroller my mom got her… she pushes it around and yells, “BABY! BABY!” Today, she wanted her baby to do what Oliver did. If I was feeding Oliver, she fed the baby. I held Oliver at the table while she ate breakfast and she had to hold her baby. She had to give the baby a special chair when we watched a movie before nap time (since Oliver was in his swing). She is becoming a KID! I remember playing with toys like they were real people…. that transition happened overnight for Fiona.

Oliver just rolled over. He just freakin’ rolled over! He’s 5 weeks old already and changes everyday. I am SO LUCKY I get to witness all of these amazing transformations and see how it all plays out!

Maternity Style- 37 weeks & Toddler Style- Way Cuter

So I’ve had enough- I’m sick of being pregnant. Everyday tops out at 70 degrees and it’s becoming the perfect fall weather for fashion. I can’t WAIT until I can fit into my jeans and regular clothes again… I LOVE playing dress up! I’m at the point in my pregnancy where I can wear only about half of my maternity clothes because at the slightest gust of wind, all my “mid thigh” (but no longer mid thigh) dresses fly up and show EVERYTHING because my belly is so big and it’s stretching out my dresses. I have 25 pounds sitting on my belly, pulling all my tops and dresses up. Therefore, I only have a few clothing options which leaves me with incredibly tight, long tops with skirts, jeans or shorts (depending on the weather). I love dressing it all up with a LOT of jewelry and fun shoes (and a jacket at night). Below is a typical (kind of boring but like I said, not much fits me anymore!) outfit for a 9 month pregnant lady who would still like to like put together 🙂 It’s a Splendid tissue tee with maternity shorts and Evereve jewelry.

maternity style- 37 weeks maternity style- 37 weeks- 4

Okay my husband was taking these pictures and he said, “Now you’re digging, you’re an animal!!” like Austin Powers and I can’t help but post this really cheesy picture!

maternity style- 37 weeks- 2

Aaaaaaand here are the shoes– I’m OBSESSED with these shoes. They’re by Dr. Scholl’s- real calf hair and an Evereve exclusive! They are SO comfortable!!

maternity style- 37 weeks shoes

Okay, now for the fun part! Just because I am sick of my maternity wardrobe, doesn’t mean I don’t get to be creative and trendy. Having a little girl means you get to dress them up and live vicariously through their style (until they spill all over the outfit). Just for funsies, below are a couple of outfits I put together for Fiona… combining pieces we already have and new ones. It’s so nice now that she isn’t growing out of her clothes every 2 months, I feel like I can finally get trendy pieces and she’ll ACTUALLY wear them! I don’t see the need of buying her bootcut jeans…. I just won’t put her in them. The best investment we’ve made are vests because she’s been wearing them all summer and she’ll wear them through the fall (okay, maybe the fur one isn’t the BEST investment but how could I NOT buy her a fur vest? Seriously?). Also… gray jeans? So trendy right now so again, how could I NOT buy them for Fiona? That’s talkin’ crazy….. Fiona- Clothes 1 Fiona- Clothes 2 Fiona- Clothes 3 Fiona- Clothes 5 Fiona- Clothes 6 Fiona- Clothes 7 Fiona-Clothes 4