24 September 2019

It's 2021. Please Stop Saying These Five Things to Working Moms.

A few days ago, I was talking with another woman about the ups and downs of being a working mom. My acquaintance’s children are all grown up and on their own, but it was nice to share why I love working and having a career and how I feel I’ve grown so much as a person, a mom and a mate by having the opportunity to work outside the home while being fortunate enough to have my daughter in an after school program that I trust to leave her with every day. I thought the conversation was going well; two professional women and mothers talking about why they love to work when out of nowhere, my acquaintance says, “Well, I think it’s great you feel so comfortable working, but when my kids were young, I would have never dreamed of working outside the home while having someone else raise them. I waited until they left the house to have a career.”

While I understand that this woman raised children in a completely different era than me with different expectations and societal “norms,” I was still so offended for women, especially working moms, in general. Haven’t women worked harder to deserve more than this? In the year 2019, when the women’s movement is stronger than it’s ever been, have we not yet truly learned that to have a society of strong, independent, confident women we should all be uplifting and supporting one another in our decisions, hopes and dreams? I was completely and utterly befuddled and sad all at the same time.  

Let me be clear: I don’t think anyone sets out to be rude or judgmental, but I’m often surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers who are not staying home full-time with their children. It’s not in every case, but more than I would like, there’s a subtle hostility or judgment that comes from statements like the one made to me that makes me wish more people would be conscientious enough to think before they speak.

As her comment marinated in my mind for the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but think of all the other comments and questions regarding my choice to be a working mom that gets thrown onto me more than I like. 

Five comments that have no place in 2019, and one that does.

"Can’t you afford to stay home with your child?” 
No, I’m not kidding. People are actually bold enough to ask this question.

Let’s assume for a minute that I can’t. Let’s say that for my child to have the education her father and I want her to have, I work so that she can go to school or have braces or for any other need our family might have. Where exactly does this conversation go now? Awkward, right? Furthermore, I’m then tempted to put you on the spot and ask how much money your husband makes so that you’re able to stay home. Let’s just both agree to not go there, okay? 

Having said this, sometimes it’s not all about the money. Sometimes, mothers such as me, work because we actually want to work. We enjoy it. I value my education and the years I’ve put into my career. I also think it’s healthy and beneficial for our daughter to see me working so that she knows there is more to life than being a wife and a mom. Bigger than this, I also know that one day, my child will grow up and leave us. I want to keep a footing in the professional world so that there isn’t a big gaping hole on my resume making it harder for me to find a job. So, you see, there are many reasons I choose to work but honestly, it really shouldn’t matter because the question devalues my choices. Simply put, please don’t do that.  

“I could never have someone else raising my child.”
What I really want to say to you: “I am raising my child, you ignorant @$%&!”

What I’ll actually say to you: Refer to the previous question. Loving and raising a child is not incompatible with having support to do that. Yes, my child may be with other people during the day but make no mistake about it – her father and I are deep in the trenches raising her. If the old saying goes, “It takes a village” than let’s all encompass every aspect of what this saying means and stop being just a little less judgmental, thank you very much.

“There’s plenty of time to work later. These early years are so precious.”
The last time I checked, all the years are precious, so your point is?

“It must be amazing to get away from your kid every day.”
What I really want to say to you: “It is! You know, it’s just like a mini-vacation and can you believe they also pay me??!!”

What I’ll actually say to you: How about we all just STOP polarizing the conversation and the debate about who has it worse. There are pros and cons to each choice. Instead, how about we join forces by saying, “I know you’re at home all day with the kids and I really need a break from work. Want to do a spa day together?”

“Don’t you have family nearby that can watch your kid when she’s sick?”
What I really want to say to you: “My child is my responsibility, especially when she is sick. No one else’s. She wants and needs her mother and I will not deny her that need.”

What I’ll actually say to you: Regardless If I have family or not nearby to help me, I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for taking care of my child, period.

We are women of all races, backgrounds, and beliefs doing the best we can to take care of our families while balancing the demands of work and life. This dynamic looks different for all of us, and that’s okay. No one wants to be judged for their life choices. So, the next time you’re tempted to ask that question or make a comment, stop. Take a deep breath and say what working moms really need and want to hear: “It’s tough, but you’re doing it. I’m here if you need me. Keep up the good work - I want to see you succeed!” 

02 February 2018

Working Mom Organization: Practical Tips For Life That Actually Work

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a working mom is how I keep our life organized. How do we get out of the door in the morning in one piece, sane and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced? 

Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The school calls un-expectantly to ask me to pick up the sick kiddo. I get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of soy milk to make my chai tea latte (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we're all working moms and we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly as a full-time working mom has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organized, day-to-day plan aside from looking at the big picture (months down the road planning) types of things.

Maybe you’re someone who has this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season.


But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy as a working mom.

Maybe you’re someone who has this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season. Great, good for you. But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy as a working mom.
First and Foremost, Accept NOW That You Can’t Do It All...And Shouldn't
When you talk with other working moms about life and work balance, the majority of the conversation, without fail, always goes to, “How do you do it all?!” It’s as if the answer is a unicorn just waiting to be discovered when in reality, the answer has been in front of our face the whole time. How do I do it all?

I don’t.

Over the years, I’ve learned when to let things go in order for me to keep my sanity, and learning to be truly okay with it.

House not completely clean and spotless? Okay. Laundry not done? Oh well. Pantry a hot mess? The world will keep spinning. Have to eat out a couple nights a week because the sheer thought of making dinner is stressful AF at the end of the day? You want pizza or Chinese takeout.

The secret isn’t learning how to do it all. It never has been. The secret is learning what’s worth sacrificing your peace, family time, and sanity for. Every day, we read so many social media posts about “Slay all day,” and “Hustle hard, girl” and while those sentiments have their time and place, the majority of the time I’m saying, “NAH.”

It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to not do all the things. It’s okay to not be everything to everyone. Learning to let go, and living without, goes a long way to having a more peaceful and time well-spent life.

Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my day started on a positive note more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.

Put together and organize kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day care and school bags for the next day. Establish a “command center” where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the bar in my kitchen. My purse, Chickie’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.

Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time for Maddy is at 7:30. Around 7:15, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going and all stray items are put away. If I’m on my game that evening, I’ll let Maddy pick out her outfit for the next day the night before to try and minimize morning meltdowns and tantrums.

Make a to-do list for the next day – this habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda. I usually break my list down to “Need to do,” “Want to do,” and then list any appointments, events or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays.

When I’m done with my list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the Keurig to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Get the Most Out of Daily Activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organize, there’s no way to predict how the day will really unfold. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my tips:

When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for our alarm clocks, it’s only natural to want to get on our phones and see what’s going on but DON’T. Get a cup of coffee. Have some quiet time. Read over that amazing to-do list you planned the night before. If you’re a religious person, use those first few minutes of the morning for devotional time. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning gunk. Don’t get sucked into the big, bright shiny screen and allow emails to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.

For me, I usually sip on my coffee, go over my to-do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 – 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first thing.

Keep a good routine that works for you and your family
No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimize the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out so there are no surprises. Do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but having an established foundation to the start of our day is half the battle.

Take a break
I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long length of time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in-between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments for Maddy, schedule things for myself or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I get my work done but I’m also able to handle personal things as well.

One Last Suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organizing systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper and being able to write things in a planner to physically see is what works best for me.  

Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I tried to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s simply just a process of finding what suits you, but do it. It will be worth it.

What working mom life hacks, tips, and tricks do you have to share? I’d love to hear them!

29 June 2017

Stop Perpetuating the Lie That Parenting "Gets Easier"

Stop Perpetuating the Lie That Parenting "Gets Easier"

When Maddy was born, I remember having the overwhelming feeling that having a baby was the hardest thing in the world. Being a first-time mom, everything about it seemed difficult; trying to figure out why my baby wouldn’t breastfeed to establishing a sleep routine, the non-stop crying and screaming from gas, the endless mountains of laundry, a bout with post-partum depression, and feeling exhausted and hormonal all the time only solidified my position that caring for a baby was hard. How in the world would I ever make it through? When would I ever come up for air? I remember expressing these thoughts to family and friends who have children and without hesitation, nine out of ten of them would respond with, “Don’t worry, sweetie. It gets easier.”

Looking back, I realize now what my mistake was: I took their sentiment to heart and believed them. I made the mistake of waiting, hoping, and praying for parenting to get easier. And while some aspects of the new mom parenting fog lifted, the actual demands of parenting never really got easier…they just shifted and morphed into new challenges. Bottles and formula turned into solid foods with a picky eater. Diapers turned into potty training challenges. My baby who used to sleep through my night turned into a toddler who didn’t sleep for five years. My easy-going baby morphed into a demon overnight with the onset of the terrible twos and when I really think about it, the threes going into the fours were worse. There was learning how to juggle being a working mom with my new lifestyle, learning how to discipline, and learning how to accommodate a clingy toddler while being able to still have a few slivers of precious me time. My relationships with my friends who didn’t have children changed, and it was no one’s fault. It’s simply what happens when kids come into the picture, but the anxiety of finding supportive mom friends was exhausting. It was all exhausting because here’s the truth that no parent wants to hear or even admit…

Parenting doesn’t get easier. Ever.

I know when you’re in the throes of the newborn days and you haven’t showered in a week and your boobs are constantly out and being sucked on and you’re in it, I mean, really in it, it feels like it’s the hardest damn thing you will ever do and yes, it is. It really is, I don’t take that away from you, but here’s the thing…

There will always be hard things in parenting. Whether it’s an issue you’re dealing with now or even something you can’t imagine that will hit you down the road, one thing’s for sure: there will always be hard times in parenting, they will just look, and be hard, in different ways and yes, while we all go through brief periods of even-keel, smooth sailing, life as a parent, or simply life in general, is anything but care-free; it’s a constant roller coaster ride of up and down emotions and circumstances.  

This is why we need to stop perpetuating the lie, “Don’t worry, sweetie. It gets easier.” It’s a false sense of security, normalcy, and just plain wrong.

Parenting doesn’t get easier. If anything, it just changes its shape and form. At any point of any given day, my almost six-year-old could be the happiest child in the world but have a complete meltdown over what I fix her for dinner. On any given day, I’m forced to juggle being a working mom and keeping my boss happy with trying to also take care of a sick child. On any given day, at any given time, I’m struggling to keep peace in my home as my ever-growing child stretches and tests the bounds of her independence, ever-evolving personality, and strong-willed demeanor. Throw on top of this simply trying to raise a child to learn right from wrong, kindness, empathy, and how to live in the world, and most days, I honestly feel like I’m barely holding on by my fingertips. There simply isn’t one version of hard. It’s all hard.

But there is a silver lining…

While being a parent will never be easy, you will get better. As a parent, you can’t help but to grow and learn from every stage of parenting. Every conflict, battle, argument, sassy attitude, mess, tantrum, and good moment is an opportunity for growth. Every time we yell, or fail, or feel we could have handled a situation differently, we are learning and growing and in return, pathing the path for the future to be a little more tolerable. It’s a constant process of losing and finding ourselves and assessing what parenting looks like in each stage because the reality is, you don’t parent your preschool child the same way you parented your toddler. It’s constantly changing, the way we parent our children, which is why it’s anything but easy.

Instead of waiting for calm, easy waters, I urge each of us to learn to become more of a skilled sailor. Accept that parenting will never “get easier” and work each day to navigate through the ups and downs of this ocean called parenting. Instead of believing falsehoods, let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands of us. No, parenting will never get easier, but we can always strive to become better, and that’s what makes all the difference.

15 June 2017

14 Ways to Bring Calm & Peace Into Your Parenting

As moms, we have a wonderful way of beating ourselves up a lot over every little thing. In reading through my social media posts daily, it seems as if this trend of self-shaming has become the rule instead of the exception.

Parenting is hard. It's a crazy combination of feeling like it's the best thing you've ever done with your life coupled with the nagging feeling of, "WTF am I doing/thinking?" While I'm clearly no pro at this parenting gig, I've come to learn a few things over the past five and a half years that help me invite calm and peace into my parenting which in turn, makes a profound difference for both myself, Maddy, and our family. If anything, take comfort in this advice and know that whatever struggle you're going through right now, some mother somewhere is right there with you. You're never, ever alone. 

14 Ways to Bring Calm & Peace Into Your Parenting

Not breast feeding isn't the end of the world. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for choosing not to do it. The important thing is that your child is fed and is thriving, regardless of the method by which it happens. 

If you have to/want to work, find a day care you, but more importantly, your child loves. It will give you peace of mind while you're away during the day and
finding the perfect center is worth its weight in gold.

Live with less. It is amazing how little "stuff" baby and kids really needs and there is no need to go into debt for things that are temporary and will be outgrown/out-used before you know it.

Follow the adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." I did the complete opposite as a new mom because I felt like I had to keep all the balls in the air all the time. I got very little accomplished and still wound up frustrated and exhausted. There will always be laundry and housework to do so let it be. 

Follow your gut and intuition. Many people will have an opinion of how you should be taking care of your child(ren), but only you know what is best for you and your kids. It isn't called "Mother's Intuition" for nothing. Trust your gut, that bitch knows what’s up.

Remember you. Do your best to keep up with hobbies and the things you enjoy doing outside of your child. Yes - our children are the priority but for us to be our best selves for them, we need the time and opportunity to remember who our best selves are without our kids.
It’s okay to be selfish with ourselves and our time every now and again.

Learn to let go and let your spouse/partner take over. If you're a control freak like me, this will be hard to do at first but in the end, you can't carry everything by yourself. It doesn't matter if the laundry isn't done the way you like or if the kitchen isn't cleaned to your liking. The point is - it's done. You don't have to worry about doing it. Simply be appreciative and move on.

Learn to say "No" more. You don't have to be everything to everyone. Period. 

Find a good set of mom/parent friends. As much as you like to think that your kids won't hinder your relationship with friends who aren't parents, it will. It is the truth and the reality of becoming parents that no one likes to admit or talk about. The bigger reality is that they will have no clue {to no fault of their own} on how to fit in with your new lifestyle. You don't have to lose these friends, but it helps to make new friends too; mommy and parent friends will be able to help you laugh, commiserate, and work your way through parenthood.

Stay off the Internet researching everything under the sun. It will drive you crazy and to madness!! Picture this: there was a time when people managed to raise children successfully without the help of the Internet. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. I found myself spending hours of wasted time in front of my laptop for every little thing that I felt was wrong with me or my child and you know what? In the end, reading things off the Internet only made me feel worse. 

Let the kiddos be young. This is the only time in their life that they can act free and uninhibited. Let them do it! It goes against every fiber of my "everything in its place, neat and tidy" being to let Maddy be messy, but I do it; finger paints, playing in the dirt, the messy room - all of it because bottom line, it's her happiness and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It can all be fixed and cleaned, momma. They only get one childhood – let them be little.

Tell your child "No" every now and again. We've all encountered, or had our own kids be “that child.” Enough said.

Be the disciplinarian - not the best friend parent. Bottom line, you have a job to do. Raising a human is no joke, y'all. You will have time to cultivate a friendship with your child when they are an adult. Right now, it's time to take care of business. I didn't understand this growing up with my own parents but I do now that I have my own child and I THANK GOD every day that they understood and implemented this very fine principle for myself and my two sisters. 

And finally, when all else fails, drink a fabulous glass {or two} of wine.

What are your best tips to make it through this journey of parenthood?

12 May 2017

Dear Maddy: I Celebrate YOU on Mother's Day

Dearest Madeline,
Dear Maddy: I Celebrate YOU on Mother's Day

Here we are, our fifth Mother’s Day together. Can you believe it? We’ve come a long way, haven’t we baby?

Our start together wasn’t easy. There were many long days and nights where I found myself sitting in a slobbering mess on the floor, begging God to take you back because I had no idea what I was doing. Surely the fact that He thought I should be someone’s mother was a mistake. My resume for motherhood wasn’t so hot since caring for 3 cats clearly isn’t the same as caring for a child. I couldn’t litter box train you, pet you and then put you down or simply ignore you all together as I could with my feline babies so what was I supposed to do with you? Neither of us had any answers so we did what any new mother and daughter duo would do together in those first few weeks…


You would cry and I would cry and together, we made one sad little orchestra of “Oh my God, what the FUCK have I done?” Having a bout with post-partum depression didn’t help matters much but somehow, we pulled through. The days turned into weeks which turned into months and amongst the long nights of no sleep, the ups and downs of not being able to breast feed, the endless mountains of laundry, the spit up, the blow-outs and so much more crap that comes along with a baby that I can’t even recall…

We found each other.

You were my new constraint on life but you were gracious and gave me the freedom to learn how to be your mommy. You waited patiently as I took forever to calculate how much formula needed to be put in your bottle through my sleep-deprived eyes. You giggled with delight when I would put your diaper on backwards (“silly mommy” has always been your favorite). You would ever so simply frown at me when I got water in your eyes at bath time as if to say, “I’m going to let that one slide since you’re new at this.” You indulged me every time I wanted to dress you up in some monstrosity of an outfit that I, grandma or Target deemed to be “cute.” Together, we became a team: you gave me the room to learn and grow as a mom and in return, I fell head over heels in love with you.

As the years have passed, our relationship has continued to grow and change as it always will. There have been times of immense happiness and there have been times of tears and pain. There have been days where I’ve wanted to run screaming from our home and never look back, but there have been many more days where I’ve wanted to hold you forever and never let go. You have made me laugh. You’ve made me cry. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made me so angry that I couldn’t even see straight. You’ve made me frustrated and overwhelmed beyond belief. You’ve made me a better person in so many ways but most importantly…

It is you who’ve made me a mother. 

This day may be called Mother’s Day but without you Maddy, it would just be another day on the calendar. In all your wonderfully amazing chaos, it is you who have made me the woman I am today and it is you who will continue to shape the woman I become years from now. In all the things you’ve given me in our almost six years together, the best thing you ever gave me was the opportunity to be your mother and for that blessing, I am eternally grateful.

On Sunday, yes, I will take time to celebrate myself but in doing so, I will celebrate you as well. I am SO PROUD to be your mother. Every day I look at you and think to myself how incredibly amazing and fabulous you are and to think that your father and I created that? Well, it blows my fucking mind. 

It’s only Mother’s Day because of you, my love. It has always been, and will always be, about you. Thank you for being my child. 

Always and forever,