A year ago I took a huge leap of faith and transitioned to part-time consulting from home so I could be with my boys. I've learned a lot in the process. The transition has taught me a lot of logistical things (i.e. never leave the house without snacks) and a lot of mental things (self-care is a requirement).
It's OK to be different.
If you've been a loyal follower of Grey's Anatomy, you might remember an episode where a man goes to some Eastern Asian country to get an elective lengthening surgery in his legs so he can gain 2". He comes into the hospital in Seattle and his bones, skin, muscles, and surrounding tissue are grossly infected. The doctors barely save his legs and have to remove 3/4" off of the very bones he just had lengthened. When he comes out of surgery, he freaks out because now he's shorter than what he was before this elective surgery. Never mind that the elective procedure almost killed him. It didn't matter. To him, the difference of him being so short was worth the pain and agony to change.
Being different sometimes feels like this guy who is hung up on his height. When he's freaking out in the recovery room, his brother loses it on him and points out how this guy's inability to date or lack of friendships, etc. isn't due to him being short but his own inability to look past his height, accept himself, and let people in. The guy was so vocally miserable about his differences, he didn't realize he was pushing people and opportunities away. If he'd just embraced his height, he could've had all the things he wanted because he wouldn't be focused on something he perceived to be a detriment.
That's me. I'm in the middle of learning to accept that I'm different than a lot of the other moms around me. I'm learning to feel comfortable in this new skin-- comfortable being in a season I never expected and thriving regardless.
Everything in moderation.
Have you ever had too much coffee? Like, to the point of having the jitters? Or maybe had too many scoops of the cookie dough when no one was looking? Ever clean your house out of stress only to find the skin on your hands bone dry and close to bleeding?
I've done every one of those. Sure, coffee and cookie dough aren't bad. Cleaning is a necessary evil. But tipping the scale in the wrong direction of any of those is when you can start to see negative side effects. Staying at home with kids all day, no matter how much you freelance, can have its challenges. How could it not? The little people you care for can barely string together a sentence or pull up their own pants.
Staying at home with kids is an incredible opportunity to see the simplicities of life-- it's a true gift of perspective from God. But if you go to any extreme to manage stress with crutches or coping mechanisms, you'll dull the view. Keeping moderation as the only measurement has been key.
No, really. Accept help.
Let me repeat this to you (I mean, me) one more time: accept help.
We had a meal train made for us by a dear friend after Teddy was born so for the first two weeks after his birth, friends and family brought dinner to our doorstep nearly every night. The same was done for us after Teddy was in the hospital earlier this year for four days.
If I am to be honest with you, I realllllly struggled to say yes to those offers. Thankfully, for the sake of my family, my dear friend Jenna just did the meal train after Teddy's time in the hospital probably well aware that I'd be likely to shrug it off.
Work with your spouse.
My mentor has known me for a few years now. She's seen me start my consulting business from scratch, volunteer in the entrepreneurial space here in Phoenix, get pregnant, and juggle motherhood alongside my career.
She has also seen the growth Nick and I have experienced as a couple since having kids. As we've progressed from 1-3 kids, we've just walked through the muck and mire of the small things and seen a lot of growth. Guys-- I don't look over his shoulder when he's playing with the kids anymore. Nick sometimes gets up in the middle of the night before I do. It's been an awesome metamorphosis as a team.
My mentor told me the other night to make sure I'm expressing my gratitude to Nick. Not because he's parenting so well. After all, these kids are half his. But she pointed out the need for me to acknowledge and be grateful for his emotional and mental dedication to being a team player.
Her words struck home because although I know how far we've come and I'm grateful for our growth as a team, I wasn't acknowledging the whole picture. When people ask, "How do you do it?" I think first of our parenting 'hacks,' like setting out clothes, having a routine, etc. etc. What a cop out!
We are thriving in this home of three kids under three because we work as a team. Nick is my equal and I, his. Yes, I can cook better than him and he can change a blow out with impeccable precision and patience. But that's the beauty-- it's a team effort.
Expectations are everything.
This lesson extends way beyond parenting and in our house, originated in conversations about our marriage. But for the sake of this conversation, I'll just say this: I would never get out of the house if I didn't communicate my expectations to myself and my kids.
It's not just giving your kids a verbal rundown of the day-- it's going over the worst case scenario of your grocery shopping trip in your own head so you can mentally prepare for Armageddon. I can't tell you how many times I've unloaded all three kids, loaded up the stroller, only to be unloading them back in the car and driving home because my expectations for the experience or their behavior was way off base.
- Shower. Or do your makeup. Whatever helps you feel fresh, do it-- even if the
kids cry the whole time.
- Find a win-win for you and your little ones and do it often. For us, it's going outside in the backyard. We all get sun and fresh air and I can work on my garden a little bit.
- Invest in little enjoyments. My simple pleasures: $1.08 drive-through McDonalds coffee, $10/mo Spotify membership, and $15/mo Audible membership.
- Have little, cheap 'treats' for the kids on hand. We have a 'babysitter' basket in the laundry room with $1 toys (think bubbles, balls, matchbox cars) for new babysitters to use or special, challenging trips (visits to a hospital, new doctors appointments, etc.).
- Read your kids. Not read to your kids. Read them. Learn their intricacies. Don't think this suggestion is trite. Truly study their needs and meet them even if you think they're minor.
What things have you learned about yourself or your kids and family while staying at home? Give me all the deep thoughts and the handy tips!