MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Sure I have/had dreams of a career and I’m really dang proud of the career I had up until this point. But something deep down always longed to be at home with my babies some day. I truly feel so lucky that the time for me to be able to stay home is now.


Growing up, my mom was a SAHM. I can honestly say I had a charmed childhood. My parents gave us the greatest gift of having one parent home and both parents always involved. Having my mom home with us meant everything and I think it’s the reason I always wanted to be a SAHM. And my mom made it look so easy and glamorous.


My experience so far though is not what I expected. Now that I’m in the thick of it myself, it is the hardest job and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. What a blessing to be able to spend all day with my babies, watching them grow and learn and become independent little humans. As much as I love it though, the days are long and sometimes lonely. I have no idea how my mom had so much patience and energy and how she made it look so easy. And she did it with FIVE kids!!


The first couple of weeks were really hard for me. I cried a lot and questioned my decision every day. Most of my days consisted of managing one meltdown after another as the kids alternated between wanting my undivided attention. I just couldn’t figure out how to juggle two kids, their schedules and finding time for Rob, let alone myself. And many days I still struggle with this, but slowly but surely I am learning patience and learning how to manage feeling frazzled.


I think it’s important that I share the good parts and the challenging parts of being a SAHM. Being a mom is HARD. Society expects a lot out of moms and there is very little appreciation for the work we do. (This really is true for parents in general). Below I’m sharing the parts I love and the parts that have really challenged me as a person and as a mom. And I’m teaming up with fellow SAHM (who has become a dear friend) Taylor from Living Taylored who is sharing her experience being a SAHM. Check out her experience here.


WHAT I LOVE

My favorite and most obvious reason for loving being a SAHM is the opportunity to be home with my babies. What a blessing to be able to spend all day at home with them, playing, laughing, and watching them grow. I truly feel so blessed to be Lilly and Teddy’s mom and I feel even more blessed to be in a position where one parent can stay home. I’m hoping that as we continue to grow and get ourselves into a routine I can be better at planning out fun activities for us. I have always envisioned taking my kids to parks, the zoo, the art museum, Lake Erie and the islands, visiting daddy at work – all the normal things we used to do before Covid. Now I just have to be more creative with activities that keep us busy and get us out of the house (we do a lot of driving around town, visiting the river and picking up curbside orders).


I love that by being home, I can focus my attention on my kids. When I was working it was exceptionally difficult to disconnect from parenting while at work and from working while at home. I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t present at my job or as a parent. Being a SAHM means I can focus one hundred percent on the needs of my babies and not have to worry about extra responsibilities.


Another aspect that I enjoy about being at home full time is being able to take care of the house. For as long as I can remember I have loved cleaning and organizing. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to play house all day. Although, I will say it requires extra effort to keep things tidy with two kiddos in tow. I saw something on Instagram that said cleaning with kids is like raking leaves during a tornado and boy that is the truth! But, I’m beginning to let go of the mess and allow for it. It’s messy because my kids are young and they are exploring and learning. As a colleague said to Rob: our house right now is a home that is lived in and really, what more should you want for your home?!

With all that is going on in the world with COVID, being able to stay at home and not be in a position that requires our kids to be in daycare or school gives me great peace of mind. I know 90% of parents don’t have this option so I can only imagine the mental and emotional worry parents are going through right now. I know myself and I know that worry would weigh heavy on me. So I’m thankful I can keep my babies close for a little while longer before Lilly has to go to school.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Being a SAHM comes with so many challenges that I never expected. Whether it’s feeling lonely, feeling exhausted, feeling the weight and responsibility of raising two littles, or sticking to a strict budget, there are so many aspects of this role that surprised me. I’m thankful for my mom, my sister and the many moms I’ve come to know on Instagram who have listened, supported and encouraged me. These women have most certainly gotten me through some difficult moments and now more than ever I think it’s important to have a community of moms who you can lean on for support.


The biggest challenge so far for me is finding time for self care. Some days I feel like I have zero time for myself. And just to be clear, a five minute shower does not count as self care or time alone. I thought staying home would give me so much more time to work on my blog and grow my brand, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m lucky if I get five minutes a day to spend taking pictures and styling outfits. Usually it happens with a lot of bribery and an upset child or two (which really isn’t that fun then).
Another hard part about being a SAHM is thinking you have so much time to get things done but you don’t. Most days you barely have time to eat, shower and use the bathroom. You do whatever you need to do to keep the kids engaged and happy and that means you go from one activity to the next, many times at a very rapid pace. I’ve had to really lower my expectations of what I want to get done (I’m talking blogging, decorating, working out, cleaning the dishes, laundry, vacuuming the floors, organizing the kids clothes, rearranging the playroom, etc). I make a list of what I HAVE to get done for the week and try to do one thing on that list each day. I remind myself daily that my kids are only this little for a fleeting moment and all the chores can wait.

Meal times are exceptionally stressful for me, with lunch being the hardest. Trying to make lunch for Lilly and me and keep Teddy occupied and keep the dog from eating everyone’s food is enough to send me over the edge some days. And usually by this point in the day I’m exhausted, which just adds to the stress and chaos. Sometimes I feel guilty that I watch the clock like a hawk waiting for nap time to arrive.


Despite some of these challenges, I’m learning so much about myself and how to be a better person and a better mom. I’m learning so much about patience and grace and letting things go. I’m learning that in order to take care of my kids, I first have to take care of myself. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen, but when days allow for me to slow down and take a break, I take them.

I’m learning that the days are not perfect. But they consist of perfect moments. I love watching my kids play and learn and use their imagination. I love watching them figure out a new skill or understand a new concept. I love taking them on walks and exploring our cute downtown. I love that they feel safe with me and come to me for comfort.


Time is going so fast, yet the days are so long, the nights sometimes longer and some days just really seem hard. But at the end of the day, there is no where else I would rather be than at home with my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment with them and I know I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.

And yes I wrote this blog post over several weeks during naptime while Teddy slept on me. And honestly I wouldn’t change any of it.


Sláinte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: AMONG THE WILDFLOWERS

Last week my mom and I took Lilly to a local flower farm.  I’m always looking for outdoor, social distance activities that L and I can do together and I’ve had a handful of friends recommend this activity to me.  I was truly thrilled with the experience and the farm itself, and I’m so excited to recount our adventures for you guys.  

A hidden jewel of Northwest Ohio, GardenView Flowers is a 60 acre family-run farm that specializes in designing beautiful bouquets for weddings. Not only does the farm offer the most gorgeous fresh-cut flowers for brides, but they also offer a U-Pick Garden and seasonal flower design workshops.

My mom and I had never been flower picking before and it was so delightful. It was seriously a very relaxing and very fulfilling activity! The flower farm opens daily at 8:00 a.m. We arrived around 10:00 a.m. and there were only a few other people there picking flowers. Upon arrival, we headed over to the cutest farm Flower Stop. The Flower Stop offers bouquets to go, dried flowers, and other gifts. It’s the most charming little building.

Adjacent to the Flower Stop is a check-in table where you pay for your experience and pick-up clippers and a cup/vase in which to place your picked flowers. Because Ohio is now under a mandatory mask order, I felt extremely safe. All of the staff and visitors were wearing masks and people were practicing social distancing. I was very pleased too with the disinfecting precautions the farm took to ensure the clippers and other supplies were cleaned in between uses. Plus, they offered hand sanitizer and complimentary bottles of water (it does get hot out in those flower fields)!

After we checked-in, we chose a field of wildflowers and started picking! The farm plants over 30 varieties of fresh-cut flowers and there was a colorful mix of varieties and textures from which to choose.

L and I were drawn to the bright pinks and purples, so we picked a lot of Zinnias, Cosmos, Dahlias, and Sweet Williams. There were also plenty of Sunflowers, Gladiolus, Snap Dragons, and Blue Ageratum. There were so many different varieties and colors and you could easily come home with multiple bouquets depending on the look and feel you are going for.

We picked flowers for almost an hour and I was actually kind of sad to leave! L absolutely loved smelling the flowers, helping us pick them, and frolicking through the many fields. Her face of pure joy really just sums up our experience. We definitely plan to return again and again. If you are local to Northwest Ohio and are looking for a family friendly, safe activity, flower picking at GardenView Flowers is a must!

Be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: SEEKING OUT JOY

If you all are like me, I’m sure you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and even afraid during these uncertain times.  A germaphobe on my best day, I’m really having to seek out the little things that bring me joy to help me feel centered and grounded.

Staying connected to people always helps me to center myself. I’ve never felt more love and support from my IG community and for that I am truly thankful. When my friend Sarah from Cozy Little Joys reached out and asked if I wanted to do a collaborative post with her about seeking joy, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to help others in the midst of chaos.

Below are some ways of how I am seeking out the joy and establishing some sense of normalcy to our everyday lives.  

  • Take a walk. For me being near the water grounds me, so there will be many family walks down by the river and lake in my near future.
  • Learn a new hobby. I’ve wanted to learn how to use the manual mode on my DSLR camera. What a perfect time to teach myself a new skill and capture precious moments in the process.
  • Practice yoga or meditation every morning and as needed. L loves to do yoga poses with me so might as well make it a family activity.
  • Catch up shows or movies you’ve been wanting to watch (hello Newsies, Sound of Music, and everything on Disney Plus).
  • Turn on your favorite music and have a dance party.

If there is time to learn how to disconnect from all the noise, now is that time.  We must take care of ourselves, mentally, emotionally, and physically, in order to get through these very trying times.  We also must take care of those around us too. Be kind. Be flexible. Be loving. Have faith. Hug your family tight and let’s all hope for the best. 

For more ways on finding the joy in the everyday, head over to Sarah’s page, Cozy Little Joys!

Slainte,

Shannon 

MOTHERHOOD: A DAY IN THE LIFE, WORKDAY

A few weeks ago I shared a glimpse into what a day looks like when I’m at home with L.  Today I’m attempting to share a look into what a day looks like for us when I’m working.  Our morning and afternoon routines are always the same on working days, but my actual work day in the office varies.  I can provide a general idea of what my day consists of, but working in public relations means no day is the same and you constantly have to adapt to the unexpected.  So, without further ado, here is another peek into our life. 

6-6:30am: Hubby and I wake up.  Sometimes I get up and do yoga and sometimes I sleep until 6:30 (the latter is more realistic ha!).

6:30-7:00am: I shower, get dressed, put on my makeup, clean up the master bedroom and bathroom.  Hubby heads downstairs and takes care of the dog, eats breakfast, empties the dishwasher. 

7-7:30am: I make my breakfast, pack my lunch and L’s lunch, write out her schedule, pack up our bags, etc. 

7:30-7:50am: L wakes up and gets breakfast. 

7:50-8:00am: Babysitters arrive (if it’s a Monday, one of us drops L off at my sister’s house).

8:00am: I arrive at work.  For anyone new, I manage the public relations and marketing for my city (Yes, I work for the government and I love it). 

8-9:00am: I check all the social media accounts and respond to questions and comments.  I read and respond to all emails. Then I go over my to do list for the day and prioritize what needs to get done 

9-12:00pm: This is where it gets tricky to quantify what I do.  Depending on the day, I could be in meetings, responding to media requests, working on graphic design projects, planning out social media for the week, developing new marketing and informational materials, drafting talking points for City officials, the list goes on and on.  Each day is different and that is what I love about working in PR. 

12-1:00pm: I generally take an hour lunch break during this time.  Sometimes I go home and eat and relax, sometimes I run errands, and sometimes I stop by and see L.  Just depends on the day! 

1:00-2:00pm: Social media and email check-in.  Review what needs to get done on that particular day and prioritize those tasks.

2-4:30pm: Similar to earlier, I could be in meetings, responding to media requests, working on graphic design projects, planning out social media for the week, developing new marketing and informational materials, updating the website, drafting talking points for City officials, etc. 

4:30pm: Leave work and pick up L.

5:15-6:00pm: If I’m picking L up, we usually get home about 5:15.  We unpack the car, bags, and lunch boxes, take Gryff outside, change our clothes, prep dinner, and play if we have time. 

6-6:30pm: Family dinner time.

6:30-7pm: Playtime with daddy while mommy cleans up the kitchen.

7-7:15pm:  Bath time.

7:15-7:30pm: Relaxing and watching Peppa Pig, Blue’s Clues, or Paw Patrol.

7:30pm: Bedtime. 

And there you have it! The days I work are extremely busy and I’m usually ready for bed by 8:00pm!  But I do love the variety of the day and love that most weeks I know that the following day I get to be home with my sweet girl! 

Slainte,

Shannon

Working Mom, Stay at Home Mom

One of the aspects of my life I haven’t really talked about on this platform is my role as both a career woman and a mom.  

I read and hear about the challenges and joys for working moms and stay at home moms, but I never really hear much about us part-timers.  I consider myself both a working mom and a stay at home mom. For those that don’t know, I work part-time (three full days a week) in public relations.  I do all the PR, marketing and social media for my city (suuuch a fun gig!).

I’m soooo fortunate to be able to work part-time in an amazing job that is two minutes from my house. And I’m equally fortunate to be able to stay at home with my sweet baby girl two days a week.

Although this setup works great for us in this stage of our life, being a part-time working mom and part-time stay at home mom definitely presents its own challenges though.  

One of the biggest challenges is feeling like you aren’t giving enough of yourself to either your job or your family. When I’m at work I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, running all around trying to play catch up and stay ahead. I have that same feeling on my days at home, trying to juggle quality time with L but also trying to get some basic household chores done. I often feel anxious that I’m not doing enough on my days at work and vice versa on my days at home.

Some weeks I work over my regularly scheduled hours, which means less time for my family and that is always really hard on me. (Thankfully I have a stud of a hubby who picks up the slack and takes care of L, the dog and the household.) And then other weeks (like this one), my family demands more attention and I have to give less at work.

Another big challenge of being a part-time working mom and part-time stay at home mom is finding time for myself. It’s really important for me to be fully committed to my job and to be fully present at home.  That leaves very little time for me and that wears on me over time.  And I’m definitely someone who loves my me time and my hobbies.  

But this arrangement definitely has its plusses. For one, I get to spend two days at home every week, just me and L, which is amazing. And, on the flip side I get to do work I love, in a city I love, with some pretty stellar human adults. I get my dose of motherhood and my dose of adult interaction every other day and for me, that’s perfect.

We spend a lot less on childcare since I’m home twice a week.  Childcare is ridiculously expensive and I feel for you families who spend a fortune on it when there is no other option. 

I have more time to blog and produce creative content with this arrangement. When I was working full time I only had time on the weekends to write blog posts and take pictures. Now I can work on some of my blogging during L’s naps and on the weekends.

I also get to spend more time with my family on my days at home with L.  In the summer that means going to the zoo or swimming at my parents with my siblings and nephews.  In the winter that means shopping with my mom or going to the aquarium with my nephews.  I’m definitely one who needs my family close and to see them often so I’m grateful we are in a position where I can do this. 

This is definitely a topic I love to talk about, so please reach out if you have questions, comments, etc.  Whether you work full time, part-time, or stay at home, all of us are doing the best we can with the resources we have and all of us mamas are in this together.  

Sláinte,

Shannon