The Best Thing I Ever Did for my Sanity
The decision to be a stay at home mom was not made lightly. For eight years, I enjoyed all the perks of being a traveling management consultant including trips around the globe, employer-paid health insurance, and the financial freedom that allowed us to do whatever, whenever we pleased. But, I strongly believed that being at home with my kids while they were young was far more important than my bank account.
I knew that my life would forever be changed, but I had no idea that by leaving the workplace I would be giving up my main connection to an adult life.
I always thought that being a stay at home mom was the “American Dream.” While I loved being in Corporate America, the idea of being at home with my kids and working on “my schedule” (I’m also a professional photographer) was everything I ever wanted. I would focus all my time giving my children the absolute best childhood they could possibly have. I’d take them to the library for story time, to the park for afternoon play dates, to music class to introduce them to the fine arts, and do craft projects every day. I accepted that I’d also have to cook for the family, even though it ranked low on my priority list, but I didn’t even consider that cleaning would be a part of my job description. Being a mom would be the best job ever.
Unfortunately, being a stay at home mom with young children is hardly child’s play, especially considering how little you actually get to play. Between changing diapers, laundry, dishes, cleaning house, telling your oldest child to stop doing whatever it is they are doing (insert anything – when you have a 4 year old in the house, there seems to be a constant stream of parenting conversations that have to take place), and running errands, an entire day can slip right out from under you. Too often, I look up to see that it’s already 4 o’clock which means it’s time to cook dinner, put the kids in the bathtub, and get ready for bed.
I’m really not complaining. Remember, I signed up for this, but I can’t be the only one struggling.
This past June, I gave birth to my second child. You may have seen the birth announcement. And while our summer as a family of four was absolutely wonderful in so many ways, I can’t say it was easy.
With your first born, you sleep when the baby sleeps. People come out of the woodwork to help or bring a meal or gifts or just a warm smile. You can hibernate for months if you choose and people willingly accept it as the way things are because it’s your first baby. With your second child, life simply moves on. Sure, family and friends will come into town to see the new baby. You might get a couple of weeks worth of meals and plenty of messages checking in, but that’s about the extent of it. And if your oldest has already dropped their afternoon nap, say goodbye to the notion of “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Again, not complaining.
It has taken me a few months to regain my sea legs, but I’m starting to realize that if I have any chance of maintaining my sanity, I simply can’t go about my business as if I didn’t have two children. However, that doesn’t mean that I stay in my pajamas all day and hold myself hostage, thus committing myself to endless weeks of cooking, cleaning, and wiping butts. And it doesn’t mean that I try to hold it together all day, only to drink a bottle of wine at night in hopes that tomorrow will be better.
It does mean getting out of the house and doing things with my children that allow us to recharge, and appreciate the beautiful life that we’ve been given. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the temperatures have finally dropped, which means we can enjoy being outdoors without all the sweat.
On mornings when my daughter is in preschool, my son and I often take a walk through the park. It may be a little chilly, but the motion puts him right to sleep. This particular park is one of my favorites to take clients for fall portraits, so our walk allows me the time to scope out new spots and enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet – for at least 15 minutes.
I pick up a little more mom time on Tuesday afternoons when I drop my daughter off for dance. There just so happens to be a Starbucks within walking distance of the studio. So, my son and I take a little walk. He falls asleep and I enjoy a frothy drink. Sanity restored.
On days when my daughter is not in school, we work on our fall bucket list. Autumn is by far my favorite season, so the moment I see the leaves start to change, I’m ready to whip out my boots and drink pumpkin spice lattes. At the top of our list is to visit a pumpkin farm. We’ve already been to two, and I’m sure we’ll go to at least one more before the end of the month. I just can’t help myself. But in my defense, it crosses off so many items on our list:
- Nature walk
- Collect acorns
- Go on a hay ride
- Jump in a leaf pile
- Pick your own pumpkin (which leads to pumpkin carving)
- Drink a pumpkin-flavored drink
Again, my son doesn’t typically know what’s going on since he sleeps through most of our outings, but the best thing I can do for my sanity (and my family’s general well-being) is to get out of the house for more than just preschool drop-off/pick-up or running errands. Fortunately, he seems to adjust pretty well, and I’m able to keep him cozy without overdressing him in a JJ Cole Urban Bundle Me along with JJ Cole’s hat, mittens and booties set.
Unlike many infant winter car seat covers, the Bundle Me is more than just a cover since it can be used with car seats, strollers and joggers (it just so happens that our car seat converts into a stroller). The quilted outer nylon of the Urban Bundleme protects against wind and rain while the luxuriously soft inner thermaplush provides comfort and warmth. Much like a blanket, it can be zipped up to keep your baby warm or taken off for easy temperature control. And it’s machine washable, which comes in handy since my son is a spitter.
While it does attach directly to the seat to allow the safety straps to rest directly on your child, it’s also crash tested so you don’t need to worry about the whole “don’t add anything to your car seat or it’ll reduce its safety capacity” message that we constantly hear. Bundle Me is a much safer option to keep your baby warm in the car seat in cooler weather.
EXPLORE AND CONNECT
It seems simple, but the best thing I ever did for my sanity was to get out of the house, and for the next few months JJ Cole will make sure my baby stays warm while we complete our fall/winter bucket list. #BundleMeUp
This conversation was sponsored by JJ Cole.
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Ashley lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children and Kitty Paw. She’s a work-from-home mom with a natural light photography business and a passion for sharing everything she knows. Since leaving the corporate world, she now spends her time chasing her preschooler, nursing her new baby, writing and finding ways to enjoy life. You can find her on Facebook, Google + or on her website.