Podcast Prep – Can moms really have it all?

I’m super excited to share with you some exciting – and slightly terrifying – news.

I’ve been invited to speak on not just one, but two podcasts in the next month!

First up, the Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

I was invited to share my pursuit of a work life balance after being introduced to SoCal mom Jessica by a mutual friend. Not unlike my Working Mom Wednesday blog posts, Jessica celebrates motherhood by inviting moms onto her show to tell their stories.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing my spin on the whole “mommy blog” thing on The Blog Chronicles with Matthew Loomis. Fun fact: I set up this blog using Matthew’s easy to follow steps!

moms have it all

Once I got past the initial “what the heck am I going to talk about” nerves, I realized how pumped I was about sharing my mompreneur journey.

After all, I shouldn’t run out of topics about my life, right? We are all experts in our own experiences!

What makes me a tiny bit terrified; however, is finally sharing my beliefs on the controversial “having it all” debate.

Can moms have it all? Or can’t we?

After a year of pursuing it, I’ve come to my own conclusion and I’ll be diving into what I think on these podcasts!

Have you done anything recently that terrifies you? Let me know how it turned out!

P.S. I’ll be sure to share the links on my Facebook page when each interview is published!

The non-maternity leave

It’s been 12 weeks since Audrey was born.

This is the same week five years ago when I kissed my oldest daughter Daphne goodbye before my husband loaded her up in her carseat to take her to daycare for the first time. The days leading up to the end of my maternity leave were flooded with tears.

With Henry I only took 11 weeks.

Neither were paid.

But the last 3 months have been an entirely different experience.

For starters, I have two other kiddos to keep up with. The seemingly long days of watching daytime television while cluster feeding a newborn in my pajamas are behind me.

It’s also because I didn’t take any time off from work. Yup, this solorpreneur was shooting off emails from the recovery room.

And yet, if you’ve asked me how things were going since Audrey was born, I’ve likely told you it’s been the easiest transition of the three.

My neighbor said it best: You’re nervous with your first child, because everything is new and you have no idea what to expect. You’re overwhelmed with your second child, because you do know what to expect. By the time number three comes, there are much fewer surprises and it’s relatively smooth sailing.

I can’t guarantee it will happen this way for everyone, but it’s definitely been the case for our family.

Daphne is a tremendous help with Audrey, and does a great job of playing with Henry – who isn’t taking to sharing his mama with the baby quite as well.

Plus, this last pregnancy was so rough, including 8 weeks on bedrest, that I actually have substantially more energy now than I did before the baby was born. I’m even sleeping better now, too!

But it hasn’t all been easy. There have definitely been days where I yearned for nursing on the couch in my pajamas. And some of the time, that’s just what I did.

Other days I just wasn’t able to because of the client projects I was working on.

I also took my first ever work trip when Audrey was just 7 weeks old. I was a little bit hesitant about whether or not to go, but I learned a lot and it was totally worth it in the long run.

Now, it’s not really my personality to slow down too much for too long, but the truth is that I needed to keep working. I needed the income. I didn’t want to risk losing my clients. And it turns out the bills only get bigger once you have a baby, so that unpaid maternity leave thing just wasn’t going to fly again – and this time I was able to do something about it.

I knew this was going to be my reality before we had the baby, so I was able to prepare myself for what I wanted my non-maternity leave to look like. Fortunately, this time around I feel wiser as a mother, more focused as a business owner, and I’m finally doing something I’m passionate about.

Whether you’re approaching your maternity leave, or find yourself running a small business while growing your family, here’s what you need to know:

Have a plan

This seems obvious enough, but you need to have a plan with your spouse and your work. Be transparent about what help you’ll need from your partner and if you’ll need to increase childcare for other kiddos to allow more time for you and baby. Ask your company about their leave policy in advance and make sure you understand your benefits or lack thereof. If your leave will not be paid, are you prepared for that financially? Will you possibly need to return sooner? Are these policies negotiable?

I was definitely moving a bit slower for the first two weeks after I gave birth, so I was sure to set boundaries with my clients about when I would be working and when it’s family time. Luckily, because of the nature of my work, there were many things that I was able to schedule out before the baby came. The key with any plan is to be flexible, realistic and communicative. Do not over promise if you won’t be able to perform.

Outsource

Don’t try to be a hero – you just birthed a baby! I’m not sure when moms first started feeling the need to do everything all by themselves. I assure you it’s not possible. Maybe you need to hire a cleaning company for a few months. Maybe your spouse can start doing morning carpool. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and perhaps more importantly, when people offer, accept it. If someone offers to bring your family a meal, graciously thank them and check dinner off of your to do list for that night. Voila! You’ll definitely be able to – and should – return the favor someday.

If you’re a business owner, you may even be able to outsource some of your work tasks without losing revenue. Maybe you have an employee who can step in, or maybe you know about freelancer who can trade projects with you. While that didn’t necessarily work for me, I became much more strategic with how my time was being used on things other than work. I realized free shipping services {hello Amazon Prime} and even grocery shopping services with small fees were totally worth the hour I would have spent doing it myself. This gave me some time back to focus on my clients.

Schedule bonding time

Speaking of time, this one is super important for any new mom. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with things like laundry {which has suddenly doubled in volume with the addition of one tiny human} and on-demand feeding and diaper changes. Add in a job? Mind overload. Whatever you’re doing, don’t let the days slip by without scheduling a special time to just stare at your baby. Take a mental picture. Heck, take a real picture. Or a hundred! Audrey reminds me just how much a newborn changes each and everyday. I’m thrilled to continue working with clients I enjoy while profiting. I’m even happier to do it knowing I’m mindful not to sacrifice these precious moments.

If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, check out or review your company’s maternity leave policy at listyourleave.com. Be sure to read my interview with the founders.

When you’re not losing the baby weight

I’m wearing yoga pants again today.

Yes, I’ve bragged about wearing activewear on a daily basis since I started my own home-based marketing company before. {They are sooo comfy.}  But, if I’m being honest, today I’m wearing them because nothing else fits.

I’m having a hard time losing the baby weight.

After I had my oldest daughter, I was one of those obnoxious moms that went home in her normal clothes. I told everyone it was my reward for having such a terrible pregnancy filled with morning sickness.

When my son came two years later, I got a little overconfident. I packed a pair of my regular ol’ jeans in my hospital bag. On the day I was discharged, I had to send my husband home to get a pair of sweatpants for me to wear home, because I couldn’t get the jeans over my butt. #embarrassing

Within a month or so, I was back in my usual wardrobe, although my shirts were much fuller than before thanks to what I lovingly refer to as my “temporary boob job” from breastfeeding.

It’s been nearly three months since Audrey joined us and it’s been a real struggle for me. Even though my husband, our children’s preschool teacher, and the checkout lady at the grocery store are constantly telling me how great I look for just having had a baby, my confidence has taken a dramatic dip.

It isn’t about what the scale says {although doesn’t feel so hot either!} so much as the fact that I’m far from returning to the clothes in my closet.

So far that I’ve already invested in a new pair of jeans a size {okay two sizes} up.

A lot of photos on social media have gone viral lately of women proudly showing off their postpartum bods, which I think is sending a wonderful message. While it doesn’t help me fit back in my normal clothes any faster, I think it’s great that we’re celebrating instead of shaming stretch marks.

Here’s what else I’m celebrating to take my mind off my closet…

I’m healthy

There’s been a lot of spinach and kale coming into our house since our baby was born. Oftentimes they’re serves alongside a chocolate chip cookie {or three}, but I believe that a part of being healthy is being balanced.

I’m active

What mother of three isn’t? We ride bikes, play outside, and walk to the park every day. I’ve even been able to go for a few runs {sometimes even without the stroller!} and I am getting faster and going a little bit farther each time.

I’m strong

Audrey is one of those babies that wants to be snuggled. All the time. I’ve got a wrap and a carrier and I’ve almost always got one of them strapped to my chest with a baby inside. Add a thirty pound toddler on one hip going up and down the stairs and that’s one strong mama.

I’m amazing

The truth of the matter is that as a nursing mom I’m still very much eating for two. The calories that come and go from breastfeeding are important for me and my baby. And that’s pretty incredible regardless of my size.

Eventually the day will come when I can fit in my clothes again. Or it won’t and I’ll slowly accumulate items in my new, healthy size. Either way, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll still pick out the yoga pants.

Did you have a hard time losing the post-baby lbs? Tell me what worked for you in the comments!

How becoming a mom has made me better at business

As moms, there is no doubt that we wear many hats throughout the day. Mom, wife, employee, boss, chauffeur, maid, chef, referee.

Anyone who has been a working mom for more than a day knows that each of these hats is not mutually exclusive either. I don’t stop being a mom just because I step into my office {hello, work from home because my kiddo is sick days}. Also, I can’t completely turn off work when I’m spending time with my family, even though I do try!

I’ve talked to so many women who decided to continue their careers after becoming a mom, but are worried that somehow they’ll now fail at both. They won’t be able to give their employer their all now that they really have to leave at 5 to get to daycare on time. Or they’re going to miss out on important milestones with their child while they are at work, somehow making them less of a mom.

Sound familiar?

While these feelings are totally normal, I want to let you know that I truly believe they are all in your head.

Are moms better at business?

I’d argue that being a working mom actually makes you better at the office and at home.

Not only are all of our hats not mutually exclusive, I believe they actually strengthen each other.

I was always a strong worker. Reliable. Innovative. Efficient. But one of the unexpected benefits of becoming a mom has been that it’s made me more business savvy. And frankly, working while raising kids has helped me as a parent, as well.

Here are the ways becoming a mom has made me better at business, and vice versa.

Negotiating

Before I had my daughter, I never asked for a raise. Not once. I just accepted whatever was offered at my annual review. I also didn’t negotiate my salary when accepting a new job. After I became a parent, I started valuing my time away from my family in a whole new way. If I was going to give a company my all from 9-5 each day, I was going to be compensated appropriately.

These negotiating skills come in handy with my tiny tots. My husband isn’t a fan of the television, but my kids love it. Negotiating is about coming up with a solution that everyone can be on board with, so we agreed that the kids are allowed 15 minutes in the morning before school. But there’s a catch: get dressed, brush teeth, shoes on. If they aren’t completely ready to leave the house, no show.

Delegating

I used to be the kind of worker who thought it was easier just to do things myself rather than teach someone else to do it. Not anymore! There are no end of the year bonuses for martyrs. Turning over a task to someone else isn’t just an investment in their professional growth, it’s just smart time management on your part.

At home, I delegate simple chores to my 3 and 5 year old. Parents totally underestimate what their children are capable of! My oldest can help sweep the floors and my toddler can wipe down counters {after I spray them} after meals. Is it perfect? No. I could totally do it better and faster. Are they learning to contribute to the household? You bet ya. Plus, it’s one less thing for me to worry about.

Multitasking

As women, most of us naturally have this in the bag compared to our male counterparts. But let me tell you, nobody multitasks like a working mom. I resist multitasking when working on a project {I’m big into time blocking} – I know it will actually slow me down and diminish the quality of my work. However, I listen to podcasts to help my professional development if I’m doing mindless activities or while exercising. I also use commute time to cross things off my mommy list like making doctor appointments.

I make an effort to spend quality time with each of my children every single day, not just be in the same room as them. Story time is one time when multitasking is a big no-no. At the same time, I want to teach my children to be independent and comfortable with entertaining themselves. I set up stations on the counter for them to color while I make dinner and check emails, or they will help me sort the laundry while I fold and catch the news.

Prioritizing

As a working mom, my work day – at least while I’m physically in my office – has to come to an end. This means that in order to get stuff done within a clearly defined time frame, I have to be really good at focusing on what really matters. By prioritizing the most important tasks, I’m also extremely valuable to my clients because I’m not going to procrastinate on projects or waste billable hours.

At home, prioritizing looks a little more like picking your battles. Once my oldest hit toddler years, I learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want to take on every single fight with her. Hitting is a non-negotiable. On the verge of a meltdown at the park over another fruit snack? Not worth the tears.

Committing

Becoming a mom is undoubtedly my single greatest accomplishment. My kiddos gave me my “why” to start my own business in order to spend more time with them while pursuing my career aspirations. When we moved, when I had morning sickness, or just whenever it seems like too much, my family reminds me why I’ve committed to building a business for myself to have the work/life balance that I want. I want my children to see that I never gave up and take that with them when life gets hard – and it will.

Being a working mom has its challenges – no doubt! But I also believe it’s sharpened my skills as a parent and career woman.

Do any of these resonate with you? What do you think – are moms better at business? I’d love to hear in the comments how being a working mom has helped you kick butt at home and in the office!

How to pump when traveling for work

If you read my last post, you know that I just took a work trip to Florida.

It was fabulous!

But having never traveled for work before, this veteran working mom of 3 sure felt like a rookie when it came to pumping on the go.

I remember when I went back to work after my first was born. I was fortunate enough to have little trouble breastfeeding and wanted to keep it up. While it took a few weeks to adjust to a pumping schedule at work, my Medela bag carried everything I needed to get from 9am-5pm each day.

But from Tuesday to Sunday?

Without nursing in the mornings and evenings?

That was something entirely different.

I learned a thing or two about the best ways to pump when traveling. Hopefully they help you out in the event you find yourself living the jet setting life soon after baby arrives.

Do your research

I’m a planner, so this was a no brainer for me. Find out where you’re staying and what amenities will be available to you. I knew I’d have access to a full kitchen, which meant I would have a freezer to keep my ice packs and breast milk frozen. Also, understanding your rights traveling with breastmilk will give you confidence when you travel. You can brush up on those here.

Pro mom tip #1: if you haven’t started pumping yet, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to store up breast milk bags prior to your trip. Don’t have a breast pump yet? No worries. This site helps match your insurance with a manufacturer that will get you one for free!

Practice makes perfect

Getting myself prepared was one thing {think a lot of extra pumping to store up for my time away}. Preparing your little one is quite another. And if you’re a nursing mom, especially one who works from home like I do, your baby is going to be less than thrilled when your breast is replaced with a bottle. Make the transition on her easier by letting her practice with dad, a responsible sibling {Daphne loves to feed Audrey!} or another care taker.

Pro mom tip #2: leave the room! That baby can hear and smell you and thinks it’s pretty unfair that she has to have a fountain drink when the tap is parading around the place.

Pro mom tip #3: stay calm. If at first you don’t succeed, try another bottle/nipple. The truth is, when she’s hungry enough, she will eat. Change is hard for us adults, too.

Pack early and accordingly

The week before I left, one of our cats CHEW THROUGH THE CORD TO MY PUMP. Yup. I totally panicked. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime’s two day shipping and replacement parts. The moral of the story, make sure you have everything you need and tuck it away safely days before you leave. Triple check you have everything you need to make your breast pump function properly. And, depending on how long you’ll be away, you may need to invest in some additional storage supplies. I was fortunate to have a mom friend who let me borrow her ice packs and cooler.

While you’re packing, consider throwing in tops that are easy to nurse/pump in.I didn’t pack to pump, and since I wore a lot of dresses and ended up having to strip down completely. Luckily, my event was held close to where we were staying, so I could return to my room to pump.  If you’re going to be on the go, definitely put some thought into what you’ll wear.

Pro mom tip #4: invest in a car charger converter. There are products that turn the cigarette lighters into outlets or converters for the breast pump to plug in itself. I own the former and it’s been a lifesaver on several occasions, including the two times I had to pump in a car this trip.

Relieve yourself

Literally. When you’re on the go and childless, it’s super tempting to run around like a normal person. I would frequently wait until I was fully engorged to go pump, because I didn’t want to miss a thing!

The bad news? I ended up getting Mastitis the last night we were there. If you’ve never had it before, consider yourself lucky! I never got so much as a clogged milk duct with my first two children, and have had two since my third was born. You’re more likely to get this infection while pumping, especially if you do not fully drain the breast. So go on ladies, relieve yourself.

Pro mom tip #5: don’t stop pumping or nursing when you have a clogged duct. It’s painful, but it’s also the best way to get rid of it. Hot showers, heating pads and ibuprofen don’t hurt either.

Be upfront

As soon as I got to the airport security line, I let them know I was traveling with breastmilk. They were very helpful in walking me through the process:

  1. Run the cooler through the X-Ray conveyer belt with my other carryon items.
  2. Escort me to the back to inspect cooler further.
  3. Only the liquid bags greater than 3.4 ozs had to be examined. Luckily, all of my bags were frozen solid except the two I had made that morning. These liquid bags were run those through a special screening machine {no bags were opened}. Had all of the bags been frozen or under the ounce requirement, I would’t have been inspected at all!
  4. I got bonus points for having everything in clear bags. There was no award for this, but it’s highly recommended.

I’ve heard horror stories from other mothers who had less than positive experiences, but this was mine. Again, be prepared and know your rights as a nursing mom. Knowledge is power!

I hope this helps you the next time you’re leaving your baby, whether for work or for pleasure. Being a working mom is hard enough, but committing to nursing and pumping is no easy fete!

Tell me, have you ever traveled while pumping? How did it go?

Get the pedicure

Last weekend was nuts.

I was pumping multiple times a day, working ahead on some projects for the following week, and trying to find clothes that fit my postpartum body to pack for an out of town event.

This work event just happened to be in Destin, Florida, and I desperately needed to get a pedicure for my soon to be exposed toes.

But I had a million other things to do and the thought of leaving my kids alone with my husband for even one extra hour before heading to the beach days later seemed so unreasonable.

This is a situation I’ve found myself in many times before.

I need to do the laundry, take the kids to get a haircut, go to the grocery store, finish client projects, sweep the floors, strategize some upcoming business initiatives, and clean the toilets…

Seriously, who has time to get a pedicure?

That really got me thinking.

I need to do so many things. {At least I think I do.}

But what about what I need?

In this case, a pedicure to bring my feet out of hibernation. But sometimes it’s lunch with a friend, time to exercise or just a quiet moment alone.

Why do we, as mothers, hesitate to do things for ourselves?

Mom guilt.

Surely it would look bad if I went a did something for myself before every tiny thing at home is wrapped up, right? I mean, I’m leaving town for crying out loud.

Except here’s the thing – the long list of to-dos is never really done. And by not taking care of numero uno, we just ware ourselves down with all of the other stuff. Even the flight attendants remind us before take off that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this post from a 3 bedroom penthouse suite at a resort in Destin, Florida.

And I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about it.

Why?

Because it’s great for my personal and professional development.

I have a husband whom I trust completely with our three children.

Everyone will be alive and well when I return home. After a week, they won’t even remember I left in the first place.

And I would have a lot more regrets if I’d chosen not to attend.

So while I acknowledge that mom guilt is definitely a real thing, I’m also declaring it only as powerful as we allow it to be.

So before my trip, I decided to kick mom guilt to the curb in four easy steps.

  1. It’s easier said than done, but stating that you refuse to let guilt take over is the first step. Like most things in life, it’s a choice.
  2. Address why you felt it in the first place. For me, it was the idea of asking my husband to step up one more time right before leaving town.
  3. Find a way around it and make your own reality. I could have filled my day with housework and packing, and then been upset about my ugly feet later. I could have resented my husband for “not letting me go” even though I’d never asked. Instead, I ditched the housework, waited until the older kiddos were napping {aka pretending to sleep while quietly destroying their bedrooms} and took the baby with me to the nail salon.
  4. Give yourself grace. Did I get to every single thing on my list before heading out of town? No. But it’s been a week and I still haven’t. But I did give myself a pat on the back for doing something I normally wouldn’t have done for myself and for feeling really good about it. For the record, my toes look fabulous, the baby slept the entire time we were at the salon, and my husband barely noticed I’d left the house, let alone the remaining chores.

Mom guilt, be gone!

Who’s with me?

Go out and be an awesome mother, wife, colleague and friend. Just please remember to fasten your own oxygen mask first.

When you’re done having babies

Dear mama,

You are done having babies.

I know part of you is really sad about this.

The oldest two are hardly babies anymore, and your newborn is no longer a newborn. Time sure seems to speed up with each child, doesn’t it?

You’ve breathed in every moment with this precious last one and I know you’ll continue to cherish these early years.

I know part of you is really sad about this, but I also know that part of you is a little relieved.

Pregnancy was never very fun for you. It’s okay to feel a little excited even now that you can kiss the days of constant nausea goodbye.

In fact, you can say goodbye to those maternity clothes, too. Sure, they were comfy, but they just remind you of back pain, heartburn and hovering over the toilet.

So go on. Find an expecting first-time mom and just give them to her with a knowing smile. The same way they were passed down to you.

And it’s okay if you’re not quite ready to get rid of any baby clothes just quite yet. You hold on to them as long as you need to. I know there will be times when you ache for the days of snuggling up with a newborn.

Just don’t get any ideas, because you are done having babies.

It’s almost funny to think about how quickly this all happened.

From the moment you got married, people have been asking when you’d start having kids.

As soon as you birthed that first sweet baby, those same well-meaning folks were asking when she’d get a brother or sister.

And then the questions stopped.

But your baby itch did not.

Do you remember when you started telling people you were pregnant with number three? They start to look at you like you’re nuts!

Today, you are officially outnumbered and yet your hands feel as full as your heart does.

And it feels good.

You truly feel as though your family is complete.

But just remember, while you’re done having babies, you have a lot more parenting to do.

Stay strong, mama.

“I try to give equal parts of myself to all things that are important to me.”

traveling working mom

 

As I get back in the swing of things {in case you missed it, 2016 was a tad eventful}, I’m excited to bring back my #workingmomwednesday series.

Last year I interviewed over two dozen working moms. Many owned their own businesses, but all shared a particular passion for their families and careers.

Today I’m chatting with an old college friend, Megan Manguso. One thing that sets Megan apart from any of the interviews I’ve done before is that she travels…a lot. I couldn’t wait to find out her tricks and what was just plain tricky. Read on to become an expert in jet setting with a baby and a briefcase.


Self promo time. Tell me about yourself.

I currently live in central LA {just South of West Hollywood} with my husband Nick, my son Maddox {11mos}, and my FURst baby Oliver {terrier mix}, affectionately known as Ollie Bear. I am the Head of Strategic Partnerships for onefinestay – a start up company which provides upscale, serviced/managed short term rental accommodations in London, Paris, New York, LA, Rome and Miami {think airbnb and a boutique hotel had a baby}. I’ve always been in the travel industry so naturally travel is part of my job, and I love it.

So how often do you travel for work?

Pretty regularly… after my son was born last February, I went back to work starting mid May. Since then, I have been to Europe 3 times for work. But I travel domestically pretty regularly, too. Since June I have been to Miami, Paris, London, Rome, Las Vegas, Vancouver, New York, and the South of France.

How have you been able to balance being a new mom with such a demanding job?

When I had to go to London and Rome, I brought my son. I had my mom come with us and we rented apartments/houses. My husband joined us for the Italy leg and we had some vacation time, too. It has to be said that I couldn’t do this without him. I had to fly straight to Vegas after Italy and so he flew home to LA from DC {6 hours!} after nearly 24 hrs of traveling and the baby had probably had only a few hours of sleep. For Vancouver, we rented a home there, as well. I love the whole idea of “beliesure” {extending business travel for leisure travel}. I really want my son to experience the world and feel comfortable traveling from the moment he can remember. Plus, got to take advantage of free flights before he turns 2!

What is your best travel tip for moms?

Embrace the fact that you are going to have A LOT of stuff and get the gadgets you need. I am and have been a pretty regular traveler. I pack light. A carry on for 7 days is no problem for me. So when I had my son, I had to accept that there was no more carry on only. I did a lot of research {I’m big on mommy research} and found the best gadgets I could to make it easier. Stroller bags, bouncer chairs, travel toys, etc.

It sounds like you have a great support system. Who helps you when you aren’t on the go?

We have an au pair. The au pair program is amazing for us, because it allows for flexibility. It’s also significantly more reasonable in price compared to a full time nanny. In Los Angeles, it ends up costing a little bit more that traditional day care, and since I work from home 30-50% of the time I get to see Maddox during the day which makes being a working mom much more bearable.

How do you stay focused when working from home?

Obviously, you need to have the space for it. We have a detached 1br/1ba studio and it works perfectly. Garage conversions are very popular in LA – so we bought the house with this intention.

What is your best piece of advice for working moms?

Balance, flexibility, and focus. Basically, when I am working, I try to be as efficient and effective as possible. It makes the day go by faster, and if I am going to be away from my son, I need to make it worth it. Also, then I have less pressure to stay connected to work when I am with my family.

At the same time, flexibility and balance keeps me going. I work from home a lot and my son is with his au pair in the house. So I will work for a few hours and then go out to see him for 15 or 20 minutes, or for lunch, and then go back to work refocused. I am a big believer that the 9-5 thing was built for the industrial, manufacturing age. I can’t sit still for 8 hours doing the same thing regardless of being a mom or not, so being able to break up my day and find a job/superior that allows me to do that has been key.

What keeps you sane?

Back to balance. I couldn’t be a full time mom. Not because I don’t think I have the capability, I think that I would be so over the top about it, and my type A personality would drive my family crazy! I am pretty sure I would turn my family into a business {Martha Stewart, Leave it to Beaver style}. So having something else to work on keeps me sane and the right balance between the two is the ultimate goal.

I embrace that I am type A and need to control things, so I plan everything out long before I need to start worrying about it. For example, I put my son on lists for school over year before most because I know the stress it can cause {especially in a place like LA} if you wait until just a few months before. I always have an action plan when it comes to parenting, marriage, and work.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

Ahhh having it all! So, I actually believe you can’t have it all and that it’s OK. I am realist, and it’s simple math: you only have 1 of you to give. So I try to give equal parts of myself to all things that are important to me. I don’t believe my son, my job or my husband need the whole me, I think they need the best me, and the best me is balanced and present.


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Have you ever started doing something – you thought about it a ton….you planned and planned – only to find yourself somewhere very different than where you thought you were headed?

That’s exactly what happened to me in 2016.

In December 2015 I quit my 9-5 a little terrified and a lot optimistic and set out to build that thing that would give me the flexibility to work when and where I wanted.

My motivation? More family time. My ultimate goal? Find a way to help other mamas do the same thing.

The Free Mama was born!

I rang in the New Year with a lofty task at hand, and I felt capable and confident that blogger status was where I was headed.

Within 6 months I realized that this profitable blog thing might take longer than I had anticipated. Naturally, my attention turned towards my digital marketing freelancing jobs, something that was making money.

I didn’t abandon my vision for the blog, but my time invested definitely fluctuated as I shifted my focus to ensure I was producing an income for my family.

As each day’s work morphed into something quite different than what I had originally set out to do, my family quite literally landed somewhere different when we unexpectedly moved to Texas over the summer.

And who can forget the added news of a baby on the way?

With so much changing in my personal life, this blog that I started because I wanted to support working moms while supporting my family quickly turned into cathartic diary entries.

And as it turns out, you like that!

People connect with people, and lucky for me they also connect with imperfect people living an imperfect life.

The feedback I’ve gotten through comments, emails, texts, and visitor stats are telling me loud and clear that I didn’t need to “advise” in the first place. I just needed to share my own journey.

That I can do!

As for the freelancing, something that started with a few small clients, has grown into a workload that is all I can handle without bringing on additional help.

I’m incredibly proud to have more than supplemented my previous full-time income in less than a year, all on my own. When I left my job, my goal was to spend more time with family, and working from home has definitely allowed me to prioritize each day exactly as I see fit.

I no longer feel like I’m compromising my kids for a career or vice versa.

And THAT is exactly why I started The Free Mama in the first place.

Maybe I didn’t land so far away from what I’d set out to do in 2016 after all.

The Good

2016 seemed to throw our family quite a few curveballs. But I’ve learned that with change, comes growth. And our family has definitely grown closer.

Change isn’t always easy, and we don’t always like it, but at the end of the day it’s like I tell my kids, “you have to wake up and choose to be happy. No one is going to do it for you.”

With that being said, there were a lot of pregnancy-hormone-filled days where I cried after our move. But as soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what was best for my family.

And what was best for the family was a sane mother.

First, I prioritized finding a support system and joined a mom’s group. Typically that wouldn’t be “my thing,” but friends weren’t just going to show up at my door step. I put myself out there and have formed friendships with women I already cannot imagine not having in my life.

It was also important for me to put some renewed energy into my business. Again, I had to put myself out there. I participated in networking events to meet some amazing professionals in the area, and found new partners and clients.

Trust me when I say it would have been much easier to stay home and keep crying, but it also would have been pretty miserable for everyone.

Not unlike their mom, our kids had to transition to a new place last year, too. But unlike their mom, they did so gracefully. Both are well adjusted, thriving in school and extracurriculars, and loving the warmer climate filled with park playdates with friends.

Justin is loving the flexibility and variety of his job. Although he travels occasionally, our family has spent more time together than we ever did back in Kansas City and I don’t take it for granted for a second.

We spent half of 2016 in Houston and now I can say it’d be hard to imagine our family anywhere else.

The Bad

Getting to Houston, on the other hand, nearly killed me. Buying and selling a home, packing and moving cross country to the hottest place on the planet in the middle of summer is stressful enough, but doing it while throwing up several times a day is downright awful.

But, if I had to sum up 2016 in one word, it would be “bills.”

Not only is moving pretty pricey, but the adjustment to being self-employed brought about health insurance premiums neither my husband nor I quite expected.

I love our sweet new baby to pieces, but she turned out to be a costly little thing. Emergency room visits. Anti-nausea medicine. Pre-term labor followed by two months of bedrest. Between the new state and the new year, we met multiple deductibles just to get her here!

That many bills aren’t just costly, they’re incredibly stressful.

While it may around the same time we pay off the hospital, I’m sure I’ll forgive her.

Eventually.

The Beautiful

There was plenty of ugly in 2016 that I could have written about, but I’d rather share with you something beautiful that I saw throughout the entire year, over and over again.

Motherhood.

Starting with this blog last January, I asked working moms to share their stories with me, to share with all of you.

Friends, acquaintances and even strangers generously donating their time to compose honest and meaningful contributions to my #workingmomwednesday features.

The peak of my morning sickness coincided with my husband’s move to Houston about a month before the rest of us. I was left to finalize things in Kansas City while caring for two busy toddlers.

I relied heavily on the generosity of the moms in our neighborhood to help me get through it. From watching kids so that I could pack, to picking me up orange juice, no favor was too big or too small for these thoughtful women.

When we finally reunited in Houston, I was exhausted and lonely. I joined a moms’ group to meet new people. These mothers have brought me treats when I was feeling down, visited me while I was on bedrest, and continue to deliver meals now that Audrey is here. I feel incredibly blessed for each of these friendships.

Without a doubt, however, the most maternal gesture of 2016 came from my own mother. When I was placed on bedrest at 32 weeks pregnant, she hopped on a plane to help my husband with the big kids. She put her life on hold for nearly two months to cater to our family’s needs without hesitation or complaint. I am forever in debt, and yet, as a mom myself I know I’d do the exact same thing.

It’s what moms do.

Motherhood is such a special thing, and it truly got me through the year in more ways than one. Not only do mothers take care of our own families, but we look out for one another with the same selfless spirit, as well.

So long, 2016

I may be a month behind on bidding the year adieu, but 2016 truly was one for the books. I launched a business, I turned 30, I moved cross country, and our family grew {well, my belly grew. Audrey missed 2016 by 7 days.}

And for the record, if 2017 could be a little less eventful, that would be okay by me.

Welcoming my last baby

last baby

Unless you are personal friends with me on Facebook, you may be wondering where in the world I’ve been these last few months.

You know I was expecting and that my business was taking off. But to be gone for so long, because of a baby and some new clients?

I’ll have plenty to say on all of that later this week…

Today I just want to share with you all the feels over welcoming the newest addition to our family, our rainbow baby, and our last baby, Audrey Mae.

last baby

Yesterday this sweet little girl turned one month old.

And I cried all of the tears.

Such a milestone might not seem like that big of a deal, but for this mom of three, it’s huge.

When our oldest, Daphne, was one month old I was barely coming out of the new motherhood fog. Luckily, she was an easy baby, so most of our adjustments didn’t come with a side of sleep deprivation. Every day with this baby with new and exciting, because everything we experienced with her was a first.

After Henry arrived, the first few weeks were a bit chaotic, but the days of midnight diaper changes and on-demanding feeding with his sister weren’t so far behind us so it was a bit like relearning to ride a bike. This middle-child-to-be had plenty of firsts, too. It turns out, boys and girls are very different. By one month, we were finally starting to hit our stride with juggling two.

But with Audrey, things are different.

Because with my last baby, I won’t just be celebrating her firsts.

I’m also mourning the lasts.

Yesterday was the last time a baby of mine will turn one month old!

last baby

It’s so hard to believe, because I remember her being born like it was yesterday.

She decided she was ready in the early hours of the morning and woke me up. After a shower {clean!} and a quick bite to eat {fuel!}, we made it to the hospital.

We didn’t actually know that she was a she at the time. For our final love bug, my husband and I decided that since we were already equipped with the clothing and gear for a boy or a girl, we elected to keep this one a surprise {which ended up being much easier than this planner had anticipated, and totally worth the wait}.

I had a hunch this little nugget would be exactly what big sister wanted, another girl. For starters, I was extra sick this pregnancy which landed me in the emergency room, just like with big sister. The final icing on the cake was once we were admitted to the hospital, our L&D nurse’s name was Jacqueline, which was my front-running girl name going into the hospital. If that wasn’t a sign!

Dad refused to commit to a gender guess. {I think he just didn’t want to be wrong…}

I had already labored to the finish line by the time I was able to get an epidural, so within 15 minutes the doctor and nurses had flooded into the room for the big finish.

With the pain relief kicking in, I can truly say I enjoyed the delivery. It cracks me up now, but I was holding conversations with the people in the room between the three rounds of pushes until we finally got to meet our – surprise! – girl.

You know how when you get married everyone tells you to try to slow down and enjoy the moment, because it will go by so quickly? That is exactly what I did when my last baby was born. I noticed who was in the room and watched my husband as he gazed down at our newborn. I looked the doctors and nurses in the eyes and thanked them silently. Then I finally held my tiny creation, this amazing miracle I had grown and delivered into the world, and breathed in every ounce of my new daughter. And I cried.

After looking at our precious baby, we felt she was already our Audrey, as if she had named herself! Her middle name didn’t come quite as quickly. In fact, if it weren’t for birth certificate paperwork we may still be deciding!

Big sister’s middle name is her Godmother’s middle name, and big brother’s middle name is his grandfather’s name. Not wanting to stray from the family ties, we settled on Mae….my mother’s grandmother’s name and a true Matriarch.

last baby siblings

In most mommy circles, “baby brain” is a real deal thing. And the more kids we have, the worse it seems to get!

I know I won’t always be so observant, so present to take it all in.

And unlike the firsts that seem to be so obvious, it’s easy to forget to slow down and cherish the lasts.

Happy one month to my sweet girl, my last baby!

{All images courtesy of Haven Photography}