Balancing the Working Mom

My son will be five in May. This means I have successfully managed to be a full time working mom for five years. This includes everything from pumping breast milk in a client parking lot to days where all I did was care for a child and work from the moment that I woke up to the moment I went to sleep.

Somewhere along the way, it’s gotten easier. Maybe that’s just my son’s age as he gets older or maybe I am figuring a key piece of it out. I like to think it is the later.

You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Navigating the last five years hasn’t just been being a working mom. I have lived in three states and therefore moved between each one (Indiana, Maryland and Tennessee). I have navigated relationship changes and am currently working through the next phase of that. Let’s just summarize it as messy and stressful. Multiple articles contain lists of the most stressful things you can do in your life and there hasn’t been a year in the last 5-10 years that I didn’t have at least three going on at the same time.

At some point in your life, whether you are a mom or not, you have to learn that you put yourself first.

I am not saying that you are the bitch that isn’t capable of considering others feelings. You are the woman that is strong enough to know that you can’t take care of others to the detriment of yourself. That only results in you being incapable of caring for yourself and other around you. You realize that you are worthy of breaks. You are entitled to them, even. And they are hard to come by as a mom.

Where do you start?

I started small. I had a 20 minute a day workout that I committed to. I was going to spend 20 minutes a day on me and at the same time downloaded the audio book “Girl, Wash Your Face” to listen to at the same time. I started waking up at 6 am to do this before my son woke up for the day because it was the only time I had. As I sit here and think about this time in my life, I can still envision the layout of the room I worked out in and tears still come to my eyes. I remember how that woman felt. Cringing. Angry. Exhausted. Desperate. Lost. I remember how angry I was at where I had gotten. I was frustrated with my body, my attitude, my life and my world.

You are allowed to struggle.

My son is one of the cutest beings you will ever encounter. Seriously, one of the cutest things you will encounter. Follow along at @hackingtheworkingmom if you don’t believe me. He is sweet and kind and loves fiercely. I was one of the lucky ones, but I can easily see how moms would struggle with post partum and not just right after their baby is born but for years. You are allowed to struggle. Don’t hide it. Be honest with yourself and those around you.

The practical part

  • Set your priorities. Through it all, I knew my son needed to be provided for. I knew that I needed to learn to love myself. I knew that I needed down time. I let the rest go and when I was ready picked it back up slowly. The house being dirty doesn’t harm anyone. You being unable to breath is harmful.
  • Make time for yourself in a way that fills your soul. More than likely, you don’t know what this even looks like yet. Spend time sitting and figuring it out. If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be? What would you be doing? What would you smell, see and taste? What activities do you do that you feel happier after?
  • Learn to say no. With set priorities, when things don’t fit in those priorities, say no. And don’t apologize that you are saying no. You deserve to drive your own life.
  • Move your body. Rachel Hollis says “Move your body, change your mind”. I don’t know if it’s the original quote, but I swear this saved me. When I was angry, I worked out and let out my frustration. There have been workouts accompanied by tears streaming down by face as I did knee drivers because I hated where I was. There have been workouts where I skipped even higher because things were going well that week. There is power in movement.

Don’t stay stagnant. When you don’t know what to do, set your priorities and move. And most importantly, know that you are never alone.

Finding yourself

“She remembered who she was, and the game changed”

In the world we live in, there are a million ways to lose yourself – kids, a job, a significant other, busy-ness. I can honestly say that I have managed to lose myself in each item of that list and it’s taken time to come full circle. Your teenage years are chaos as you try to figure out what it means to be an adult. Your twenties are full of thinking you have it figured it out and realizing that the world isn’t as simple as it once seemed. Staring my thirties in the face now, I am realizing that the only thing I know is that I want to be open to change. I want to embrace it.

Caution: There is a danger in wanting to always be open to change. You can find yourself unable to settle into anything. You always change your hair, your house, your car, your shoes, your face wash! There is beauty in the longevity and consistency of staples in your life. Allow yourself to enjoy what is stable but don’t cling to it with white knuckles and define your persona through that stability. Control what you can control and learn to let the rest go. The stability is meant to come from knowing who you are.

Finding yourself doesn’t mean ignoring the other things that are important to who you are. My son is a huge part of who I am, but he doesn’t define me. What he thinks of me, what parents think of me, what other family thinks of me, doesn’t define me. I have to remind myself often that I am not responsible for the opinions of others or their view of my life. It doesn’t matter if that friend from high school thinks that you are successful. The way others view your successes or failures does not define you.

How do you find yourself?
  • Sit with your thoughts
  • Listen to those you trust
  • Try something knew
  • Know your weaknesses
  • Do something you love
Sit with your thoughts

Sitting with your thoughts is by the far the hardest out of these for me. I don’t like to sit still. I will purposefully have a million things going so I don’t have the option to even sit still. Sitting still forces your body to catch up. To relax. To process. To unwind. Take the time to really think about what you want and what you need.

Listen to those you trust

Over the years, I am finding that there are things I wish I had listened to. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t make it a regret. But there were times across the board that people I love and trust tried to show me an easier way and I didn’t listen. I am still working on this one. Since I know myself to some extent, I don’t think the stubborn side of me is changing and this will continue to be a hard one for me.

Try something new

When trying to find yourself, stay curious. This is one that I learned from my mom and more than likely, she read it in a book. “Stay curious”. Be okay with just following what you are interested in instead of what you know. You might surprise yourself and find something you really enjoy. Worse case, you figure out something that you don’t enjoy. I took up running in the last week and not only is it sticking, I am loving it.

Know your weaknesses

Part of knowing yourself and how not to lose yourself in other things includes knowing the ways that you are most likely to sacrifice who you are and what you want. This one comes from listening to those you trust and sitting with your thoughts — allowing yourself to feel where ever you are and looking to understand how and why you got there.

Do something you love

When all else fails, do something that you love. What fuels you and gives you energy? That could be reading a book in silence, blaring music as you drive down an open road or writing way too much down in a blog. This is different for everyone, but make sure to try something new if you haven’t found what you love yet.

Part of this is knowing that you have never arrived. 2021 is another year of embracing change and knowing that the best years are ahead of us.

Apple cider old fashioned

The perfect fall and festive drink is here! And itโ€™s a little too easy to drink.

The party trick for this drink is to chop up your apple into half inch squares and freeze them for at least thirty minutes. This acts as the ice for your drink and doesnโ€™t water it down. My favorite part is eating the apple bits after they soak up the goodness.

Apple Cider Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon

2 ounces apple cider

1 tsp brown sugar

2 dashes angostura bitters

1/4 cup frozen apple pieces

Cinnamon stick and orange peel for garnish

Place sugar in glass. Add bitters. Pour in bourbon and cider. Finish off with frozen apple pieces in the glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange peel.

Daily Round up

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoyed wonderful time with the ones you love, in person or remotely.

There are ALL sorts of deals floating around. Here are my top picks. There is everything from lounge wear at Express to leather jackets from Lucky Brand over 50% off! Kohl’s has great Melissa & Doug kids items, Legos and Christmas village at 50% off, and don’t forget that you still earn Kohl’s cash on top of that! The Ninja set along with the Nest Learning Thermostat are things that I LOVE and need in my home to make function. Don’t miss the 50% off Urban Decay NAKED palettes as well!

Click any of the images to shop!

Express

This is an extra $10 off $50 on top of the sale when you use the LikeToKnow.It code (2915) through the app!

Kohl’s

Lucky Brand

Amazon Toys

Ninja Chopper

I LOVE this thing. I have had mine for years. I used the food processor part today to make my pie crust for Thanksgiving. We use the individual sizes daily for our shakes.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Quite a few places have this on sale for $199 right now. I picked Home Depot because I can do curb side pickup tomorrow to get it and they had white, which was important for mine to blend into the wall.

Urban Decay Naked Palettes

These are such solid palettes! The colors are gorgeous and I have personally used the Naked 2 Palette for over a year.

Is the Baby Foot peel really worth $25?

Maybe you have heard of this product? Maybe not. When I saw it for the first time, I thought there is no way I am doing that!!! But given six months of social distancing and I started to change my tune. I wasn’t going to get a pedicure so I needed to figure out how to have soft feet.

THIS THING IS THE BOMB! It’s not the cheapest but it leave my feet feeling better than any pedicure that I have ever had.

How does it work?

There are two bags in the product to put your feet it. You simply place one foot in each bag and find something to watch on Netflix for an hour! Do make sure that you get the product all over your feet – including the tops!

Watch over the next 1 – 2 weeks as your feel peel. And I mean PEEL! The instructions tell you not to pick at it, though it’s hard not to. You can get the product here on Amazon.

Is there a knock off that works too?

I wanted to take a short cut so I ordered one set off Amazon that was a 2 pack for $30. Not worth it… I set with my feet in those booties for an hour after what was at least two weeks of me forgetting to do it. It’s been two days and my feet haven’t started peeling at all.

Don’t look for another option. Stick with the tried and true!

UPDATE: I guess I spoke to soon. I did my workout with this new one barefoot on my rug and oh. my. goodness. My feet are PEEELING! WOO HOO!!! This knock off is doing just as good of a job. Give it at least four days to start peeling, which is fair because it says 1-2 weeks for all the peeling.

This is the other one I tried. You can get it here.

Target Christmas Decor, Jammies & More

Target was full of good options for Christmas and the holidays from the dollar section to Hearth & Hand. I grabbed items for my kitchen counter, mantle, and a few cozy things to bring joy for the holiday season. Click on any of the images to quickly see and shop the items pictured.

There were two coffee mugs that I picked up along with some pajamas! The long sleeve “Merry.” shirt and the classic Coca-Cola lounge wear is a must have! I don’t really want snow, but I did love the blue of this mug and the feeling of needing to be by a fireplace.

I spruced up my coffee corner with new coffee and sugar canisters on a holiday platter. The little black houses were from the dollar spot area. I already had the green vase with the white sunflower from a previous Target trip and they aren’t still in stock.

I am OBSESSED with this cookie platter and matching mug that traditions are built from! I can’t wait for this to be the normal item that we pull out each year as my currently four year old sets out cookies for Santa.

I setup my kitchen counter on my loved Pottery Barn pedestal for a more Christmassy look. I will probably still pepper in a little more red when we get past Thanksgiving. A good bit of this came from the Target dollar spot (wooden houses $5, paper tree $1, glass tree $3, tall green tree $3). The red and grey vase and filler are available online at Target.

Lastly, I started the setup for my mantle. I adore the stocking holder as it won’t fall over when the stocking are full since it’s a heavier piece and long. I am going to get a large piece of red artwork to go where the pinecone wreath is currently to add more height. The stockings are a Pottery Barn purchase that we have had for years.

That wraps up the Target haul! They have beautiful pieces to help you celebrate a time to enjoy family and be thankful for the things you have in your life! Our dog even loves Target Christmas pajamas.

Academy pullovers & hoodies under $50

As we go into the holidays, the deals are going to start rolling in! I will post what I see for gift guides as the deals are available and make sure to link it for easy shopping as they will go fast!

Academy has some “hot deals” going on right now with hoodies for the whole family! These are all under $50 and great gifts for your spouse or anyone else in your family! You can shop women’s here and men’s here.

Women’s under $50

I am eyeing the pink and green Adidas hoodies and the white and grey Columbia pull over!

Men’s under $50

These are a staple for any man in your life! I love the grey and green Columbia zip up.

Amazon Prime Day Picks

For good reason, everyone is digging through the Amazon Prime Day deals and looking for a steal.

Here are my top picks:

Dyson renewed v7 cordless vacuum

This vacuum is the best!!! It is easy to grab and there are multiple attachments you can get to be able to use it in your car or under your furniture!

Car seats & Travel System

Awesome brands and awesome deals!

Booster seats

I purchased the $75 one for my son who will be five next summer! This is an awesome deal and it converts from the high back to backless.

Toshiba Fire TV

Toys for a four year old

Car Cleaning Basics for Every Mom

It will happen eventually. It doesn’t matter if you don’t let the kid eat in the car or give them goldfish by throwing them over your shoulder. Your car is going to get messy. How do we minimize the damage?

I let my four year old eat in the car, but limit what he eats. There isn’t soup or shredded cheese being consumed. But every day when I pick him up from daycare, I bring a snack – goldfish, red bell peppers, gummies (on Fridays).

Last week, my four year old threw up in the car. Not just a little but the kind that I had to spend almost an hour getting it out of the nooks and crannies. Here are the bare necessities.

A good vacuum

Ideally, you have an outlet in your garage or close to your car outside. If this isn’t the case, you need a GOOD handheld vacuum.

Thankfully, I have both! Vacuums you plug in typically get better suction and therefore it takes less effort to get goldfish and other crumbs or dirt out of your car.

For a corded vacuum, I have the Shark DuoClean Lift-Away. This vacuum is incredible. I thought all corded vacuums were created equal until this. It glides well and is able to get up anything in it’s path. I pull this out every few times I clean the car for a good deep clean.

For a cordless vacuum, the Dyson V8 is perfect! It comes with attachments to make it a great size for the car and still works well on your floors. I have mine mounted on the wall in my laundry room so that I can grab it quickly when I need to clean up a mess in the kitchen as well. It’s light weight and high performing!

Seat protectors

I have never been as happy to have a good seat protector as this past weekends vomit episode. It caught some of the mess and was easy to clean. It has caught handfuls of goldfish crumbs and M&Ms that melted in the summer heat.

The one linked above has a small pouch with a mess netting at the bottom. I use it to collect trash and then take it inside whenever I remember and my hands aren’t already full.

Cleaners

This depends on the car you have. If your seats are leather, you can grab something basic like this. A pack of microfiber cloths will allow you to clean the leather gently.

If you have fabric seats, there is a similar option (linked here)!

Patience

If you figure this one out, let me know! I am still looking for a good deal on it.

August 30th Week Meals

If you haven’t checked out Whisk.com, you are missing out! It allows you to save recipes to your account and then place them on the calendar to plan out your week. The best part is that the recipes can be from anywhere and not only does it bring them into the site in a cute fashion, but it allows you to add them to a grocery list and then push what you want to the grocery store of your choice!!! GUYS!!! This allows you to just check out and go pick up your groceries. MIND BLOWN and so much time saved.

Here are our meals for this week:

You can click through these links below to see them on whisk!

Monday – Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole + Portabella Mushroom “ground beef”

We are working to have a meatless meal occasionally but are trying out the mushroom alternative. I will go light on the cheese on the enchiladas.

Tuesday – One pan Chicken, sweet potato, kale and craisins

I love a good salad with craisins. I eat the Taylor Farms Kale and Craisins salad almost every day for lunch. This adds goat cheese. It’s going to be so good!

Wednesday – One pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

This calls for chicken thighs, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to cook them… I think it’s because I have never done it well. Chicken breasts, it is.

Thursday – Meatball taco bowls

Is it even possible to eat a version of taco bowls too often? We do it at least once a week. This calls for ground beef but we had a ton of red meat last week, so we are swapping it out for ground turkey or ground chicken.

Friday – Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and veggies

I’ll sub the soy sauce with coconut aminos and again, chicken thighs for breasts.