Managing Your Time

Why the “big things” can wait

Does it ever seem like you wake up in the morning and you’re suddenly off on a marathon race that lasts all day long? All week long?

As a stay-at-home mom to a toddler and a preschooler, my days are filled with small, tedious tasks. It’s a constant cycle of make breakfast, pack lunch, clean up kids, dress kids, school drop-off, groceries, tot classes, errands, oops what’s for dinner, baths, mommy mommy mommy mommy, bedtime kisses, and then collapsing on the couch.

I’m often frustrated that I never get ahead in any of the big things I’d like to do. Do you ever feel that way, too?

Yet, this collection of little things that make up my day really is the big thing – at least for now.

As moms, we are the world to our children. Sometimes, I lose sight of that as I fret about yet another day that has slipped by with nothing accomplished.

I suppose I did accomplish something today. I sat down with my children to watch a video. Yes, we were staring at a screen, but we were doing it together. We were cuddled up and basking in that good feeling of just being with one another.

Before that, both my kids were crying about something or other, tired from another long Monday – same as me. I managed to get something in a pot for dinner and then just sat with them.

That’s really something. Whether it’s five minutes in the morning or thirty minutes after preschool, those times where I’m doing nothing but being with my kids make all the difference in my day. And it makes a big difference to them, too.

So for now, I’m happy with the mundane, because I’ve also got the extraordinary.

I just have to remind myself to see it and enjoy it now while it’s mine.

Soon enough my little boys will be no longer calling for mommy. And I’ll have all the time I need to do the “big” things.

Managing Your Time

When your day goes awry

Oops, upset Mommy's plans again! Oh well, that's life...It seems that nothing ever really goes as planned anymore, at least since I started having babies just over four years ago.

I imagine it’s hard for non-parent friends to understand. But the smallest member of the household winds up dictating what we do most days. Plans often don’t come to fruition – at least in the manner and timing we initially plan.

Take today for instance.

Our latest visitors had just left yesterday (our family is all from different places, so we have many long-term guests) and we were looking forward to getting back to our usual weekend activities.

My husband was golfing in the morning, so we planned to go to the park and then out for dinner after the baby’s naptime.

It only took one little thing to throw it all off.

My baby pooped during his naptime. And I didn’t know it.

I pulled off his training pants while he was still lying down to take him to pee, as he is normally waiting to go. But lo and behold, a nasty, smushed up poop greeted me – and promptly became part of the duvet cover. (He sleeps in our bed!!)

If you use a comforter with a cover, you know how hard it can be to change those things. I knew instantly with the cleanup I was facing that there would be no park today.

Luckily dad stepped in and played with the kids in our yard for an hour while I stripped the bed, dunked poopy pants in the toilet, ran laundry, spot washed the comforter (because the smell had penetrated the cover in that spot!) and finally got my shower for the day – the only part that had been planned.

Oh, and I was cooking dinner for the baby to take out, too, in case he couldn’t eat anything at the restaurant. (Last time that happened, it resulted in baby trying to pick a food fight with anyone else who looked his way. Wait staff were not impressed by his throwing abilities though clearly advanced for such a tender age.)

So, long story short, the kids had a great day, we made it to the restaurant and everyone ate, and I’ve got a cozy, extra-clean bed waiting for me tonight. Not part of the plan, but somehow it all turned out just fine.

What about you? Does your day go awry often? Or am I perhaps particularly disorganized?

Managing Your Time

How to find stores run by a WAHM

If you are looking to support a work-at-home mom (WAHM) business, online is probably the best place to start, as most don’t operate a physical storefront.

For a WAHM, her website, like Yacine’s Beanie Designs baby hats website, is likely to be the primary spot where she serves her customers and provides her wares.

But most WAHMs don’t have the resources and deep pockets to conduct a lot of website marketing, like larger companies do, making it hard for them to show up in broad search queries on Google.

Even if you search on “WAHM baby hats” for example, you may not see a neat and simple list of work-at-home moms who knit baby hats for sale.

So, you may need to do a little sleuthing to find the WAHM who is going to wow you with her unique products and out-of-this-world customer attention.

Some places to find WAHM-run stores online:

First of all, think up new ways to use Google. Try using “handmade” in your search query (“handmade baby hats” instead of “WHAM baby hats”, for example).

Then check out directories of WAHM businesses, like these:

WAHM Businesses listed on WHAM.com

WAHMS Online

Mom-owned stores listed on 5 Minutes for Mom

Who’s that WAHM – a directory by business/product category that lists WAHMs by name (and links to their websites)

Look around Etsy.com, a marketplace for all things handmade and where many mom businesses offer their products to the world.

Even social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like are great places to look. These social sites create the ideal environment for small businesses to meet and get to know new customers.

One word as you’re shopping: When you land on a WAHM’s website, be sure to read the “About” page to learn who you’re buying from and who is making your item.

And please don’t forget the basics of security when buying online. A good WHAM retailer will abide by these best practices to help keep your shopping online safe.

Do you have a WAHM experience to share?

Managing Your Time

Your new postpartum body – how to love it, baby!

My body changed a bit after my first kid. After my second, it’s barely recognizable to me.

It’s been 10 months since my second baby, and I am only 13 lbs heavier than pre-first-baby. But I’m also four and a half years older than when I started having kids. The years plus the extra weight seem to have a powerful synergy.

I feel like I have super strong muscles in some places from lifting kids (my biceps and back), and none in others (my triceps, abs and thighs). My belly sticks out like it’s still  carrying a giant womb.

But no worries, I’m dealing with it. Here’s my formula for loving your postpartum body as-is.

First of all, understand that your body has changed. It will never be the same.

Don’t mourn the loss of your old body. Just embrace what you’ve got now. Live in the moment, right? You never know what tomorrow might bring.

Take care of your body. But not just with exercise, food and sleep…

Sometimes you feel like your body is pushed to extremes. You can go months without a full night’s sleep. You put off going to the bathroom for hours. You find the energy to chase after your toddler even when you can’t manage to make yourself a coffee.

Take that extra few minutes to shave your legs. File your feet if you get callouses. Pluck your eyebrows – whatever you feel like you just never get to do. You will feel sooo much better after! And no one will be the worse for the few extra minutes it took you.

Get a new wardrobe.

This one is tough. It takes money. And it takes accepting that you’re not going to fit in your old clothes again right away. And even if you do, your old clothes probably won’t fit you the way they used to. Maybe styles have even changed.

Those are clothes that can bless someone else now. What you need is a set of clothes that look fantastic on you at this moment, as you are today. If it’s been a year and you are still wearing your maternity clothes and yoga pants, it’s time to go shopping.

Look for things that will make complete outfits, so you don’t have to spend too much time picking out what to wear each day. Take note of how your body and your tastes may have changed. (I’m loving brighter colors than before, too – I find they pick me up and add a cheery note after a long, sleepless night. And I think I’ve changed from a pear shape to more apple-like now.)

Your lifestyle is different now, too. No matter what you were doing before, now you’re a mom. And even if you’re still active socially and working, etc., your basic role in the universe has changed.

Not to say you should get white sneakers and mom jeans, but rather, the opposite. Find the well-fitting, comfortable clothes that let you feel like you look good but let you move and groove without fuss as you go about your day.

It’s worth the investment. Even if your weight is higher on the scale than you’d like, you’ll see you can look – and feel – wonderful just as you are right now.

A note about finding the time to go shopping

I find it incredibly hard to shop at the mall now, with little ones in tow. Instead, I have found the retailers online that carry clothes that fit me and flatter my new shape. I wait for mega sales and then pick up wonderful bargains. My favorite clothing brand right now is Boden. Every July and December they mark their clothes down as much as 70%, and I swoop up body-skimming (and slimming) tunic tops, fun sandals and cute jersey dresses. The best part is that I’ve found many of the styles look great within a range of different weights – some things I was wearing when I was 15 lbs heavier still look great on, and I hope to keep wearing them as more weight comes off. Nicer pieces I may get tailored as I go.

And one more clothing tip.

Get new undergarments!

I don’t know if you have found this same thing, but I realized my pre-pregnancy underpants ended right under where my belly protrudes, making it look even worse. A higher rise takes care of that and smoothes things right out. See some more recommendations in my Super Mom Kit post.

Any tips you want to share on how to love your body and look your postpartum best?