I have read a ton over the past couple years, but lately I’ve been listening to audio books more than regular books, and it’s nice to be able to listen while I get other things done.
2. Wearable breast pumps.
This one is super specific, but where I’m at right now. I’m exclusivly pumping for Ollie, we just couldn’t get him to latch without much pain, and my husband and sister convinced me to buy the Willow Go pump, it’s without cords, and has a battery, and it’s been life changing. I can move around the house, pump in the car, jump up to wipe little bums, and am not tied to the couch for 4+ hours a day.
It’s a Bible reading journal, to accompany her Read the Bible in 180 days Plan. It seemed a little overwhelming at first, to read the whole Bible in just 6 months, but I’m 19 days in, and finding it really manageable, and super interesting to read the Bible chronologically. The journal just makes in easy to jot down some takeaways and thoughts from the daily reading, and I think it will be super cool to look back at what I was learning/noticing throughout the whole Bible.
4. Doing my nails.
I haven’t kept up with doing my nails in months, but it’s always been something I enjoyed, helps me feel put together. I put on a sticker manicure this week, and it’s just made me feel elegant. I think I am going to give press on nails another try.
I walked into Old Navy and the sales lady asked if I needed help, and I asked for the most high rise jeans she had. After lamenting to my sister that I now need jeans that go up past my belly button, I have worn them out several times, and they are amazing. They stay put, don’t gape, and I’m not hiking them back up all day long.
6. Playing games with my kids.
They are just starting to be ready to play games, and we are having fun learning go fish and slap jack. Their attention spans last about 3 minutes, but we have a lot of fun!
7. Less toys.
We are moving soon, so I’m slowly packing, and this week I packed up half the kids toys, and it’s been a game changer. There is far less clutter scattered across the house, and the kids don’t seem to even miss them. I think we will downsize, and set up a toy rotation system to help us keep less toys on the floor!
8. Batching food for lunch.
I made a huge batch of quinoa and egg rolls in a bowl on Monday, and it’s been so nice to have it to grab every day. Would love suggestions for other batch meal ideas!
Always behind. Always something to do. Check. Next. Check. Next.
Didn’t get that done. Do it tomorrow.
Should have got it done anyway. Don’t have time.
All I want is to clean the kitchen. But someone has needed me every time I’ve tried to start.
Stressing. Anxious thoughts. Grumpy. Cluttered.
I’m choosing to take a deep breath and step back. Recognizing the season of life I am in. Postpartum, newborn, pumping, toddlers. It’s a lot going on in our house all at once. I’m feeling behind and stressed about housework and getting dinner cooked at a reasonable hour. And I’m struggling with feeling like I’m a bad mom because there is always a pile of laundry waiting for me now, and perpetual dishes in the sink. I’m overwhelmed with the clutter, but also realizing that it’s just toys on the floor, scattered by happy toddlers playing with each other.
This transition from two to three kids has been a lot harder than I anticipated. Hard doesn’t equal bad, and we don’t regret having another baby at all, but it has not been the smooth transition we experienced with the birth of one second child. (Even though the months after that were also tough with PPA.) Our toddlers are go-go-go from the moment they awaken, and I often feel touched out by 8:00am.
This is a work in progress, learning to be a mom of toddlers, while also moving with the pace of a newborns needs.
I’m trying to set some new daily rhythms, figuring out our new schedule, and how to fit the still important to us things, alongside the new important things, like naps and pumping for Ollie.
Some things that are really helping during this overwhelming season are.
1. A clear morning routine. I follow a ritual of journal, Bible reading and writing a to-do and grateful list every single morning and it is very grounding to start the day off this way.
2. Nap time is sacred. We are unavailable from 12:30-2:30 every single day. The kids will be sleeping, and I will be sitting on the couch holding my sleeping baby for at least 45 minutes. I love contact naps, and this is the only time in the day for a few minutes to sit completely still and be calm. I’m giving myself permission to ignore the laundry and dishes for that time while I just hold Ollie.
3. Taking my supplements and getting outside. These two practices have made such a tremendous difference in my life, and they will forever be a priority.)
4. Less screen time. We got through the immediate postpartum healing phase with lots of screens. I was so thankful for that option so that my body could heal, and I could figure out pumping, and now we are working on finding ways to get through the day without needing the screens. It’s taking some times to detox, particularly for the 4 year old. But it’s good for us.
We are moving in just a few weeks, so I think that has also been adding to my overwhelming feelings, but I’m also looking forward to the process of gong through things and simplifying even more.
I am so grateful for the last couple years. I have had to learn a lot about simplicity, and living with less, (our apartment is tiny!) and being comfortable with making changes to adapt to our needs.
What are some things you’re learning or working on this year?
I love January 1st and the opportunity to do some reflecting o goals and hopes for the new year. I think it’s a good time to reflect on the past year, to see and celebrate everything that was accomplished, and worked through, and also a great opportunity to see areas for improvement in the coming months.
I know lots of people choose to be super pessimistic about news goals and resolutions, and while I know they’re not for everybody, and certainly we certainly aren’t going to attain “a new year new me” with a couple breezy resolutions! But I think it’s a great idea to be intentional about seeing the areas in your life and relationships that could use some work, and making some clear goals to help work on those things.
I love making lists, so I made a 23 in 2023 list this year. Some of them are things I want to start implementing. Some are things we already do, but want to make sure we continue. I want to work on learning some things. There’s some things we’ve been talking about doing as a family, and it’s time to just do them already.
01. Read the Bible in a year
02. Start running again
03. Read 3 books to my kids daily
04. Relearn how to do my hair pretty
05. 1 line a day journal
06. Go on 6 dates with my husband
07. Have lunch with Scott once a month
08. Be a good friend
09. Play games with my kids
10. Go to the cheese factory
11. Spend 1000 hours outside.
12. Go to the beach
13. Take Liam fishing
14. Take the kids to the zoo
15. Less time on the phone
16. Plan playdates
17. Go outside every single day. Even if it’s just 5 minutes.
18. Do the Gentleness challange
19. Summer bucket list
20. Learn a new skill
21. Try 21 new recipes
22. Go on 22 hikes
23. Read 23 books
I also chose a word to help me focus on the main thing that’s been on my mind with looking forward to 2023. I want to be Here. To be present, right where I’m at, both physically and mentally. I’ve noticed how easily I can mentally check out, pop an earbud in and listen to audio books when I am overwhelmed, and I can check out in social situations I’m uncomfortable in. It’s easy to become busy with my kids and stop trying with other people.
So I want to be here. To be present. To put in the work with my children and other people around me, not using coping mechanisms when I am overwhelmed, but working through the things that cause that.
I would love to hear your goals or intentions for 2023! ❤️
I have loved to read since I was a very small child, (I have vivid memories of hiding a flashlight and huddling under the blankets late into the night reading!) and I am thankful that that has continued into my adult life/mamahood.
This year I read more than I have since I was a teenager. My kids settled into a amazing routine earlier in the year, napping at the same time, and I ended up with a solid hour to read in the afternoon. And I finally came to terms with audio books, and felt line I can count them as reading, so I was able to add the time during my running to read.
I got the through 164 books, about half of them reading and half on audio, and while I won’t make you slog through all of those titles, I went through the list and picked the ones that stood out to me particularly as favorites from this year!
A man called Ove– by Fredrick Backman
I loved this book. Ove is a older man with literally nothing to live for anymore. The book jumps back and forth from the present, where Ove just wants to die, and his pesky neighbors keep interfering with their constant problems, and glimpses into Ove’s past. I know the premise of the story is odd, a man just trying to die, but it ended up perfectly. I made my husband watch the movie with me and he loved it too. We are excited about the new adaption coming out in just a couple weeks starring Tom Hanks!
The Astronots Wife– by Stacey Morgan
This was such a interesting memoir exploring the authors life while her husband was away in space for 9 months. I really enjoyed her story, and her wisdom about the things she learned in a difficult season.
The Invisible Husband of Frick Island– by Colleen Oakley
The ending was hilarious. The whole book was an interesting mystery, a compulsive read. I wanted to know what happened, and by the time I got to the end, it was nothing like what I thought, which is always a fun surprise!
The Diamond Eye– by Kate Quinn
I loved her first book, the Rose Code, and this second one didn’t disappoint! It follows the story of Mila Pavlochenko, Lady Death, one of 2000 women snipers in the Soviet Army. She was credited with 309 kills, and eventually came to the US as a spokesperson, becoming friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. It was a facinatings story, and very well written.
M is for Mama by Abby Halberstadt
This was a really encouraging book for moms, and I would highly recommend. I am planning to read it again in 2023.
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
This book probably isn’t for everyone, but I love stories about other worlds/dimensions within our world, with a touch of magic and fantasy, but with lots of realism, and this book checked all those boxes. It was a interesting story, a compelling mystery and I really enjoyed!
Cultish by Amanda Montell
This book was facinating. I read it really fast I needed to get it back to the library, and I want to get it again to read a little more slowly. She explores the language behind cults, from famous cults like Jonestown, to MLMs like Lularoe, to soul cycle, it was facinating to see the similarities between the way they use language and words to draw people in and keep them hooked in the craziness that is cults.
It’s interesting because we all assume we wouldn’t fall prey to the woo of a cult, but Ms Montell examines the way that leadership is able to resonate with people with the compelling phrases and idioms, and explores the similarities between religious cults, and workout fanatics who take over peoples lives.
I found it fascinating and have continued to think about it.
Taste: my life through food by Stanley Tucci
I loved this book so much! I really love good food memoirs, books about chefs, or home cooks, descriptions about food. All of it. Stanley Tucci’s book about the food in his life, and growing up in a Italian family was delightful! I am also enjoying his show about Italian cuisine on Discovery+.
I would love to hear about some of your favorite reads from the year!
I love to listen to podcasts and audio books. I’m a young mom, and don’t have a lot of friends or social outlets at this point in my life, so I tend to listen to something audio when I need a break from the being-home-alone-with-toddlers-24-7 overwhelm.
I like mom podcasts, and enjoy learning about parenting. Being a mom is hard, and it’s helpful to find resources to work through issues we’re facing with our kids.
So last week I turned on an episode and the ladies commented about how hard shopping is with young kids, and how lucky they are to live in an era of grocery pickup, because they don’t have to live through the struggle with toddlers that their moms did.
Oof. First of all, shopping with toddlers is so hard. I am extremely thankful that pickup orders are possible, it’s so convenient to drive up, pop the trunk and drive home.
BUT. I think avoiding social situations like shopping with young kids is doing them (and yourself) a big disservice. Every outing is a training opportunity and avoiding the hard situations means that your child isn’t going to learn how they are expected to behave in a store, restaurant, or place of business. Instead of learning early, it’s going to be impossible to run errands or shop as they get bigger/louder, because they just didn’t learn how to behave in a social setting. (And the tantrums will get bigger if they’re not addressed and worked through as toddlers.)
All of this is to say:
1. Don’t be afraid to take your kids with you, even when you know it’ll be hard. The work will pay off later when your kiddos are able to be respectful in businesses, and have FUN learning life skills with you! (And don’t worry, shopping is stressful for me too right now, I’m right there with you, there is a 100% chance that either Tori or I will cry in the store or the car on the way home. )
2. Let’s give lots of grace to the mamas in the store/restaurant/church who are dealing with those toddlers meltdown. She’s made the decision to push through the hard and embarrassment of meltdowns and tears to help her kiddo learn how to navigate social situations, and snarky comments/judgmental stares and unsoliced advice are not helpful or edifying in anyway! In fact, having someone tell me “you’re doing great,” or “keep it up, it gets easier!” Is literally something that will brighten my entire day!
It has been the most stereotypical Monday morning.
My 3 year old peed his bed. My 18 month old had a horrible poop explosion. I spilled my coffee all over our couch. It’s pouring rain. The world is going crazy with awful, unimaginable things. I woke up in a panic from a nightmare at 5am. Liam has run into the bedroom and slammed the door announcing “me grumpy!” Twice.
We’ve just been bombarded by things all morning, and it’s not even 8:30am! It’s tempting to just give up and have a lazy, movie marathon day. Or, we can take a little while to reset our day, and try to reclaim the day.
These are some of my favorite ways to do that:
-get outside. Spend some time in the sun. If it’s raining, get outside anyway! Fresh air (and a change of scenery) is amazing for resetting moods!
-drink a extra cup of coffee or tea. This is very calming to me, and actually sitting down to enjoy a hot beverage is relaxing!
-read your Bible. I’m catching up on my chapters from Numbers that I missed this weekend.
-Watch the rain from the window. It’s oddly calming to watch the rain drops roll down the window.
-Get some exercise. This is so important and a great way to start the day over! Get those endorphins and the blood pumping through your body!
-Journal a prayer and/or some things your grateful for.
– Read a book for 20 minutes! (Leave a comment and let me know if you want a suggestion! )
-Call or text a friend. It could be something simple. “I was thinking about you!” Or something more involved like getting together. It’s about taking the focus off of you and your bad day, and brightening someone else’s!
We are headed out for a run (in the rain!) in a few minutes, and then we are going to work on doing some of these to help continue to reset our day!
I love taking my kiddos to the park. I love the excitement, the time outside and watching them explore and discover their new abilities .
I am that mom at the park who hovers. Not full helicoptering, but always close enough to catch one of them if I need to. It’s nerve-racking as a parent to watch your kids run around on equipment up in the air, and hurtle themselves down slides and over bridges.
But I’ve become fully convinced that I have to let my kids play. I have to let them test their abilities, and see what they can do. It’s exhilarating for both of us when they do something hard, and then accomplish it! When their little faces light up, and a giggle bubbles out of them from pure joy!
It’s good for kids to learn how to do things for themselves, and how to push through even when it’s hard.
Obviously, this is within reason, especially as my children are toddlers, but I’ve been so surprised how much more they really can do, when I’m not always stopping or redirecting them.
Today Liam was riding his bike home from the park. We got to a small hill, and he got a little m nervous, afraid that he’d fly down the other side. We encouraged him to take it slow, and use his feet to keep himself stable. He easily made it down, as we knew he would. And I wish I had caught his little delighted giggle on camera! He was so proud and excited to do something like that in his own! Makes the moments of anxiety worth it, seeing my kiddos proud of their little accomplishments!
We have been living in small spaces for about 2.5 years now. We started out by living in an RV for about 6 months, which we really loved. It was so different learning to live with 1/4 of the stuff we had in our former apartment. But it ended up sparking a new mindset for me, and I am so grateful we’ve had the opportunity learn to live with less. It’s been life changing in many ways!
After 6 months, we needed to move out of the RV, and had a very quick timeline. We found a small local apartment, and moved it! (It’s about 450 Sq feet.) It’s not been without challanges, (there is no oven, so we learned to cook everything in our smoker and other kitchen appliances.) but the way my mindset has changed towards things, and what we really need, has been huge, and I wouldn’t give that up for the biggest house in the world.
1. Kids don’t need as many toys as you’d think.
We have had to keep toys at a minimum, due to lack of space at first, but then because we saw that our littles were more than content with the intentional toys we brought into our home. We’ve also seen them become more creative, and using their imaginations with other things from around the house. We prioritize books, and toys that encourage imaginative play, (instead of electronic toys that sing for example!).
2. If you actually need it, you’ll find space for it.
There have been some things that we thought we needed, and then realized once we’d moved it around multiple times, that if we can’t find a place for it, we don’t truly need it.
3. To be intentional about what we bring into our home.
This was a huge one for me, and I am so thankful to be learning this early in our marriage! With minimal space, and a place for everything, I have to be 100% sure we need something, and that we know where it will go before we buy it! This means that I do lots of research, and think about purchases a while before buying anything, which also has helped us save money.
4. Minimal doesn’t have to mean boring and stark.
I was just looking through pictures from when we first moved in, and it’s amazing how different our apartment looks now. We’ve slowly added little touches and enough decor to make it feel homey and hygge, but not cluttered or overwhelming. It’s a fine line, and means I am always straightening up, because there is no closets or drawers to throw random junk in.
5. Declutter daily
This doesn’t have to be huge or whole closet makeovers. This is just getting rid of the daily clutter, putting stuff back in its designated place, and making sure that things that shouldn’t be in the house are gone. (Garbage, broken things you could fix, but won’t, things that are no longer practical, etc.) It makes a big difference in my mental load to have the visual clutter calmed.
What are some things you’ve learned through through your home or current living situation?
There are two vastly different worldviews I regularly see all over social media, and in real life, about motherhood.
The first is “wine mom culture.” You know what I mean, messy hair, messy house, flaunting the less than perfect parts of being a mom, turning everything into jokes and witty captions. There is a touch of realism in this portrayal of motherhood. These people and posts are relatable. They show their life as it is, not hiding away and pretending life is a-ok 100% of the time.
The second view I see the most is the “very religious,” spiritual people talking about how motherhood is a blessed calling. That as Christian mothers, we should never complain to anyone, or show a negative outlook of our life online or in person. A lot of these well meaning Christian people take it a little too far, encouraging fellow moms to personify a bright, flourishing perspective all time, no matter what is actually going on in their lives. That if you’re not talking about how blessed you are, and radiantly shining as a mom, you’re failing as a Christian, because if you’re saved you shouldn’t have struggles, or anxiety.
Both of these views have some merits, but both have some really dangerous flaws.
While wine mom culture is relatable, and it’s nice to find people who are dealing with the same things you are, and it can be hilarious to poke fun at some of those things, using wine to cope in any area of life is dangerous, especially when you’re coupling it with parenting. The “wine mom” label that people are using is really cryptically masking alcoholism. It isn’t just fun and relatable, but covering up deeper issues that need to be addressed off of social media.
I agree 100% with the view that motherhood is a calling and a huge privilege. It isn’t lost on me that I have been given the gift of two sweet babes, when so many can’t have children. I also see the merits of being careful not to complain on social media, and remembering that you are a witness for Christ. However, when taken too far, this is encouraging moms, usually young mamas in the thick of babies and toddlers, to hide the struggle, and just put on a happy face. And I don’t think that is serving anyone.
As a young mom of two toddlers, I have seen and experienced this first hand, and how detrimental it. It encourages mommy judging from those who aren’t struggling currently. And makes those who are going through a tough time feel shame on top of everything else because they don’t see other people dealing with the same exact thing. It often feels like, since we are “Christian,” we’re expected to take that label, but aren’t allowed to admit that we are also human. And that being a human is really hard sometimes. There are stages of life that are truly amazing, and it is easy to be that bright happy witness. And there are stages that are really hard. Whether that is due to life changes, like having a new baby, losing someone you love, or struggles in your marriage, or spiritual drought or warfare.
I really think that as Christian moms, we should be able to normalize admitting to struggling within motherhood, and life in general. We should be able to reach out to those around us for encourgment, and help, without judgement for feeling overwhelmed.
My perspective on this has slowly evolved over the past couple years, as I have had my kiddos, and experienced postpartum twice now.
After Victoria was born, I spiraled into postpartum anxiety, without even know what that was, and it was a really dark time in my life. I had a perfect birth, but still ended up with tearing and stitches, and when my husband had to go back to work just 4 days after I had her, I was in a really rough place. I was trying to take care of everyone, but wasn’t nearly recovered myself. I was having trouble with breastfeeding. Victoria had a severe tongue tie, and she was getting horrible blisters on her lips from just trying to eat. (It took 9 weeks to be able to get in to have her tie fixed.) And then just a few short weeks after she was born, Victoria was diagnosed with a cataract, sending her into surgery as a newborn, and resulting into a host of vision appointments that continue to this day. Just two weeks after her eye surgery, she had another surgery to deal with her tongue tie.
Both of those surgery’s had after care that had to be done 4+ times a day, and that naturally fell to me. I am so grateful we were able to have those done, so that she has vision, and was able to eat without getting sores on her lips. But It feels like I missed her newborn stage, because I was so busy trying to take care of her and everyone else, that I couldn’t even sit down to enjoy my baby.
It was so much for me to handle, and I started to spiral into PPA. There were so many ways it presented, but one of the things I remember clearly, was putting my kids into the car one night, and having to drive with my hand reaching back to feel my baby’s cheek, because I couldn’t see her in my mirror in the darkness, and my brain was terrified that I had left her at home. (It doesn’t make sense, but that is what anxiety is like. This is just one example of how the anxiety was affecting my life.) It presents as rage, and there were times I sat down and wondered why on earth I was screaming at my toddler over his shoes on the floor. It was such a little thing, so why was I so angry? I have always loved a clean house, but I started compulsively cleaning, and thus began the vacuuming 3+ times a day.
This is all to say, it was a really hard time. And I’m finally coming out of that darkness, thanks to time, and finding some supplements and exercise that have helped tremendously. But I’m realizing that it isn’t normal or necessary to hide the struggles away, and pretend everything is okay. We should be able to talk about real life, and support the other moms in our lives.
So while I’m not condoning complaining, or whining about everything you don’t like in your life, I am suggesting that we start to be more real with each other. Motherhood is hard sometimes, but it’s easier when you can find those people who will brace you up and encourage you no matter what!
These are game changers for getting outside with toddlers, especially living in the PNW, where it rains at least 5+ months of the year. They’re awesome even on days it isn’t raining, keeping clothes safe from mud! It’s taken the excuse of bad weather away, so we are getting out every day!
2. Pretty coffee mugs.
I’ve replaced a few coffee mugs we had that were chipped/cracked, and it’s made me pretty happy! Theyre bright and happy, and this is my favorite shape for a coffee mug! Oversized, but still feels great in your hand! (This one is cute, and these ones are so pretty!)
3. Hand cream and mosturizer.
I know, a little weird. But I haven’t used either of those things much before. But this winter my skin has been so dry and looking awful. (My hands looked so old.) so I grabbed a big bottle of lotion at Costco, and it’s made a huge difference in how my skin looks and feels. I’m hooked. But I am looking for a more nontoxic option and very open to suggestions! (I would love to hear your favorite brands in a comment!)
4. Reading actual books.
When I was nannying before I had kids, I got into the habit of reading books in the Libby app on my iPad. And I love it! I don’t have to run another errand to pick up books, or get them back on time. We also live in a very tiny apartment, it’s been helpful to not have a ton of books to store. (I can’t wait to have a bigger space so that we can have our books out of storage, though!) But I have pulled out a couple books that were gifts, and it has been really nice to have the physical books. I really missed it. So hoping to read a better mix of both physical and ebooks this year.
5. Lists I can check off
I know goals, or New Years resolutions aren’t for everyone. I thrive with clear goals, to-do lists, progress checklists, etc. so I love the opportunity to set new (attainable) goals for myself, and see progress as I work towards them. At the beginning of January I made a progress chart with 52 weeks for my goal of running 15 miles a week, and it’s very exciting to fill my milage at the end of the week. It’s small, but helps my mindset and productivity!
6. Decluttering and organizing.
I started picking one space every day to declutter or organize the week after Christmas and it made a huge difference! It was so nice to clear out some clutter, clean little used spaces out, and just refresh our home. I’m trying to keep up with picking 2 or 3 spaces a week, to keep on top of it, and it’s been a huge help! Visual clutter stresses me out, so staying on top of keeping our surfaces and storage is key to less stress and a happier mama!
7. Paring down Instagram
Social media was becoming overwhelming. So I started unfollowing a bunch of accounts that I was no longer interested in, and making space for the people I actually wanted to see in my feed. It’s been a lot quieter, and I’m enjoying the app much more now instead of endlessly scrolling past stuff I honestly don’t care about!
8. Easy dinners
I’ve been trying to find a few simple dinners that are easy for busy days, and my favorite right now is rotisserie chicken (I grab a couple every time we go to Costco, debone them, and throw it in the freezer chopped so it’s easy to grab.) and a bag of prepared veggies/noodles/teriyaki sauce. (Our Fred Meyer has this in the bagged salad aisle. It’s quick, relatively healthy, and takes about 20 minutes to cook up.