How I’m Not Just A Stay-At-Home Mom

Being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful experience, but it does not come without its tradeoffs. For example, I was at a garage sale yesterday picking out some books from a newly retired teacher when she asked if I was also a teacher. I responded without even thinking, “Oh no, I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Just a stay-at-home mom… My mother, who was there with me, quickly corrected my statement and said that I AM a stay-at-home mom. Why would I belittle my role as a stay-at-home parent? I am very proud to stay home with my son, and it is not like it’s a cake walk. That is, unless your cake walk also includes the following: chasing a tiny, squirrelly guy out of danger; conquering mountains of laundry; cleaning up spills; wiping sweet potato out of not only Little Man’s hair, but my own; running household errands (banking, grocery shopping, diaper runs, going to Target for pretty much anything…); waking up at all hours of the night; and whatever else falls into my lap on any given day.

I think there is a lot to be said about being a stay-at-home mom and having it be a thankless job. To me, the benefits of staying home with my son far outweigh the cons; however, the benefits are not instant like they are with most jobs. As a millennial, the lack of recognition can be very difficult to handle, and I end up feeling underappreciated. I used to work in a bank where I had colleagues that thought I was pretty awesome, and I reciprocated the sentiment. If I helped a customer or a colleague, you bet I got a ‘thank you,’ a smile, and the satisfaction of knowing I did my job correctly. With staying home with Little Man, operations are not as clear-cut. There are no instructions on how to parent the right way (even though we own The Baby Owner’s Manual).  For months at a time, we played a drawn-out guessing game of “What does the baby need???” and “When will I actually get to sleep today?”

Though it’s not as clear cut or glamorous as other jobs can be (and by glamorous, I mean wearing a necklace not made of silicone), I would not choose another path for myself. I remember when Little Man was four months old and he rolled over for the first time. It had been a long day already and it was only 10:00AM. I left the living room for a minute to take the trash out and when I returned I saw a stunned little boy who magically found himself on his belly. In true mom fashion, I scooped him up and made sure he was alright while simultaneously crying in pride of the joy I (almost) witnessed.

It is those little moments (months and months later) that make my job so fulfilling and more than just a job. I AM a mom who stays home and works tirelessly for my family and am honored with experiencing many firsts (or at least seconds). No, I don’t bring home an income, build a 401(K), or pad my stock portfolio, but I do get the opportunity to watch Little Man morph from a tiny peanut-head alien, to a baby, and to a toddler. So thank you to those who remind stay-at-home moms that it is a worthwhile vocation and that it is just as important as suiting up and going into an office every day.

How We Balance Life With Baby

When I became pregnant with Little Man, we knew there were some serious changes ahead of us. We knew the time commitment would be immense. We knew there would be times of selflessness and sacrifice. All these things are very true, but we forgot to account for the need to have balance. There are many challenges we face, but the biggest hurdle we have experience is finding equilibrium when there is constant change. This often results in us failing to find time to recharge.

There are nights where it has been a long, long day and I cannot handle much more of anything. Those nights often result in tag teaming and letting Little Man try to work through his frustrations on his own. It makes sense to take a break and regroup. Time spent away from my son can help me to be a better parent. I find it important to take time out of my 24/7 gig of parenting to take a couple of breaths and block out (as best as I can) the sound of banging pots and pans. In theory, this makes perfect sense. In reality, it can be much more challenging to find time in our busy schedules to unplug from parenting.

It is normal to struggle with keeping life even and steady, but I never imagined it would take so long to find my footing. Finding balance between motherhood and being a person with needs is hard but is well worth the effort. When I find myself reduced to a lifeless blob post-baby-bedtime, I try to figure out what prevented me from having a little me time. I often notice I’m not using his naps very effectively (i.e. I sit on Netflix and zone out and have nothing to show for it by the time Little Man wakes up), after which I try to change my behavior for the next day and hope for the best. I won’t claim to not remake that error in naptime judgement, but effort is half the battle, right?

I wish I had the answer to balancing life with a baby, but like everyone else, I am still a parent-in-progress. I can tell you having a supportive partner to lean on helps me to be a better mom. It’s one of my simple pleasures knowing the person that comes through the door at the end of the day has my back and will do whatever he can to support our family. If you are struggling to find balance and you do not have a strong support system yet (whether it be with a partner, family, or friends), there are a ton of resources that look to connect parents with other parents. I personally use facebook groups, an app to set up and attend play days called Meetup, and community events. Other parents you meet may also be able to shed some light on how they balance life with baby.

When life changes, it is always hard to find balance once again. I will admit that having our first child has been the most challenging life event we’ve tried to find balance after, but I know it is doable. I am thankful for my strong support system that makes finding me time just a little easier.

Mommy Danae

How Baby Wearing Saves My Sanity

I have never appreciated my hands more than when I started carrying around a child day in and day out. From sun up to sun down my arms and back would ache in satisfaction of being a good mom, but my heart would ache for the relentless stack of dishes in the sink and countless loads of laundry. I yearned to accomplish household chores so I could have a presentable home. How on Earth do moms give their babies the attention they deserve AND handle even a fraction of what needs to get done? Sure, I had always wanted to wear my baby but I really didn’t know how. When I took the time to learn, the time investment was paid back ten-fold (no pun intended, but appreciated).

IMG_1997 (2)I started wearing Little Man when he was three weeks and it was the best decision I could have made as a mom and person who thirsts for a semi-clean house. Until Little Man was three and a half months old, I almost exclusively used the Moby wrap. I found this wrap very intimidating as a new mom with no sleep, but once I had a chance to wrap it a few times, I was surprised how easy it could be. I felt very confident that this wrap could be the answer I had been looking for. Sure, it took some getting used to, but there was nothing sweeter than having a peaceful child sleeping on my chest while I managed to put away dinner and wash the dishes.

When Little Man was three months old (and already a whopping 14 pounds), I found the Moby to be challenging due to the constant unwrapping and rewrapping, so I decided it was time to move on to bigger and better baby-wearing solutions. I was lucky enough to have a sister-in-law that just so happened to have an Ergobaby Original that she was generous enough to let me borrow. At first, Little Man wanted absolutely DSC_0250nothing to do with the Ergo. He had grown attached to how the Moby cocooned him to me and was extremely resistant to something different. There were many tries and many failures, but as with anything, time passed and soon Little Man only had eyes for his Ergo. Ergo baby carriers are designed to be comfortable, adjustable, and are certified to be safe for baby’s hips by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Rather than a wrap, it was a carrier that had belts and buckles, which I found super user-friendly. We use the Ergo exclusively now as it fits our lifestyle best. There are no issues with bending over to taking laundry in and out of machines or loading the dish washer.

I am a huge fan of baby wearing because for me, I was able to reclaim some of myself by having the freedom to do pretty much anything. I love to work outside in the garden, and though I still find it extremely challenging to wear Little Man while being bent in half over a flower bed, I can still do maintenance around our exterior. It is really important as moms to remember that even though it’s all about our babies, we matter too. By baby wearing I’m able to take care of my mental health by doing more with Little Man safely stowed away in his own little happy place.

Mommy Danae