I recently learned of a quote by the author Nora Roberts. She was asked how she balances writing and children and her response was that “the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.”
I found this to be so profound, and I think it applies to both stay-at-home-moms and those who work outside the home. Absolutely no one can do it all, and occasionally a ball will get dropped. Sometimes the drop is inadvertent and other times it is intentional. A plastic ball can easily be picked up later without much (if any) lasting damage done. A glass ball could get damaged or even shatter irreparably so it’s much more important to keep from dropping.
Today’s blog post was an intentionally dropped ball. I had plans for what I wanted to write about and hoped to use nap time yesterday to get a good bit of work done on it.
Of course, to use nap time to work, there has to actually BE a nap time.
Even though Vi did nap, LJ never did. I tried all my tricks and after an unsuccessful hour of trying (usually he’ll go down in 5 minutes or less) I finally gave up. This happens every once in a while that he skips a nap and it’s normally not a huge deal; however, yesterday also happened to be Tuesday. Tuesdays are Justin’s long day at work and he is usually gone before the kids wake up and comes home after they’re in bed. So it’s a long day for us normally, and now without a nap time break, the rest of the day seemed endless.
So I had a choice. I could put on the TV and let LJ binge watch quietly so I could work on my blog as planned, or I could forget the blog and do something with him.
It was a pretty obvious choice. This blog is a plastic ball. It’s a passion project and a hobby I greatly enjoy, but I can drop it and pick it back up later without lasting damage. LJ’s childhood is a glass ball though, and if I drop it too many times, I know I’ll regret the damage.
The post was scrapped and we ended up going to Target to get out of the house and break up the afternoon. It felt a little like the stay-at-home-mom version of a field trip: we had a color scavenger hunt, identified numbers on the display clocks, looked at toys, and got a special treat (Paw Patrol graham crackers). The seemingly endless afternoon actually turned into a fun memory with my kids.
Eventually, I’ll write the post I intended for today. I’ll get another chance to post on the blog. But I won’t always have the chance to meander through Target without rushing, letting my two-year-old explore to his heart’s content and watching the world through his eyes.
My kids are young and I’m going to be juggling for a long time, but I hope I can always recognize which balls are plastic and which are glass.
On Sunday, I drove to Ohio to celebrate my grandparent’s 62nd wedding anniversary.
When I think of all that Justin and I have gone through together in our 6 years of marriage, I can’t even imagine what we’ll feel when we’ve been married 10 times that long!
In 56 years, I hope I’m like my grandparents and celebrating our 62nd anniversary surrounded by our kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids. We have so much life left to live and I’m excited for all of it. Right now, Justin and I are in the thick of the “Little People Years.” We’re not just Justin and Sarah anymore, we are also Dad and Mom. These Little People Years are such a fleeting time in the grand scheme of our lives, but they can be challenging years. They can seem long and hard. Our kids are so young and need us for so much. And in these years, it can be so so easy to focus on the kids instead of one another. But these little people are here today because Justin and I fell in love first. They are here because we decided to commit to one another and spend our lives together. I cherish my marriage, and I’m thankful for all the growth we have had as a couple in the last 6.5 years, but I want to keep growing, connecting, and strengthening our relationship.
As I previously wrote in this post, our marriage is the foundation for our children’s lives. It’s important that we keep our marriage and one another a priority. That can be hard to do in these Little People Years, but it’s so very important. Today I thought I’d share some of the little ways that we stay connected in these demanding years. They’re just some of the ways that work for us personally – I encourage you to find what works for you, even if it’s not the same things that work for us!
A Year of Us book
There are days when Justin and I just naturally talk and connect in the evenings, and then there are days when we’re both just so exhausted from our individual days and kids that once the kids are asleep we both just basically become zombies on the couch and barely say two words to each other. I bought this book on Amazon because I thought it looked like a fun way to be intentional about still connecting on days where we’re too tired to come up with anything and don’t want to just scroll our phones or mindlessly watch TV the entire evening. The prompts are all over the place, and sometimes we don’t even know how to answer them but they always have led to good conversation. Sometimes we only talk for 5-10 minutes, other times it’s sparked a 30+ minute discussion. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and silly discussion, other times it’s deep and meaningful. We don’t do one every day, but I do feel like it’s been a great way to be more intentional about connecting in the evenings!
Little words = Big difference
Don’t underestimate the power of a few sincere words. It is so meaningful to me when Justin just writes a quick note saying how much he appreciates and loves me and leaves it somewhere for me to find. Several years ago we purchased some window crayons to decorate a friend’s getaway car at their wedding, and we still have the crayons. Every once in a while I’ll use them to write a little note on Justin’s bathroom mirror as a fun, silly way to tell him I love him. It doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture – even a sincere text of appreciation for something they did or just to say ‘I love you’ can be a huge boost to the other person. Over time, all these small efforts have made a big difference in developing and strengthening our relationship.
And while we’re on the subject – it’s always nice to say thank you but I think it’s imperative to say it during the Little People Years. You are both stretched thinner and doing more. Little ones are very needy and demanding on your time and energy. It’s easy for all the focus to go to the little ones and leave very little room to focus on each other. Noticing and appreciating your partner’s efforts is such a nice way to communicate that you see him or her too.
Can’t leave the house? Date in a ‘different’ spot
Life with kids is very routine based. Our evenings especially have a pretty straightforward pattern: Justin comes home from work, we have some family time, eat dinner, have a little playtime, and then he takes LJ for bath/books/song/bedtime and I take Vi for feeding/swaddling/bedtime. We get into a daily rhythm and it works really well for my kids. But what is a wonderful routine for my children can feel like a rut in my adult life. Anytime I’m feeling like we’re in a little bit of a rut, just a small switch-up in routine feels like a big change. In the summer, this might mean eating dinner on the patio (bonus if we can hold off on our own dinner until the kids are asleep and then eat together out there) or taking a glass of wine out on the porch swing after the kids are asleep. Or instead of hanging out on the couch in our living room, we sometimes have a “basement date” where we watch a movie in our basement. It’s literally the exact same activity – sitting on the couch watching TV – but because we’re in a different place from our usual, it feels like a special little date.
Get creative with babysitters
It can be hard to actually go and have a date sans kids. It not only requires finding an evening that works for you both, but then finding someone to watch the kids and it can get expensive when you add up the cost of dinner/movie tickets/admission to a concert/whatever activity you’re doing plus the cost of a babysitter. My parents are willing to help, but they live out of town so it’s not always possible for them to drive in and watch the kids for us. In this blog post, I talked about some of the ways we have found to lessen the cost of babysitters, whether through swapping watching each others’ kids with another couple (or multiple couples) or sharing a babysitter and splitting the cost.
Personally, I’m pretty excited to see where Justin and I are in 56 more years. But I don’t want to wish this time away in the meantime – I plan to fully enjoy the journey. 🙂
What little things help you feel connected to your partner?
When I think about simple little things that make my life easier, my diaper clutch tops the list. I shared about it in this post from early on in my “2 under 2” days, but I have come to love it so much that I decided it needs its own post. Is that weird? Maybe, but I’m rolling with it!
The first time I ventured out to my weekly bible study with both kids in tow, I went to drop LJ off in childcare and realized I couldn’t leave the diaper bag with him like I normally did because I still needed it for Vi, who was staying with me. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I’d need something separate for LJ. Having no other options, I clipped his diaper name tag to one single diaper and handed it to his teacher like “oops! Sorry and good luck.” Such a rookie mistake.
I didn’t want to over-complicate things by trying to carry two full diaper bags, but I knew I needed something else for LJ while he’s still this little. I purchased a simple clutch (mine is sold out but this one is very similar) and it’s the perfect size for a small pack of wipes and a few diapers. I can also keep a snack and even his water bottle in it if I need to. (Bonus that it was bought from a store whose mission is to support survivors of sex trafficking!)
I keep it stocked at all times with wipes and 1-2 diapers and store it next to my diaper bag; any time I’m going somewhere where LJ and Vi will be in separate places, I just throw it in with my main diaper bag and then have something to leave with LJ.
Two weeks ago, Justin didn’t realize he had the diaper bag in his car and ended up driving to work with it. I needed to leave the house with both kids and had no diaper bag, so I used this. I just added 2 diapers for Vi and we were good to go. It’s definitely not the ideal bag for everyday use, but it was perfect in a pinch.
Now that LJ is getting a little older, we are starting to also introduce wearing a backpack so he can learn to carry a few of his things. This pouch perfectly fits in the backpack!
And just look at how cute LJ is wearing his backpack! My heart can hardly take this. I feel like I’m practically sending him off to college right now. When did he get so big?!
I love that this little diaper clutch solved a problem and made situations in my daily life much easier without causing a lot of extra work for me. It’s a simple solution that was easy to implement and even if it’s a weird thing to say, I sure do love it!
PS – You may have noticed that it’s Monday. 😉 I’m trying something a little different with the blog and switching to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts. There are multiple reasons for this switch, and I think this is going to be a better schedule for me right now!
I’ll be honest. I’m a little nervous about this blog post.
I have considered putting it off for another day, until I’m 100% prepared. But the truth is, I’ve been ready to verbalize this shift for a while now and my phrase for the year is “don’t wait” – so I’m pushing forward now. Apologies in advance for the length (and the possible word vomit) but I have lots of thoughts to share!
When I first started this blog back in 2013, it was a pretty random hodge-podge of my life at the time. I was teaching special education, so I shared a ton of budget-friendly teacher outfits and various education-related activities. I was also a newlywed, so I had a ton of posts related to engagements and weddings. There were also things like DIY projects, sharing our travels, etc. Then I took a couple years off from the blog and by the time I returned, my life looked completely different. I was no longer teaching and was staying at home with my baby and my blog’s focus shifted to life now.
I love writing and creating, and I love using this space as a place to do both. Honestly, I’m not in this to have a ton of followers or monetize my blog or anything like that. I just truly enjoy using this space as a creative outlet and it doesn’t matter to me if 10 people or 10,000 people read my words. I just know it makes me happy to do this, and I’m going to keep doing it.
That being said, I just kind of post whatever I’m feeling like on any given day and it naturally tends to focus motherhood. If you follow my associated Instagram account, you may have noticed that it’s almost exclusively been focused on motherhood lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love that! Motherhood is a huge aspect of my life right now.
But it’s not the only aspect of my life. It’s not my only passion.
When I think about what I want this space to be in 2020 and beyond, I want it to really be a reflection of me. A reflection of my life – all of it! Over the past few months I’ve tried to be more intentional about blogging more aspects of my life and I’ve been loving it. I realize I could just keep things going as they are now, but I know myself and know I need to verbalize this out loud if I really want to push myself to grow in this space.
I feel so passionate about multiple areas of my life. Motherhood. Turning our house into a HOME. Living with less and being content/minimal-ish. And of course, reading!
I want to show our real life, the joys and struggles, to encourage and lift up other mamas who see the “perfect” pictures on social media and feel less than, like they’re falling short of some magical motherhood standard that doesn’t exist. I want to document the process of updating and renovating our house into our home: the ups, the downs, the victories, the “oops!” moments, and of course, the finished products! I want to share ways that I’ve found to simplify my life (without subscribing to strict rules like “only have 10 items in your closet”) so I manage it less and enjoy it more. And I want to keep on sharing what I’m reading simply because I love it.
It’s scary to make this intentional pivot away from just posting (especially on Instagram) about motherhood, because I feel like right now the world of blogging/social media is kind of a “stay in one lane” kind of place. You have mommy blogs. You have home design blogs. You have bookstagrams. You have blogs and social media accounts that you can follow that typically focus hard on one area, with maybe a sprinkling of some other things occasionally.
And I think I could choose a lane and be pretty happy. I could find joy in a platform that solely focuses on motherhood. Or one that solely focuses on reading. Or living with less. Or updating our home. I think it could be good, maybe even great. And honestly, in the world of hashtags and algorithms, it probably would be “smarter” to choose one focus. To stay in one lane. To bow down to the algorithm and try to play the game and gain a following.
But I also think it would feel incomplete. Each one of those areas is important to me, but they’re all only one area. And truthfully, I don’t have one big passion. I have several.
So I’m shifting my perspective a bit. I’m allowing for a pivot. I’m creating a broader definition for what I’m doing here.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. I believe you can live beautifully with kids. I believe you can have a full life without feeling overwhelmed by stuff. I believe your home can have style and a good design but also be functional and manageable for your lifestyle. And I believe you can make time for reading (or whatever you are passionate about!)
Maybe no one is interested in reading this. Maybe everyone who has followed me will decide this specific mixture of content isn’t for them (or almost everyone – I’m hoping at least my family remains loyal readers 😉 )
I don’t have a specific “word” to describe my path forward here, but I have these thoughts about what I’m trying to convey:
Enjoy motherhood without constant overwhelm.
Have a beautiful home that we can live in.
Live abundantly without constantly managing stuff.
Create space within my life to actually thrive and have time for my passions.
I’m nervous but excited to say all this out loud. I’m feeling good about what I want to do going forward. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!
This stage of life is unlike anything else I’ve every experienced. Life with two small children is busy and sweet and beautiful and exhausting. I love looking back on these day in the life posts because our little routines do change over time, so I decided to document a day in our lives right now. I just picked a Tuesday at random, and this one ended up being pretty “standard” in what our Tuesdays look like these days. It was a perfectly ordinary day, but I know these are the most special days of all. ❤
A disclaimer that many of these pictures are low quality or blurry. Our lighting wasn’t always the best and I didn’t want to disrupt the flow of our day by trying to “retake” moments to document them better. I just snapped some pics and we kept it moving. This is what our days really look like right now – perfectly imperfect.
January 14, 2020
Even though I would have loved to keep snoozin away next to Justin, mornings are my time to get things done! Vi is thankfully in a stretch where she’s actually sleeping through the night so I set an alarm (hit snooze a few times 😉 ) and finally rolled out of bed around 6:40.
I got into workout clothes and did my Expecting and Empowered workout (it was arm day!) first thing. I love just turning on one lamp and working out in the soft glow while listening to a podcast. It’s such an energizing way to wake up!
I’m doing their latest 10-week accountability challenge so I marked my finished workout.LJ woke up almost as soon as I was finished so I went upstairs to get him. He’s in a stage where he always wants to be carried down the stairs after waking up and he insists on bringing his little lovey bears and his paci-less wubbanub Edgar all clutched to his body. It’s so sweet!
Time for breakfast! He loves to eat cereal right now and drink “milllK” from a cup but it’s often messy so he likes to have that little reusable washcloth to wipe up spills.
While he ate breakfast, I quickly ate mine and completed my daily work for my Bible Study Fellowship lesson. Right now we’re in Hebrews (we spent the first part of the year in Acts) and I love this deep look into the Word.
Little miss woke up around 7:40. I changed her diaper and LJ played nearby (putting stickers on our furniture ha!) while I fed her and read a little bit of my current book.
Once Vi was finished, I got LJ changed and ready for the day and we colored while waiting on his speech therapist to come to the house.
LJ has been receiving in-home speech therapy since June and we have seen lots of progress in his language skills. His receptive language has always been fantastic, but it’s taken a while for his expressive language to catch up. He’s doing great now! He loves his speech therapist who makes their work feel like play.
While they work on speech, I was nearby with Vi finishing up and publishing my blog post for the day.
Once that was done, I caught up on emails for my work-from-home job, renewed our library books online, and got ready for the day while I listened to a podcast.
After our speech therapist left, I fed Vi one more time and then I got everyone packed up and headed to the library for story time. We go every week to toddler story time and it’s a great chance for LJ to socialize with his peers as well as listen to a few stories and sing some songs. They do a lot of active singing and dancing and he loves getting that energy out!
Afterwards we usually play for a few minutes in the library’s play area. It’s a good opportunity for all the toddlers to work on sharing 😉
We stopped in to say hi to daddy at work before heading home. Tuesdays are Justin’s long day at the office and sometimes he doesn’t get home until after bedtime so it’s nice for him to see the kids for a few minutes during the day. LJ also loves that daddy’s office often has treats ha!
Back home it was time for lunch. I reheated some homemade chicken noodle soup with some oyster crackers for myself. LJ has pretty eclectic lunch tastes and we try to give him a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients. Today he ate a mandarin orange, a pickle (weird, but he loves them!), applesauce, and an aussie bite.
We watched a little Paw Patrol to wind down and then he went down for his nap at 1:20. I fed Vi while getting a few more pages of my book read.
Once Vi went down, I worked on my job for about 40 minutes. If you’re curious about what I do, I wrote a blog post about it here.
I finished up around 2:00 and both kids were still sleeping so I was able to get quite a few housekeeping tasks done. I finished painting the doors on the built in linen closet in our guest suite, went online to order the sink (vanity top is also ordered!!), tidied up the house a bit, restocked the diaper bag, answered a few personal emails, caught up on social media, and read a bit more.
LJ woke up just after 4:00 and we got some sweet one-on-one time together in the playroom.
I love how snuggly he is after just waking up!
I don’t have many pictures of the next two hours because it was busy busy busy! Once Vi woke up she needed changed, and I needed to get going on supper. I made some pasta (edamame pasta for LJ, tortellini for me). I didn’t start out intending to make two kinds, but I honestly hated the way the edamame one tasted. LJ actually liked it though so he ate it with his veggies while I quick made a different kind for myself.
Please enjoy this extra quality photo of us playing in the playroom after dinner. Haha! LJ is constantly moving so a non-blurry picture of him just wasn’t going to happen. Those three little toys in the loader were given to LJ from his speech therapist earlier in the day and he wanted to carry them around with him everywhere.
I got them changed and ready for bed (truthfully, Vi stayed in her jammies all day) so they were both ready when Justin came home.
When Justin comes home, it’s like a rock star’s entrance. Everyone is so happy to see him and he gets swarmed. He’s so great about jumping right into dad mode and giving everyone his love and attention.
He took LJ to bed around 8:00 and I turned on The Greatest of All Time Jeopardy. I don’t know if you’ve been watching this tournament, but it has been so entertaining for us! This was the night Ken Jennings won the whole thing.
Vi went down during Jeopardy so the rest of the night was just Justin and I on the couch. I’m laughing here because he was sorting through his mail and contemplating the Arbor Day Foundation survey. One nerdy thing about Justin is he almost always completes the surveys that come to our house. He’ll answer questions about trees or those consumer surveys or whatever. It’s pretty funny and adorable. 😉
And that’s a wrap on my perfectly ordinary Tuesday!
I had so much fun linking up with Erika and Shay for their “Let’s Look” blog series last year that I’ve decided to join in again this year. On the first Wednesday of each month, they host a topic that takes a look into a different aspect of your life. Last year we looked at everything from our pantries to what we pack in a suitcase to our favorite binge-worthy TV shows. It’s kind of all over the place and fun and gives a peek into random things that I normally would never write a blog post about.
The first topic of the year is one of those that I’d never think to write about on my own: bedside tables.
Here’s the thing. I love styling a bedside table. Now that our guest suite renovation is almost complete, I’m having so much fun setting up the room and arranging the nightstands. Here’s a little sneak peek of my progress so far:
However. As much as I love a nicely styled bedside table, I am a toddler mama, and my toddler is in. to. everything. Since my room is one of the places he has access to, he often roots around in my nightstand. I used to keep things like a picture frame, a plant, and a candle on top but now I need to keep the surface clear of breakable objects. I also used to keep lots of little things in the drawers, such as cards from Justin, a lotion bar, c-section scar cream, notes, etc. but too often I had a scene like below where LJ would pull everything out of the drawer and throw it on my bed or on the floor.
All that to say, my bedside table is now nothing special and actually is pretty boring. The main thing it now houses is . . .
. . . books! I snapped this picture yesterday but this is what my nightstand really looks like on any given day of the year. I have my stack of library books on top, a stack of books I own that I want to read on the bottom, and the book I’m currently reading is next to the bed. The only other things I keep out are my phone charger and baby monitor.
Inside the drawer I keep a few journals, pen and pencil, my Kindle charger, my nightguard (I am a notorious grinder), and some lavender essential oil (I occasionally sprinkle a few drops on my pillow). That’s it!
Like I said, it’s nothing special! One day I hope to have a pretty, more styled nightstand but for now, this toddler mama will have to be content with just her stacks of books. 😉
I don’t know about you guys, but for me, yesterday actually felt like January 1.
Right?! So true! And because New Years day was a Wednesday, it felt like the holiday even got extended a few days into the weekend. It’s been nice to relax and enjoy low power mode, but when yesterday rolled around, I was super motivated to get us back into a routine.
I love the freshness and clean slate that New Year’s brings. I love the way the house feels bright and fresh without all the Christmas decor and I really love the crisp, clean look of a blank calendar! There is something about some open white space on a calendar that feels so rejuvenating to me after the busyness of the holiday season.
As I look at our calendar for January and February, I love that it doesn’t feel heavy. It feels light, manageable, and we have plenty of white space to just enjoy life without filling it up with tons of obligations. Today I thought I’d just share a few ways that I keep our calendar simple and manageable these days. These tips might not work for every family, but these are what works for our family!
Guard weeknight evenings
We try not to plan a ton of things in the evenings, but we do have a few standing obligations from week to week. Tuesdays are Justin’s late day at work, Wednesdays I attend a cycling class (and often take some time afterwards to run errands or just sit in a coffee shop to recharge), and every other Sunday evening we have small group at church. Other than that, we try not to schedule much in the evenings, especially during the week. This keeps a built in time to recharge and allow us to have family time without stretching ourselves too thin. Sometimes, there are things like a work dinner Justin needs to attend or a girls night for me, but for the most part, we try to keep evenings free. When we do have a night of hosting friends for dinner (about once a month) or going out for a date night during the week, it’s fun and feels like a treat! Eventually I know our evenings will get busier but for now we’re enjoying that time at home with our little ones.
Keep day-to-day structure the same
In general, our days have the same rough outline. Wake-up/breakfasts, change and get ready, then we leave the house for an hour or two. We come back home for lunch, naps, playtime, dinner, baths/bed. Now, of course there are days that don’t fit this mold but in general, that is our routine. It helps tremendously in simplifying our calendar because I only need to really change up one thing each day: what are we going to do in the morning?
So, what do we do in the mornings? I have a few ways of simplifying that too!
Keep a few recurring activities
Tuesdays, LJ has in-home speech therapy and then we pack up and go to the library for story time. Wednesdays, we go to my bible study (childcare is provided!). Every other Thursday, I meet with a group of friends for a book study/small group while our kiddos play in the host’s basement. These are activities that we do every week on the same day at the same time, so I don’t even have to use any brain power to figure out what to do or when to leave the house. It makes things easy and then I only have to figure out a plan for Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday.
Have morning “go-to’s”
For Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday, I have some go-to options that I keep in mind and alternate through so I’m not always spending a lot of brain power to come up with an activity from scratch. Some of my go-to’s are:
-go to the zoo (we have a membership, so it’s easy to go for just an hour or two and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money if we’re not there long)
-play at the library (many of our local libraries have great little play areas for kids!)
-trampoline jump park (they have toddler time on Fridays!)
-play date with a friend either at our home or theirs
In the summer we also have options like splash pads, playgrounds, and parks. And some mornings, our “activity” is really more of an errand like a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping, although I try to do these errands when I have a babysitter or Justin is home so I don’t have to take both kids to the store. It happens though!
I have a whole blog post about saying no, but the bottom line is, I have learned over time that sometimes saying no is the best thing I can do for myself and my family. When I’m stretched too thin, when we’re running from activity to activity, when naps get skipped or we get out of sync, it makes a noticeable difference in my family. We get cranky, our days seem less enjoyable, and we just feel “off.” So I say no to things that I know will mess up our routine. We say no to activities in the afternoon, because that is when LJ naps and I know from experience that no activity is worth messing up naptime right now. I say no to things before 9 am, because it’s took hard for us to get up and out the door without feeling rushed. We say no to back-to-back evening activities that involve our whole family. We keep our normal routine and structure 99% of the time, so when something comes along that is really worth disrupting our routine, we can say yes and know it won’t throw us off too much because the rest of days are still normal.
By sticking to a general routine, having go-to activities in mind for getting out of the house, and saying no when saying yes would stretch us too thin or throw our routine out of whack, we keep a simple calendar with plenty of white space for when things come up. Just the way I like it. 🙂
What do you do to keep your calendar simplified and manageable?