As a mom, I think I can safely speak for all of us that you never feel like you are doing enough. The word ‘balance’ is something we all talk a lot about, but with no real answer as to how we will ever feel like we are achieving it. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, work full time out of the house, or (like me) do something in between; the struggle is real.
I decided not to go back to my corporate job as a Buyer at Gilt Groupe after having Knox. At the time, HOUSE of HARPER seemed like the perfect ‘balance’ of having something on the side while staying home as a mom. Today I want to share some of the things I have learned and come to grips with over the past three years.
1. Carve out some time for yourself – Being a mom is perhaps the most selfless job there is. It requires endless amounts of giving your heart, soul, time, and energy into someone else who at times isn’t able to give back or appreciate all that you do (possibly until they are a parent themselves). It is important that you give yourself the proper care so you are fueled to give more of yourself back to them. A tired and stressed mom isn’t good for anyone in the family. I usually take advantage of weekend naps when Fred is home to go do something for myself. Sometimes it is a nap and other weekends it is a mani / pedi or a solo shopping trip. I still need to find a good workout scheduled, but for many moms a trip to the gym is their saving grace. Even a bubble bath and a glass of wine after the kids go down can be just what I need! Find what works for you and your family and don’t forget to prioritize yourself sometimes (the laundry, clean house and running to do list can wait another hour/day).
2. Be Proud – It has taken me a while to master this one myself and sometimes I am still guilty of not taking my own advice, but whatever choice you make on this topic (from working 0 – 80 hours a week outside of your work as a mom), be proud of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice your choice requires. Because every degree of the spectrum requires all three. When I first moved from New York City to Houston, I quickly realized that friends and strangers here weren’t as familiar with the blogging industry as in the city. If I said I had a blog I would get innocent comments like “blogging, who has time for that?!” Or when I would mention I had to work on a deadline, I would get questions like “So, do you just create deadlines for yourself?” After a few of these comments, I decided it was best not to talk about my version of ‘work life’ because I felt judged and misunderstood. So, when I would meet new people that would ask what I do, I would just say I was a mom to avoid the conversation all together.
After some time of omitting part of my story, I finally came to the realization (with the help of my husband) that I should be proud of the business I have built and the late nights I have put in that got me to a place where I can contribute to our family financially. I am proud of the fact that HOUSE of HARPER simply didn’t exist before I created it. There is something extremely rewarding to watch something (no matter how large or small) grow from nothing into something. And, of course, it is my hope our children will understand and respect that I needed this when they are old enough.
3. It takes a village – This one was the hardest for me to learn and accept. When I had Knox we were living in NYC away from family so we got use to doing it on our own. After several months I found a wonderful babysitter who would come over one morning a week so I could schedule meetings or just work outside the house. I would shoot blog pictures on the weekend when Fred was home and I would work during naps and after bedtime. This was all fine and great when Knox was taking two naps a day and wasn’t mobile, but everything got harder the older he got… Fast forward to moving to Houston and Knox turning one, I was so stressed between the move, finding a house, construction, the blog, life, parenting (you get the picture) that I knew I had to find some help (other than our moms who had been a tremendous help during this time). We found a part time nanny who started working for us three days a week from 9am – 12pm. I told myself it was only three hours and I could keep working while Knox was down for his nap in the afternoon. Once I accepted the fact that I couldn’t do it alone and saw that someone else could give him more than me during those few hours, I felt a huge relief. In the mornings Knox would play outside with other kids and nannies in the neighborhood. Fast forward two years and one more child later, she is now with us five mornings a week instead of the three we started with. She helps me around the house on mornings that Knox is at school and Andrew is napping and I quiet simply couldn’t do it without the help. Whether it’s someone in your family or a nanny, three hours a week or full-time, don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. It truly takes a village to raise children and I believe they will be better off being exposed to more people along the way.
4. Support Other Moms – As mothers, it is my hope that we can all encourage each other to be proud of the decisions we make. Being a mom naturally comes with a lot of guilt and feeling like you are never doing enough or doing it well enough. No one understands this more than other moms so we should be each other’s biggest advocates not the cause of more insecurities. When we lived in NYC most of my mom friends were from the south so we had this incredible bond because we were all in this together. We had a group text thread we would write at all hours of the day/ night with questions about everything from nursing to baby poop. I wouldn’t have survived the first year as a mom without them and now I am back in Texas raising our kids with friends I have grown up with. Our conversations now range from nap schedules to discipline tactics these days. We have a standing Thursday afternoon playdate where we can let the kids play and catch up on life. I feel so blessed to have this mommy support group because unfortunately sometimes other moms can be your worst critic. Support eachother, we are all in this together!
5. Don’t forget about your spouse – The more kids you have the harder it can be to spend quality time with your spouse, but your relationship with eachother is what keeps the family going so this can’t be taken for granted. Carve out a weekly date-night and make a rule that you can’t talk about the kids so you can keep the focus on eachother. Ask the questions you didn’t have a chance to talk about in the evenings when you are exhausted from a day’s work and trying to get the kids to bed. Get dressed up even if you are just making dinner together at home. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. And when there is a time and place to talk about the kids and parenting, remember to be on the same team. Everyone has their own way of discipline and you aren’t going to agree with every parenting decision the other one makes, but always have a united front for the kids. They should know whether they are going to mom or dad they will get the same answer, every time.
*Back by request, I am going to get back to doing Mommy Mondays! (I know today isn’t Monday, but I didn’t get it up in time yesterday.) Let me know in the comments any topics you specifically want to talk about. (I already have request to update you on Andrew’s allergies, tips for working from home and a few more… keep them coming!)
And, of course, please share your lessons learned in the comments below! I want to hear what keeps you going! xo