Moming through the Pandemic – Katie: Blogger and SAHM of Two

Our next ‘Moming through the Pandemic’ story is from Katie, a stay at home supermom. She was 6 months pregnant with a preschooler at home when everything started shutting down. She was also running a blog (Thrifty Wife Happy Life) in her “spare” time. No matter what the pandemic threw at her, though, she has stayed positive and is rocking this “chapter” of her life!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Katie–we can all learn from your positivity!

Tell us about yourself and your family.

Hi I’m Katie! I am the mom of two, Jack (5) and Anna (8-months). My husband, Kevin, is an airline pilot and we live in Grand Rapids, MI. I worked as a preschool teacher until almost 2-years ago. We had been living in Las Vegas for over 4 years for my husband’s job, but when his company opened a base in Grand Rapids we felt that it only made sense that we move back to Michigan so we could be closer to our parents. Instead of looking for another preschool teacher job when we moved, we decided that it would be best for our family if I stayed home full time. 

On top of being a stay-at-home-mom, I also have a lifestyle blog called Thrifty Wife Happy Life. I started it years ago as a little side hobby to keep me busy while my husband was on over nights, but it’s become so much more than just a hobby. I share affordable fashion tips and also my journey through motherhood. It’s now become more than just an outlet for me, it’s turned into a little side job. 

How has life changed for you since quarantine began?

At first it was a huge adjustment. Even though I was already a stay-at-home-mom, Jack was in preschool at a child care center full day. When we moved back to MI we decided it was best for Jack to keep him in school full time since that was what he was used to. His school closed in mid-March and he didn’t return until July.  That was a big change having him home all day with me and we couldn’t leave the house. He needs a lot of entertainment and he thrives on a schedule so it was a tough adjustment for us at first. 

I was also 6-months pregnant when the pandemic first started getting bad in the U.S. and things were scary for a while. I was so worried that my husband wouldn’t be with me in the delivery room or that I would test positive for Covid andmy baby might be taken from me while I had to quarantine. Luckily everything worked out and Anna’s birth went really smoothly. 

After Anna was born in June things seemed to be almost back to normal for a while. We did a lot of outdoor meet ups with family and went to the park, but then as the weather cooled off and Covid cases started to go back up things started to feel isolating again. 

The biggest change for us is just having no plans at all. We use to go out to eat every weekend or take Jack to the museum or a play place on the weekends. Now we just stay home every week. It seemed like we had a visitor at our house every other weekend, but now that’s rare and if people do come see us we are usually meeting them in the driveway with masks on. It’s just not the same. 

What is something positive that has come out of having to quarantine?

The one-on-one quality time we have been able to spend as a family is the best thing to come out of all of this. I spent almost 4 months day in and day out with my son and I realized that I had never done that before. Before that the longest amount of time we have had together was during my 7 week maternity leave. It’s been fun watching him grow and turn into a big brother.

What is the hardest part about it?

The hardest part is not seeing our friends and family very much. Having a new baby and not being able to share her with others is tough. We moved to Michigan so our kids would grow up closer to their grandparents and here we are not being able to see them that often. I had envisioned never having to miss a holiday with family and being able to celebrate our kids birthdays with friends and family now that we live back in Michigan. Instead we have been home just the 4 of us for every holiday and birthday celebration. 

What have you learned about yourself during this time?

I’ve gained confidence as a mother during this time. I’ve always questioned my decisions as a mom and I suffer from mom guilt a lot, but this pandemic has changed that. Especially after having Anna. I feel like after all I’ve been through having 2 kids is nothing. I was so worried about adding another baby to our family during a pandemic. I was worried that I’d struggle without any help. I was worried that I would have postpartum depression and I’d be alone, but that hasn’t been the case. I felt really good after Anna was born. She completely turned my year around. Having her at this time has been my greatest blessing. She’s taught me a lot about myself. They both have. 

What surprised you the most about your child(ren) during this time?

My kids are so unphased by this whole thing. Obviously Anna doesn’t know anything else, but Jack has been so understanding of everything. You would think he would have been upset that we couldn’t go to the mall and play in the play area anymore. Or that  we can’t go stay at his grandparents house, but he’s been so positive about it all. He calls it the germs and he tells me all the time what his plans will be when the germs are gone. He doesn’t even mind that he has to wear a mask all day at school.

What are you most looking forward to doing once life gets back to ‘normal’?

Um everything! Lol! I’m really excited to be able to see our family again. Our parents live 2 hours away, but because we haven’t been able to stay over nights our visits with everyone have been very short. My sister-in-law who lives in California is dying to meet Anna so I’m hoping we can see them soon! I’m also hoping we can go on vacation soon! I miss traveling. 

Kevin and I are also dying for a date night out with just the 2 of us. We haven’t done that since before Anna was born. We’d love to go on a trip together to celebrate our 10th anniversary this summer, but we will see how things are at that point. I don’t think I’m ready to leave Anna too long yet. We’d be grateful for an hour without the kids 😂

What is something you began doing during quarantine that you will continue to do (or hope to) once it’s over? Why?

Online grocery shopping!! I never used the online grocery store ordering apps before. I didn’t trust having other people pick out my produce. But after going to the grocery store during a pandemic with all the craziness, plus being 9-months pregnant at the time,  I decided to try it. Now I will always do my grocery shopping online. At least my big weekly grocery orders. It saves me so much time and I will definitely never bring both kids to the store with me again unless I’m really bored and just want a challenge. 😂😂

Anything else you want to add?

I will just say that I think the best way to get through this time is to stay positive. Sometimes it’s hard, but I try my best to focus on the positive things in life. I think it’s important to focus on the things you can control in life, not what you can’t. This is only a chapter in our book, not the whole story!

Moming through the Pandemic – Stefanie: Freelance writer/mom of two

So being a mom during the pandemic is hard. Stay at home or working full time – it’s all hard. We are grateful to Stefanie, mom of two, taking time out of the insanity we are in to participate in ‘Moming through the Pandemic’. Her case is different as she has the added pressure of her husband being in a highly essential working environment. She has had to step up and help her daughters with virtual learning. Being both mother and teacher.

Thank you, Stefanie, for sharing your story!

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I am a 35-year-old pop culture and polka dot enthusiast living in Okemos, Michigan. My husband Zack and I met at MSU. We have been married for 11 years, together for 16, and we have two daughters: Stella, almost 8, and Margot, 4. We also have two dogs, our almost 12-year-old rescue Zuzu and 1-year-old aussiedoodle, Fozzie. Zack is a Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Whitmer, overseeing communications, and pre-pandemic I was freelance writing for my former office at MSU and other local publications.

How has life changed for you since quarantine began?

Much like anyone else, everything changed for us. I still remember the night of the Michigan primary, when Zack got word of the first confirmed COVID cases in the state. He had to pack up and drive to the state’s emergency operations center that very night to prep and assist with a press conference. Those early weeks of uncertainty were truly insane. Zack was working every single day for hours on end. With the pandemic and the nature of Zack’s job, my main focuses have been to help my girls with virtual learning, keep us fed and sane, and coming up with quarantine activities. Writing has definitely taken a backseat, but I’m thankful that I have been able to keep things afloat at home.

What is something positive that has come out of having to quarantine?

The “anything goes” mentality of quarantine life has really opened me up to trying so many new things, from recipes to crafts. We made bagels and soft pretzels. I got very into dalgona coffee, especially on summer afternoons. In very early quarantine, there was a lot of painting, and I started to make portraits of loved ones’ dogs. I tried rose gold Overtone on my hair, and just this past week let Stella try it, too. We tie-dyed so many shirts. We started a movie night tradition with Stella on Friday nights, giving us all something to look forward to at the end of the week. Even though we didn’t go trick or treating, I had a blast making Margot’s Branch the troll costume. In the late fall, I learned how to cross stitch and now enjoy making all sorts of projects. While I miss having a fuller calendar, there’s been something sort of freeing about not having the usual obligations each day. 

What is the hardest part about it?

Not being able to spend quality time with friends and family, of course. Summer felt like a bit of a reprieve from isolation with the cases lower and more opportunities to spend time outside. I have also missed having that precious *me* time that I used to have when both girls were at school, and date nights with my husband. Heck, even just the ease of being able to ask grandparents to babysit. I joke that there’s been a lot of togetherness this past year, but the outlets right now are few and far between. Also, some of the things I most look forward to are concerts and theatrical productions; not having the arts during this time is really tough. 

What have you learned about yourself during this time?

 I learned to acknowledge and appreciate my value as a mom and partner during this time. When I left my job at MSU after having our second daughter, I had a difficult time embracing the idea that I was “just a mom,” even though that’s exactly what I wanted. When people asked what I did for a living, I’d often lead with the fact that I used to work for MSU and now I’m home with my girls. I worried about others’ expectations, especially when I know so many incredible moms who work full time. But during this pandemic, I know that I’ve been the glue at home. I’m sure I’ve always been, but it’s really been brought to light. Whether it’s getting up at 6am to go grocery shopping when it’s quieter at the store, coming up with art projects and ways to pass the time, learning how to groom our dogs during the first shutdown, or bringing my husband some lunch so he remembers to eat, my job is to keep us all going. I’ll often remark that I’m holding down the fort at home when people ask how I’m doing. I am learning that is enough.

What surprised you the most about your child(ren) during this time?

How many snacks they can physically consume in a given day, haha. And also just how much they can’t live with or without each other. For so much of Margot’s life, her big sister was at school all day. This past year has been more togetherness than they’ve ever had. To now be at the ages where they can play together and have the same interests, there are some blissful moments where they run off and play nicely without constant supervision. Talk about a much-needed reprieve! But for the most part, the reality is there has had to be a lot of parental intervention and separation. 

What are you most looking forward to doing once life gets back to ‘normal’?

Travel! Eating at restaurants! Concerts! Spending time with friends and family over wine and good food! My husband surprised me at Christmas with a trip to Hawaii set for late summer. We’re obviously hopeful that things will be looking much better by then, even if not completely normal. The notion of that quality time together, exploring a new place and relaxing, is honestly carrying me through these tough winter months in Michigan.

What is something you began doing during quarantine that you will continue to do (or hope to) once it’s over? Why?

 In addition to some of the new crafting activities I’ve learned, one thing that came out of quarantine was coming up with creative ways of meaningful connection with friends and family even at a distance. Whether it was swinging by someone’s house with beef stew leftovers, bringing a friend a chai tea, or carving out time for a Zoom and cocktails call, these small moments really brightened my days. I still love talking on the phone, so having long phone calls or FaceTime conversations kept me feeling connected to others. I hope that continues even as we start to return to regular schedules.

Anything else you want to add?

As moms, we’re often told that we need to give ourselves and others grace, that being a mom is such a hard job. Still, I think we can’t help but look at what we’re doing, or what others are doing, with a critical eye. Then we were hit with the pandemic, and it felt like those early newborn days: overwhelming and exhausting, just trying to survive one day at a time. I think the pandemic helped us take a look around and mutually agree that we’re all just trying to do our best. Screen time and snack rules? Out the window. Wearing the same comfy pants three days in a row? Fantastic! Despite all of the restrictions we’ve faced over the last year, in some strange way the lowered expectations on us has been freeing. We’ve been able to realize what – and WHO – is really important. When things begin to return to our new normal, I think we’ll have an easier time getting rid of the things that do not serve us. Like wearing jeans at home.

Moming through the Pandemic – Erin: Stay-at-home mom of two

Well Momfaming friends, it’s been a while. In order to catch you up on my life let’s rewind to February of last year…

  • I went out to dinner to celebrate my 35th birthday with my 3 best friends…little did I know this would be the last time I would step foot in a restaurant
  • I took Ryan to his Physical Therapy appointment…not realizing it would be his last in-person therapy
  • We went to our local Gigi’s Playhouse for Ryan to play with some friends…having no idea that it would be his last chance to see other kiddos
  • Oh yeah…and I found out that I was pregnant with my second child.

To say this past year has been difficult is a gross understatement. Moming through a pandemic is something I never imagined I’d have to do and it is anything but easy. Since I know a lot of others are in the same boat, I decided I should share some of my experiences and hope others can relate (or commiserate?!)

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I am Erin, the other half of the Momfaming Duo. I have a spirited 3 year old who is rocking an extra chromosome (Ryan) and now I also have a 3 month old “pandemic baby” (Lincoln). I found out I was pregnant with Lincoln a few weeks before all of the craziness began. I remember when I was finally telling people I was pregnant everyone’s response was “at least all of this will be over by the time you deliver”; boy were they wrong! Every single one of my prenatal appointments as well as my delivery were during the pandemic. I wouldn’t suggest being pregnant during a pandemic, but I’m glad I was because now I have another amazing boy to add to our clan.

I am also a “retired” teacher turned stay at home mom and I never once questioned that decision until the pandemic hit. Being a stay at home mom during a time like this is a whole different ballgame!

How has life changed for you since quarantine began?

Well, we basically don’t leave the house. All of Ryan’s therapies have turned virtual and we have stopped doing any activities with the kids outside of the house (besides for playing in our yard and walks around the sub). The only person outside of our house that we see is my mom so we occasionally go to her house too. When the weather was nice we saw a few friends outside a handful of times and I am hoping to be able to do that again come spring.

Not leaving the house has definitely changed my stay at home mom parenting style. We used to make sure we had something fun to do outside of the house at least a few days a week to keep us sane (even if it was just running to the grocery store). We also tried to get together with friends for play dates as much as possible. Without being able to do those things we have had to come up with different ways to stay occupied. In the summer we bought an inflatable pool, swing, and slide to have in our yard so that Ryan would have things to do. Now that it’s too cold to go outside for long periods of time we have had to become more creative; like dance parties, baking, and an indoor basketball hoop! It hasn’t been easy, but we are making it work (barely)!

What is something positive that has come out of having to quarantine?

My husband has been able to spend more time with the kiddos. As a stay at home mom I was already present for all of the milestones and funny stories throughout the day; now he is able to join in with that too. He is working from home most of the week so he is able to come down and play with the kids while he’s taking a break as well as eat lunch with us.

It’s been so nice to see his and Ryan’s relationship flourish because of this. Ryan used to only come to me for things, and now he’ll go to his dad too. Sometimes he’ll even take something away from me to bring to his dad because he’d rather play it with him. Although that stings a little, it’s also very nice to see (and even gives me a break every once in a while)!

What is the hardest part about it?

There are so many things that have been hard about quarantine; not seeing friends, not getting any alone time, not getting to see Ryan with kiddos his age, not being able to introduce Lincoln to anyone, and not being able to just throw the kids in the car to run some errands. Without a doubt the hardest part for me, though, is having to decide between Ryan’s health and his development.

Like I said before, Ryan has Down syndrome so he used to have PT once a week through the school district and had also just started private PT and Speech through our local hospital. I was also going with him to a class once a week where he was socializing with peers as well as learning the classroom routine. Once everything shut down, that included all of his therapies. He would continue virtual PT and OT and in the fall we began virtual preschool.

Trying to get a 3 year old (especially one with Down syndrome) to sit at the computer for PT, OT and/or preschool has been quite the challenge. It is a constant battle and I know that he is not getting anywhere near as much out of it as he would be if he were attending in person. He has made some great progress during quarantine (he started walking) but I also know that things are moving slower than they would be if he could be face to face.

On the other hand, Down syndrome is considered a high risk group when it comes to the coronavirus. Because kids with DS are immunocompromised and have low muscle tone they usually have serious side effects if they get any respiratory illness. We have been very lucky with Ryan and haven’t encountered these issue at all but we do not want to risk it. Ultimately we decided to keep him at home because we know that is where he is safest, but I still feel guilt every day that he is not getting the support he needs to develop his skills.

What have you learned about yourself during this time?

That I can do anything life throws at me and no matter what I can put on a brave face for those around me. Living through a pandemic while pregnant and then with a newborn and toddler is TOUGH and although I have been super frustrated and even sad some days my kids would never know it. I have always prided myself on the fact that I have a lot of patience, and boy was that tested this year. Did I have as much as I thought I did? Probably not. But no matter what was going on in the outside world (or even my head) my kids lived as normal of a life as possible through all of this.

What surprised you the most about your child(ren) during this time?

Well Lincoln has only known this way of life (poor kid) but it really surprised me how much Ryan apparently thrived on socializing with other people. Since I am a stay at home mom he has never been in daycare so I would never have labeled him as a social kid. But now that he does not see anyone besides mom and dad (and occasionally grandma) I can tell it’s affecting him.

We were lucky enough to see my brother, sister in law and niece and nephew over Christmas and he was a completely different child. He loved playing with his cousins as well as being around different adults. It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders and his frustrations seemed to go away. This makes me even more excited to be able to get together with friends again!

What are you most looking forward to doing once life gets back to ‘normal’?

Getting a break from being a mom! I can’t wait to just go out with my friends (without the kiddos) and talk about normal things (in between complaining about our kids and our husbands) while sipping some wine and eating some good food. I never realized how much these nights away gave me the restart I needed to continue to be the best mom and wife I can be.

What is something you began doing during quarantine that you will continue to do (or hope to) once it’s over? Why?

Asking for help. Even without a pandemic I can’t do it all, nor should I have to. As a stay at home mom I feel like there is a lot of pressure to do everything yourself instead of asking your spouse to help because they have been working all day. Well now that we have two and are living through such a stressful time, I have realized I just can’t do it all myself. Some days I need my husband to take one of the kids while I deal with the other one, and other days I need him to take both while I collect myself. And that is okay. Pandemic or not; stay at home mom or not; I need help and I am now not afraid to ask for it!

Anything else you want to add?

I just want to make it clear that I know that in the grand scheme of things we are extremely lucky. We have not lost anyone close to us to this horrible virus nor have we gotten sick ourselves; we have a safe house to quarantine in with everything we need to keep us comfortable; we have not lost much income due to things shutting down; we are able to buy enough groceries to stay healthy; and we have each other and two pretty amazing kiddos to keep us company while we are stuck at home. So although this was one of the hardest years of my life, I know that others have had it MUCH worse and my heart goes out to them every day.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: What is Down Syndrome?

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month which is very exciting in our household because we love getting to share what Down syndrome is to anyone who will listen. When we were told our son, who is now almost 2, had Down syndrome we had to do a lot of research because we didn’t know a lot about it. That research led us to understand that technically “Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21 [and] this additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome” (according to the National Down Syndrome Society). But to us, Down syndrome is so much more than that…

To us, Down syndrome is:

  • watching my mom get a tear in her eye when Ryan finally calls her “ga-ga”.
  • hearing my dad say that Ryan was “chosen for the perfect family” and “that he will teach us so much.” when we told him.
  • having everyone stop me in a store just to say “hi” to Ryan.
  • immediately having a club of strangers who are also part of the “lucky few” and feeling connected to them in a way other people can’t understand.
  • celebrating like crazy when Ryan meets a milestone he has been working so hard on—and even FaceTiming “ga-ga” so she can celebrate with us!
  • listening to my 5 year old niece tell me how lucky I am that Ryan is my baby–and knowing how right she is!
  • looking into Ryan’s eyes and realizing that he understands people in a way I never will.
  • seeing Ryan’s smile light up a whole room.
  • having the most walkers at our local Buddy Walk and realizing that our support group is absolutely amazing.
  • receiving all of the uplifting articles about people with Down syndrome from everyone we know.
  • dealing with normal day-to-day ups and downs of a typical toddler; because he is first and foremost, a toddler.
  • advocating for Ryan so that he can live his best life–whatever that entails.
  • not wanting to change a thing about Ryan because he is “down right perfect”!
  • feeling like the luckiest mama in the world because Ryan is mine!



But don’t just take my word for it…come back and check out our Mom of Fames all month to hear what other moms who have kiddos with Down syndrome have to say! And please, if you know, tell us what Down syndrome means to you and your family!

Mom of Fame – Krystal: Surviving a Car Accident & Thriving as a New Mom

Krystal is another amazing mom we are excited to introduce you to. She went from surviving a very serious car accident to thriving as a new mom to a beautiful 5 month old baby girl. She talks about how her accident changed her outlook on life, what it’s like to have your baby in the NICU, and how working with children for over 14 years helped (and sometimes hindered) her role as a mom. Please help us welcome her into the Mom of Fame!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I am a stay at home mom, and my boyfriend Curtis owns his own IT business. We have a 5 month old baby girl named Aria and a Yorkie toy poodle named Charlee. I was in a horrible auto accident last March which resulted in a lot of injuries to my pelvis and ribs, a shattered femur, TBI (traumatic brain injury), and a broken arm. So right around the time I was healing we unexpectedly found out I was pregnant (after being careful). [I was] on many medications still from the pain of the accident and had an upcoming surgery; I was terrified. But fast forward a year later and I still have an upcoming surgery, but we are learning to be parents regardless of my injuries, and I have learned that momming isn’t for the weak! Lol!

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

The best advice was in the beginning to give myself some grace. I had an awful pregnancy surrounded with all day sickness for the whole 9 months (I only gained 12 lbs)! Everyone was saying to enjoy being pregnant, but I couldn’t; I was in bed all last year [between being] pregnant and still healing from my accident. My birth went about as smoothly as it could go. I did hypo-birthing, had a doula and a midwife.  I also got chiropractic adjustments twice that week which I think all that combined helped, but overall God cut me a break on her birth after 41 weeks of being bed bound and not being able to eat chicken, smell food and living mainly on broth, toast and cheez-its for that whole time. 

I was exhausted during pregnancy and people’s advice was to sleep, and boy did I ever! So my biggest advice to any new mom would be sleep as much as you can, go on a baby moon with your spouse, have meals prepped for about the first 2 weeks, give yourself some grace in the beginning and ask and plan for help for at least 2 weeks (hire someone, your mom, sisters, aunts whatever you got to do). You’re gonna wanna shower, sleep and eat in peace and have a moment to yourself and they can help!

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

Honestly it’s a wild thought. After a horrible pregnancy, but a great birth I was given this beautiful human. And on no sleep, I was expected to know how to nurse, and/or learn ( learning anything on no sleep is real fun) and know her every need because I am her mom. It was very overwhelming for me. And on day 2 my baby girl was whisked off to the NICU for monitoring because of the medication I was on when pregnant (that I couldn’t stop taking or it risked miscarriage).

The NICU is a whole new beast. Even though she was the biggest and one of the healthiest ones in there, my heart broke leaving her and seeing all of those innocent babies in there. Leaving your new baby and going home without her is a pain I can’t describe; it was really hard. So ultimately she was home after 72 hours and bringing her home was terrifying. People just expect because you gave birth you know how to care for this little person.

It’s a huge adjustment period, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mom and Curtis. I was always so jealous of moms, and I thought I would know right away. But the sleep is the hardest one for me. Being expected to heal yourself, sleep when the baby sleeps, (which is awful advice and makes you feel like a living cow whose job is to feed and be a robot for your babies needs ONLY).

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Honestly I am not sure, I just try to take everything day to day. After my accident I really learned tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. So I would say I have a strength in wanting my daughter to experience life; every aspect of it. And to not be afraid but be prepared, smart and fearless. 

Describe a time when you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

A time? It’s not supposed to be all the time? Lol.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

I feel like when you become a mother, the old you dies in a way and a new you is born. The struggle begins when you’re trying to learn your baby, your new life, routine, relationship with your partner, and just survive. All while you’re fragile emotionally and physically and all of the same expectations stand as before–such as the home, work, friendships, life. How do you get to know your new self when your baby comes first?

I think I struggled for a while with the old me and new me. Every small task is harder once you’re a mom. The newborn days feel like never ending and it’s overwhelming getting adjusted. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that beautiful baby who thinks you’re the world. She is my miracle baby, and God gave me her for a reason and had me live that awful day, I know now, for her. And that’s all in the world worth gaining.

What do you want your child to learn from you?

I want her to be able to be strong, hardworking and know that life doesn’t give handouts and anything will and can happen. So always be ready for a curve ball but be able to land back on your feet. 

You were a nanny and a teacher for a long time before you became a mother. How do you think that changed your approach to motherhood? How would your approach to teaching or nannying change now that you’re a mother?

I totally thought that working with children for 14+ years I would be equipped in every way for motherhood. When, in fact, it made things harder. I had so much experience that I had unrealistic expectations for myself and my child. I knew what she should be doing, what I was “supposed” to be doing and I was harder on myself when things didn’t go as desired. Every child is different. And I had to remember I was taking care of those kids on a full night’s sleep, and I could check out and leave.

However it also, I believe, made things easier then if I didn’t have that experience. I knew what I needed before she was born, and it wasn’t wipe warmers, and frilly clothes it was jammies, Binky’s and baby wearing. It helped me be realistic. I know she’s gonna throw tantrums, not sleep, and get sick eventually. I knew what teething would be like, and I was calm about all of the normal things children go through because I had dealt with it before with other people’s kids.

My biggest advice is to have help ready, and don’t be afraid to ask for it, you are only human. Also, sleep when you can, love your kids, love your relationship and get away for a break when you can for your sanity. Because your sanity makes you an amazing mom. Don’t judge any other moms; we all are just trying to survive and love our kids and learn our new selves while doing it. 

Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom

I have been a SAHM for 18 months now and I think I am just finally getting the hang of it (almost!). It’s a tough job with no “clock out” time, little adult interaction and no pay. Although this can be frustrating at times, it is also the most fulfilling job in the world with the added benefit of getting to see your child 24/7. Just like any job there are good days and there are bad days. I’ve found that by doing these 5 things I have a lot more of the good ones:

Have a schedule…but don’t be afraid to break it!

We all know that kiddos thrive on schedules. I have tried to have Ryan on a schedule since he was a newborn (well really he had me on one then!) Now that he’s old enough to understand the schedule a little bit it is even more important though! We try to have a plan each day and honestly just having that plan makes the day go by quicker.

Right now our schedule looks something like: wake up, play, breakfast, songs, OT or PT (with the therapists or just with us), nap, lunch, play (or outing), nap, dada’s home—thank goodness!, dinner, play, bed). Some days we have swim in the morning and OT or PT in the afternoon but that gives you a general idea of what we do each day.

Even though we have a schedule we are not afraid to break it if something else will work better or we have the opportunity to do something fun. Now I try my best not to mess with Ryan’s naps, but anything else is fair game!

Enjoy a “Mom’s Night Out” whenever possible

SAHMs are with their kiddos ALL day long. As amazing as that is, we also need a little time to ourselves. I think it is SO important to be able to get out and enjoy yourself without your kiddo sometimes. I try to plan a night out with friends at least once a month. I am able to just chat, eat without interruptions and not worry about a little one and everything he needs for a few hours. I feel so rejuvenated afterward so I think it’s just as important for Ryan as it is for me! It also gives him a little time with his dad which is also great for both of them!

Plan an outing at least once a week

I try to plan something fun (outside of the house) to do each week. Whether it’s going over to a friend’s house, going someplace cool (like the zoo), or just heading to Target and lunch (mama’s favorite!). I feel like this helps make the week go by faster because it is something we can look forward to and it also helps Ryan’s development. He loves being around other adults and other children and his curiosity is so peeked when we go someplace new!

Pick up the phone

Being home with an 18 month old and 2 dogs can get a little lonely. Don’t get me wrong, they are all near me ALL the time, but none of them are the best communicators. This makes adult conversation so necessary throughout the day! So if your friends call PICK UP THE PHONE (obviously when the toddler is occupied and you’re able to). Or if your child is asleep, call someone just to talk! I have found the days are much more bearable when I am able to talk to friends throughout the day and not just wait for my husband to get home to have adult interaction. (I think he appreciates it too because then I don’t bombard him with questions and thoughts the second he walks in the door!)

Accept help

I had a very hard time with this (and still do sometimes)! I think stay at home moms think that since we are not “working” we shouldn’t need help throughout the day. But guess what, we need help too! If someone offers to help so you can run some errands (without a toddler whining) or so you can go to a doctor’s appointment SAY YES!

I also have a bad habit of thinking that since this is my “job” that I have to continue to do everything once my husband gets home. Again, this shouldn’t be the case! So if your husband gets home and offers to take the responsibility over so you can do something (or regain your sanity), SAY YES!

No matter what kind of week we have, this boy makes being a SAHM worth it! Whether you’re also a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, what have you found helps you have a better week? Let us know in the comments!


Mom of Fame – Christine

Christine is another mom blogger that we recently “met”. Her blog is called The Growing Creatives and it’s a place where you can find crafts, pretend play ideas, and other creative parenting hacks. She told us, “I think it’s really important to be intentional in how we play with our kids to let them freely express their creativity and grow their imaginations. I wanted to add a little corner to the internet where parents could be inspired to find silly and unique ways to interact with their children.”

In her interview she talks about how it’s important to be present, why she tries not to micromanage her kiddos, and how being a mom is “mentally exhausting” (right!?). Please help us welcome her into our Mom of Fame and check out her blog at the link above if you are looking for fun things to do with your kiddos!

Please tell us a little about you and your family.

My husband and I met in 8th grade, dated for a couple years in high school, and eventually got back together after 4.5 years apart. Now we live in a very rural town with our 2 kiddos. My 3 year old, Adeline, is super sassy and thinks she knows it all, but her confidence is amazing and the way she loves loving on her little brother melts my heart. My son, Jaxson, is the silliest and most curious 9 month old ever. He can get super focused on one thing which is pretty cool but also drives me crazy when he’s trying to get into something he’s not supposed to!

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it?

When I was pregnant with Adi, my MIL told me not to listen to anyone but myself. I really appreciated that because you get so much advice thrown at you and it can be overwhelming. It was reassuring to hear from someone I trust that my own intuition will tell me what’s right for my children. I do look to others for guidance a lot, but I’m secure in knowing my final decision will be what’s right for my kids because no one knows them as well as I do or has their best interest in mind as intensely as I do.

Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

Absolutely. I think it’s the only advice that can be used for anyone. Anything else is subject to that particular mom and baby. But generally speaking, a mother who is involved in her kid’s life and trusts her intuition will always make her decisions out of love.

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

It’s more mentally exhausting! Some days I can’t even think of anything I accomplished and yet I’m still tired. Constantly putting your children before yourself, making sure they’re ok, worrying about their future… it’s a lot more mental weight than I expected. 

 What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Hmm. I am pretty good at making sure my kids are creatively stimulated throughout the day with art, pretend play, building stuff, etc. Doing activities that make them think or use their imagination is really important to me, so I make it a priority to be a part of every day.

I try to be present with them for a good portion of the day and not distracted by my phone or housework. It’s hard when it feels like so many other things are fighting for my attention. But I’ve realized not only does my daughter behave better when she’s spent a decent amount of quality time with me, but I also have more time to focus on other stuff! If I give her 15 minutes of undivided attention, she’ll willingly play on her own for a little bit. So much better than trying to do everything all at once!

Lastly, I consider it a strength that I don’t hover and micromanage my kids. It’s so tempting to show them the “right way” to do something, or hover over them to prevent any bumps or scrapes. I still make sure they’re safe, but try to give them space within the security of knowing I’m right there while they try figuring stuff out on their own.

Describe a time you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

When I was pregnant with Jax. I am apparently one of those people who doesn’t like to be touched at all during pregnancy. At the time, my daughter was still nursing a lot during the night. Between the pain and just needing to not be touched so much, I really struggled when she wanted to nurse constantly. One night I remember feeling like I was having a panic attack because I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had planned to nurse until she was 2, but ended up having to wean her at around 21 months because of this.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

Absolutely, this is something I struggle with. I go through phases where I feel like my identity is entirely based on being a mother. I’m better about it now because I know there are many other parts that make up my whole. 

However, what I’ve gained is the fact that being a mother IS such a large part of my whole and I’m proud of it. There’s nothing more meaningful I could do with my life than make sure my children are cared for and grow up to be kind and productive people.

What do you want your children to learn from you?

To be genuine. There’s going to be so many people in their lives trying to tell them who to be, but if they stay true to themselves they will always make the best decisions for THEM. I will always try to be transparent with them so they know our mistakes don’t define us and there’s a difference between *doing* something bad and *being* bad. 

I also really want them to have amazing imaginations. It’s such an important part of childhood and helps with other mental developments like critical thinking, contentment, and independence. I try to encourage it in as many ways as I can, which is why the daily creative playing is such a priority to me!

Mom of Fame – Kyra

Kyra is one of those moms that we all aspire to be. She is completely selfless and puts the needs of her family above her own. She decided to be a stay at home mom because she felt that her daughter needed her more than she needed to work as a physical therapist. We were so excited when Kyra agreed to answer our questions and tell us a little bit more about herself.

She talks about why she ultimately decided to be a stay at home mom, the mix of cultures her family celebrates each day, and what it was like to have a baby with colic. Please join us in welcoming Kyra to our Mom of Fame and be sure to check out her motherhood blog at the link below!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My name is Kyra. I’m a physical therapist, wife, and mommy to a beautiful little girl who just turned 5 months old. Our household is half Hispanic and half African-American so we constantly have a mix of the two cultures with everything from the food to the languages we speak. My husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family after we had been married for only two months and three months later we were pregnant! Our daughter was born in August 2018. We plan on having more kids in the future. It was a huge adjustment for me to transition to working over 40 hours a week as a physical therapist to staying at home with my daughter. I knew that I needed a creative outlet so I decided to create my own motherhood blog. A month ago, I launched to share my advice and experiences as a first-time mom. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given about motherhood? Did you take it?

The best piece of advice I was given about motherhood would have to be from my mother. I was scheduled to return to work when my daughter was 8 weeks old, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to leave her just yet. I felt like there was so much more bonding time that we needed together as mommy and daughter. However, I also knew that I had an obligation to return to work. 

My mother told me, “You have to decide what would benefit your daughter more: going to work to earn money or spending time with her during this precious time while she’s still a baby. What your baby needs is YOU.” I was reluctant to stay home at first, but it was the best decision that I made! My daughter and I are so close and I love catching those special little moments with her that I wouldn’t have experienced if I went back to work right away. 

Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

It’s totally fine and normal if you feel overwhelmed with your duties as a mom. You are not alone. Motherhood is challenging and rewarding all at the same time. You don’t always have to know the right answer to everything when caring for your children. Just do the best you can and everything will be fine.

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

I knew motherhood would be challenging, but I didn’t expect it to change me as a person as much as it did. Each day as a mom, I experience an array of emotions. Happiness for having the opportunity to raise a beautiful little girl. Sadness that my old life as a young, 20-something newlywed is gone. Guilt that I’m not doing something exactly the right way for my daughter. Joy when I see her laugh or smile. The emotions just repeat themselves over and over again several times throughout the day. I never expected that. 

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

My first strength is that I always put my daughter’s needs above my own, even if that means not getting much sleep!

My second strength is that I always try to be very affectionate with my daughter so that she knows she is very loved. I love cuddling with her and stealing kisses from those little cheeks. 

My third strength is that I always try to care for my daughter in the best way that I can. I always try to research the best tips on baby care and always try to think of activities that help her with development. 

Describe a time you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

As a newborn, my baby had colic and she would cry all day and night. I thought something was wrong with her, but the pediatrician told us it was completely normal. After like a month of non-stop crying I just broke down. I remember sobbing in my rocking chair as I nursed her. I just felt like there was nothing I could do to calm her and I felt so guilty as a mother. Luckily, with time I learned some great tricks for soothing her and she began to cry less. She doesn’t really cry that much at all now. But, I really felt overwhelmed at that period of time. 

Is there anything you feel you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

I feel that I’ve lost some of my identity of who I was as a person. As a mother, I put my family’s needs above my own all the time and I don’t even think about myself. Sometimes I have to stop and ask myself, “What do YOU want?” I’m constantly thinking of my daughter and my husband. 

On the other hand, I’ve gained so much more. My daughter has completely changed my world for the better. Every day that I wake up and see her face, it’s like Christmas morning. She inspires me to be the best person that I can be.

What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

I want my daughter to learn to follow her dreams and believe in herself no matter what.

Mom of Fame – Naomi

Naomi is the epitome of a fun mom. She has two toddler aged boys and she’s always taking them somewhere or doing something exciting to keep them entertained. Because of this she decided to start a blog to give other moms ideas of things to do with their own kiddos. We were so excited that Naomi agreed to share some of her expertise with us, all the way from Canada!

She talks about why she loves being a stay at home mom, why moms just need to accept help and how she keeps her boys healthy. Please help us welcome her into the Mom of Fame and be sure to check out her blog at the link below!

Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

We are a family of four living in Ottawa; Canada’s capital city. My husband John, myself (Naomi), and our toddler boys, Jax aged 4 and Hudson aged 2. We certainly have our hands full with our boys who are so full of energy, they keep us busy all day long! I was a working mom, now turned stay at home mom, and I absolutely love it. I never thought I would be but I’m feeling so fortunate that I’m able to stay at home. My eldest, Jax, will start school this September and I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. I’m happy I got to spend all this time with him before he goes to school. Jax is a January baby so he will be one of the older kids in school and starts later which gives us more time together. Hudson too, being a February baby.

I started my blog in the summer of 2018. Since I had Jax in 2015, a friend of mine kept encouraging me to start a blog. I always shrugged it off, until more people started suggesting it since I was always out doing fun activities. Everyone said I might as well write about it and finally I thought, hey why not! I am truly enjoying it and have loved connecting with other mom bloggers all over North America.

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it?

Accept the help! People will naturally want to help, so take the frozen lasagna and accept the babysitting for a nap. Have your friend over who also went through a breastfeeding nightmare in the beginning. I listened a wee bit but I’m guilty of not accepting help. My neighbour and friend were wonderful in helping me with my breastfeeding challenges and I was able to breastfeed both children for the first year.  

Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

Absolutely, 110%. That’s what friends and family are for.

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

Honestly I don’t think I ever had any foresight into motherhood. I knew it would be harder than my childless life and it certainly is. You’re trying to keep your precious ones alive and thriving.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Firstly I like to think I’m a fun mom. We are always somewhere on the daily. Whether it be a play center, a museum, a pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, winter festival…you get the picture! I love being out and about, and they are always having so much fun so it makes me feel good to know they are getting the most out of life (even at an early age).

Keeping my kids healthy and active. I try my best to introduce them to new healthy foods and recipes regardless of resistance from one or both. We keep active with soccer, swimming, gymnastics and more. They have even started to exercise with me.

Last but not least I’m nurturing in general and to their personalities. I let them try different things to see what they’re excelling at and provide accordingly.

Describe a time you were completely overwhelmed as a mother?

Probably the early days of bringing a newborn home with a 2-year-old around. Trying to breastfeed with a toddler was chaos. Luckily, like anything else in life, we eventually found our groove.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since  becoming a mother? What have you gained?

I’ve gained everything and can’t imagine my life without my kids. What I have lost, is the ability to just leave and do whatever I want at any moment of time. The ability to just go to the mall and shop for three hours. It’s just not that easy with kids in tow. It’s amazing how errands without children feel now! It’s such a luxury and I’ve lost free time essentially, but doesn’t everyone when they have kids? At nap time it’s a decision between laundry, or forget it and just relax. One thing I know is that I will miss not having that free time when they are older and don’t want their mom during teenage years, or when then go to college or university should they choose that path.

What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

Empathy, respect and compassion. I pride myself on these qualities and as a mom, bullying worries me so much. All you can do is teach your kids life lessons and hope that they take it all in. You never know your child might be the bully and you must work with it. Kids can be cruel and it’s a scary world unfortunately.

I also want them to continue to learn safety rules because I truly believe you can never be too safe in this world. There are terrible people in our world and we have to try to keep our kids prepared and as safe as possible.

Working Mom Vs. Stay at Home Mom – Part Two

It’s one of the first questions people ask you when you announce your pregnancy – will you stay home or continue working? It’s a tough question and one that is not answered easily. It’s also one that other people are quick to judge you for.

So we’re here to break it down for you — is it better to be a stay at home mom or a working mom? Lisa told you her side of the story as a working mom and I’m here to tell you all about staying home.

Where are my other stay at home moms? What do you think? Did I forget anything!?

What are the pros and cons of being a stay at home mom?

The biggest pro of being a stay at home mom is obviously the amount of time I get to spend with Ryan. I get to see each of his milestones as he hits them and I get to experience everything he goes through each day (the good and the bad). No matter how many cons there are, this is what makes it all worth while every second of every day.

He likes to “help” me
with the laundry

Another pro is control. I am a control freak and because I’m staying home with him I get to control what he does each day; what he eats, when he naps, what activities we do. I worked at schools and daycares and I know they’re great but I would have a hard time giving up that control with my own child.

The biggest con is probably losing a little bit of myself. I worked hard to get where I was in my career and I really enjoyed what I did. It’s tough going from completing tasks at work that make you feel accomplished to making sure the laundry is done and the house is cleaned. I’m obviously thankful that I have time to do those things during the day but it gets a little old.

Another con is lack of adult interaction. I am home most of the day with a baby and two dogs, none of whom talk back to me (even though I think they do sometimes!) Having adult interaction is necessary to feeling sane. Luckily my friends are great about texting and calling and my husband is really good about encouraging me to go out with friends often to get my dose of adult conversation.

Have you been mom-shamed for being a stay at home mom?

Just like Lisa, I’ve mom-shamed myself. Whenever anyone asked what my plan was I would say, “I’m going to stay home for a year and then see what happens”. Our plan was to reassess after a year and see where we were financially and see how I liked it. Once Ryan was diagnosed with Down syndrome, though, it delayed my going back to work. I know I will go back eventually, it was just odd that I always felt the need to justify myself and my decision with “it’s only for a year”.

I don’t think I have ever been directly mom-shamed but I have had people say “I could never do that”, or “won’t you miss your job?”. People also said “are you sure you guys can afford that?” None of those are directly shaming but they have a certain undertone. Before I was pregnant I also heard people I know mom-shame other women for quitting their jobs and staying home, so I’m sure they have said the same about me.

Either way I think we all feel a little guilty and either way someone is going to disagree with your decision. My mom always taught me, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” so I think we should probably just stick to that if we don’t agree with the choice someone else made!

Was the this always the plan?

I honestly don’t know! When I was young and imagining having kids I always thought I would be a stay at home mom. Then once I started working I couldn’t imagine not working. Then once I got pregnant I couldn’t imagine leaving the baby. So my plan obviously changed often depending on what was going on in my life.

Ultimately my decision was easy to make, though, because the job I had was just not conducive to being a mom along with it. It’s pretty funny since the job I had was the director of a daycare! But the daycare didn’t accept babies and my boss was about the least understanding person I know. So I knew it made sense for me to quit and become a stay at home mom (but just for a year!)

Would you change things if you could?

I don’t think so. Although it seems like I had more cons to write about than pros I do love it. Once Ryan is old enough to go to preschool I would like to go back to work in some capacity. I still want to be able to go to school events and volunteer in the classroom so I would want something part time. 

I’ve watched the parents of my students and even my own friends and having both parents working full time looks very hard to me. I really admire those that are able to do it but I’m not sure that I would. Especially with Ryan’s therapies and extra doctor’s appointments I would definitely need something part time and/or very flexible.

Has it impacted your relationship with moms that are in the reverse role?

Not that I know of! I have very good friends who are working moms and very good friends who are stay at home moms and I have the same relationship with them as I always have. Like Lisa said, there might be jealousy sometimes. I sometimes envy my working mom friends when they’re going to the bathroom whenever they want and enjoying their coffee before it gets cold! 

I think since I worked in the field I am able to understand the working moms’ feelings a little better than other stay at home moms so that may help. Either way I respect all of my mom friends and support the choices they make!

Does this change your relationship with your significant other?

Maybe? I’ve never had a relationship with my significant other while being a working mom so I’m not really sure. I will say that the first year of parenthood is HARD. Everyone tells you that the first year of marriage is hard, but that was a cake walk for us. Adjusting to life with a new baby is was much more difficult for us, though.

Sure I get frustrated that all of the house work now falls on me, but I’m sure he also gets frustrated at work knowing that we are all depending on him. We made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom together and we both continue to think it’s the best decision for our family, whether it’s changed our relationship or not.

So what’s better? Staying at home or working?

I hope after reading both of our answers to all of these questions that you realize that neither is better. I don’t think any mom is perfectly happy in their choice to be a stay at home mom or a working mom. 

Like we said, there are pros and cons to each type of mom and every family has to make their decision based on what works best for them. So let’s give each other a break and support each other! Let’s momFAME instead of mom-shame.