You Know You’re A WAHM When…

Browsing through my old blog posts, I came across this post, and I laughed a little to myself. I had written the post almost 5 years ago, when I was working in a full-time office job, with two young children in full-time daycare. I loved my work, but I missed my children, and struggled daily with my desire to find balance between work and family. When I was at home, my mind was on my work, and when I was at work, I just wanted to be at home with my kids. I was never fully present, and I knew I wanted to make a change.

My paycheques may be smaller, but moments like this make working from home totally worth it.

My paycheques may be smaller, but moments like this make working from home totally worth it.

Here I am half a decade later, and while I walk in very different shoes now, there are some struggles that remain the same. I’m doing work that is driven by my passion. I’ve found a way to spend more time with my children, and I have no regrets about the changes that I’ve made in my life. But there are days when I still question myself. Days when I wonder if I should be earning more, advancing my career, or spending more time keeping up with my neglected household chores. The truth is, no matter what you’re doing, the grass will always seem greener on the other side.

WAHM

When you’re a WAHM, your coworkers can be a bit of a distraction.

That being said, I feel like I’ve finally settled into this self-employment gig. I’ve developed a pretty reliable routine, a great roster of clients and ongoing writing work, and I’m happy – really happy with where I’m at. But as a WAHM (work-at-home mom), there are some things that are just unavoidable. If you are (or have been) a work-from-home parent, you may be able to relate to some of these.

You know you’re a WAHM when…

Your meetings are primarily by phone, and scheduled around nap times.

You spend many important phone calls walking in circles around your house, hiding in bathrooms with closed doors, or standing on your front porch, hoping the person on the other line can’t hear your crying/whining/screeching/chatty toddler.

It’s 2pm and you realize you haven’t eaten yet, so you stand in front of the open refrigerator, gnawing on a cold chicken leg while swiping through your unopened emails on your now-greasy phone.

You participate in Skype / Google Hangouts wearing professional-looking business attire on top – and no pants.

You take “switch the laundry over” breaks, instead of coffee breaks.

Mingling with coworkers means changing a poopy diaper while singing Humpty Dumpty, or picking up dog poop with one hand while trying to coax your furry companion to stay off the road.

You finally change out of your PJs at 2:45pm so that the parents at after-school pickup don’t know that you’ve spent the day in your flannels.

You accept important calls from a toddler who doesn’t realize that her phone is actually a TV remote…

WAHM

Hold on, I’ve gotta take this call…

What have I missed? Share your “you know you’re a WAHM when…” below!

Related Posts:

5 Things To Consider Before You Quit Your Day Job #WAHM

Working Moms: Why The Labelling Needs To Stop

How To Win At Working From Home

What To Expect: Leaving Your Toddler Overnight For The First Time

With my first child, it took me almost 3 years to warm up to the idea of leaving her overnight with my parents. Leaving my toddler overnight was a scary thing! I was afraid that she would experience separation anxiety – that she would reach towards me with her arms outstretched as tears streamed down her face, sobbing uncontrollably and begging for me to stay as I walked out the door.

I imagined that she wouldn’t sleep, crying for me throughout the night, calling out “mommy” to the dark and empty room in which she laid her head. I feared that she wouldn’t eat, hanging her head low as she wandered aimlessly through each day, convinced that I had abandoned her for good. And most of all, I worried that I wouldn’t survive the separation – that I would yearn for her day and night, and that the guilt of leaving her parentless for the weekend would forever damage her fragile little soul.

toddler overnight

 

They’ll be alright, I promise.

All of this of course was ridiculously untrue. When I finally did leave her, she waved happily goodbye and went on to play gleefully with her toys. While I was gone, she enjoyed new adventures with her grandparents, and when I returned, she was excited to see me – not broken, but possibly more whole as a result of our time apart.

With my third child, I’m more than confident in our overnight separations. Perhaps because I know that valuable time spent with my parents is almost as important to her well being as spending her time solely spent with her parents. Perhaps it’s because I know that having time away makes me a better parent, and that exposure to varying environments is important for early childhood development. She feels comfortable with our nights apart, as do I.

The one thing that might take awhile to accept…

But there’s one thing that sometimes comes with overnight separation that took me awhile to accept. When I returned from my time away, my children weren’t always excited to see me – at first. They would reach for my parents, rejecting my outstretched arms in favour of Nana and Papa. It wasn’t because they had grown to love my parents more than their own, or because they were traumatized by the experience of sleeping in a different place.

According to my Mama Dina, it’s natural and completely healthy for children to “punish” you for being away. While at first they may seem to reject your advances, they quickly learn that you come back. Which is a good thing. After a few experiences with being apart, they grow comfortable in their new environment, and confident that their parents will be back soon.

And the “punishments” will quickly pass, I promise.

How to make it easier?

I’ll leave you with some quick tips on how to make an overnight stay a little more comfortable for your toddler:

1) Make sure that you are leaving them with someone familiar. Leading up to the overnight stay, pay a few visits to the place where they will be staying and enjoy some time together in that new space. It’ll be easier to say goodbye if they feel comfortable where they’ll be.

2) Bring comfort toys. My youngest has a favourite stuffed bunny that she likes to sleep with, so I make sure to always pack it for her. I also include a photo of the family so she can see our faces regularly (my mom tapes it near the crib where she sleeps).

3) Let them hear your voice. If you aren’t able to call, leave a little voice recording for them to listen to – there’s nothing more comforting than the sound of a parent’s voice when feeling unsure of a new environment.

4) Prepare them for what to expect. Talk to your child about how long you’ll be gone and when you’ll return.

Good luck, and don’t fret, your little one will be just fine.

 

Thirty Seven

I woke up this morning, rubbed my eyes, and squinted at my reflection in the mirror.

I stared at the coils of grey hair that sprung out from the temples of my head, and the wrinkles mimicking footprints of crow’s feet in the snow, that decorated the outer creases of my eyes. I studied the thick dark lines that framed the corners of my downward-turned lips like bolded parentheses, and the shadows of sleep-deprivation that heavily contoured my dark brown eyes.

For a moment, I wondered: When did my face change? When did my smooth youthful glow become replaced with dark spots, wrinkles and shading? How had my outward appearance so quickly changed when inside I still felt twenty?

birthday

I can remember when my mom was my age. She persistently proclaimed that she felt younger than she looked. She shrugged off my eye rolls and demeaning comments about how old and uncool she was, confident in her youthful attitude and age-appropriate attire. “You’ll see..” she always said, “when you’re my age, you’ll feel so much younger than you are.”

And I get it now. I may be an old mom in the eyes of my school-aged children, but inside I feel like the twenty-year-old me (although perhaps a little more tired).

When I turned 33, I shared 33 random pieces of advice, and when I turned 35, I shared 10 things I would have liked to have done before I turned 36 (some of which I have yet to do!). So this year, on my 37th birthday, I thought I would keep with tradition and share another list with you – here are 10 ways to keep youthful (on the inside):

1) Spend some alone time.

2) Keep physically active.

3) Go play outside.

4) Learn how to say NO.

5) Find something that completely relaxes you, and do it regularly.

6) Indulge in the things you love.

7) Laugh, A LOT.

8) Eat, A LOT.

9) Surround yourself with your tribe of people.

10) Unplug, lift your head, and enjoy the gift of life.

Hoping to tick each of these boxes as I celebrate my birthday today, and I hope that you will too!

 

 

 

The Benefits of Saying “No”

For many parents like myself, hearing the word “No!” is like hearing a small child drop an F-Bomb in a public place. It’s cringe-worthy. We teach our children to say “yes mom” or “yes dad”, and to only respond with a “no” when something harmful or unpleasant occurs. Perhaps this is why the negative response has such negative connotations (besides the obvious).

I was walking through a local market with my children recently, and as we walked past the bakery, my children began to chime in unison, “Please, mom, PLEASE can we have a cookie!?” I cooly responded with a “no kids, not today” and we continued on our way. As we passed the bakery, the man behind the counter exclaimed, “Wow, well done! You said no and your kids didn’t make a big deal of it. I rarely see parents say no to their kids these days.”

At first the comment surprised me. It seemed like a no-brainer – saying no to treats is a common occurrence in our family (although we definitely balance our restrictions when it’s acceptable to indulge on sugary treats).

As a self-employed business owner, I’ve also had a hard time with saying no. The unpredictability of contract work can be daunting, making it easy to accept every opportunity that comes my way. But I’ve quickly learned that saying yes to everything doesn’t always result in a positive outcome. I soon realized that overloading my plate would actually have negative results. Here are some of the reasons why saying “no” can actually be a good thing:

1) More time. If you reduce your yes’s and only accept tasks that you are sure you can manage, it will be easier for you to balance your busy schedule – and even set a little time aside for YOU!

2) Take charge. Saying no to your children teaches them balance, and keeps them well-adjusted. It is important for them to learn that they can’t have everything they want. Sometimes the answer will be “no” and that’s ok.

3) Do what’s best for YOU. Saying no to plans with friends, potential clients, or playdates for your kids can be tough. But being honest will lead to happier choices, and ultimately lead to a happier you. If you don’t think you can handle the extra workload, or night out, or kids at your house, it’s better to just say no than to commit to something that you really don’t want to do.

Saying no to your children can be a teaching moment – an opportunity to learn about responsibility and how to deal with disappointment. It can free up some time for the things that you really want to do, and can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with being a parent.

saying no

Take Care Of You

For that past two weeks I’ve been wholly consumed by the dizzying chaos of back to school and back to work. My days have been jam packed with onboarding new clients, attending conferences, workshops, and networking events, taxiing the kids to and from soccer practices and dance classes, catching up on neglected housework, and keeping my toddler entertained amidst it all.

All the while I have been fighting what I had assumed to be the inevitable back-to-school bug – resisting submission to my body’s cries for rest. Loading myself up with nasal spray and Tylenol so that I could get through the day without an overabundance of hack attacks and nose-honking blows.

In the back of my mind I knew that my body needed attention – that I wasn’t my full self, but I shook off those feelings and kept my focus on my kids. Making sure that their needs were being met. Making sure my work was up to par.

When I realized that I was feeling more and more physically depleted, the thought crossed my mind to pop into a clinic to make sure that I didn’t have an infectious bug – you know, so I could make sure my kids didn’t catch whatever it was that was bringing me down.

It took me 3 days to actually make that visit, and when I did, the doctor was not too pleased with me.


 

“In the back of my mind I knew that my body needed attention – that I wasn’t my full self, but I    shook off those feelings and kept my focus on my kids.”


 

I hurriedly told her that I had had a cold for about 2 weeks, and that it was likely nothing but that I had a nagging cough and aching/rattling in my chest that just wouldn’t subside, and I wanted to just double check that it wasn’t anything that I could pass on to my three kids. When she gave my chest a listen, she shook her head and said “Oh honey, you are so sick. You were definitely right to come in – you should have come in a lot sooner.”

She said that I had an abundance of fluid in my lungs – that it was definitely pneumonia, and that if I had waited much longer I would have ended up in a hospital bed. She shook her head and told me that as a mom, I should be taking better care of myself – that putting my own needs aside could be worse for my kids in the long run.

She sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics, and 2 different puffers to help settle the swelling and fluid build up in my lungs.

I left feeling a bit ashamed. I’m always writing about how important it is to take time out for yourself. Preaching about how moms need to be a bit more selfish. And there I was, being gently reprimanded by a doctor (and fellow mom) for doing exactly the opposite of that.

I’ve been told to rest, and this weekend I plan on doing just that. And while it is impossible to completely toss aside the daily responsibilities of a self-employed career mom of three kids, I’m going to do my best to take the doctor’s (and my own advice) to heart – and you should too. Take Care Of You.

take care of you quote

What Makes A Mom

This year I had the opportunity to work on the fourth annual Leading Moms event – a day full of inspiring talks from extraordinary moms. As always, the speaker lineup was filled with an array of  diverse women, all invited to share their stories and experiences with an engaged audience. Every year, whether I’ve attended as a guest or as a member of the event organizing team, I’ve always left the event feeling connected and inspired, and I’m sure this year’s event did not disappoint.

While I was unable to attend the actual event this year, there were some negative comments shared on the event’s site that left a bad taste in my mouth, so I wanted to share my thoughts.

One of this year’s speakers was Morgane Oger, a transgender activist, leader in social change, and mom of two young children. Some commenters questioned her validity as a “mom” and challenged the Leading Moms event team on the choice to include a trans mom on the panel of speakers. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion – if they don’t like the choice of speakers, they are not obliged to attend the event.

Haters gonna hate.

When the speaker lineup was first revealed, the thought that Morgane was a trans mom didn’t even cross my mind. My only thought was that I was excited to hear her story, to learn more about her perspective as a mom and the experiences, struggles and successes she had faced on her journey towards motherhood.

I can understand the fear of the unknown. I know that not everyone is inclusive, and that some people feel the need to express themselves when they are strongly opposed to another person’s opinions and perspectives. But what I will never understand, is the need to attack another person’s personal choices – choices that in no way affect their own lives – in a way that is so hurtful, and on a platform that is so public.

Many poisonous words were slung on the topic of trans moms, but what bothered me most about the backlash was the argument that the only thing that makes a person a mother is the ability to physically give birth to a child. As an adoptee, this comment hit me on a personal level.

In my eyes, it is not only the hours that it took to push a baby into the world that makes a person a mother, but the hours – days – years – lifetime – afterwards that earns the title of ‘mom’.

There are so many babies who are brought into this world by women who did not intend to become mothers. And if those children were as fortunate as I was, they were connected with people who devoted their lives – their hearts to those children. People who committed to nurturing those children, loving those children, and providing for those children unconditionally. And those people are equally as deserving of the title of ‘mom’, or ‘dad’, or ‘parent’.

Not everyone can have babies naturally. And not all people can love and care for a child naturally either.

A person can become a mom biologically, or emotionally – how that mom came to be is not what matters. What matters most is that the child who calls that person “mom” knows that they are loved.

A lifetime commitment to loving a child unconditionally – that is what truly makes a mom.

 

 

 

How I Got My Groove Back After Baby

Bringing a new baby into the world can be a beautiful, life-changing, monumental occasion – whether it’s the first, or the third time around. But the thing about having a baby is that it can also be all-consuming. Recovery from childbirth, adjusting to new routines, and surviving an insurmountable lack of sleep amongst the chaos that comes with caring for a new little human being can be overwhelming.

Your life gets turned upside down, and before you know it, a year has flashed before your eyes and you feel like you have nothing to show for it but the bags under your eyes and the remnant mama’s bits of what used to be your slammin’ bod.

But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and for me, that dim little shimmer of light that sat so far in the distance has finally come to fruition, and I’m ready to let that bright light shine.

working mom

With my previous children, I had always had the comfort of  job security when I was ready to return to work. But the third time around was different for me because I chose to work for myself. I didn’t know if the work would come when I was ready to work, and that terrified me.

Because of my fear of the unknown, I didn’t really ever stop working when baby #3 arrived. From the week she was born I was working on side projects, attending networking events and submitting proposals, eager to develop a small roster of potential clientele for when I was ready to dive back into the working world.

All the while, I didn’t let myself stress too much about what the future might or might not bring. I made sure to take time out to enjoy the little things – like the week I spent with my family soaking up this amazing view, completely unplugged.

working mom

But probably the most important thing that I did to get myself out of the post-newborn funk – my secret sauce to getting my groove back, was taking some time out for myself – to remind myself of who I am (and have always been) on the inside. To remember that I’m more than “just a mom”.

And as I explored my interests, took some time to reflect, and allowed myself to live a little outside of my comfort zone, opportunities began to unfold around me, and my dreams began to become my reality.

I’ve just returned to my adult ballet classes (after over a year and a half off). I’m still writing my newspaper column (one of my life-long dreams), and have recently completed some other pieces for print publications, and I’ve taken on some fantastic new clients through my business.

I feel like I’m back to being me – being BEE. I’ve finally got my groove back.

View post on imgur.com

First Day of Kindergarten (Round 2)

No matter how hard I try, it’s simply impossible for me not to compare my second child’s first experiences with those of my firstborn. Because when you experience something brand new for the first time – especially those bittersweet monumental childhood milestones – the memories of those very first experiences stick with you. They tuck themselves in your back pocket like little reminder notes, and you just can’t toss them away.

But that doesn’t mean that experiencing those moments with the children that follow are any less significant, or anything the same. My second born and only son started Kindergarten today, and it was equally as monumental, emotional and memorable a milestone as when his sister took the leap into the world of school-aged childhood.

I was just as nervous as I was for Emma’s first day of Kindergarten. I couldn’t sleep the night before – tossing and turning, my mind racing with worrisome thoughts of how his first day would go.

After his less-than-successful Kindergarten orientation, I feared the worst. I prepared myself for tears and persuasive talks and sideways glances from the unfamiliar faces of new parents. I imagined holding my youngest under my arm – kicking and screaming – while I attempted to coax my little guy into his new classroom.

I had countless talks with my son about his first day. I walked him through the steps of how his first day would go, led him through the school on practice visits, and even promised a treat if the day went well.

And you know what? He nailed it.

Kindergarten

My little guy walked right into the classroom, gave me a confident wave goodbye, and sat right down on the mat as directed by his new teacher. He watched intently as she read him a story, and a wide grin spread across his face. I was so proud of him that tears welled up in my eyes. My sweet little boy had done it. He had willingly and enthusiastically stepped across the threshold between nervous little child to confident big boy Kindergartener, and my heart was full.

Two down, one to go…

 

 

In My Daughter’s Shoes

I have vivid memories of what it was like to be 8. I can still remember how it felt to curl my tongue into the gaps of my missing teeth. I remember suddenly feeling butterflies in the pit of my stomach while talking to a boy in my class that I had known for years, unsure of why I was having those funny feelings. I remember feeling self-conscious about my knobby knees, and I can still remember conversations that I had with my best friend.

My oldest daughter is now 8, and I can’t believe that I’m the parent of an 8 year old. Now that she’s at an age that I can remember, parenting somehow feels a bit different to me. My daughter is developing her own personality, experiencing feelings and emotions that I can remember feeling, and I feel more confident as a mother – because I once walked in my daughter’s shoes.

Sure her experiences as an 8-year-old are different than mine were, but I’m hoping that I can help her to navigate through the confusing, exciting, overwhelming, challenging waters as she transitions from child to tween.

mother daughter

The challenge though, is that as she matures, I feel as though my status as “mom” in her eyes is maturing as well. I feel like I’m slowly moving from mom-with-an-enthusiastic-exclamation-mark, to mom-with-a-sarcastic-eye-roll, and I know that it’ll only get more difficult as she moves towards her teen years.

I can still remember suddenly feeling a tinge of embarrassment when my mom kissed me goodbye in front of my friends at school. I can remember rolling my eyes when my mom interrupted my friends and I during a play date, and I can remember crying in my pillow, convinced that my mom was ruining my life because I couldn’t watch TV until my homework was complete.

But I also remember feeling confused about my feelings towards my mom. I remember feeling guilty when I pulled away as she leaned in to give me a kiss, or rolled my eyes, not completely understanding why I was suddenly being so mean to the woman who I looked up to the most. I was suddenly annoyed by my hero – my best friend, and I didn’t understand why.

I’m learning that it’s important to give my daughter the space that she needs to mature. I need to be more conscious of how I speak to her and act around her in the presence of her friends, and most importantly, I’m realizing that it’s more important now than ever to establish a trusting relationship with her that goes beyond the because-I-told-you-so status of mom.

I’m doing my best to teach her that it’s alright to be honest with me about her feelings, even if it means that mine might get hurt. I hope that I’m doing it right, and that I don’t forget that I was once in her shoes, and that my mother was once in mine.

6 Things I Learned From Taking My Daughter To Her First Concert

6 months ago, I bit the bullet and emptied my bank account on a pair of floor seats to Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour concert – a gift I was going to give to my daughter for her 8th birthday.

I was nervous, unsure if she was too young for a stadium concert – and especially worried that floor seats would be too overwhelming for her first concert experience, but I knew that Taylor Swift would be a positive role model for my little girl and felt confident that the content of the show would be suitable for a young audience.

After a months-long countdown, the big day arrived, and my girl was ecstatic. She picked out her outfit (cutoff shorts, a cute top, a sparkly necklace, black ankle boots, and hair chalk to accent her cute little bob).

first concert

I was going to wear a pair of cute heeled boots or summery wedge sandals, but then I realized that my choice in footwear could either make or break the evening.

I’m so relieved that I opted for comfort because I wouldn’t have survived the night otherwise! We did a lot of walking, standing in line ups (oh the lines!), and on several occasions I was carrying my almost 50lb baby girl in my arms as we danced and swayed to the music.

Flats saved the day for this mama!

TIP #1: When taking young children to a concert, be sure to dress comfortably.

We left the house almost 3 hours before the scheduled start time, to allow for ample time to find parking (the sold-out concert crowd of 50,000 people, plus a few other high-attendance events scheduled in the same downtown neighbourhood meant a carefully-planned driving route was mandatory).

Once we parked, we strolled to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed a relaxing pre-concert dinner. This gave us time to chat, allowing me to prepare her for what to expect at her first concert – the opening bands, the waiting, the line ups, the encore, the standing and screaming and the overwhelm of being amidst such a large crowd.

After dinner, we sauntered over to the stadium and entered the building with plenty of time to find our way to our seats.

TIP #2: Plan out your route, and arrive as early as possible.

first concert

Arriving early gave us time to scope out the t-shirt stands, closest washrooms, and to find our seats before the large crowds poured in through the doors.

I was especially concerned about selecting floor seats for the concert, but when we arrived and found our seats, I was so pleasantly surprised. The floor seats were carefully spaced out in allocated sections, and our seats were located in the front of our section (which meant lots of leg room and easy in-and-out access for bathroom breaks!).

TIP #3: When selecting your seats, opt for easy-access (even if it means spending a bit more money).

We waited until the opening act started to play before we hit the t-shirt lineup, and we stopped in for one last bathroom break just before Taylor Swift was scheduled to hit the stage.

And then the big moment arrived.

The look on my daughter’s face when Taylor Swift appeared on stage was one that I will never forget. Wide eyed, grinning from ear to ear, and screaming at the top of her lungs, my daughter leapt into her first concert experience like a rockstar, and I soaked up every moment of her excitement.

TIP #4: Take lots of pictures!

first concert

 

first concert

first concert

TIP #5: Buy the t-shirt.

The line ups were unbearably long, and the prices were outrageous, but buying the t-shirt (or any other keepsake to commemorate the occasion) is totally worth it. Her first concert was the perfect excuse to indulge – a special drink at dinner, a commemorative t-shirt, and a very, very late bedtime – it was definitely worth breaking the rules (and the bank!) to make the night a little extra special.

As the concert came to a close, my little girl wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed me tightly. I knew it was her way of thanking me for the best night of her life, and I took it all in as we danced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” hand-in-hand.

TIP #6: Leave early. 

There’s always a bit of a drawn-out finale, and that’s the best time to make your exit before the crowds become unbearable. As Taylor Swift slowly strutted herself off the stage and the crowds roared, we rushed out of the building, beating the gaggle of fans who would quickly follow suit.

It was an expensive and exhausting night, but worth every penny and sore muscle. My daughter and I made memories that will last infinitely longer than our cracking voices and throbbing feet, and bonded over a mutual love for dancing and music that will hopefully carry us through many more concerts in the future.