{FAMILY} 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

{FAMILY} 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

Parenting: Who’s The Boss?

When I was a kid, if I fussed and complained about wanting something (or not wanting to do something), my whiny why’s were immediately put to an end when my mom replied with a finite “My saying so is reason enough!” (her version of the infamous “Because I said so”). When those words were uttered, that was it. I knew I wasn’t going to get my way – my mom had made a decision, and I honoured it.

Nowadays I am constantly witnessing parents who are addressing temper tantrums and disrespectful behaviours with coaxing negotiations, bribery and hugs, and I’m left to wonder – who’s the boss?

I’m not judging the parents who are using these tactics, I know all children are different. I’ve definitely learned through the years that what works with one child, certainly doesn’t mean that it’ll work with all children. When my firstborn acts up, a few stern words about expectations and unacceptable behaviours calm her down.  I explain why her words or actions are not acceptable, and she understands, learns from the experience, and moves on. But my second child, he’s a whole different story.

Tantrum

As I navigate through the challenging waters of parenting, I’m constantly coming across articles and blog posts on the detrimental effects of time outs, consequences, and discipline tactics. And while the idea of correcting the undesirable behaviours by using those moments to teach important life lessons seems ideal, those tactics simply don’t work with every child. If I were to address my son’s screaming and flailing tantrums with a calm discussion about appropriate ways to use his words and communicate his feelings, my words would be met with louder screams and more undesirable behaviours. I confess, I’m not always the boss – but how do I regain my parental control?

I read so much about what we shouldn’t be doing, but I have yet to find a definitive solution to the problem that can be applied to all children. And I know why: because there is no one definitive solution.

What works with one child, will not always work with another. As parents, we know our children best. We know what sets them off, and we do what we can to dissolve the difficult behaviours. If time outs are working for you, do it. If hugging it out calms your child down, hug away! If you’ve discovered a new groundbreaking way to get your children to listen to you – keep on keeping on! But I think the ultimate goal as we raise our little humans is to make it understood that they have to listen to us – that we as parents are the boss.

 

Kindergarten Orientation (Round 2)

Karma bit me in the ass when I took my son (my second born) to his Kindergarten orientation today.

In a haze of mom-ster arrogance, I had muttered to a friend that I hoped that my son wouldn’t be placed in a class full of first-time moms to school-aged kids. I poked fun at how hard it is the first time around for the children (and the moms) – how tears would be shed, and how I wanted to be grouped together with other “seasoned” parents who would opt to drop-and-go on day one of school.

Karma’s a bitch (and so was I).

I showed up with my coffee in hand (and baby in stroller), and strolled into the library with my head held high. I observed the new families in the room and reminisced about how nervous I had been when it was my first time. But I felt confident that this year would be easy breezy – I was just going through the motions. You know, for my son.

When the time came for the children to leave us in the library while they toured the Kindergarten classroom, disaster struck with a vengeance.

My son suddenly grasped onto my leg with a deathgrip and wailed “I don’t want to goooo” while my littlest simultaneously decided to wriggle and squeal in my arms. All of the other children – all newbies to the school scene, pleasantly obliged and walked hand-in-hand in pairs down the hallway. After several failed attempts at negotiations with my boy (including but not limited to: acts of bribery, stern commands, minor threats, loving coaxes and many many deep breaths), I followed the line of children – stroller, and wailing boy in tow.

As I stood by the door of the Kindergarten classroom, holding my distraught son in one arm and my overtired, cranky one-year-old in the other, I looked on as the other children sang along to songs, coloured pictures and enjoyed circle time.

I side-glanced to the outer perimeter of the classroom, where I noticed two teachers scribbling notes – observing each child and their reactions to this new environment. One of the teachers glanced in my direction, flashed a crooked, sympathetic smile at me, and scribbled some notes on her pad – presumably documenting my son’s behaviour.

I was officially that parent.

After about 20 minutes, I managed to sneak out of the room, leaving my son to his own devices. And of course, when they were finished (and the teacher observers had left), he met me with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes – grabbing me by the hand, eager to show me what he had done.

Today I learned that having three kids doesn’t make me more experienced as a parent. It doesn’t make mothering any harder (or easier) because each child and each experience is new and completely different.

When school officially starts in September, I will not judge the new moms. Instead, I hope to be just like them.

Kindergarten Orientation

Working Moms: Why The Labelling Needs To Stop

I recently came across this article proclaiming that “being a stay-at-home mother is not a job” and it caught my attention. Underneath the link, the Facebook feed was flooded with angry words from moms of all backgrounds, disgusted by the message behind the post, and horrified by comparisons such as this one:

“No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you’ll spend all your time and energy is a hobby. It is a time-consuming, sanity-deteriorating, life-altering hobby — a lot like a heroin addiction, but with more Thirty-One bags.” Source

And I get it, maybe comparing the choice to stay at home with your children to that of a heroin addiction is a little over the top, but I don’t think that was the point of the article.

I’ve stayed at home with my children, I’ve worked at a full-time in-office career, and I’m now working for my own business as a work-at-home mom. I’ve had hands-on experience as a mom who falls into each of these lifestyle choices, and I can honestly say that no “working mom” life is easier or more challenging than the others.

The truth is: being a mom is hard. Leaving your children in childcare to spend the day at a gruelling office job is a difficult decision and comes with many daily challenges. Deciding to stay at home with your little ones full time is a trying lifestyle and a true test of patience and stamina, and attempting to make a living by running a business at home with little ones at your feet is exhausting and challenging as well.

working mom

For some reason, society -and especially moms, get caught up in the terminology. Moms are categorized as SAHM (stay-at-home mom), WAHM (work-at-home mom), or career mom, as though having a specific “mom label” denotes a certain level of superiority or accomplishment. Statements are constantly made implying that one lifestyle is harder than another, and feelings get hurt when a mom who works outside of the home is referred to as a “working mom” (because being a SAHM mom is work too!).

But you guys, this is not a competition. This is life. We have all made our own decisions as to how to navigate through the journey of motherhood, and there are no right or wrong decisions. We are all doing the best that we can with what we’ve got and we need to stop being over-sensitive, competitive, and insecure about our decisions.

I don’t think that the author of the aforementioned article is trying to poke fun at the stay-at-home parenting lifestyle, I think she is just trying to dissolve the feelings of invalidation that many of the moms in her circle are experiencing – with perhaps a touch of sass. I think it’s ok to share our own perspectives because we are each having our own unique experience as ‘mom’. We should embrace each other’s perspectives, learn from each other’s stories, and support each other’s decisions. Because in the end, regardless of our employment status, we are all moms.

Stop the mom wars and start opening your minds to the possibility that we are all winners. Be happy in your own skin and don’t worry so much about the words of others – stop focusing on the labels.

 

The Irony Of Bees

I’m known by many as ‘Bee’. My blog is called ‘Bits of Bee’, and my business is called ‘Bee Communications‘. It’s no secret that  bees have become a big part of my personal and professional brand, and in many ways it’s quite suiting. But to be honest, amongst all of the bee references, I have a confession to make:

I’m actually terribly afraid of bees.

Like – screech and run with my arms flailing and my head spinning when I see a bee – kind of afraid.

But I think where the irony really comes in, is that while that little flying insect terrifies  the buzz out of me, it also serves as a great symbolic representation of two things that I am truly passionate about – my blog, and my business. Because sharing my personal stories on this publicly-accessible, un-erasable platform terrifies me. And starting my own business – forfeiting the comforts of a full-time, financially-secure career to follow my dreams – is one of the most terrifying things that I’ve ever done.

So to become more comfortable around my little personal branding sidekick, I thought I would make a list for myself of the things that I have in common with the fuzzy little buzzers that get my heart racing, in hopes of calming my nerves.

Here are 5 things that I have discovered that I have in common with bees:

1) Bees have 5 eyes. Ok well technically I only have 2, Beesbut I’ve been known to also have eyes on the back of my head. Just ask my kids!

2) Queen bees lay around 1,500 eggs per day. While I only have 3 kids, it can sometimes feel like I have 1,500, so I feel ya sistas.

3) Bees communicate through special bee dances. While their main form of communication is through chemical scents called pheromones, I love that they also have their own dance. Dance has always been a huge part of my life, and I think one of the most effective forms of communication!

4) Bees are visual learners. Bees are not born with the knowledge of how to make honey. Studies have shown that they learn from watching the  older, more experienced bees. I too am definitely a visual learner – having someone show me how to do something new is much more effective than having someone explain it to me without visual support.

5) Bees get very little to no sleep. Samesies. While some scientists have declared that bees do not sleep at all, researchers have found that bees sleep in short bursts – for only 30 seconds at a time on average. But because bees are known to be such hard workers, after only 3-6 weeks after they first take flight, bees literally die of exhaustion, working themselves to death. Sounds like the life of a mom if you ask me!

So there it is. I have no reason to fear my fellow flower-loving friends. We have more in common than I may have thought, and like the bee, I love what I do.

Bees

One Thing All Parents Should Stop Doing

I was strolling through the grocery store today when I passed a dad who was pushing his young daughter down the aisle in a shopping cart. When he passed me and our eyes met, he glanced down at his daughter and did something that I realized many of us parents do – he talked through his child. “Look how messy your hair is today,” he said to her while side-glancing my way, “how did it get so messy huh?”

He said this in a playful, high-pitched voice, as if to be joking with his little girl, but I knew his intention. I knew, because at that moment, I realized that this was something I had done too – often.

Now, I could very well be wrong, but I believe that this man was using his child as a conduit to pass along a message to listening adult ears – perhaps to justify the dishevelled appearance of his little girl (who by the way was totally adorable). I’ve done this often too – I’ve suddenly noticed that I’ve forgotten to brush my child’s hair, and when another adult looks in our direction, my parenting insecurities set in and I say something similar to my child.  “Oh honey, how did your hair get so messy? I guess we forgot to tie it up today, hey?” I’d say, hoping that by verbalizing it, my insecurities would disappear.

I’ve talked through my children in other ways too – and to be honest, I’m not sure why I do it. “What do you think your brother and sister are doing right now?” I’ll say to my eldest if we’re out alone and I feel as though adult ears are listening in. As if verbalizing aloud that I have 2 other children at home will automatically excuse my lack of makeup, sloppy attire and tired eyes. “Now, I’ll buy these Eggo waffles for you just this once honey, as a special treat.” I’ll say to my middle child at the grocery store. As if saying “just this once” out loud excuses my purchasing of an unhealthy, processed breakfast food.

And the worst way that I do this – talking through my children – is when I’m frustrated with my husband. I often do it as a way to passive aggressively express my disdain for something that he has done (or hasn’t done). “Ok honey,” (I’ll say in an elevated tone of voice) “mommy will help you with that in a moment, she just has to finish cleaning up the dishes in the kitchen, and grab the laundry from the dryer, and tidy up daddy’s mess on the table.” (cue stink eye in my husband’s direction as he slowly flips through the newspaper on the couch). And this passive aggression doesn’t go unnoticed. My husband isn’t an idiot – he knows what I’m doing, and let’s just say he’s not a fan.

So why do I do it? Because I don’t like to nag. I feel insecure sometimes as a parent. And I’m writing about this because I know that I’m not alone – I’ve seen lots of other parents do this too.

So my advice to myself and those of you who are also guilty of talking through your children is this: just stop. Passive aggression is unattractive. And onlookers probably don’t care that your kids have messy hair or that you’re wearing torn sweats. And if they do, so what? Be you. Be confident.  Be happy in the skin that you’re in.

Are you guilty of talking through your children?

Parents

– Mark Twain

5 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding

Nursing is a way to connect and bond with your baby – to nurture her and to provide her with the nutrients she needs while instilling in her a sense of comfort and security. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, I get it.

But I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not all shits and giggles (not for me anyways). In fact, there are some things that I loathe about my lovely lady lumps becoming milking teats for my ravenous baby.

1) Becoming “The Hunchback of Nursing Dame”.

I used to have the dainty posture of a ballerina. Yes, my many years of hunching over a computer keyboard may have contributed to my slightly-curved stature, but breastfeeding has advanced my stance to a full-on hunchback. It is simply impossible for me to bring breast to mouth without curving my back into the shape of a semicircle.

2) Hearing “Mommy Cloey’s crying, she needs you to milk her!” from my kids – on an hourly basis.

For some reason people who are holding, in close proximity to, or even aware of the presence of a nursing baby, feel the need to educate the mother on when that baby is hungry.

With the first squawk or crank of the neck it’s “ohhh she’s hungry..” or in the case of my kids, “she needs mommy to milk her.” Well guess what world: mommy cows always know when their calves need to be milked. The reality is, we either: a) have just fed baby and know it’s more likely a soiled diaper or a desire to be held in a new position, b) we are avoiding nursing because we don’t feel comfortable doing so in public (see #3 below), or c) we are trying to set a feeding schedule for our cluster-feeding offspring.

breastfeeding

3) Fear of showing my breast-ginas to the world.

I’m not an exhibitionist. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I still change in the private stalls at public pools, I feel awkward in tops with plunging necklines, and I even keep my bikini top on at topless beaches. Prude? No. Modest? Maybe.

I’m almost as uncomfortable with flashing my nips as I would be if I were flashing my va-jay-jay in a public place. I will go out of my way to hide my areolas from the world my friends.

4) Wearing a wardrobe based on boob accessibility.

I’ve finally pumped out that little life that has occupied my body for 9 months, I’ve lost most of the baby weight, and I’m finally ready to leave the confines of my home. Too bad I can’t wear anything because I’m nursing!

Maternity clothes no longer fit – the chest and belly fabric has been stretched thin, deforming every top and dress in my closet. I can’t wear my pre-baby clothes either because most of them don’t provide access to the boob. So I’m restricted to t-shirts and stretch pants. Sexy.

5) Wishing for an epic latch.

I don’t care what anyone else says, nursing hurts. I’m on my third baby and this fact has not changed. In the beginning, when baby has first arrived and is ravenously searching for her first sip of mommy’s nectar, it effing HURTS. Like curl-your-toes, squish-your-eyes-tightly-shut, clench-your-fists hurts. And while that initial pain eventually subsides, the fear of a bad latch will haunt you.  For me, the feeling of having a baby feed off my sensitive lady bits never feels soothing or enjoyable. I wince every time she opens her mouth and eagerly approaches my milk bag.

But despite all of the discomfort, I can say this: breastfeeding is worth it when your baby releases her suction, relaxes her clenched fists, and falls into a lovely milk coma like this:

breastfeeding

 

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of Play Dates

As I move through the weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been reminiscing about life with a baby and all that it entails. And through my walks down memory lane, I’ve realized something: Gone are the days when play dates were all about the moms.

I remember being a first-time mom with a newborn. The highlight of each week was my Wednesday play dates with my mommy group (also known as “newborns slept in a row in their car seats while we snacked, sipped wine and vented about our husbands and babies”). Back then, “play date” was code for “girl time”, and we made it a priority to keep them regularly – both to keep in touch, and to keep our sanity. Truth be told: they weren’t about the kids at all, they were more like play dates for moms.

Play Date

Umm mommy? Can I play too?

Now that my eldest child is in school, I’ve noticed a huge shift in the meaning of “play date”. It’s not longer about me and valuable time with my mommy friends. Now it’s about the kids, and they actually play together. And  I have to be honest with you, I’m a little jealous.

Today a play date means taking another child home with you after school. It means giving your child and their friend(s) some snacks, and leaving them to play while you sit and watch longingly from the sidelines. The moms no longer come along and hang out, drink wine and vent with you, because nowadays, “play dates” have become code for “time for your kids to hang out with their friends”, or sometimes, “free child care”.

I’m not complaining, I think play dates are great. But I miss that quality mom-on-mom time when play dates were used as an excuse to get together.

I know that the evolution of play dates hasn’t come to an end yet. As my kids grow older, they’ll go out with their friends, and I’ll be left to sit at home, waiting anxiously for their safe return. Eventually, I may not even know the friends, or even the friends’ moms for that matter.

With a new baby on the way, I look forward to returning to the old (and selfish) way of  hosting play dates. The ones that are all about the moms.

I guess one of the benefits to having another child is the delay in realizing that your kids will grow up, move on, and no longer need you in the same way.

 

 

Breaking The Chain Letter Chain, And Other Mom Fails

No one’s perfect.
I think every mom, no matter how perfect she may appear to be, questions herself in her role as “parent” every once in awhile. It’s the hardest job in the world, so we should feel completely confident in our decisions to take short cuts, to say no, or to give in every once in awhile.But sometimes I say no, or “forget” to do things, not because I’m a busy mom of two, but because I’m lazy. Simple as that. I don’t refer to these mishaps as dropped balls in my busy juggling act of life, I prefer to refer to them as mom fails. Here are some of my most recent mom blunders:

Mom Fail #1: Breaking the Chain Letter Chain. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has received those cute little chain letters in the mail, encouraging parents to photocopy forms, buy stickers, and send them along to friends with the reward of receiving several stickers in the mail for your kids. Cute idea in theory, but the reality is, to continue the chain, you have to photocopy (too lazy), go to the store and buy stickers (too lazy), and stamps (most likely another store visit), and mail them off to various friends (cue lazy pants with a side of apathy). Is it wrong that I’d rather just buy a batch of stickers for my kids and skip all of the other steps? Mom. Fail.

Mom Fail #2: Cutting Down The Crafty McCraftersons. I may poke fun at the crafty mamas who put extra effort into making picture-perfect lunches or creating monumental arts & crafts activities for their kids, but the truth is: I’m too lazy to do it myself. I do have the creative gene – when I was younger I loved nothing more than to create, craft and compile various art projects. But as a mama, I just don’t feel like making the effort. Is it wrong that I’d rather spend money at Michaels on a crafting kit for my kids and then set them up at a table while I catch up on my chores? Mom. Fail.

Mom Fail #3: Bouncing The Extracurriculars. I would love to be one of those moms who takes weekly yoga classes, volunteers for their kids’ soccer teams, and enrolls their kids in 3-4 activities a week – spending the majority of their afternoons shuttling the kids around like a chauffeur to keep them happily active and engaged. But I’m not. And I have no other excuse than sheer laziness. Is it wrong that I’m rarely active, and would rather enroll my daughter in one class, and wait until my son is older to start up the extracurriculars? Mom. Fail.

While I may fall short in some areas, I did manage to turn a mom fail into a mom win recently. I had put so much effort into potty training my toddler – coming up with reward systems, purchasing superhero-themed underpants and pullups, and begging encouraging my little guy to go on the potty – but nothing seemed to work. So you know what I did? I got lazy, threw my arms up in the air and gave up.

And you know what happened? That same week, he stopped pooping in his pullups and decided it was time to pull up his undies and go on the potty. And he hasn’t had an accident since (it’s been 2 months now). That’s one in the books for little miss lazy!

I admit there’s room for improvement, but no one’s perfect, right?