“In The Trenches”

We have all been there – that moment where nothing seems to be going right or as planned. That moment you are running out the door and everything happens at once – one child poops their pants; one kid pours everything out of the diaper bag; the dogs run into the yard because one kid opened the door; you lose your keys in the midst of repacking the diaper bag (only to find you actually put them in the diaper bag); you get everyone loaded into the car; you run back into the house to grab a sippy cup and the favorite toy of the week; you finally get the dogs back inside; a child unlocks their carseat; you get everyone re-strapped into their seats; you start the vehicle and realize … I’M ALREADY EXHAUSTED AND I HAVEN’T LEFT THE DRIVEWAY?!

Throughout life as a mom, there are challenging phases with children – I like to refer to these as “in the trenches”. Most moms and parents can appreciate this comparison and being “in the trenches” can sometimes feel like a lonely, never-ending phase.

Like when your little one is a baby – you are running on zero sleep and can’t remember the last time you took a real shower or slept for longer than 3 hours at a time. Or when your toddler is screaming at the top of their lungs because they can’t communicate and you clearly didn’t give them the right dinner. How about those Pre-K years when all the kids do is bicker over who gets to play with Elsa or they scream when you refuse to buy them strategically placed candy in the checkout aisle. Or the dreaded teenage years where there’s a 90% chance your child will hate you at some point if not all the time.

IN THE TRENCHES!

Ever been to the grocery store with 3 small children? I tend to wear workout clothes because I know taking my small army of strong willed children to the store does not usually teeter in my favor. One usually begs for that princess cup in the breakfast aisle; another is trying to climb out of the cart; while the other isn’t able to comprehend you have to buy the food before you eat it. By the end of the shopping trip (after the epic battle to get out of the driveway), I usually look slightly disheveled and understandably frazzled. Occasionally another shopper will smile and say “you have your hands full.” But there are also moments when moms gently smile and say something like “Oh honey, you’re going to make it. It’s just tough right now but I promise you will get through this. You’re doing a great job!”

Those women get it; they’ve been in the trenches at one time or another, raising babies, surviving the chaos and sleeplessness that is the very definition of motherhood. I am so thankful for these no judgment women, who even though are strangers, can relate to public survival with children.

Inevitably I am told moms do survive what I can only describe with a war term. During life in the trenches with our children we create those memories we will “laugh at someday” – but in the moment you just aren’t sure if you will make it. Someday you will be able to get out of the driveway without feeling like you are competing in an Olympic decathlon. Better yet, you will be able to go to the grocery store without having to explain to your child why you aren’t buying all the boxes of princess gummies. And when you do feel alone, trust me, you never will be – other moms are fighting the good fight right next to you. We are all muddy wishing for a long, uninterrupted shower!

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The New Version of the Old Me

Life before becoming a mom is mostly about you. You choose what sounds good to eat; you decide where to work; you use your free time for you; you go to bed when you want – basically your choices to the core are about you and decided based on your benefit.

Before I had babies (“BB” as I like to time stamp it), there was a very specific version of me. Looking back I like that version of me – career woman; workout guru; organization freak – you name it, I was able to live up to my own perfectionist standards. I repeat, I like that version of me.

5 years and three babies later, like most moms, I constantly battle to find the new version of the old me.

In modern society, women have an even bigger responsibly than our predecessors – get an education, find a job, make that money, marry some guy, birth some babies, raise the kids … The list goes on and on. Why are women so torn between being a mom and being a career woman? Why does society praise women who work full time and tsk at those who are “just a mom”? Every mom knows the double edged sword I’m referring to; When you are at work, you feel guilty and think about your kids – when you are at home, you feel worthless and think about working. The majority of women know this internal battle all too well. In order to feel comfortable in our new skin, us moms can help each other by recognizing no matter what our job title, we are and can be enough in whatever role we decide.

Most people have some kind of hobby; mine vainly enough was working out. A hobby for anyone is a way to escape normal life while diving into a personal passion. Before becoming pregnant, my hobby helped me cope with the everyday stresses of work and life. But after becoming a mom, there tends to be a confusing, heart tugging dilemma that makes a mom feel guilty while doing anything for herself. How do we incorporate our old hobbies with the new challenges of motherhood?

Before babies came along my house was very clean and I was organized to the nines. Most days now I put the blinders on and try to keep my own head above water while constantly attending to my children’s needs. My husband recently inquired as to the whereabouts of his once organized wife. For some moms, the opposite holds true – motherhood has blessed you with a keen ability to never forget the diaper bag and properly place toys in appropriate designated bins – Bravo! But how do the rest of us cope with the clutter conundrums children bring to create organized order?

The real mystery to the big picture is: How do we create the new version of the old us?

If I had a firm answer this is where I would put it. But the encouraging thought is a mom (and parent) can decide who they want to be at any time!

A mom’s employment status is an individual family decision and every mom ultimately chooses to work or stay home; the good news, lots of moms work and raise functioning children; the great news, most moms struggle with career decisions whether they decide to work or stay home. Us moms are all in the same boat, trying to do what is best for our children while battling our own swords to conquer inner voices that chatter “you aren’t good enough”. Guess what – we are great enough!

You can wake up tomorrow and decide to plunge back into your hobby that previously left you inspired. You can choose! But be ready … When that little voice tries to convince you moms don’t deserve a few minutes for themselves, push back because Lord knows us moms especially need it!

Most days I have that moment where I miss the old me. I was a professional, fitness, OCD woman. I like to think I had it all together. But the old version of me was always chasing something, running after accomplishments to fill a weird, at the time, unexplainable void. I’ve recently realized why I can’t be the exact old me (minus the fact I have three small humans who need me) – I am no longer chasing an invisible goal. My children unexpectedly became the missing piece to my life puzzle, a goal I never realized I had.

Like most moms, I have constantly strived to become the new version of the old me. Motherhood can be confusing and gut wrenching most days, and us Moms are constantly battling ourselves to find common ground through puke, tantrums, and giggles.

I like the old version of me, but I’ve grown to love this new version. Becoming a mom unexpectedly gave me a richer life with a full heart that constantly beats for my children and doesn’t feel like I have to chase invisible dreams. My children have become the only inspiration the new version of the old me needs.

DIY Nursing Bra

(Disclaimer … You don’t have to breast feed to be a good mom!)

My biggest fear before giving birth to my first child was breast feeding – how the heck was I going to do it? Would I make enough? What if I hated it? I didn’t realize how completely exhausting and physically uncomfortable I would be 24 hours a day.

I asked my husband the other day if he would rather give birth or breast feed a baby – he quickly responded, “Birth. I would definitely give birth.” Keep in mind he has been there every step of the way with each of our three babies, one of which was delivered without pain meds (due to labor being only 40 minutes). A man who has seen it all, chose birth over breastfeeding!

Nonetheless, I made a whole hearted effort to breastfeed/pump with each of baby. And by the third go around, I absolutely despised my nursing bras and tanktops!! They were so uncomfortable and looked ridiculous under all my clothes. I could never seem to find anything that cooperated with the expanding and “deflating” joys of breastfeeding; and I was not about to spend $50 on a bra I wouldn’t make a staple in my future wardrobe.

So I set off on a mission to make my own perfect nursing bra and here’s how I did it.

First, I decided sports bras are the most comfortable thing in the world (for me) because of their elasticity and ability to hold the cannons in place while they get bigger and then suddenly smaller. If you are making your own nursing bra, decide what kind of “regular” bra you like best before you go and buy! I then went to my favorite place on Earth, TJ MAXX, and found a great deal on an amazing sports bra. (The pads in it were removable!)

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The reason I liked this one so much is because of the clips!

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The next thing I did was rip the seam out of the bra where the front clip was attached. I do not own a seam ripper (sewing might be my next Everest) so I used the itty-bitty scissors from my manicure set.

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I then took one of my old nursing bras I hated (and wore once) and used my trusty manicure scissors again to remove the nursing bra snap clip.

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I attached the nursing snap clip onto my new “nursing bra”

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Even though I’m not a sewing pro, I used some heavy duty thread and of course a needle to attach the snap-clip in the very same spot where I removed the sports bra’s original clip. I even trimmed the original rough looking seam a tad.

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Here’s my finished DIY nursing bra!

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Don’t be intimidated if you can’t sew! This DIY nursing bra is so easy (coming from a non sewer) not to mention it is super affordable, durable, and COMFORTABLE!!

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You can also use this method with regular bras and tanktops.
**I recommend getting fitted for nursing bras when you are around 8 months pregnant!**

Mom-ing on a budget

What would you do if you had an endless amount of money to spend? Buy clothes? Pay off bills? Build a house? Purchase a new car? Go on a trip? Purchase everything at TJ Maxx Homegoods? 

Unfortunately even us Mogul Moms are on a strict budget.  Once you have a baby, all of a sudden, you feel like you don’t need to buy those saucy heels or the latest designer jeans.  Life changes to Mom-ing on a Budget.  BK (before kids) I would’ve bought a new dress for an event – now I frequently pull a Kate Middleton and recycle dresses from my closet (thank you Kate for making thrifty fashionable!).

Here’s a few ways I’ve managed to stay fashionable on a strict budget:

  • Consignment Stores – my first trip to the local consignment store I took 3 totes of clothes. A couple months later my husband and I were greeters for A Rosie Place’s black tie charity gala and I desperately needed a new dress (breast feeding left me with nothing!). I stopped in at the consignment store to check my account and I sold $59 worth of clothes! I looked around and WAH-LAH … found the perfect dress and it was only $33. With the balance in my account I didn’t have to spend a dime and I found a great pair of designer jeans for $20.
  • TJ Maxx – normally TJ Maxx has incredible deals! But if you go at the end of the season you will find great red tag and yellow tag clearance deals.  I found my favorite pair of Via Spiga heels for only $15 on yellow tag, end of the season clearance. Warning: You will have to dig for deals!  But trust me it is more than worth it! I usually buy stuff a year in advance then store it with my seasonal clothes (its like a present when open each tote). My favorite times to go are mid January and early September.  You can also find great deals on clothes for the kiddos especially on socks and toys.
  • Target Clearance Racks –  Ever shopped for clothes at Target? If you haven’t get over to the clearance racks! They have well made, stylish clothes for amazing prices! You can find a lot of wardrobe staples here – undershirts, tank tops, etc. Target also has a REDcard that is linked to your debit account and acts as a debit card. Each time you use your REDcard on any purchase you get 5% off and on special days 10% off! No credit check is required.
  • Kohl’s Clearance – Thank you Kohls’ for stepping up your fashion game in the past 10 years! If you dig through the clearance racks, you can usually find buried treasures.  I found adorable sun dresses for $10 and even found a gorgeous black formal dress for $8.  Sometimes when you get to the checkout line they are cheaper than the price tag says! Caution: always try on and check over each garment with an eagle eye; sometimes items are on clearance because they have a rip, stain, or the seams are crooked.
  • Forever 21 – I found my favorite black pants at Forever 21, but have had to replace the button on them 3 times.  If you are looking to find a trendy item, Forever 21 is the place to go.  You can even find amazing blazers and jackets that are perfect for work. You won’t have to spend a lot of money and their clothes are always on trend (I bought a lot of my “maternity clothes” here). They even have sale racks now!  Keep in mind that sometimes you get what you pay for and if you are looking for a long lasting durable piece, you might want to go elsewhere. Words of advice: Always try on before purchasing!
  • Macy’s Clearance – Always shop at the end of the season! You can find great deals on name brands, especially on dresses. I usually find serious staple pieces (black blazers and suits) for my wardrobe at Macy’s because the clothes I’ve purchased from here have always lasted longer. I tend to look at my pieces from Macy’s as “investments”.  To me a $25 Black INC Jacket on clearance was an investment.

Disclaimer: My husband and I do not use the store credit cards. They can be good in theory to get better deals but only use them if you can pay them off RIGHT AWAY! Set a budget for yourself before you leave the house and try your best to not go over!  The goal is to not ruin your credit or break the bank trying to be a thrifty fashionista.