Advice Column: Response to Wish I was a Stay at Home Mom

How can you get over having to be a working mom/breadwinner when all you really want is to be a Stay at Home Mom?

Sincerely,

Wish I was a stay at home mom

 

 

Dear Wish,

As mothers, we do what is right for our kids. I’m currently a working mom myself, and it can feel absolutely heart wrenching to drop my sweet boy off at daycare. But for our family, it is what is right for us and (at least for the time being) it’s what needs to happen.

The first step to coming to terms with your situation is to make the time you have with your children high quality. That means different things to different families, but make the most of the time you have with your kids. Whether it’s playing games, cuddling and talking, or going to the zoo, figure out what it is for you and your children, and make it a regular part of your routine.

If you aren’t sure where to start to make your time with your children more quality, here are a few miscellaneous tips to making the time with your children more quality:

Don’t feel bad about saying no to things that will limit your time with your kids.  Limit screen time for everyone, yourself included. Most importantly, make a meaningful connection with each of your children each day. It doesn’t need to be a daily drawn out heart to heart, but make sure you connect on some level.

Find a childcare arrangement you are happy with. If you are absolutely content and comfortable with the set up, you will feel less regretful about your time away from them. Keep in mind that no one is as good for your kids as you, but you can still find quality care that your children enjoy.

Know what you are working for. If you remember everyday at your job that you are working to clothe and feed your children, to pay the rent, and to keep the lights on, it will give you purpose. There is a reason you are spending time away from your children.

If after all of this you are still finding yourself feeling regretful, you have a few steps to consider. I don’t know your specific situation, so I will lay out a few different scenarios and some options you have. If you are in a relationship or married, talk to your significant other. Make sure they are aware of your feelings. See if there is budgeting that can be done, cuts you can make to spending, or if you can possibly work less hours. See if you can do some of your work from home. Look into the possibility of longer shifts, to free up more hours at a time. Depending on your discipline, look into some possible work from home opportunities (but be very wary of scams). If you are a single mom, see if there is budgeting that you can do to be able to scale back on hours, and consider the above options that are applicable to you.

Good luck in finding an arrangement that works for you and your family, something that you feel at peace with.

Hailey

 

Do you have a question of your own? Head over here and submit it! 

Posted in Q&A

Advice Column: Will My Anxiety Return After Pregnancy?

Dear Hailey,

If you had anxiety and depression prior to getting pregnant and breastfeeding and then those things went away with the hormone changes from pregnancy and breastfeeding, are you destined to get back all of the yucky feelings when you wean and your hormones go back to ‘normal’? How does one keep that from happening?

Sincerely,

Concerned

 

Dear Concerned,

Hormones and pregnancy are very unpredictable. Some women find their hair is a different texture or color after pregnancy. I myself had adult acne that cleared up during pregnancy and never returned even after we weaned from breast feeding. And many women experience mood changes like you are describing. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that these changes are permanent.

However, there are a few things you can do to encourage these positive changes you have experienced to stick around.

1. Find a good supplement
2. Start taking vitamin D
3. Start an exercise regiment
4. Buy a happy light
5. Consider getting testing done-If your hormones are severely out of whack it could absolutely be affecting your moods. Pregnancy could have brought them to normal levels.

And most importantly:

6. Practice adequate self care. Make sure you are getting enough sleep (Well, as much as is possible, babies often have their own ideas). Take a break if you find yourself getting overwhelmed. Have a hobby that is your own, and separate from your children.

 

If you find yourself experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, please contact your doctor. I wish you luck.

 

Hailey

Posted in Q&A

A Guide to Choosing The Perfect Mom Job

If you follow the blog, you already know that I chose to go back to work after my son was born. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was right for me and my family. I feel so incredibly blessed to have a job that I enjoy, and that works with my mom schedule, which can get messy at times! Here are a few things for you to consider when choosing your mom job.

Flexibility/Time off

Can you come early and leave early every now and again, or take an hour off when you need it?

Especially if this is your first child, you will want to be able to take time off for your baby’s doctors’ appointments. And they have tons of those in their first year of life! Babies are frequently ill when they are young, especially if you have them in daycare. There are lots of germs floating around! Do you have the ability to take time off when you need it?

Consistency

Is your employment consistent enough where you can afford to pay the daycare, and where you have a semi-consistent schedule for the childcare provider to work?

Most daycares are ok with you switching days around. Some are less flexible. If you have a sitter, their schedule and preferences need to be considered. Many daycares have weekly minimums, (for example, your child must attend at least 3 days a week) and you don’t want to get stuck paying for extra days when you don’t have work, and when you don’t have money coming in.

The Boss

Is the supervisor understanding of your schedule and duties as a parent? I have the absolute best boss ever. She simply asks that my work gets done and that I put in my hours. Other than that, there aren’t many restrictions when my mom duties come knocking.

Is the supervisor understanding and kind? I’ve had my fair share of difficult bosses (see the 8 different types of difficult bosses and how to deal with them here), and you don’t need that in your life. Motherhood is hard enough without that. A good boss is incredibly important to having a successful mom job.

Pay Scales

Can you afford to pay a sitter or a childcare center with what you are earning? Some moms are lucky enough to have family who will watch the kids for free, or maybe a spouse with a schedule that is easy to work around. However, for most families it is not cheap! Quality childcare (no matter what form you choose) is expensive. If you aren’t familiar with childcare rates in your area, then do your research and then do some math. If your wage is on the lower end, you may barely break even.

To give you some perspective on this matter, here is an example from someone I know.  I was talking to a lady at church a few months ago, and she told me a little bit about her experiences when her kids were young. She explained to me that between the cost of having a second car so she could drive to work, paying the daycare, and the cost of gas to commute, she wasn’t even making $100 a month. Obviously that isn’t worth it at all, and she quit her job. Crunch some numbers, and see how it turns out for you! For some mothers, just having some time away is worth it!

Hours

Many childcare providers will ask for a higher rate for hours beyond a traditional work day. If you use a sitter it may be hard to find someone willing to watch your child if you work unconventional hours. (Graveyard shifts, exceptionally long or early shifts, etc).

How many hours do you want to work? You don’t want to be working way more than you want, or not as much as you need to make ends meet once you consider childcare costs.

Stress

Whether or not working is a financial necessity for you, the time you spend at your job should be a reprieve from your stressful life as a mom. If you feel absolutely run down and at your wits end at the end of the day, you aren’t going to have the emotional energy that your child needs from you. One of the core components of a successful mom job is that all of your energy and patience aren’t zapped up at work.

It’s hard to predict all of these things when you choose employment. The good news is that you aren’t stuck at your job forever if it isn’t a good fit for family life. If you aren’t happy, don’t be afraid to make some changes. What do you think makes a perfect mom job, and do you consider your job cohesive to family life? Let me know in the comments below!

If I Could Have Just One Day to Myself…

How many times as parents do we think: “If I could have just one day to myself….that’s all that I need”.

As you know if you follow the blog, we had a very hectic summer. Right after we got back into town from Orlando, which was right after traveling home from California, I had to head over to Boise for another work conference. It was informative, and interesting, and I got a full nights sleep for 3 nights in a row. That’s like a parents dream come true, right? Wrong!

I hated it. I missed my baby. I would wake up to the sound of a baby crying, only to realize that I was imagining it. I was able to walk around downtown Boise all by myself on a whim, no diaper bag. I only had to get myself dressed, no one else.

I felt like getting a bagel for breakfast, and I was able to just walk down the road and get it with no preparation. My clothes stayed clean all day, no sticky baby fingers (or worse!) caused me to have to change outfits before the day was up.

I went out to eat with out having to share with the baby, or keep him entertained at the restaurant, or having to scoot all of the contents of the table away from him,  or having to ask for a high chair. But I missed his sweet cuddles. I missed the loving look he gives me with those beautiful big brown eyes. I missed his little giggle.

Now when I get overwhelmed those thoughts still come, that I need one day to myself, I remember those three lonely days. It doesn’t stop me from wanting time to myself, but it can pull me out of feeling sorry for myself at least.

So as parents, what the heck do we even want?

Who knows! We love our families more than anything else, and sometimes being a parent makes absolutely no sense. Soak in every moment, every sticky finger, every cuddle. It won’t last forever, but neither will those moments when you are absolutely overwhelmed.

Response to Worried New Mom

Dear Hailey,

Is he “adjusting to fatherhood” or is it abuse? Basically, the crux of my question for advice is that people minimise family violence but it’s also likely to escalate while a woman is pregnant and just after a baby is born. I was told that my husband was just adjusting to being a dad, and my support network had all but broken down.

 

Worried New Mom

*The original question was much longer, but much of the content in the original question posed was removed due to its personally identifying nature. Most personally identifying questions are answered privately, but this is a very important topic that needs to be addressed.

 

Dear Worried,

It is absolutely true that everyone goes through adjustment periods when big life changes occur. Individuals with any type of mental illness often do experience an increase in their symptoms when they experience big changes. However, it is never acceptable or normal no matter the circumstances for someone you love to be abusive in any form.

The facts that you are mentioning sound like your husband was trying to break down all of your contact to others in the outside world. You already had a limited support system, and even though he didn’t have a job, he wanted to support the family. I can respect a husbands desire to support his family, but the fact that he didn’t have a job and wanted you to leave yours expresses that he was being very controlling and not logical.

I don’t know if you have ever heard of gas lighting, but it is a form of mental abuse where the perpetrator convinces you that your perceptions are incorrect, and this causes you to question your own judgement. After all of this, you start to wonder if you are crazy. It sounds like your family may have piled on to this by telling you that your husband was just adjusting and that you were overreacting.

Also, with your mention of physical illness, it is important to note that it is very common for extreme experiences such as abuse to manifest themselves in a physical form such as illness (Or exacerbate an existing illness). I am obviously removed from this situation, so I don’t know how bad things are for you. Only you can make that judgment. I am not sure from your question if this situation is currently happening, but if it is I advise you to remove yourself as soon as possible. Trust your judgement, if you feel unsafe and know what you are experiencing is abuse, don’t listen to what others say. Connect yourself with your local resources, and I would recommend seeking counseling to work through your experiences. I wish you luck.

Hailey

Posted in Q&A

Response to Anxious Mama

Dear Hailey,

Do you have any suggestions for dealing with getting divorced and having the ex partner use your anxiety for an excuse as to why you shouldn’t be allowed as much custody? Having to prove that the anxiety is caused by the ex partner and not parenting, when they are unwilling to see or hear this.*

Anxious Mama

*Personally identifying portions of this question were removed to protect the identity of this individual.

Dear Anxious,

While it is deplorable and unfair of him to use your anxiety against you in a custody battle, your best option would be take steps to protect yourself in that area so he can’t use it against you. If you are not already attending counseling regularly, find a highly recommended and licensed professional. Many agencies offer sliding fee scales that can make counseling affordable even without insurance or with minimal coverage. If you are unsure of where to look for affordable options, I would call your local branch of the state office and they can give you recommendations. (Here in Idaho it is called the Department of Health and Welfare, but every state has their own designations).

Once you have been seeing the counselor for a little while (Or if you are already seeing one, you can do it now), I would ask them if they would be willing, (with your help) to write a letter stating that you are attending counseling regularly, listing the goals you are working towards, and progress that has been made. I have written letters for clients at my previous job and also for clients at my current place of employment for similar reasons. If you are keeping your appointments, and working towards the goals you and your counselor have set, I guarantee they will have no issues with writing a letter for you. You can take that letter with you to court as proof of your efforts and progress. If you are taking active steps to improve your ability to cope with your anxiety, he won’t be able to use it against you.

As far as getting your point across, you can start practicing what you need to say, or writing down what needs to be said. Write down some bullet points. There is something about being put on the spot can make it hard to remember what we need to say, so there is no shame in taking notes with you. Make sure that you state the facts. The calmer you can remain in court, the better it is for you, especially if he shows rage. It is perfectly acceptable to be emotional, but don’t sink to his level and become volatile. If you don’t have a lawyer, contact your local legal aid office and they should be able to help you out. It is difficult now, but you are doing the right thing. You can do this. You can find the strength to do what you need to for you and your children. I wish you luck.

Hailey

 

Posted in Q&A

How to Avoid a Fight…(90% of the time!)

I recently resolved something with someone very dear to me that has been bothering me for a long time. While I share many personal details of my life here, I’m not going to get into the specifics. I will say that I was totally in the wrong, it was an unnecessary fight, and the situation was the perfect storm for me to feel a variety of negative emotions and overreact. Now that it’s completely resolved, it feels good!  This conversation, as well as conversations my husband and I have had lately about the topic of what causes fights between friends and couples; has me thinking about different circumstances that escalate fights, and sometimes even causes them. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid a fight…most of the time! Issues need to be discussed for sure, but if you follow the guide below you might be able to keep it from becoming a fight. (The below photo credit goes to Davina, one of our favorite photographers here on Thoughts, Dots, and Tots!).

 

Exhaustion/Illness/Hunger

I don’t know about you, but I am an absolute big baby when I get sick. And almost all of us get cranky when we are tired or hungry. When our bodies need something our patience can disappear, and our tempers can flare up. Try to avoid big important discussions where tensions can easily get high when you know that your body is struggling. Come back to it later when you are feeling better, unless it is absolutely urgent. If the circumstances allow, come back to it later and you just might avoid a fight! 

 

 

Insecurities

Our insecurities can cloud our judgment severely. Two of my biggest insecurities are two pretty common ones: rejection and exclusion. When I am faced with a scenario where I perceive either of these two things (whether or not they are actually happening) my judgement quickly gets skewed. Think about daily life, it’s easy to feel like those around us are being purposefully hurtful towards us. Most of the time this is absolutely inaccurate, and generally just an oversight on the part of those around us. Knowing your own insecurities will help you be more in tune with your own needs and avoid a fight. 

 

 

Lack of communication

This one’s a biggie, and once appropriate communication is in place it resolves a HUGE portion of disputes. Our imaginations can easily get the best of us when we aren’t communicating appropriately.  I’ve already confessed a few times on the blog that I’m a pessimist (in progress!) and I often jump to the worst conclusions when there is a communication break down. Do your best to maintain healthy communication with those around you! 

 

Past experiences

Whether the past experiences be with someone else, or the person you are currently fighting with, this can absolutely can affect our judgement. There is nothing wrong with being careful and learning from our past experiences. However, you don’t want to live your life expecting everyone to behave like the worst person you have ever met. Most people have good intentions!

 

It’s ok to walk away to avoid a fight

It is absolutely ok to take a break, and come back. Thinking that the issue at hand (whatever it may be) needs to be solved right now can escalate your current argument. This is totally unnecessary out of the time. Take a walk, get some air, take some deep breaths, pray, or meditate…(maybe eat some chocolate?) and come back to it with a clearer head.

 

All in all…

All in all…next time you feel a fight coming on, consider the list above and think. Could any of the above reasons be clouding your judgment and be affecting the way you are feeling? Know that becoming defensive and angry is not going to help the situation. Many fights can be avoided or be downgraded to a dispute if you are in tune with yourself and what you are feeling!

Advice Column: One Overwhelmed Mama

 

Dear Hailey,

I need some help/advice! My husband helps with cooking and cleaning, but doesn’t help me with our baby (well, not very much at least). He seems to think out son (who is 7.5 months old) prefers me, and so I believe part of it is he’s nervous to be solely responsible for the baby. But it is EXHAUSTING to constantly watch our son and never get a moment to myself. How can I help foster their relationship, and broach this topic with my husband without offending him or making him think I’m not grateful for what he DOES help me with?

One Overwhelmed Mama

 

 

Dear Overwhelmed,

The shift into parenthood requires many adjustments as a married couple. There’s a whole new set of duties, and you should know that you aren’t alone in trying to find an appropriate balance. Many couples struggle with similar feelings, and feel overwhelmed as well. There are two ways you can approach this. You can choose to use both of them, or one of them, whatever you are comfortable with.

 

First before you approach it, think about timing. Even when talking with the nicest most patient people on the planet, timing is incredibly important when it comes to approaching difficult topics. Choose an evening when he is well rested, and in a good mood. Not right when he gets home from work, but when he has had a few minutes to settle in, and relax.

 

You can approach the situation directly. State that you appreciate all he does, but you are getting burnt out, and need some time to yourself (Use your own words to describe what you are going through). The old rule of using “I” statements is always a good one to hold to. Try to make it more about what you are feeling, and what you need versus what he is not doing. Some examples would be “I’m feeling really exhausted”, “I need help”, or “Sometimes I need time away from the baby” instead of, “You aren’t helping out” or, “You don’t do enough”. This makes the conversation less confrontational, and more to the point.

 

The other solution is to directly delegate when you need a moment to yourself, or if you would rather take on a household task than a baby duty. Directly ask your husband to bathe the baby, calm him, feed him, etc. I personally recommend having a direct conversation as described above, as well as directly asking for help with certain tasks. If he is uncomfortable or unsure on how to carry out certain tasks with the baby, offer to show him how you do it or help him. Also schedule activities outside of your home such as a work out, walk, or a meal with friends that will allow you to have time to remember the other roles in your life other than motherhood.

 

Whether your husband is the sole breadwinner for your family, or if you work, you still deserve and need time to yourself. It’s ok to ask him to take the baby night shift sometimes no matter the situation if your son is still waking up at night. It can be a tough conversation to have, but important for your sanity, and your ability to continue to provide your son with the care he needs. I wish you luck!

Hailey

 

 

Posted in Q&A

5 Check-ups for Your Marriage

Check-ups are important!

In honor of my recent 5 year anniversary, I am writing a series of posts on marriage. If you missed the last one, you can find it here. We’re going to call it a “check-up” because its healthy to have those frequently. Also, my son has his 12 month check-up later today, so that is what is on my mind! So here are 5 check-ups for your marriage!

 

 

1. Do you have marriage “models”?

Modeling is how we learn a great portion of our skills as people. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is super important to have role models for your marriage. My personal top marriage models are my parents, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law. What is so impressive about their marriages? They’ve successfully raised children, kept their marriages strong through countless trials, have healthy communication, and so many other awesome things! If you don’t yet have any marriage models, some other things to look for are positive conflict resolution, the ability to rely on each other, and their positive marital satisfaction. If your parents aren’t helpful marriage models, don’t worry, anyone that you admire who has a healthy marriage can fill this role.

Hint: Do NOT look to television for your marriage models. Except maybe Fixer Upper because lets be real, Chip and Joanna are adorable. Contention and drama may sell and boost television ratings, but they don’t do anything positive for your marriage.

 

2. Do you consistently put your needs ahead of your spouses?

Not to say your needs shouldn’t be met, but if your needs always come first, turn the tables in your mind. And here’s another question: how would you feel if your spouse treated you the way you treat them? If you aren’t comfortable with this visualization, then you have some work to do! It’s simply not acceptable or sustainable if one person always gets their needs met or always gets their way. This leaves one individual with never getting their way, and never getting what they need, and you shouldn’t want that for the person you love more than anyone else in the world.

 

3. Does teasing go too far?

Teasing each other is fine, and can be a fun way to bond as long as everyone is comfortable and not feeling hurt. Make sure you are on the same page, and that you are both aware that it is all in fun. You need to let your spouse know if you aren’t having fun, and if it has gone too far. Teasing is NOT the appropriate time to air your grievances. It’s never acceptable to be passive aggressive, and it is definitely never ok be passive aggressive towards your spouse. We all have our trigger points and things we are not comfortable with being teased about. If you know what is off-limits or a trigger point for you, let your spouse know. Or you can learn them the hard way, like most couples do. 😉

 

4. Do you spend way more time with your family/friends than theirs?

I am aware that this is a super sensitive topic. Out of the 5 check-ups for your marriage that we are covering today, this is the one that is one of the more difficult ones for couples to work out. When both families live near a couple, it can be tricky to balance time with both. However, it is incredibly important to do your best to balance time with both while still getting enough alone time as well. Turn the tables again, if you were spending the same amount of time with your family as you currently do with your spouses family, would that be enough?

Are holidays equally shared between families? My parents have a really good system down with spending holidays with their families. Everyone is happy, and I am super impressed! For us, we have the unique challenge of having my family live far away, along with my husband’s inconsistent work schedule (Let’s give a shout out to nurses, they are amazing!) It makes it difficult to visit for Christmas, and often our Christmas visits are simply in the vicinity of the holiday, and not on the actual day. But you better believe that we make it work, and my husband does all he can to make sure that we see them at least a few times each year. They are his family too, and he loves them as much as I do!

When you get married, their family becomes yours. You get TWO families to love and cherish! To me that is super special, and I love the family I married into. As far as friends go…do your best to choose friends that you both like, and that you can spend time with together. It can be hard to find married friends that both of you enjoy spending time with, (Especially if you are opposites like my husband and myself!) but be patient, and you will find some! Good choices if you don’t have some already are neighbors, friends from church, and maybe even friends from work! While you complete these check-ups for your marriage, know that finding friends you can spend time with together can be very enriching for your marriage.

 

5. Do you allow outside influences to have a negative impact on your marriage?

Whether it be family, friends, or your job, do you allow anyone outside you and your spouse to dictate your marriage? Not to say you can’t ask others for guidance, or seek counseling if necessary, (because you totally should!) but make sure you and your spouse are running the show. It’s your marriage after all.

As you complete these check-ups for your marriage, think about those closest to you. Is there anyone in your life who isn’t rooting for your marriage? Even if they don’t come out and say it, do their actions indicate that they aren’t on your team? You need to do some soul searching to see if they should remain in your life. Life is difficult enough with out inviting someone into your inner circle to sabotage your marriage. You deserve better.

What check-ups for your marriage do you think are important? Let me know in the comments below!

All You Have to do is Survive

Life is full of joy, tragedy, and everything in between. We’ve all had so many different experiences in the course of our lives, and we somehow survive through all of them. It’s interesting to me what rises to the surface in our mind sometimes, and a very old memory decided to make an appearance recently for me. (The picture featured below is the work of my very talented friend Davina).

The Memory…

My senior year of high school, one of our classmates took her own life. I am not going to pretend that she was my best friend, (we had only spoken a few times), but I did have one class with her and the day we found out what had happened was an experience that really impacted my life. Because of this experience I realized how fragile life was, and how someone could be going through something really dark even when they look fine on the outside. I remember texting both of my parents the day we found out and telling them that I loved them, and it was an introspective day for me in many ways.

My English teacher that year, Ms. Scully, before class took a few minutes to talk to us about the events of the day. She told us, “All you have to do is survive”. Ms. Scully repeated that statement several times, and told us that we didn’t have to make straight A’s, or do anything spectacular, but as long as we made it through, and stayed alive, it would all be ok. She talked to us about how much we had ahead of us in our lives, and how much there was to live for.

The Take-Away…

Maybe it’s funny that this off topic English lesson is what stuck with me most from that entire year. But she had a good point. It really is ok to go through the motions, and do the basics for a while when we get on our feet again. There is no need to take on more than you can handle and cause yourself more stress. When you’re ready to step up again, you can. Do it at your own pace, it will be ok. All you have to do is survive. Everything else is optional, and icing on the cake.