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Never Say Never

A few weeks ago, I texted my sister a really cute photo of my son, sleeping peacefully in his new, big boy car seat. She replied back, and then sent a second message asking, “Is he holding… a lint roller?” Well, the answer was yes. Of course he was holding a lint roller. I’m not ashamed to admit that Grey has a weird obsession with the lint roller and I bribed him with it to get him into his car seat without a fight. I know what you are thinking; you will never bribe your child to get something done more quickly. Here is some advice: never say never.

As an employee of a child care company for almost five years, I have come across hundreds of different families. I have observed so many parents interacting with their children and I have carefully taken mental notes. Some of them made parenting seem like a breeze. I tried to determine what they were doing that made them so successful. More importantly, I had a running list of all of things that I would NEVER do when I became a parent.

I have only been a mother for eight months, and here is a short recap of the things I said I wasn’t going to do that I have already done…

A few years ago, I was teaching in a toddler classroom when a new toddler joined our class. As his mother was explaining some information to me, she mentioned that he is pretty attached to his pacifier. Then she went on to mention that when he naps, he actually uses three pacifiers. He likes one in his mouth and one in each hand. Seriously? Then, a few days ago, I was trying to put Grey to sleep. He kept taking his pacifier out of his mouth because he likes to hold it. I grabbed a second pacifier so he’d have one to hold and one in his mouth. Then I had a flashback to that little boy in my classroom. Well, I guess I can see now how three binkies can happen.

Another thing I felt really strongly about before having children was sleep training. I think it is extremely important for children to get enough sleep and for parents to be rested as well so that they can better care for their children. Ideally, I think it’s important for children to learn to put themselves to sleep without being rocked and to sleep through the night. Keep word: ideally. Unfortunately, Grey has gotten into a bad habit of falling asleep to his nighttime bottle while being rocked. I swear, I tried to break this habit with the cry-it-out thing. I learned that Grey is stubborn. He cried for almost three hours in his crib for several nights in a row before I gave in. He actually has more stamina than I do. If it takes me an extra ten minutes to rock the kid so that I don’t have to listen to three hours of crying, then so be it.

And on the topic of sleeping, Grey woke up at 4:00am today. I tried everything I could think of to get him back to sleep with no luck. After an hour, I gave in. And even though I SWORE I would never let my baby sleep in my bed, I enjoyed every moment of that extra hour that I got with Grey snoozing in my bed next to me.

It’s only been eight months and I’ve already done several things that I promised myself I wouldn’t do. Does that make me a bad parent? I don’t think so. One thing I know is that I’ve dismissed my mental list. I know that as a parent, I won’t win every fight, so I have decided to pick and choose my battles.

It looks like Grey is not enjoying the new baby gates quite as much as I am.

http://thehonestmommy.com/2012/10/30/it-looks-like-grey-is-not-enjoying-the-new-baby/

Who needs to lift weights when you blow dry your hair with one arm and rock a 22lb fussy baby in the other?

http://thehonestmommy.com/2012/10/24/who-needs-to-lift-weights-when-you-blow-dry-your/

I read somewhere that self-feeding is an important developmental milestone and that it’s important to give baby the opportunity to learn this skill. Not sure if this is what hey had in mind…..

Next time I will fill the bath first.

http://thehonestmommy.com/2012/10/23/i-read-somewhere-that-self-feeding-is-an-important/

Work-At-Home Parents

I think quite a few people have the wrong idea of what exactly it means to be a stay-at-home parent. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I actually really hate this term. I think it has a negative stigma attached to it. For some reason, many people feel defined by their career. So, when a woman is asked what she does for a living, which is always one of the first questions in casual conversation, she feels obligated to say she is “just” a stay-at-home mom. I’ve done it already. I’ve even said things like, “I’m just taking a year off,” because it sounds better than saying I don’t work right now. I decided to call myself a work-at-home mother. I don’t “just” stay at home. I do a lot of things during the day. I am employed by my son, my dog, and my house. I even watch two other children for a family down the street three and a half days a week (By the way, to those of you parents with three children, you’re crazy).   

So here is a short list of a things that people think a stay at home parent does during the day.

Stay-at-Home Parents:

1.) Sleep in
2.) Hang out in PJs
3.) Stare at a perfectly happy, content, and smiling baby
4.) Go to lunch with friends
5.) Take baby for a walk
6.) Drink coffee
7.) Shop
8.) Watch daytime TV
9.) Relax while the baby naps
10.) Wait for their wonderful partners to return home from work

Now let me clarify this for you….

Work-at-Home Parents:

1.) Sleep in – If by sleep, you mean bringing the baby into my bed at 5:00am and lying as still as possible while praying he falls back to sleep, then sure, I sleep in every morning.

2.) Hang out in pajamas – If I am still in pajamas at noon, it’s not by choice. Trust me; I’d love a few minutes to shower and change.

3.) Stare at a perfectly happy, smiling, and content baby – If I am staring at my child while he’s perfectly happy and content, I am only staring due to pure shock since it rarely happens. Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed with a very happy baby, but damn, that kid is busy. He doesn’t sit still and content – ever.

4.) Go to lunch with friends – I don’t know if you consider a play date having lunch with friends…. But on that note, play dates are absolutely necessary for both parent and child. You can only spend so much time talking to an eight-month-old before you really need some adult time to regain your sanity.

5.) Take baby for a walk – You’re right about this one. When all else fails, take the baby for a walk. You don’t have to chase him if he’s strapped into the stroller.

6.) Drink coffee – Oh yeah, I drink a lot of coffee; however, usually it’s coffee that I made at 5:00am (since the baby didn’t go back to sleep) that I didn’t get an opportunity to reheat and drink until 9:30am.

7.) Shop – The only shopping I am doing during the week is for diapers and baby food. When I was pregnant, I thought I was going to make homemade baby food. The baby food processor is still in the box. I am definitely going to re-gift that.

8.) Watch daytime TV – Yes, actually. The children I babysit have introduced me to a whole new realm of daytime television: Bubble Guppies at 9:00, Max and Ruby at 12:00, Dora the Explorer at 2:00…

9.) Relax while baby naps – IF the baby naps, I take the opportunity to do the following: clean up the 200 toys Greyson has played with today, throw out the teddy bear that the dog shredded this morning, sterilize the bottles, toss my sheets in the wash since Grey spit up in them this morning while I was praying he was going back to sleep, and so on. You get the idea.

10.) Wait for their loving partners to return home from work – Oh, we’re waiting for them all right. You don’t get a lunch hour you are a work-at-home parent, so by 6:00pm, we need to hand that baby off! Think of yourself as a relief pitcher stepping in at the top of the ninth to close the game. It’s a crucial part of the team. I know a lot of working parents don’t get a lunch break either, so we are thankful that you so willingly work hard all day and come home and help out as much as you do. Thanks for that J

So the next time you are out and you ask someone what they do for a living and they reply that they stay at home with their child, show some respect! It might not be the highest paying position, but I’d argue that it’s the most important and most rewarding.

No Regrets

Before I begin, I want to admit that I am blogging this from the front seat of my car, sitting in the driveway while Grey naps in his car seat. As an honest mother, I am telling you never to risk waking a sleeping baby. This may be the only quiet time I get today, so I’ll take it. New moms – start keeping your Kindle or your iPad in the car – or just close your eyes for a few minutes and catch some sleep. We won’t judge you. 

Moving on…

 I’d love to say that I don’t feel as though I owe anyone an explanation as to why I chose to leave my job, but sometimes I feel like I do. I know that there are a lot of people who would think I am crazy for leaving a great job, especially in this economy. Some people can’t understand why someone would actually choose to be at home with an infant all day. (On the other hand, there are people who think being at home with a child is a vacation… which is insane. More on them later.) I used to be one of those people, who laughed at a friend as she told me she definitely wanted to stay home with her future children. I really thought the stay-at-home mom thing was extinct. I thought that it was important for moms to have a career, not give up their dreams in order to be a mother, and that it was easy to have it all. Then Grey was born… Not only is it almost impossible to do it all, it’s difficult to do ANYTHING when you have a newborn! Everything, down to having time to pee, eat and sleep, is challenging. Expecting parents – get used to eating microwaved meals, taking 30 second showers, and going to the bathroom while the baby stares as you from the bouncy seat set outside the door. Can you imagine trying to manage all of this while working 50 hours a week? 

So for those of you who still don’t understand why I did it, here is a little bit of an explanation.

After a short time back at work (like three days), I knew that this situation was not going to work for me. As the center director of a childcare center, I was the sole person responsible for 180 children and a staff of thirty teachers. My job was very demanding and included managing the classrooms, securing enrollment, handling parent concerns, and other business operations like scheduling and payroll. In addition, I was expected to spend time in the community as a way to promote the center during the evening or on weekends. It was ironic really – I was spending so much time in a place that cares for people’s children, but I felt like I was missing out on raising my own child. One evening, while walking with my husband and the baby in the stroller, I began to plant the seed that I was considering leave my job. It didn’t take long – in about a month my husband finally gave in, realizing that what’s best for Greyson and my happiness took precedent over the financial step back that we were definitely going to take. 

I knew that quitting my job was one of the craziest decisions I have ever made, but so far, it has definitely been worth it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments when I think that I am nuts for doing this – picture me covered in spit-up, chasing Grey as he crawls towards the dog’s water bowl that he has already dumped three times today, while carrying a load of dirty clothes to toss in the laundry. Trust me, it’s not a vacation. But I know that when I look back, I will never regret choosing to spend this amazing time with Greyson, enjoying every precious moment that I would have missed if I chose to stay at my job.

Judgment Day

As soon as my husband and I decided to have baby, I immediately began reading as much information about pregnancy as possible. I read what foods enhanced fertility, how to calculate ovulation, and when to seek professional help if we didn’t become pregnant. I actually read a book called What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. I also read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Happiest Baby on the Block, and I even had time to read about three chapters of What to Expect the First Year. Then, Greyson was born.

From reading these books, I began to realize that everyone has an opinion. Every author, every doctor, every professional, every parent –they all think they know best. Even people that don’t have children have an opinion about raising children. How ridiculous is that?

It wasn’t long after I was pregnant that I learned that everyone is very judgmental when it comes to parenting. Everyone wants to share their advice, from sleeping habits, to behavior management, to the best brands of baby gear. They all think that you should parent exactly how they do, because obviously they are the best parents in the world.

The very first time that I felt this parental judgment first hand occurred at our pregnancy class at the hospital. Even though I had read tons of books, scrolled through countless websites, and talked with tons of parents, I still felt it necessary to take the pregnancy class. The class was held on Thursday nights from 7pm-9pm in the hospital’s conference room. On a side not: 7pm-9pm – really? Are they crazy? As a person who works ten hours a day, who is six months pregnant, 9pm is way past my bedtime. After a long day at work, we hurried home, downed a quick dinner, and headed out to class. We stopped on the way so that my husband could grab a cup of coffee. As an avid coffee drinker prior to becoming pregnant, I ordered a cup of decaf to enjoy on the way over. As we walked into class, all of the mothers sat there eager to learn, with a pen and notebook by their side, and their bottled water close at hand. Here I was, walking in late, carrying a cup of coffee. I could feel their eyes burning through me. How could I be drinking caffeine, something so harmful to my growing fetus? – I already felt like I looked like a horrible parent. Relax ladies, it’s decaf.

As the months progressed on, so many people shared their opinions with me. Should I be eating organic food only? Should I breastfeed as long as possible? Should I make my baby be a vegetarian? What the hell is attachment parenting?

Greyson is now eight months old. I’ve recently stopped reading ridiculous books, stopped asking for advice, and stopped listening to what everyone else thinks is best. I am his mother – I have to be confident that I know what is best for him. I’ll follow his cues and work my way through trial and error. I have learned that every child and every family does things in a different way, and there is nothing wrong with that. For all of those expecting mothers out there, stop worrying that someone is going to judge your choices -trust your instincts. I’ll bet that you’re almost always right.

http://thehonestmommy.com/2012/10/11/167/

It’s ok to be honest.

Greyson was born in February and I had planned to take eight weeks of maternity leave from my position as the director of a local childcare center. I know that sounds like the perfect job for a new mother, since I obviously had the option to bring my son with me, but not quite. More on that later.

Anyway, eight weeks passed before my eyes and I prepared to return to work. For all of you expecting mothers, take as much time off as you can! Even if you think you’ll go crazy without your job, even if you’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve your success, even if you are jealous as your husband leaves for work, trust me, you will not want to pass that baby off when the day comes. You won’t get that precious time back. I wish someone would have told me that. Maybe if I had taken more time off, I wouldn’t have eventually decided to leave my job. Returning to work was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do – Second only to giving birth to a 9lb 2oz baby only eight weeks prior.

Trying to manage my new role as a working mother was feeling extremely overwhelming. People were constantly asking me how I was doing, if the baby was sleeping well (what a ridiculous question!), if I was glad to be back at work (seriously…??). Of course I lied about how I was feeling! No one actually cares how you are doing. Making small talk is just the polite thing to do. They want you to say that you are great, the baby is great, and work is great, so that they can be on their way.

After about four weeks back at work, one of the mothers whose children attended the childcare center stopped in my office on her way out. She asked how I was doing and I gave her the overly happy and annoyingly positive answer I was sure she wanted to hear. She responded with laughter, which surprised me, and said, “You know, Cait, it’s ok to be honest.” I’m not sure what gave me away- the large dark circles under my eyes, the wrinkles in my shirt and the spit up on my pants, or the huge fake smile that was plastered to my face. I laughed with her and finally told someone the truth – I was exhausted.

This moment has stuck in my mind for a long time. The truth was that I was tired, I was learning that being a parent is hard, and I was struggling to balance work life and home life. It didn’t make me less of a mother to admit that there are challenges. I don’t have to pretend to be loving every moment of this crazy, new life. Surprisingly, being honest lifted a weight off my shoulders. So those new mothers that are telling you that they are feeling amazing, that the baby is sleeping like a champion, and that they couldn’t be happier to be back at work – they are probably lying.

With this blog, I plan to take that mother’s advice and be honest about my experiences as a mother. Hopefully it will make you laugh and inspire fellow mothers to take pride in their honestly, crazy lives.

Sent from my iPad

Welcome to The Honest Mom.

Well, here it is, my first post as “the honest mom.” I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time now and finally got around to setting something up this week. I had intentions of writing from the time my son was born so that I could look back and remember how I felt, each and every moment. I thought to myself yesterday, “I can’t believe I am just starting this blog, and he’s already eight months old.” Then, I quietly chuckled to myself and thought, “who the hell has time to blog, or do anything for yourself for that matter, when you have a newborn?” It’s actually a miracle that I am getting around to this and he is ONLY eight months old. Props to me.

So here goes. I want to introduce myself. My name is Cait and I am a work-at-home mother. Let me clarify that term for you. When asked what I do for a living, I refuse to say that I am a stay at home mom – not because I’m not proud that I am home with my son everyday, but the term has a negative connotation attached to it. Also, I don’t just “stay at home” and play with my baby all day. On the other hand, I don’t work from home either. I am not employed by a company who lets me work from a home office. I literally work at home – like I am basically employed by my home, the baby, the laundry, the dog… You get the idea.

As a very career driven woman with a Master’s of Science in Education, I never thought I would stay home with my child. And just so you know, I voluntarily and very happily resigned from my job. Even though I will most definitely complain about being a work-at-home mom, I am thankful every day for the time I am able to spend with my son.

Enough about me for now. This blog is to share my honest thoughts, experiences, challenges, and triumphs as a work-at-home mother. I hope to share some information that someone would have told me when I was preparing to become a parent. Enjoy!