life with a toddler
I recently came across this article about how childless women judge working moms. I admit – I’m completely guilty of this. In fact, when we found out we were expecting Ari, one of my fears was how this unexpected pregnancy was going to affect my career. Even long before our unexpected pregnancy, I would think to myself “If I ever end up pregnant, I would still want to work full time. How could anyone want to give up something so fulfilling as working outside of the home?”
Even after Ari was born, I looked forward to going back to work. Sure, not right away. I definitely enjoyed my maternity leave. Well, scratch that – I loved the fact that I didn’t have to juggle work and getting absolutely zero sleep for three months. And having the holidays off didn’t hurt, that’s for sure.
But I looked forward to going back to work. I remember it being more sweet than bitter. I wanted to be around real talking human beings. I mean, I had it rough at home — Ari was colicky for months and months. He refused to sleep and spent most of the day (probably 20 out of 24 hours) screaming and crying. It was awful. So I practically RAN back to work. Seriously.
That feeling lasted for months after I went back to work. And shortly after Ari started sleeping through the night, something started to change. And not just the feeling of being semi-rested; but something in me started to ache to spend more time with Ari.
And that’s part of what prompted me to change my position at work for a job that provided me with more daytime hours with Ari. My work day started at 2pm instead of 8am which gave me plenty of time to have lazy mornings with him. And for a while, that was fulfilling enough. Sure, that meant I had to give up Saturdays to work instead of spending it with Chad and Ari. But the benefits outweighed that con.
Over the last year, perhaps after Ari started becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler, things have majorly shifted for me.
I also think it would make me happier if I was able to be that kind of mom who stayed at home with Ari. But I know that this is not in the cards for us; it’s not something that is financially possible. At least not at this time.
I just can’t believe I’m now this person. I can’t believe I judged working moms for feeling this way. I’ve verbalized this judgment over and over again before having Ari; and for that, I feel incredibly guilty.
A girl I work with has been known to say the same types of things that I used to say about not being able to even imagine NOT wanting to work. It took everything I had to bite my tongue. I knew my words were useless with her. She would never believe me. She would never believe how much a little person could change someone so much. She would never believe how I, the same person who never ever wanted to have a child, could have so drastically changed my outlook on childrearing.
I don’t know if there’s a purpose to this post other than to just put it out there into the universe. Maybe it’s so that I can keep focused on my main goal, which is to be in a position where I can spend my time focused on my family and our household. However, in the meantime, my family will always, always, be first. Chad and Ari are the only things that are important to me; everything else is secondary — everything else is replaceable. But those two? Irreplaceable. And they are my absolute everything.
Confession: When Moosh was starting on solid foods, we spent a boatload of money on those organic baby food pouches for a couple of reasons: pouches are way more convenient than canned baby food; and also because we knew they were full of healthy ingredients. Next to making our own baby food, they were the best thing.
But, let me reiterate — they are crazy expensive — between $2 – $3 per pouch. PER POUCH! Some days Moosh would eat 5 (he was a hungry, hungry little dude).
Nowadays little man is eating all big people food, but our great eater has become increasingly picky as of late. I’ll try just about anything to get him to eat nutritious foods. He’s such a busybody toddler that he doesn’t want to slow down to eat.
The other day I mixed up some apples and bananas in the Vitamix and poured the mix directly into Easy Anywhere Reusable Baby Food Pouches. I had tried other reusable pouches previously and they all proved to be incredibly messy at filling. But in all honesty, I didn’t even have to break out a spoon. The pouches were wide enough to where I just held it open and poured the fruit mix in!
Moosh was deeply enthralled in an intense Jake and the Neverland Pirates episode while playing with his own pirate ship and choo-choo trains at the time. But I just walked in, handed him a full pouch, and he went to town.
I loved the fact that I could see how much was left in the pouch (because low and behold he handed it to me saying “More please?” and I just had to push some up and tell him there was still more left. (Also? Mommy success! He asked for MORE!)
And of course the hippy-granola-chick in me loves that these are BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free AND easy to clean.
If you’re looking to snag a couple for yourself, head on over to Amazon here. You can get four for $12.99 with free amazon prime shipping.
So moms (and dads) — any other tricks up your sleeve for a “too-busy-to-stop-and-eat” toddler!? HELP!
Disclosure: I was selected to receive four pouches for my honest opinion and review of this product. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Thank you to Easy Anywhere for sponsoring this post.
The last month has virtually flown by. It’s been a whirlwind of exhaustion, cold, fun, illness, and what was nonstop marathon training.
Here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to as of late:
I laughed. All the older people who were there enjoying the gardens probably thought I was a bad mom. Oh well. 🙂
3. Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. While I was in Lakewood I stopped by Sweet Designs (if you recall this is THE chocolatier that changed my views of chocolate forever). I nearly forgot that the next day was Valentine’s Day and that it would be crazy, but this mama was determined to get some (and by some, I mean a pound) of sponge candy! I may have also picked up a handful (or four) of other chocolate goodies for Chad and Moosh. What? It’s a once a year splurge! 😛
Mimi and Poppy have also been up to visit a few times as of late, so we’ve been spending as much time with them as possible before they trek back to Kentucky. Sometimes that even means hanging out on the floor by the fire. LOL. (Hence the picture above).
7. Just keep running. I’ve already announced that I’ve put marathon training on the backburner until Moosh is older; but that hasn’t stopped my aspirations to run and keep training. I will continue to run after a ten day break (doctors orders, per a fairly severe pulled muscle). All the running and (mostly) clean-eating has helped tremendously with my continued (slow, but steady) weight loss.
8. Sickies galore. Thanks to a seemingly extra-long and extra-cold winter, this mama has been fighting off everything under the sun for the last several weeks. And after just getting rid of a nasty stomach bug, I ended up in the ER the other day because I may have accidentally inhaled tiny particles of glass while I was cleaning up the shattered glass door to our entertainment center (#toddlers). Oops.
10. We spent our second night EVER away from Ari. Big thanks to Mimi and Poppy for taking Ari for a night. We had our second ever night without him. It was… weird. But wonderful! We had our own little buffet of cheese and meats. And sparkly wine!
11. Yoga night with the MRTT ladies. I went up to Harmony Studios in Willoughby in the middle of a major snowstorm to take a yoga class made for runners with the Moms Run This Town Cleveland Chapter ladies!
Being a mom means that 99% of the time I’m running on caffeine and pure adrenaline. Which is awesome — during the day. But at night? At night I actually want to sleep.
The struggle is real, friends. At night I try to go from SuperMom to Sleeping Mom in .2 seconds (to maximize rest, of course). But it’s way easier said than done.
To-do lists, plans for the next day, and other thoughts pop into my head — “Wait – did I put the clothes in the dryer?” — hurries downstairs to move clothes from washer to dryer — back to questions running through my head as I lay in bed.
It’s pretty much the worst feeling ever. Scratch that — making it through a day without sleep? THAT is the worst feeling ever.
I’ve tried it all: With each of them, I can’t wake up the next day. And I don’t feel rested whatsoever. Haze for days!
True, these late-night bursts of inspiration are absolutely helpful to the creative process. And I am forever grateful for them. I will always keep a pen and paper next to my bedside — when inspiration (or, let’s face it – a to-do list item) comes up, I’m going to be ready for it! But it’s also incredibly helpful as busy, working moms, to have the ability to just “turn it off” and rest for a few hours.
And friends? It’s TOTALLY OKAY to have a brain that doesn’t shut off. But you should definitely be able to let your mind rest and prepare for the upcoming day. Right!?
Feel free to try it out for yourself — but first download this coupon for BOGO! RESCUE products can be found at your local CVS, Walgreens or Whole Foods!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
I always look forward to my Fridays off with Moosh. Monday through Thursday we both struggle to get ourselves out of bed, get dressed and head off to our respective duties — mine, work; his, the sitter. He always seems so clingy during the week. Like he knows he can pull on my heartstrings by saying he wants to stay in his jammies. And it works. I’m a sucker for it.
So by Friday, I’m ready to spend a day just hanging with him. Perhaps we’ll lay in pajamas for a while. Perhaps we’ll watch a movie on the couch. But nine times out of 10 on Fridays, that clingy, “I don’t want to get dressed – I just want to snuggle,” little boy is the complete opposite. He would rather be anywhere than with me. Our days usually end up being a game of survival.
But not this past Friday. After our doctors appointment (at which he received a clean bill of orthopedic health!), we met up with our friend Kristi and her son Kayden at a new indoor play place — Cafe O’Play.
I’ve always been one of those people that has said we will not be going to the germ-infested places like Chuck-E-Cheese or Chick-Fil-A playgrounds. The thought of them makes me… shudder. Plus, since Moosh is small, I always worry about the bigger kids just pushing him around. (Yes, I realize this is something that I will eventually need to get over… but I’ve seen some kids get really rough in these places, with seemingly zero interaction from the parents of these kids).
But I had heard good things about Cafe O’Play, so I was really looking forward to a way to get out of the house for a bit.
- Very well organized. When you walk in, you’re walking in to the cafe section. To the right of the cafe is a large set of windows to see into the play area. I was immediately struck by how large the space was and how much light there was. That seems to be the opposite of places like Chuck-E-Cheese where it’s dark and dank. Cafe O’Play had a lot of lighting — both natural and overhead. Bright colors and visible staff to assist in every aspect of the experience.
- Controlled chaos. Let’s face it, anytime you are dealing with toddler-aged kids there is chaos. Every parent knows this. But it’s managed really well, considering. For instance, while we were waiting, one of the moms had just purchased a day pass for her daughter, who then proceeded to have a full-on meltdown of epic proportions. The mother, embarrassed, was set to just leave. But the staff offered her a gift card with the price of admission back on it so that they could come back and actually play next time.
- Cleanliness. The germaphobe in me didn’t even flinch. The material that all of the play structures were made of something that seemed really easy to clean. And the actually floors and everything were so clean.
- Safety. One thing that has always made me nervous about play places is that when Moosh climbs up, I no longer have access to him. That is not the case with Cafe O’Play. The play structures are large and open enough for the parents to easily climb up with their kids. The comfort I find in this is something I just cannot explain. Plus? I had a TON of fun.
- Beverages. After a couple of hours of play and one unfortunate run in with another kids head, we needed a break. The cafe offers a variety of coffee and espresso beverages for adults as well as juice boxes and milk for the kiddos. We grabbed an organic strawberry milk and an Honest juice box. I can’t report back on the coffee/espresso just yet because I was too thirsty for water to even order coffee (mark this date down as the first day I’ve ever refused coffee! Ha!).
- Food. I ordered the Turkey and Cheese sandwich, which is served on a ciabatta roll with field greens and a garlic herb spread. It was delicious and filling. In fact, I could only eat half of the sandwich, so I brought the other half home with me. I ordered Moosh a Kids Tin, which is essentially your choice of 5 snack items to put into a muffin tin. This idea (which I have seen on pinterest previously) is GENIUS. The kids didn’t want to stop playing to eat; but when you make the food fun like this, they still think they are playing while they eat. Options range from goldfish, cheese, grapes, hummus, apple slices, pretzels, ham, carrots, and yogurt.
- Satisfied with price. The price of all-day play [$8.50 per child for weekday; $10.50 for weekend — accompanying adult is free] is awesome. We ended up going home for a nap and for dinner and once Chad came home from work, Moosh and I were eager to go back and show him what all the fuss was about (I couldn’t stop talking about it). My less-impressionable-than-myself husband was extremely impressed with the cost for fun ratio. In fact, we are going to invest in a more cost-effective 10-play pass so that we can make it a semi-regular thing for a discounted rate!
- The wear-out factor. Moosh was one-thousand percent wiped out after this fun-filled play date. He slept in crazy late Saturday morning and it still seemed like he hadn’t 100% recovered by Saturday evening. This is incredible for a parent of a toddler! They have seemingly endless amounts of energy. And winters in the Midwest are not exactly conducive for expending their pent-up energy. Mission accomplished!
- I like the rules. No shoes; must wear socks. And I love that there is extra staff monitoring areas of the playground. If a mom is distracted, the staff is there to help. I honestly didn’t see any parents not paying attention to their toddlers; but I did see a LOT of moms of toddlers who were also baby-wearing their infants. So I can see how this extra staff would come in extra handy for them.
- Healthy food options. I left feeling satisfied with our food decisions. We didn’t eat anything fried or gross; instead we ate a more balanced lunch. And it was tasty. But next time I’m getting an espresso!
- Highly recommend a visit. Check out their website and their Facebook page here.