One of my priorities as a parent is foster my children’s natural interests and skills.

I want to ensure I’m encouraging my children to always explore, keep their minds open, and follow their own interests.

My oldest is about to turn 6 and from a very young age, probably around 2, we knew he had a natural skill for building and creating.

I remember him getting a train set for Christmas and he sat there putting the track together, taking them apart and putting them together again.

He sat in this space fully concentrating on the task at hand for quite a while.

Last year when he was in pre-k, his teacher commented to me, very strongly, that he is good with numbers. It was the first time, someone other than me or my husband saw this in him.

Before that we thought we were just being overly proud parents when it came to his knowledge of numbers and his love for building.

Just a few months ago my husband got him a lego truck that could be made into 3 different trucks.

Well, after working together to build it once, my son then went ahead and followed the pictures to disassemble and reassemble the truck to make all 3 kinds.

Legit my mind was blown!!

Now just a week before he turns six, he receives a circuit board. In less than 2 hours he was going through the instruction manual, found one he wanted to build, and built it without asking a single question or having anyone offer help.

He has continued to build boards, take them apart, and build another.

Again, my mind is so blown!!

I don’t operate in that realm of my brain so watching him is just amazing to me!!!

A few years ago on a business trip I found myself sitting next to a young man who was an engineer for a railroad company. We talked the entire flight and I remember telling him how my son has a natural interest in building and is very good with numbers.

Before we landed I asked him how he felt I could best nurture this interest in my son. He said to make sure we continue to challenge him. If he his naturally skilled then he could get bored easily.

As I continue to watch him, and his brother, naturally gravitate to the toys and activities that they enjoy the most I’m amazed at two things:

  1. How different they are, and
  2. How when they find something they enjoy the can do whatever that activity it is for hours, and with such concentration.

Our youngest is 3 ½ (FYI that ½ is very important, lol), and he very much follows his older brother. Yet, it is clear how different they are from each other.

He is still discovering what he enjoys, but he is much more active. He needs more stimulation and more movement. He cannot sit still and just do a puzzle for hours.

Figuring out how to foster these two different kids is a challenge for sure, but one I’m determined to make a priority.

Two years ago I asked a dear friend of mine, who is a photographer, to capture my family on a typical weeknight. We were two working parents with an 18 month old and a 3 year old who spent 50 hours a week at daycare.

In my opinion we were the typical middle class American family.

We got home at 5/5:30pm while it was still dark. Let the dog out. Made a quick dinner, then got the kids ready for bed.

Maybe my husband and I would get a minute to say hi to each other or even ask “How was your day”, but there was never enough time for a response.

I wanted to capture these moments because I knew they wouldn’t last forever. I knew that I’d forget what life was like when everything was so hectic and crazy. The nights when I’d go to bed praying to get a full night’s sleep for once.

In the moment it doesn’t seem possible that you’d ever forget, but those pictures just popped up on my memories the other day.

Guess what?

Yup, I’d forgotten so much of what that time in our life was like. As I rewatched the video she created for us, tears were streaming down my face and I was so grateful to have those pictures.

The days are long and the years are short.

This isn’t just a simple little saying. It’s a truth.

This was our life and the lives of the other parents I’d see at daycare.

We’d pass each other in the hallway while our child was being held by someone else screaming for us to come back and just share a look of “I get you.”

We’d wonder if our paychecks would cover daycare costs, groceries, and the mortgage this month.

We may not have spoken any words, but we understood each other.

This was real life and it was not the life I wanted anymore.

I was tired of picking my kids up from extended care in the dark. I wanted a different life, but this was the life I was living at the time and I wanted to remember.

So now I work from home, and I get to be pick my kids up from school at 3pm. Our life is still chaotic and messy, but I feel so much better about it because it’s on my time.

I discovered what I valued in life, and that was picking my kids up at 3pm.

This may not be the value for you, and that’s ok too. This life is not about comparing your life with someone else’s. It’s about living life the way that feels best for you, and knowing that what feels right now might change in the future.

So if you had all the time in the world what would do?

Would you work longer hours?

Would you spend more time watching TV?

If given the opportunity really think about what you would do with your time.

Would you cook more?

Would you take more vacations?

Would you sleep more?

Maybe read more books?

Go to the movies?

Whatever you would do, the first thing that comes to your mind is your priority. It shows you what you value.

We demonstrate our true values (whether we went to admit it or not) by what we do with our time and what we spend our money on.

How are you spending your time now? Are these your true priorities?

How does it make feel when you look at how you are spending your time? Do you feel good? Or does it give you an icky sinking feeling in your stomach?

If you get the icky feeling, it’s time to start shifting. To start really looking at how you are spending your time and how you can pivot and spend time doing the things you want to do. Those things that make you feel good.

Time doesn’t stop for us, it keeps moving forward.

Just like those pictures I had taken two years ago. I’ll never get that time back, but I’m so glad I have those memories!!

What is it you wish you would spend more time on.

More importantly what is keeping you from that thing you desire?

Here is a snap shot of just a few of the photos from that documentary photo shoot. 

Yes, I quit my job, but I did not quit my job to be home with my kids.

When I decided to leave my full-time job and enter the world of entrepreneurship I knew that my kids would still continue to be in daycare over the summer. I was not quitting my job so that I could be with them 24/7. Does this mean I don’t love them? Absolutely not! It’s means I know myself well enough to recognize that to be a better parent I need my village.

Ever since my oldest was 10 weeks old he was in daycare. Yes, I cried my eyes out leaving him, but it was more about the fact that I didn’t want to return to the job I had than having someone else take care of him. I worked an hour away from home which mean I was leaving at 6:30am and coming home at 6:30pm. Squeezing in just an hour here and there of time with him wasn’t good for me, and then he was up all night so I would be resentful when I was exhausted the next day driving to work. It was terrible and I was miserable!

I did end up leaving that job to work closer to home and only 3 days a week. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time. I wanted to continue working, to stay relevant in my field and also be home just a little bit more. To alleviate the stress of driving to work every day and the stress of work itself. I took a lower position, but that’s what I was looking for at the time.

For an entire year I got to be home with him, and it wasn’t until he was 18 months old that I opted to return to work. An opportunity was presented to me and with a lot of thought I decided to accept the position. I said it multiple times and still do that if it were any other position in the office I wouldn’t have taken it. If I was going to work full-time it was going to be something I enjoyed, not something I dreaded.

So for 4 years I worked full-time, and in those 4 years had another son. Now I was a working mom with two young boys at home. I loved having this position, I loved having work to go to everyday, and serving a purpose in my life. Yes paying daycare was tough some months, and work would take me away on road trips here and there, but I still loved it. I love being the working mom.

That was until the work I was doing stopped serving me and no longer fulfilled me. I began to find myself resentful to be at work. I dreaded going to the office, my youngest started clinging to me at daycare and I caved to lingering a few extra minutes to make sure he was comfortable because I too was avoiding going to the office. I started looking for ways to get out of working late because I wanted to be home.

My priorities were shifting and I was once again searching for purpose. I still didn’t have the desire to stay home full-time, but I started missing t-ball games and kung fu practices. As a mom, I wanted to be present at these events, I no longer wanted to be the mom traveling everywhere and showing up to practices in my high heels because I was running late from a meeting.

When I graduated college I knew whatever job I did I had to love the work, I had to serve a purpose. Over the years I have clung to that and even though my resume looks like I can’t hold a job for more than 5 years, it’s because I’m constantly on the search for what will fulfill me in life.

A few years I started to work to build a side hustle, then network marketing, then search for a new full-time job, all without success. Then finally entrepreneurship entered my world. My time had come to leave work and take a huge leap of faith (you can read more about that in this blog post).

Still I did not quit my job and enter entrepreneurship to be home with my kids full-time. This summer they were in daycare 2 days a week because I needed time to work. My youngest started pre-school this year and even though I know people may judge me for this decision, I choose to have him in school 5 full days a week. I need my time to work.

For me work is important, it provides me with a sense of purpose. I love being a mother, and I would give my life for my boys. In order to be the best mom I can be they need to be out of the house in school and I need to work to fulfill my needs, to fill my cup.

This is how I choose to live my life and how I choose to raise my children. The teachers and friends they have met over the years through daycare and school are an extension of my village and why do it alone and strung out when I have a village of people willing to help me.

Everyone, every couple, every parent needs to take a vacation without their children!!

I say this after taking a 7 day vacation with my husband without our children!!!

Whenever I told people what we were doing, they always looked at me with such excitement and sometimes jealousy saying things like “That’s so awesome!”, “Enjoy yourselves”, “You’re so lucky”.

We’ve been married almost 10 years, and even before we got married my husband had been telling me about Estes Park in Colorado. He told me about how beautiful it was and about the amazing the views after the hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. He had been about 3 times with his friends already, and we made a vow that for our 10 year anniversary he would take me there and show me all around.

Well, ten years went a lot more quickly than I imagined and our trip has come and gone. While bittersweet to say that it’s over, it was the most amazing vacation of my life. Yes, he was right the views were amazing, although for our trip we had to deal with smoky skies from the California wildfires – who would’ve thought that would be an issue so far away?! In all honesty the views, in my opinion, were still pretty darn incredible. This only makes me look forward to our next trip out there because this means it’ll be even better than the first. Yes, that’s right, I too have fallen in love with the town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you don’t know where Estes Park is then the easiest way is to tell you that it’s the same town as the famous Stanley Hotel where The Shining was filmed and yes we visited the hotel, and no we saw no ghosts.

We were ready!

The only other times we’ve been away from our kids overnight have been 3 other times and always for weddings. There it wasn’t time we got to relax and be with each other. It was always very hectic, we were running around and usually traveling about an hour or so away.

This vacation was truly a true treat for us. We had 7 whole days to be together!!!

To some an entire week without their kids may sound daunting and yes, fear crept in a few times, but I worked through it because nothing was going to keep me from enjoying this trip with my husband. We needed it, our marriage needed it and even our kids needed it.

We talked about our kids a lot! They were spending the week with my parents, which mean they also got lots of time with their cousins who live just a few minutes away. I got so many pictures of all the fun things they got to do like the zoo, the pool, and the parks. Although the number of pictures dwindled as the week went on. I think you can imagine way, lol!

We would stop and look at their pictures, laugh at things they say and talk about them. So yes, we missed them, but never to the point of regretting the trip. When the 7 days was up while we were sad to leave, we were also ready to go home.

I could tell you more about our trip and likely bore you to death with hiking stories, instead I’ll just tell you why I believe all parents need to take a childless vacation.

You deserve it!

You work so hard every single day caring for other people, you deserve even just a few days of thinking about nobody else but each other. This was probably the best part and I didn’t even realize how much this was affecting me until a few days into our vacation when my mom said it to me on the phone. Even though we were hiking and waking up early I was so relaxed because all I had to do was worry about myself.

That’s it! Just one simple reason. I could come up with a fancy list of 10 reasons, but honestly this is it. You deserve a vacation whether you travel thousands of miles to go hiking, or you go to the beach for a long week and just lay around, or you take a cruise. Whatever kind of vacation you enjoy take it and go without the kids. Rekindle your marriage, remember how to be alone and how to take care of each other.

Don’t wait until your marriage is falling apart to take time together, because by then it could be too late. Take the time now. Young kids take up so much of your time and energy that we forget how to just be alone. It took me a good 24 hours to actually relax because I just didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to not take care of other people. I didn’t know how to just worry about me. When I finally did settle in, it was game on and I took in every ounce of that time away.

If money is an issue, start saving now! I made the decision to leave work just 3 months before our trip and yes, it wasn’t easy making this vacation work, but I wasn’t going to let anything stop us from going on it. We financed some of it and used our tax return for some of it. This vacation was an investment in ourselves and our marriage. It was worth it!!!

Sit down with your partner, set a date (or a time of year) and start planning now even if it’s years before your vacation. Even just knowing it’s coming can be good for you. Like I said we had this planned for 10 years, and in the 6 months leading up to it we spent so much time planning together. We had to figure out not only the dates and logistics, but we would sit down after the kids were in bed and look at cabins and my husband, always the scheduler, had planned our hikes for each day. It gives you something to look forward and boy did we look forward to this trip!

I hope this inspires you to talk to your partner and start thinking about how and where you would go on vacation without kids. Even more than just talk about it start planning it because you deserve it!!!!

Shout Outs

This blog wouldn’t be complete without the appropriate shout outs to the grandparents who kindly took care of our children (human and fur) while we were away. Without them this vacation never would have happened and we are so grateful for your willingness to open up your lives and spend one exhausted week taking care of your grandkids for us. We love you and we thank you!! Also, don’t worry we don’t plan on doing this every year, lol!

Why I went to the movies alone on Mother’s Day

For about two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day all I wanted to do was go to the movie theater by myself and see A Wrinkle in Time. Why I couldn’t tell you, but there was something pulling me, telling me to go. I have never been to the movie theater by myself and I never read the book, A Wrinkle in Time, and I have no idea what it’s about but I wanted to see it. Maybe it’s because I’ve really been into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast and she interviewed Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, who starred in the movie with her. This was months ago, but it just stuck with me.

No matter the reason I finally got the guts to tell my husband what I wanted for Mother’s Day. Yes, it took guts to tell him because to me this request was a little odd and definitely out of character for me. Honestly when I told him the Saturday night before he of course said ok, he’s so understanding, but he did kind of laugh of me and I won’t lie I got a little offended which caused me to get defensive and mad at him for not being nicer about his response. A little petty, yes, but this was hard for me to ask and that wasn’t the response I was hoping for from him. Either way it was fine and I brushed it off because getting into a fight about his reaction to my Mother’s Day request was so not worth the aggravation.

Sunday comes around and we pile in the car to my parents for breakfast and it was lovely, we laughed, the kids played with their cousins and we heard all about my parent’s trip to Sedona and the basketball my 37 year old brother won out of the claw machine at their trip to the indoor water park and how other kids were asking him for tips to get stuff out of the machine and he refused to share with them (hahahahaha I love him!).

Oh, but I should share that before all this we had what my husband dubbed as the “Mother’s Day Massacre of 2018” in our own home. This happens every time we are in a hurry to go somewhere, the kids need something and my husband and I are trying to just simply get ourselves together, but stopping every 5 seconds because someone is hungry, someone pooped their pants (why won’t my 3 year old learn to use the potty), and it goes on and on. I’ll yadda yadda my way through this one like a good Seinfeld fan and just say that it ended with my 5 year old on the kitchen floor with his jacket thrown in his face and my 3 year screaming his head off while I put on his shoes. #momlife #happymothersday

So after that fiasco, apologizing from me for being too rough, but also requesting apologizes from the kids for not listening (I mean they are old enough to get their own coats and shoes for crying out loud!) we made it out the door.

I love going to my parents for breakfast because it means were home in the early afternoon and still have most of our Sunday to ourselves. For me this meant getting to the movie on time. I was super hesitant about going by myself and even caught myself trying to get out of it and without realizing I wanted until the last minute to leave. I knew I wanted to do it and I was going to but it was going to take me ignoring the doubts to do it. Sounds silly now, but at the time it was weird.

I do it, I show up the movie buy a single ticket, go in and get a large popcorn and a soda. I rarely drink soda, but this was a special occasion. Plus they have those cool touchscreens where you can get whatever you want, so cherry vanilla coke it was for me! I walked in wondering if I would run into anyone I know, but instead of looking around I went right for a seat without anyone in front of me so I could leisurely put my feet up and enjoy the show.

As soon as I sat down I realized I had done exactly as I was supposed to because I felt so relaxed, so comfortable and so excited to see a movie by myself without anyone else. Why haven’t I done this before? What was I so afraid of? It no longer mattered that my husband didn’t give me the response I was looking for or it be truthful, the reassurance I needed because I was doing something outside of my comfort zone (I understand now that that’s actually what I was doing.)

The movie was awesome and well Oprah’s voice is just amazing! Probably the reason I love her podcast, I mean besides all the awesome interviews she does too!

Mother’s Day 2018 was perfect! Even with the rocky start, it was perfect and you know what that’s because life isn’t perfect and neither are we. There were laughs with family, memories made and shared together, quiet moments at home, and stepping out of my comfort zone was easier than expected and very rewarding!!!

Mother’s Day isn’t always a day to celebrate.

For so many Mother’s Day is a joyful celebration. For me it’s a time to celebrate being so blessed to be a mom myself, to be grateful for the two little boys (and the fur baby of course) that are in my life. A reminder to be grateful that I’m so lucky to have my own mother and my mother-in-law in my life. In my short time as a mom I’ve really looked forward to Mother’s Day, but a few years ago that was not the case at all.

I was actually pregnant on my first Mother’s Day, but I refused to celebrate. I told my husband that I didn’t want any gifts, cards or even to say the words Happy Mother’s Day to me. Sounds ironic and slightly selfish considering many other people’s circumstances, but this is my story so I’m going to be real and tell you how I felt at the time.

Earlier that year I had a miscarriage and it was devastating to say the least. Luckily after the miscarriage we got pregnant fairly quickly and on that day in May we were still too early to tell people and being pregnant after a miscarriage is scary. It’s filled with worry and doubt that it will happen again so it’s hard to celebrate.

I watched on social media as my friends and family shouted out to their mom’s and showed pictures of their babies, while I sat with my own inner turmoil that I still might not be able to celebrate Mother’s Day the following year, and slightly angry that I couldn’t even celebrate the baby I had growing inside me because of my own fear.

So for others though, this day is a sad one. A one filled with only memories of their mom that has passed away, or of children that they have lost. For some it’s the yearning for the child they want so badly. While we celebrate and rejoice, they retreat and hide away.

For those not celebrating Mother’s Day for whatever reason please know you are in my prayers today and always! For those celebrating please take a moment to think of those who wished they were celebrating, or wished their own mom was there to celebrate with, or like me, they are too scared to celebrate.

I love you and I thank you for taking the time to read my story.