God’s timing is perfect, so I won’t draw a conclusion that I was somehow in control and absolutely insane to have twins on the same timeline as E going through puberty. He knew what He was doing and continues to know what He’s doing. She was 10 years old when I was pregnant and delivered the boys. She is 13 years old now. The leap in maturity and stumbling through the challenges of her body changing, emotions and all the rest of the fun…these years would be especially trying without any other children in the house. Throw two toddlers into the mix and it’s absolutely bonkers.
The other important factor here is that E was an only child for a decade. The world literally revolved around her for years and years and years, and quite suddenly, she now has to share every part of her day, every bit of our attention and honestly, a much-diminished version of our energy and availability for her unique needs. It takes some major work on our part to make sure we don’t overlook her in the chaos of twin toddlers, and it takes a special child to adjust to sharing her whole world with two little crazies. She’s managed it like a champ and our house couldn’t function without her help, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our rough moments. Here are 8 tips to help with the adjustment of going from an only child to a full house.
1. Carve out solo time. This is the hardest one. Time is the hottest of commodities purely by necessity and survival. You have to be extremely diligent to identify and claim time for your older child. Make a weeknight dedicated just to them and stick to it. Even when things get totally out of control and you’re all just barely hanging on, knowing that special time will come consistently is a major win for everyone.
2. Be sensitive to jealousy. The green-eyed monster is alive and well. It’s hard to share Mom and Dad’s time, much less everything else. Jealousy can feel mean and annoying when you’re on the “receiving end,” but try to find empathy in knowing that the jealousy stems from missing the relationship and routine that existed before the new children arrived. It’s a huge adjustment and can dig up some pretty big emotions!
3. Expect acting out. We’ve heard everything from “Nobody cares about me anymore! It’s all about J & B!” to “You never let me do anything!” to “Shut up!!!! I’m trying to sleep!!!!!” Everyone’s patience is thin with young kids in the house. Couple that with transitioning as an only child to a sibling, puberty, and no one sleeping really well and that thin ice is splintering. Just like I sometimes found myself lashing out at my husband in moments of insane exhaustion after a long sleepless night of teething, we should also expect for our older kids to hit the wall sometimes and act out.
4. Identify activities. Find something that is just their’s and that they can dig into and busy themselves with. Whether it’s cheerleading or swim lessons or environmental club, help your child find an activity they enjoy and commit to doing whatever is necessary to make sure they can do it. Not only does it show value to your child and that you care, it gives them a focus and distraction from the changes at home.
5. Affirm. Take everyone opportunity to verbally affirm and encourage your older child. Say “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” at every turn. Remind them that you see them and they are important. Let them know you have not forgotten them and even though you seem preoccupied with laundry, bottles and diapers, you are paying attention and are interested and pleased with them.
6. Get them involved. Have your child dig in with the care of the new child (children). Make it a family effort and show them you trust them enough to let them play a part in raising this new addition. Use the opportunity to work together and spend time together, and help them to feel valued and needed.
7. Communicate. Ask questions. How do you feel about our family? What do you think we should do tonight? How was your day? Open the lines of communication and talk, talk, talk. Encourage your child to ask you questions too. Affirm their emotions and talk through life as you know it now. Together. Kids make a lot of assumptions, most of them being wrong. Keep them talking so that you have the opportunity to understand how they are feeling, clarify where you can and guide them back to home when their thoughts have led them astray.
8. Educate. When it comes to the newborn and toddler stage, time does not equal love. Time equals necessity and basic care. E has struggled most with how much of our day is spent wholly absorbed in J&B’s needs, the general care routine of toddler twins, and/or activities geared towards making them happy (i.e. keeping us sane). It can feel one-sided if you’re using the clock as your measure. Educating your older child that time is spent with the “littles” because you have to, not because you prefer them to your older child, is very helpful in adjusting to Mom and Dad’s busy new feeding/sleeping/pooping routine. Quality, not quantity.
My secret fun with E? We head out for photo shoots regularly. She loves to be in front of the camera, and it’s a great opportunity for us to share some intimate time together, have fun and get some updated images of her growing up. Every time I get a new lens or have a new creative project to try, she’s my willing model. Win all around! Here’s some of our fun together:
Self Care Tips for Working Moms
Being a single working mom of twins and a teenager means I often put myself at the bottom of the to do list. Whether I’m playing chef, chauffeur, bandager of boo boos or homework advisor, the hat I put on least often is woman. As a married working mom, I practically forgot I was a beautiful woman and wife. As a single working mom, I struggle to embrace myself as a confident available woman. Focused mainly on carrying my family through the days, I forget that taking the time to focus on myself every once in awhile ultimately makes me a better parent. Here are some fun self care tips for working moms that could spark that little feisty woman you know is in there but haven’t seen in forever.
1. Boudoir Shoot: Yup. I’m certain a great many of you just went “Yeah, right. Thanks for nothing.” WAIT! Seriously…I know this is what I do for a living, and I’m not listing this one at the top of the list as a shameless plug. I’m listing it at the top of the list because of the why behind what I do as a photographer. Our tagline at Modern Femme Photography is “because you deserve to feel beautiful.” A boudoir shoot is a fabulous way to celebrate and embrace your unique journey as a woman, be pampered, but most importantly, be reminded that you are beautiful, just as you are. And because it’s important to practice what you preach, I hopped in front of the camera a couple of weeks ago as part of a two-session process I’ve planned to reclaim my confidence and self-worth as a newly single woman.
2. Support Group: We have a great online community growing at Working Moms United that gives support and encouragement at those low points where being a work mom chips away at your energy, self-esteem and willpower. It’s a wonderful resource for moms on-the-go who need a pep talk but can only pop online here and there or might not have available time to meet up with others. I’ve also recently joined a local church and have been attending their quarterly women’s brunches. They provide child care for a few hours while I sit and chat with other women, feel refreshed and feel supported in prayer as a woman of faith. I’ve also identified a few key accountability partners in my life. Girl friends with similar life circumstances who can serve as trusted encouragers and keep me on track.
3. Learn Something New: Switching up the routine and enjoying something fresh and new can be a great way to recharge. Recently, I booked a makeup lesson with Dhalia Edwards of The Bride’s Corner. Dhalia is not only a dear friend of mine, but she’s incredibly talented both in her technique and her warm-hearted care of her clients. She patiently took 3 hours of her day to sift through my old, dated make up, repurpose old tools for new styles and teach me proper application techniques for everyday looks. Not only did I feel pampered and pretty when I left, but I felt rejuvenated and more confident in how to achieve a flawless look on my own.
4. Schedule Quiet Time: Spare minutes are a hot commodity for the working mom. Every second of every day feels tied to a never-ending to do list that typically revolves around everyone other than yourself. You need to make a choice to declare a bit of each day for yourself. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 20 minutes or the luxurious full hour, diligently schedule quiet time. Take the time to breathe in the quiet, write in a journal, pray, speak out gratitudes, do a few yoga stretches…whatever your peace may be. Do not allow yourself to skimp on this part of your day.
Remember, the first step towards being a better mom is being a better you. That better you needs some TLC! It may feel overwhelming or even scary to put any of these self care tips for workings moms into practice, but trust me, you’ll be glad that you did. Remember the positive, reclaim your beauty, refresh your soul and recharge!
Year-End Money Tips for Working Moms and Female Entrepreneurs
I don’t know about you but the end of the year brings two thoughts…well, three thoughts for me. One, CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two, fresh start on January 1st! And three, holy cow, what’s my money situation? Taxes are coming.
A big, big thank you to Kristen Robinson, SVP of Women and Young Investors at Fidelity Investments for taking the time to develop these year-end money tips for working moms and female entrepreneurs!
2 Tips for Female Business Owners / Entrepreneurs:
Keep Your Future in Mind with the Right Retirement Account for Your Needs
- Look into the different plans available to business owners, such as a 401(k) for Small Business, a self-employed 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA. You may need to appoint a plan administrator- someone who takes care of administrative responsibilities and ensures the plan is operating according to the Plan Document. Learn more about these different types of accounts here.
- Contribute to your account. The deadline for depositing employer profit-sharing contributions for the current calendar year is generally the business’ tax-filing deadline, plus extensions (for unincorporated businesses, this date is usually April 15 of the following year, plus any extensions).
- If you own a business, have you considered how best to plan for the future? If you plan to keep it in the family, consider creating a structure that makes it easier to transfer the business’s assets to other family members, such as a family limited partnership or a family limited liability company.
- There are many options; your attorney or tax adviser can help you select one that is appropriate for you in light of your specific situation.
4 Tips for Single Moms:
Get Involved in Your Family’s Finances
- It’s important to have a full picture of the family financial situation. At minimum, know what accounts you have and with whom. That includes banks and investing accounts, life insurance, mortgages, and loans. Having a handle on this information is an important foundation as you plan for the future, and can bring greater peace of mind.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am still getting a grip on my finances after the divorce. I realize now how little I knew before and how problematic that can be.)
Save for Retirement
- Retirement is not a destination but a journey, and it’s never too early – or too late – to start putting away savings for the future. Along the way, there are myriad opportunities to get off the path—and back on it. And at virtually any turn in the road, there are possibilities to speed up your progress.
- Make it a goal to save 15% or more of your income each year. If that’s not reachable today, make sure to make it a priority to carve out what you can. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.
- Aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay go toward your “must-have” expenses.
Try to Save Three to Six Months of Essential Expenses in an Emergency Fund.
Look for Growth Potential from your Investments
- Knowing your financial personality can help you determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term investments that match how comfortable you are with risk, and have the growth potential to meet your life’s needs, be that when you want to retire or when you want to send kids to college.
- If you’re not sure where to start, read up online, or reach out to a professional. There’s never a fee to come into Fidelity to talk to a financial planner, but we do recommend you reevaluate twice a year. Just like you take care of your physical health by visiting the doctor and dentist, think of this as taking care of your financial health, which is vitally important as well.
Protect your Legacy
- In order to ensure that what you’ve accumulated is distributed to your children, family and causes you care about most, it is important to name beneficiaries and create a will and health care proxy. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about the ‘what it’s,’ but it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Do you really want someone else making these decisions for you?
Be Kind To Yourself: Words of Wisdom from Alyssa Milano
I had the opportunity to chat with actress and working mom, Alyssa Milano, last week as she celebrated her new role as “Mom-Bassador” for the Sprout channel’s 10 year anniversary. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her life as a working mom and her answers always centered around one fundamental rule: Be Kind to Yourself.
I thought this was especially powerful, because as mothers, we so often overlook self-care as we race around taking care of everyone else around us. Her words rang true as she reminded me that I can’t be my best mom if I’m not my best me. So what does motherhood look like for Alyssa Milano?
Things are Always in Motion
You have to be able to shift and make changes, go with the flow! Just when you think you’ve got a routine down…there it goes. Having kids will always keep you guessing and send you moving in new directions into uncharted territory. Be flexible and allow yourself to embrace change. Don’t hold too firmly to what you think you know – Change will always be in process and something’s got to give in order to keep moving forward. You are a great mom and you are doing the best you can right now in this moment. Be kind to yourself, releasing the pressure to be perfect and releasing the guilt when you inevitably fall short of that unnatural expectation. You are a great mom.
Healthy Mom = Healthy Childhood
Alyssa Milano clings to two “must-haves” in her daily routine as a busy, working mom. This type of consistency helps her be her best self, which makes her the best mom that she can be for her children. By being kind to herself, she keeps her mental health sacred so that her children experience the best childhood possible. What are the two “must-haves” Alyssa Milano can’t live without?
- Break a sweat. She puts aside 45 minutes to an hour every day to get moving. Whether she goes to the gym for a workout or simply takes a walk, she focuses on taking care of her body and keeping a level head with some healthy movement each and every day. If she has busy weeks with jobs, meetings or events, she schedules it into her day like it’s part of her job or another appointment. It’s not optional.
- Keep the bedtime routine solid. The children go to bed at the same time every night. The routine is solid, it’s something they expect and she sticks closely to it. After 7:30PM each night, it’s time for her and her husband. Quality time that is kind to both of them, keeping their marriage strong and setting a solid example for their children in love and commitment. Carving out time for her husband with a regular routine makes sure that life as a busy working mom doesn’t accidentally let her marriage slip away.
When was the last time you were kind to yourself? What simple changes can you make in your perspective as a busy, working mom to focus more on self-care and less on burn out? It’s encouraging to see working moms like Alyssa Milano step up to the plate to send a clear message to society – Being a mom means so much more than trying to be everything to everyone all the time. Being a mom means taking care with yourself, making sure you are equipped with the love and energy to pour into your family in a meaningful way. You’re doing a great job, mom. Yes, you! Go ahead, pat yourself on the back.