Three things that changed my perspective

Good morning and happy Friday!

Two posts in one week…who am I?

I am super excited for this weekend because my little brother is flying in from Chicago tomorrow to visit!  I saw him briefly at Christmas, but don’t see him nearly enough, so I’m super pumped 🙂  My mom and sister are also coming and I can’t wait to spend some extra time with them as well.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was initially having a really hard time with going back to work, mostly because I was feeling guilty and like it might be the wrong decision for James.  In addition to things just generally getting easier as we both adapted, there have been three things that really helped shift my perspective to seeing this as a positive change.

1. Trust your child

I know I’ve mentioned Janet Lansbury about a million times lately, but it’s because I really have become a little obsessed with her podcast.  As someone who has a young toddler and works with 3-6 year-olds, I learn something from every episode I listen to.  We have about a thirty minute commute, so I love listening on the way to school in the morning to help get me in the right mindset for the day.  I’m about to listen to her book, No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame on Audible as well and can’t wait!

One thing she talks about is trusting your child and your child’s process.

To me, part of this is trusting that James is capable of handling this change.  I know he’s social and generally enjoys being around other children.  If I show him that I believe he can handle it, he will have more confidence in the new situation.  If I act like I’m unsure of things, especially during school drop-off, it gives the message that situation is unsafe or that he shouldn’t be there.

This also means trusting that his process may involve some tears.  I have to be okay with his big emotions, whether that’s tears at drop off (which thankfully seem to have subsided for the time) or more tantrums at home.  I know that is part of how he’s processing this big change and I want to show him that his feelings are okay.

2. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad

Montessori classrooms often have 1-2 trained teachers and then an assistant.  We have the BEST assistant right now and she is totally someone I’d like to be friends with outside of work too, which is always awesome.

She has a son about a year older than mine and she has been so supportive of me as I’ve adjusted to saying goodbye to James for part of the day.

He had a couple of really hard drop-offs and she reminded me that this separation is really a good experience and a great lesson in independence.  I’m by no means saying putting a child in school / child care is always the right decision.  I think it’s so different for each family and situation, but this did remind me that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad.

3. Life is short

Have you guys read this letter yet?  I saw the link on this blog (which I love!) and it is so moving.  It’s a letter from a young woman who knew she was dying.  It’s a great reminder to let go of the little things and make the most of life.

I really like routine and schedule and feeling like things are under control.  Because of that, I really hate when things like naps are unpredictable or not going well.  This beautiful letter reminded me that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter if my child doesn’t nap super well for a while.  We can still have great days together and enjoy this special time that goes by so quickly.

Has anyone inspired you lately / changed your perspective?

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I love.  Thanks for your support!

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Going back to work

Earlier this month, I went back to work at the Montessori school where I taught before James was born.

I actually wrote out a whole post on my thoughts on going back to work a couple of days before I started, and then didn’t post it because the experience was so different from what I had expected.

I am so, so fortunate in that I was able to make the choice to stay home with James for over a year, which was 100% what I wanted to do.  I was actually planning to go back to work last September at the one year mark, but when I met with the head of my school, she could tell that I wasn’t ready.

I will be forever grateful that I got to spend those extra months at home.  I think the combination of James turning one and going back to work at the same time was making me too emotional.  It felt like too much of an ending.  I am super lucky to have a boss who is also a friend and who has been incredibly patient and understanding in working with me to find the right time to return to teaching, and the right schedule for me.

I knew I would be somewhat emotional about saying goodbye to James for the morning, but I was not that worried about him as he’s generally social and I know and trust his teachers.

You guys, it was so much harder than I thought it would be.  To be honest, I probably would have quit after the first two days if i didnt’ know and feel committed to the people I work with.

There were two things that made our first couple of weeks really hard:

1. Nap Transition

SO hard to keep him awake on the drive home so he gets a good nap….

James is used to taking two naps.  He is not one of those super adaptable babies who sleeps anywhere anytime.  He is a good sleeper, but he thrives on a schedule.  His class at school takes one nap, so that has been a big adjustment.

It’s not that they wouldn’t let him take his morning nap at school, more just that there is no way he would settle down to sleep while everyone else is playing.  We’re still working on the nap transition.

This weekend, he took great naps, but both Saturday and Sunday, that included a long nap at 9 AM.  So far, when we try for one mid-day nap, it is super short and then he won’t nap the rest of the day, so that is an ongoing challenge.  This largely explains my lack of blog posts….

2. Ear Infection

James had a minor cold when he started school, but we had just been to the doctor for his checkup and she said it was no big deal, so I wasn’t worried about it.  Well, that turned into an ear infection and he was pretty miserable.

He had never had an ear infection before (and really only ever had one minor cold), and I didn’t realize it right away.  He was acting different / crying more than usual, but I thought it was just because he was over-tired and having a lot of big feelings about the transition.

I still feel super bad about not noticing the ear infection right away, but it also felt like a huge weight was lifted when I realized he was sick.  I had really thought he was acting so miserable because of starting school, and I had never felt so much mom-guilt before.  Ever since he started antibiotics, he is back to his super happy self!

He now gets really excited when I tell him we’re going to school and mention his teachers’ names.  It makes me so happy and relieved that this was the right decision for our family.  Now if we can just get his new nap schedule figured out….any tips on the 2 to 1 nap transition are much appreciated 🙂

On the positive side, I have loved being back in the classroom!  Even more than I thought I would.

I am getting to teach with a great friend whom I really like and respect and am learning so much from her.  We also have a wonderful assistant, who I didn’t know before, but I am loving working with her as well.  It has been really fun to see how much the children have grown and matured in a year and to meet the new little ones.  I am also really looking forward to posting more Montessori-inspired things based on what we’re doing in the classroom.

I’ll be back later this week to share three things that helped change my perspective on this big transition!

How has your January been?

Are you good at handling change?  I am definitely not, I get a lot of anxiety about change and pretty much dread it.

Continue Reading

A Special Interview – Jessica Rolph of Happy Family and LOVEVERY

I am so excited for today’s post because I got the chance to interview the founder of one of my very favorite companies, Happy Baby!

My love for Happy Baby (or Happy Family Brands, the broader company) started long before I had a child of my own.  I actually interned for Happy Baby when I was a senior in college and had such a great experience with the company.  As soon as my little guy was ready for snacks and pouches, I started buying their products and couldn’t be happier with them.

My little guy in a Happy Baby shirt I saved from my internship days

One of the Happy Family founders, Jessica Rolph, just launched a new play gym company called LOVEVERY (also available here on Amazon <- affiliate link).  It is a beautiful play gym designed based on neuroscience and babies’ developmental needs.  I love the streamlined design, as some play gyms can be really overstimulating for little ones.

This is not a sponsored post, I just love the concept behind the play gym, and wanted to share.

I hope you enjoy the interview with Jessica Rolph!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your business

At my best, I’m a successful serial entrepreneur, passionate about early life nutrition and learning, and a loving mother of three little people. At my worst, I am overwhelmed, have a chronically messy house, and drive my husband nuts with my constant juggle.

I launched Happy Family 10 years ago with my partner, and together we grew the company into the top organic baby and toddler food brand. Now I’m the cofounder and CEO of Lovevery, a company offering play products designed by child development experts to help parents feel confident they are giving their children exactly what they need at each stage of development.

Q: How have your own children influenced your business ventures?

My partner at Happy Family and I actually didn’t have children when we first started the company. We are both passionate about healthy foods, and my partner saw an opportunity to create a new baby food company that made the possibility of organic mainstream and affordable.

A few years into Happy Family, I started having my own babies. I found myself curious about what my babies’ brains were craving. My birthing instructor gave me a copy of a doctoral thesis on infant brain development called “Neural Foundations – What Stimulation Your Baby Needs to Become Smart”. It had all these detailed, nerdy, cool things that I could do with my child that felt really natural and simple. I couldn’t help but pouring myself into It and it totally transformed my experience as a parent. I discovered the world through my child’s eyes and felt connected to my baby because I was giving him what he was hungry to learn. I was dissatisfied with the toys we had, and started making my own learning tools. I wanted to share what has inspired me with other families, which is why we created Lovevery.

Q: I’ve been a stay at home mom for the past year and am about to go back to work.  Do you have any tips on finding balance for working moms?

Balance is so hard, but the thing that has helped me to feel as good as I can about the juggle is when I am able to be really present when I am with the kids and enjoy them. It is so hard to do, especially during the work week when I have trouble shutting off the problems my brain has been chewing on all day. The weekends are a little easier because we have more time to get into flow with the kids.

I also have accepted that there will always be a mess somewhere, and stuff to do around the house, and I try to ignore it. One suggestion a friend had is to make a list of all the things that you are not going to do when you go back to work and try to get to peace with this list. We have hired a lot of moms who are ready to come back to work, and one thing that seems to cause the most stress, is that they can’t do what they did so well as a mom before they had a job outside the home. They don’t have time to keep making their baby’s meals homemade, or they can’t pull together a pinterest perfect crafty birthday party – all things that brought them joy when they were at home but we just don’t have time for when back to work. If you can afford it, getting help with house cleaning, laundry, and buying pre-prepped food can really help. Something’s gotta give!

Q: What was your inspiration for creating the Lovevery baby gym and how is it different from other baby gyms on the market?

The play gym has so much potential to be a platform for learning for the first 12 months, but I wasn’t satisfied with what was on the market. I had a Montessori bell on a ribbon from etsy, wooden grasping rings, had printed out some black and white designs, and a Montessori graspable ball – but they weren’t convenient, safe (close supervision required with laminated black and white cards, bell on a ribbon, and the wooden rings cracked.)

We designed the play gym with Montessori principles in mind, so babies can practice important skills like grasping, batting, mouthing, looking at dynamic visual stimulation and engaging their developing senses. We also included a book on baby development and activities of how to play with the gym that helps parents know how they can help at each stage.

Q: Do you have plans to expand Lovevery beyond the beautiful baby gym?  What products might we see next?

Yes! More coming soon 🙂 Stay tuned this summer!

Q: Did your work as a founding partner for Happy Family prepare you for launching this latest venture?  What do the two companies have in common?

There are so many new things to learn with each new business, and I’m trying not to learn every new lesson the hard way! I know that starting a business is all-consuming, and that I need to practice “passionate detachment.” This means remaining passionate and caring deeply, but also not letting every little issue consume me!

Thank you Jessica for sharing your story!

Continue Reading

A few of my favorite things – holiday edition

Good morning and happy new year!

I had no intention of disappearing for almost a month, but I knew December would be a whirlwind, so I’m not altogether surprised.  I am back though, and have several upcoming posts I’m excited about.

Today, I just wanted to share a few recent favorites, many of which are from the last month’s festivities.

My sister’s wedding

My sister got married on December 16 and it was the BEST day.  I love her and her new husband so much, and could not be happier for them.  The whole day was beautiful, from getting ready together to the ceremony to the reception.

Plus, how cute was this little ring bearer?

Disney World

My sister and her husband decided to go to Disney World for their honeymoon and they kindly invited us along!  I honestly debated whether or not to go because, while I wanted to spend time with my family and love Disney World, the idea of going with a one year old sounded exhausting.  Well, it was exhausting, but it was also lots of fun!  I would be happy to share a post on Disney with a one year old if anyone is interested.  I think we learned a lot through the experience.

Family Time

Between my sister’s wedding, Disney World, and Christmas, we spent a whole two weeks away from home with my family.  It was amazing to spend so much time together and to watch James get to know all my family even better.  I wish we all lived closer!

Home Sweet Home

I was never one of those people who was happy when a vacation was over.  I always felt like they flew by too quickly and I was never ready to go home.  Until now.

Traveling with a toddler is fun, but it’s exhausting and I was super ready to come home.  James is at a stage where he plays super independently and our house is set up for that.  He required much more supervision (and much more “no”) at my parents’ house and it was exhausting.  He has been so happy ever since we’ve been home and it has felt truly relaxing.  He got a couple of new sets of blocks for Christmas and is so happy just wandering around the house playing with them.

Instant Pot!

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and I love it so much already!  So far I’ve only made basics (hard boiled eggs, apple sauce, steamed carrots, and quinoa), but I cannot get over how easy and fast it is.  I can’t wait to find more recipes and cook actual meals in it.  Does anyone have any favorites?

Thug Kitchen 101

I also got this cookbook for Christmas and love it already.  I’ve made two recipes so far (skillet beer chili mac and a cucumber salad with peanuts and cilantro) and have one more on the menu for this week.  I want to make almost everything in it and can’t wait to cook my way through the book this winter.  (If you’re not familiar with Thug Kitchen, they have great vegan recipes, but be warned, the books use a lot of profanity.)


Unruffled Podcast with Janet Lansbury

I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize Janet Lansbury has a podcast, but I just started listening and am already obsessed.  If you’re not familiar with her, she is a wonderful RIE trained expert in child development and behavior.  I plan to work my way through all of her past episodes over the next few months, but so far, this has been one of my favorite episodes.

And that about sums it up!  The next month is going to be pretty busy and full of lots of change, but I’m going to try to get back to posting at least once or twice a week.

What was the best part of your holiday season?

If you’ve been to Disney World, what is your favorite park / ride?

What are you excited about in 2018?

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I love.  Thanks for your support!

Continue Reading