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It is what you say, and also how you say it.

Self talk. I always rolled my eyes when trainers, therapists or counselors would speak about the importance of self talk. If I wanted to hear warm and fuzzies, I’d call my grandmother. I’m a realist. I like to shoot straight. Well, when it comes to myself anyways. There is no need to sugar coat things.

But what I found was my realist words walked hand in hand with negativity. And that negativity would snow ball into straight up mean cruel talk. Why is it that we tiptoe around others, afraid of hurting their feelings (I mean apologize to the driver who pulls out in front of me) but we speak to ourselves like we’re the worst people alive? It’s insane.

So lately my homework from my therapist has been speaking to myself nicer, gentler if you will. I would say it’s been hard. It feels awkward like I’m speaking a foreign language. It’s a work in progress to say the least- I have my “student self talker” sticker stuck to my chest at all times.

Fast forward to today, and I was getting my butt handed to me during my workout. The rower is truly my definition of hell. I hate it. It hates me. We hate each other. But I found myself rowing for distance… multiple times. And with every circuit, my endurance was slipping. Our goal was to meet or exceed the distance of the circuit before- so far I kept up- but this last circuit I was struggling. I had tried to close my eyes and focus on using my legs. But the pain and tired muscles were taking over my mind. I was winded, not winded, I was panting like a dog on rower two. I was spent.

Our coach started yelling at us in an attempt to encourage us. She said “ Your body follows your mind. Tell yourself you can do it, you will do it and you will keep going.”

I was at my end. I thought, “Why the hell not? What do I have to lose?”

So I started talking to myself. I tried the whole you’ve got this pep talk. But that wasn’t working. So I decided to hit where I needed it.

So my conversation went as follows:

“This sucks but you are strong.”

“Molly, You are strong.”

“You want that goal? Work for it.”

“ Yes this hurts like hell but you are stronger than this.”

“ Keep going. Close your eyes, use your legs, pull hard and keep going. You can do this!”

I’m sure the lady next to me thought I had completely lost it. I know I looked like a fool. If it’s possible to limp across the finish line on a rower, that’s what I did but I finished. Not only did I finish, I hit my goal! I thought I was going to puke at one point or several points to be honest, but I didn’t care. I had proven to myself that I was indeed strong. I was stronger than I thought I was. The more I believed it, the better my form [on the rower] got.

Then we had to transition from the rower to the treadmill- it was time for the distance run. After all that rowing, I was seriously looking for a trash can just in case I spewed. But I stood on the treadmill, I looked myself in the mirror and told myself, “Molly be the badass you wish you were.” And I pushed the start button. I finished all three runs, and hit my goal with each. Don’t get my message wrong, I was panting like a fool and my heart monitoring was blinking red like it was trying to alert me that my heart is not suppose to be beating so fast… but I didn’t die. I made it. I finished. And I felt like a badass for those last sweet two minutes of stretching before I had to face the real world. Maybe there is something to this self talk after all.

Proof I didn’t die.

Look, there is nothing more empowering than accomplishing a goal that you didn’t think you could. There is nothing more badass than realizing you are stronger than you thought you were. But what if this happened more than just in the gym?

On my drive home, I reflected on my last hour of torture. My body did follow my mind. So what if I could use this new found superpower in the real world? What if I could alter the way in which I react to stresses and situations just by adjusting how I perceive myself in them? What if I actually spoke nicer to myself and started to believe the kinder words that were said to me? Mind blown.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got my “student self talker” sticker present at all times. Mental strength is something that’s always been a work in progress for me. But it’s a work in progress I’m actually trying to focus on.

I have lived 23 out of my 30 years on this earth, thinking, feeling and believing that I wasn’t good enough. I am my worst critic by far. All those people who have negative things to say about me…. well honey you just keep talking because I can promise you, I have said WAY worse about myself to myself. We grow up hearing sticks and stones but the reality is words do hurt us. Words hurt me more than stones. Words bruise more than my skin. They bruise my heart, and my soul.

As I continue to work on speaking a little nicer to myself, I encourage you to reflect on the voice in your head. As mothers, we have to notice that our little ones look to us for example on how to do this- no pressure or anything.

I remember watching my mom look herself in the mirror when I was a young girl and hearing her throw every insult she could think to herself. She thought nothing of it. She was just unhappy with her body or her hair but it shaped me. I thought my mom was the most beautiful human being on this earth and if she hated how she looked, what was I ever going to think about myself? So I started copying her words. In the beginning because I felt it was cool. Then because the world began to tell me those words were true and real. My mom loved me fiercely as I grew up and she was my biggest supporter. She would have never in a million zillion years told me I was ugly, stupid, fat or not good enough. Never. But by telling herself that, she showed me how to speak to myself. And now as a mom, I cannot allow my daughter to follow in my footsteps. So it’s time to be a little kinder, more forgiving and gentler with myself. I’m only human after all. Completely imperfect and flawed. A true hot mess of a person. But I am also strong and a badass when I need to be. And I will keep telling myself that until I believe it down in my soul.

to the girl in the middle of rejection

Girl it hurts. I get it. Some days it feels like this rejection is going to be the thing that destroys you. Some days getting out of bed requires more effort than you think you can muster. Some days you feel like the strength you need, just isn’t in you. And all those negative, awful, soul crushing lies you have told yourself for years must be true. Because if you were not {insert all the hurtful words you use to describe yourself} this never would have happened.

enemy: See Molly- you are not good enough. You are not exciting enough. You are not fun enough. You will never be beautiful enough. You are used and tattered. You are convenient but not worthwhile. You will always be second best.

enemy: How do I know? Look at your life and see the proof. You will NEVER be good enough.

Rejection concretes these lies. It proves that your worst fears about yourself are truths, and these self-damaging thoughts are tangible. It breathes life into the lies that the enemy wants to plant into your heart, and worse…. your soul.

Girl, never feel like you are alone in this attack. Do not believe the lies that rejection is pushing into your heart. I know it feels like your world is shaking a part and your self worth is in pieces on the floor, but do not give into this wave of attack. The enemy knows where your soul is aching, and he is playing Trojan horse with your mind. Embedding himself into your mind, and waiting until the darkness and quiet to spill his destruction.

No matter the scale of your disappointment, the pain you are feeling is there. The rejection of not landing the promotion, the negative pregnancy test, the loss of your job, the death of a family member, the destruction of a relationship/ marriage or even the loss of a pet. That pain is forcing you to reexamine yourself, and there within that self examination leaves you vulnerable. But with the vulnerability, it also grants you the opportunity for growth. I use to say that rejection will happen in life but you have the choice to be bitter or be better. Granted, that was when life threw smaller disappointments my way- when being “better” was easier. When being better didn’t mean pulling every ounce of self control and strength out of my bones to function. But regardless, those words still ring true. And they will ring true to you.

Trust me friend, if you allow this rejection to destroy you, you will become consumed with bitterness. Your sweetness, and your light will dim. You will allow this disappointment to become all of who you are. When truthfully, this disappointment will always be a piece of you. This rejection happened to you and there is no erasing that. But this pain could become a small faint scar that causes unimaginable growth and beauty.

I have rose bushes in my front yard. I have no green thumb but I have learned that rose bushes are perfect for me. You see, roses are the most beautiful after they have been pruned. When you prune a rose bush, you cut the beautiful rose petals back and leave the stems and thorns. The rose bush looks pretty bleak for a while- no bright petals on the stems; nothing but thorns. You do this with faith that the roses are going to grow back more beautiful, fuller and bigger than they were before. And with time, sunlight and faith, my roses always grow back more beautiful, fuller and stronger than they were before. They were pretty before I pruned them. Then I took the painful step of cutting away all of their beauty and exposing the bareness of their thorns. And with time, they grow back more beautiful than I could have imagined. And God’s plan for you isn’t any different. You are being pruned right now. You were pretty before. But girl, the beauty that is blooming in you right now is unimaginable. Hold tight to that faith.

It is okay to not always be okay. It is okay to need time, and moments to grieve the disappointments in life. You probably shouldn’t call into work for a week over a bad haircut, but taking the time to work through this rejection in your life (no matter the scale) is not being weak. Do not ever, I repeat EVER, mistake your need for time and reflection as a sign of weakness.

Sweet girl, I know right now while you are in the middle of this pain that you do not see how special you are. You do not see how much goodness you offer the world, how much beauty is found within your heart, mind and smile or how pursued you are. I know you feel broken and damaged. And honestly you might feel that way for a while. But I do hope you know you are chosen. You are loved. You were made with a special purpose that only you were called to do. Do not let this disappointment rob you of all the treasures waiting on you on the other side of this rejection.

There is that caterpillar quote found all over Pinterest that says something to the extent of “when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. Gosh, isn’t that so good? I may or may not have this magnet on my fridge. (the answer is yes, I do)


Well, you my dear are in a cocoon phase of life. The beautiful wings are waiting for you.

More disappointments will come in life, that is guaranteed. And hopefully they are bad hair days, and not things as painful as now… but either way, cling to the understanding that there will be butterfly days coming. And this pain will only make you more beautiful, fuller and stronger than you were before.

I know this pain myself because friend I am in this cocoon phase too. And just like you, I have been pruned and am waiting on my new petals.

September: NICU Awareness Month

I found myself saying it. It just slipped out before I had realized what I had said. I always said I wouldn’t but I did.

“I know what you are going through”.

She was a NICU mom like me. She held her baby while he was hooked up to monitors. She left him every night and made the agonizing drive home with an empty car seat. She struggled with frustration, guilt, emotional weight…. I saw so many similarities between her story and my own. And it just slipped out during a conversation before I could stop myself.

Ugh. I hated myself the moment I said it. But I couldn’t take it back. I was now one of them.

Let’s rewind. When Parker was in the NICU (or even after during our year and a half of hospital stays), nothing pissed me off more than someone telling me ” I know what I was going through”. Literally, it downright made me angry. This admission might make me sound incredibly immature or dramatic … and so be it. But comparing your situation to mine, doesn’t help me. The day I was discharged from the hospital, and we left Parker in the NICU was easily one of the hardest of my life. Every single inch of my soul was screaming to go back and get him. I remember feeling empty, hollow and wrong. We felt that every night until Parker was home. (And thank God we were able to bring our baby home- I know some don’t get that gift.) So, when you say you know what I’m going through ( and your child was in the NICU for a day) then no you don’t know.

Here’s the deal, every NICU parent’s experience is different. Every single one of us has a story to tell that is unique to our child. We have similarities, yes … but every parent will describe their lowest point differently. We each have some trigger that pulls us back into our memories. Memories of those long days sitting in the hospital chairs just staring at our babies willing them to breathe, eat, and grow. So every parents fears, joys and deep pain is slightly different.

September is NICU awareness month. It is a month that all NICU parents reflect back on their child’s early days, and how many emotions flooded those small hospital pods. These parents remember all the tears, and prayers that filled those days, and the staff that helped them ease through the foreign world they found themselves. We all have similar factors that unite NICU parents, but each of our child’s experience is as unique as our NICU babies. We are a community that comes together because we know what not to say to new NICU parents. We are a community that comes together because we know the journey is hard, and sometimes long. We know the trauma that can follow you home. We know the fears that change how you parent your child. We understand it all. But we will never pretend we know exactly what you are going through. Please remember when you speak to someone loving out a dark season in life, they need comfort, love and support. They do not need someone trying to level up their grief like a morbid game. You may have had a similar experience but no friend you do not know EXACTLY what they are going through. So, instead give them a hug and say I am here for you.

September allows me to reflect on all the amazing staff who loved on our son through his journey and the incredible community we found through our NICU experience. Without so many people task hint around us to let us know they were there for us, I am not sure I could have remained so strong for my family. Thank you to our NICU community, we couldn’t have done it without you.

sitting on that high horse

Not too long ago, I sat judging others. In my mind weighing how I would handle my peer’s devastation better than they did. I sat arrogant, and foolish with a false sense of security. Haven’t we all listened to a friend’s desperate plea for our opinion… but in our minds thought, I would “never”.

Never.

That word that flies out of our mouths too often begging to be tested.

It’s in those moments when we believe in our gut that our lives are superior to others, thats when God shakes his head and says ” let’s just see”. Not in an act of anger or hate, but to show his sovereignty. To remake us.

And in that moment, God pulled the rug out from under me. Those devastations I judged of others were piled high on my very own doorstep and this time there was no hypothetical response. This time it was real life. My life.

Devastation comes in many forms. We all handle it differently. I believe I have walked in every emotion. But humility seems to reside most in my mind, accompanied by sadness and disbelief. And anger is like the nosey neighbor that can’t seem to stay away too long… and wants to be involved in every conversation. I’m a walking, talking basket case just trying to do the best I can.

I’ve always been a believer but I have discovered that my relationship with God had become complacent . Just like everything in my life. I had grown distant and numb. I wasn’t relying fully on God for strength or grace. My faith wasn’t strong. It hadn’t been tested like this before.

One of the hardest lessons I have learned ( and still learning) through this season is God’s will may not be ours but our faith requires us to believe that his will holds more beauty than our earthly minds can imagine. Faith allows us to keep holding fast to the hope of tomorrow. And within his promises, I have found myself on my knees more than ever. In my devotional, there was a line in a prayer that has been my mantra. “Dear God, I know you will never forsake me but will go to great lengths to remake me”

Amen.

And this keeps me holding to my faith. I know I wouldn’t have been willing to be remade without my pain. My arrogance would have stopped me. Does it stop you?

Believe it or not, I’m going to respect my family’s privacy and not spill my deep dark secrets on the internet. At least not now. And I’m asking you respect that privacy too.

But writing is therapeutic for me and now more than ever I need outlets for my thoughts. Let me be clear, this post IS NOT about what’s happening in my life. I will be okay. My kids are healthy and happy.

But this post IS about the testimony in which God has carefully designed for me like a skilled architect. He is piecing my heart together better than it was before.

It’s like going on a diet and cutting out fudge chocolate ice cream. In it’s absence, you begin to realize how much you truly love the taste of it. The day comes when you get to indulge that sweet tooth again, and you appreciate the sweetness so much more. And you don’t want to waste those calories on anything less than the very best. You want the good stuff. The REAL stuff. And I know that’s what I want in my life forever.

I do not know what God’s plan for my life looks like at this moment. If you would have asked me a few months ago, I could have told you an actual answer. Today, this isn’t the case. But I can tell you that I trust in God. And I will continue to trust that his plan is one of love and mercy.

If you are in the middle of a hard time, please see this post as a simple message of encouragement to anyone who needs it. I’m in the battlefield with you holding your hand.

“Yet you Lord are our father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

And a message of warning to anyone who feels they are above the blows of life. Don’t be like me and believe your life would “never look like that”. Life is messy. Life is unfair. Life has a way of bringing you down to your knees. But even with all the hurt, I will continue to work on this Beautiful Mess of Mine … just like God continues to work on me. ( and you.)

the power of coffee and dry shampoo

You decide to check the mailbox. On your way up the driveway, you drop the stack of envelopes, flyers and bills. The wind is blowing and picks up the mail carrying it a little further out of your reach. The envelopes go in every direction and you find yourself trying to decide which envelope to retrieve first. You literally feel yourself try to turn in two directions at once as if that is humanly possible. Your brain is trying to calculate how to efficiently catch all the stray papers while your body can’t keep up. You might curse under your breath, you might be embarrassed by your lack of ease under pressure and there is even a chance you might cry. Well my friends, that is what it feels like to transition from one child to two.

I have been asked several times to discuss how that transition went for us. For some reason, the topic never really sparked an interest in me. Maybe because the first weeks of Huxley’s life were a blur. Thanks to cluster feeding, an achy post C-section body and hormones. Then we left the blur stage and moved into the ” WTH did I do to myself” stage. Basically this was the stage where the reality of two children- two who depend on you heavily- became very real. I can remember how long it would take me to pack our bags and load up the car just to take Parker to school in the mornings. It was all so new, so foreign, and so exhausting.

The reality is I thought I was busy with one child until I had Huxley. Now, I think back to Parker and wonder what I did with all my free time. If I knew then what I know now, am I right?

One of my biggest improvements on the grand scale of being a mom: I’ve learned to plan ahead. I figure out what could possibly be needed in the next few hours and have every possible scenario prepared for. On a trip to school, I have extra bottles, pacis, snacks for PJ, suckers just in case bribery is needed( fyi it usually is), and deodorant for me ( because I never remember in the hustle of the mornings to do it before) I keep extra outfits in my car, and toys for distraction. I have diapers and wipes hidden all over my house. Hand sanitizer in every bag I own, and extra bandaids, chapstick and sunglasses. For some reason, those are real prizes for Parker. I’m a big fan of bribery and I’m not ashamed to admit it. No judgement here, whatever works to keep your toddler in line.

Truthfully when I was pregnant with Huxley, I would have anxiety envisioning taking both kids to the grocery store alone or even loading them into the car by myself. How on earth would I do it? How many trips would it take? And honestly, it still gives me anxiety some days. But I just get it done. I do the best I can with what I have. And as mothers that’s what we do, we just get it done. We figure it out. We adapt. We evolve. We grow.

Sometimes I look at myself and feel incredibly empowered knowing I accomplished a grocery store trip with both of my kids alone… even if both of my kids were crying and the elderly were staring. Some women feel empowered starting their own business …. and then there’s me! 😉

As hard as some moments are; the chorus of crying, the continuous juggle of attention, the guilt for not giving your first born all they are accustom to receiving. All of it is worth it, when you see them love each other.

Now don’t get it twisted, my son isn’t the super sweet big brother you see on Instagram that loved their baby sister immediately and wanted to protect her instantly. He liked her. He tolerated her. But He was/is super jealous of her. And now, he is very very rough with her. Not intentionally, he just wants to play with her like he does his friends at school.

But that’s real life I guess. He is still a baby himself in some ways and understanding the concept of sharing can be really tough. He doesn’t quite get that she is more dependent than he is. He doesn’t understand that she is still fragile and can’t eat whatever. He wishes her to live with grandmama on rare days, or mentions he wants to go somewhere with just mama or daddy. He still craves the limelight of his parents full attention. But he is accustomed to her being in his life, and he understands that she is his. He lists her in his prayers at night when he names his family. So, he gets she isn’t going anywhere.

Someone asked me the other day, when did you get having two figured out? And I giggled. I’m still figuring it out. This new normal for us isn’t for the faint of heart but I will say it does get easier. I’m not sure if it’s easier because you are more accustomed to the chaos, your ability for multitasking grows or children get on some element of a schedule. Either way, you find yourself wanting to hide under the bed less and less.

So what have I learned from being a mother of two?

I have noticed my parenting has changed. I don’t stress as much over small things. Parker dresses himself pretty much every day for school. He never matches, he wears the same shoes every single day and he loves it. Old Molly would never never been chill with that. Two kid Molly encourages it. It’s one less fight for me in the morning, and one small lesson of personal responsibility for Parker. It’s a win win. Too many things to stress over that aren’t worth the trouble.

Give your first born a break. It takes time to transition so let them act out, and space to explore their new role. Take the few minutes to give them extra love ( and hugs) to understand their new life. It’s hard on them and they need your patience to work through it.

Your husband will be better equipped to help this go around than after your first baby was born. Ask for his help. Give him responsibility. He will still need your grace as he navigates his new role as father to two kiddos. It’s new for him too and he has some evolving to do alongside you. But make sure he is your partner, not another task for you. Teamwork makes the dream work!

And lastly, give yourself time to adjust. The dishes can wait, the laundry will still be there, peanut butter sandwiches for dinner are always a good idea … but those newborn days are fleeting. As you know, but the second time- you blink and your infant is crawling. Time flies so much faster this time around. Trust me. SOAK IT IN!

You will mess up. You will curse under your breath. You will likely cry…. but you will make it. Your heart doubles in size with the second child. Your capacity for love is larger, deeper and more powerful.

So with all this love, don’t forget to give to yourself some too.Being a mom of two is damn hard. But I have never felt more messy, imperfect and proud in all my life. No matter how imperfect I am, or how many times we have Chilkfila for dinner, my children will always remember how I made them feel. And how much I love them. So, focus on that, and let the other things fall where they land.

Elizabeth Fowler Photography

Is that a WRINKLE?

It is happening, I am turning 30 next month.

THIRTY.

Three decades.

And I’m really struggling to accept that I am officially an adult by ALL standards. I mean I have a mortgage, husband, kids, an SUV and a dog- and I’m just still shaking in my slippers at the thought of “adulthood”.

And age is hitting me hard: Like running into a brick wall. It hasn’t been subtle. Seriously, my knees are aching, my hair is still falling out, fine lines are showing up on my face AND and most devastatingly I don’t get carded anymore when I buy alcohol! Like, please, I still feel as if I would blend in on a college campus….. even if no one else agrees with me. Even if I would be that ” weird old lady” at the college bar. I feel like I belong.

With 30 hitting soon, I dedicated this year to taking care of myself and most importantly my skin. I’m lazy when it comes to my skin, the quickest routine- the better for me. I still find myself ( even though I know it’s like a skin sin) falling asleep with make up on and not drinking enough water. So I need something easy, fast and without a hundred steps before bed.

So, I’ve been open to trying new things for my skin. I was asked to give Rodan and Fields a go. I’ve tried R&F before and I wasn’t impressed. I think for me, it took too long and wasn’t maintainable for my lifestyle. But in the theme of this year, I decided I’d try it again.

So Monica sent me several items to try in the redefine line, and then a few extra things that she felt I might like. The redefine line is for the look of fine lines, pores and loss of firmness in the skin. I’m going to highlight the items below that I dug… and I thought might be worth a true try on the skin.

First up: Intensive Renewing Serum

Y’all these capsules are like silk on your face. I have actually tried this product before and liked it even then. It helps fight wrinkles with a powerful dose of vitamin A. I love this little blue pill ( get your mind out of the gutter) this serum is packed into blue capsules which actually makes it great for travel. It seems there is some skin types that should use this product however- so best to ask a consultant before ordering!

Next: Lip Renewing Serum

I’ve never thought about my lips being apart of skincare. I usually put on chapstick before bed but never really took care of my smackers. So this serum was a whole new concept for me. It was seriously like a facial for my lips. I LOVED it! It gives your lips a tingly sensation, and a refreshing feeling. Obsessed y’all. It does have a thick consistency which might turn some people off . But it’s a moisturizer and serum that should help with fine lines and help your lips maintain their natural moisture. I want this one!

Up Next: Active Hydration Serum

Just call me the queen of serums. I guess I like the luxury feeling of these serums on my face.. or it could be that my skin is usually dry ( at least now after babies) and serums are my jam! This serum is my new favorite y’all. It is a OIL FREE serum that you can wear all day that helps hydrate your skin. It feels like you have dived under water when you put this serum on your face. You can layer other products on top of it. The only down side is you need another moisturizer at night on top of this- and if you are like me- that’s another step to forget. However with how amazing this felt on my face, I doubt I forget it!

So there’s my TOP THREE Review of the Rodan & Fields products I was sent. These three products are my favorites and items I would use on myself. I’m such a lazy person with my skin, I need quick and easy but noticeable. I will say with all R&F products, you do need to start with a makeup free face. That’s something I didn’t know or do in the past- so this go around- I tried to do it the right way.

Maybe Purchase: Micro Derm Paste

This is a maybe for me. I liked the product- my skin felt renewed and refreshed after I used it. The texture wasn’t too harsh as some other micro-derm products are and it left my skin feeling tingly. I’m currently not looking for a new microdermabrasion product so it hasn’t won be over yet- but if you are… this could be a good fit for you. It doesn’t take a lot of product during each use so you could get more bang for your buck so to speak with this RF product.

Overall, good skin is going to take some effort. I’m not 18 anymore. It’s noticeable when I don’t drink enough water, or didn’t wash my makeup off. And at 30, it’s time that I give some effort. I’m not ready for 50 steps before bed- because that’s not happening- but I could totally see adding these into my regimen at night. Easy. Peazy.

You might find other products that work best for your skin- I’d love to hear what you are using these days. Whatever works for your skin, protects you from the sun and helps keeps those wrinkles away – that’s a winner in my book. Y’all know, I am not a dermatologist so I would suggest reaching out to a medical professional if you have questions regarding the health of your skin. My girl Monica is the R&F consultant available to answer any questions you might have about what products would be best for your skin. Hit her up on Instagram at @monicaplourdee – she’s super knowledgeable about which RF products would work best for you!

So, here’s to thirty, and wrinkle cream! It’s going to be a great year.

home office

I’ve been asked what my days look like. Well, I wake up in the morning, usually eat a healthy breakfast, drop the kids off at daycare and make my way to the gym for a good workout to start my day. You know, I thrive in the mornings. Total Morning Person… 

HA! Yeah right. Most mornings my son eats jellybeans for breakfast and we are doing good to get him in clean socks. I struggle to get my kids to school in a reasonable amount of time to get back in the office to start my day. Most mornings my work day doesn’t start until 9am, but let’s be real… I’m answering emails in bed at night. That’s because I work remotely, and when you work remotely you literally bring work home with you. Because ya know, I work from home.

I have worked in a traditional office. My last “office” job was before I had children and although I sincerely loved it, the job itself was stressful, fast paced and super SUPER long hours… like 14-16 hours days. Kid you not. Who would have thought being a regional sales manager would require you to live at the office? But I had the best coworkers in the world so it made it bearable. But with children, there is no way I would be able to work in the same fashion as I did then. 16 hours in the office can’t happen. Not with my husband’s schedule the way it is.

PS-If you have followed along in my blog you know that my husband’s hours are unpredictable and a lot of time late. The joys of having a spouse in healthcare. Anyways, it is what it is and I’m proud of all his hard work.

So, I have worked remotely both pre- mama life and now totally immersed in juggling it all. The job has changed simply due to all the responsibility and demand required of me outside of this job. Granted that would happen no matter where I worked as a mama. And as all mamas do, you just have to figure it out and make it work the best you can.

There is a lot of positives with my working situation. And let me say what everyone thinks, I am very lucky to have the flexibility that comes with my job. I am lucky to be able to make my own schedule ( for the most part) and fit things in during my day that would be missed otherwise like doctors appointments. I enjoy working in my yoga pants on the days I don’t have meetings and I can simply run upstairs if I forget anything. Plus, I’m secretly an introvert so I enjoy working closely with my clients but not having to include myself in the typical office drama. Because honestly I don’t care that Karen used Cheryl’s coffee mug without asking…..

The good days I always say “I’m never working in an office again”. And in that moment, I really mean it.

But then I have the days where I feel this overwhelming responsibility of clients, demands within my region and overseeing the shipping of our product. All while juggling a sick baby on my hip and calling the doctor between conference call. Because on this day one of the kids is sick and it’s also my responsibility. Because quite simply, I am home. ( regardless of what I’m doing at home) There I said it – being a mom who works remotely means a lot of times you are constantly given the same expectation as a stay at home mom but with deadlines, quotas and a boss overseeing your activity that day.

I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think it’s convenient and makes sense to other people.  They do not see your day. All they know is you are home. And you must be able to juggle it all because you have flexibility. Some days they are right, I juggle it all effortless and other days I want to hide under my desk and borrow one of Hux’s pacis. Those are the days that I swear I’m going back to the structure of an office. STAT.

I’ve picked up a few tips from my past five or so years and I wanted to share them for other working mama’s out there who just happen to work in their home office too. 

Rule 1: Demand Respect in your office space.  This one can be hard and can’t always be upheld in real life but trust me, set your ground rules early on.  You will thank me later.  You have to make others understand that when you are in your office, this means it’s work time and you should be left alone. So hang a sign on the door, tie a ribbon around the knob or simply shut the door- make it easy- so no one even has to knock to know you are busy slaying. 

Rule 2: Apps are your friend. I use Outlook and our CRM religiously for my job. So, I have the apps on my cell phone. It makes it easier to work when I’m traveling, at a doctor’s appointment or rocking a sleepy baby. Evan use to give me a hard time for “always being on Instagram” until he caught me emailing a client and he began to understand that I actually was working. This is a double edged tip- once you have your “office” on your phone you technically are always connected. Use with caution after hours and family time- it can become a rabbit hole if you are not mindful. 

Rule 3: Wear Pants. When I first starting working remotely, I would literally roll out of bed and shuffle to my computer with my coffee to work. And I noticed I never felt like my day started. Now, I make an effort to actually prepare for my “office”. I wear pants (sometimes yoga), apply a little make up, and actually wear a bra. It’s a mental exercise but it feels like I am going to work that day. 

Rule 4: Discipline is more important than talent. When you work remotely, discipline is one of the greatest qualities you can have. Discipline looks a little different every day but mostly it means getting your work done no matter what your day looks like. Some days it doesn’t happen- some days there just isn’t enough time- but other days this means working early mornings or late at night to answer the emails. I might take an hour to head to the grocery store for our weekly groceries, but I will have to make up for that time later. With a little one home with you, it means a lot of figuring this particular rule out for yourself. One thing I’ve started to do: I set up toys in a play area in my office and give Huxley her alone time for 20 minutes spans. While she plays right next to me, I knock out a item on my to-do list. Then we play for a bit, feed, whatever, and we start over. It’s not easy…. but you will figure your definition of discipline out. 

Rule 5: Learn your Productive Space. Some people work well with noise, others with candles burning and the relaxation station on Pandora but everyone has a zone. I thrive with noise- luckily because my kids are loud. But I also like a cool office and burning candles… it makes me feel relaxed. So, I’ve learned to play music or stations that keep Huxley amused. This keeps her happy and therefore giving me to time to focus on my tasks. When I’m in my productive zone- creativity seems to come easily. 

Rule 6: Knowing When It’s Time for Childcare. I love having my babies home with me, but I can tell having them home when I’m working on a highly stressful workload can lead anxiety. It’s a trigger for me and I’ve learned over the years to recognize that feeling in my stomach and chest. Huxley is 6 months old and has childcare three days a week. I know it’s almost time to enroll her fulltime. It just makes sense for my job, my performance and where I want to land this year with my sales goals. This doesn’t mean I won’t keep my babies home on random days, or pick them up early or late. That is the joy of working from home!  But you do have to respect yourself enough to know when it’s time to focus fully on your performance, and when your attention is lacking. Some mothers can juggle it all up until their kiddos are in Kindergarten, and some mothers can only juggle it all for the first 4 months- but every working mother knows when it’s time. It’s one of the hardest decisions you will make but you have to be honest with yourself and find childcare that makes sense for you. Maybe your solution is just a half day care- you schedule meeting in the am and admin work in the afternoon after you pick baby up. You will figure it out, I promise. And you are still a dang good mom even when your kiddos are in childcare. 

Rule 8: Caffeine is life. Enough said.

Rule 7: Structure your Day. Have set times during the day for specific demands of your job. Every morning from 8-10am, I send prospecting emails, and admin work. I am not a morning person so this allows me to be productive during my mornings while also giving my personality time to wake up. 

Rule 8: Don’t live on an Island. Being a remote rep means I find myself going weeks without reaching out to my coworkers. It’s bad, and it’s something I am working on correcting. I recently starting to set reminders on my calendar to send a text, or call to a different rep every other week. When the days are hard, you need someone to vent your frustrations other than your spouse. What better person than someone who works the same job? 

Rule 9: Grace. This is the most important rule. Give yourself a dang break. Some days you will kill it. Other days you won’t. But you know what, there is always tomorrow. 

Rule 10: Never apologize for being a mom. In business ,a lot of moms feel like they have to walk a very fine line in how much of their “mom life” they reveal. After having Parker, I found myself constantly saying “sorry” for not answering an email super late , running to the pharmacy on my lunch break or scheduling my travel to work with PJ’s childcare. I felt like I had to apologize for being a mom. I was on a client call once when Parker had a stomach bug. He started projectile vomiting mid-call and I just quickly reacted without even thinking. I ran to the bathroom with PJ,  held him over the toilet and kept listening to my prospect talking. I cleaned PJ up while closing a deal. I won that account. With a baby puking in complete chaos. I was sweating bullets thinking how unprofessional I was until I stopped and thought, “Dangggg, that was boss.” And I stopped apologizing that day. Being a mom is not a weakness, it makes me a stronger asset to my company because I have to work efficiently and focused. I don’t have time for anything else. I just get it done, and every day that looks a little bit differently. 

Working remotely is a special world. The people who work fulltime in this type of office space know the struggles of this environment. Moms who work in this world know even more what outside influences can do to your job, focus and performance. It’s not for everyone.  But today was a good day, so I’ve decided I am never working in a traditional environment again.