Starting Out: A Freelancing Mom Revisits One of Her First Posts and Clients

freeAs a freelancing mom, I am grateful to a lot of companies that have made this venture possible.

As a thank you, I am going to be posting links to some of my freelancing articles that relate to lovemommynow.

I want first to introduce an article that I wrote for Endanzoo; this company was a  beginning freelancing mom’s dream gig.

A few companies, like Endanzoo, provided me with the experience I needed to make my freelancing mommy life possible.

In addition to paying me, they sent me some of their organic baby clothes. My son absolutely loves his comfy, green shirt with an artsy cartoon rhino on it.

I love Endanzoo because 10% of their proceeds aid endangered species, and their clothes are great educational conversation starters for kids about how we are part of a much bigger picture.

Endanzoo was the first about us page I ever wrote as a freelancing mom. They gave me a story, and I built on it. The company’s history about a toddler at the zoo resonated with me.

I also wrote this article: How I plan to Teach My Children About Wildlife Conservation.

I still stand by its powerful message. Check it out. Thanks, Endanzoo!

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Gumby Arms, Grocery Store Toddler Tantrums, and Freelancing in the Car

Shhhhhhh. After my toddler threw a tantrum in the checkout line of Publix, he and my two-month-old baby are finally fast asleep in the car. This is a rare moment. Apparently, I had overextended our outing and missed a crucial nap time. Whoops!

Honestly, we were already out, and I just needed milk.

I guess I blew it when I also noticed that I needed bananas, apple juice, eggs, cheese…

Okay, I pushed it too far. I keep forgetting that outings are on a timer when you are outnumbered. We made it through the playgroup unscathed, so I should have quit while I was ahead.

The big kicker – the cashier forgot to ring up one can of tuna, and I had to tell her three times not to worry about it as I tried to pick up my Gumby-armed two-year-old.

“Don’t worry about it,” I repeated as I tried to wrangle my spastic tyke into my arms. “No, seriously, don’t worry about it,” I said after she asked again.

Meanwhile, the baby started crying, and I vowed to go to a different grocery store next week.

Now, my children are sleeping at the same exact time! So, I busted out my computer and began writing. It’s a tad uncomfortable, but you do what you have to do when you’re a freelancing mama.

I’m not big into selfies, but this was one to remember. In a previous post, I wrote about utilizing pockets of time as a working-at-home mom. This time squeezer remains one for the record books.

Side note: This smile expresses relief instead of pure happiness. Right now, I am exhilarated just to be out of that grocery store.

I’ve just been hired to write an article on balancing family while working on a startup (I better get back to that before my little buggers get up), and a lot of it so far discusses that I am in no way a work-life balance guru – and never will be.

In fact, sometimes, like when I’m wrangling a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum, I am a complete mess

But I do keep on learning tricks along the way – like writing on a laptop in my car as two children sleep, and I do have more harmony than I did before I began this crazy adventure, but still, the juggling act continues.

I adore staying home with my children and am so fortunate that I found a way to find a lifestyle that works for me, but there are still moments when I want to pull my hair out and eat spikes.

We all have our own unique obstacles.

For one, I never thought I’d ever be writing with my computer jammed up next to my steering wheel while my car runs in my driveway.

Shoot! I missed my window, he’s up, gotta go, so work time’s over – for now.

Wish me luck that I complete the deadline – and hopefully, my car didn’t die.

Dear Mom, Did I Forget to Tell You That I Now Understand? A Poem For You On Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why going to the grocery store with all three of us must have been exhausting?  I used to ask if you could buy me fifty products, one brother would be grabbing at a Snickers, and my other brother would be blowing out his diaper.

It’s only now that I realized how it must have taken everything to hold it together during moments like those.

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why you worried at night about things beyond your control involving us? I’m not there yet, but the teenage years must have been rough, and all three of us apologize for any night we didn’t call.

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand when one of us hurt – you hurt. And how when any of us were sick or in pain, you said you would trade places with us immediately. Growing up, I wondered if you really meant that, but now I know you did – without question.

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why you always told people we were so busy? As a kid, I was relentless about always doing something. I was on the go and a firecracker of energy. Now I have a child who reminds me of that spark, but sometimes I want to just sit in silence. I now understand that sometimes you did too.

Did I forget to tell you that I understand the guilt that you took on for all of us and that is a lot of unnecessary weight to bear?

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why for short increments of time you would leave us? You’d go shopping alone, or let us stay with grandma for the day. As a kid, I never understood why you felt the need to leave for a while. I now understand that you had hardly any alone time, and if you hadn’t left at all, we might have driven you to insanity.

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Did I forget to tell you that I now understand how much patience it takes to remain calm when your child doesn’t listen? I now understand why I needed a timeout once in a while, and why my brothers needed quite a few more 🙂

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why sometimes you would take a deep breath when I asked what was for dinner – especially when it was only 1 in the afternoon?

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why you stayed up so late? As a kid, I wondered the reasoning behind this since you were also the first one out of bed each morning.

Did I forget to tell you that I now understand why you always said you needed a vacation after we went on vacation? I now understand the preparation, packing, unknown variables in a new place, and the cleanup when you get back home.

I forgot to tell you that I now understand why my jacket on the couch was so annoying and why we needed to take off our shoes.

I forgot to tell you that I now understand why you always wanted us to close the door to the laundry room.

I forgot to tell you that I understand why you skipped some pages when reading us bedtimes stories

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I forgot to tell you that I now understand why you and dad would go away without us once in a great while.

I forgot to tell you that I now understand why sometimes you just wanted to stay in for the day.

I forgot to tell you that I now understand the love you feel for us all and how crazy, messy, beautiful it all is.

Did I forget to tell you that I now I understand how amazing you are and always have been?

Happy Mother’s Day. I now understand why this day is so special too. 

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Further Reading:

To the Mother Reading This: Your Work is Not Invisible

To The Mother Reading This – Know That Your Work Is Not Invisible

To the mother reading this – know that
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who makes sure there are clean clothes for everyone to wear
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who sacrifices sleep due to cries, sicknesses, early wake-ups, worry…
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who nurtures her sick baby at home or in a hospital
Your work is not invisible

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To the mother who schedules and takes the kids to get their hair cut
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who buys shoes and clothes that fit for only a short time
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who finds the lost teddy bear underneath the couch
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who sings lullabies, reads stories, and
somehow gets her children to dream
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who kisses and mends more tiny wounds than she can count
Your work is not invisible

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To the mother who pays the bills
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who counts to five and sets expectations
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who gives bubble baths
Your work is not invisible

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To the mother who makes dinner from scratch, orders takeout, or microwaves
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who grabs and sorts the mail
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who changes diapers, potty trains, or wipes pee off a seat
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who attends sports, dance, violin recitals, art shows, award ceremonies, teacher conferences, pediatric appointments…
Your work is not invisible

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To the mother who goes on walks and teaches her kid to look both ways
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who sweeps and mops the floors, changes the sheets, wipes down the tables, cleans the dishes, scrubs the toilets, throws the toys back in the box . . .
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who drives a van without a taxi sign
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who grocery shops in record time while trying to prevent a toddler tantrum
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who makes phone calls, writes thank you notes, organizes visits and Skype calls with relatives. . .
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who somehow exhaustedly makes it to the playground and manages to push a swing
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who advocates
Your work is not invisible

To the mother who loves that beautiful, sweet child . . . Don’t forget to look in front of you

because Your work is visible.

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Pockets of Time: A Working-at-Home Mother’s Rock Star Day

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I’ve always been good at taking advantage of pockets of time.

I write this post because for once, I feel like a rock star, but I am laughing at myself as to why I feel like a rock star. And before I go any further, let me express the fact that not every day is a rock star type of day. Some days, check that – a lot of days as a working-at-home mom are not easy.

However, I love my days that tend to somehow melt into a beautiful oblivion, but there are many times when I accomplish very little of what I set out to do. I am slowly learning that this is okay.

A major reason I began writing this blog is that I genuinely believe that most mothers are doing their best. Not all, but the majority of mothers I know are truly doing everything they can. Whether you are a stay-at-home, working, or work-at-home mom, you have your hands full and sometimes just need to step back and acknowledge that you are a rock star.

Although this term has a different definition than it did during my college days, I am proud of my new rock star ways.

I’m writing this on a Tuesday. My toddler goes to daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I have a couple of days to focus on my freelance work without my adorable son running around the living room, tugging at my shirt, and doing everything a two-year-old boy should be doing, which just happens to be incredibly counterproductive to mommy working at home.

Anyhow, Tuesdays are not only a day to catch up on my work; they are also a day to catch up on laundry, cook something decent, clean the house, spend some bonding time with my two-month-old, and more.

Actually, Tuesdays are still a marathon type of day, and I find myself sometimes literally running to complete task after task. Seriously, I work up a sweat and double these days as cardio.

I certainly am not complaining. I love this new life of mine, but if anyone thinks a mother who stays home or works part-time at home frequently watches soap operas, kicks up her feet, and has “just so much more time,” this is not the case.

I do have more time with my children, which makes me happy and works for me, but I really don’t have any extra downtime. Luckily I felt pretty prepared for this when I chose to change my lifestyle, which may not offer more downtime but certainly provides ME with less stress.

Back to my point. I pride myself on finding pockets of time and getting stuff done. It’s always been a tenant of my personality that has its positive and negatives. Positives, well, because I am reliable, negatives, because when I set a goal, I become obsessive.

And it doesn’t matter what that goal is: Athletic, educational, career, etc. Now my goals consist of daily, organized today lists that fill my wall calendar.

One day my goals were to complete a 2,000-word article, work up to two minutes of tummy time (for the baby, not me), complete a craft project with my toddler, go for a walk, go over prepositions with my toddler (this is actually on a preschool checklist I found, and I literally had him running around, over, and under a chair – hilarious), go to the library and read books with my sons, provide the research for my next two articles on dogs,  organize the toys, proofread an article on campgrounds, clean and put away the dishes, and play outside in the kiddie pool.

I felt like a rock star that day too.

And this doesn’t even include the day-to-day diaper changes, kissing wounds, singing lullabies, counting to three. . .

But there are days when my plans go awry: the baby doesn’t want to nap. The toddler gets sick. I can’t get to an article because my two-month-old is going through a growth spurt and wants to nurse all day or my toddler decides to throw a very long tantrum over not getting chips for breakfast.

As a person who thrives on routine, I am learning not to freak out when things do not go as planned.

Sometimes not everything gets done. Sometimes it does. Somehow I find a way to meet the mandatory deadlines.

Some recent major life experiences have taught me that I am lucky. I am so very lucky. And it’s okay if the to-do list I created (which, yes, I have a mountain of one I write down each day), does not get done. I use pockets of time to do what I can, and today I am giving myself some credit because as so many of moms do, I am doing all that I can.

I felt like a rock star today because I finished three articles ahead of time, cleaned the kitchen, did a load of laundry, cooked a turkey, wrote emails to four clients, mopped the floors, organized the pantry, researched another dog article, read to my baby, picked up my other son from daycare, wrote this blog post, and spent time just being with my two boys at the end of a very busy day. And Friday through Monday my focus will change again as I spend time with those two rascals.

After all, life is short, and I am fortunate that I can write from anywhere (at any time – including midnight), so we are taking a trip to the beach. Rock on!

Recommended Reading:

6 Life Hack Products for the New Baby

When I became a new mom, I learned quickly that you have to come up with some life hacks for the new baby to make it all work. For example, I had no idea that many snaps on baby clothing were so irritating, and I learned that zippers, for me, were the easier way to go. Learning life hacks for the baby was a learning process, and like many moms, I am still learning while I go.

Here are 6 baby hacks that make a new mom’s life easier:

1. Clothes that have feet and zippers:
Like I mentioned above, too many snaps annoy me. When I tried to put my first son in this cute little tiger outfit, I could not believe that there were like twenty snaps. I kept screwing up and could not figure out how those darn snaps worked on the legs. That is why I opted for zippers along the front – so much easier. It took me like five minutes less to get him dressed, and I am all about time saving.

Also, I love the outfits with the feet; this saved me from taking the time to find those itty bitty socks that disappear to another galaxy. I felt like an outfit with a zipper and feet gave me some of my life back, for real.

2. Plant a Bouncer in the bathroom
I never understood until I had children what mothers of young children meant when they said they didn’t have time to shower. For my first maternity leave, I pictured long baths while a baby slept contently in his crib. Ha! Hilarious. Once you leave that baby’s sight, even if he is sleeping, he will start to cry. I don’t know how, but babies know when their mother leaves them.

My fantasy long baths were just that – a fantasy. I found the best way to be able to clean myself was to bring a bouncer in the bathroom and set it up facing the shower. New moms quickly realize that it will be a long time before they shower or pee in privacy.

3. Don’t buy a changing table. Use a blanket on a changing pad.

I never bought a changing table. We used a bureau with a changing pad on top. I also received advice from a lady working at a baby thrift store to not even buy the changing pad covers. “Just use blankets,” she said, “don’t waste your money on the fancy covers, they poop all over them anyway, and blankets are not only cheaper, but they are easier to wash.” I wish I remembered this woman’s name because her advice about poop changed my life – poop, so much poop!

4. Use a click and connect stroller and car seat base
My click and connect stroller from Graco saved me. It was a life hack for my new baby that was key for me when traveling. Both of my boys always fell asleep in the car, and this product allowed me to easily lift the car seat out of the car, click it on my stroller, and be on my way without interrupting their sleep!

I also recommend the base that you strap into your car and then click this car seat into. This base made it so much easier for me when my second was born because I was able to just click the baby in while holding my toddler’s hand – instead of running around my car like a freak.

5. Make the swaddling madness easier by using SwaddleMes
Swaddling is a life hack in itself that quiets babies and helps them sleep. I always admired the nurses who so effortlessly swaddled my sons like perfect burritos, then I tried, and my swaddle resembled more of a piece of lettuce that was falling apart. I would even ask for tutorials, but I could never swaddle as well as those nurses. When I got home, and no nurses were in sight, I needed a baby hack and quick. That is when I discovered SwaddleMes that used velcro, and they were so fool proof that a chimp could use them. Just lay out the SwaddleMes like a blanket, then put your babes on top and velcro. No nurse needed.

6. Quiet your crying baby with the Shhh App
I was a huge fan of the book The Happiest Baby on the Block. In that book, one of the five major ways to quiet a baby was shushing over an over again. Sounds ridiculous – but it works. So I found myself shushing until I could barely breathe during long car rides. That’s why I was psyched to discover the shhh app. Press play, crank up the volume, and it does the shushing for you. This app has saved me valuable breathing time.

These are just some baby hacks that worked for me, and I learned some by accident, some out of desperation, and some from trial and error, because we mother’s find clever ways to make it work.

We want to hear from you. Please comment below about life hacks for your new baby that made your life easier.

The Velociraptor of Guilt Shows Its Head Again During Maternity Leave

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I have a difficult time relaxing.

Ever since I was a child, I had to be constantly doing something mental or physical. I have numerous memories of being on vacation with my parents, and they just wanted to take a justifiable breath and relax, but I always had other plans.

“What are we doing today? I’m bored. Let’s go!”
I was so so that kid.

My parents figured out how to keep me entertained with books, crafts, and an uncanny obsession with 3-2-1 Contact and The Wizard of Oz, but as a parent now, I can only imagine how much of an annoying little kid I must have been: intuitive or not.

I would have driven my own adult self – crazy.

This preface relates to my situation right now. For the last two months leading up to my second son’s birth, I was basically working double time as a teacher while writing approximately 12,000 words a week.

I felt that I had to do this in order to save for a month of maternity leave and because I was about to stop teaching to write and stay home with my two children.

Anyhow, I successfully was able to save for a month of maternity leave while also convincing my writing clients to give me this break and making sure I had more than enough ongoing work to help pay the bills after a month of leave.

It should be known that I worked my tail off to make this all possible, and it took tremendous determination, organization, and discipline to pull it all off.

Although it really shouldn’t be anyone’s business how I made it justifiably happen, I still find myself constantly feeling the need to defend myself even when people who genuinely know me know that I am intelligent and analytical when making life-changing decisions, and outsiders have no idea about the full context of my situation.

But again, I digress.

The point is that I am currently on a month leave, and just like that little redheaded girl on vacation, I am having a difficult time relaxing. I have felt tempted to write thousands of words again, and even though I have more than enough work for when my month ends, I find myself scouring Upwork for more writing jobs.

It is almost like I have an addiction to the challenge of obtaining them.

Many people in my life have told me that I need to learn to relax. My husband (also my complete balancing opposite) tells me to chill quite frequently. I apparently have issues with “chilling”.

Although I know how incredibly important it is to bond and relax with my newborn son, and although I am more than aware that I earned this time, I still feel like a restless little kid, and I also feel guilty.

Yes, the guilt always manages to shine through and peep its ugly velociraptor head through the door.

The funny thing is that I see a lot less of this velociraptor lately.

I used to see him everywhere: creeping in the shower, on my morning commutes, on my computer, etc.

He used to be all around, but I do feel I have somewhat tamed the beast, even though he is still there, drooling with his sharp fangs – beckoning me to come closer.

The truth is that although my children are my world, It’s hard being a mom in today’s world.

You are damned if you work and damned if you don’t and damned if you compromise.

You are damned if you breastfeed or use formula.

You are damned if you go a mile a minute or move at a slower pace.

Everyone seems to be an “expert” and everywhere you look you seem to be damned.

The question I ask myself now is how come I feel so damned after I found a way to take care of me?

Here lies the problem.

Part of this is my own fault. I am still that restless little kid who always needs something to do, but the unrealistic societal expectations are also contributors.

Why is it that so many women feel that whatever they choose, they just can’t win?

I, for one, don’t get it.

Here is my take: Do what works for you and your family. After all, you know yourself and them best.

As long as you are doing your best, loving yourself and your family, and causing no pain, who am I to judge?

Even I have had to accept that there is more than one right way to raise a child.

So today I am going to send my two-year-old to daycare (we have in him there for another month), and I am going to lie on the couch, kick my feet up, and put my newborn on my chest, and I am going to binge watch Girl Boss on Netflix.

I do not care to hear any opinions on this decision, and when the snarling velociraptor peers at me from my living room corner, I am going to chuck a rattle at him and watch as he temporarily disappears for a couple of hours.

I am going to force myself to relax until the urge to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, and search for more writing jobs takes over again.

Further Suggested Reading

Maternity Leave: A Novel

The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave: Avoid Burnout, “Bad Mom Syndrome,” and Other Common Pitfalls of Motherhood

 Leave Guilt (thisbrightonmum.com)