Friday, September 25, 2020

The 7 Secrets to Happiness on Mondays as a Working Mama

Being a working mother is a beautiful thing. And yet, it does not look like it on Mondays. Sometimes it doesn't look like that on other days of the week either. 

Mondays are like the first game of the season for the week. It seems to layout a certain flow to the rest. That's why having it go well is a wonderful gift. 

I used to hate Mondays up until just about recently. Funny enough, these are also the years that I have accepted more responsibility in my home life and in my professional career. By all accounts, I should be having miserable mornings full of spilled, cold coffee on business casual clothes, multiple diaper changes, and dramatic scenes at maximum volume.

And while those Mondays happen as well, I am pleased to say that my mornings typically function smoothly. Or smoothly enough. Here are 7 secrets to finding that elusive happiness on a Monday morning.

1. The No-Brainer Secret

This one is a baseline secret, but here it is, Get into Your Flow.

Here is a good video on what is flow and I will try to paraphrase it in Mama terms with concrete examples. Flow is being completely involved in the task at hand with the ego forgotten. Flow is being really good at sorting laundry when you focus on it. Flow is listening to your child talk about a story and bonding. 

Flow can happen on Monday mornings. 

My Flow is borrowed from habits established from wearing many hats and the wonderful and very helpful Jordan Page's Block Schedule idea.  

It is much easier to be happy, relaxed, and focused when you know exactly what you have to do and how to do it. 

I find my Flow from knowing my what I need to do in the morning. There is a checklist in my head that I go through before anyone leaves the house. And there are so-called blocks or periods of wearing certain hats, like my make believe firefighter hat or my chef hat. 

I call this the no-brainer secret because there is no overthinking involved. People reach a state of Flow when they are doing tasks and activities that are second nature to them in that moment in time. 

2. Your Phone is Not Your Friend

There are so many things to unpack here. I am not saying that browsing social media and connecting with people is wrong. Checking email first thing in the morning is also not inherently wrong. 

It is the habit for habit's sake that is the problem. It creates an odd family culture in your household where your child might learn very early on that being physically there is not the same as being mentally or emotionally present.

So if you can be there mentally and emotionally for your child while looking at 3 screens and making dinner, then all is good. 

I know for myself that my minutes can escape me as I scroll through social media.

I try my hardest to avoid this. 

It is also a lot harder to do things in the morning when you are not mentally and emotionally in your same space.

I am trying to cutback on my phone use and when I do, I notice my mind come to a healthier place. I am not curious to know what 800 of my closest friends--some of whom I've only met once or haven't talked to since high school--are doing. And my phone transforms into a pocket reference to the rest of the world instead of an invisible net that is tying up my morning routine. 

3. The Morning Routine

Speaking of the morning routine, it is crucial. 

And here I am a stereotypical mother who loves her morning routine. We all recommend a good morning routine because it works. 

It's not really a secret, but it is detrimentally underrated that it might as well be one. A routine is not meant to remove any spontaneity from your life, but instead is meant to take out a lot of the bad possibilities.

4. Not Starting Behind

It is a wonderful feeling not running behind on chores, social obligations, or work deadlines. It is an amazing feeling not drowning in tasks, but instead having the time and opportunity to enjoy them in a state of flow. 

A very easy thing that you can do is to prepare bottles ahead of time or meals ahead of time as much as possible. Another thing is to take care of one weekly chore per night. And yet another thing is to complete some reading either for personal growth, a book club, or for professional reasons.  

The next aspect of this secret is one that unfortunately cannot be changed with just an "abundance" mindset. It's about having resources. There is a certain amount of basic resources or necessities you need like food, clothing, shelter, and safety that is necessary. 

For example, if you do not have food in your home, then you are behind sustenance for the morning. And in fact, it is usually the tangible and intangible resource deficits that make us miserable on Mondays. I hope that everyone reading this has their basic necessities on every day of the week. And same goes for people not reading this entry as well.  

5. Planning for Something Fun, Exciting or Comforting

It is good to look forward to something. So it makes my Monday better to look forward to a visit from family or catching up with a friend. 

I don't know who needs to hear this, but you should not reserve a bit of a reprieve from your daily grind ONLY for when everything is perfect. Chances are that perfect will never come. It is necessary to keep your bucket full. And filling your bucket is just as important as making sure your children are well-fed, clothed, and have their emotional needs met. 

I enjoy reading for enjoyment, catching up with friends, and taking bubble baths. You might enjoy something else. 

6. Make it a Game

As a Mama, I know what it is like to have your days melt together. With everyone spending more time at home on zoom calls instead of physical events and meetings, it is a lot easier to lose track of time. That is why I have a simple mental tool for how to avoid the old adage of "the years are short, but the days are long," Make. It. A. Game.

While this is not the best analogy, add some way to quantify an aspect of your day and make a goal. Then, give yourself a reward for it. Did you have nothing but patience as your child had a meltdown at a park after you spent hours planning and buying tickets? And did you not lose your head? Great! Give yourself a sticker, add a dollar to your savings account. Something. Find a way to measure your progress on your journey and most importantly celebrate each step.

7. Practice and Repeat

I am borrowing a lesson that was passed onto me from a very brilliant woman. And I am going to do my best to paraphrase it.

The first time that you do something that you have true talent in, you think you are going to be awesome at it. But no, the first time you do anything, even if you have talent in it, you are going to blow it and it will go horribly. 
Life takes practice. And the funny thing about being a mama, a mommy, or a mom, is that the title might stay the same, but our lives might change drastically from one week to the next. And as parents, we keep having these "firsts" that go horribly because we did not have enough practice of these new firsts. 
So practice and repeat. It will get better. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Our Experience with the Montessori Floor Bed


What is the Montessori floor bed? 

It is just what it sounds for the most part. It is a bed on the floor. It can be just a crib mattress with linens or it can have a wooden frame, canopies, and even be a part of a bunk bed arrangement. If you have the imagination, the sky is the limit if you start at the floor.  

Aside from the teaching methodology, a floor bed is typically the go-to solution in cases were a bed frame does not fit or is cost prohibitive. These beds are very common and it would be simply a lie to suggest that they did not exist before Maria Montessori. 

The novelty of the Montessori floor bed is that it is meant for a baby or a toddler. It is used as a teaching tool to help a child build confidence and independence by not needing a caregiver to put him or her into or out of the bed as with a typical crib. Being on the floor, it also alleviates the risks of babies falling from its height or the bed itself toppling on an unsuspecting baby. 


Why should you use a Montessori floor bed?

The generic answer is that it provides your growing and developing child a degree of independence to move around in and out of bed without a worry for child safety. 

My personal answer is that while I love the built-in independence and an opportunity for child development while maintaining safety, I also love it for night time feedings. Neither of my children slept through the night no matter where they slept. I often woke up for night time feedings and found it was easier to lay down next to them and feed them. It was comfortable and did not require lifting the child over a railing.  

Our Montessori floor bed story

I always thought that I would have a Pinterest ready room. I always wanted to have matching colors, a crib, all of the typical nursery items. And then, I got exposed to Montessori education and realized that a floor bed might meet my family's needs a bit better. 

I get a ton of questions about using a Montessori flood bed in my home. So I wanted to write an article to answer some of the most common questions and describe my experience. 

I also considered building a more structured bed so that it felt more official, but I soon decided against it since a base raised the bed off the ground, and any framing could cause a potential injury to my baby. We ended up setting up a crib mattress on the floor with a fleece blanket next to it for accidental falls or movements in the middle of the night. 

Was it cheaper than investing in a crib, yes.

Did I do it for all of my kids despite difficulties in room sharing, yes. 

Would I do it again? In a bigger house, yes. 

The floor bed was very helpful when my son would wake up early and play with toys in his baby-proofed room while my husband and I could stay in bed a little longer and know that he was safe and entertained. That alone to me is worth it. 


If you are considering a floor bed, I want to make you aware that children adjust to it differently depending on what they are used to. That said, my oldest was exposed to our floor bed and pack and plays and it was more of the environment than the bed that determined his sleep quality.

Along the same note, it is hard to have your child adjust to the floor bed when the environment noisy. 

Some babies experiencing separation anxiety may leave the bed and try to find you when they would simply cry for your attention inside their crib. The floor bed does not fix separation anxiety.

I also wanted to speak up and say that while most people have found no issues with the floor bed, especially after presenting them with its role in teaching independence and safety, I have received a few comments from family along the lines of a proper toddler bed being more "classic" and a default-- ahem-- I mean, a better choice. And to some, the floor bed is too much of a new or a different concept, and that is okay. I for one, would not change it since it brought so many good things to my family.

Floor Bed Update

We have shifted to using a floor bed in a SHARED nursery. Space is at a premium in a house that we had over-grown. And that is okay. 

I want to take the time and say that extra measures are necessary to ensure safety for babies is maintained. After all, they will first learning to crawl out of their floor beds in shared spaces where they might come across things that belong to other family members. 

We have had to use some creative baby-proofing to ensure that some of our shared furniture met met our standards. We wanted to create a space that was safe and interesting for our child to explore and we did that by making sure sharp edges were guarded. I will say that it was a bit heartbreaking covering some beautiful tables that were masterfully refurbished by skillful family members, but it is worth it. I will say this, it not much more difficult to have a floor bed in a lone, completely baby-proofed nursery than it is to have one in a shared nursery.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Thoughts on Gender Disappointment

If I didn‘t talk about this, I would feel like a liar. 

Why Write Such a Triggering Article?

One reason why I got into mom blogging is because of an honest video created by the delightful Emily Norris on Youtube. She had initially put out a gender disappointment video on her channel where she discussed the known sex of her third and final child. She unpacked her feelings and did not sugarcoat the periods of emotional adjustment that a mother or a parent can go through when it is time to say goodbye to a future that will never be. It was genuine and it helped me at the time to process my feelings and get over the initial shock.

Emily was grieving the potential little girl that she was most likely not going to have based on the dynamics of her family and her lifestyle. She, like many other moms, might not get the family she imagined all that time. I then watched other videos on the same subject. Some varied from frustrated boy moms who would go through any measures to remedy their family balance deficit to those that adjusted to their reality and just cared about a  healthy baby. 

It were these stories that got me through a tough time so I wanted to pay it forward and possibly do likewise for someone else.


It is 2020. Views, research, and modern mores on gender and biological sex have shifted to be less rigid and more supportive of lived experiences instead of assigned roles. And as a disclaimer, I am using the term "Gender Disappointment" in order to make this article easier to find at the expense of accuracy and a lengthy probability explanation for the child's sex and the child's gender. For those interested in the breakdown between biological sex and gender in our society and how young children can be supported on their journey, please refer to Coursera courses (like this one) that are free and were created by experts in their field.  

My Story

I really wanted my first child to be a little girl. I knew what girls were like because I was one myself. I knew the ins and out of hormones and growing up, and I could almost anticipate what my child might experience. It was familiar and I was looking forward to reliving my favorite parts of my childhood. 

Most importantly, I wanted to share baking with her the way my grandmother shared with me. I still remember the times that we baked and I wanted my child to have the same relationship to this inevitable activity in my home. I figured, you had to be a little girl to fully fall in love with baking.

After trying to conceive did not yield the most efficient results. I was hoping for a child of any sex and gender. I thought that the monthly disappointment of still not being pregnant eroded this initial hope for a baby girl. I was ready to go to all sorts of sports tournaments if it meant I got the honor and the privilege of being a parent. While nature and nurture are always debated, at the time I anticipated boys to contain testosterone and energy requiring steady physical activity. On the other hand, I imagined girls would have less need for physical activity and would use their imaginations instead for pretend play involving tea parties, baking, and lots of dressing up.

And then I got pregnant. I was hopeful that it was a girl and when I was told that it looked like I was having a little boy, my dreams of what my family was going to be like just burst. I felt like my world was shaken up. I had an older brother, and while he was a decent human being, I always thought that an older sister to a brother would be better based on the experiences of my friends and acquaintances as well as my own lived experience. I’m sure there are gentle souls out there, but from testimonies and lived experiences that I have, these gentle souls are outnumbered by accounts of broken bones and permanent injuries partially created by big brothers. 

That Mom Guilt

Now the mom guilt for my feelings felt really hard to bear. Nausea hit me hard, and I was not used to being sick every day. I had trouble completing my demanding tasks at work as well as taking care of myself. Looking back, I am surprised I was not more depressed than I was or that I had not taken more time away from work.  

I would sometimes find that I thought my pregnancy and the child I was carrying was just a place holder. And then the feelings of guilt would sink in. My child did not have a choice of having a specific body or human experiences. My child did not have a choice in making me sick with nausea. Even if my child "chose me" to be his mother, which I do believe, I doubt this part of the package was chosen. 

This was the routine before my nausea went away. I would eat something, throw up, resent my child’s sex and potential gender, then cry because I felt the guilt, and finally swear that the child would never get the sense of being a placeholder. Then, I would walk out of the bathroom stall motivated to never let my child suspect that I was holding onto these feelings.

Arrival of My Baby Boy 

"I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any idea of a child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy." 


The baby arrived, and at first it did not matter. I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy. He had the personality of the eldest child. He was the center of my world. For the first months he was a cute newborn. Independent of cultural gender. He refused to nap, loved to touch things, wasn’t afraid of new places, and loved balls and balloons. Those were his favorite things when he became verbal. Balloons were his first favorite, and he called me a balloon.

Even as I write this, I am thankful that I had this experience and the honor and the privilege in my life to be called a "balloon" by my baby boy.

No theoretical child in my mind can match the loving, high pitched, assignment of “balloon.” There is a good chance you will love and bond with your child and you will sign up for anything gladly. Hours of energy expelled at back to back baseball games instead of baking? DONE. I then felt like I could have many, many boys. They were delightful so far. My eldest is now in the toddler years and it is a bit rough and I see energy  in my child that my mother swears was always absent from my childhood experience. And that's okay.

He keeps me on my toes and I was one active toddler mom, until...

The Second Pregnancy

I then became pregnant with my second child. My husband was hoping for a girl, in part because he probably wanted to stop having kids. We could then have the stereotypical nuclear family, perfectly balanced and not too crowded.

I once again had this theoretical child in my mind. All ready to go. My mom skills were going to get sharpened for girl things. I was going to have the family that I always envisioned. 

Well, that did not happen either. 

I got the disappointing news through a blood test result. It's very impersonal to read your test results late at night in arial style print.

It said, "A male fetus was detected."

I was very disappointed and mourned my theoretical child once again. The sad feelings came back. One boy was tolerable, but two sounded like a nightmare. Broken bones, mud, bugs, high adrenaline sports, love for dangerous activities. I wanted none of that. None. 

I once again felt guilty. Here I was further enraged by the previous mom-shaming attitudes of the internet. The smug trolls willing to tell parents to be happy and just want  a healthy baby were repulsive to me. People need to learn to read the cyberspace room. Everyone is entitled to their feelings or at least to the processing of their feelings.  

It was okay that I was mourning the loss of a future that I thought I had within reach. Those feelings were valid and are still valid.

My second boy was difficult to bond with at first, he was like a sleeping potato. And then he started laughing and smiling. This alone melted my heart and I once again thought that I could have another child, another boy even. I could have a dozen boys and be forever happy because they were or would be my precious babies. 

Before his birth, I went through the same exact storm of disappointment. My past experience had not prepared me for this almost exact experience. And I will tell you why. 


And Now

I never envisioned having a cap on having children based on the health of my body or the contents of my bank account or the blowback from my local culture. It was confusing to get these odd and probably unintended comments such as “one of each” since one of my children took after my husband and my other child took after me. 

I even went through some light research into the costs of medically swaying for a girl at some point in the future, but as it stands now, the growth of my family is greatly limited by my reality. It is expensive and it is the type of commitment that requires a series of medical procedures. Sheer probability sounds so much easier. And it might be a great future route, but as my life is turning out now, I am excited to recover from postpartum and enjoy my time with my two kids.

There is a difference between biological sex and gender, not just a distinction. And there is an even bigger difference between biological sex or gender and the actual character and personality of the child. My two children can play and do whatever they want as long a they are kind and safe. If that means gymnastics or soccer instead of baking and painting, then I get it. I will buy the cleats and yell loudly in the stands. 

I still mourn moments that I have missed and might miss forever. Talking to other boy moms, I learned that a lot of times, boys end up bonding more with their dads and getting advice from their dads on topics that they would not dream of talking to you about. I realized that thus far, I had as gender neutral of an experience as I could have given the ages of my kids and their initial spikes in energy. 

I know mourning of the moments will only get worse with age as I see more of my friends become parents and embrace stereotypically girly kid activities that are not compatible with the high energy that my two little ones have, regardless of gender. There will likely be less playing with doll houses, having tea parties, making sand castles, having pretend spa days, getting manicures, doing hair, and playing dress up. And there is nothing wrong with embracing everything about your children while also leaving the "what could have been parts" behind, mourning or not included.

And Then We All Got COVID

Every day felt like we were just getting the life sucked out of us with no light at the end the tunnel. And then we all got COVID. Cover art...