Tag Archives: stay at home mom

vineyards

19 Dec

This is a long one, but worth it I think. If you’re needing some encouragement, please read on!

I took a tiny break from my study in Proverbs 31 and not on purpose at all. I seriously got caught up on my work and realized that I hadn’t blogged in days. Totally not like me. I heart blogging and hate when theres gaps of time when I can’t get to it. But sometimes, you have to just let go of the things that you can’t get to. There were certain days that I literally couldn’t do one more thing. Even blogging. So I took a breath and just let it go. But now I’m starting to feel caught back up and I’m diving in again.

Oddly enough, this weeks verses that I’m studying are about WORK. They are:

‘She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.’ Proverbs 31:16-17

This woman WORKS. And she works HARD. I mean, aren’t you kind of tired FOR her already? I think it’s interesting that these two verses are in here. And it makes me wonder what we can take away from it and how we can apply it to our own lives and families.

First, she considers a field and buys it. Whether this woman is wanting to buy a field to plant a garden to help feed her family or to actually plant a vineyard to profit from it FOR her family, the keys here that jump off the page at me are that she considers it. And she buys it.

DUH Jess. The Bible clearly says that.

Well, I think it’s important and not something that we should just breeze past. And because I actually have A LOT to say on these two verses, I’ll cut to the chase on this first half. She’s considering the field BEFORE she buys it because that’s what’s wise to do. She’s probably praying about it, thinking about it, and getting counsel on it. CONSIDERING it. Weighing all the options. She’s not just jumping in head first without knowing what she’s getting into. She’s considering ALL of the options and what these decisions will mean for her family, seeing as that this is most likely some sort of business opportunity for her. It’s so important to wait on things and on decisions. And to honestly pray about them. And not just go on a feeling we have inside ourselves. CONSIDER it. All of it.

Next it says she BUYS it. It doesn’t say she borrows the money to buy it. She doesn’t finance it from the bank. She doesn’t ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’. She just buys it. It means she’s saved up enough money for it and she pays for it in cash. Now, I’m not passing any judgement on anyone who might be in a world of debt. Or using credit cards. Or borrowing money to make ends meet. We have quite a bit of debt ourselves that we are STILL trying to get rid of. I SO get it. We’ve made some really crappy mistakes financially in the past. But Jason and I together have clearly learned the lesson. We’ve learned what the Bible says about debt and about borrowing money. And it’s something we’re working hard to put behind us. And the good news is that we’re getting there. And it’s because of verses like this one, which don’t tiptoe around the issue of debt. She BUYS it. It’s hers, completely paid in full. Zero debt. No financial burden of debt. It’s pretty clear, if you ask me.

It THEN says ‘out of her EARNINGS she plants a vineyard’. Again, she’s not borrowing money. She’s working hard and earning it to be able to afford to do something she’s always wanted or loved or maybe NEEDS to do. Regardless of what she’s trying to do with her money, she’s EARNING it. She’s saving her pennies, being a good steward with what she’s being given, praying and considering her options and then spending her money wisely.

Then she plants a vineyard.

This might seem like a really insignificant detail. But I TOTALLY disagree. Have you ever planted a vineyard? Or known anyone who’s planted a vineyard? ME NEITHER. So I don’t know a lot about vineyard planting and about growing grapes and about turning it into wine. I’m not even going to pretend that I do. BUT, what I DO know is that planting and caring for a vineyard is a LOT of work. Or what I can imagine to be a lot of work. A lot of laboring work that’s exhausting, time consuming and not rewarding in the beginning at all. It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of WORK.

Don’t you just want to hug this woman?

There’s seriously something to be learned here. She is a super hard worker. She’s not looking for the ‘get rich quick’ gimmicks. She’s not frustrated that the fruit of her labor isn’t exploding immediately. She is being faithful with where she’s at right now, diving into her work every day with very little reward. I DO know that growing a vineyard can take YEARS. Years of waiting and working and being faithful before you see any fruit of your labor. And I’m amazed at this woman even more. She is faithful in her work, every single day. It’s not always easy. It’s not hardly rewarding. But she KNOWS that that’s not what this life is about. And she works hard anyways doing what she’s called to do. Faithful that her work will pay off and that God will bless her greatly.

Next it says that she sets about her work vigorously and that her arms are strong for her tasks. I looked up the word vigorously in the dictionary and it means strong, active, forceful and even robust. This woman is not lazy by any stretch of the imagination. She is energetic in her tasks. Can you honestly say that YOU are working energetically in the work YOU’VE been called to do right now? Or are you doing just enough to skate by because frankly, you’re exhausted? I know that it’s hard. Trust me. There are plenty of days that I just want to lie down, have a good cry and not face half of the things I need to do that day. And I honestly love my work! I KNOW how overwhelming it is to be a mom and to consider all that you’re doing as your WORK. It’s a huge load to bear. And we’re all doing it every day!

But what if we changed our mindset just a smidge? What if we looked at our WORK as our vineyards. Something that needs to be slowly nurtured and cared for EVERY day. Something that needs a lot of time put into it and that doesn’t come with a basket full of rewards right away. We should be working faithfully every day, regardless the reward or lack thereof. I know even in the area of motherhood, the rewards are far and few between. But shouldn’t I be treating THAT alone as a vineyard?? Carefully and intentionally and FAITHFULLY pouring my time and energy into them is definitely something that won’t be abounding in rewards right away. But what you sow you will reap. And the rewards in the area of mothering will come, if not for a long time. When the days are long and hard, I’m going to start thinking about my work as my vineyard.

The end of the passage says that her arms are strong for her tasks. And they are strong because she works hard. She physically works all day long, and she has for years. Her body CAN withstand all that the day holds. It doesn’t say she’s weary. Her arms are ready to pick up children all day long. They are ready to lug groceries into the house from the car. And to carry loads and loads and loads of laundry upstairs. She’s strong. And ready to take on the day. And prepared to handle whatever might be thrown at her. Whatever her tasks may be. And they all look different for all of us. That’s the beauty of it.

I know this post has been kind of long. But I hope it’s encouraged you. Your life today might seem tough. It might seem like you’re working SO HARD and there’s no end in sight. Or like you’re not getting anywhere and there’s nothing great about what you’re doing. And I would strongly disagree. I encourage you to view your tasks and your work as your vineyard. Work that will NOT go in vain and that will one day we blooming with rewards that have been cultivated by YOU for a long time. The fruits of your labor will not go unnoticed by our God who’s entrusted you with so much. Whether that be with your children or your day job or both. He sees us in the trenches every single day. Stay faithful to what he’s given you. Press on and know that someday all the work you’re doing now will be SO worth it. You ARE strong. You ARE capable. And you can do this. I know you feel tired and weary because I feel it too. All the time. But refocusing your mind on what your work really means in the kingdom of God will make all the difference in your life.

Think of all of it as your vineyards. And vineyards certainly don’t appear overnight. But rather, they take years of faithful, vigorous, work. But it’s SO worth it in the end.

changes

20 Nov

We’ve had some changes around here. Nothing huge, whatsoever. Well, it’s huge in MY world, but no one else’s I’m sure. But I thought I’d still share it.

I’m not sure if ‘Year Two’ of Cruz’s life was going to be the hardest or what. But it was HARD. Maybe it was the terrible two’s or the transition with Rider entering our lives, or moving up to Scottsdale or… the list goes on. And while I know that all of those things I listed are huge transitions in any two year olds brain, the past year was still HARD when Cruz was concerned. Tantrums, talking back, arguing, more exhausting talking back and just a general grumpiness that NONE of us cared much for. Some days I would look around the room wondering where my sweet little Cruz went.

It SUCKED.

Every mom goes through this right? Gah. It’s really rough.

So last week I started wondering what the possible cause to his grumpiness could be. Besides just being two and that’s what you do, when you’re two. And I came to the conclusion that the partial problem is where Jason and I work. Our computers WERE right in the living room. It was easy access for us and, at the current moment, the only place that we thought the computers would fit. We wanted to have a space where we could work out in the living room. A space that was inspiring and creative building to us for our work. We have a very small space that the four of us live in, and so our options were very limited.

But because it was in the living room, I was very easily distracted. And I was constantly super stressed about work. Any time an email would come through, I could hear the ‘ding!’ even if I was trying to play with the boys. And no matter how hard I tried, my 100% focused attention wasn’t on them. And I know that Cruz felt it. And I know that he was acting out because of it.

I know it.

It took a few days of denying it once I came to the conclusion, but I finally decided to chat with Jay about moving the work station back into our bedroom. Although I don’t think THAT’S the best place for it either, I figure that Jay and I are adults. And can easily distinguish work time from family time. Whereas Cruz cannot. I was expecting Jay to totally put up a fight on it and I had an ENTIRE speech prepared to persuade him.

But I didn’t need it.

He agreed immediately and that night we moved our computers back into our room.

The next day (and ever since!!) have been NIGHT AND DAY DIFFERENT. I have a different kiddo in Cruz. He is actually HAPPY. And while he does have his typical ‘three year old moments’, they are few and far between and have been ever since we moved our work out of our family space. I really had to realize that although our space is super small, it is our home. And if I’m stressed about work all the time, my kids are going to feel it. If I’m just checking emails really quickly and they are in the room, I don’t think there’s harm in that. BUT I DO think it’s not good when they start acting out because of it. Our living room now feels like our family space. Not a space that mom and dad have to share with their work. It’s not our office any longer.

And while I don’t think that ALL of his meltdowns and tantrums were because the office was in the living room, I do think it’s made a huge difference in his moral. He knows when I’m in the living room with them, that my attention is on them 100%. And my kiddos are WAY happier because of it.

Being a working stay at home mom is totally a work in progress. I find that every few months brings on new changes and new seasons. And you just have to be flexible until you find what works for you. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s so worth figuring out how to make it work, every single day.

If you’re struggling at home, I challenge you to figure out what might not be working. And try to do something different! Even if you have a lap top, just put it in your room or in the ACTUAL office. And leave it there for when they nap. Work and emails can totally wait. As hard as that may seem sometimes, trust me! But our kids CAN’T wait all the time. We have to be present with them here and now.

So take a breath and make some changes if there need to be. And keep trying until you get it right! That’s the beauty of it!

work while they’re sleeping

3 May

TIP #8- WORK WHILE THEY’RE SLEEPING

One thing I hear over and over again from other working moms, is that they feel bad and guilty that they are working (from home) while their kids are awake. I do understand this. I do understand what it means to have the computer staring you in the face, taunting you about all the work you’re NOT getting done, and to anxiously sacrifice what is truly important to you just so you can make ends meet. I understand completely. I know how this feels all to well.

I have to make a conscious decision every day to not work while my kids are awake. And it’s really, really hard. But at the same time, it frees me up to be a mom and to be present in their lives. And not just a slave to my job or computer.

Couldn’t we all use a little more freedom mentally?

So since I don’t work while they’re awake, this obviously means that I have to work while they’re sleeping. And anytime both of them are sleeping, you can pretty much bet money that I am working. And I manage to get in almost an 8 hour work day every day doing this.

You might be thinking, But Jess, I don’t want to get up at 5:30 am and stay up until midnight every night.

You don’t have to! The schedule that I have for me and my home is what works for me. And I can honestly tell you, that although it’s hard and very hectic, I don’t struggle with knowing when to be present with my kids and when I need to work. It’s a constant balancing act, but it’s one that my kids will always win. I’m hugely aware that I can and do work too much and that they can’t get the short end of the stick in this deal. I decided to be a stay at home working mom. They didn’t choose this. So I refuse to let the TV babysit them.

SO.

In order to accomplish that for my life, situation and work load, I work only when they are sleeping. And that means that I am up very early and I am in bed very late. My sleep gets sacrificed, but my kids don’t know the difference and that’s what’s important to me.

*SIDE NOTE*- Sometimes during Rider’s morning nap, I set up a play pool on the porch for Cruz to play. My desk sits right next to the door, I leave it open and I can watch him the entire time. This allows me to see him the entire time, gives him some independent play, and I do manage to get a little bit of work done. I don’t rely on this time, but I do have that option sometimes. Which is nice and something you could maybe do too!

But I wholeheartedly think that you can take on this similar approach and make it work for your life. It might not mean sacrificing as much sleep for you! And girlfriend, if you can get eight straight hours of sleep, then MORE POWER TO YOU. But I know that you can still look at what a typical day looks like for you and schedule in your ‘working hours’. If you maximize the time that they are napping or in bed, you really honestly can and will get more done than you think. Get organized, make a to do list, and as soon as you close their bedroom door for nap time, make a bee line to your computer and start attacking it.

Trust me.

I have more on my plate than I even know what to do with right now. I easily work 60 hours a week, including 50+ emails a day, edits galore, social media, working with brides- the list goes on and on and on. But I really try to never lose sight of the fact that I have two little boys that could easily get swept away in the craziness that is my work. They could easily be ‘baby say’ by the TV while I ferociously try to meet deadlines, answer a million emails and work on edits. I could get so consumed trying to provide for them that I forget that they don’t even care what kinds of things we have and how much money we have.

They just want me. And they do not understand, nor do they care, if I’m late on a deadline or not.

At the end of the day, while I am BEYOND blessed to do what I love to do in the capacity that we do it, I try to never lose sight of what God has REALLY blessed me with. I see all the blessings of our work and how God has allowed me to stay home with the boys. I work hard and try to remain faithful to all that He’s blessed us with because I am so thankful. And I love doing it and I pinch myself all the time that this is my job. But what God has REALLY blessed me with is an amazing job that is allowing me to be home with them. And he’s blessed me with THEM. And I refuse to miss them growing up just because I was so consumed with work.

Which is hard because I am a workaholic at times.

Getting my work done while they sleep is essential to me for a variety of reasons. Mostly, it allows me to relax in my ‘mom’ role. I know that once 1:30 hits it’s going to be nap time and that I will have about 3 straight hours to get some work done. So I really try to plan and do fun things with them in the mornings. That way, once it’s time to work I know that I can ease into that role happiliy because I know that I spent quality time with them and the TV didn’t baby sit them.

It’s a constant balancing act.

I encourage you, friend. Work will always be there. Someday, when we die and this life is no more, our inboxes will still be full. We will still have emails. We will still have phone calls and tasks that we have not crossed off. Our time with our kids is precious. Working hard when they sleep and being mom when they’re awake is a MUST and will help ease the ‘mom guilt’ that we all experience. It’s hard. It’s hectic. And it’s worth it.

So much so, that it’s worth sacrificing MY sleep for.

your style

25 Apr

TIP # 7- DON’T LOSE YOUR SENSE OF STYLE

Isn’t it easy for this to be the first thing that flies out the window when you become a mamma? You’re exhausted because now you have a NON-STOP eater that won’t sleep AT ALL at night. Your body is different because well, you just gave birth to a human being. If you’re nursing, then you most likely feel like your body is not your own and you’re trying to navigate feeding your child and all the frustration that can go with that. If you’re working, then you have a million other things to think about, not to mention grocery shopping, cleaning, play dates, clipping coupons, focusing on your marriage, cooking- THE LIST GOES ON.

It’s really hard to remember that the ‘style’ that you had pre-baby is just as important, maybe MORE important, than it was before you had kids!

I realize you might think I’m crazy that this even made it into this series that I’m doing. I’m supposed to be talking about how to make being a working/stay-at-home mom LESS stressful in your life. Not adding more things to it. But I really think that the success of the working/stay-at-home mom is linked to this. Obviously, you can be successful at this without focusing on your style. But I really think that it makes a huge difference in ones morale. Staying focused, or at least aware, of your style can be essential to your self-esteem as a mom. I think it really helps you to feel like a WOMAN. And not just a MOM.

This is a constant juggling battle for me. I don’t have TIME to sit and sift through fashion magazines. I don’t have an endless cash flow to throw at a new wardrobe every time I have a baby, or any time I want. I don’t have time to sort through countless racks of clothing to find what I’m looking for. I don’t even have a lot of time to online shop. So it’s hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest fashions that are walking down the runway. Although I love that stuff and have good intentions of staying on top of it. Truth is, we are all just BUSY, you know? We are exhausted. And putting on makeup is just not the first thing I think about every day anymore. It’s not just ME I’m thinking about. I have 3 other people that I immediately think about when I wake up in the morning. Little people who scream for breakfast and who need it ASAP and DON’T CARE if my eyelashes are curled or not. Fashion and style for me? It’s hard to find the time.

But this tip made it into this series because I strongly, STRONGLY believe in being more than just a mom. I know you love being a mom. I love it too. And I realize that having children completely changes who you are in all aspects of your life. I am a completely different person than I was before Cruz was born. It changes everything about who you are. At least it did for me. But the truth is, I am still ME. And I’ve had to sort of figure out who I am now that I have children, but I am still ME. I am still a woman who likes pretty things and deserves to feel like a woman and not just as someone who EVERYONE needs something from every minute of the day. It’s been so important to me to try and put myself together every day in a way that I can feel comfortable with two little guys climbing up my legs, but still feel like I look pretty! It’s important to me.

This is actually one thing that I learned by example from my own mom. She is beautiful. And she always, ALWAYS made sure to stay looking her best. She always took (and still takes!) pride in her appearance. And now I understand it. She knew that she was still a woman after me and my sisters arrived. She knew that it was important for her marriage that she keep up with her appearance. She knew that focusing on herself just a little bit each day didn’t make her a bad or selfish mom.

It made her a better mom.

One who was confident about herself, her appearance and her life. She was in control, putting herself first for a few minutes as she got herself ready. The rest of the day was ours. I watched her do this and it might sound weird to you, but it really resonated with me. So much so that I hope that I can be this same example to my boys so that someday they will look for and find wives who share the same values and cherish their appearance- before and after kids arrive! So today, although it’s hard somedays, it’s a huge value of mine. Is it superficial? Absolutely not. Me putting myself first and taking a shower, putting on my makeup and an outfit that I can feel confident in only makes me a better wife and mother. I can stand a little taller, smile a little bigger, and confidently know that even though I am a mom and it’s a gigantic part of what I do, it’s not ALL that I do.

It’s not ALL that I am. And that’s OK.

So I encourage you. Paint your toes that funky bright color you’ve been fearing! Get a pair of earrings that are totally outrageous! Or at the very least, make time to put your makeup on every day if it’s what will make you feel pretty. You deserve it! You are one hard working mamma who deserves to put herself first for a few minutes every day. I promise that your kids won’t suffer if you focus on your sense of style for a few minutes every day. They will probably watch you like I watched my mom, in awe of how pretty she is and wanting to be exactly THAT for my kids someday.

You’re still a woman even though you have kids. And it’s totally ok to shave your legs and put lip gloss on.

And PS: This is my favorite lip gloss of. all. time. It’s Beauty Rush Lip Gloss from Victoria’s Secret.

be my guest

19 Apr

Tomorrow, I am venturing into the world of guest blogging. And I am SO excited about it!! Not only have I started guest blogging elsewhere (details to come soon on that!) but I have decided to start featuring guests on my blog from time to time too! This is exciting for me because I LOVE hearing from other women about what works for them and what doesn’t. I love reading other people’s stories and getting to know all about where someone else is at. I find encouragement, strength and wisdom in learning from others and I’m so happy to be able to use this blog to hopefully be able to do the same thing for you!

I don’t have a rhyme or a reason to when or how guest bloggers will appear- at least not yet. But tomorrow, I will be featuring my  very first one! I hope that you’ll come back to see what my first guest bloggin’ mamma has to say about how SHE makes it work each and every day!

So, stay tuned!

*If you would like to learn more about how YOU can become a featured guest blogger on my blog, please contact me at jessica(at)sessionninephotography(dot)com for more information!

lists are your friend

31 Mar

TIP #5- LISTS, LISTS, LISTS

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say,

“I don’t need to write down lists because I keep everything inside my head.”

I’m sorry… You keep EVERYTHING inside YOUR HEAD? My head would definitely explode. No wonder women and mammas all around are stressing out and on the verge of nervous breakdowns! I mean, I know that this isn’t the sole reason for the stress, but seriously?? How can you just keep everything that you need to do and get done for the day, week, and month inside your head? I mean, if it really is truly working for you, then go for it I guess? But I’ve come to learn very, very quickly that writing stuff down is not only an important key in maintaining your organization, but it’s absolutely vital to my sanity.

Lists are your friend.

I have so many lists going at any given time. I have a list for groceries, toiletries, daily to-do’s, areas that need to get cleaned, clients to call back and so on. It’s helpful because I know I can write it down and then I don’t have to worry! I don’t have to worry that I MIGHT TOTALLY DROP ALL THE BALLS I HAVE IN THE AIR.

<insert panic mode HERE>

No. There’s no panic mode. If I start to feel uneasy about the tasks I need to do, instead of WRACKING my BRAIN, I just reference the list. It really is that simple you guys. I know this isn’t rocket science or brand new information by any stretch of the imagination. But it really helps me to stay focused on the day to day, and I don’t need to be a stresscase wondering if I’m forgetting anything!

Get an organizer. I love my organizer. I got mine from Target and it’s a Mead Planner. It’s simple, inexpensive, no bells and whistles and has room for any and everything that I can put in it. And boy do I! It can LOOK a little chaotic at times, but it’s my chaos. And everything’s written down so I understand it. So it actually is quite organized and it really helps me to see the week at a glance. If ever I’m feeling like I’m forgetting something, I just reference my organizer.

It’s really amazing what just writing stuff down will do for your day. When something you need to do pops into your head, add it to a list and write it down! I try to prioritize my lists by important to not as important. That way I know right when I get up what it is that needs to get done that day.

It’s so easy you guys. Yes, it takes a little bit of discipline. But it will really turn you from a stresscase to someone who has it together and who knows what comes next during the day. It’s all about having a plan, and sticking to it. That way you can be that working mamma and get outside with your babies in this glorious weather that is Arizona. Well, right now. Later we’ll be living in the pool. But that’s completely off the topic.

don’t rush

19 Feb

I always find myself wanting the boys, especially Rider, to hurry up and grow up. Not really grow up to be adults quickly or anything. But I often catch myself wishing for some aspects of the baby phase to be over. Am I normal for wanting it to breeze by sometimes? Am I a horrible mom for thinking that? Sometimes I feel like it. The truth is, I don’t really want them to grow up quickly. Not even one little bit. BUT, there are some aspects of the baby phase that I’m impatient about.

Rider will be 6 months old next week and he has YET to roll over. Well, he rolled over once. He can roll to his side and I KNOW he’s capable of rolling, he just has yet to do it. I definitely do not have a little rollie pollie on my hands. He hates tummy time. I mean, loathes it with a passion. Anytime I put him there, unless it’s first thing in the morning, he screams and fusses and cries until I move him. He’s rather be sitting in his bumbo seat or standing up in his saucer. He hasn’t figured out how to hold his bottle yet or sit up on his own either. He’s only belly laughed like, twice in his entire life while all other babies I know that are his age are laughing up a storm. I find myself comparing all Cruz’s milestones to where Rider is at and wondering, ‘What is going on?’. I find myself growing impatient and ready for him to gain a little more independence from me.

Yesterday, this thought process stopped me dead in my tracks. Someday- SOMEDAY- I am going to miss this phase so deeply. And I’m going to remember that all I wanted was for him to GROW UP ALREADY. How sad will that moment be? So, instead of worrying about why he isn’t hitting these milestones when the books say he should, I am choosing to RELAX about it already. Something that is very hard for me to do. But the truth is, I don’t want him to rush really. I want him to be his unique self and reach these milestones in his time and when he’s ready. No more rushing or pushing or comparing from me. I don’t want to look back and remember how I really did just wish the baby phase away. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s only here once. And then you blink, and it’s over. And he WILL gain his independence soon enough. And I’ll be wishing I could still swaddle him, cuddle him and that he couldn’t escape my embrace.

So, sweet boy. Don’t rush. Take your time. And when you roll or sit up or crawl or walk, I’ll be your cheerleader. And I’ll try to stop wishing this phase away and enjoy YOU right where you are at. For you are special, right in this very moment.