The Demise Of My Friendships After Becoming A Mother

mom colouring with kidsMotherhood. It has added many layers to who I was pre-kids. I have become stronger, more sensitive, intuitive, brave, resilient and resourceful. Although it has added some great qualities to my resume of character, I wouldn’t say that it has all been positive.

Relationships in my life have taken a hit. I try. But reality is, I can’t keep up. My inner circle is my four kids and my husband, and even at times my husband was shoved out. I have worked hard at stealing a little more time each day for him, but then I am at capacity.

The rest of the people in my world either get it, or they don’t. I don’t blame them. I am, at times, a crappy friend.

I go dark.

being a mom and a friend

One week you can text me and I will reply within seconds, being able to keep up a back and forth conversation that will put a smile on my face, remembering how much I miss conversing with another adult.

Other weeks you can text me and I will read half of it, before a piercing cry breaks the silence from the other room and  I have to drop my phone and run. That text often ends up in the graveyard of my relationships.

I’m sorry.

I’m wiping noses, making meals and then remaking them when crusts aren’t wanted and peas are touching the gravy. I’m singing songs and laying beside kids as they fall asleep. I am listening to how days at school went and breaking up fights. I am making it rain in the bath and brushing dirt off of knees outside. I am holding and kissing softly.

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It won’t always be like this, at least I don’t think it will. But I do know that when the dust settles, the diapers are long gone and all of my kids are more independent, I will look around and see those few people who stuck around.

Some of you… well you are family, so you are kind of obligated to stay, which, to be honest, I might rely on too much. I need to change that.

Others stuck around because this is their life too. They are relieved to know that they aren’t the only one that by the end of the day, they can barely remember large portions of it. They were so many people and they wore so many hats that they can’t even remember who they really are anymore.

For now, I hope that our rare dinners out without kids can do. Because although few and far between, they reset me. They remind me who I was and still am. They remind me what it feels like to laugh and that I am one of many moms who are constantly trying to find the elusive balance.


So, maybe my pool of friends has shrunk significantly since becoming a mother. But I am still here.

I care.

I crave our relationship just as much, and will continue to make plans and reschedule when my kid is sick.

I am in it right now. In the trenches. Don’t give up on me. Please keep throwing that rope down every once and a while, I will keep trying to grab it.

In a couple years when I have re-emerged, and when you are in it, I promise, I will throw that rope to you again and again, even if you occasionally go dark too.

I’m still here, please wait for me.

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5 Things I Do Each Day to Handle What’s On My Plate

Every day I have A LOT on my plate. My to-do list could go on forever and, on top of it, I have to carve out time for my relationship with my husband and for four little humans who rely on me to be fed, loved, played with, taught and guided.

mom reading to children

Every once in a while I will attempt to wrap my mind around all the responsibilities I have as a mom, a wife and a business owner, and I will feel a little panic set in. But before I succumb to the voice inside my head that says, “it’s too much, you are sinking,” I take these steps and I know that I can get through the day.

To keep myself in-sync, and make sure my mind and body are perfectly in line, I take these five steps:

  1. Routine
  2. Assess
  3. Prioritize
  4. Gain Perspective
  5. Pamper

Routine. I am all about routine. In fact, my whole family is, and at times we can feel a little off on weekends or on holiday. So the days that we don’t have school drop-offs creating structure, I still keep a routine in place. That includes me waking up before everyone else and working out and showering, ensuring we have meals around the same time each day, building quiet time for everyone into our day and sticking to the same bedtimes. When there are six members in the family, I find routine vital for each of us.

working out

Assess. Those moments when I can feel my to-do list strangling me, and the panic setting in, I know it is time to assess my life, especially my workload. I heard something so simple recently, but it made such an impact on my work life: “Take every project you are working on and visualize them all in front of you. If there is something that you don’t love, take that off your plate.” That is a motto I now live by and it has changed my world. Assess your workload and assess your relationships on a regular basis. You may be surprised by what is bringing you down and realize that it is okay to let some stuff go.

Prioritize. I love to-do lists. Seriously, they are like air to me. I have tried lots of fancy apps and organizers, but in the end a simple pad of lined paper makes for the best to-do list. Each day I split my page in two. The first list is what must get done; the second list is if I have time. I then number each item by priority and start hacking away, feeling a rush as I cross out each item.

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Gain perspective. I talk to myself. No, really I do. All day long. I keep an inner dialogue going with myself, which may sound like I have fallen off my rocker, but, really, it’s to keep me in check. I am constantly asking myself, “how are you feeling?” I will have little conversations with myself in my head making plans about how I am going to tackle a problem and how big a deal I am going to make about each obstacle. When I feel myself getting too out of sync, I reach out and talk to my husband or my mom, asking them whether I am being unreasonable. Often I realize that my problem may not be as big as I have made it out to be.

Pamper. I think constantly pampering myself is probably the most effective way I am able to stay in sync with my inner self and achieve my daily goals. I pamper myself by exercising in the morning, taking the time to do my hair and put makeup on, or carving out a rest with a yummy snack each day. Making healthy choices that make me feel better helps me have the energy and mental clarity to tackle everything on my plate. When I am really falling out of sync, I take a hot bath or go get a massage.

mother reading bookThe thing is, I have learned over the years that if I am not in in sync with my inner self, I will start sinking, and before I can give anything to any of my family, or tackle a looming deadline, I have to take care of myself. It’s only when you feel totally in sync with your core that you can harness your greatest potential.

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A Day In The Life 3 (Video) – With Four Kids, Including Twin Toddlers

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In our family’s most recent “day-in-the-life” video, what was supposed to be a typical day, ended up being a day home with a sick twin.

Before starting the day, I took some time for myself, including fitting in a workout, throwing on some makeup and even doing my hair. But a cold had been circling our house, and when Mike and I walk into Mia and Everly’s room we make a grim discovery.

Follow along as I juggle everything from sick kids, to work, play time, date night and even some time for myself.

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I DON’T Do It All

I don't do it all collageI owe my readers an apology. I recently had a phone call with a new mom who was struggling. Then she asked me something that made me realize that I have been leaving a large unintentional piece of my puzzle out. She asked: “If I am struggling with only one baby this much, and needing so much help, how do you do it all with four kids?” My response, I don’t do it all.

I may have given this picture of my day consisting of me getting up, working out, parenting all day while running a business and getting a delicious hot meal on the dinner table all on my own. That is not the case.

I have help. Years ago when Holden was eighteen months old and I was very pregnant with Beau I came very close to having a massive breakdown. I was struggling with a child who hated life at the time and I was about to bring a newborn into the mix. I had Mike drive me to our hospital’s labour and delivery and drop me off there. Once inside, I sat with two of the most incredibly compassionate nurses I have ever met. They proceeded to tell me, (while I sat sobbing uncontrollably), their own parenting horror stories and gave me the best parenting advice I have ever received, “get help.”

After that I immediately hired a babysitter to come twice a week to be with Holden, while I went out with our new baby girl Beau. Then I soon moved him to a home daycare two afternoons a week, then three. Holden started to enjoy life more being around his peers, and I was managing better as a parent.

After three years of doing this and being home I realized that I wanted more of a work/stay-at-home-mom balance. I tried working part-time while my kids were first at home with a nanny and then switched to daycare. But that still wasn’t quite right for our family.

That’s when I switched to running my own mural painting and children’s space design company.  Yes, for those of you who just started following Nesting Story, that’s where Nesting Story began. I worked out of the house on weekends and hired a cleaning service to come every other week to come take cleaning off my plate.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I had to shut Nesting Story down temporarily. We scraped together every penny (and went into a little debt and accepted help from family) to continue with a cleaning service, and put Beau into nursery school while Holden went to  school.

Mike asked me what kind of help I would need when our twins were born, and despite him thinking we needed help at night with the twins, I knew that I’d rather have help during the day with the older kids. So we hired a nanny to come and be with the older kids during the day, (since the kids were home during the summer months). This made a huge difference.

Once September rolled around and Holden went back to school we put Beau into four full days of preschool and continued with a cleaning service every other week.

Today, after the success of Nesting Story and a couple other exciting projects I am working on and will tell you about soon, I have been able to hire a part time nanny to help with our twins about sixteen hours a week on top of the older kids being in school and having a cleaning service. She is incredible. She helps with the dishes and laundry so I can work during part of the day and be present with the family for the rest.

I also barely cook. I make very basic healthy meals. I pick up healthy meals sometimes as well. I haven’t mastered the dinner situation yet, but I have always told Mike that my goal in life is to hire a chef. Haha.

I know this post is long winded, and probably filled with too much detail, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into how I actually “do it all”. The answer: I don’t. I am okay with that too. I know that I am a much happier and patient mom because I have help. I don’t struggle with guilt because I know this is the best balance for our family.

I am not saying everyone needs to run out and get help. I am just a huge advocate for women’s mental health and I urge every mother to look for a way to find balance in your life. We get help from family from time to time. But for me, it is important to have a career and be able to pay for steady childcare for my kids.

It took a long time for me to let go of this idealistic picture of what I thought I always wanted as a mother and realize that my path was a little different. I urge you to lose the guilt, and really think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t lose yourself in the shuffle. Carve your own parenting path.

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The Historic Mommies’ Night Out, A Mom’s Identity Found

IMG_5105From Left: Shelley, Amanda, Jennine and Myself.

Last week I set out to plan an evening with my mommy-friends.  One of them emailed the rest of us suggesting a night out of town with dinner, drinks and if we were feeling a little crazy, maybe even some dancing!  After careful plotting with our husbands and many more exchanged emails, my friends and I finally planned a REAL ladies night out.  Not a quick meal in town where one of us gets called home because of a screaming child, or an evening at one of our houses with a couple of diapered tag-alongs.  But a real, makeup and heels night out!

After removing the carseats in my van and vacuuming up all of the cheerios I was ready to pick up the ladies and head out on the town; maybe we should pitch a show called “Mommy Vans After Dark”?  My friend Amanda was too cute, she must have said how excited she was about every two minutes during the car ride which continued on in the restaurant.  I just had to snap a picture of her excitement!

IMG_5106We had many laughs and learned a lot more about each other (which we didn’t think was possible).

One underlying theme that has been paramount when I have been chatting with other moms at the same stage as me lately is the feeling of a lost identity.   Many of us have been so immersed in the baby and then toddler stage that we have left ourselves behind.  Now that the dust has settled and we are able to start venturing out again, we are finding it hard to see exactly where our place in the world is other than being a mom and a wife.  We are not quite the person we were before having kids, so who are we now?

About a year and a half ago I had already been home with my kids for three years and was fighting increasing depression.  My whole life I had wanted to be a stay-at-home mom like my mother.  She had always made it looks so fulfilling.  But when it was my turn it was not at all what I thought it would be.  My son Holden was extremely moody and anxious for the first couple of years which kept me fairly isolated.  When our adventurous and happy daughter Beau came along I was so burnt out that I barely had the energy to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a mom.

I found myself resenting my husband Mike leaving to work everyday and not having a reason to get out of my sweats.  I finally came to a breaking point where I decided I needed to get back into the working world.  I had to remind myself that even my mother, an incredible stay-at-home mom was also pursuing her dreams of singing on stage in the evenings with community theatre.  So I joined an Interior Design firm and started to re-discover myself. After a year of working I realized that this too was not the perfect fit.  I did not feel very supported by my work about the fact that I was a mom and I could also see the toll that the long days in daycare were taking on my kids, especially my son.  I needed to find a happy medium.

It was time to start a new journey.  I would do what I had always wanted to do: run my own business.  With a lot of support from Mike we pulled our kids out of daycare and put a halt on our spending (which wasn’t easy because we had just moved).  It has been a balancing act but so far so good!

There are days when my house looks like a bomb went off or I have to remind myself that I am still working and to be careful to protect my “working” time but I find myself excited and fulfilled everyday.  I still get out of my sweats, put some makeup on and style my hair even if I am just heading out to a playdate.

The biggest piece of advice I can give other moms is this: motherhood may not be exactly what you thought it was going to be or you may not have everything as clean or as organized as you would like, but that doesn’t mean you are failing as a mother.  Every woman’s path as a mother and a wife or partner is different and you have to carve out your own that doesn’t just include your kids and your husband/partner but yourself as well.  Whether you are working or at home, single or with a partner, make sure you are doing something that is also for you.  Something that is yours and that you are in control of.  If you are worried you might be putting too much on your husband/ partner for an evening here or a day there, they might shock you (and also pick up a bit more of the housework along the way).  Trust me, you will be a better mother and wife/partner for it!  We wear many hats and are trying to take care of a lot of other people.  But before we can happily give so much to our family we must give to ourselves first.