Why Juggling Being a SAHM And A WAHM Was Destroying My Love For Motherhood And Sabotaging My Business

Office - Nesting StoryThis morning my six-year-old son, Holden, was crawling around our kitchen, pretending to be a spy, in hopes that he could scare his father. This was going on as my five-year-old daughter, Beau, was trying to assert her independence (as she should) by carrying her full glass of orange juice from our kitchen island to the table, as I busied myself bringing our twin toddlers their breakfast.

Suddenly my son heard footsteps, as my husband approached the kitchen. Holden stood up and ran while looking back behind his shoulder, running right into Beau. Orange juice went everywhere and Beau was dripping head to toe.

I screamed “Holddddeeeeen!!!” Then two things followed that shouldn’t have.

First, both Holden and Beau started to panic, saying “sorry, sorry, sorry!” While they each had a look of sheer terror in their eyes. The next was something broke inside of me. I didn’t loose it, like my kids thought I would, and were far too used to. I didn’t cry either.

Remember when the “islands of personality” start to crumble in Pixar’s Inside Out? I felt like a part of me inside crumbled, and I thought to myself, “I can’t do this! I hate motherhood!”

For the last couple of weeks I have been struggling with increasing anxiety. A heaviness on my chest that I have not been able to shake. It may have started with a snarky comment I received from a mom on my You Tube channel…

I’m confused! :-/
You are a blogger, but do you get paid for that?
Your oldest goes to school, then Beau goes to daycare, and you most days have a nanny for the twins?
In this vlog, it’s spring break, so all of the kids go to a full day of daycare, while you go shopping, get ready, and have lunch with friends?
Do you ever just spend a day with your kids, playing, and hanging out!?
I’m a mom to 5 kids beautiful children(18,16,13,12, and 7)
and when they were younger, I was a single mother, who also started a blogging website and worked a full time job.Weekends were spent with my kids and I didn’t blog at all! Since I worked 60 hours a week, I didn’t get a lot of quality time with my kids, so the weekends were all about them!!!
I just don’t get why, if you’re a SAHM, why your children have a nanny and or go to daycare all of the time!? I understand we only see 10-20 minutes of your life, but it seems as though, you get rid of your kids as often as possible!

I rarely feel like I have to explain myself, or respond to mean comments. But this one shook me to the core. This mom had seen tiny snippets of my life in my “day in the life” videos I occasionally make. She didn’t have the whole story. Here was my response…

Hi there. Yes, I do get paid. I worked for a long time unpaid and now I am creating content for three websites. At this point it is a full-time paid job which has added a second income. For a long time I worked while my kids napped, or in the evenings and the other two were in school. In the summer (video 1 you are referring to) we had a part-time nanny for a couple of months, which didn’t work out. I worked for 3 months without childcare and now have our twins in daycare 9 AM – 12 PM each weekday, with occasional full days (depending on deadlines).
I most definitely spend a lot of each day and all day every weekend with my kids.
I rarely use my “work time” to go out with friends or run errands, but when I choose which day to film a day in the life, I will often pick a day with a lot of variety so that the video isn’t just me typing at my desk.
I did the SAHM thing when my first was born, for three years, and it wasn’t for me. It sent me into a depression. It truly is the hardest job, and I knew that I needed to find a balance that not only suited me, but my family too.
So, although I am at home all day, I am not a SAHM shipping my kids off. I am a hard working WAHM.

But this comment, my recent work-load and tomorrow’s launch of my new website and rebranding, has really had me thinking lately. What am I doing? I am now lucky enough to say that I, as a blogger, am bringing in enough paid work each month to work full-time. Yet, why am I paying for childcare and still trying to do so much of the SAHM thing during the day, while working my ass off again at my computer most nights?

WAHM

I am a people pleaser. Or maybe I can finally start saying, I am a former people pleaser. This is something that I have struggled with since childhood. Initially I was pegged as the peace-keeper, but as I grew, my wise mother started pointing out that I was people pleasing too much, and needed to stand up for myself more.

I have come a long way, but even now as a grown adult, I am finding myself people pleasing once again, especially while trying to carve out my path as a full-time working mom, who happens to have her office based out of her home. I am constantly allowing myself to get distracted with lengthly personal phone calls from family, and occasionally be persuaded to meet friends during work hours.

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon cleaning out my car. The sun was shining, I saw the opportunity and I grabbed it. Last week I went grocery shopping twice, worked out and showered daily, and went shopping for my kids, all during work hours. I am pretty sure if I had a 9am – 5pm office job with a boss, I’d be fired by now.

But when my kids get home from school and daycare, I am stressed beyond belief and a short-tempered ogre, watching the clock, wondering how early is too early to get my kids to bed so I can get back to work?

What the hell am I doing?

After spending days being too distracted to enjoy or complete anything, because the running conversations and arguments in my head were just too loud, I asked myself, “what do you want?”

The truth is, I am completely jealous of the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers of this world. No one questions them about just spending a day playing with their kids. Okay, maybe we all questioned Marissa Mayers’ statement about “taking limited time away” and “working throughout” her twin pregnancy, for a minute.¬†But we applaud them as hard-working women, who also happen to be mothers.

Why have I been creating this massive grey area when it came to me working?

What I really want is to create clear lines. I will be a mom certain hours of the day, and be 100% focused on work, for the other parts. I will stop muddying the waters.

Don’t get me wrong, I will still be the parent who adjusts their schedule when a child is home sick, or has a pressing appointment. That is, at least until I become Mike’s sugar mama.

This will take time to figure out what I let go of, because I know I can’t have it all, and how to adjust my schedule and create stronger boundaries. But at least I have a goal and know what I want.

So to all of the moms out there, who love their kids, but know they want that career, especially as an entrepreneur… it’s okay to stop people pleasing and put your foot down. It’s okay to completely switch hats instead of wearing two at once all of the time.

Let’s drop the guilt and carve out our own path.

I Think Cinderella Was Onto Something

Maybe Cinderella was onto somethingOkay, maybe I am not “trapped” in my mommy world of sweat pants, messy hair, no-makeup, and cleaning up after everyone. But some days I definitely feel isolated, and like I am losing myself while caring for four children.

For the second time, I have had the opportunity to get away for a few days to a blogging conference. While away, I marvel at the moments where I can slow down and enjoy both the quiet and the stimulating conversations. It’s an exhilarating feeling getting to make all of the decisions throughout the day, based solely on my own needs and wants.IMG_9213Since becoming a mother six years ago, I have often struggled to make sure I find the balance between giving enough of me to my children, while not disappearing in the process.

Now, while trying to balance so many people, while simultaneously breathing life into my passion, which also happens to be my business, I again, occasionally find myself slipping away.

Being able to step out of my life for a few days, every few months, gives me a chance to regain my independence and do an assessment on who I am outside of being a mother and a wife. I get to  challenge myself, while brainstorming exciting ideas with other adults. I breathe in the beautiful sights and sounds around me.Blue Mountain, CollingwoodJust for that brief moment, I am me, without the caretaker part. I am reset.

Then the clock strikes midnight, and I head back into my delightful world of chaos, squeals, cuddles, cries, giggles, kisses and so much love.Mother

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What It Is Like Going Viral – My Personal Journey

collage PressGoing viral is not a natural or normal human experience. Anyone who has experienced going viral can probably agree that it is a bit of an out-of-body journey with a roller coaster of emotions that follow. Although it can bring some incredible opportunities, it can also throw your life off course. Anytime I have told my story about what it is like going viral, people have found it fascinating. So, I thought I would share it on my blog. Here is my story.

My blog, Nesting Story, had been around for a couple years, hand-in-hand with my design and mural painting business. But I had only switched it over to a parenting blog the previous December. So essentially, it was in its infancy. I would sit down a couple times a week and blog away about parenting four kids, my twin pregnancy, and how to prepare for twins. Nesting Story was not a business at the time. It was more like a lifeline. A way to connect with other parents and get out of my head after a long day in the trenches. I had had a couple of mini viral posts, and a few hundred loyal mommy followers. Then crazy town hit in March 2015.

I had been pretty pumped about the fact that I was finally falling into a rhythm with my early morning workout routine and could actually see my body coming back after having my four kids, (including twins). I knew that my body would forever be changed. I was more than fine with that, because I knew what my body had done for me and it deserved a few war wounds. I had a few followers expecting twins that I wanted to share my body after baby story with. So, after a finishing dinner with a big glass of wine I sat down and began to write. I laughed with my husband that I probably shouldn’t be blogging because I was a little buzzed. I cranked my music and began. It poured out of me. I enjoyed going through my pregnancy photos and finally felt balzy enough to throw in those postpartum photos I once felt so ashamed about. After only an hour and a half, (record time), I finished and went to bed, waiting for the morning to hit publish.¬†

The next morning I woke up and reread my post. I knew that it was coming from an honest place and I was happy to put it out there. I hit publish, shared it on my social media and with a couple other bloggers, then walked away. Over the next day I could see the post was resonating with everyone, not just moms expecting twins. My website traffic was slowly climbing and the comments were pouring in. “Cool,” I thought to myself, “my post had legs.” Over the weekend I watched the numbers climb. I mentioned to some family that one of my posts was going viral, “oh that’s nice,” they replied, not knowing what was about to happen.

By the start of the following week, my husband, my website-guy and I were now emailing screen shots of my numbers going up and up. I had thousands of new visitors at all times. My web-guy started to joke that I was trying to break the internet. We all were waiting for that moment for it to hit it’s peak and start to decline.

While all of this was going on, I was really curious where my blog post was being read and who was reading it. I was able to see on my Google Analytics page that all of the traffic was coming from the United States, which I found interesting because I am Canadian. More specifically, my traffic was mostly coming from Utah. My hunch is, from many of the comments I read, that the family of four element may have connected with the Mormon community. Thank you Mormon community!

From Utah I watched my post go viral in New York, California, Texas and so on… The overall connection being my positive body image message. We were starting to get a little nervous that my server would crash and decided it was time to jump ship to a larger one. Within days, Nesting Story reached just under two-million page views. The crazy viral numbers started to level out and slowly decline. Then came the press.

All of a sudden there was a new jump in website traffic. The source: an article published on Woman’s Day website, followed by Cosmopolitan, then Elite Daily. I was shaking, beyond excited about the positive impact my article was having. Then Today Parents emailed me requesting a phone interview. Each of these articles also went viral. Especially the Today article, which was a huge hit.

Many more articles followed, including Fit Pregnancy, Life and Style Magazine, and Pop Sugar Moms. Then came the first request for an in-home, on-air interview with our family by CTV. This was a big deal, and many friends and family cheering me on gathered around their TVs that night to watch.CTVOver the course of the next few days, more articles, TV and radio interviews came my way. My blog post was written about in countless countries and translated into many languages. I kept joking that I will have really made it when I heard from People Magazine. Then I heard from People magazine.

During the initial viral days, I would read many comments on other Facebook pages and websites, and one in particular really bothered me. It was another mother who had completely missed the message. I decided to address this on my own Facebook page and write a blog post about it and have never looked back. To this day, I never read comments about me on other websites.

During the span of the two weeks of craziness, I was constantly going. Trying to say “yes” to everyone, but barely taking time for myself. I even lost seven pounds in those weeks because I barely ate.IMG_4632

Once the dust settled, opportunities came knocking. Many opportunities. I have been extremely careful to say “no” to most of them (regardless of the payout) and only say yes to a few quality opportunities that would align me with the right people and serve Nesting Story and it’s followers. I am thrilled that Nesting Story is now a business, but I am always reminding myself why and who I am blogging for.

What did going viral do for my family and I personally? I burned myself out, which came to a head just before leaving to my first official blogging conference. There, I was able to step out of my parenting world and really make sense of what happened and what Nesting Story is today.IMG_5348I think it took a toll on my husband and I as a unit, and just recently I can see us turning ourselves right side up again. My kids didn’t really seem to notice too much. We were careful to keep them separate from all of the media, other than participating in one interview.

Today I see myself as two people. Joanna, who is a mom of four and works at home in her sweats with no makeup, and Joanna, the viral mom that lives out there in the world.

Here is my advice to other bloggers who may find that they suddenly go viral. Pace yourself. Be okay with saying “no” to people and opportunities. Be patient for the good opportunities and go after what you want. Be prepared for people from your past to show a sudden interest in you. Don’t grow an ego. There is a good chance your star will fade, so enjoy the ride while it lasts. Don’t stop learning. I am constantly trying to educate myself and learn from other bloggers. Try to compartmentalize the negative comments and see them as a conversation starter that moves your message further. Don’t read all of the comments that aren’t on your own social media and website. Don’t take those comments personally. Don’t leave leave other people’s negative comments that aren’t contributing to the conversation on your own blog and social media. You don’t need that poison sitting there. Don’t try to repeat history or start to write what you think people want. It will be tempting, but it will fail. Trust me. Continue to write for you and the people you had in mind when you began. Don’t lose your way.

Sometimes I still can’t believe what happened to me. Now it seems like this blip in time. I have been extremely humbled by it and know it will never happen again. It has given me thicker skin and has helped me understand my worth. But it doesn’t define me.Nesting Story