You guys, I think I’ve found the secret to happiness. At least my version of it, and it feels so good. So all you have to do to find it too is to move to California. Okay, just kidding, kind of, but it definitely seems to have worked for me. Here’s how:
1. Being the best mommy I can be.
I think I was meant to be a stay at home mom. I was pretty shredded when I had to go back to work after I had Sebastian. I tried to find a way to stay home, it just wasn’t financially in the cards. I made the best of it and my job (and the 5:30 am alarm clock) and lived for the summers when I got to be home all day every day. Moving out to California has allowed me to stay at home with my boys and I love it so much. It’s taken a couple months (and Sawyer to get out of the newborn stage) to start establishing a routine, but we’ve figured out a good schedule that has worked for us. The boys go to bed around 9:00pm, we get an hour or two of adult time before we go to bed. The kids wake up around 8:00. On some mornings (depending on how late I went to bed or if Sawyer was up a lot), I get up at 6:30 or 7:00 to have some ‘me time’. As soon as the boys wake up, we slowly start getting ready for the day. Making breakfast, getting everyone dressed, packing a lunch for Sebastian, etc. We are usually out the door by 10 to walk to the park, walk to Park street (with shops and restaurants), walk to our friends house, go to the zoo or any of the other 10 million things we’ve found to do here. Getting out and doing something is key to having our day go as smoothly as possible. Afternoons are reserved for naps, or these days trying to get Sebastian to nap. I’m trying to find something to fill the 4-6pm time slot as those hours before Matt gets home seems to drag a bit. There have been a few days where a walk around the block or a run to the corner store to buy ingredients to bake with Sebastian, or going to the gym (see below) have been a great way to fill that time. Also, Sebastian is starting to become obsessed with legos and that’s a fun way for both of us to spend our afternoons…we just need more lego sets!
Now having a good routine definitely helps for a smoother day, but we are talking about taking care of little humans, and that is no easy task. 3 year olds can be unpredictable, emotional and down right jerks. I’ve been working very hard on keeping my cool and talking with my sister (whose job is to work with kids with behaviors), my mother-in-law who raised 4 super successful adults, and my friend (will mention her later in the post) on how to be a better mom. I’ve learned what works with Sebastian…when he is mad or hurt, is to leave him ALONE or he will scream at you and make the situation worse. It’s pretty simple, but hard to do. Once he’s calm is when I can approach him and try to talk him through what happened. I may have to write a whole separate blog post for what I’m doing with Sebastian to try to get him to stop screaming and teaching him how to calm himself down without hitting or throwing something. Mostly, I just trying to raise him well and do a good job being his mom. I’m reading a book called The Danish Way of Parenting. If you feel like you are struggling with your tiny human, you should check it out!
2. Mind, body and soul
When I first moved to California in January, I still had 13 pounds left from my pregnancy weight. I wore baggy shirts and clothes to hide it (and only had about 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants that fit me). The first couple months, I walked everywhere, and most places with a heavy baby strapped to my chest. I also watched what I ate and tracked my calories using the MyFitnessPal app. That took care of about 10 of those pounds. Then, I started talking with a new friend about a gym membership at the place where Sebastian plays soccer. The biggest draw to this place was that it had 2 hours of childcare a day. Get a couple hours break from my boys AND get to workout and take care of my body? Sign me up! I haven’t worked out since before I was pregnant with Sebastian but I jumped right in doing Barre classes and I love them. If you don’t know what they are, look up a couple Youtube videos. I feel stronger, I feel happier, I feel better about my body. Gosh, this is a no brainer win, win. And Sebastian has a bounce house to play in while I’m working out, so I assure you, he is just fine…and it’s good to get him some time away from me. He’s teared up a few times I’ve left him there and I want him to become more comfortable again without me. The baby is fine too, and spoiled. He likes to be held (like fusses after 5 minutes of being put down every time) and every time I go to pick him up, he’s in someones arms. I feel a little bit bad, but at least it’s only 2 hours!
As for my soul, just walking down the adorable streets of Alameda, on the way to the park, with my two favorite (little) people in tow, with the gorgeous weather and amazingly good smelling flowers everywhere…well it’s hard to hate it.
3. Friendships- Surrounding myself with happy people
It is so easy to make friends here. My first friend I made, I met at the park right after I moved here. I spotted her from across the park (talking to someone already, darn) wearing a baby, watching her toddler son. She looked just like me, also wearing my baby and watching my toddler son. We eventually found each other nursing our babies on nearby benches and used the best mom pick up line “how old is your baby” and the rest is history. We’ve been hanging out and taking our kids on adventures about 4 times a week or so since. It’s so nice to have a mommy friend and she’s such a great mommy and great example for me when it comes to managing toddler (preschooler) behaviors! I also have my gym buddy who has two kids, one is Sebastian’s age which is probably the biggest thing that gets me motivated to go to the gym. And the boys love playing together. Even though we live in a city, it definitely has a small time feel and the more we go certain places, the more we see the same people over and over. It’s great to be new in town, but still recognize people throughout our days. We also have my brother and sister-in-law and niece a 20 minute (or so) drive away in one of the coolest cities. It’s so nice to have family so close!
4. Building back my beloved business
I have loved taking photos since I was (at the very least) a freshman in high school. I did the whole darkroom, artsy photography thing all through high school and college and started my business the summer after my first year of teaching. Since then how busy I’ve been with my business would depend on what was going on in my life. For a while there I’d have about 15 weddings a year (alongside teaching) with several portrait sessions. Once I had Sebastian, I quickly realized I couldn’t do all three, be a mommy, teach full time and continue my business so photography had to go. I still did a few portrait sessions a year and a couple weddings but nothing like before. Now that I’ve dropped teaching, I feel that I have time in my life to pick photography back up and am thrilled so far with the response and shoots I’ve gotten so quickly. Hopefully it can continue to grow! This stage in my life, I’m not as interested in weddings (as it takes up so many weekend hours), but I am extremely interested in families. If you have been following my blog, you’ll see I’ve had a couple really great shoots already.
5. Constantly learning and working to become a better version of myself
From watching webinars for my business to reading parenting books, to following “people who seem to have it together” on social media, to talking to my people about how to best raise my children…I am always trying to be a better version of myself. Rachel Hollis from The Chic Site is a huge motivator for me…she posts inspirational messages on Instagram and Facebook, does live streams and has a motivational book coming out next year that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I also have a friend from NC who started ‘Spreading Kindness Confetti’…An idea just to be kind and do kind acts for people. It’s such a simple idea and for some reason seems hard to fit into your day, but is so important. She does these kind acts all through the month, but has come up with one a month for you to do. Last month it was to donate books and this month it’s to give someone flowers. (We need to get on that before the month is over). I can’t wait to see what she has for next month!
There you have it, 5 easy steps to be happier!