“Real Clothes” – Dressing The Part

(Many thanks to Jennifer Scott at The Daily Connoisseur for being so articulate about the subject of “looking presentable always.”)

If you work outside the home, dressing well comes naturally because it is socially expected.  If you’re a professional parent, wearing real clothes can get brushed aside because “no one’s going to see me.”

Except your family, y’know, the most important people in your life that you decided to dedicate your career to serving.

Just those people.

dressing the part what you wear matters sahm wardrobe

Why?

It’s a lot more motivating to get up off the couch and get something done if you’re dressed like something important is going on.  Because your tasks are important – homemaking and child-rearing are of utmost importance.  It’s surprising what a mental game our grooming can play.  This is the same reason law firms have business dress requirements, and many schools have uniforms.

I feel that there is another parallel we can draw from the business world – “Dress for the job you want.”  Now, we have chosen to be home, so this is the job we want.  But what do we want FROM our job?  To be taken seriously by our children, spouse, peers, community?  To “have it all together?” To be tidy?  These causes are all helped by DRESSING like someone who commands respect, has it together, is tidy – rather than someone who just roused themselves from slumber to put out proverbial fires.

Dressing presentably always also helps eliminate decision fatigue and the need to change throughout the day. My pajamas are presentable, so it’s okay if my teenager needs something after I’m ready for bed.  My clothes I choose in the morning are nice enough to wear to run errands, to school events, even to dinner out at the last minute.  (It actually occurred a few weeks ago where we were out for a family walk, and a friend drove by in her car and invited us to dinner in half an hour.  Threw a diaper on the youngest, and out we went – no need to “spruce up.”)  I only need to choose one outfit each day, and I don’t have to take anything into account other than the temperature.

How?

Dressing the part becomes much easier if you simplify your wardrobe.  This is where capsule wardrobes come in.  (This topic has been done lots of justice by lots of other bloggers, so I’m not rehashing the entire thing.) But pay attention to what’s in your mom capsule – PAJAMAS ARE NOT CLOTHES.  If you wouldn’t wear them to the office, why are they in your work environment at home?  My mom capsule wardrobe is lots of washable, comfortable fabrics, but consists of dresses or tunics and leggings.  Personal preference – if you’re a pants girl, more power to you!  (BUT REAL PANTS.  NOT YOGA PANTS.)

Check the blogosphere, YouTube, and Pinterest for ideas about mom capsule wardrobes.  Sit and think about what kinds of clothes you like best, and how those might become part of a “real clothes” wardrobe.  (If you love yoga pants best, think about leggings and tunics.  If you love raiding your husband’s closet, think dolman sleeves or trapeze tops and dresses.)

You may need a serious declutter of your closet for any of this to be plausible.  I suggest the Kon Mari method (as found in the book The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo) so that you can purge out all the ratty, sloppy clothes and keep only things that work for you and are lovely.

FAQs

“Don’t you get messy?”  Why yes, yes I do.  Then I wash my clothes.  If you’re talking about serious mess, I do wear aprons while cooking.  If I’m bleaching or painting, I have a coverall (like a mechanic would have) that I put on over my clothes.

“But don’t you want to be comfortable?” Of course.  I don’t buy things I find uncomfortable!  Comfort is about cut and fabric, not item of clothing.

“Why bother?  Nobody sees you all day.” My children (who learn best by example) and my spouse see me.
And let me tell you, random people show up at my door.  Once I was down with a back injury and my mother-in-law offered to come help around the house.  She (surprise!) brought a friend of hers that I had never met in my life.  Thank goodness I was wearing real clothes!  It was embarrassing enough that a woman I’d just met was scrubbing my pots and pans.
Another time my best friend dropped her children off with no notice, because of a medical emergency.  Glad I had gotten dressed that day.
And beyond folks ringing my door bell, I never have to change or think twice about running to the store, the post office, my kid’s school, etc.  Always prepared.  I don’t even usually have to change for social events in the evening.

 

The outfit shots incorporated into the image for this post are authentic.  I never stage an outfit for my OOTD pictures on Instagram, obviously, since I’m wearing slippers in many of them!  That’s what I actually wear, to all the regular events of my life.  (Sometimes I wear something fancier to church, but that’s about it!)

To Work or Not To Work – Another Story

Deb posted the story of her working motherhood in this post recently, and I wanted to share mine, as well.

It’s quite opposite!  All mommas and all families are so very different.  And these two stories, which have unfolded in an intertwined way (we are besties in real life, if you didn’t know) puts me in awe of how our plans are not God’s plans.  I would never have pegged us for the kinds of moms we are today, had you asked me before we had children!

working mom or sahm

(Why a pie?  That’s a little later in the story!)

I never, ever, intended to be a stay-at-home mom.

In my early adulthood, I wasn’t even certain I wanted to have children at all!  But once I settled on a career path (education) I definitely decided that I was never “quitting my job” to “stay home and clean.”

Straight out of college (that would be 1 1/2 years into marriage) I got a teaching job.  I – surprise!- was pregnant with our first child during my second year of teaching.

I love teaching.  Teaching while pregnant wasn’t that difficult (I even directed a musical that first nauseating trimester!) and I had every intention of returning to work.  I took a 6 week maternity leave during which my (also a teacher) husband substitute taught for me, but I was itching to get back in that classroom.  My husband stayed home with our son, and off I went (breastpump in hand – what a drag!)  I had a student teacher in my classroom that year, and she’d play with the baby sometimes while I worked after school.  I found myself nursing a baby while meeting with colleagues in my classroom.  We played baby shuffle (husband dropped off baby after school, rushed to a job running a teen center after school hours, I returned baby in the evenings to direct music in church, attend extracurricular practices, etc.)

I was a working momma for two years.  I occasionally had to cancel a practice or bow out of an activity for a sick child, but it was definitely manageable.  I always scooted home for dinner and bedtime, often returning to my classroom after my son was sleeping to finish grading papers, preparing centers, writing up progress reports, or rearranging desks.  My students and colleagues loved my son and he enjoyed hanging around school.

Then the climate of my school shifted – administration changed, faculty began to turn over, some difficult families came through my classroom.  I began to feel burned out, like I was giving 120% to my job and getting little but Mom Guilt in return.

I actually had a second baby in order to quit my job with a clean conscience.

To be fair, we wanted another child and the spacing was ideal, anyway.

That spring, I realized that rather than trying to impart knowledge and life skills to 25 kids I hadn’t parented until the age of 13, I wanted desperately to be home with mine and parent them from the get-go.  I wanted to hang out laundry, and babywear, and make pie, and teach babies German, and read aloud, and go on walks.  I suddenly had a very clear vision of what I imagined my life to be like, and that job in that moment was not it.

So I directed one last musical while severely nauseated, wrapped up one last round of graduations and Algebra placement tests, packed up my classroom, and went home.

 

And it was a learning curve, don’t get me wrong.  I am by no means a born stay-at-home-mom – I’m scatterbrained, and sarcastic, and a night owl, and not patient, and massively disorganized, and prefer the company of adults or solitude.  I spent a few months drowning in my new role and having no idea how to manage homemaking or two small children or how to be a living person and not just a soggy mess.

But I’m also fiercely stubborn.  I was determined to make a success of this stay-at-home-mom gig.  I made schedules.  I made lists.  I planned activities.  I walked every day.  I drank a lot of coffee, and said a lot of prayers, and tried to learn patience and humility and self-denial.  I’m still learning all of those things every day.

But I’ve never regretted going on hiatus from teaching.  I fully intend to go back, when my youngest child is in kindergarten.  I still love the job ( I even substitute and help coach drama at my husband’s school, because I do miss the atmosphere and the big kids!) but I have learned to love being a professional mother.  I’ve learned to see it as a real vocation, with skill to be gained and talents to be applied.

 

I was not born a stay-at-home mom.  I’m not probably a typical one, either.  I don’t homeschool, I don’t iron, I don’t exercise, I don’t sell anything, I don’t manage sports teams, I don’t have “girls’ nights” or “Mommy and Me” mornings. But this is where our family ended up, and we are happy.  My husband is happily teaching full time, and I am working every day to make our home run smoothly and simply, getting my self-fulfillment from lots of coffee and blogging and YouTube, and spending these years with my goofy little boys.

 

And I rarely make pie.  (Pie makes me frustrated!) But I COULD if I wanted to!

working mom or stay-at-home mom

 

 

To work or not to work? Is that the question? -deb

So your pregnant and are looking to the future. Are you going to stay home with your newborn or are you going to go back to work? It’s a question all new parents must struggle with. In sharing my story I’m hoping to give you some insights into why my family made the decisions we did as pertaining to working with kids.

When I caught baby fever, about a year into our marriage, my husband and I talked about how we wanted to raise our family and when it would work best for us to have our first child. We originally made plans that I would be a stay at home mom and we would adjust our budget to make that possible. This seemed like a perfect plan, my husband was on schedule with his schooling to get a full-time paid internship and then would only have one year of school left. We figured we could make the sacrifices needed to make our plans a reality.

When we found out we were pregnant with our first it seemed like our plans were falling into place.  God had different plans for us though, my husband’s school track changed. With my husband’s school track changing our plans changed and we decided that me working full-time would be the best decision for our family. My husband’s schedule changed to classes twice a week instead of everyday so he was able to be home with our daughter most of the time and when he had class we had been able to find an in home daycare for her to go to. I regretted not being home with her but I told myself that she slept most of the time anyway so I wasn’t missing much. I took advantage of every minute I was home with her though.

When our daughter was a year old I was able to be a stay at home mom. I thought I would rock at this job. This was my dream come true. I had all of my time to dedicate to my daughter and would be able to give her all my attention. I knew getting out would be key to my success, so we went to story time at the library. I had all this time and she was showing signs of readiness so we started potty training. I would had all sorts of time to do anything we wanted. It didn’t take long though till I was crazy and bored.

My daughter wouldn’t take naps when I wanted her to. I was unable to do even my short to do list. My daughter wanted me to sit and watch her play for hours. I couldn’t handle it. My one year old was emotionally draining me everyday and I wasn’t finding any joy in being with her. Although staying home was something I thought I wanted to do I was really struggling with this lifestyle mentally and emotionally.

I went back to work when my daughter was 19 months old. I worked full-time and sent my daughter to daycare. I was again struck by mom guilt with leaving my child under someone else’s care, but I realized I was able to enjoy spending time with her in the evenings and on the weekends instead of dreading the whole day when I woke up and didn’t really know what the day would bring.

I thought that maybe the number of kids affected my ability to stay home, so when we had our second child I again tried to stay home. It wasn’t the crazy boredom this time but the housekeeping that drove me crazy. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations for myself and just can’t let them go. I felt that since I was home all day there really wasn’t a reason why I couldn’t keep my house immaculately clean every day or cross items off my to do list every day.

So when I was offered a position to teach part time which I jumped on it, and here I am now working part time with three kids and for the most part enjoying the craziness that a busy schedule brings.

Do I think all parents should work? No. Do I think all families should have one parent at home with their kids? No, that has to be left up to each family to decide. I want people to realize that there is more to consider in the decision making process then can we afford this option or that option. Leave yourself open to both options if at all possible. Be aware that what you always saw for yourself as a parent may not be what works best for you in the trenches of parenthood.

Are you a stay at home mom or a working mom? Do you have any pointers on how you made the decision to work or not to work? Leave a comment below.

2017 Goals / Resolutions : A Midyear Review

This is the first year I really sat down and made “New Year’s Resolutions” – really just goals – and wrote them down and am following up on them.

I’ve always had goals.  My style of making goals has always been a little daydream-esque – I have an idea of how I want my life to be, a mental image if you will, and I try to chase it.  For example, I picture myself having coffee on my patio every morning as the sun comes up.  I picture myself reading every day.  I can imagine the mountain of craft projects I could complete.  In my mind, I’m a pie-baking, barefoot, laundry-hanging stay-at-home-mom with a bunch of children running loose in the backyard.  And throughout the year I’ll think about those daydreams, that “ideal life” I have so firmly in my (very visual, introverted, ADD) mind.

But let’s be real: that’s never actually gotten real results.  I’m too scatterbrained for that to work, and I have too many dreams and ambitions.  Already at 30, I’m 100% sure that I have too many wonderful daydreams to ever accomplish them all.

So this year, inspired by some fellow momma bloggers and vloggers, I actually sat down for an afternoon and wrote down some goals and resolutions.  I pared down the 234098256 ideas running around in my brain and tried to be reasonable about what I could accomplish.  I know it’s really important for goals to be tangible, time sensitive, and specifice, so I made a particular point to try to mold my zany mental images that way.

I came up with goals in each area of my life – homemaking, family, self-growth, blogging, and YouTube.

In each category, I tried to make no more than 4 or 5 goals.  That totals out to a lot, but such is my life!

Overall, ******** spoiler alert ********* I think I’m doing okay.  About half successful.

More details in the latest video:

 

How are you doing on your goals this year, if you set some?

Have one in particular that’s exciting you?  Frustrating  you?  Let’s chat in the comments!

A Positive Spin: Being a Superhero

Please read the following  quotes with a snarky, irritated tone of voice.

mom tossing child - they're not lazy, you're just a superhero

“I can’t exactly do this by myself!”

This was my husband, trying to take a messy bib off a potty-training toddler who was running away down the hallway.

Are you kidding?  It’s one kid, and a bib.  Seriously.

This was my husband giving two little boys a bath.

Then why do you do extra-curriculars until long after dinner, and expect me to bathe both kids myself?

This was my husband trying to get both boys dressed for church on Sunday morning.

You realize I do this every single morning every week while you’re working, right?

This was my husband trying to make waffles with both boys in the kitchen.

How do you think you have dinner to eat every day, Mister?

“I’m tired, y’know?”

Same husband, explaining why he’s watching TV instead of helping me clean up to host a party of his coworkers.

TV makes you less tired?   How handy.

Falling asleep reading the boys their bedtime stories, which inevitably makes them screech and whine that he’s not “reading it nice.”

Not an excuse to poop out on your kids!

Sending me to do the grocery shopping by myself at 9 pm.

I am so tired I could fall down.  What gives you the right?!

 

These “cries of desperation” make me so ANGRY.  They reek of self-centeredness, weakness, lame excuses.  It feels like I carry the brunt of the parenting, and when my husband needs to do one minor task he can’t handle it.  I mother the boys solo for 10-12 hours per day, but still need to help him do it for 2 more hours in the evenings?!  As though a yogurt-covered bib is the most difficult possible scenario with two boys under 4.

Then, my perspective shifted dramatically.  (Do you ever feel like the Lord just smacks you upside the head with an attitude adjustment?  That’s what happened.)

I was in the middle of a mighty internal struggle, trying to hold back my biting words (the comments in italics.)  For a blunt, opinionated woman like myself, this struggle is a lot like plugging holes in a dam with my fingers.  I usually fail.  But this time, I had a revelation.

My husband floundering in these mundane tasks doesn’t mean he is being wimpy or trying to pass off his parenting onto me.  It actually means I’m a superhero.

That I possess an important set of skills, a talent at putting out proverbial fires, can juggle an inordinate amount of crises at once.  That my super-intelligent, creative, patient, 2nd-grade-teacher husband is flattened by fatigue and mess and multiple toddlers, and I am not.

The fact that I can do this full-time parenting gig all day every day and still stay awake through storytime, not get yogurt on the carpet, remember the groceries late at night,  throw parties, and have neatly dressed little boys is a testament to my strengths, not his weaknesses.

We stay-at-home moms and dads, we professional parents, are superheros.  We can accomplish what many others cannot.  We’ve been called to have an enormous mental fortitude, determination, and patience, and continuously pour from what we have been given into others.

I’m really glad my attitude has shifted about this BEFORE we add more little humans to this family

So the next time you hear your partner say, “I can’t do this by myself!” or “Could you just help me?!” or “I’m too tired!” I suggest choosing to hear “You’re a superhero!” instead.

 

 

Let Go of Mom Guilt: Learn About Your Personality Type with Personality Hacker

Personality type quizzes and profiles have always missed the mark, for me.

Until this one.                                  (Affiliate links, but content is free excluding final link.)

sitting woman silhouette - Text: Let Go of Mom Guilt Learn About Your Personality Type

In a nutshell, your “personality type” is an outline of your dominant personal qualities, the way you tend to best think, feel, work, and interact with others.  The most esteemed version of this is probably the Myers-Briggs system – the one that assigns you four letters like INSF or ENTP, etc.  For more information on that, check here.

I stumbled upon a company called Personality Hacker and took their free personality test.  The results of this, the thorough explanation of personality types and ways to work with your personality to enhance your daily life, were life-changing.

Not exaggerating.

I’ve found out, from these resources, that I’m an INTP.  This type is blunt and honest, sometimes considered rude, and very intellectual (sometimes to a fault – spending a lot of time inside their own head musing over what they’ve learned and are working on.)  You can read more about INTPs here.

How on earth does this help with mom guilt?

Let me transcribe some daily thoughts of a real mom.  (Myself.)

“Should I call ______ to get together for a playdate?  I know she wanted to, but I really don’t feel like socializing.”

“_______ gave me a strange look while we were talking at the library.  Was I rude?  I was trying to be helpful.  How can I get people to realize I’m just being helpful?!”

“I just sat down to do paperwork for an hour… how is there no paperwork done?  I feel so guilty and unproductive.”

These are forms of mom guilt.  Trying to fit in socially with other moms and failing, trying to nurture and reach out but feeling misunderstood, struggling with being “productive enough” or doing “real work” enough hours out of the day.

The wealth of information that Personality Hacker’s website provided me about my personality type showed me that most of these kinds of struggles are directly flowing from my personality type.  It has given me license to stop fighting my daydreams, my idealism, my introversion, and my bluntness.  To stop feeling guilty about how my time is spent, where my mind wanders, and policing every syllable that comes out of my mouth.

The old me was completely convinced that these situations were results of not trying hard enough. Failing to be self-disciplined.  Being a mean person.  Not being “mom-like” enough.  Being disorganized.

All of my life,  I have been told that if I just tried harder, I could be more organized, productive, tactful, focused, social, patient, etc.  That I could have more friends, more time, more contentment if only I did things “the way everybody else does.”  And I believed this.

But an actually accurate personality typing has shown me a different truth.  The way I am, the kind of mom and woman and friend I am, is a personality type.  Others like me exist.  I’m not “doing it wrong,” I’m just doing it my own way.  I don’t actually need to try harder, socialize more, change the way I truly am inside.  It’s fine to INTP all over the place.  There are lots of great positives to this personality type, and so many free resources at Personality Hacker to help me enhance what I’d like to enhance.

What’s the catch?

No catch!  While these are affiliate links, the resources I have linked until now are all free.  I really used all of these pages myself, to learn more about my personality type and how it relates to others.  I followed links throughout the website to additional (free) content.  I’ve even joined a Facebook Group associated with Personality Hacker to participate in educated discussions about navigating the world as our true personality types.

I found Personality Hacker all on my own, used it for my own purposes, and felt compelled to share in this blog post.  Only after I began writing it did I reach out to Personality Hacker to let them know I was doing a write-up, and they surprised me with an affiliate program.  (That’s how we do here on Mostly Caffeinated – we’re never ever ever going to clickbait you, sell you stuff, or write just for affiliate purposes!)

Check out the free resources.  Learn about yourself, and how your version of motherhood / adulthood is perfectly valid.  It’s very freeing!

If you find you want to learn more, dive deeper, etc. there are paid programs you can join (webinars, downloadable resources, etc.)  including some on family and marriage.

 

What’s your personality type?  How does it play out in your home life for good?  What would you like to work on?

Going Back to Work (for two days)

Recently, I “went back to work” by substitute teaching for two days.

It was wonderful, for so many reasons.

walking picture with coffee cup and bag. Text: Going Back to Work

I knew, with very strong intuition and conviction, that I needed to stop teaching full-time and stay home with my boys.  It was such clear wisdom from God, honestly, that I didn’t waver about my decision.

I also LOVED teaching.  Sure, my years of professional teaching were far from easy.  There were many challenges in regards to time, patience, personal and professional drama… the list goes on.  But the actual act of teaching – the helping, tutoring, guiding of young people, the crafting of lessons and experiences, the presenting of information – is part of me.  Like a limb.

Going back to work for two days did not change these two truths, but it was so important to my mental health.

  • It proved to me that I am not unhappy being a stay-at-home / professional parent.  Not once during my hours working or my evenings at home did I think to myself: “Why did I leave teaching?!”  “Ugh! I can’t believe I have to stay home again on Saturday.”  “I wish I could do this every day.”  “I made a horrible mistake.”
  • It proved that do want to go back to work when my children reach school age.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The energy I got from being in a school, with a faculty, around children, running a classroom… it was like an I.V.  Refreshing, stimulating, filled me up, in a way.
  • It reassured me that I did not stop working out of a lack of skill, true burnout, or anything of that sort.  Working felt like I’d never stopped.  (I would say “like riding a bicycle,” but honestly I’m terrible at riding bicycles.)  This mini work experience was  substitute teaching, so I was working with someone else’s routines, content, and materials.  I was also down with a virus (interrupted sleep, completely lost my voice between Day 1 and Day 2).  But still, I didn’t find the teaching difficult.  Teaching is tiring, significant mental work, and requires a lot of skill, but I wasn’t experiencing stress or struggle.

In short, I’m really glad I took this little assignment.  Sometimes certain opportunities or experiences can reassure us by confirming that we’re on the right path.  Sort of gives a renewed energy by sparing you from any lingering uncertainty.


Have you dabbled in working outside the home since becoming a full-time parent?  Or had a different experience that has given you important feedback about your decision?  Feel free to tell your story in the comments!