The Impossible Task of Cleaning Floors

We all have insecurities. They often manifest in different ways. For me, the floors of our house are more than just floors. They are the status of how good of a wife and mother I am. I know that might sound crazy, but that is just how my mind works. Clean and shiny floors, and I feel pretty good about myself. Nala hair everywhere, baby smeared handprints, and I feel like a failure. The floors of our home represent a deep insecurity for myself. It feels like this impossible task to keep the floors clean. The thing with the floors is no matter how hard I try to keep them clean, they never look that great. I don’t know about you, but the floors act as a pretty good metaphor for my life. I try so hard. I put forth so much effort to be perfect and hold things together with my two, little shaking hands. And the result is always the same. Unsatisfactory floors. I think God laughs at the way I tirelessly sweep our floors. I sweep. I swiffer. I sweep again. Every meal is another sweep. I try to control the mess. I try to bring order to the chaos, but my efforts never seem to be enough. Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me. Love and approval, thankfully, do not come from how tidy the home is and how spotless the floors are. The floors are not the status of how good of a wife I am. The floors, especially with a golden retriever and baby, will never look perfect. Or maybe they will for a few minutes and then meal time will come and there will be puffs and blueberries everywhere. There will be mud tracked paw prints. There will be leaves and twigs. There will be a million little toys strewn everywhere.

This week, we literally have had an inflatable bounce house in the middle of our living room. It was an early birthday present for Hudson. It was a lot of work to get it inflated, so I kept it up for a few days. We also are in the middle of a bathroom remodel, so there is a massive box with our new vanity sitting in our living room. Not to mention, I spilled half a tub of melted vanilla ice cream everywhere last night. Get the picture? Our floors are a chaotic mess over here. I can sweep and organize and shine all I want, but there will be chaos the next day. I guarantee it. So, does that mean we give up? Do we throw away the broom? No, we keep sweeping. But, we sweep without anxiety or stress or need of approval. We sweep to manage the chaos, but thankfully the status of our floors does not represent our status as wives, mothers, Daughters.

Since I am all about creating lists, here are my top 5 ways to manage the floors, without driving yourself insane. The most important thing that is not included in this list is everything I just discussed above. Clean floors are a good thing, but in the whole scheme of life, who really cares that much. I want a clean and pure heart, if my floors are a bit of a mess, I’ll survive.

1. Choose One Day for a Major Clean

Mondays over at the Capel home are for getting things back together. I really don’t do much cleaning at all on the weekends. This is a necessary break and it allows me to be refreshed by Monday to get the house back in order. For us, Monday is the day of the week that I focus on a major clean of our floors. I typically throw all the rugs in the washer, run our Shark Ion Robot (lovingly called Sharky because this robot vacuum makes my life so much easier), and Swiffer afterwards. Truth is, I don’t even spend that much time on this “major” clean. I let the washer and Sharky do their things. The idea here is more about implementing these rhythms so I know the rugs are clean and dust bunnies under the couch are taken care of.

2. Clean Daily for Short Duration

The floors, like the sink and laundry basket, are one of those things that if left even for a day, quickly becomes overwhelming and uncontrolled. Even if I just do a super quick sweep of the floors every evening for 10 minutes, the task of cleaning them becomes more manageable. While the floors are my least favorite things to clean, I have found that the more I can treat them as a daily routine, like making the bed, the easier they become. An hour of cleaning the floors broken up into 5-6 days is so much more enjoyable than a straight 60 minutes of floor cleaning. Break it into daily tasks.

3. Invest in Good Cleaning Products

For a long time we had this terrible vacuum. It was bulky, hard to navigate, and seemed to always leave crumbs. Then, for Christmas, my parents got us the Shark Ion Robot Vacuum, and our carpets have never been cleaner. I run Sharky through all of our carpeted rooms every week. Before, the carpets did not see a vacuum nearly that much. The point here, is the sleeker and easier to use the product, the more likely you will want to clean. Initially, it is a higher investment, but long run it is worth it because you will actually use the product on a regular basis and your house will be cleaner.

4. Pick up Toys Quickly During Naps/Bedtime

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the scattered toys that seem to accumulate on a daily basis. It seems so bad with just one baby, I can’t even imagine what it will be like in a few years. I have found the easiest way to manage all the toys, is to do very quick pick-ups when he is asleep. This usually means putting the toys that were out back in the pack ‘n play. Later on, I will go back and organize toys more throughly, but this is a quick way to at least declutter the floors. It is amazing how things already feel cleaner and more organized after just a few minutes of clearing the toys. When he goes down to bed, I am usually exhausted so the idea of cleaning more is never appealing, but I try to consistently take even just 5 minutes to put away all the toys that are out. It is so much nicer to wake up to relatively clean and clear floor.

5. Let it Go

Probably the most important tip of them all. Let. It. Go. My control tendencies have come out in full-force now that we have a kid. I am slowly learning to let go of the little things that I used to lose sleep about. More often than not, my floors are going to look less than perfect. I can guarantee it that Hudson is going to leave the floors a mess every single meal. I can guarantee that Nala is going to shed like it’s her full-time job. I can guarantee that by the end of the day, there will be books, balls, and blocks everywhere. This is just going to happen. We will likely have visitors come at exactly the time where all three of those situations listed above collide at the same time. And I will need to just let it go. I am sure they do not care nearly as much as I do. Remember this: your status as a wife, mom, Christian, women has no basis on how clean your floors are. God is in the heart business, not the floor business.

5 Tips for Postpartum Marathon Training

Marathon training is a commitment. It is hard work, requires lots of miles and time, and takes a lot out of your body. While not everyone would recommend training for a marathon a few months after having a baby, I am finding that not only is it very much possible, but the goal of completing my first marathon and getting a Boston Qualifier is such a positive outlet for me as I adjust to my new role as mother. For 8 years prior to baby, I ran competitively on the high school and college level. By the time I graduated college and ran my last race at the NCAA Regional 5k race, I thought I was for sure done with running. I was burnt out and over it. The part I didn’t realize was how important running was for me. Not only just for my lungs. It was important for my heart. And not just the health of my heart. Running fueled much more than just health for me. Yes, it has given me a low heart rate and toned calves, but more than that it has given me a heart that is disciplined, hard working, dedicated, and passionate. As much as I wanted to walk away from running, I couldn’t. Those 8 years of running, changed something within me. It built up an endurance and love for a sport that sometimes causes a lot of pain. I now know how I feel not running, not competing, not dreaming about PRs, and I much prefer who I am when I am running. It is good for me. I need the steady rhythm running gives my life. I need the structure, the mileage, the discipline. Running looks different for me now then when I was a collegiate runner. I have a baby. I sleep less. Things revolve around baby, not training. While my training is much less intense and timely, I still believe there are still some good times left in these legs of mine.

Since life is now much different compared to college, I need to adjust the way I train. I have definitely been faced with a desire and pressure to train like I used to, but then I’m faced with the reality of broken sleep and less energy and time. I also am still nursing Hudson so this is another factor that needs to be considered with my training. Marathon training is one thing, but specifically postpartum marathon training is something that needs to be handled differently. Here are five things to consider if you are training for a marathon postpartum:

1. Take Days Off

This is a good idea for any athlete, but especially if you recently had a baby, it is important to give your body ample rest and recovery. I started running about 4-months postpartum. When I started, I was only running a couple times a week. I slowly, very slowly, built in mileage and frequency. Now at almost a year postpartum, I am not that far off from college mileage. I have been still taking two days off a week. This will be my first week running 6 days. The main point to note here is that I didn’t go from having a baby to running 6 days a week. As you can see, it was almost a year process to build back into fitness and the type of mileage my body was used to pre-baby.

2. Fuel & Hydrate

Again, this is another one that is important for all humans, especially active ones, but proper hydration and fueling is even more important when you are breastfeeding. You burn on average, 200-500 extra calories a day breastfeeding. It is super important that you consider these extra calories plus the calories burnt running. Marathoning, milk producing mamas also should be sure to get in enough calcium. On average women lose 3-5 percent of bone mass while breastfeeding. It is a good idea to continue taking prenatal vitamins to help with this loss of nutrients. Along with fueling, it is also necessary to keep up on water intake. It takes water to make milk. Sweating also causes you to lose water. In combination this is a lot of extra fluid that is needed. Your body needs this extra hydration. A couple weeks ago, after running 15 miles and then nursing my baby 30 minutes after, I experienced severe dehydration. I lost way too much water and was not properly hydrating before and after. This is just another reason why hydration is so important, especially with high mileage and milk production.

3. Adjust Expectations and Goals

This is a big one. I find myself training or wishing I was training the way I used to in college. My body is simply not the same. Not only that, but my life conditions are extremely different. I cannot expect the same results when I am still getting very broken and minimal sleep. Life revolves around Hudson, not a PR (personal record). That is just the fact of the matter and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but this means that I need to adjust pace expectations and overall running goals. I think you can still have high expectations and goals. Postpartum running does not need to hold you back too much, but I do think it is mentally important to accept that your body and life is different now; therefore, training will need to be adjusted.

4. Schedule Baby Care for Long Runs

I just wrote a post all about running with the baby jogger. You can read it here.While I am still running 2-3 runs weekly with baby jogger, you definitely will want to have someone watch your baby for the long runs. My baby’s max is 70 minutes in the jogger. This takes more planning, but it is important that you can schedule out when you will get good, quality long runs in without baby. Lance and I have been doing our long runs in Palos Verdes. On our drive over, we drop Hudson and Nala off at their grandparents’ house. This is super helpful and even allows Lance and I to spend some time just the two of us. It is necessary to get runs in without jogger so you can run a bit more honest of a pace. The jogger definitely slows me down, but it still is good training. It just needs to be paired with training runs without the jogger as well.

5. Don’t Compare

It is so easy to look at your training and compare it to others. I do this all the time with my husband. I get jealous and feel behind when I see how many more miles he is logging compared to myself. He is doing more intense workouts, while I am just trying to build in mileage. The big difference here is that he didn’t have a baby 11 months ago. I can’t compare his training with mine. It is and should be relatively different.

Training for a marathon postpartum is totally possible. Like with most baby-related things, it does require a tad more planning and intentionality. While this marathon training postpartum thing is not for everyone, I have found it to be a really key element in helping me get back to feeling normal. It has given me an outlet. It has shown me I still very much have a body that is capable of handling mileage and intensity. It has given me a goal. Especially as a stay-at-home mom, marathon training has given me a purpose to focus on. So when it comes to postpartum marathon training be sure to make adjustments when necessary, drink lots of water, and allow room for lots of grace.

The Art of Running with a Baby Jogger

There have been a few memories in Hudson’s first month of life that seem to be engraved in my mind. One of them is our first major outing a week after he was born. We went on a walk in Manhattan Beach. I remember it all so clearly. I remember how uncomfortable and insecure I felt when I saw my reflection in the store window. I had milk stains on my shirt, my belly still looked very pregnant, and my eyes drooped with exhaustion. That was just the physical parts I saw in the window. I also deeply remember how I felt on that walk. I was gripped by anxiety. I felt completely overwhelmed. We were literally just going on a walk. Something Lance and I would do all the time, but now everything was entirely different. I was paranoid and panicky. I had this new baby and this new stroller and this new body. All of it was foreign to me. The thing I remember most is the way I felt pushing the stroller down the hill to get to the strand. My heart was racing. My palms have never gripped something so tightly. All I could think about was my fear of losing grip of the stroller. I felt so awkward and incredibly unsure. The reason I tell this story is to show change and progress and illustrate how quickly transformation can happen. Fast-forward 11 months, and I run with the jogger one-handed with a casualness and confidence that June 15th Kelli would not have believed she was capable of. My relationship with the stroller is very telling of my progress as a parent. The stroller used to be a place of fear and sweaty, anxious palms. Now, it is a place of freedom and confidence.

Our faded orange, BOB stroller we bought on Facebook Marketplace was one of the best, low-cost investments we made in baby products. While the first month I barely touched it because I was nervous about using it, I slowly adjusted and figured out the art of running with a jogger. Like most things, it takes a little time to figure out your stride. It took some trial and error. There were runs where Hudson screamed the entire run. There were runs I had to just stop because I was so exhausted from the extra work of pushing it. There have definitely been runs and moments where I felt held back by the stroller and even annoyed by it, but as a whole our 2008 BOB has a special place in my heart. It has taught me something. It has shown me a strength and confidence that I had forgotten I possessed. It has pushed me to get out of comfort zones and it has revealed how much harder hills can become. It ultimately has shown me that I can do the same things I loved pre-baby, it just takes a different form. My pace is absolutely slower. The routes are slightly different; more pavement, less dirt. However, the jogger doesn’t hold me back too much. I’m still able to throw in some surges and can still pass some guys along the way. And let me tell you, that feels pretty good. So, yes the jogger changes things, but I am convinced it doesn’t need to change too much. If you are struggling with running with the baby jogger or want to and are unsure about it, here are 5 tips to help you master the art of the jogger.

1. Wait

There are different numbers people throw out as when the appropriate age is for baby to be in jogger. I have heard as young as 4-months and as conservative as 8-months. Definitely consult your pediatrician, but we began running with Hudson around the 5-month mark. And to be honest, I don’t think he was quite ready for it. Physically, it was totally fine, as he had very strong neck control, but I don’t think he was quite mature enough to be able to sit in jogger for an extended amount of time without getting fussy. Both Lance and I experienced a lot of crying in these early runs. I would wait to run with baby until he or she is clearly as at an age where they can occupy themselves. It really hasn’t been until recently, around 9-10 months, that Hudson has been a champ in the jogger. We are at the point that I can run 60-70 minutes without him fussing once. So if you can, wait a bit to start consistently running with baby. They will make it pretty clear when they are ready for it.

2. Start Slow

Physically pushing a jogger is demanding. Especially if you are getting back into shape, it is going to feel pretty hard to push jogger and run at a decent pace. I would not even look at your pace for the first couple runs with baby. Start by just going off of effort. I run at least 30-seconds slower with the jogger. Allow yourself some grace in terms of pace. You are out pushing a jogger, no need to break records. I also would recommend starting your runs more conservatively. You can always end your run faster, but it is especially important to ease into pace with jogger and not go out too hard.

3. Run During Nap Time

This is a tip I have recently figured out. I used to run with him right after he woke up from naps. From my experience this is not the best option. He had lots of energy and did not want to be strapped in. While I am all about being home for naps so I can get things done, I have learned to sacrifice this nap time in order to have a nice, quiet, cry-free run. I think it’s worth the nap sacrifice. I now always run during his first morning nap around 9 am. He sleeps for most of my run. It is also nice to get the run done early. Once we get home, he is happy and rested, and we have the rest of the day to do something fun.

4. Be Consistent

Like with most things in life, the more consistent you are, the easier it will become. I do not do every run with him, but I run at least 2-3 times per week with him in the jogger. This consistent pattern has allowed for both of us to get used to the jogger. Running with the jogger has not only trained and strengthened me, it also has trained him to be patient and capable of handling sitting for an hour. It is building within us both a strength and independence, and for that I’m thankful. Be as consistent with the jogger as you can. The more you do it, the more second nature it will feel for you and the more used to it baby will become. Since we go on runs on a consistent basis, Hudson has not only become accustomed to our running routine, he has come to enjoy our rides. It is deeply relaxing to him. He loves taking in the wind and the new environment he sees from the comfort of the stroller. The jogger itself also seems to ride smoother and smoother the more I have used it. Consistency really is key when it comes to running with baby. If you only use it every once and a while, it is likely it won’t feel as good for both you and baby.

5. Increasingly Build

This might sound obvious, but you don’t want to start your first run with baby on a super long and hilly run. Increasingly build. Start small and build from there. Start by just going out for a run around the block and see how it goes. Then next run, go a little further, and so on. Also, I would recommend starting in places that you are familiar and comfortable with. Find a route that suites the stroller and that you know well. Once baby has proven to handle jogger well, then you can venture out to trying longer runs and different terrain. Take it one day at a time. No need to prove anything.

While the jogger used to be a burden to me, I am learning to run with it with a sense of gratitude and grace. I am thankful. I am thankful for our BOB jogger. I am thankful for a healthy body. I am thankful for a child that I get to push up steep hills. While I used to awkwardly run with the jogger in hand, I am learning to run with greater ease and confidence. The stroller no longer feels as heavy. The stroller has taken on a lightness that I didn’t think was possible. The stroller is a great source of pride for me. I am proud to run with my jogger. It is like an orange badge of motherhood. Now, when I am out running solo, I feel naked. I feel like I’m missing something. And I am. My baby and my BOB.

Hope these few key points are both helpful and motivating. You don’t need to be extra strong or fast to push a jogger. Just a consistent, determination to do it, even amidst the extra crying and weight.

5 Tips to Survive a Road Trip with a Baby

We just got back from our first major road trip with Hudson. We had a wedding in Arizona, so we made the decision to drive and turn it into a little family trip. We both were a bit concerned with how Hudson would handle the 6-hour drive. Overall Hudson is a pretty easy-going, mellow baby, but 6 hours in a car seat at 11-months is not an easy ask. He did so great on both drives and we had a really enjoyable couple days. Really random, but I would say it was one of our best trips as a family. They say everything changes when you have a baby, which is totally true, but I feel like an underlying implication when people say that is that things become less fun. Ironically, we are finding that we seem to be doing more and having even more fun with Hudson. We are finding that you can really incorporate baby into the same things you would do prior to baby, you just need to make small adjustments, bring a few more things and plan ahead. While we are definitely not experts when it comes to traveling with a baby, I do feel like we intentionally did a few things that really helped make our trip a success. Also, side note here, I get that not all babies are the same, and some might respond a bit differently to such a long car ride, so be sure to adjust and change these tips based on your own baby’s needs. Here are my top five tips to not only help you survive a road trip with baby, but truly enjoy it and make memorable times as a family.

1. Leave Early

Especially when traveling with a little one, leaving early in the morning is a huge benefit. We left around 4:30 and it worked out very well. For one, there was zero traffic and we made excellent time. Leaving early also allowed for Hudson to sleep the first couple hours. This made it so his awake time during the drive was only a couple hours, since he also took his first nap on the drive out. He was sleeping for over half the drive, which was amazing. Maybe leaving at 4:30 am, is not you thing, I get it, but I do think you should try to be strategic when you leave in terms of your baby’s sleeping schedule. The more they can sleep during the drive, the happier everyone will be. The other great thing about leaving early is that we got to our destination at noon, so still had a full day. We were able to go to Target and get a few essentials and even go to the pool to give Hudson some time to burn off the extra energy he had built up from being tied to his car seat. Waking up at 4 am also is a lot easier when you are excited for your trip! Those first couple hours of driving were so nice for Lance and I as we sipped our coffee, chatted, and watched the sunrise.

2. Make Activity Bags

This is a tip that I have heard from a lot of other moms when it comes to traveling with a little one. The more distracted baby can be, the better. The same old toys can get pretty boring after a few hours, so I found it helpful to pack three separate ziplock baggies with a variety of different toys. We were gone for three days, so I made each bag dedicated to a different day in the car. I created these bags by intentionally putting in toys I know he really likes, while also including toys he hasn’t seen in a while. I also tried to make each bag as varied as possible. I put at least one electronic toy, a book, teether, and a ball (his very favorite thing right now) in each bag. This system proved to be helpful. It not only mixed up the toys he was exposed to throughout the trip, it allowed for me to stay organized with the toys as I had three separate storage containers. I would bring one bag with us in the diaper bag, and the others I would just leave in the car for the next day.

3. Sit Next to Baby

While I didn’t sit next to Hudson the entire trip, it is a good idea to make sure there is room for you to move to the back if needed. Our car is pretty small, so we needed to do some shuffling, but after moving a few things around, I was able to squeeze in the back to act as entertainment for Hudson. This seemed to also just calm his overall presence. He seemed to enjoy my company. If you have more than one kid, you obviously don’t need to do this, they can entertain each other, but if you just have one baby, you should definitely have a plan to make it easy for you to sit in the back row for a bit of the drive.

4. Keep Snacks Accessible

Just like toys can be a good distraction mechanism, so can food. I would recommend packing a separate bag full of snacks for the little ones. Keep this bag in a place that is easy for you to reach throughout the drive. I also would pack a separate baggie within the snack bag to put any trash in. This is one thing I didn’t do, but I wish I did. It would have kept the car a bit more tidy.

5. Stop Often

As tempting as it is to just plow through the drive and get there as fast as possible, the more stops you make, the easier it will be on your little ones. Be sure to use this time to change diapers, feed baby and allow baby to see new things and burn a bit of energy before returning to the car seat. We did not need to do this since we just have one baby, but if you are also traveling with kids a bit older, try to front load them and be very specific when and where stops are being made. Try to get them excited for the stops you are making so the trip as a whole can feel more broken up.

Road tripping with a baby can actually be a ton of fun. But like with most things in life, it is much more enjoyable the more planned and prepared you are. So, plan ahead, make a list with all the essentials baby will need, and mentally be prepped to listen to lots of Mickey songs on CD. Creating a checklist and having all our bags packed and by the door the night before made the morning leaving super smooth. Also, making sure we had something that seems to automatically soothe him and put him in a good mood, saved us a few times. For Hudson, this is his personalized Mickey CD. I know there is tons of controversy with screen time, but we did allow Hudson to watch a couple shows on the IPad when we needed to help occupy him for a few minutes. Don’t judge. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do. If that’s not your thing, that’s great but I would think about the things that work well to entertain and occupy baby and implement those. Overall, if you are debating between road tripping and flying, I think road tripping was a fun and less stressful environment to introduce Hudson to travel. In a couple weeks, we will be taking him on his first flight to New York, so a flying with baby post will be coming soon. Hope these tips are helpful and if you have any baby road trip tips that worked well for you, I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below!

Learning to Let Go as Mothers

Happy one day before Mother’s Day! Last Mother’s Day, people wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, and I thought it was very kind, but I felt like I didn’t fully deserve it. I did not feel like I was technically a mother yet. I hadn’t done the hard work of changing diapers, drying tears, losing sleep. But, of everything I have learned in this past year of motherhood, it is the fact that what makes a mom has nothing to do with those things. Yes, diapers, crying (both baby and mom), and little sleep is part of the job description; however, it is not what makes a mom. It is love that makes a mom. Before all the sleepless nights, the never-ending nursing sessions, and the massive diaper bag that has replaced my cute, little black Kate Spade; I was actually already a mom. I had the belly and love to prove it. This has been probably one of my greatest lessons I have learned so far. Especially in those first couple months, I felt so overwhelmed and unsure with my new title as mom. I felt completely inadequate. I felt like a fraud. Who am I to mother this child? I have no idea what I am doing! Simple things like taking the car seat in and out of the car was a struggle for me. Even holding him, I felt awkward and unsure. I lacked all confidence. I would sit at home, terrified to leave the house with him by myself.

Back then, I thought I had to prove to others (and myself) that I was a good mom. I thought my title of mother was based on what I did. Thankfully, just like my identity in Christ, it is based on nothing that I do. It is based on love. It is not even my own love because even that falters. It is a perfect love, the love of God. I am almost a year in to this whole motherhood thing, and of everything I have learned, one thing that I am even more certain of is my great need for a Savior. Motherhood has revealed within me a heart that is selfish and insecure. It has been made very clear that I cannot do this alone. It also has been made very clear that I am not in control. This past year has been full of letting go. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of my tight grip of control. And letting go of what other people think about me. I do these three things better on certain days, and have days where I hold on to everything. But I am learning to let go and this letting go is making all the difference. I am becoming such a better mom the more that I have learned to let go. Things are just not going to be perfect. The spoon will be dropped a thousand times. He will refuse to sleep. He will cry during the wedding vows. I need to let it go. I wrote a previous post about some of the specifics I have learned in the first 6 months of motherhood. You can read that post here. While I broke it down into more specific lessons, much of what I wrote revolves around letting go. It is letting go of the things I simply cannot control and learning to lean in to the one thing that actually makes me a mother: love. This whole letting go thing is not a passive excuse to not care. It is not an “oh well” mindset. It is actually quite the opposite. It is active and intentional. When I choose to let go of the things out of my control, I pray. I ask God to enter. I hand it over. I admit my lack, my need, my limits.

So mama, if you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, and uncertain in your mom abilities, I hope these words can act as encouragement. It certainly can feel overwhelming, but if you can break it down more simply to loving and letting go, I think you will ultimately find so much greater joy.

To all the mothers, thank you for everything you do. It is so much and it really matters. Enjoy your day and if possible let go of a few things and ask God to enter and take over. This might just change everything for you. Special thanks to my amazing mother that has set such a beautiful example of what it looks like to be a mother that sacrifices and loves so well.

Why I Wake Up at 5 am as a Stay-At-Home Mom

I wake up around 5 am every day during the week. You might be wondering: why? It is not like I have to get ready and commute to work. My job is right in this home, being mom to sweet Hudson. There is no commute. No need to get dressed. No need to do my hair. Why would I wake up nearly 2 hours before my baby? The short answer: because I have tried sleeping in and waking up when he does and I hate it. I start my day with the sound of crying and serving. Crying and serving is just part of my job description but in order to best handle the crying and to be able to serve and love Hudson the best I can, I need time before he wakes up. Most people would not think twice about the need to be awake at least an hour before starting their job. You can’t roll out of bed and start working and expect to do a quality job. It is easy to apply this to jobs that require you to go into an office or be dressed professionally or in some type of uniform, but for some reason this logic seems to not always be applied to being a SAHM (stay-at-home mom). This mom thing, is the very best job of my life, but it is even more challenging than getting a room full of 14-year olds excited about semi-colons. Just like I needed that hour drive to work to sip coffee, pray for my students, and listen to The Daily podcast; I need that same hour to sip coffee, read my Bible, write down memorable experiences with Hudson from the previous day, and pray. I am not able to do my best job as mom and wife, if I don’t allow myself this time before the sun rises to process, pray, and prepare.

Some of you reading this, may be thinking there is no way I would wake up at 5 am, if I still have sleeping kids and a quiet house. I get it! I never truly want to get out of bed at 5 am either. My brain immediately starts flooding with excuses. You’re tired, sleep a little more, you deserve it, you don’t technically need to wake up right now. Those are usually the first words I hear. And if I’m honest, lots of mornings I listen to that voice. However, the mornings that I choose to ignore those lingering excuses, and actually fully be out of bed right around 5, are so much more balanced and productive. I get nearly a two-hour block of time for myself. Of course this varies, depending on when Hudson wakes up, but if I’m up at least by 5:15, I know I’ll have a solid hour, usually more. This time allows for me to wake up to the day through writing, praying, and planning ahead. I am allowing myself to wake up to my day, rather than it waking me up. I am intentionally saying my job as mom is so important that I need to prep for it just like any other business executive would prep for their all-important job. So here is the thing, we might not need to wake up at 5 am, but if so many successful career people do it, why shouldn’t we moms? They might be getting up at 5 am or earlier to run businesses, countries, worlds, but isn’t raising future generations just as important? I get it, making snacks, park play dates, and library story time does not seem to fully stack up to board meetings, conferences, and emailing important people. But here’s the thing, it might not feel as noteworthy in the present time, but it is. We are raising the future. This is everything. We are changing lives. We are giving them memories and experiences that hopefully one day they will tell their kids’ kids’ about. These are the types of things I think about to motivate me on those hard days where it feels like all I do is change diapers and fold laundry. As a Christian, I view my responsibility as a parent to not only raise my kids well with good heads on their shoulders and kind hearts, but to help point them to the cross and to develop their own personal relationship with God. And from this perspective, our jobs as parents suddenly has eternal implications. We are talking about souls here. I don’t care how successful an empire or brand you build here on earth, what is going to be left afterwards? All this to say, it is easy to get stuck in that earthly perspective, but if we are able to take a heavenly approach to our days and see the snacks, the park, and the library as sanctuaries to build up our children’s characters to one day hopefully choose to follow Christ, well then I think I can get up a bit earlier to prepare for that. Don’t lose sight of your job as a parent. Regardless of what you believe, parenting is such an important job. It should be handled with just as much care as CEOs and presidents. So if they get up at 5 am, maybe we should too.

You Just Can’t Do It All

Obviously, I know this. There is no way I can do it all, let alone do it all well. However, I live and plan out my days acting otherwise. I think part of the issue is the fact that my main job is being a mom. Since I don’t have a typical 9-5 job, I tell myself the lie that I should be doing more. The problem here is this logic is ignoring the fact that being a stay-at-home is an all-consuming, 24-7 job. If I was still working, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t feel the same type of guilt when I run out of time to go to the grocery store or fall behind on 1st birthday party planning. Actually, I probably still would, and I’m sure working moms can attest to this as well. The point here, is no matter what type of job or lifestyle we live, none of us can do it all and mom guilt is a real thing. Just because I’m a stay-at-home mom does not mean I have the time to have every cabinet in my home perfectly organized or be able to make everything homemade. The truth is, my floors never even look that clean and it almost is always a scramble getting a relatively good tasting meal on the table. I can’t do it all.

Back to my previous point, about guilt and staying at home. I think since I am not physically bringing in a pay check to help support our family, I feel a tremendous amount of pressure (solely created by me) to hold my end of the stick by ensuring the house is kept orderly, healthy meals are on the table, and parties look like Pinterest. Not to mention that Hudson is well-fed, clean, and happy, which let me tell you, just that is a full time job. And that is the problem. Just doing that sometimes doesn’t feel like enough, so I tack on all the other things. Train for a marathon. Be involved in MOMS Club. Teach bible study lessons. Create fun experiences for Hudson. Plan playdates. Organize all the cabinets and closets and drawers. Substitute teach. Write a blog. Create a podcast. Go to yoga. Wake up early. Budget. Buy all the gifts. Plan and host events. And the list could go on. I don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining because I really am not, I feel so thankful to be in the place to do those things, but what I am saying is that it can quickly feel overwhelming, even if my main job title is “mom.” I can’t do it all.

I tell myself I can do it all because I see through the windows of social media what other moms are doing. But here’s the thing, I am just looking through a window, I don’t get the chance to see the things that she has chosen to let go of or say no to. This is huge. This is what I need to constantly remind myself. No one can do it all. I see the perfectly made lunch, but I don’t see the mess in the kitchen. I see the miles and miles of training she logged, but I don’t see the nanny. I see the beautifully laid out blog, full of amazing content, but I don’t see the strained relationships. We are just seeing windows. Remember this. We can’t do it all.

This is a lesson I am currently learning. If I’m honest, even typing this up I feel a bit phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. I am still figuring this lesson out. I say I can’t do it all, but I still convince myself I can run 50 plus miles a week, write 2 blog posts a week, record a new podcast every week, keep the house clean, plan Hudson’s birthday party, and most importantly be the most present and loving wife and mother I can be. This last one is the most important to me, but sadly my days do not always reflect this priority. That needs to change. And it will. Words and miles will always be there for me to come back to, but this time with my husband and sweet little boy, that I can’t get back. So I will keep typing it until it sets in. I can’t do it all.

5 Tips for Bringing Baby to Disneyland

On Monday, we took Hudson to Disneyland for the first time! The night before I was watching lots of Youtube videos on tips and tricks when it comes to Disneyland and babies.  Some of it was helpful, but like most things in life, the best way to figure things out is by doing them and learning along the way.  Overall, we had a great time, and we are pretty sure Hudson did too, I mean just look at that face on the teacups! I have always been a fan of trips to Disneyland, and I have been a handful of times.  Of all the times I have been, I have to say our trip this past Monday was probably my favorite.  It was not my favorite in the sense that we rode lots of rides.  It was not my favorite because there were no lines because there were plenty of those.  It was my favorite simply because of the way Hudson’s eyes lit up when he saw bubbles through the window of the submarine, met Mickey, and swirled on teacups.  There is nothing better than experiencing Disneyland through the eyes of a child. As I already wrote about in my post about bringing a baby to a wedding (you can read that here), babies change experiences. In ways, bringing Hudson always makes things slightly more complicated. We have to pack more, plan ahead, leave early. But, seeing those big, curious eyes and that goofy 8-toothed smile, made everything more than worth it. Things are different now. I nurse in lines. I am concerned where the best changing tables are located. I care more about visiting Mickey at his house than Space Mountain. And, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. All this to say, I think bringing your baby to Disney is so much fun. But I also think what makes it fun is being prepared and unattached to expectations. You can’t compare it to previous trips. It is going to be so different, but as I detailed above, I think it ultimately is better. So if you are planning a trip to Disneyland with your little one, here are 5 practical tips to consider.

1. Arrive Early + Skip the Tram (if crowded)

I wish we got to the park before it opened. Both parks open at 9 am. After we finally got through parking and to the ticket gates, it was closer to 10 am and it was already getting full. I wish we aimed to get there as early as 8 am because it really can take a long time to park and the tram gets crowded. Since it was so crowded and we had a stroller, we chose to walk over and skip the tram. If you get there at a busy time, I think walking over is a time saver. It might have only saved a couple minutes, but we felt more productive. We were able to skip the long tram ride and avoid the hassle of folding up the stroller. It was also nice to have a few minutes away from the crowds. I get that not everyone would want to walk over or is able to do so, but if you are willing and don’t mind, it really is a short walk and like I said, it’s nice to escape the crowds even for just a few minutes.

2. Take Advantage of Waiting in Lines

The reality is that you are going to spend a lot of time waiting in lines.  Especially when you have a baby it is important to use this time effectively. Use waiting in lines to take care of some of baby’s basic needs. Lines are great feeding times. While not my first choice, if baby does get hungry or fussy, you can use lines to nurse. Pirates was such a long line that I had to use this time to nurse Hudson. People are so in their own worlds that lines are actually not a terrible nursing spot, as long as you don’t mind standing and being surrounded by people. If your baby also eats regular food, you definitely are going to want to have snacks in line to help distract baby. We also used long lines for naps. I would aim to plan for the afternoon nap at the same time as you are in line for the attraction with the longest wait time. For us, we chose to wait in line at Mickey’s house as Hudson napped. We knew this line would be long (nearly an hour wait). He woke up a few minutes before and was awake and in a better mood for the picture with Mickey. You can’t control everything, but if you can try to be strategic with lines and naps, it will pay off.

3. Pack Light

It is easy to over pack. I literally packed 10 diapers. At this point Hudson does not go through nearly that many in a day. Even though I know that, there is something about being away from home for more than a few hours that makes me over prepare and over pack. This mostly is a good thing, but the reality is, I packed more than we needed and I forgot to pack things we could of actually used, like a bib! The point here is to really just pack the essentials. There is no need to stuff your bag with diapers- just a few will suffice. I also packed multiple outfits for him. He stayed in the same outfit all day. Maybe just bring one extra shirt and jacket, but there is no need to pack the whole closet. One thing I did pack that was handy was a pair of pajamas. It was nice to change him out of his clothes and put him into his comfy pjs before making the drive home. In terms of bags, we just did one backpack with a Lululemon bag to put snacks and miscellaneous things in. While you could manage without a stroller, it was handy having the stroller for extra storage space and as a place for naps. The other essential to pack is a baby carrier. Hudson ended up spending way more time in the carrier than the stroller. When you aren’t using it, you can easily put it underneath the stroller. If you don’t want to deal with stroller the entire day, there are tons of stroller parking locations. It also is handy to tie something to mark your stroller with to make it easy to find. We tied a bright orange bandana to ours.

4. Use Baby Station

This is a tip I did not follow, but I wish I had. There is a baby station that has changing tables, nursing chairs, high chairs, and all types of baby supplies you can purchase. It is located right on Main Street. You can get a whole tour of it through this YouTube video here. It is such a nice and peaceful space. It really is well thought out and has everything you would need. In terms of nursing, it was fine to nurse Hudson on the go, but this would have been especially helpful in the early days. I wish we had planned better to go to the baby station to change his diapers because the changing tables in the regular bathrooms are out in the open and are not padded. It is totally doable to just change baby in the regular bathrooms, but it would have been nice to use the more convenient and thought out facilities at the baby station.

5. Let Go of Expectations + Be Home for Bedtime

One of the best ways to ensure you have a great time with baby at Disneyland is to let go of any expectations. Do not expect to go on tons of rides. Do not expect baby to stay on regular nap schedule. Do not expect baby to be happy the entire day. If you are able to let go of some of these expectations, you are going to enjoy yourself so much more. Things did not go perfectly for us. We only made it on a few rides, he woke up when we wanted him to sleep, he fell asleep when we wanted him up, and he definitely had some unhappy and overwhelmed moments. However, as a whole the experience was amazing. While we only went on a few rides, he mostly enjoyed each one. He especially loved Nemo (minus the really dark parts). Pirates was also a hit for him! He was a champ on the drop. I have never seen his eyes get so big. While he did not stick to his typical nap routine, he did get some rest and never became too cranky. And while there were definitely some moments of fussiness, it never lasted long, especially with all the fun things for him to take in around us. If my expectation was a perfect baby the entire day and to go on over 10 rides, I would of been disappointed. I really had no expectations, so everything exceeded my expectations. Hudson was overall so good and some of the pictures and videos we captured of his pure amazement will be some of my favorites. Final tip is to leave early and get home by bedtime. Yes, you miss the parades and fireworks, but I think it is worth it. You end on a good note. We left around 6 pm and at this point Hudson was still in a great mood. The tram was empty and parking lot was nice and quiet. It was the perfect conditions to change Hudson into his pjs and nurse him before driving home.

It was a successful first trip to Disneyland! While Hudson will definitely not remember the day, I can’t wait to show him all the pictures and videos. Disneyland is fun, but I really think it is even more magical when you have your little one along for the ride.