Are you making fear based decisions?

Are you making fear based decisions?

Every day we make thousands of decisions, from what to have for breakfast, to where to send our children to school. Some decisions we don’t even realize we are making, and some take a lot of meditation, thought and prayer.

How often do we stop to think WHERE our decisions are coming from? Are we making decisions out of fear or faith?

Almost immediately after I gave birth to my second son, friends and family (and honestly, strangers too) have been asking if “we’re done” or if we plan on having more children. My response was always the same: “We want more, but not until both of these two are out of diapers. I’m afraid to risk three boys this close in age.”

I was living on an automated decision based on fear. In the very moment I realized I was using the word “afraid” in my response, a switch flipped, instantly I had no reasoning to not have more children at a sooner time.

What made me think I couldn’t handle three boys? Fear. My history with anxiety.

How to tell if our decisions are fear based

Some decisions we make after carefully weighing the pros and cons, others we make on impulse, even some we consult a close friend on.

To discern whether or not your decisions have been based on fear we first have to look at your reasoning for the decision you made.

Let’s take quitting a workout plan for example. I’d have to think WHY I gave it up. Was it too difficult, did I need a lower level program? Was it not right for my lifestyle or for my body?

Did I quit because I was afraid to fail? Sometimes we give up on things before we can fail them. It’s like dropping a class in college because and INCOMPLETE looks a whole lot better for our GPA than a big fat F.

Or did I quit because I was afraid to succeed? Sometimes we are so set in the ways of who we are right now, the idea of change is unsettling. We get close to the things we want and we get scared. What happens if I succeed at this?

Fear continually seeps into our lives any way it can

I’ll be honest, I gave up training for a half marathon three years in a row. I had an excuse every time: I had bad knees, the shin splints hurt, I got pregnant, I’d just had a baby a few months before. *This specific race also had a 5k walk/run option. At three months post part I’m I could have easily walked this as I was already back to regular physical activities but I let it be an excuse not to. I also could have walked it while 8 months pregnant two years before.

Here I am training for that same race, determined to run the full 13 miles. And here I am trying to talk myself out of it again. I’ve already pushed past the shin splints, my knee hasn’t bothered me, my body has fully recovered from my last birth and no current pregnancy in sight. Yet here I am, talking myself out of the training. And why?

I’m scared of the hard work and commitment. If I run my 20 minutes this week, I have to do 30 next week… the commitment keeps growing and it’s terrifying me. But because the decision to end my training would be 100% based on a silly fear, I will press on, however reluctantly.

We have to move past the fears and the struggles. We have to push through. We have to keep moving forward.

Sometimes fear based decisions are the smart decisions

I do want to say, there is a level of healthy fear we should live our life with. Self preservation is important and we should definitely avoid situations that might physically injure us or kill us.

Those are not the kinds of decisions I’m telling you to stop making. I want you to live our life to the fullest because you deserve that, and you can’t do that if you’re dead.

How to stop making fear based decisions

Put to death that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough.

  • You are enough and when you start believing that, wonderful things begin to happen in your life.
    1. Realize your decisions are fear centered. When we know the core thoughts and feelings at the center of our decisions we can better understand why we’ve made that decision.
      Weigh the danger. Ask what are you afraid of? If the fear has anything to do with you not being strong enough, smart enough or good enough, ditch that reasoning. You ARE enough, and whatever you do lack you can gain. If you need to be stronger, get stronger. If you need to be smarter, study up. You can do what you put your mind to!
      Decide to be brave. Courage and bravery are decisions that don’t come naturally to all of us. We have to make the decision to be brave and to turn from fear and go after what we want. Not because we aren’t afraid, but because we won’t let the fear stop us. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.

    “Be strong and courageous!

    Do not be afraid or discouraged.

    For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

    Joshua 1:9 NLT

    5 ways to simplify life with 2 kids under 2 years old.

    5 ways to simplify life with 2 kids under 2 years old.

    I’d like to introduce you to my boys. These guys fill my life with joy, and cause a lot of stress doing so. I’m so grateful to be their momma!

    Desmond is 2 and a half years old now and Dash will be a year old in June.

    If you’ve already got 2 under 2, I don’t have to tell you how hard this life is. I don’t have to tell you how absolutely rewarding it is either.

    For those who don’t know, caring for a toddler is like constantly cleaning up after a tornado, while it’s still happening. Babies aren’t much easier, it’s like having a gremlin that you’ve accidentally fed after midnight.

    This is scary business, raising sweet little monsters angels. It’s the most important and under appreciated job, and it’s yours! Congratulations.

    The good news is, there are lots of things we can do amidst the chaos to make this mom life easier. I’d like to share just a few of my best tips with you.

    1. Evening prep time

    Every night before we head to bed, my husband plays with our boys while I get the kitchen ready for the next day.

    I prep the coffee maker and program it to start before we get up, I make my husband’s lunch, and ensure that my kitchen is clean enough to make me feel excited to see it in the morning.

    I also do one super helpful thing. My youngest is on formula, and I use those formula to go containers every day. By pre-portioning the formula I never have to keep track of how many bottles he’s had that day. I can just look at how many sections are empty. Super easy!

    2. Ready to eat snacks

    Toddlers are bottomless pits. They will -loudly- demand a snack at the worst moments, like when the baby finally goes down for a nap. Having quick and healthy snacks on hand has been a big help around our house.

    Desmond now goes to the fridge and can get his own apple sauce or cheese stick when I’m wrist deep in a diaper change, or he can grab fruit or a bag of Veggie Straws off the counter.

    3. Car go-bags

    The absolute worst situation to put yourself in as a parent is to be unprepared while out of the house. Too many times I’ve found myself without enough diapers, or a change of clothes, that’s why I always keep a bag in the car for each boy.

    I like to use those little wet bags for cloth diapers, or a gallon size ziplock works well too. I do a bag for each boy for a specific reason: I often leave one with my mom or send one with my husband. When I do this it’s so much easier to have two separate bags. I can also throw both bags into a large diaper bag for family day trips.

    In each bag I always keep:

    2-3 diapers

    Wipes

    Spare change of clothes (usually PJs)

    Socks

    Larabars or Veggie Straws

    *in my baby’s bag I also keep enough formula for a single bottle.

    4. Get your toddler involved

    My first instinct was always to send Desmond out of the room when I’m cooking or cleaning. I’m so glad I didn’t follow that thought.

    I’ve got my 2 year old involved with cleaning, and now we cleans his own spills, puts away his toys when asked (most of the time), and even is in charge of vacuuming downstairs.

    Okay, he doesn’t really vacuum. He does turn on the Roomba though, and that’s a big help. If you’ve got hard floors, I highly suggest investing in an automatic vacuum like a Roomba. It’s greatly cut down on how often I have to sweep.

    5. Individual quality time

    It’s so important that your children feel loved and special. They don’t understand that every thing we do is for them. They don’t get that we can love both of them all the time. That’s why is so important to find just a few moments each day to make them each feel like they are your number one.

    I love when Dash naps and I get to snuggle with my toddler. He lights up when he sees me alone sitting on the couch, asking him to “come snuggle.” He doesn’t always nap anymore, so we have quiet time where we sit and watch a movie together.

    Most mornings my toddler will sleep in, and Dash will wake up first so we get some time together, just us. These are the moments I treasure most. I get to be their favorite person and see this gleam in their eyes when we have special times like these.

    It doesn’t have to be hard to find times like these, we just have to be intentional about it. Set our phones down and focus all our attention for just a few minutes on one child and see how their behavior changes.

    What things do you to make mom life easier?

    How do your kids help out?

    How do you spend quality time with them?

    How to stop hating housework.

    How to stop hating housework.

    I hated cleaning most of my life, you can ask my mom. I gave her such a hard time when it was time for chores, I always had a headache.

    At the time, I didn’t understand why I got headaches so conveniently when asked to sweep the kitchen. My mom always thought I was faking.

    Turns out I was giving myself headaches. I hated cleaning so much, the stress would boil up inside me and cause a tension headache.

    This hatred stuck with me into adulthood, into motherhood. I never liked to load dishes, fold laundry, clean toilets or mop. And because I didn’t like it, I didn’t these things as often as they need to be done, which inevitably resulted in my house being a disgusting garbage pit all the time.

    Clear Out The Clutter

    I’m just gonna say it: cleaning sucks and I never want to do more than the bare minimum.

    You know happens when we have more stuff than we need? We have to clean more stuff than we need to.

    Don’t like doing dishes? Don’t have more dishes than you’re will to wash daily. If you have 4 plates per person, you’re going to use ALL of those before you clean them.

    If you only have 1 dish per person, you’ll never have to clean more than that. You’ll be forced to wash them as you need them, but never have a chance to let them build up.

    Doesn’t that life sound lovely? Only ever having enough dishes to fill your dishwasher once. Never having a mountain of dirty dishes that require three wash cycles? Imagine the free time you’d have. Imagine how much less time you would have to spend thinking about those dishes.

    Cleaning gets so much easier when we have less to clean. The stress level goes down and confidence rises.

    I can clean my house. It’s not too much. I am not overwhelmed.

    I want you to be able to say those things, too.

    Use Purposeful Products.

    I used to use a lot of dollar store cleaning products that were full of harsh chemicals that just didn’t work. The strong odors made my chore related headaches worse. These products’ power were not as potent as their smells and required a lot of elbow grease, which I just didn’t have. I was always frustrated.

    A good friend finally convinced me to try essential oils for cleaning and that changed everything. The oils were far more potent and did an incredibly job at tackling these ancient messes that nothing else could touch.

    The best part: they smelled better! Aromatherapy has some major impacts on our mood. Citrus oils have a mean cleaning punch to them, but they are also uplifting and energizing. The last thing I usually feel when cleaning is energized, but thanks to aromatherapy I was feeling it.

    Get Into a Routine

    Once you get your house clean, the worst feeling is letting it get out of control again. The best way to avoid this is to stay on top of it all, all the time and that doesn’t have to be a ton of work.

    It takes some getting used to, but when you develop habits that help you clean as you go about your day, most of your chores will get done without much thought.

    I always try to start a load of laundry before I pour myself a cup of coffee in the morning, this ensures that I will wash a load for the day and avoid piles of unwashed clothes that turn into a mountain of laundry to fold later. This one load I start in the morning I will dry around lunch time and fold before dinner. I either put it away before bed, or first thing the next morning while the kids are still asleep.

    I also like to clear my kitchen counters and empty the sink every night while I pack my husband’s lunch and program the coffee maker for the morning. This way I get to walk into a clean kitchen in the morning with fresh coffee waiting for me, and there’s hardly a better feeling than that.

    Because I know the kitchen will need to be cleaned up in the evening, it helps to motivate me to keep it clean throughout the day. One incredibly valuable thing my mother taught me was to “clean as I go” when I’m cooking. This means rinsing mixing bowls immediately after use and putting ingredients away as soon as I’m done with them. I avoid a huge intimidating mess at the end by doing this.

    Know Your “Why.”

    Motivation and mindset are huge players in this game. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, it can be pretty hard to find the strength to do it at times.

    It helps to focus in on why having a clean home is important to you.

    I like to keep a clean home so I can have guests over without stress, because my family deserves to not live in a sty, and because I know God has called me to at least have this area of life semi put together.

    The Proverbs 31 woman is my role model for being the best wife, mother, and woman I possibly can be.

    How Do I End the Hatred of Cleaning my House?

    1. Declutter your hot spots. For me this was laundry and dishes. Thoroughly go through your spaces and ask of every item “is this serving me?” If it’s causing you more stress than it’s relieving, get rid of it. If you have multiple appliances, pare it down to one of each type. (I traded in 3 different appliances for an Express Cooker, that’s a lot of freed up space in my cupboards!).
  • Need help decluttering? Check out Decluttering 101

  • 2. Rethink your products. Declutter and organize your cleaning tools and products. It does a lot for your motivation to get excited to use your cleaning supplies. Don’t be afraid to invest in a new broom if that’s what will help you.

    If you’re interested in switching to oils for cleaning and aromatherapy, click here.

    3. Create a routine to keep on track. Think about what things are nonnegotiable tasks that need done daily. List these things out and find specific times of day or other tasks that are done daily (like meal times) that you can connect these chores with.

    Want some more info on creating habits? Check this out.

    4. Determine your motivation. Why is it important for you to have a clean home in the first place? Do you like to have company over? Does it make you feel more comfortable? Does it ease anxiety? Do you do it because your children and husband deserve it? Has God called you to have a clean home, to be hospitable at any moment?

    Have you overcome your hatred for cleaning? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments!

    Did this article help you? Leave me a note below.

    Don’t forget about your friends! Do you know someone who might benefit from this post? Share the love and repost to your Facebook or Pinterest!

    How do we keep our kids from being our only focus, without feeling guilty about it?

    How do we keep our kids from being our only focus, without feeling guilty about it?

    When we become parents, we often fall into a trap. We decide our children are the most important things in our lives, we make them our priority, we start to idolize them and everything we do is for them. We stop putting effort into our marriage, we stop taking care of ourselves, and some of us lose sight of our purpose.

    Kids are terrific. I love my kids more than anyone else ever could. I want them to have the best life they possibly can.

    It’s a paradox of parenthood: the most important thing in our lives, can’t be our top priority.

    As much as I love my children, I know the best thing for them is not to give them every bit of me until I’ve got nothing left to give to my husband or myself.

    Striving for a healthy marriage.

    If a kid can grow up in a two parent home, where both parents actually love each other, that’s one of the best gifts we can give them. I want for my boys to grow up seeing how a man should treat a women and believing that love can last a lifetime. I didn’t get to grow up seeing a loving and functional marriage, neither did my husband, that’s why a healthy marriage is priority: to give our children that gift we missed out on.

    We strive to always make time for one another. We schedule semi regular date nights, and are intentional with the time we spend together. A marriage will not work if you don’t take time to make it work.

    Take care of yourself.

    You can’t pour from an empty cup.

    We can’t fully be there for our kids if we’re not taking care of ourselves. Our precious children take a lot out of us, though their sweet smiles fill our cup, most of our day involves our cups being drained for them.

    Diaper changes, feeding them meals, keeping them from dying, it’s all very busy work. In order to show up for them and be our best for them, we need to care of ourselves.

    An umbrella of protection.

    ‬‬

    “He is before all things, and I’m Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

    I believe that when we place our faith in God he proves protection for us. There’s this umbrella of protection where God provides and cares for the husband, the husband provides and cares for the wife, and the wife provides and cares for the children.

    Where does the home fall?

    Caring for your home, house work, chores. Where does this one fall in our priority scale?

    Your house is most definitely not more important than your children. At the same time, it’s pretty important for your children to have a safe shelter.

    Sometimes the house will come first, because you need to have one and it needs to be a certain level of clean. Mold is dangerous. Piles of dishes on the counter can get to a point where they are a safety concern. Your children do deserve to live in a well maintained home.

    None of this means your house needs to be spotless for you to enjoy time with your children. Sometimes for a short season, the house gets so out of hand it needs to be priority until it’s under control.

    How can we live so our children aren’t our priority, but are still most important?

    Remember your motivation. You need to take time away from them, FOR them. They need to see their mom shining at her very best.

    Practice self care. Take regular time for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes to shower when your husband gets home to watch the kids, or 15 minutes to journal before bed. Find something that fills your cup every day, and do it.

    Regular date nights. Make your husband a priority for even just a few hours. Get a sitter, go out, don’t talk about the kids. Fill each other’s cups, build your marriage.

    Have routines for chores. Keep your home (mostly) clean by having a routine for when you do certain important chores. Always wash plates after a meal, do one load of laundry per day. Think small bite size jobs that can be done regularly throughout the day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

    Maintain a budget. The best way to keep a roof over your head is to always know where your money is going, and to know when it’s time to take steps to either make more money or downsize your payment.

    Devotion and prayer. Make it a priority to have devotional time and read your Bible first thing in the morning. This is best done in the quiet before the kids wake up, but sometimes it’s done with screaming kids in the background who can’t figure out how to share a toy.

    Being a ‘Hot Mess’ is NOT a Job Requirement for Motherhood

    Being a ‘Hot Mess’ is NOT a Job Requirement for Motherhood

    There’s a number of lies I was told by society.

    The lie that hurt my joy most was this:

    Being a hot mess is just part of being a mom to young children.

    I believed that ALL women in the same season as me were handling it the same way. I thought we were supposed to be be behind on chores, always running late and dependent on caffeine because that meant we were too focused on our kids to care about anything else.

    I was so fooled by this lie, I didn’t see it was an excuse to be lazy, unreliable and unkempt.

    I recently read an article posted on Portland Mom’s Blog called “Why I’m Not a Hot Mess, and Neither are You.”

    There is a season of your life where things may seem like a mess, but only because you’re going through so much all at once. And if that’s you, THAT’S OKAY!

    It’s totally fine to not have it all together when you have a newborn, you’re changing careers, you’re in school, you’re starting a business, or whatever else. On behalf of the mothering community, you have our permission to not “get it all done.”

    Here’s where I disagree with the article: I was a hot mess.

    I really, really was. And it had been going on a very long time. I never liked to clean, and I wasn’t good at keeping up on dishes and laundry. I don’t mean that I had dishes in my sink or that I’d consistently forget wet clothes in the washer.

    My house was a disaster:

    • I couldn’t cook because I had no clean pans
    • I couldn’t wash my pans because my sink was full of dishes
    • I couldn’t put the dishes in the washer because it was full of mostly clean dishes
    • I couldn’t put those dishes away because most were dirty since I didn’t rinse them first and now there’s a bunch of yuck clogging up my dishwasher

    Also:

    • I had 5 loads of laundry that needed washed
    • I had no baskets to put them in since the baskets were all full of clothes that still needed folded from last time I did laundry
    • My husband was out of clean work clothes
    • I had a bag of stinking clothes diapers that needed cleaned, too

    And:

    • The dog needs a bath, but I can’t use the sink
    • The fridge needs cleaned out because something stinks in there, but again I can’t get to the garbage disposal
    • The cat litter needs cleaned
    • There’s nothing for dinner
    • My toddler needs a snack, again

    And that was my life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    You see how I had no time for myself? I was on a hamster wheel, chasing my to do list. I had all these things that always needed to get done, and I had zero motivation to do them. I was lazy, right?

    Then something changed.

    I forgot what society had to say about moms, and I was reminded what God had to say.

    “John 10:10 says that we are called to abundant life, and mothers are no exception.”

    -Allie Casazza (The Purpose Show)

    I wasn’t lazy. I was overwhelmed. There was just so much to do, that I didn’t want to do any of it. It fed my anxiety. I had a low self image because I was ‘failing’ at my wifely duties, which lead to depression. I began to see myself differently.

    Being a hot mess, I was NOT living abundantly. I was not living life on purpose. I was aimlessly living the same, unfulfilling day over and over.

    I got inspired: if we’re called to abundant life, what does that look like?

    • Not worrying about a sink full of dishes
    • Not having a mountain of laundry to wash and fold
    • Knowing what’s for dinner every day and that I have everything I need for that dinner, too
    • Enjoying time with my kids, playing with them, snuggling them and not feeling guilty about a mess waiting for me
    • Having company over and not feeling embarrassed about the mess
    • Spending quality time with my husband, instead of endless chores

    I had a new hope.

    I joined Allie Casazza in her #DeclutterLikeAMother challenge. It was a month of intense, focused decluttering my home. I threw out boxes of toiletries I’d brought with me when we moved 6 months before and never even unpacked, I donated clothes and blankets, I stopped storing appliances on my countertops.

    A huge weight was lifted. I felt like I could breath as I walked into my kitchen to see it clean, over and over again. I can handle my dishes because there aren’t as many. I have the time to fold my laundry as it comes out of the dryer.

    Not having to chase that constant chore list means that I have TIME to get ahead on other things. I have the time to meal plan and to prep snacks for the kids. I have energy to pack my husband a lunch for work. I have the time to take care of myself, too! Showering is so important.

    I’m not pouring from an empty cup anymore.

    We all fall behind from time to time. We get into seasons of overwhelm, that’s part of life.

    But if you’re living in a constant state of overwhelm and anxiety, life has a lot more to offer you. Fulfillment and overwhelm cannot live in the same space.

    Are you ready to break free from the hamster wheel?

    They’ll remember the love, but will they remember the mess?

    They’ll remember the love, but will they remember the mess?

    I can’t recall how many times someone has said this to me as a word of comfort:

    “They’ll remember the love, but they won’t remember the mess.”

    For a long time, I believed that. After years of struggling to keep a clean house I have to stand up and say, that’s complete BULL HONKEY.

    Yes, your children will remember the love you gave to them, that part is absolutely true. No, they won’t remember every time there was a pile of dishes in the sink, because honestly kids don’t care about that. But they WILL remember the condition of your home, and if your home is always a mess, if YOU’RE always a mess, that memory will stick with them.

    I speak from experience. My parents are amazing and I love them dearly. They taught me many important life skills, but there’s one very important one they neglected to pass on simply because they didn’t know it themselves: how to keep a clean and inviting home.

    I did not grow up in a minimalist home. I did not grow up in a clean home and I did not grow up in a hospitable home.

    My parents never would have anticipated the troubles this would cause me in my adult life. They likely believed that I would only recall all the things they did for me out of love, that I was blind to the mess around me, but that wasn’t the case.

    My parents are children of depression era parents. Their parents saved EVERYTHING on the chance that they may need it in the future. This is a completely fear based decision, to save things for a rainy day. Yes, you should absolutely have money set aside for emergencies, but you you shouldn’t keep old things that you MIGHT one day need.

    Last year my grandma moved into a fifth wheel, and left her house to my parents, which meant that I got the privilege of helping clear out what she left behind. Bless her heart, but the woman had a box labeled “STRINGS TOO SHORT TO USE.” What was in the box? Exactly that. It was full of tiny bits of strings that couldn’t possibly be used for anything. This is the kind of mentality I was raised with. Nothing was thrown away, because we might find a use for it in the future.

    What really happened was, my dad would go looking for something he knew he’d kept years before, and he would spend half a day looking for the thing. That time spent looking was all wasted, it would have been more productive to spend the money on buying a new whatever-it-was, than the spend more time looking for an old one than it would have taken to earn the money at work for to pay for a new one.

    This taught me to keep everything, I was a borderline hoarder, keeping things out of fear that I might need them. I’m so thankful that I changed this belief as an adult.

    Letting go of fear based decisions has freed me to use logic and faith to make my choices. Letting go of fear is what gave me my second son, deciding that I wasn’t afraid to take on two children under two years old, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    Everything kept out of fear has an emotional value to it. Every time you look at the item you kept out of fear, you’re reminding yourself of your fears! Let it go! Let go of the fear and let go of the clutter.

    If you’re hanging onto an item out of fear that you may need it SOMEDAY, it’s not serving you and it’s useless to you and your home. It’s clutter and it’s needs to be cut from your life.

    My mom didn’t teach me to keep a clean house.

    My mom would take one day a month to deep clean, and that woman could CLEAN HOUSE! She got a lot done in a single day, especially when she’d recruit us kids to help out.

    But what she lacked was routine. She didn’t keep the house clean day to day, and I didn’t realize at the time that it was a matter of anxiety and overwhelm. I didn’t notice that was the problem, until it was my problem.

    I adopted the same mentality she carried. I held onto the same overwhelm and anxiety. If the house was a mess, I lacked all motivation to take care of it, until it was a HUGE mess of a beast that needed courage and ambition to slay.

    As a kid, there were always mountains of dishes and laundry to be done. I’ll give her credit here, because she does keep up on dishes now and has for the past few years. But the damage was done when I was young. That’s the habit I saw daily and I kept for myself.

    These chains took years to break because I didn’t know HOW to break them. It wasn’t until I discovered decluttering and routines that I began keeping a clean house consistently.

    Cutting the clutter in my home has reduced the feelings of overwhelm that kept me from getting housework under control. Getting rid of the unnecessary things in my life has freed up more time to clean, also.

    Developing the routines of always keeping counters clear and washing, drying, and folding one load of laundry each day, has given me a head start on house chores. I no longer have to say “I can give the dog a bath AFTER I do the dishes and have my sink clear.” I no longer have to feel guilty spending a day out, knowing there’s a mountain of laundry waiting for me at home. I no longer have to be filled with stress the moment I get home from a trip and see my house is just as filthy as I left it, because it was left clean!

    We weren’t very hospitable.

    We rarely had house guests. I remember my mom would always get freaked out when I asked to have friends over. It was always a big deal to have anyone come to our house and would send my mom into one of her cleaning sprees.

    As an adult, I kept this with me. My stress levels would peak when guests were coming over.

    1. Because my house was always a mess.

    2. Because that’s what I knew.

    My husband has always loved to host gatherings, and I didn’t. I hated having anyone over, because there was SO much to do before anyone could see my house. I was so ashamed of the house I lived in and I finally understood why my mom never liked to have guests.

    What she didn’t know would happen, was that she would raise a daughter full of conflict.

    I knew I was called to be hospitable, God tells us to open our homes and our hearts. I closed off both for a very long time. I was embarrassed of my housekeeping skills, I was afraid they would judge me for my home. I made it about ME.

    The point of being a hostess is not to show off your perfect home or your cooking skills, it’s about being there for others. Opening your home and your heart to those who need your care and friendship, that’s the point.

    I do remember the love.

    My parents love me with all they have. They give me absolutely everything they possibly can. My parents have always been there for me, even when they weren’t there for themselves.

    Children will always remember the condition of your home, but also the condition of your heart.

    If you’re under stress every day because you can’t keep up on the housework, that’s what they will remember and that’s the behaviors they will learn from you.

    I keep a clean, decluttered and welcoming home now, BECAUSE I love my children.

    Having experienced it myself, I know that my children will take MY habits and make them their own. I don’t want to see them struggle as I did, I want to see them shine. I don’t want their every day to be an uphill battle with a messy home, I want them to spend their time and energy on things they love.

    I want to spend my days enjoying time with my family, not constantly cleaning up after them. This is why I’ve adopted the minimalist attitude, developed my routines, and make the effort to reach out to those in need. I want them to see that this is normal. I strive to be the person I want my children to become.

    Are you ready to set the example for your family and to be present for their lives?

    Visit the Hot Mess Toolkit to find my favorite ways to make your life easier!

    When I Stopped Breastfeeding…

    When I Stopped Breastfeeding…

    I wasn’t planning to share this story right now. I’ve even tried to write it before and couldn’t. Tonight I was feeling a weight on my heart, a small word that said “someone, somewhere, needs to hear this right now”.

    I effortlessly breastfed my first son until he was 13 months old. He had a great latch, rarely bit, and had perfect weight gain. He self weaned shortly after I became pregnant with my second son and we were both totally ready for it.

    That’s a beautiful little true story, but it’s clearly not the one you came here to read.

    This is about my second son, Dash. The one who cried all the time, only gained 1 pound in the his first two months, and was at risk of being declared Failure to Thrive.

    I loved breastfeeding my first son, it was so easy. He was hungry, I pulled my boob out and fed him. I had a strong let down and over supply. I could pump 6 oz just an hour after feeding him if I ever needed to have a bottle for him. He also took bottles with no issue. I even gave him pre mixed formula a few times because it was even easier (and they were free samples).

    Again, that’s not the story you want to hear, but it’s important to know I went into breastfeeding my second son feeling like a rockstar, and came out feeling very different.

    I had a few suspicions that Dash wasn’t getting enough, but because Des always had plenty, I didn’t have much reason to believe I’d have any problem making enough milk. It was at our 1 month child well check that we found out just how poorly Dash was gaining weight. I mentioned earlier that he’d only gained 1 pound in his first two months. He was born at 7.5 pounds, and weighed in at 8.5 pounds at 2 months. This put him in the first percentile, normally I don’t concern myself with percentiles, but first percentile is a big deal.

    We were lucky that he was meeting all other developmental milestones for his age. He had great head control and had even already rolled from stomach to back, which was awesome. I think this was the only reason he wasn’t declared failure to thrive right then and there. He was doing awesome in every way but his weight.

    Being told that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby was soul crushing.

    Our healthcare provider gave me an extensive list of things to add to my diet, to eat more meals more often, orders to drink tons of water, and to breastfeed-pump-supplement ever TWO HOURS. She even whispered to me, I may have to give him 4 oz of formula after every feeding. (We see a holistic provider, so referring me to formula was a pretty big deal for her).

    As a stay at home mom, I had all the time for all the feeding and pumping (of course I wasn’t doing ANY housework at this time) but as a mother of two under two, I barely had enough time to blink. Every moment that wasn’t spent changing and feeding the baby was spent changing and feeding and entertaining the toddler.

    Pumping took over my life. I was obsessed with upping my supply. I ate lactation cookies, drank the teas, took pills, drank water, and pumped, and pumped, and pumped..

    I would feed Dash until he wouldn’t take it anymore, usually about 15-30 minutes. Then I’d give him formula, then I’d pump for another 30-40 minutes, both sides. He’d wake up, I’d change his diaper and feed him again, then pump, the change him, feed him, pump…. on repeat, every day.

    We went in for a series of weight checks between his next well child check.

    10 weeks – 10 lbs 1 oz. That’s right, just two weeks of supplementing with formula and he was up almost 2 pounds! This put him back on his growth chart.

    11 weeks – 11 lbs 6 oz. Nice work, baby!

    12 weeks – 12 lbs 4 oz. At this point, they sent us home happy, with no other weight checks scheduled.

    He was gaining great weight, but it wasn’t because of me.

    One day I got 5 oz, not at once, but for the whole day. I pumped for hours, for days, and I couldn’t get more than 5 oz.

    I’d pump ALL day, and couldn’t come up with even half the milk he needed. Most days I couldn’t even get 2 oz pumped.

    Every day I would wake up with a burning determination. Today I was going to pump enough for my baby.

    And every night, I’d be crushed.

    I lowered my expectations. Today I was going to pump half of what he needed.

    Every night, crushed.

    Today I was going to pump 1 oz more than yesterday.

    Crushed. Again and again, I was crushed. I couldn’t feed my baby. Formula was expensive. Breast is best.

    I thought about giving up.

    But the antibodies. But his immune system. But, but, but…

    This went on for 3 months. This struggling to produce milk, this emotional anguish of not being “enough” for him, this draining burden of pumping. I gave myself 3 months to fix my supply, and it never happened.

    But I couldn’t keep wearing myself thin. That’s what it came down to. I was exhausted, and not because I was giving all my energy to my sweet boys, but because I was giving it all to that pump!

    I spent more time pumping that I did actually holding my newborn.

    It was at our 4 month well child check, when he weighed in at 14 lbs 11 oz (48th percentile!) that I finally went home happy with his weight. He was exactly normal with his weight.

    And suddenly I realized that I missed everything else.

    I wasn’t just obsessed with trying to make enough milk, I was obsessed with his weight.

    I could have spent so much more time enjoying both of my boys. I don’t regret trying to breastfeed him, but I do wish I’d stopped trying a lot sooner.

    I finally accepted defeat.

    He was 4 months old when I finally put the pump away. I accepted that spending 10+ hours of my time, pumping an average of 1 oz per day wasn’t a good use of my time.

    I cried for about a week. I tried so hard for so long and it was HARD to give it up.

    There were a lot of lies going on in my head at this point. I was feeling really broken, like I wasn’t woman enough to raise my children. I was feeling like my body had failed my baby. And I was feeling really bummed out that my period came back. (I’d never gotten it back after having my first, since he breastfed up until I was already pregnant with Dash, so this was a really big deal for me).

    I had to feed myself the truth, repeatedly, until I finally started to believe it.

    I am enough. I am all my child needs. He relies on me 100% to feed and clothe and diaper and love him.

    My body has done amazing things. I gave birth to two healthy boys with zero pain numbing medication. I exclusively breastfed my first son, and that was still amazing, even if I couldn’t do it again.

    My time is better spent loving on my children. My boys need my full attention, even still, and they weren’t getting that when I was pumping nonstop.

    I hated pumping. I hated it! I spent a lot of time doing something I hated for someone I loved.

    Dash today.

    Today, Dash is healthy and spunky and thriving. He’s 9 months old, weighs 18 lbs and is very close to walking. He holds his own bottles and eats almost anything else we give him. He chewed into an avocado at the grocery store the other day when I wasn’t paying attention.

    He plays with his brother and chases the dogs. He also is very determined to eat dog food, but we are pretty good at stopping him.

    He loves to play with his brother, and sometimes Desmond is even nice enough to share his snacks with his baby brother.

    You’re not alone.

    I felt alone when I went through all of this, just a few months ago. If I had to do it again, I would have found a support group that meets locally. (Actually, just two months after I gave up, my healthcare provider’s office started offering a breastfeeding support group, how’s that timing?)

    I had a lot of people in my life who supported me, but they weren’t going through what I was going through. They were bystanders with nice words of encouragement, but they weren’t in the trenches with me. They didn’t know how it felt to fail at this.

    And I’m brought to tears, not because it’s painful to relive these feelings, but because there’s another woman who is feeling them right now.

    Because someone, somewhere, needs to hear this right now:

    You are enough.

    Your baby loves you.

    Your body has done amazing things.

    You are not alone.

    If you’re currently struggling with supply, how long you keep trying is completely up to you. But if you’re waiting for permission to quit, because pumping is taking up all your time and actually keeping you from enjoying that sweet child, this is it. You have my permission to do whatever it takes to be the best momma you can for your baby.