Time Management Isn’t Easy

I wrote another draft of this post that started out listing all the things I accomplished last week, and all the things I had planned to accomplish. 

None of these tasks got done last week!


I’m pretty sure that most of you can relate. The expectations we set for ourselves each week are usually pretty ridiculous. And when we don’t cross every item off our to-do list? Well, we end up feeling like failures, no matter how many things we did get done. 

I will admit that I think I set myself up for failure when returning from maternity leave. I thought about all I used to get done in a day. Run three errands at lunchtime? No problem. Proofread layouts for three different magazines, write an article, attend a meeting and keep in touch with all of my co-workers throughout the day? Sure thing. Attend an event after work, pick up dinner and do a load of laundry before bed? Easy-peasey. 

We all overextend ourselves, and I had no idea how much this would be true until I had a baby. I’ve been back to work for almost two months now and there are so many things I planned to do — like cook more meals at night, work out more often, blog once in a while — that just aren’t getting done. 

These are all things that I will do, when I can. But expecting myself to adjust quickly to working and raising a newborn, not to mention the emotional roller coaster of dropping her off at daycare and later rushing back because I can’t wait to pick her up every day, was foolish. I still cry every Sunday night knowing I won’t be with Penny the next day. Last Monday at daycare, I cried in front of her poor teachers, God bless them. I usually save that for the car. 

The thought of doing anything that takes me away from her, from grocery shopping to exercising to even cooking dinner in the kitchen instead of singing her songs while she’s playing with toys on her blanket, well, I just don’t want to do it. 

And this is where the book I’m reading, “Grace Not Perfection,” is literally saving me right now. 


The book is written by Emily Ley, who created The Simplified Planner and just released her second book, “A Simplified Life.” She runs her own business and has two kids and, from what she wrote in her book, said she needed to learn what to spend her energy on and what to let go. 

That’s where I am now. Learning what I can let go, what I can stop feeling guilty about. What I can organize or throw out or stop doing or start doing to give my mind some peace. 

My friend Javacia is right when she says “balance is a unicorn.” It just doesn’t exist. I will always be letting something slide while I’m giving 100 percent to something else. 

But that’s OK. 

Right now, I will give myself permission to focus intently while working so I can do my job well. Then I can show myself grace to leave it be at the end of the day when I sign off so I can focus on my family. 

I will give myself permission to do a few things for me every week, like work out or read a book or get a pedicure. But I will show myself grace if I do those things less often than I used to. 

I will give myself permission to spend alone time with my husband or take time to call a friend. But I will show myself grace if I don’t want to do much away from my baby on the weekends. 

And I will give myself permission to get my home organized in a way that works best for us. But I will show myself grace if the laundry piles up a little or the floors need to be swept because I played with Penny rather than cleaning the house. 

Time management is not easy. We all expect too much from ourselves each day, each week. It’s time to show ourselves some kindness and allow our minds some peace. 

We deserve it. 

Intentions For 2018

I’m not sure when I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions in a different way, but I’m pretty sure it was Javacia, founder of See Jane Write, the women’s blogging group I belong to, who inspired me to choose a word instead of spelling out specific goals like “lose weight.” I really like this approach because I think it provides motivation year-round and feels more encompassing — like taking your mind, body and spirit into account. 

This year I do have some specific goals I want to work on, and I want to check in here regularly to keep focused on how I’m doing. Each of my goals fits into the three following words. Here’s to a productive, fun- and love-filled 2018, for all of us! 

Health. 

I gave birth four months ago, and I still feel like my body is recovering from the c-section. I’ve gone to Torque a few times in the last month, but I want to start going two to three times a week, as my work schedule and Penny allow. The thing is, my lower belly still gets sore quite often. It’s just achy. Getting up and down off the floor, I think, is the hardest task for me. Gaining strength at Torque can only improve this, as long as I don’t push it too fast and injure myself. So working out to feel more nimble is a big goal for me in 2018. 

I’d be lying if I failed to mention that weight loss is also a goal. I’m a big believer in loving yourself, but I also don’t deny that there’s a certain way I feel more comfortable in my own skin and right now I’m not in that place. My ultimate goal? Lose 80 pounds. There. I said it. That’s the number in my mind and would get me back to a place where I felt really good. While working out at Torque will help, I’ll be working hard on cooking more and making better food choices to get to this goal. 

I’m doing this for me, for how I feel about my body, but also for my daughter. I want to be able to do all the things I need to, and want to, physically so that nothing holds me back from being the mom she deserves. This is the real fuel for me this year, and when it comes to health that also includes things like not skipping doctor appointments. While I was pregnant I was a stickler for getting to all my OB appointments, but I neglected the dentist and eye doctor. No more! I’m making those appointments right away. 

Present. 

This year I want to focus on cutting some things out, when I need to, so I can be more present in whatever I’m doing. I don’t think women can make it through the day without multitasking — it’s in our DNA. But I am trying to focus more on the one thing that’s in front of me. Here’s a few ways I will try to be more present:

1. Put the phone down when playing with Penny. She already gets a little testy when I pick it up, and I’d never want her to feel like she has to compete for my attention. 

2. Close unnecessary windows while at work. Do you ever get distracted by Facebook or Twitter or personal email when you’re on the clock? I want to give myself a few minutes in the morning, noon and afternoon for this but otherwise, log off. 

3. Put the phone in my purse, in the backseat, out of reach while I drive. I’m never tempted to reach for my phone while Penny is in the car, but I do it too often when she’s not. I need to get home safely, as does everyone else on the road, so it’s time to break this bad habit. 

I just ordered Emily Ley’s “A Simplified Life,” which I hope will have great tips to help me be more present and focused!

Worth. 

I’ve been struggling lately, especially in the workplace, with doubting my worth. I question choices I’ve made career-wise, and I fear I suffer from Imposter Syndrome (when you feel like you’re just faking it and doubt you really know what you’re doing).

But the fact is, as a writer and editor, I know what I’m doing. I can always learn more — and I always hope to continue my education in my chosen field. But I do have 16 years of experience in journalism/communications — it’s time I see the value in that experience and what I can bring to the table. 

The same goes for other areas of my life — instead of doubting myself as a mother, wife, homeowner, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, I need to recognize my worth and stop doubting myself so much. 

What are your goals for 2018? Do any of these words work for you, too?

Stellar Baby: When Maternity Leave Is Over

So, I was really trying to complete the November #bloglikecrazy writing challenge with my blogging group See Jane Write. But writing a daily post became difficult when the one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about became the one thing I couldn’t bring myself to write about.


It was the tears that scared me. The tears that were falling every day for two weeks pending my return to work last week. And they were flowing again this weekend knowing this week would be a full five days, rather than just the one and a half that I’d hoped would help ease me into this.

But there’s no easing into this.

I get that to some this seems dramatic. And there are certainly much more difficult things for people to bear. But for 12 weeks I have been with Penny morning, noon and night. With the exception of a few short bursts of time without her, she’s been the sun that I revolved around every minute of every day for three months.

Dropping her off at daycare for the first time last week was surreal. Like an out of body experience.

Let me make two things clear: 1. I love her daycare center so far and know that she is in good hands every day. 2. I love my job and always intended to return to work. In fact, a piece of me has missed writing and editing. It’s part of who I am, not just what I do.

But sadly, those two things don’t make being away from Penny any easier. I know there’s only one thing that will.

Time.

In time, we got used to our new normal of feedings and diaper changes. Of less sleep and strolls around the house while singing Christmas carols. We learned that you hadn’t really felt joy like the joy when your baby first smiles at you. And we will also get used to being back at work and daycare drop-offs and soaking up every fun second with Sweet P outside of work. We’ll work efficiently and steadily so when that clock strikes quittin’ time, we can hightail it outta there and straight to pick up our girl. We will make the most of the moments we share and not take them for granted.

Every working mother I know has told me it gets easier. (And don’t forget the dads, because this isn’t easy for them either!) To them, I am grateful to have found fellowship and support. I’ll be happy to talk about your kids anytime. Thank you for your hugs and reaching out the past couple of weeks.

I am lucky to have had 12 wonderful weeks of maternity leave. Too few women in the U.S. are able to take that much time. I’ll always be grateful to my employer for the ability to bond with my baby for that long.

But I know now what people mean when they say “time flies” and “time is precious.”

Now I see how valuable time really is. 

6 Surprising Things About Becoming A Mom

So I’ve only been a mother for less than three months, but I’ve already come across some pretty funny and surprising things about being a parent. 

1. Poop is a big deal. Everyone warned me that a new fascinating topic of conversation would be our baby’s bodily functions, and they weren’t lying. I never thought I would keep track of someone’s bowel movements so closely, right down to consistency and color. 


But it’s also a great source of comic relief when your teeny, tiny sweet-faced girl lets one rip!

2. Public restrooms are now scrutinized heavily. I’ve never been a fan of using public bathrooms, but who is? Now that I have to bring my small infant into them and find a place to change her, I’m even more picky. So far the mothers rooms at Buybuy Baby and Babies r Us, along with the ladies lounge at Von Maur department store, are at the top of my list for more than acceptable. Failures? Urban Cookhouse where the changing table opens so low, I had to bend over to knee level, which was lovely for my back. And Ruby Tuesday where Penny was lying at an angle and the temperature was so low, we both left with freezing hands. 

3. Babbling may be better than real conversation. Every day of maternity leave I’ve looked forward to my husband coming home so I can talk to another adult. And I am excited to have chats with coworkers when I go back to work next week. But nothing beats hearing Penny babble and encouraging her to keep “talking” away by saying “oh yeah? Tell me more!”

4. Messes at home bother me a lot less. I admit that I’m usually a neat freak. I like things to be in their assigned places and I love organizing and tossing out junk mail and expired food from the fridge. But right now there’s laundry to be put away and mail to be sorted and shoes under the coffee table … I could go on and on. None of it matters as long as Penny has clean bottles and clothes, and Jermaine and I are fed and showered. I do use what time I have to try to pick things up, but I’d just rather play with Sweet P or unwind with my hubby. The chores can wait. 

5. The camaraderie you feel with other parents is real. I felt this as soon as I got pregnant, but it’s increased since Penny was born — that natural kinship you feel with other moms and dads. I’ll be eternally grateful to my family and friends who have kindly answered 16,000 questions over the past year, and cross my fingers they haven’t found me too annoying! I’ve also already exchanged sympathetic looks with other parents at stores when Penny has been fussy. I appreciate the “we’ve been there, hang in there” look in their eyes more than they know!

6. You can love more deeply than you ever thought possible. There are moments when I look at Penny and Jermaine and I can’t even believe how much I love them. I would honestly do anything I had to to keep them both happy and safe and my number one goal in life now is to take care of them and make them feel loved. While I of course have other things I want to do for me, it’s surprising how easily your life can come into focus. I think this can happen for anyone whether they’re a parent or not or a spouse or not. But for me, my priorities are so clear now, and I just hope I can fulfill that goal for my family!

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a few things that have struck me in recent weeks. 

If you’re a parent, what things have surprised you?

Getting In The Christmas Spirit

I realize it’s November and we haven’t even celebrated Thanskgiving yet, but I’m already in the mood for Christmas!

Christmas tree 2010, at my parents’ house in New Jersey


I usually don’t decorate for Christmas until the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the decorations will stay up until at least New Year’s Eve. This year, though, I’m tempted to get an early start! It may be because I’ve been entertaining Penny with Christmas carols already. And I’ve been making shopping lists and planning cookies to bake, as this will be our first Christmas here in Alabama as a family of three. I know Penny won’t have a clue what’s going on, but I’m still excited to build on some of the traditions my husband and I have started, and those we’ve incorporated from our families. 

So, with that in mind, I wrote up a short Christmas Q&A! Feel free to copy and paste and share your answers on Facebook, or comment here or on my Facebook page to tell me your answers. 

And to those who celebrate other holidays this time of year, I want to hear about your traditions, too!

1. What is your favorite holiday song? Mine is “Silver Bells,” but I can listen to anything Bing Crosby sings all. day!

2. What is your favorite holiday food? I love the thumbprint cookies with icing my mom makes every year. She got the recipe from my Nana, and I’ll be making them myself this year for sure. 

3. What is one of your favorite holiday memories? I have several, like the first time Jermaine came to New Jersey with me and we got snowed in during a blizzard and then went in to New York City with my best friend Dominika and her husband Cory. 

Using a snow blower for the first time!

Times Square the day after the blizzard


And I’ll never forget the Christmas I spent with my family in Hawaii. But my favorite memories are singing Christmas songs at church and in the car with my Grampa Sage. I’m not sure why this sticks out so much, but it does and makes me miss him deeply. 

One of my favorite photos ever! Me holding my niece Abby while we listen to Grampa play his harmonica.


4. What’s your most memorable holiday gift? I’ve been lucky to receive a lot of fun gifts over the years. I think one of the most memorable was tickets to see the Black Eyed Peas because of the way it was presented. My husband was so clever — he put the tickets inside a gift tube filled with actual black eyed peas. So cute!

5. Have you ever volunteered somewhere special this time of year? If so, where? If not, where would you like to? I have always enjoyed collecting items for the angel tree or food for a food bank. I hope to do both this year!

6. Where do you usually spend the holidays? We typically travel up North either to my parents’ house in New Jersey or my sister’s in Massachusetts. This year we’ll stay in Alabama with our Penny!

Christmas morning at my parents’ place in New Jersey. They’ve since moved to Massachusetts so next time we head north for Christmas, we’ll be there.


7. What is your favorite holiday movie? I love Elf and Christmas Vacation, but my favorite is White Christmas. It’s long, but worth it!

8. What holiday event in your town do you try to attend every year? The historical Alabama Theatre here, where Jermaine and I got married, shows holiday movies and even starts out with Christmas carols on the organ. It’s such a fun atmosphere!

That’s all I have for now! Can’t wait to hear about your holidays, too!