We've been hard at work transforming our old craft room/office into our toddler's new bedroom. I was excited to tackle this project, but knew it wouldn't be an easy feat. My husband and I chose to work on this room, rather than the guest bedroom, because it is right next to our bedroom.
When we moved in last June, we had actually already designated a room for our kiddo, B. It was at the end of the hall from our room. Plus side: it was big enough to hold his wardrobe, toys, and bed and had plenty of play space. Down side: It was pretty much on the opposite end of the house. This wasn't nearly as bothersome at first, because he was still sleeping on his mattress on our bedroom floor (or sometimes in our king size bed) when we moved in. But then we found out we were pregnant, and I began thinking of transitioning him into this bedroom at the end of the hall. I know it's just a hallway, but it felt *SO* long and far away. A couple of things that came to mind:
1) The bedroom was at the front of the house and close to the stairs (There is a baby gate but what if one of us forgets to latch it one night? What if he learns to open it? So many scary thoughts crept in...)
2) What will B think when the baby comes and is sleeping all cozy with us...and he's at the end of the hallway alone in this room?
It just didn't sit well with me. When I proposed to my husband that we make the craft room/office into our son's bedroom, he looked at me like I had two heads. But once I discussed why I wanted to change things around, he understood where I was coming from and we agreed it would be a good solution to our sleeping situation, especially after baby's arrival.
Deconstructing this room was quite the process. I wish I took a true before picture, because that photo would have shown the wall lined with cabinets and shelving (imagine it where the teal paint starts). We weren't even sure the cabinets would come out easily or if there would be hardwood flooring underneath. Luckily, there was flooring and my husband said that removing the cabinets wasn't too challenging. But that's when we discovered the teal paint on the lower half of the walls! So, we were working with covering up teal, purple, and gray paint....awesome.
We took the cabinets out to the backyard and set them up along the wall in our storage barn- which works nicely for my husband and all of his tools. I love that we were able to find another way to use this unit for storage!
My husband and I found a light gray color at Menard's and painted over the teal, purple, and dark(er) gray. The walls in the closet are still teal but who cares! ;) It took about three coats to get a nice, even layer which was a bit painful but so worth it. I'm always excited to paint but after the first coat, I'm always all, "Are we done yet? Why didn't we hire someone to do this again??"
After we painted the room, I touched up my son's furniture with a fresh coat of white paint. I used Rustoleum's chalk paint, which we also bought at Menard's. I really love it! We also repainted the knobs for the drawers a charcoal color (originally brown) to make them pop. I think the contrast looks nice against the light gray walls, too. Painting the furniture, like the walls, took me a while because of the multiple coats needed. I don't dare try to paint with my toddler around either (he would be eager to help but probably would not have been a helpful assistant), so I almost always waited for nap time or stayed up after putting him to bed to work.
Luckily, we had framed artwork (Check out Animalsleep on Etsy for some wild, amazing prints!!!) from his nursery in our previous house that we were able to keep in his big boy bedroom. I also created a canvas with song lyrics I love, and I think it really made the room feel complete. The teal curtains, gray walls, and white furniture have a very neutral feel and I would eventually like him to share this space with his sister. I don't feel like we will need to change much, except for the sleeping arrangements, in the future. We had planned on purchasing the KURA bed from IKEA but the nearest store was out of stock when we planned to visit. Darn! My son's full size bed is low to the ground though, and I don't worry about him rolling off of it as much as I thought I would. It's also great because we can store clothing totes underneath for the next size up! We have a twin size mattress, too, so when/if we do make the decision to buy another bed, like a bunk bed, we'll be set. For now, we plan to set it up in the playroom (my son's original bedroom...the one down the hall) as an extra place to sleep.
The last thing we needed to figure out was where to store our son's and the new baby's clothes. B started off with two dressers, but we ended up moving one to another room and putting half of his clothing on hangers in the closet. This really helped make his new (and smaller) room feel less crowded. There is also a HUGE bookshelf fastened to the wall in this bedroom. Originally just for books, we've now added blankets to the bottom and baskets at the top (mainly for his baby sister's onesies, pants, and diapers). I love that we were able to to repurpose the shelving so that we could eliminate a bulky piece of furniture. It feels more efficient and useful for it to hold many different items.
B is going on two months of sleeping in this new bedroom. Our bedtime routine consists of: taking a bath, taking vitamins, brushing teeth, reading books, and then resting together in his bed until he falls asleep. He almost always crawls into bed with us at some point, but at least he only has to walk one room over instead of all the way down the hall! I do think he enjoyed seeing the room transform into his own space, too. He loves the alphabet poster above his bed, the books right next to his sleep space, the fun pillows and bedding, and the glow in the dark stars we put up on his ceiling. I hope he continues to enjoy this space but still feels close to us as we adjust to becoming a family of four in the next two months. I would never want him to feel excluded or unimportant, and I think that, in a way, this room helps with that transition.
As some of you may know, my husband, son, and I are expecting another family member in June (a baby girl!). While my estimated due date is less than three months away, I don't feel crunched for time. Well, I do...I don't feel like I have enough time to get everything done, that's for sure. BUT I don't feel attached to doing everything by the book. I'm giving myself a break this time, letting go of the things I can't control and really prioritizing what truly needs to happen before we become a family of four.
Now, this relaxed attitude isn't all rainbows and butterflies, and it's easier said than done. I don't exercise nearly as much as I should. Sometimes I eat a donut at 10pm. And those plans to meditate and be mindful for 10 minutes everyday so that I can connect with baby in utero...pffff. Yeah, that's not happened a whole lot. If I get a free minute (what's that?) I may try to do a quick yoga session or focus on my breathing, but in reality, that free minute looks something like this:
I've lowered my expectations. That may sound like a bit of a downer, but it's been quite freeing! I'm not saying I've changed who I am as a person (I'm pretty Type A), but I'm not going to hold myself to it if I can't get to everything on my to-do list. Having a less rigid perspective on things has helped me cope with stress, pregnancy, and chasing after my toddler. My husband works out of town Monday-Friday so a lot of of our day-to-day routine is my kid and myself enjoying each other (or, let's be honest... just dealing with each other. It depends on the day) and making it to bedtime. I don't have time to dwell on the things I didn't get done, and I sure don't want to waste my energy with negative self-talk. That can be so draining and toxic to my general well-being. A wise friend once asked me, "If you wouldn't say something like that to me, why are you talking to yourself like that?!" Good point.
I've been thinking quite a bit about my first pregnancy and how it compares to where I am now. This time around, my stomach has grown at a quicker pace. I started 'showing' faster, and my belly feels lower, too. Some of those pregnancy aches and pains crept in sooner. I developed perioral dermatitis and dealt with a nasty rash on my face for the first three months of pregnancy (thanks hormones). I was terribly sick until Thanksgiving or so, and it wasn't just in the morning either. Oh yeah, and I'm parenting a toddler (usually solo at that, since my partner works away from home). I'm starting to understand fully that every pregnancy is different.
I'm eager to see how labor and birth pan out, because every experience is unique. And with my husband working three hours from home, I'm strongly relying on my doula for support and my family for sibling support. Will my labor go faster this time? Will I get a decent amount of sleep before the whole thing begins? The plan is to labor at home for as long as possible, but I'm also entertaining the idea of an epidural. I had an unplanned epidural with my first, and while it made the experience better there is still some guilt about not staying home and going the unmedicated route.
But...but...I liked my epidural! It was pretty damn awesome. I've wondered if, as a birth professional, this is appropriate for me to say. But when it comes down to it, it was a comfort measure that came in handy when I needed it, and it brought me back to state of relief and happiness. After hours of feeling unsure, a little nervous and impatient, I felt like my body and mind could rest a bit. And I truly think that this was the missing piece of the puzzle to meeting my baby. So, will I get an epidural this time around? I'm not sure, but I definitely won't be feeling bad if I choose to get it.
I love how pregnancy and labor have caused me to look inward, to focus on my wishes and desires but to also learn more about myself. As an individual, a wife, a mother, a friend. Our babies change us. I would like to think my little ones make me a better person but sometimes it's in less obvious ways than I imagined. I'm morphing into a newer version of myself everyday- in the way I talk, act, and handle my relationships. I'm trying to think less of that checklist of things that need tending to. In the end, those things don't really matter all that much.
Here's to happiness, health, and keeping myself sane among the "coulda, woulda, shouldas." I hope you can do the same!
Remember when I wrote about breastfeeding and the learning curve a year ago? That was right around my son's 6 month birthday. He just turned 19 months last week and, yep, he still nurses.
Luckily, no one has ever said anything negative to my face about his nursing habits. Toddler nursing makes some folks uncomfortable- I'm not sure if it's a lack of education on the topic** or a difference in parenting style. One of the more popular things I've heard is, "If he can ask for it, he's too old to nurse!" Sorry, lady, but he's been asking to nurse since Day 1. As he ages, he learns how to communicate his needs in different ways.
When he was under a year old, he would cry to let me know something needed to be different- in most cases, it was because he was hungry. Around a year, he learned how to sign for milk. And now? He communicates his needs by using his words. Now, that's not to say that he doesn't whine for it or tug at my shirt when he's hungry (probably one of my least favorite toddler behaviors to deal with) but often, he is very sweet and says things like, "Milk!" or "Nurse, please." And his 'please' is more like , "PEAZ!" Come on, people. I can't say 'no' to that!
Okay, sometimes I say, "No." And that's because, like most nursing kids who are attached to their mothers, he doesn't just nurse when he's hungry or thirsty. He may want to breastfeed because he's bored, tired, sick, hurt, snuggly, etc. It can be exhausting, especially when he asks multiple times throughout the day only to hop on for 2 minutes and then say, "All done!"
That's another new thing that's happening, which I appreciate: the 'all done' phrase. Sometimes he doesn't use it correctly ( says 'all done' and then starts to get mad when I am putting my breast away), but he's learning and that is exciting and fascinating to see. Despite his attachment, his independence IS growing (I've heard people say before that extended breastfeeding hinders development. Ummm..sorry. But no.) In fact, once we settled into our new house we've been taking on some new rituals that are helping him establish autonomy. He has a full-size mattress on the floor of his bedroom as well as his crib mattress at the foot of my bed. During the day, he nurses to sleep in his bedroom. At night, he wants to nurse to sleep in his bed. Lately, he will nurse and say, "All done," then roll over and fall asleep. It's lovely! He usually wakes up anywhere from 3-5 hours later, so I pull him up into my bed where he nurses for 30 seconds and falls asleep again.
About three months ago, I was taking my first big trip away from my baby. A full 4 days in Florida without him! I was excited but nervous. I was also at my breaking point- I was ready to be done with nursing. My child had been extremely needy leading up to the night I left, and I was considering weaning him. I thought that maybe I would come back and he wouldn't think about nursing anymore. I wondered if I would be okay with that and if I was ready to let go of that special closeness I shared with him. I decided to play it by ear and see what would happen. I was told by my sister-in-law and mom that he only cried for milk right before bedtime- I think throughout the day he was distracted enough by playing, being around different people, etc.
To my surprise, I was SO ready to nurse him once I came back. I realized that I didn't want to throw in the towel as badly as I originally thought. The short getaway was just what I needed to recharge and truly appreciate how special our bond is. I got home in the middle of the night and shortly after, he woke up, kissed me three times, and then said, "Milk?" This made my heart so happy.
Is nursing a toddler easier than breastfeeding a newborn or a 6 month old? Yes, I think so. But it does come with it's own set of challenges. Sometimes I think about what life will be like when he's no longer nursing- a bittersweet feeling for sure. But like the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" It still works for us and while we've made some small changes to our nursing relationship here and there, I want to follow his lead on this one. I feel that he will self-wean when he's ready.
**"The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that 'Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child..' * The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years."- La Leche League International
For more information on breastfeeding your toddler, check out Kelly Mom:
There are some mornings I wake up feeling like a million bucks. My kid and I have a play date arranged for later in the afternoon. The fridge is stocked with *healthy* foods and my kid is actually eating them. Our living space is clean- I've stayed on top of laundry and even scooped the cat's litter box. Sorry, kitty. I forget about you sometimes since having a baby. The sun is shining and I take my kid for walks. He is sweet- giving me kisses, babbling, and doing all of the cute things a baby can do. On the perfect day, we eat a great breakfast, are active, I remember to pack snacks and diaper wipes, my kid takes naps, and we (both!) get to bed at a decent time. If I get to do things for myself during my kid's nap times besides household tasks, it's a double win. It's days like this that, despite my husband being gone 6 out of 7 days of the week, I feel like I have a hold on how to solo parent.
But sometimes, I'm at my breaking point. This is because my kid won't nap, and if he does it's only because we're driving from Point A to Point B. It's because the food I give him is thrown on the floor at meal time. When I finally get us dressed and out of the house, he throws fits and pushes at me, smacks at my chest, and constantly wants to nurse. AND HE DOESN'T LISTEN! After saying, "That's a no-no" and redirecting his activity multiple times, I raise my voice. I lose my shit. I put him in the crib as a 'punishment' where I hear him cry for a whole minute. And when I say cry, I mean CRY. It breaks my heart. So there I sit, crying in the hallway, feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and distraught.
See, when you become a mom, your whole heart completely opens up, and in a way that no other relationship compares. When you're at home with your kid more often than not, sometimes you feel like you're going bananas. Honestly, I blame this week on the full moon. And when you can't even carve out 30 minutes for yourself, WOWZA. No doubt, my kid picks up on my stress levels and in turn it causes him to 'act out' more. No, I don't think he's manipulating me but babies are like sponges and sometimes what is a bother to me is a game to him. He is silly and mischievous because he's testing his boundaries. He's learning. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is a toddler, he's been earth side for 15 months, and no, he's not out to get me. Isn't that crazy- that we as parents get to that level where we're like, "Oh, hell no. WHAT?! NO! STOP!" You question if your baby is smarter than you or is maybe conspiring with the devil himself. Really, my baby is exploring, trying to understand, and taking in everything I say and do. The pressure is on. And just when I get to my breaking point, he comes up to open-mouth kiss me, plop down in my lap, and bring me a book to read with him. Tonight it was 'Llama Llama Red Pajama' and at the end I was all like, "Ahhh..I'm not the only one."
So, naturally, at the beginning of this week I felt like Supermom. I had play dates written down in our calendar. I bought groceries to fill the fridge (!) and even had meals planned. My laundry was cycling through and I even folded it all after it was dry! Y'all know how victorious that feels.
But, today....man. Today was different. It was Day 5 of solo parenting and I was just going through the motions to get through the day. I thought my husband was coming home from work today only to find out mid-day he has to work tomorrow, too, so that was hard to accept. It wasn't until noon that my kid and I were able to get dressed and out of the house. He fell asleep as soon as we got in the car so I went through the Starbucks drive-thru and just sat in the parking lot, drinking my coffee. Just sat and totally zoned out. We ran errands after he woke up and I let him run amuck in the mall's toy store. I was that mom. When it was time to leave, it started to downpour. Desperate, I bought a pretzel at Target's check out for us to split and kill time but he only ate the cheese dip. Go figure. When we got home, I tried to do a few things around the house but felt anxious, lonely, and knew if we stayed home I'd be in my head all night. So, I took my kid to a Chinese buffet. After we stuffed our faces, we walked across the parking lot where I picked up a few more groceries, including beer for myself and a lavender bubble bath for him. Surely, a full stomach and cozy bath will help him sleep all night?! One can only wish.
Now, as I type this and look up at the time on my computer, I see it's 12:01am. I made it. It's Saturday. My husband will be home this afternoon. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm about to hop in the shower for the first time today (or does this technically mean I didn't shower for a whole day?), enjoy a beer, and go to sleep. I kept an active, kind of crazy, tiny human alive by myself for nearly a whole week. BOOYA.
Bring on the weekend...AKA the next 48 hours. And then I'll do it all again.
Things are happening at warp speed for the Maxwell family. About two weeks ago, my husband started a new job. Shortly after accepting his position, we put in an offer on a house and GOT IT! We're leaving Bloomington. Like, we're moving NEXT WEEK. Woah! This is a time of mixed emotions as we were born and raised here. However, we're ready for this new chapter of our lives. And we'll be located in Greenwood, IN, only about an hour drive from our hometown. Lovely, right?
I'll be taking a break from my work as a home organizer and postpartum doula to move, keep up with my ever-changing toddler, and get a feel for our environment. I'd like to get back to this work soon though and will dearly miss all of the kind Bloomington folks who I've met through Blissful Transition. I hope you know just how special you are to me, and I hope to stay in touch!
If you have friends in the Greenwood area, spread the word that I'll be making my way up there soon. Don't forget that I'll be hosting a booth at The Woolery Market on Saturday, May 14th. I'll be selling upcycled goods, including organizational products and home decor. I'm really looking forward to it and hope to see you there!
My husband left for a trip with his buddy last week for Costa Rica. Let's not talk about how jealous I am, because as I type this I imagine myself lounging on the beach, catching a tan with drink in hand. And then I remember I'm in Indiana, where it's 50 degrees and the sky is gray.
I bow down to single parents. Seriously, you are incredible. For the folks who solo parent regularly, especially for extended periods of time.....wow. Again, I am in awe. Parenting is hard work and when you "go it alone," it's that much more difficult. I am grateful I have extended family and friends in the community who help me out on the reg but it definitely doesn't fill the void of my partner/co-parent/best friend.
Without going into too much detail, I thought I could give you a peek into my 8-day week of solo parenting:
Wednesday, Day 1:
Hubby spent the night with a friend last night to make his early flight this morning. My kid, B, went to sleep at 8pm (!!!!) and aside from frequent nursing (we bedshare so it's no sweat), he slept until 8am. I decided to run errands and hoped he would take his morning nap while I'm drove around town. Instead, he fell asleep right when we arrived at Target (our last stop!) so I sat in the car with him, drinking the rest of my Starbucks and scrolling through Facebook. His napping patterns were weird the rest of the day and he was clingy and cranky. I was able to work on some homemade chalkboards and catch up on laundry later while he slept, which was comforting. We are living with my mom at the moment (Didn't you know?) and she fed us chicken pot pie for dinner. Wow- it felt so great not having to think about making a meal. My baby took a bath after and, on demand, showed me his bath book and duck. SWOON! But, we climbed into bed a little before 10 and he didn't fall asleep until 11. It was rough being nursed on for so long and eagerly wanting to get OUT of bed and get a few things done before sleep. I ended up going to sleep with him and deciding I could get the rest done tomorrow.
Thursday, Day 2:
I woke up at 7 to get ready for my busy work day and my kid woke up around 7:30 (early for him!). I got us both ready, dropped him off at my sister-in-law's, and helped clients from 9:30-3ish. I felt ready to go to bed by 6pm and my kid was showing signs of tiredness but wouldn't sleep until 10ish. After he fell asleep, I was able to work on some crafts and even watch a Netflix movie with my sister, BLISS! I'm enjoying the simple moments.
Monday, Day 6:
B wakes up at 8am and is ready to party. We leave by 11 to grab groceries and make a quick trip to Hobby Lobby. Of course, he fell asleep 10 minutes before we arrived at our first destination. I let him sleep for about 10 more minutes before trying to transfer him into the Ergo. Fail. He was snuggly but awake and decided nap time was over. By the time we were halfway through Hobby Lobby, he was unruly and screeching for everything in sight. We got home, ate lunch, and played outside for a bit before I took him in for another attempt at a nap. Although it only lasted 30 minutes, I was able to paint while he slept. By 6pm, he was still awake and acting crazy and slap happy because he was delirious and needed to sleep. But he wouldn't. So we ate dinner, I gave him a bath, and then he ran around the house for a couple of hours like a little Tasmanian devil. After nursing/crawling all over me in bed for roughly an hour, he passed out at 10pm.
Tuesday, Day 7:
I had plans to work today but because of cancellations had the day pretty much to myself. It was magical. I dropped my son off to my sister-in-law around 11, ran a few errands, grabbed a coffee, and crafted at home until about 6pm. I felt so accomplished and really couldn't believe how productive I could be without a tiny kiddo trailing close behind. Meanwhile, B had a really fun time with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Like me, they took advantage of the warm weather and were outside pretty much the whole day. When I went to go pick my sweet baby up that evening, we ate pizza and chocolate cake. Yes, I married into a pretty great family. <3 I went to bed feeling hopeful and satisfied, not only with the work I did earlier but because my husband would be coming home tomorrow!!
Wednesday, Day 8:
I woke up feeling worn out- probably because of the busy day I had yesterday along with the fact I also went to bed much later than usual. Oh, and B woke up early, too. They gray, rainy skies made it challenging to get out of bed. We stayed at home all day, catching up on laundry and taking it easy. B only napped a total of 1 hour all day (yikes!) but crashed around 8:30 in the evening. Josh showed up around 11pm after a long day of traveling. I was so happy to see him and, in fact, kind of forgot what his voice sounded like (we ended up not being able to talk on the phone without crazy data rates so we'd only been texting for the past week).
Whew. It's over. Life will soon be back to it's regular schedule and I'll have an extra set of hands helping me make dinner, keep up with household chores, hang with B, and the like. I found after a few days of doing this, for the most part on my own, I got into the swing of things. Some chunks of time were HARD while other moments I felt like a complete badass taking care of a tiny human for a whole week. Again, it felt SO good having the support of my family and close friends. In a busy week of solo parenting, I was still able to take some time for myself and I wouldn't have been able to do that without my village. That definitely was the key to staying sane, no doubt.
I survived 8 days of solo parenting!