The easiest way to find joy when you “stay at home”.

maxwell playing Maggie Whitley

Sometimes it’s just a bit too easy for my focus to be on keeping our home super clean and tidy — only then will I be happy, I think to myself. But really, that mindset is a huge lie. Especially for our mama hearts when we already feel like we are juggling a small circus for 12 hours a day ;)

But I’m determined to not let that kind of discouragement into my home.

If I’m spending all of my time cleaning and tidying (or even too much time, since cleaning a small space doesn’t take long) then other areas of our home aren’t being tended to.

Things like…

- loving on the people inside our home

- going on long walks where our hearts and minds are exercised

- feeding my family through meals and conversation around the table

- the purpose of our home: to grow and learn and rest and encourage one another, daily.

I try to reserve two small windows of time each week towards tidying our home, usually at the start and end of the week, so we (I) can fully enjoy the weekend in all it’s glory. This easy exercise has helped me find the joy in a lived-in home, especially since I “stay at home”.

Walking around plastic toy hammers, and blocks, and books, and the dog’s toy, and don’t forget about the laundry drying on the rack — these all shout LIFE to me, and life should be celebrated. If my focus is on putting all of these things away, what kind of message am I sending out?

It doesn’t take much for our home to feel unclean or untidy since we’re in a small space. But I’ve learned to know the difference between a home that feels comfortable to us and our friends, or a home that feels uncomfortable.

baby bump Maggie Whitley

And perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned with all of this: when I set too high of expectations on myself it’s not just our home that suffers, the people who live inside our home suffer, too.

It’s not my ability to clean and tidy well that should bring me joy…

It’s the day-to-day of life that brings me joy: having a messy kitchen, owning clothing that needs to be laundered, having floors that need to be swept of beach sand and pretzels, and tidying our toys because we play with them.

And this joy? It also brings me freedom.

For all you stationary lovers…

Before I gush over today’s giveaway I want to say THANK YOU for the support on Wednesday’s post, Mamahood vs. Full-Time Work: what helped me decide. I treasure this community and there is so much wisdom in the comments, consider reading through a few of them?

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Oubly announcement cards maggie whitley

Since December 2012, when I had my first baby shower, we’ve been in full-on stationary mode over here. I actually cleared a little section in our office area for stationary, stamps and my favorite writing pens. Growing up I was taught the value of writing thank-you notes, and I guess it’s stuck with me ;) Besides, sending mail is so fun! We’ve sent out cards in response to our baby showers, Maxwell’s birth announcements, Maxwell’s first Valentine’s Day, our family Christmas card and Maxwell’s first birthday party.

When Oubly, a Los Angeles family-owned stationary boutique, reached out to us (which made me yell out a little, “yeowwwww!” — don’t let me hide that from you!) I knew I would say, “yes”.

I absolutely love learning of and featuring local shops, and this brings me back to the heart of why I started blogging: to encourage community.

Oubly birth announcements maggie whitley

I’m just going to dive in here and confess — Oubly has a really fantastic line of Birth Announcements. So much of what they design infuses bright colors and personality, which I love so much. They also have stationary for personal use and a variety of paper needs to glam up your small business. Basically, Oubly has something(s) for everything.

Oubly maggie whitley

In addition to their products, Oubly has a light worth shining (and sharing), and I wanted to dig into the heart and soul of who they are and what they do. We asked Luis to share a bit more about Oubly

Give us a “behind the scenes” perspective into Oubly.

“In short Oubly is a mature printing company that has a thoughtful bunch of individuals with a passion for print, art, design, technology, fine papers, and collaborative culture.

Oubly offers a wide selection of beautifully designed and crafted print items for business, or occasions. The Oubly team is currently developing additional products such as canvas prints, upload-your-own, and art prints.”

How would you best encourage your fellow makers?

“If you have an idea or passion, then pursue it. We would rather try and fail, than live the rest of our lives wondering what could have been. We know that remarkable outcomes never come from modest risks.”

What inspires you/Oubly?

“Innovation inspires us. We love to sit down and watch YouTube videos such as TED Talks.”

How do you balance your personal life from work?

“Personal life? What’s that? All jokes aside, the team at Oubly loves to be engaged in various activities that are an extension of the company values. We are life-long learners and we love to learn new skills whether it be learning a new food recipe, instrument, or learning a new coding language.”

Oubly thanksgiving invites maggie whitley

If you’re like me and enjoy sending mail — “thank-you” cards or “thinking of you” notes or “party announcements” or “here’s a list of all the cool things I did today”, Oubly has generously offered a giveaway package for two (2) readers of the Maggie Whitley Designs community (yeow!).

GIVEAWAY // TWO lucky winners will each win a 5×7 set of 35 cards/envelopes (plus shipping). Total value is $104.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’ll pick the winners in a few days and will notify them directly via email. Good luck, and thank you for supporting the shops that help to support me. XO

Mamahood vs. Full-time Work: what helped me decide.

maxwell twin shirts maggie whitley

Max and I are kinda like “two peas in a pod” these days, soaking up the last few weeks where it’s just he and I at home together during the day. When I reflect back on the last 17 months I have so much peace over what we’ve learned and how we’ve bonded. Of course, so much has changed too, comparing what I thought would be to what actually is. These changes have me so, so grateful for the support in making one of my biggest decisions ever: to focus on our family instead of also trying to run two handmade businesses (and write a blog). Naturally I did slow down big time once Max was born last March, but as he became more of a toddler (and less of a little baby) I knew I needed to adjust exactly where my attention was going each day. I like to refer to that time as, learning the art of saying “no” :)

Every woman experiences mamahood differently. And while we each have our personal preferences, one thing in common is the number of hours that fill each day — it’s exactly the same. Before Max was born I knew I wanted to take an eight week maternity leave from handmade, but as that mark neared I found myself not quite ready to jump in with both feet. A few more weeks passed and still, I wasn’t ready.

When you find yourself in a mamahood vs. full-time work dilemma, like I did, I think it’s important to listen to your body and heart for guidance. We each have totally unique experiences, requirements, support systems and family needs. My story is probably different from my neighbors, which is likely different from their neighbor, etc. It can be hard to know exactly what to do, but knowing there’s beauty and grace in customizing my new plan was so encouraging for me.

Before having my first baby I was incredibly organized and (let’s be honest) a scheduling pro. Now, I’d like to think I’ve hit a more realistic balance with all of that advanced-planning stuff ;) But, trying to do too much each day during that first year absolutely frazzled me and I constantly questioned if I was doing it right. Come bedtime I didn’t feel like I had been creative enough or rested enough to continue with my previous schedule. My emotions felt uncontrollable and nothing I was doing felt like it was being done well. (Not a good feeling.)

Really, what I wanted to focus on was this precious new baby — and that felt like “enough”. Working full-time, in addition to be a mama, was something I felt could be put on hold, at least for now. I encouraged myself, saying as my need for more creativity rose my new schedule would help me be able to say “yes”. I felt peace in this decision, and the peace was constant. Success! (I also reminded myself this new schedule is what works best for me, for my family, for now, but we could make changes at any time.)

A friend shared something with me a few months ago. In summary she said, “your children won’t wait for you to grow up; they’ll do it regardless of how you prioritize your time.” That was hugely powerful for me and helped to propel me forward.

Am I nervous for another little baby to join our family? — totally. But I know my days have room for this kind of exciting growth, so that’s what I’m leaning on.

fine print: I know many mamas who work full-time and have peace over that decision, and I fully encourage them to continue with that personal decision. I believe part of what makes someone a good parent is their ability to do it well, and consistently. This blog post is in no way a “my way or the highway” post, but it IS a post that I pray will encourage you to move forward in confidence with whatever decision your heart is guiding you to do. There is nothing worse than the guilt of self-doubt. I’m cheering for you :)

Let’s talk about happiness!

leafy plant maggie whitley

A couple weeks ago I made a $7 purchase and brought two leafy green plants home with me. I’ve known from the past how beneficial having plants in your home can be, my dear friend even talks about this on her blog (and often!). But I think it’s something I easily forget (especially with all the moving we do) because one day my planty lightbulb went off and I realized exactly what our home was missing… leafy green plants.

But not just any kind of plant, a non-flowering plant. I didn’t want any more color in our home. And really, all I was looking for wassomething that would grow with minimal care. So I picked out two plants that would thrive indoors, would be OK without any direct sunlight and could handle only being watered about once a week.

I don’t really know what it is specifically that brings so much happiness when leafy green plants surround us — does anyone know? But I do know they’re an instant happiness boost for me. They draw my attention upward or outward, wherever they’re placed in our home. Plants are the perfect companion to our books stacked tall, to the little clusters of toddler toys that decorate each room. They’re just so fun.

Other things that are making me happy this month:

- I finished reading What Alice Forgot and I highly recommend it!

- watching Maxwell drink out of a straw

- the rhythm of handmade: cutting fabric and sewing Caroline-made items

- orange juice with high pulp! (#pregnancycravings)

- holding newborn Cheyenne, my friends baby girl

PS. I meet up with a group of three friends regularly and we are all having babies this year! AND, there was a (very short) window where we were all pregnant at the same time. Having four new babies in our group has been making me happy all year! :)