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! :)

 

Last day to order from Caroline-made!

caroline-made maggie whitley

The years I poured myself into being a handmade maker are some of the grandest years of my life. They’ve shaped me in really rich ways: through relationships formed, things I’ve learned, opportunities that have blessed my family.

I’ve recently taken a small step back from selling handmade but I’m offering pop-up sales, meaning on occasion I’ll open up shop and have some things available for purchase.

Today is the last day to purchase an item from my Caroline-made shop! We have two different sized zip pouches (size 1 and size 2) along with a pretty decent sized everyday bag — I use this bag as my diaper bag but it’s super transitional for travel or day adventures.

As a small “thank you” please enjoy 15% off your entire Caroline-made order with code FRIDAY15 (ends tonight, 8/8 at 11:59pm PST).

There’s no doubt I’ll be back with future pop-up sales, but as I’ve been blessed to be called “mama” my daily activities have shifted a bit, too :) I’m so grateful for your support and understanding. xoxo

PS. we have a few zipped items inside the Gussy Sews shop that are ready-to-ship…

6 small (yet impactful) changes for your home.

6 small (impactful) home changes to make right now // maggie whitley

Too many times I pretend I love our home without really, truly, fully loving it. Of course there are specific things about our home that I love, but there always seem to be bigger things I don’t love that somehow override what I do love. (Do you ever feel like that?) The apartment we’re currently in is perfect for our family right now, even though it has it’s quirks and disadvantages.

Our apartment may be a small space but it’s where we live, where we love, and where we practice grace. I’ve been slowly making changes to make our home even better for us and how we use it daily/weekly, and even more specifically I’ve been trying to build up momentum so these changes don’t take too long to for me to actually implement. Oh, the freedom that has brought me.

SIX SMALL CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR HOME:
1. ORGANIZE // our bookshelf has many purposes but was looking a little cluttered, so I re-organized a few shelves (this took all of 5 minutes) and now it’s more aesthetically pleasing.

2. HANG // for months I’ve been wanting a world map on the wall in the nursery, and I finally bought one! (See a glimpse of it here.)

3. MOVE // this one probably surprised me the most: I moved a floor rug a mere six inches so it now butts up to the wall (instead of leaving a gap of hardwood floor showing). The visual impact this change has is incredible, whoa!

4. MAKE // I grabbed some extra fabric and an hour of my time and sewed 2 new envelope-style pillow covers for our couch. This allowed me to re-cover two pillows that didn’t match our decor anymore using materials I already had on hand.

5. CHANGE // since our bedroom is really just a corner of our living room, it’s easy for the bed to become an immediate focal point, which I try to avoid. The first change I made was moving our bed so it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk through the front door. Then, I switched our bed quilt to something less bright and more neutral (even though I love bright/colorful materials). This two-part change stopped our bed from screaming “look at me!” and it’s also allowed me to create a neutral, relaxing bedroom nook inside our small apartment. I call that a win! :)

6. EDIT // I tidied up our 5-hook wall organizer (that hangs behind our front door) to include only the essentials. Anything we don’t use weekly was put away, but still within quick reach. This visible area is now refreshed and took me about 5 minutes to edit it’s contents.

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The great part about all of these changes is that, aside from buying the wall map, the only requirement needed was my time. Maybe it’s how I’m preparing for the birth of our second child, but my new mantra is that I want our home to be a little oasis from the hustle Los Angeles brings on so easily. I want our home to serve our family’s needs (relax, learn, love, grow). It may be small, but our home is full of intention. And, I want it to be a reflection of who we are while allowing us to grow individually. These six changes have made our home so much sweeter :)

I bet you could find a way to implement these six changes, too. Take 15 minutes right now and make your space something you love. You deserve to feel refreshed while at home — ready, set, go!