Do-It-Yourself Motherhood

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ve had a lot of dreams and career aspirations throughout my life. When I was very young, despite having no idea what the job actually entailed, I wanted to be an engineer like my father. For a brief period around first or second grade I wanted to be a car mechanic simply because I saw so few women doing that job. And then I wanted to be a rocket scientist – to that end, I even went to Space Camp. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted, pretty desperately, to be a writer (and yes, I still want that). I wanted to be, and in fact successfully became, a librarian.

But through all of that, through every new interest and dream, there’s been something that has persisted in the background. I’ve also always wanted to be a mother. I remember being only seventeen, and still in high school which seems unbelievable now, and knowing with a bone-deep surety that I wanted to be a mother. I’m not sure why or how I knew this: I don’t have a big family and I only ever babysat once or twice so I’d never really been around young kids. I liked kids, but as it is I’m a pretty awkward person around grown-ups (yes, even still) and I didn’t really feel any more comfortable around kids.

But I knew. I wanted to be a mother. I was going to go after my career aspirations whole-heartedly and pursue all my other ambitions as well, but in the end the thing that mattered to me the most was having a family.

That dream finally came true for me, and honestly? I’m as happy as I thought I would be. I’m one of those lucky, lucky people who got exactly what she wanted and was content with it. Whatever else happens in my life, I feel like this – my beautiful daughter – is enough.

But.

I realized pretty quickly after she was born that having a baby was the easy part. (And by no means is that “easy”!) Now I had to raise the baby! She was going to grow and change and become her own person – and that was an exhilarating, amazing thought, but it’s also terrifying! There’s so much advice out there for new mothers, and some of it – a lot of it, even – is genuinely helpful. But there’s also so much advice that doesn’t apply. So much that wasn’t relevant to me. And even advice that positioned the way it described as the “right” way, or the only way.

That’s why my philosophy, and the philosophy of this blog is: D.I.Y Motherhood. Or, motherhood that you figure out for yourself! I want to share my experiences and help other moms navigate this scary, exciting time, but I also want to advocate for moms who may not have a traditional experience. Everyone is different. Working moms, or stay-at-home moms. Moms with a supportive partner, or single moms. Moms with one child, or moms with several. Moms who knew they wanted babies, or moms for whom this journey may be unexpected and frightening.

D.I.Y. Motherhood means dealing with parenthood on your own terms.  We’re all different, with countless sets of unique circumstances, and there’s not really advice out there that’s “one size fits all.”  I want to encourage moms – and new parents, not just moms, though that is the focus – to find what works best for them.  Because even though raising our kids is now a huge part of our lives, we’re more than just “mom.”  We need to remember to take time for ourselves, to focus on our identities outside of parenthood.  Build the motherhood that works best for you!

Personally, I work full time. I have a very supportive husband and right now only one child. As I said, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was the privilege of raising a child. But that doesn’t define me. As much as I love my daughter, I’ve found that the role of “mom” is one that’s harder to slip into. Where do I draw the line? How do I navigate a changing identity and stay who I am?

Welcome to my journey, everyone. I hope to share this with you, and maybe I can offer some advice to those who need it, and learn a few things myself.

Baby Fever?!

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt from Pexels

One thing about having is baby is that labor… is definitely labor. Delivering my child was probably one of the most painful experiences of my life – and I was lucky, with no complications. But after she was born I swore – immediately – that I was never doing it okay. No way, no thanks, not for me. I had my perfect, beautiful little baby and that was enough for me.

Or that’s what I thought.

Because now, when she’s a year and a half, I’m having… second thoughts. Wasn’t she worth every second of it? (Yes, absolutely.) And was it really as bad as I remember? (Also yes. But I’ve managed to block that out.) Would it be the worst thing if I had to do it again? Maybe I even… want to do it again? These thoughts keep running through my head and though I may not be a medical professional I think I have enough to diagnose this condition. It’s official.

It’s baby fever.

Thankfully, this condition is treatable. But the symptoms didn’t come out of nowhere. A lovely young woman at my work is expecting, as well as a close friend, and I know others who are trying. In addition to that, it just seems like babies are everywhere. Anywhere I turn they’re right there, with their cute, tiny clothes and their big, gummy smiles and their sweet baby smell. I would be perfectly happy with only one child – and honestly, for a number of reasons, that’s been my plan – but more and more lately I keep thinking how nice it would be if she had a sibling, and if I had another little bundle to snuggle and care for. I know, I know – this is temporary, it’ll pass, and it’s really only because I know several people who are pregnant now. But the feeling is pretty strong, and I will admit I’ve been browsing blogs and looking at lists of baby necessities and maybe wistfully going through the tiny newborn clothes my own daughter wore.

Does anyone else have “baby fever” right now? Any way to combat it? Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, I’ll go back to my browsing. If I can’t have a new baby (and we definitely can’t right now!) I can at least coo over other parents’!

September Book Club

September Book Club

My goodness, it seems that for the past few months, read-alongs just haven’t worked out! Because of how awful August was when my mom passed (which still doesn’t feel real, I still haven’t come to terms with my loss), I didn’t read very much. Reading is something I enjoy, and a great distraction because of how absorbing it can be, so I’m trying to get back into my reading habits! So! A new September book! For this month, I have selected…

Continue reading “September Book Club”

Fun Printable Worksheets For Back-to-School

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

It’s back to school time at last! For a lot of parents this is a time of bittersweet feelings: regret over having to send your sweet little one away, and maybe a little bit of relief to have some more time to yourself (don’t worry, parents, no one is judging you).

Education is one of my hot button issues. It has always been very important to me, and since I became a parent it’s a big focus of mine more than ever. My little one is still a toddler, but I love teaching her colors, shapes, animals – whatever we’re doing, I like to take the time to try to inject a little learning. Kids are learning all the time! It’s amazing how much they pick up just from interacting with the world around them. Brain development happens the most rapidly during those precious early years, so it’s important to nurture that.

I’m also a big supporter of learning incorporated into play. After all, children have a right to play! It seems that so much focus is put on results and metrics, and a lot can get lost in that approach. Let’s keep learning fun! I firmly believe you can make education and learning a priority in your home for your kids without crossing into “work.” So today, for any parents interested in keeping kids engaged and ready for school, I’m partnering with Education.com to bring you some fun activity sheets!

What’s more fun than animals! Let’s match words and animals in this fun Matching with Image Animal activity. Check out Education.com for more exciting word recognition activities like this one!

For kids who can read, they can do the work on their own! Or, a parent can read the name of the animal and the child can point to the right picture! Download the worksheet and answer key below:

If you’re interested, Education.com has free printable worksheets, online games, and even lesson plans from preschool to 5th grade. It’s a great resource for parents and educators!

An Update

Hello, dear readers. I’m writing today to explain my brief absence, as well as offer an explanation for why you might not see so much of me for the next little while. There’s not really a way to put this delicately or to dance around it, so:

My mother passed away.

I’m devastated. This was unexpected and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. I can’t stop hurting. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do from here.

So please understand that I’m dealing with a tragedy. I’m going to try to act like everything’s okay for the most part here, so I’ll still try to keep a cheery tone in my posts. Just know that behind that tone I may be struggling. Thanks, everyone.

5 Tips to Make You Feel Like a Person Again

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

This has been a hard week for me. Not only has there been a lot of heart-wrenching news lately (which deserves more time and attention that I’m able to give here), but I’ve had several personal setbacks, as well. I’ve been feeling run down, tired, and just a bit like a useless lump. It feels – for me, at least – that sometimes as a mom you have to be “on” for your children all the time. Even my little one, who is only a year old and can’t really understand what I’m saying, still makes me want to be as bright and happy as possible. But it’s hard! Parenthood is so hard in general, and when you’re feeling tired it just makes it that much harder. It’s a tough cycle to get stuck in, and unfortunately that’s where I’ve been! I’m looking forward to a chance to recharge.

Here are a few tips that might help if you, like me, are stuck that same rut and want to climb out and start feeling like a person again.

1. Get Enough Sleep

I know, I can already hear you laughing at me. Lack of sleep is probably part of the problem! Stress makes sleeping well more difficult! Trust me, I know – I’m there, too. But taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep, even though often it’s one of the first things that many of us sacrifice to make room for everything else in our busy lives. (And sometimes, of course, that sacrifice isn’t voluntary!) However, being well-rested can make a huge difference in how you feel. If you can, go to bed a little earlier. Start a bedtime ritual. We do it for our fussy little babies, why not try it for ourselves? Make bedtime fun, if you can. Be very intentional about it. Wear your comfiest pajamas (or whatever you like to sleep in), give your pillows an extra fluff, get cozy blankets, play relaxing music – pamper yourself a little! If your sleep is very disordered, of course, you may need to see your doctor, but here are a few tips that might help you sleep.

2. Take Time to Really Enjoy Something

Have a book you haven’t gotten to read yet? What about a new artist that you’ve really wanted to listen to? Maybe there’s a favorite movie that always makes you feel better when you watch it. Take some time to engage with something that you really, truly enjoy. This can be something as simple as calling a friend, going shopping, reading a book, or going for a walk. Anything that you enjoy, as long as you do it with the intention of really letting yourself lean into that enjoyment. Luxuriate in that little moment of pleasure. The best part is you don’t need a large chunk of time to do this. Give yourself the length of a song if that’s all the time you have. If you’re a working parent with a commute like me (or anyone who spends time in a car), download an exciting new podcast to listen to! I really like The Slowdown, which is always only five minutes long. Sometimes those stolen moments of pleasure, even if only a few moments, can really rejuvenate you.

3. Treat Yourself

Everyone likes a little present now and again. If you have the time and budget, maybe splurge on a night out with friends or your significant other (maybe kid free, if you’re a parent). Get yourself a new outfit, or something you’ve wanted for awhile. If money is an issue, this can be something as simple as a candy bar. Maybe just a food or drink you like that you haven’t had in awhile. The point is to be generous to yourself, and give yourself something out of the ordinary. If you’re like me and in a place where the thought of spending money on anything other than necessities makes you itch, you can still treat yourself! I have “special” shirts that I don’t wear everyday. I have a really nice make-up palette that I rarely use. It’s time to break out those for-a-rainy-day things you’ve got tucked away! Break out a bottle of wine you’ve been saving. Watch a show that you want instead of giving in to your spouse (maybe speaking from personal experience there…). The point is to tell yourself that you’re worth it, that you deserve something special.

4. Get a Little Exercise

I’ll bet after the sleep tip, you all saw this one coming! It’s true, though, that exercise has some amazing benefits. Everyone has different preferences and capabilities so I won’t suggest how you get your exercise, but it really can be a big mood booster. If you’re able, maybe go to a gym. Sometimes getting out and going somewhere different can be a refreshing change of pace, and it might help motivate you. If you have to – or honestly just prefer to – stay at home, try looking up a fun exercise routine on YouTube. There are tons and tons of different options, and many of them are only a few minutes long, so you can adjust your work-out to the amount of time you have. There are a lot of exercises you can do seated, as well, or while at work. Even if you don’t have a lot of time or space, there are options out there for everyone! If you have any trouble finding something, drop me a comment and I’ll try to help you find what you’re looking for.

5. Write or Journal

This might seem like something only relevant to someone (like me, for instance) who already really enjoys writing, but that’s not the case at all! Writing can be very therapeutic. Don’t think about this as having to create something like a poem or a story. While that is a good de-stress tool for some people (like me! I love creating), it’s by no means the only way you can use writing. Sometimes getting your thoughts out on paper can help clarify your mind and get you re-focused. Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Make a list of things bothering you, give yourself permission to think about it and worry as much as you need while writing the list, and then throw the list away! Maybe you’re the planning type, and you want to make a plan of attack to conquer all those things stressing you out. Do it! Even just taking some time – judgement free time – to do a little journalling can help unburden you. Talk about your feelings, or write a letter to an old friend, or plan out what you might say if you ever met your favorite celebrity! I blog, and write fiction, but I also keep a personal journal that’s just for me that I don’t show to anyone else, and writing always helps me keep things in perspective and clear my head.


If you take a relaxing weekend (or afternoon or even just a few minutes) to try any of these tips let me know! Do you have any other tips to share? Let’s help each other try to relax – I know that I, for one, really need it!

July Book Club

July Book Club

I was going to write a long post about what’s been going on, and why I’ve been gone for so long, but I’ve honestly been stressed enough and I don’t think rehashing it is going to do me any good! Luckily my blog is still new enough that it’s not really going to affect any loyal readers because… I don’t have any loyal readers yet? I’m definitely looking forward to interacting with any visitors for this book club, though, so drop a comment if you’d like to read along!

And without further ado, the July pick is…

Continue reading “July Book Club”

Easy Gold Letter GIMP Tutorial

So for my little logo for this site I have:

I made this myself using free resources I found online. The gold letters I made using GIMP. It’s really, really easy to do, and not only is it a way to get comfortable using GIMP so you can up your skills for creating, blogging, etc. but it can really be a great way to make graphics pop.

Download GIMP

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and it’s totally free and open source. It’s a good alternative to programs like PhotoShop, which I know for some can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you’re a really casual user. I’ve used both, and while I like the interface and options for PhotoShop, for my needs GIMP works really, really well. If you don’t already have it, you can download it here, and the site also has more tutorials and tips and hints if you need them.

Download Texture

So now you need to decide what you want your text to look like! Do you want a gold foil look? Maybe silver? Pretty much any picture you can find you can convert to a pattern. It’s very important to remember, however, that some images are copyrighted. How are you going to be using your text? Is it just for a personal project, or is it for a commercial use? Make sure that you have permission to use whatever image you use! There are lots and lots of free images you can use online, though, so it shouldn’t be hard to find something you like. And don’t forget – you can always take a photo yourself! For this tutorial, I found an image on Pixabay, which has a lot of free stock photos you can use. I used this gold texture, which is free for commercial use with no attribution required.

Make Pattern

This is where you’ll actually need to fire up GIMP! If you’ve never used it before, it can seem a little intimidating. I personally don’t care for the interface, and if you’ve never used a graphics program it might be a bit overwhelming at first. Don’t be afraid to play around! You can figure out how to do a lot just by trial and error. To put the gold texture onto your text, you’ll need to make it into a pattern. First, open the photo of your gold foil/whichever texture you’ve chosen. Then go to Select > All. Then Edit > Copy. Then, all you need to do is go to Edit > Paste as… > New Pattern. Name your pattern something descriptive like “gold” and then save! You’re done! It’s really that easy. And you can do this for pretty much any image.

Creating a gold foil pattern file

*NOTE: for big projects, you want a repeating pattern. This method I’ve shown here is good for small projects where it doesn’t matter if the edges line up or not. If you’re going to be filling a large canvas with a pattern, you want it to be seamless.

Write Your Word!

Now, decide what you’d like to make gold! For this tutorial, I did the word “hello.” And as you can see in the post banner, I did “easy” as well! So in GIMP, start a new project by going to File > New. You can make the canvas whatever size you want. 800×600 is a nice, large workspace. IMPORTANT: click on Advanced Options and use the dropdown menu to set Fill With: Transparency. It’s very, very important to have a transparent background.

Select the Text Tool (large black “A”) and choose the font you want. Just like different textures, there are a ton of really beautiful fonts available online. Again, make sure that whichever you choose, you have permission to use it! Many fonts are available for personal use, but not all are free for commercial use, so just double check. If you’d like a tutorial on how to install and use new fonts, leave a comment and I’ll try to make one! For this, however, I used one of the pre-installed fonts called “Amarillo.”

Once you’ve got your font selected, click anywhere on your canvas, and then type the word you’d like to make gold. I used the word “hello.” If you’re using a big canvas – like 800×600 like I did – you may want to increase the size, as well. I set mine to 160.

What the workspace should look like so far

Go to Select > By color and click anywhere on your word. That will select only the word. Go to the patterns dialog (also Shift+Ctrl+P) and select the pattern you just made. Then go to Edit > Fill with Pattern. And now your text is gold!

Save and Use!

Click Select > None to de-select your text. Now you can save it! I recommend cropping your canvas so that you don’t have all that empty space. Click the Crop Tool, which looks like a little x-acto knife or scalpel, then draw a box around your word. Hit “Enter.”

To save, go to File > Export As. Name the file whatever you’d like, but make sure that the file extension is .png. Save as a PNG! This keeps the transparent background. You want it to be transparent so that when you insert your new pretty word into a project, it’s only the word and not a white background.

And there you go! Ready to use! Just insert the picture file into whatever project you’re working on. You can use this same technique with pretty much any pattern, as well.

If you have any questions or if something was unclear, leave a comment and I’ll try to clarify for you! I’m not an expert by any means, I just know how to do a few little things like this, and for other creative parent-types out there, I thought it might to fun to share! And if you make something, feel free to share a pic or a link so I can check it out!