Tag Archives: Back to work

Busy, busy, busy bags for busy, busy, busy people!

Our beta bag is now available on our website: www.wandertots.com
Our beta bag is now available on our website: www.wandertots.com

I feel like it’s obligatory to apologize for being MIA from this blog for awhile. Between my new part-time job as a games (read PE) teacher, starting my own home-based business, and, well, being a mom, life is very, very busy. However, this writing part of myself and everything it encompasses is still at the core of who I am, so I feel I must share these new and exciting parts of my life here as well.

When I started this blog, I was moving into a space where I was giving up my regular teaching job to stay home with my daughter and write. As it turns out, I’m still home most of the time, but I’m doing a lot less writing than I envisioned. Not because I don’t love it, but because creativity comes in waves for me, and I had to put my middle grade fiction manuscript aside for awhile to let it simmer. Someday, I’ll return to it, but right now isn’t the time.

Instead, I’ve committed to some new ventures. For starters, I’m teaching PE in a Waldorf environment a couple days a week and it’s actually really fun. I get to play games with kids and give them the freedom to be inventive while also getting my own exercise alongside with them. Major win!

And, then, there’s my new business. WanderTots. While waiting for E to wake up from one of her marathon naps this summer in Hawaii, it hit me, I could try and market the same busy bags that were making our trip a success. Soon my husband had me ordering toys wholesale so we’d have an inventory waiting when I got home and I’d have no excuse but to leap head first into the world of entrepreneurship. (Thanks, honey!)

The name WanderTots camefrom my love of the word wanderlust. Travel has always been one of my passions and the opportunity to combine it with motherhood was too good to pass up. Thanks to the wonderful advice (and inspiration!) from friends before we left, I had carefully wrapped a collection of novelty items for E to take on our flight. The excitement of unfamiliar goodies kept her occupied almost the entire trip.

Then, to my great surprise, once we got home, that same bag was following us everywhere, to restaurants, family photo sessions, the grandparents’ house. You name it. Suddenly I was able to sit and enjoy a meal again instead of having to chase E around a restaurant. Busy bags literally changed my perspective on taking a toddler out in public.

Amazing how exciting wrapped goodies are for little people.
Amazing how exciting wrapped goodies are for little people.

One of the downsides of creating a busy bag is the time involved in tracking down unfamiliar items and then wrapping them individually. While I had fun in the process, I also recognized that for moms who work full-time or are caught up in other endeavors (like multiple children perhaps!), making a busy bag is a luxury. Likewise, while there are some crafty busy bag options available out there, more commercial-ready choices don’t seem to exist…

So, voila! WanderTots now offers busy bags for busy people! As with any good work in progress, expect more options as time progresses. But, for now, like us across multiple platforms (FB, Twitter, Instagram) and keep us in mind next time you’re out and about and need to occupy your little ones.

Maybe the Secret to Happiness is Getting Organized

The first few months of E’s life were quiet and slow. We nursed and napped and often that seemed like it. Time moved like taffy, languid and sweet. People often asked if I watched television. The answer was no. My life was an ongoing meditation. Somehow the stillness was enough.

With each month, the momentum picked up a little here, a little there. Sometimes the stillness was too much. I contemplated returning to work as a teacher, but I could not do it, I was not ready. Being a stay-at-home mom was more than enough.

And, it still is, but my use of time is changing. Forget the labels, SAHM vs WAHM, it is similar enough. Suddenly I am free again, the magic of early bedtimes and well-managed naps. For 2015, I have a schedule. Different chores for different days, focused time use for each block E wakes and sleeps, with spreadsheets to go with it because that is how my brain works.

Writing remains my passion, but I also have a different need, a need to get out, meet people, and contribute more immediately to our household income. It is in my bones. I am doing it for me. Like so many in our culture, I don’t know how not to work for financial gain. For better, or for worse, it is hard to say.

This year, I am embarking on a new adventure and joining the family business after more than a decade avoiding it. I should have known, really, that one day real estate would officially call my name. My first real job post-college, after all, was real estate consulting. I grew up walking the floor plans of the homes my aunt built, the homes my whole family seemed to sell. When my husband took the plunge, I should have known I would be next.

For now, I am assisting my husband with business management, but maybe one day I will also get my license to sell on my own. I did not expect this decision to excite me so much, but it is pretty much the most flexible job I could have with no set number of hours. There is still time in my day to write and be present for my family. It is a win.

Here is a screenshot of Google Keep on my phone, such a great way to consolidate all those to-do lists.
Here is a screenshot of Google Keep on my phone, such a great way to consolidate all those to-do lists.

In order to make it happen, however, we have had to focus on our systems and routines at home. I am a to-do list queen, so imagine my excitement to discover Google Keep, a place to keep all of our to-do lists synched in one place accessible by both computer and phone. I have already completely geeked out and made a list for everything: shopping, separate home and work to-do lists for both me and my husband, social tasks I don’t want to forget to accomplish…

Years ago I read the Happiness Project and it changed my life. Not because it was particularly profound but because it emphasized setting goals and getting organized in the pursuit of living the life you want. That is how getting organized to accomplish my goals makes me feel.

Happy.

Not the smug or obnoxious kind, but just the fulfilled, purposeful, want-to-share kind. As you get organized for the year ahead, I would love to hear your organizational secrets too.

Deciding to Jump: To Go Back to Work, Or Not?

It's the sweet, quiet moments like these I hate to give up.
It’s the sweet, quiet moments like these I hate to give up.

I am standing on the edge of one of the biggest jumps of my life. Either I go back to work part-time as an intervention teacher and attempt to juggle my dream of writing into the mix of afterwork motherhood, or I take a deep breath, and jump straight into life as a stay-at-home mom and writer.

For many, the answer seems easy. JUMP. But the decision is much more layered than I expected. I love my school, my students, my coworkers. Some days I feel on the verge of going stir crazy at home. I have a part-time job waiting that may never be there again. The predictability of a work schedule, a paycheck, and good health insurance speaks to my cautious nature. Returning to work is somehow the less frightening choice.

With a face like this, it is hard to leave home.
With a face like this, it is hard to leave home.

Then, there is my daughter. Our biological strings are still firmly attached. When I am away, she is constantly on my mind, pulling at my body for milk. Every day she does something new, something I do not want to miss. While part-time work may give me the chance to catch many of these moments, it does not leave as much space for writing. As it is, I have to sneak my words in a few at a time, while she is sleeping or while I do not have to use my precious childcare hours for some other endeavor, like getting my teeth cleaned or running to the grocery store. And then, of course, there are other family circumstances that must go unmentioned.

A friend and I talked this week about how mothers feel pressured to be supermom and do everything, but the truth is, I don’t feel pressured, I just wish I could do everything. If only I could be in three places at once, mothering, writing, and working. ¬†Obviously mothering wins on that list, but between writing and working, I do not have it figured out and the battle is agonizing.

Returning to work is the known. Taking the leap of faith is the unknown, but so far motherhood has been one huge leap of faith, from our decision to see if it happens, to hoping every moment of every day she would be born healthy, to the daily trial and error of new parenting. In order to make this jump work, we will need to restructure everything, to change the way we live.

Even as I write this, I feel aware of how lucky I am to be able to make this choice– but I also think the choice is within reach for many more women than they realize, it just requires a possibly uncomfortable amount of change.

If you have been in my shoes before, how did you come to a decision? Did you jump impulsively or was it clear one option outweighed the other? For me, it has been much harder to decide than I ever expected.