I've seen it all.
The wide eyes. The whispers. The stares.
I've even TWO MEN (different men on different occasions in different states) ask me "so, have you figured out how birth control works now?"
I've also been approached by strangers to offer help, to tell me how blessed and lucky I am to have four kids or ask me how I do it because they want more kids. Strangers have also carried out my groceries, loaded them in the car, opened doors, stopped me to tell me how I am supermom. Well, I can't argue with that last one. So I just tell them I left my cape at home today.
I know there are a million "must-haves" out there. I wanted to create my own. Sometimes I think, "if my children had to grow up without me, what kind of memories or advice would they have from me." Chalk it up to the crazy flash floods we have been having paired with the tornado warning for the recent speculation on my mortality.
Now when people ask me "how do you do it all?!" I can just direct them here.
1. A diaper bag you love and never want to replace: I have a petunia pickle bottom boxy backpack. I have had it for 4 years. Before that, I had A LOT of diaper bags. Some were purses. Some were backpacks. Some were diaper bags. But the boxy backpack has stolen my heart. I love that it has a fold out diaper pad, i can wear on my shoulder, back or clip on my stroller. I have taken it all over the world as a carry on and the only problem I have is that finally, the zipper broke. But its so easy to fix. And lets be real... 4 kids, 1 diaper bag for all of them? Worth every penny.
2. A functional stroller: I have had umbrella strollers, jogging strollers, clip in strollers, sit n stand etc. I have to say with two, I LOVED my Joovy sit n stand. It was so great because my daughter coudl sit or stand (obviously) and the baby could stay in his carseat until he needed more room. But even then, my daughter could still sit or stand. Truth be told, I would have three or fours kids on it many times and it worked like a dream. I sold it and got my Valco baby Spark Duo. And I love it. Like, A lot. Another purchase that was worth every penny. Both the diaper bag and stroller I got on sale. Knowing what I know now, I would have bought it without it being on sale. That's how much I love it. The Valco works for us now because i can attach a stroller board to the back. My son can sit or stand on it. The babies are able to fully recline to the bassinet or sit up all the way and watch the world go by. The shades are awesome big and it takes up LESS room in my van than the double stroller I had before.
3. A few "go to" shirts that are easy to wear: My favs are "Happy Mom" by The Happy Mom club. "Best Job Ever" By Ezra and Eli and these easy wear and versatile blouses that are at Costco right now.
4. Multiple bags. I know I said a diaper bag. But I also had a bag for church and a bag for the gym that I keep loaded up with everything I need. I used to just take my diaper bag. But, if the girls needed to be changed then I found that I was out of diapers or clothes while doing my errands. So now I have a separate bag for that. Its little and its perfect. For church, well, it started out as me takign just my diaper bag. But then I would have people help me so I started to bring two diaper bags. That got a little hectic. So now I bring a separate tote. Its one I won at an auction. Its classy and spacious. So I just load it up on Saturday night (or just add fruit snacks to it) and we are good to go.
5. Electronics: I know this has been controversial in the last bit about kids on iPads etc. Guess what. I don't really care. My daughter is 6 and could really take or leave the iPad. My son who is 3 loves video games and apps. There are enough educational apps out there that its not a big deal. And, for my son who NEVER slows down, its nice to be able to play the Shark game or Star Wars or Toy Story with him and bond that way. For me, I love having Kindle Fire's for each of my kids. Its awesome when we travel and also awesome when I want some quiet time and the babies are napping and I don't want my house destroyed. At least for an hour.
6. A mini-van. Ours is a 2013 Chrysler Town and Country. I have had it for a year. We drove it all over to Disney to LA to Grand Canyon to Zions--- and I have ZERO complaints. We got an amazing deal and it had everything I ever wanted in it. Driving my van makes me really really happy
7. A support group. I recently co-founded the Houston Woman's Club. After coming from our MBA experience at BYU, it was so lonely moving. After I had the twins, my neighbors were so wonderful, Well, they were so wonderful before that. But they brought me dinners, took my other two kids ALL DAY and invited me to sit outside or come over real quick for ice cream. My husband was/is the biggest support I have. Our work load is equal and it helps a lot. But that doesn't mean we had to communicate to get to this point. So if you are feeling like you need more support, you have got to sit down and figure out exactly what and why and how you need help.
8. God. I am LDS. I was born LDS and will die LDS. I have come to know my Father in Heaven and His Son so intimately, this past year especially. With moving twice, having twins, moving again in a month and being a SAHM and starting our journey into Homeschooling, I often find myself talking to Him adn seeking His comfort. This should be #1 actually.
9. Gym Membership. Or a hobby. I love the YMCA child watch. I love my boot camp and spin class and body combat classes. I love that I have two hours to do something I really enjoy and it brings me a lot of happiness. A happy mom is a happy house!
10. Things to look forward to: Each year we have been able to go on a couples trip. Sometimes its just for the weekend. Sometimes its for a whole week. We do have family that helps but even when we didn't, we paid our good friends to watch our kids or we could always fly in a grandparent. We are not rich at all. This is something we save all year for. We also go on family vacations and those are always pretty fun. Its something we look forward to and helps to really get past those days or weeks that seem to drag on. Every month I host a girls night dinner. That is something we all look forward to! It doesn't have to be a dream vacation. It could be book club or date night or running with friends or by yourself. After battling postpartum depression and body image issues, this one thing has been HUGE for me.
*11: Organization. But this is a whole post on its own.
Well there you have it. A photo free-boringish post but its chalk full of useful (or useless) info. And a funny video for your viewing pleasure. Click here if you want to read about some funny "I'll Never parenting quotes"