Tough Decisions | Life As A Working Mom

I try my hardest not to see things so black and white and to realize that each choice is unique from the next. It is something I have to constantly be present about because my natural instinct is to prejudge situations based on previous experiences. To add fuel to this fire, motherhood and parenting has become increasingly difficult over the past year – probably because we have 3 young children who are all in the age of discovering what they like to do. Which means, too many activities to manage PLUS two full-time working parents. I think this has led me to have a heightened sensitivity about my current season of life as well as increased amount of “Mom Guilt”.

Geez – I could write a novel about “Mom Guilt”. About how it is unavoidable, unpreventable, and untreatable. But, I won’t. Because who likes to read negative ramblings anyway?

Recently, I started investigating alternatives for the twins daycare/schooling.  They are currently at the same school my older daughter attended for the first 6 years of her life. It is a great school that happens to be going through a bit of transition. Unfortunately, the transition hit hard for the twins’ age group. There have been a lot of teaching transitions, schedule transitions, etc. While I have been going through this, I felt like my world and the twins’ world was falling apart. I found myself thinking “how are they ever going to survive? They need stability in 3k”. Then the dreaded “Mom Guilt” kicked in… “This would have never happened if we were in a better place where I did not have to work.”

Y’all. I was considering turning our lives upside down to move them to a school that could not keep them for a full work day and hiring a sitter to pick up my 3 children and drop my 3 children EVERY DAY just because I wanted to protect my children from hardship. THEN I would come to work and complain to my boss about the millennial I have working under me – She is too entitled. She has too high of expectations – someone failed her along the way because they never let her experience anything tough.

So it didn’t hit me that I was a living hypocrite until I was driving to work this morning – sans kid drop offs because of a teacher in-service. I would have never thought I would be causing my children potential harm by trying to create the most perfect external environment possible.

SIDENOTE – – I need to work on my control issues.

I guess my purpose of this rambling is to provide some sort of “I’m going through this too” content instead of writing about the roses and glory moments that DO exist in my life. Parenting is tough. Choosing when to push and when to pull back is not black and white. And I don’t know everything. And my children will be fine – and WHEN they survive this transition it only means that they now have a solid life experience to help them with the next change that happens down the road. They have that experience because they overcame it on their own, while i sat on the sidelines prepared to hug them when it was at its toughest.

On a brighter note… we had a lovely time last night at their book fair. Both of my 3-year-olds sang and danced and smiled alongside their buddies. This great school that is going through a tough transition made my kids smile. And I am eternally grateful. Here are some snapshots of those smiles:

Humpday Thoughts

Four things occupying my headspace right now:

  1. What the heck is snapchat? And why does it matter? And why are businesses talking about this being the next big social sell network? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were hoping your teenage daughter didn’t have this app downloaded on her smartphone?
  2. Simple Life: it makes my heart happy to hear so many people talking about getting a grasp on their lives and striving for more of a simple life. This leads me to start thinking about why businesses have not caught onto this yet. For so long, people believed that they were the only human being who was not capable of working 90-to-nothing during the work-week. Why have employers not caught onto this yet?
  3. Heat: It is so bloody hot in the South this time of year! Why do I pray for hot weather when it is cold and cold weather when it is hot? I probably belong on a tropical island somewhere where it is 75 degrees year-round. Or maybe I have control issues and I need to come to terms with these issues.
  4. Why does my 3 year old all of the sudden have a stutter? A friend of mine who works in the speech therapy industry tells me it is “developmental disfluency” and it is very common at her age. It drives me crazy though – I don’t know what to do when she does it. Do I try to correct it? Do I just allow it to happen and pray she self-corrects? It makes my heart hurt and my mind go wild wondering if there is something wrong. She did send me this article, which eased my mind slightly – knowing that it is typical for her age. Have you experienced this?

I feel better now. Thank you for allowing me to have a place to dump these thoughts so I can get through the rest of my week. Happy Humpday!

Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, Days 3-7

Days 3-7 seem to be a blur for me. It is as if I blinked and it was Tuesday of the following week. I have had some victories over the past few days. My number one victory is following #10, No email or social media before lunch. I would have to say that while this is a difficult feat in our tech-savvy world, I am ever so mindful of this habit now. My instincts still reach for my phone as my internal alarm clock jolts me awake at 4:32 am every morning, but I now freeze as I touch the phone and withdraw back to my pillow. I am finding it difficult to hold of from the email before 8am – as the business I am in depends on being reactive to inquiries immediately. But my personal world waits. And I am enjoying the peace that it is bringing me.

Another victory has been instilling a morning ritual (#6). I decided to tackle this one before really starting on an evening routine because I am much more a morning person (hence the fact that I automatically wake up at 4:30am).

I also took a super-long walk on Sunday morning. I think I was gone for well over an hour. I finished listening to The Minimalists’ Everything that remains on Audible. I am not sure if my walk would count for (#19) “practicing mindfulness”, but I am counting it for myself. There is something so satisfying about feeling like you are the only person awake and alive when I wake up with the sun on a walk.

I have also discovered that TV has become a crutch for me. I like to have it in the background while I am cleaning or doing mindless chores. We have a lot going on right now and last weekend we spent inside our home working on house projects. Next weekend I am going to be preparing to send my oldest baby off to school for the first time, so I imagine I will be deep in organization mode trying to prepare for the beautiful chaos of back-to-school.

Since today is going to be mostly a computer day for me at work, I plan on taking my break-times as reflection — is anyone else like me in that I have to fully commit my focus to reflection? — I want to study what my stress triggers are (#26) and then evaluate my top priorities (#9). I believe this will help me get into a better mindset for my weekend of prep and organization.

Tomorrow will be another fly-by-the-minute day as I am headed to a town in North Alabama to see a good friend of mine who is headed to Texas to start a pretty lengthy treatment for a health concern. No matter your spiritual preference – good vibes sent her way would be greatly appreciated.

Tips From A Professional, Pumping, Working Mother of Three

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 10.43.24 AMJust like any other professional, pumping, working mother – I have an interesting relationship with my Medela pump. You see, I’ve spent the 21 months of my life attached to my pump. I love this machine because it allows me to provide nourishment for my children, while also earning a living to help provide for the best opportunities for said children.

I guess I should have started first with the details of why I need to work. Put aside the obvious financial reasons why a good number of households are dual-income. I work to keep the Romano house at peace. I wish I had the patience of the Ree Drummond, where I could spend 24/7 with my three lovelies. I wish I had the creativity to provide unending entertainment for my children so we wouldn’t constantly find ourselves gravitating towards the T.V. and Disney Junior.

So, my husband and I work incredibly hard – full-time – and our children attend a Catholic daycare here in Birmingham with some of the finest women teaching and leading our children. We are blessed – beyond measure – to have the resources available to provide our children with this opportunity. My three-year-old counted out 10 straws at breakfast the other morning and shocked and impressed all present with her mad skills.

photoAlright, onto the focus of this post – the joy of pumping. So, if you were to ask anyone close to me why I pump they may roll their eyes. I don’t step up on my soapbox often (often enough at least ;)), but in my opinion, I don’t understand why women would not milk if they are capable. I’m sure that previous sentence will stir up quite a discussion – as it has before. You can read a plethora of literature regarding the health benefits of breastfeeding, so I will not attempt at preaching on that subject matter in this post. If you are interested, kellymom.com is an awesome resource to research and read up on anything breast-feeding related.

Lemme tell you that kids are expensive – super-expensive. Breastmilk is cheap – super-cheap. And, thanks to Obamacare (no matter your thoughts on the man or the plan), mamas in the U-S-of-A can get a complimentary breast pump (or a relatively cheap one – I had to pay a $40 copay). If you are pregnant or a mom of a new-born, call your insurance provider – NOW – and ask them how to get a breast pump through your insurance policy.

If you are pregnant and you are debating the breastfeeding feature of motherhood, just do it. Its the most selfless thing I have ever done in my entire life – and I tend to be naturally selfish (I’m working on that flaw). I am proud of my accomplishment. It also helped with the guilt when I returned to work after each of my deliveries.

So, I pump exclusively for my 9-month-old twin girls right now. That totals up to about 60 ounces a day with about 6-7 pumps day and night. I would consider myself a professional-pumper. And I were looking for tips and advice on this subject, I would totally take a mother like myself seriously. Not much else I can speak on with such assurance, but pumping is definitely something I am very familiar with.

Here are my tips to help a mother thinking of pumping, starting to pump, or already knee-deep in pumping.

  1. TAKE YOUR PUMP TO THE HOSPITAL. If you are a mother who’s child latched right away and was a pro-nurser right off the bat – GO YOU! Those first moments of nursing can be so trying. The mother is learning to nurse – the baby is learning to suck and eat… so many variables can affect those first nursing sessions. I did not have pro-nursers. I had one child in the NICU for the first 48 hours of life. I had c-section births. I had GINORMOUS breasts and nipples for my teeny-tiny babies. SO – you have no clue how you will do or how your children will do. So bring your pump to the hospital and expect to start using it as soon as you are able. I started using mine soon after the first nursing session with each of my children. I pumped for 10 minutes after each session. NOTE: you will not get anything out of these pumping sessions. You are simply triggering stimulation. Do not do more than 10 minutes, or else you will cause an over-supply.
  2. DO NOT ALLOW VISITORS FOR AT LEAST A HALF OF A DAY.  I’m the pot calling the kettle black here. I had my family and my husband’s family visit as soon as possible after each of my deliveries. I was excited for everyone to meet the newest little additions to our family. Its a great thought at first, but it causes so much added stress and anxiety during those initial eating and learning hours. Go ahead and let others know that you are excited for them to meet the new additions, but it will probably be awhile after birth. Get your partner on board so that when you are feeling elated and you start to have a weak moment to invite everyone in, they can step in and put a stop to it. They have an entire lifetime to bond with these little ones – they can wait a few more hours.
  3. BUY A BIG WATER VESSEL.  I recommend the Nalgene Water bottle. I like itnalgene bottle because it has a wide mouth and measurements on the side. And it comes in pretty color choices – always a bonus. You will need to hydrate CONSTANTLY. If you think you have a ton of water, you probably need to drink more. Drinking water helps with your supply, keeps your energy levels up and helps keep feeling you 100% when you should be feeling 60%. Your friends, family and coworkers will start to think your water bottle is new appendage you’ve grown.
  4. DON’T BUY FANCY NURSING TOPS.  Its tempting, I know. But, in my opinion, those nursing tops are not necessary. I mean, you are covered up anyway… what good is a quadruple layered tank top that allows your nipple to pop out going to do for you? All you need for nursing is a good nursing cover and 2-3 nursing bras. There are a ton of brands on the market for both of these items. I recommend the Bravado Bliss Nursing Bra if you have GINORMOUS breasts. It took a lot of searching to find a supportive nursing bra that did not have underwire. The Bravado is “bliss”ful ;). Do not go cheap here people. You will spend long days/nights with these two items – invest wisely. Save the money you would spend on a nursing wardrobe.
  5. BUY A HANDSFREE PUMPING BRA.  I feel this is pretty self-explanatory. Who wants to hold pump parts to their boobs for 15-20 minutes several times a day. I have a strange relationship with my pump bras too. I’m weird. And I pump a lot. Also – you need more than one. TMI ALERT – your pump bras will become crunchy if you don’t have a few to rotate through. No matter how careful you are, you will get milk on your bra. I have two pump bras that I rotate through. Pumpease makes the ones I use. Again, I’ve tried several of these. The pumpease bras are my favorite. Plus, they come in super-fun colors.
  6. BUY AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL SET OF PUMP PARTS. Your partner will thank you. You will thank yourself. Washing pump parts get super-old super-fast. That is all – just have at least two sets. I have three sets.
  7. BUY THE MEDELA STEAMBAGS.  I use the Medela steambags to clean my pump parts at work. This also allows me to leave the parts there during the week so I don’t have to tote them home every day.
  8. BUY A CAR CONVERTER FOR PUMPING ON THE GO.  You will find yourself tied to your pump for the next year or so. Being able to pump on the go is so liberating.
  9. SUPPLY ISSUES?  There are so many home-remedies for supply issues. Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.58.12 AMDifferent things work for different people. Some of the things that have helped me through supply issues are: lemon-lime gatorade (full-sugar stuff people), homemade oatmeal cookies, steel-cut oatmeal, Newcastle beer, a lot of water, mothers milk supplement. Really, at the end of the day, a consistent pump schedule, a well-rounded diet and lots-o-water are KEY to maintaining a milk supply.

There are my tips. This is what I would say to any new mother – whether they wanted to know or not – ha! This is something I believe in 100%. There are some women out there that really have a lot working against them when it comes to trying to nurse/breastfeed. I understand that – I do. Being a mom is tough in general. And adding the long hours and hard work that goes into breastfeeding your child can add so much unnecessary stress to a woman. But, for those that can and want to, breastfeeding is something you will never regret and it is such a worthwhile investment of your time and resources. I do hope this helps.

If you are nursing/pumping mama and you have more questions, please feel free to reach out! You can email me at cissyromano@gmail.com or just comment below!

Best of luck to you and your partners!

xo, Cissy

Real Life Mom | Gwyenth Paltrow Has A Tough Life

I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow has it rough. And for a minute, I was wondering how I was going to survive the day. Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 9.29.22 AM

Recently, Ms. Paltrow sat down with E! News and discussed taking a break from her demanding job so she could go back to being a mommy. I definitely pat her on the back for getting her priorities in line. However, I never realized that all of the stress I experience as a full-time working mom is NOTHING compared to the stress she experiences from being on set 2 weeks out of the year. Gosh, I bet those 12 consecutive 14-hour days are hell!

See, I thought I had it hard. Waking up to screaming babies at 2 am. Taking an hour to put them back to bed just to turn around and wake up two hours later to start my day at 5. Then dropping my kids off at daycare when the doors open at 7am so I can make it downtown to sit at my easy office job for a mere 9 hours – head back to pick my three cranky, lovelies up – make dinner for my family of five – clean bottles and dishes and pump parts – make bottles for the next day – somewhat “clean” the damage from the tornado that hit the inside of my house – bathe all 3 children – feed babies – read stories – fight with three year old about going to bed – put babies to bed – then…. look at the clock, it’s 9pm. Time to do it all over again. I have it soooo easy compared to Ms. Paltrow.

Maybe her marriage failed because her life is so demanding. I’m sure Ms. Paltrow doesn’t have any help with the cooking and cleaning and butt-wiping and temper tantrums. I’m sure she never gets any alone time to recover from being needed 110% of the time. It must be terrible to have to miss school-events and the carpool pick-up. I wouldn’t know anything about that.

I have a boss who thinks its totally cool to miss half a day on Valentines Day so that I can make it to the preschool Valentine’s Day party – NOT. And I probably would think less of him if he was cool with it. He would also probably laugh in my face if I told him I needed to cut out 3 hours early every day to make the carpool pick-up line at school. Most businesses operate in 6-hour day, right?

I bet it is hard to have so much flexibility with your job that you can cram all of your year’s work into two weeks so that you can free up the remaining 50 weeks of the year to dedicate to your children. I bet thats why it is so hard to appreciate those gruling 14-hour work days.

Ms. Paltrow, you should definitely quit your career and pick up an office job. You are right – it is so much easier working a 9-5er (more like 7:30-5:30er). Thank you for bringing it to my attention of how ungrateful I am.