How To Deal With Criticism About Your Decisions On Working As A Mom (& why I’m choosing to stay at home, for now)

Working Mom. Stay At Home Mom. Work At Home Mom.

An unfortunate truth is that, no matter what your decision or family circumstance in regards to work and motherhood, there will always be people who question, criticize or judge.

Since making the choice to put my career on pause to be at home with Taylor most everyone has been amazingly encouraging (i.e. the overwhelming, positive response on Instagram when I originally shared our news in this post). However, I have also had people ask directly – or behind my back – why I’m making the decision that I am, why I’m leaving what I’ve worked so hard to achieve over the last 10+ years…

Well, my answer is this: it feels right to my heart, I want to be the one to care for Taylor every day of the week, and it’s what is possible & best for our family. I know I will be the best version of myself as an individual, wife and mom because of this choice. Not to mention, I am also confident that my skills and drive will not simply vanish because I choose to stay home for a season of life.

Trust me, I can hold my ambition AND my baby. 

Not every mom feels like I do. Not every mom is wired the same. Not every mom has the same family circumstances and/or opportunities.

There are moms who absolutely love to work outside the home and would go crazy staying at home every day. They enjoy their work. They wouldn’t be the best version of themselves as an individual, wife and mom staying at home.  If that is you (I thought I would be you), be proud in your ability to balance work and home life in a way that feels good and right for you and your family; Although you may hear differently, there is nothing “wrong” or “selfish” with working outside the home because you want to. I know you know this, but you don’t love your career more than your child because you choose to work.

I know working moms who would love nothing more than to stay home with their babies, but are not able to do so. If that is you, please know that you are giving everything you can to contribute to raising and sustaining your family, and you are simply amazing. I feel your heart – being a working (outside the home) mom isn’t easy to begin with, but it’s downright hard when your heart wishes you were elsewhere. 

Work from home moms…I seriously don’t know how you do it. I can’t even get anything with this little side job blog of mine done from home now that Taylor’s down to one nap on my Friday off… If you’re pulling off the work at home mom life, my hat is off to you.

Then there are moms who have always envisioned being a mom and who couldn’t wait to quit their day job when they became one to stay home and raise their babies. In a world where so many moms do work outside the home by necessity or choice, you might feel like the minority (again, maybe that’s just the area where I live?). You may feel isolated, and even find yourself wondering if the 24/7 job you are doing is even noticed. Well, it is by those of us who “get it” and, most importantly, by your kids/family every day. Don’t ever feel less than because you are “just” a mom. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Finally, there are moms who make the difficult (and expensive) choice to leave successful careers to stay at home at some point in motherhood. Co-workers or others around you may not quite understand why you’re leaving the workforce to be “just” a mom. You’re letting down women who paved the way before you. You’re wasting your degrees.  Even some friends and family may question why you’d walk away from a job, salary and potential career opportunities you’ve worked hard to earn – and expensive mistake…Although I can only hope you have loved ones who are nothing but supportive.

Why I chose to put my career on hold to be a stay at home mom

I know that I am a very girl to have the choice to make between working and staying home with Taylor. Staying home is a luxury. I recognize that having a parent at home not every family’s reality, especially given the insane housing market (or is that just where I live?).  For me the decision to move toward Stay At Home Mom-dom was made after making the initial choice to return back to work after Taylor was born. I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I envisioned that as being my perfect reality of having “it all”. I did have my version of “it all,” but I couldn’t balance it. At least, not in a way that took away the ache or made me feel at peace in my heart.  Even working part time, and having my mom and husband watching Taylor in our home while I worked, the anticipation of needing to go back to full time eventually provoked an anxiety in me. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, but there it was.

Long story – full of prayer, worry, life changes, thought and decision making – short, my husband and I are now changing up our entire life to make this happen because it is what we want and what works best for our family.  Over time, my parenting and work life will both ebb and flow, but neither will end; For this season, I am afforded the precious, irretrievable gift of time with Taylor, and any other babes we may be blessed with. Work can wait.

Criticism about your choice to work, stay home or somewhere in between?

What I want to say to you – and myself – is this:  

If you decide to continue or start working outside of the home when you have kids, even if you don’t financially need to…

If you decide to leave a successful career to be a stay at home mom…

If all you’ve ever wanted to be in life is a mom, and now you are one, happily at home…

There will always be people (even friends and family) – for reasons of insecurity, jealousy, selfishness, ignorance, or boredom- who will criticize the decisions you make in your life. Trust me when I say that it will only serve to bring YOU down and/or drive you crazy if you let the opinions of others influence the way you feel or cause you to question what you know to be right. So, whatever your #momlife looks like, remember that only you and your family truly know what works, and believe that your mama heart is just a committed as the next. And, if you’ve made it to the end of this very long post – thank you : )

Have you ever felt judged for the decision you’ve made to either work or stay home? I’d love to hear about your experiences and answer any questions you have about my journey. 

If you related to this post, I would appreciate if you would share it on Facebook with THIS LINK!

P.S. If you are considering making the decision to leave a job you like/love to stay at home for a season like I was, I encourage you to be confident, brave and just take the plunge. Do I have worries and some anxiety about making the transition? Do I worry about how, when and if I’ll get back onto my career path some day? Sure. Although I know the transition won’t necessarily be completely smooth sailing, I can honestly say have not felt any regret and my heart is at ease. I hope the same for you!

 

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2017 Blog Reader’s Survey

*I originally sent our this survey as an email. However, many of you reached out to me yesterday to let me know that you were unable to submit the survey – thank you so much for letting me know!

Due to this error in processing, I’m embedding the survey below for your convenience.I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and honest feedback by answering the questions in the short survey. It will help me tailor my posts to what YOU want to read about!

P.S. EVERYONE THAT COMPLETES THE READER’S SURVEY AND PROVIDES THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS IS ENTERED TO WIN A $10 STARBUCKS GIFT CARD!

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A Simple Way To Create A Christmas Card Memory Book

Want to preserve the magic of Christmas all year round?

I know I do, especially this year with it being Taylor’s first!

One of my favorite traditions of the holiday season (up there with my xmas morning Monkey Bread) has always been receiving Christmas cards in the mail. Beginning around the end of November, I anticipate the mail each day hoping to receive a card with the beautiful, smiling faces of another friend or family. As a child, my mom always displayed each card our family received on our refrigerator, and I can remember admiring them every day and missing them when they were inevitably taken down. I honestly don’t have any ingenious way to display the cards we receive and should really step my game up at at some point (I just use red twine similar to this and mini wooden clothespins) but I wanted to share the simple way I save the cards and keep them accessible (but not up on the wall) all year long.

The past few years I have been preserving our Christmas cards after the holiday season is over simply by hole punching them with a single hole punch and binding them with a single binder ring. I keep the cards for the previous year in a drawer that I can easily access throughout the new year whenever I want to see our loved ones; it is a good reminder to continue to pray for the health and well being of each family, not just during the Christmas season. Can you imagine how much more connected you would feel to your friends and family throughout the new year if you started your day with a cup of copy, sending prayers and/or positive thoughts for them out into the world? This is a goal I have for the new year – less focus on me and my needs, more on those of my friends and family.

This year I brought out the 2015 memory book and let Taylor flip through photos of my favorite people. Our family card last year (2015) featured a picture of AJ and I on our Honeymoon and a 20 week ultrasound of our baby girl. One of the most special photos from the hundreds I took at our various celebrations this Christmas season is Taylor looking at that card from a year ago. She was randomly flipping through and looking at the pictures, but paused and touched our faces in recognition when she got to our card. Sometimes I still can’t believe that our precious baby girl is now here with us, and that we get to celebrate all our Christmases from now on with her (pinch me!). I anticipate that as she grows older, she will truly love flipping through the cards throughout the year and identifying the faces and names of friends and family who she loves but doesn’t get to see all the time.

Here are the super simple and inexpensive supplies you’ll need to put together your own Holiday Card Memory Book for 2016:

1.) A set of loose leaf binder rings. Stack your cards and hole punch in the top left corner with the second supply,

2.) A single hole punch.

3.) Put your own Holiday Card on top as the cover or use the one I created for our memory book this year:

If you would like to use my cover, leave your name and email address below and I will send it directly to your inbox. You’ll also receive Taylor-made Mama post updates and be automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

What do you do with all of your holiday cards once the new year begins? Leave me a comment and let me know!

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

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Merry Christmas 2016 + a gift to you

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


This is definitely our most special Christmas yet, as it is Taylor’s first. Christmas is already a important celebration to us, but there is something even more magical this year. Today we’re heading out to spend time with our best friends, and then to church this evening (wish us luck getting through an hour with a squirmy 8.5 month old!).Whatever you do to celebrate, I hope that you have a lovely next few days full of yummy food, laughter, friends and family time.

I’m so thankful that you read this blog, and wanted to give a little early Christmas gift as a token of that appreciation. Below is a gift card to Starbucks loaded with $50; you just need to ask your barista to scan the barcode. Please use the card for just one drink so that as many people as possible can grab a festive beverage today (skinny peppermint mocha anyone?!). Enjoy! And, please forgive the “Hi Merry” – apparently I don’t know how to fill in fields properly : )

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Let me know what you get down in the comments!

 

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How To Be Confident In Your Postpartum Body

Postpartum Body Image

Have you lost all the weight you gained during pregnancy, or maybe none at all? Maybe you’ve even gained a few extra pounds? Is your skin looser, your belly softer? What about stretch marks? Are your muscles less defined? How about finding cellulite in places you don’t remember having it? Do you wake with heavy, dark-rimmed eyes from lack of sleep?

Well, I have something to tell you and I want you to really hear it – you are BEAUTIFUL.

Society puts so much expectation and value on “getting your body back” or keeping up with a certain standard of postpartum put-togetherness. But the truth is that your post baby body and self really is beautiful, in the very truest sense of the word.

When you get down onto the floor to play and interact with your little one even though your knees and back ache, you are beautiful.

When you wake in the middle of the night – eyes half closed in delirium – to nurse or warm a bottle for your sweet baby, you are beautiful.

When you hold your little one after they’ve fallen asleep until your arms ache and burn, just so you can savor the closeness for even a few minutes longer, you are beautiful.

When leggings are all that fits comfortably over your new, softer shape as you get ready in the morning for your 24/7 shift of mommyhood, you are beautiful.

When the muscle you worked so hard to build has dwindled away, but the extra hours you once spent lifting in the gym are now spent lifting and nurturing your babe, you are beautiful.

When you sacrifice your sleep, your time, your figure, your career, and even your sanity sometimes, all for the benefit of that precious gift you’ve been given, you are so very beautiful.

You held and sustained a life within you for 9+ months, and you give your all to nurture that same life now. Eventually the weight will come off, the bags under your eyes will lighten up as you’re able to get more sleep, the stretch marks will fade, and some day {when your little one isn’t so demanding} you’ll have the time to “get your body back” if you choose to. You may also decide that goal is not as important as you thought it would be, if at all.

You are a different woman now; you’ve changed from the inside out, just as your body has. You are more compassionate toward yourself and able to see more clearly what truly matters. You appreciate what your body was able to accomplish and are in love with the product of your labor, quite literally. Your priorities and perspectives have shifted and you know in your bones that you are beautiful just as you are, physical reminders and all. If you can’t feel this right now, allow yourself to start to. It’s the truth and a foundation for confidence worth cultivating.

You are beautiful, Mama. Believe it.

xo, Ashley (1)

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