Motherhood and my children have been the most inspiring thing that has happened to me, and it motivated me to write; about them, about us, about our days together – Our Everydays.
I cannot believe it has been a year since I posted my first words on this blog. And what a wonderful journey of creativity, self-growth and community it has become
Motherhood ignited a confidence in me to explore the love I’ve always had for storytelling, and so I began to write. This space not only allowed me to be creative, and to learn and grow in my craft, but it introduced me to so many other amazing women and mothers who were also telling their stories.
I’ve said this before, but I really believe storytelling is the way we connect and relate as human beings. In motherhood, especially, telling our stories allow us to relate, to feel connected, and most of all, to know we’re not alone.
Edmonton is a great city. A perfect mixture of urban and country, and the river valley is hard to beat! Depending on whether you’re a city or a country person, Edmonton really has the best of both worlds.
Then I had children, got to know the city so much more, and now I REALLY love Edmonton as a city.
Whether it’s to find resources to make the early postpartum days easier, or finding things to do with the kids (that doesn’t require breaking the bank), Edmonton has so much to offer to parents of young children, and it really is such a great city to raise your kids in.
With a limited “going out budget” while on maternity leave, or on a single income as a stay-at-home parent, there is so much you can do with kids in Edmonton, and it’s affordable and available to all families.
As I reminisce on my years at home with the kids, all I am left with is feeling grateful for the wonderful time I spent with them, and for being able to raise them in such a great city.
And so below I share my list on how I had the best Stay-at-home Motherhood / Maternity Leave Days in Edmonton (but a lot could apply to your city too!)
Set your intention to have the MOST AWESOME stay-at-home parenthood/ maternity leave. I’ve said this before in my “Two under Two” post, and I really believe it. Attitude is everything. Whether you’re at home with your child(ren) for a year, two, three…etc, set your intention to have the fullest, most fun, and awesome days, and you WILL!
Join a Mommy Group. When Penelope was 6 months old, I joined a mommy group through Mommy Connections, a program that does exactly that: connect moms with other moms and programs in your community. I met a wonderful group of mamas, and I still see them today… 2+ years later! Having a mommy community is so wonderful for support, play dates, or for text messaging back and forth on the hard mama days. Definitely a must for a happier maternity leave or stay-at-home motherhood.
Go to Mommy & Baby Yoga Classes. I was so happy to have found this Mommy and Baby Yoga Class run by Hapie Yoga & Fitness and did the program with both my kids. It was such a great way to make some time to relax, to work on strengthening my core and pelvic strength after baby (which is something we don’t make enough time for, but should!), and an awesome way to meet new mama and babies. I love that this was part of our postpartum experience and definitely recommend it! New sessions starting January 16th!
Go to La Leche League Meetings. I started going to La Leche League meetings after my second was born, and as a breastfeeding mother (twice), these meetings were invaluable when it came to education, community and support with my breastfeeding journey. For more information on when and where their next meeting is in the city, visit their wesbite https://www.lllc.ca/find-group-alberta
Follow Box Social Events.One of the best things I learnt about while on maternity leave, especially with an energetic toddler and a baby, is Box Social Events. They organize kid friendly events all over the city, their events are ah-mazing, and most of them at no cost to the public! The kids and I have enjoyed so many great ones this summer and it’s definitely a huge part to why my stay-at-home mom days were so awesome.
Visit the outdoor playgrounds around the city. It’s very easy to get in the habit of visiting the same outdoor playground often, and so I gave myself a challenge to try and visit as many outdoor playgrounds in the city with the kids. And there are some great ones! Fun and budget friendly, plus outdoor time for the kids; all around win! A list of great outdoor play grounds by Just Another Edmonton Mommy here.
Visit the Edmonton Riverboat. Perhaps I’m biased because we got married there, but the Edmonton Riverboat experience is truly beautiful. A gorgeous view of downtown Edmonton and the River Valley, and the newly renovated boat is gorgeous!
Visit the Edmonton Public Library often. We love the Edmonton Public Library and have attended so many of their Baby and Toddler activities, and the kids love it! EPL provides a “Welcome Baby” package when you get your baby his or her first library card. You receive a bag, a book, and helpful information about the programs that the library offers children and parents, perfect for new mamas! And for any bilingual mamas like me, EPL is a great resource. More info on early literacy for bilingual babies here.
Visit the Edmonton High Level Bridge Streetcar. I’ve lived in Edmonton for 10 years, and only visited the Street Car after having kids because it seemed like it would be something fun to do- and it was! Round trip fare is $6 per adult, and children under 5 ride for FREE! A great way to explore your city, learn about it’s history, and the kids loved it. Check out their website for more info.
Learn through play at home. We have loved following Live it All In for inspiration on activities you can do at home with the kids using materials you already have, or that are easy to get. The kids not only have fun, they learn in the process too. One of our favorites ones for letter matching here .
Go to the Pub…with your kids. Because sometimes, it’s nice not to have to go to a “kid friendly restaurant” every time you want to have a family dinner out. Edmomton has a great list of kid friendly pubs in Edmonton here , and it was actually through that post that I found her blog! We have enjoyed some lovely family lunches/dinners in some of these pubs, and, if someone judges you for drinking a beer while holding a baby, tell them it helps with milk production, ha!
Go on family bike rides. Edmonton is a great city when it comes to bike trails, and though we may not be able to bike all year round, the beauty of the trails make up for it when we are able to go on them. Edmonton has so many bike/multi use trails around city and it’s such a fun, healthy and inexpensive activity to do with the kids. A map of Edmonton bike trails here.
Spend afternoons picnicking in your backyard. I found so much beauty in having simple afternoons like this one with the kids in our backyard. As moms, we put a lot of pressure ourselves to feel like we have to have a full itinerary for our children e v e r y d a y – and we just don’t. Some of the best afternoons the kids and I have had, have been picnicking in our backyard, and having the most special times doing nothing special.
Explore your city and find the most unexpected places. One of our most memorable moments from this summer was discovering Cotton Tail Corner , a clothing optional beachnear Edmonton. We went on a hike, stumbled upon it and made an afternoon of it. Goes to show there is always something new to find in your city, you just need to go and explore!
Explore the city with Edmonton Transit Service.Exploring the city using Public transit is often. The day is more intentional, not as hurried, and it makes for a day full of adventure – like a day we had this past winter, read more here – ALSO, children under 12 years old travel for FREE!
Take pictures in front of the murals in your city. During the walks the children and I would take, we found so many cool murals, and so we made it a thing to find more. Outdoor family time, exploring your city AND Instagram worthy shots – hashtag win!
Make a nature theme mobile. Using materials you can find outside, make a nature theme mobile with the kids. How to here.
Relax, Read and find Inspiration. Pick up a copy of YEG Inspired magazine at various locations around the city, and find wonderful local inspiration and resources for parents.
Break the rules. As a stay at home parent, it’s very easy to burnout when there is so much pressure to do everything perfectly and “by the rules”. So don’t. Give yourself a break, and break the rules. Have breakfast for lunch one day. Have a pj’s and movie day with the kids. Do whatever feels right for that day, when you need it.
Follow Alberta Mamas.If you’re a parent in Alberta, you need to follow Alberta Mamas. A great resource of information for parents across the province. Whether you want camping tips, ways to encourage your kids to read , or want to know how host a clothing swap (a must for all mamas!), Alberta Mamas has you covered!
My list could go on forever, and I’ve probably missed a few things, but I end with one last one.
ENJOY. The days may be long sometimes, but the years are short. The years with my babies have really flown by, and though I feel I’ve lived every moment intentionally, I already miss the time we spent together. So, slow down. Enjoy your babies, watch them play and laugh. Give them that extra hug and cuddle, and enjoy the days together.
If I’m completely honest, as I’m writing this, I feel that lump in my throat, and I fight back tears brought on by a melting pot of emotions. I am happy. I am sad. I am nervous. I am scared. I am ready. I am unprepared. I’m basically the definition of a juxtaposition mess, ha!
But I am just that. I’m a little bit of a mess.
Going back to work after my Oliver turned one has always been the “plan”. It’s been the plan my husband and I discussed while taking a walk on a chilly spring evening 2.5 years ago. I was 9 months pregnant, we were going to become parents in a few days, and we decided that I would stay at home with the children for a few years. My husband knew it was important to me, and we made it happen.
It has been amazing. No! It’s been life changing. I fell in love with motherhood, with my children, and I found so much of myself in my new identity as a mother. I grew and learned with my children, and I am beyond grateful for that time. And though I knew I would go back to work eventually, like we had planned, I am still fighting that lump in my throat, because I’m sad.
With little preparation, and with shorter notice that I expected, an opportunity came up for me to return to work, and as I write this, I officially begin my countdown from being a stay-at-home Mom to being a working Mother. My countdown doesn’t begin with double digits. Seven days. In SEVEN days, I return to work full time.
It’s a weird concept to think about, and I’m sad for the era that is ending.
I am also happy, so happy and grateful for the past 2.5 years. I have been able to watch my little babies grow up. I’ve watched them grow in love with each other, with me, with my husband. We’ve had lazy mornings, and breakfast for lunch. We’ve gone for walks at random times of the days, watched movies before nap time. We’ve had pool parties in the backyard, and thought very little about time, because well, we had time… a lot of it.
Time, definitely worth more than gold. With limited time now, we will just have to be more intentional with how we spend it, and though I know my little family will find a new harmony soon, I already miss the time I won’t have with them.
Motherhood. Just when you think you’ve found a groove and it’s all figured out, something changes and you have to adjust and find that new harmony to make it all work again. If you’re a mother who has gone back to work after “x” amount of time at home, I’m sure you can relate. In fact, knowing you and thousands of women have gone through the same, gives me strength. It makes me admire women and mothers more and more.
And so this new era begins, and though I still feel that lump in my throat, I am more excited and hopeful for what this new season in life brings. I am sure I will be jumping through emotions in the next couple of days, but I am allowing myself to feel them all, but most of all, I am allowing myself to enjoy my babies for the next couple of days, with no other obligations or responsibilities other than them.
I am especially aware of how I perceive the way time passes ever since becoming a mom. When my little Oliver no longer fits a piece of clothing because his legs are too long. When my Penelope outgrows her shoes. Anytime they move up a diaper size – time.
Their play area, set up for a baby who just learnt how to crawl and a toddler who likes coloring, becomes an abstract portrait of my children at 2 years old and 7 months old Anytime they change and grown, so does this space.
I love their little corner. Other than their shared bedroom, this play area is the only other spot in the house that is completely theirs. An eclectic backdrop of toys, lots of handmade details, and stuffed toys that were once valentine’s day gift given to me by their father, now theirs. There is something special in that isn’t there?
We don’t spend much time in this area during the summer months, but with some rain the past week, I got a chance to watch them play in this space again.
As a parent, do you find yourself feeling nostalgia with things you never thought you would? I do, I am nostalgic often. All of their little toys have memories attached to them. Pepe, for example, was Penelope’s first doll. She loved him from the moment she saw him, in an IKEA hallway, love at first sight, ha! I have videos of her dancing with him when she was still learning to walk properly, because Penelope danced before she walked. Pepe is still her favorite doll. Pepe has a special place in her heart, and he does in mine too.
Oliver’s little corner still has a mirror at floor level, the one he could see himself in when he could only roll over. Now that he’s crawling and pulling up to stand on anything he can, that mirror will soon be gone, but I wanted to capture him playing in that area with the mirror still there one more time.
In this area, I watch how they play together. Oliver is Penelope’s little copy cat. If she’s reading a book, he wants to read too, if she’s in the little canopy, he wants to be there too. Perhaps the reason the second child usually does everything sooner, as he’s trying to keep up with the oldest. It’s a bittersweet thing, but I love that he sees Penelope as his teacher. As with any siblings, they are starting to have their moments of frustration towards each other. The time they both want the same toys, or when Penelope gets a little tired of him following her around, or when Oliver tries to walk like his sister, but he can’t. Regardless of their dynamic, it’s wonderful to watch them grow, and learn through play, with their little corner as their stage.
I pulled out my camera, and without any interventions, watched them play. Like a fly on the wall, I just watched. Their play, their interactions, their little conversations. The things I want to remember forever.
Ok, I’m pretty proud of this DIY. It’s not often that baby items can be used again once they’ve been outgrown, or just not needed any more, and baby items aren’t cheap. Soooo… when you accidentally find potential in an old baby item, and make it into something so pretty, it makes me so, damn, happy. Without further ado, a DIY plant hanger/ wall hanging made from old baby gates!
If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you’ll know that I always look DIYs to be simple, easy and affordable. A little creativity, love put into your craft, and you can make the most beautiful things from items that you already have in your home. In this case, baby gates that we were getting ready to discard , as we had replaced them. My husband had them stacked up against the garage wall until the next garbage day, and I just couldn’t throw them away; there was potential screaming out from them. Baby gates are an item all parents have, and hopefully this DIY gives you an idea of what you could do with them once your kids have outgrown them. The side of an old crib would work just as well! #yourewelcome
What you’ll need:
Old baby gates
Wire and Wire cutters
Small indoor plants you have around the house.
Picture Hanging Set (which you can get at the dollar store)
I started by giving the gates a good wipe, as they had their years worth of love from a toddler with sticky fingers, and a dog, ha! I then measured enough wire that could go around the perimeter of one pot, added about 2 inches to that, and cut them with the wire cutter.With the baby gate leaned up against the wall, I twisted the wire around one bar where I knew I wanted a plant to hang. Once one side was secure, I place my plant adjacent the baby gate, looped the wire around the pot, and secured it to the other side. Because the pot is wider at the top than it is at the bottom, the wire loop is enough to keep it secure and from falling down.Once I had wired a loop for all my plants, I screwed two small hooks to the back of the baby gate, and secured the wire it would hang it from, just like you would for a picture frame. What I found worked best, was to hang the gate first, and then add the plants. And voila!I love how it turned out! Such an easy way to create a wall hanging to display your plants, or pictures… the potential is endless really. I hope you enjoyed this, and that it inspires one of you. Thanks for reading! xo
A lot of our summer days so far, have been spent simply in our backyard. The kids splash and play in their little pool, we sit in the shade of our tree. I enjoy my pergola, we have snacks. Penelope points out the airplanes that fly by, Oliver tries to eat grass, and Una supervises. Very simple, but lovely afternoons.
Yesterday, we had one of those simple, but perfect afternoons. Nothing fancy. We were in our backyard, the kids were in their birthday suits, I bought bubbles from the dollar store (dollar store for the w i n!) and we had fun for hours. The simplicity and frequency of these afternoons would have a tendency to become monotonous, one would think, but they are far from that. It’s in the simplicity of these afternoons that I am able to enjoy them both so much. I notice the daily subtleties in their ever developing personalities, the change and growth in their interactions. I notice the things I would probably miss in an environment that was louder and busier… and we have those days too, of course.
In the act of doing nothing special, the most special memories are created. Isn’t that lovely? The simple afternoons that I spend with my children, in my backyard, the memories I treasure. Memories like the lovely contrast in the color of Oliver’s skin next to mine. The wonderful sound of his laughs as I tickle his belly. The pure expression of happiness Penelope has any time she sees bubbles. The memory of my little babies sitting side by side sharing snacks. Their adorable baby bums. The memories I will treasure forever.
I cannot believe I am the mother of a two year old now- incredible how fast time went by! As a follow up to my little girl’s second birthday post, I thought I would blog this little DIY number balloon I did for her party.
We’ve all seen those large metalic color number balloons; on pinterest, instagram, facebook… everywhere. They are beautiful, fun, colorful, and I wanted one for Penelope’s party. Due to a combination of a little bit of a time crunch… and me not wanting to spend $13 for a balloon (that’s a lot of coffees for me haha), I figured I would do my own version.
I’ve mentioned this before in my previous posts , when I do any DIY/ crafts, I always look for it to be simple, easy and inexpensive. All the materials I used for this DIY cost me less than $5, and it took less than 10 minutes to make, so I can’t even justify that going to the store and buying one would have saved me time, ha!
I love how it turned out! It’s different, unique, and I was able to add my own personal touches for my little girl with the fake flowers to make it a little bit more girly. The potential to customize it with things that mean something special to your little ones is endless, and I love that about it!
Could I have gotten dressed, driven to party city, and bought one of those number balloons? Probably. Am I happier that I did my own version that was unique, much more less expensive, AND I didn’t have to change from my pajamas? Yep 🙂
Penelope is potty trained! It’s been a little over a week since we said bye-bye to diapers. She picked her underwear (paw patrol and frozen theme won), her step stool, and the little seat that goes over the toilet. The experience was pretty painless, and I would even go as far as saying it was fun! They say girls are easier to potty train than boys, so we’ll see if I say the same when the time comes for Oliver, ha! It did feel like a very long couple of days, but I think it’s because we had to stay in all day, and we’re not used to that. The first three days were the hardest, but now it’s wonderful! We have even been able to do long-ish outings with only one accident so far. I’m proud of her.
There is quite a bit of humor in potty training. When your husband texts you a picture of two little turds on the kitchen floor that didn’t quite make it to their final destination. When you realize how quickly you move when you have to run your toddler to the toilet before the stream ends (haha), or when your toddler claps and congratulates YOU for successfully going to the toilet, ha! Oh, parenthood.
Penelope is 23 months old, but she was ready, and it showed in how quickly she caught on. It’s a bitter sweet feeling. I don’t have to carry her onto the changing table anymore, and my back is thankful for that, but my heart does break a little when I see her in her big girl underwear. Every day, she is less baby, and more little girl.
My nephew was over a few days during her potty training, and it was wonderful. It helped to break up the day, and it was a positive distraction for Penelope. With the winter lingering, I decided to bring the spring indoors, and do a little repotting activity with them while Oliver napped. I imagined it would be a very messy activity to do with two toddlers, but I was already in the midst of potty training, so really, how much messier could things get?! (haha).
They surprised me. Perhaps they felt very autonomous and responsible in their doo-ties (too much potty training haha), but they took it very seriously! Look at their faces, ha! I had very little cleaning to do afterwards, and they ended up being great helpers.
A little dirt, a little pee…. a little poo (haha) never hurt anyone. So whether it’s potty training or potting plants, it’s OK to get a little dirty – all worth it in the end.
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I read “Potty Train in a Weekend” by Becky Mansfield, and found her method to work really well! It was recommended by one of my mommy friends 🙂
Perhaps it’s the longer and sunnier days that have made being a stay-at-home mom, a little bit more enjoyable lately. Sun makes me happy. Being a wife and mother makes me happy. Being a stay-at-home mom makes me happy too.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for 21 months, and I love it. Yes, it’s lonely at times. The days can easily become monotonous, lazy days are incredibly tempting, and cabin fever is r-e-a-l. With a limited “going out” budget (and currently freezing cold winter), as much as I would like to take my kids out to every indoor playground in the city, it can get expensive. Still, I have a very happy and enjoyable stay-at-home motherhood. My children, of course, are the biggest source of my happiness as a mother and human being, but for the stay-at-home part, I find a few things make a difference.
Routine. I loooovvvve having a routine- especially with two kids. How does this make me happy? As a stay-at-home mom, I’m on duty pretty much all day, but routine gives me two things; nap and bed time. I need that nap to reset, I don’t even want to think about the day my kids drop naps (haha). Bed time also gives me around three hours, kid free, before I go to bed. I recharge, rest mentally and emotionally, and have time to do the things that I enjoy. For it, I am a better and happier mother and wife.
Attitude. I’ve said this before in my two under two post, but I say it again- attitude is everything. I am one of those annoyingly positive people (I know I am). I’m OK with it, because it pays off! It begins with me; the more positive energy and attitude I transmit to my children, the better their own moods and attitudes are going to be, and over all, our days easier and happier.
Make my home beautiful. As a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time at home, so why not make the space I spend most of my time in beautiful? I’m not talking about hiring an interior designer and having a make-over completed, #aintnobodygotmoneyforthat…or at least I don’t (haha). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what I do to make my home beautiful may be different to someone else…which is beautiful in itself. I move furniture around lots (my husband hates it haha). I grow plants and have them around the house. I re-arrange books so that they look prettier together. I put pictures up. I open the blinds and let the sun in. I try and keep my house tidy (and mostly clean)…little things. Creating a beautiful space motivates and inspires me to just… be.
Journal. I have kept a journal since I was 9 years old (I still have my first hello kitty one), it’s second nature to me. As a mother though, keeping a journal has been such a wonderful way to reflect- on the good, the bad, and to let it all out. Writing is therapeutic to me, one of the reasons I started this blog. On the harder days, I can go back and read about the really good days we have, and why I love spending my days at home with them.
Start the day the night before. Once the kids are in bed, it’s hard not to immediately sit down and relax for the night. Waking up to a messy kitchen and toys all over the floor, however, sucks. I want to start my days off in the best note possible. With my husband, we take 10 minutes after we put the kids to be to pick up the place – do the dishes, wipe the counters, put the toys and laundry away; it makes such a difference. I also try and have a plan of WHAT we’re going to get up to the next day. If we’re going out, I prep whatever I can the night before to make the ‘leaving-the-house’ process easier. If we’re not going out, I plan a craft/game/activity, and get all the materials ready the night before. I also plan lazy PJ and cartoon days, and I have no shame admitting that.
In many ways, I find being a stay-at-home mom has taught me to find, and pay attention, to the little things in the domestic every day life that make it special. The way the entire house smells wonderful after you bake a cake with your children. The way your toddler finds wonder in the different type of sunlight we get through the seasons. The strange happiness you find in folding clothes and making your dresser look beautiful. The feeling you have when you eventually settle down for the night; the house is quiet, the lights are dim, and you realize you can’t wait for all of it to start again the next day.