Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning to me this year. Of course, I always honored it and did nice stuff for my own mother on Mother’s Day while growing up and still give my mom a call and if I’m in town, I’ll take her out to dinner. But, it wasn’t until having a child of my own and watching my wife mother him day in and day out that I was able to truly understand the sacrifice and work that mum’s put into this whole mothering thing. Being able to witness how much a mother truly deals with from the very first day one of becoming a mother, has made me not only appreciate my wife, and the mother of my son, but also my own mother. If I was anything like our son is, then I know I was certainly a handful right away. Showing mother’s how much we appreciate them on one day out of the year obviously isn’t enough and it should’t stop there, but if you want to show the mother in your life a little gratitude and appreciation, then be sure to do something extra nice. In addition to the Mother’s Day gift guide below, you ought to consider giving the mother in your life a break for a day. Whether that means cooking all day, cleaning the house from top to bottom for her, breakfast in bed or maybe consider a spa day for her. Do something that will help her relax and feel appreciated. To go the extra mile, get her something that will make her feel special and that she can remember this Mother’s Day by. So, whether you’re buying for your wife or your own mother, here is my Mother’s Day gift guide!
It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that my wife and I began to actually appreciate and enjoy adult beverages – beyond beer and $10 bottle wine. From the very beginning of our journey into liquor, bourbon has been our drink of choice. If I’m being completely honest, when we found out Jessica was pregnant, I was actually sort of bummed that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our occasional drink together for the rest of her pregnancy, but of course, the reward outweighed that sacrifice by far. During that time, I often felt guilty when I poured a drink after a long day of working, especially because Jessica was also doing the same work I was and couldn’t enjoy a drink with me.
As my taste matured and I learned more about mixing drinks, I found myself experimenting and practicing so that when she was able to have a drink again, I could make her something special. I started with the basics and an old fashioned was the perfect cocktail to make her. It can be enjoyed all year round and can be tweaked to taste. I played around a bit with a few different recipes and methods and the recipe below is the one I made for Jessica for celebratory drink after Forrest’s birth.
– 2 oz. bourbon – 1/4 oz. Angostura bitters – 1 sugar cube
– 1 splash water
– 2 brandied or maraschino cherries
– 1 orange slice
– Add sugar and bitters in a rocks glass, muddle.
– Add bourbon and ice and garnish with orange twist, cherry and add splash of water. Gently stir. – Optional: To sweeten things up a little bit, add a spoon or half-spoonful of juice from the cherries.
Now, go make this classic boozy drink for you and your baby mama after you put the kid(s) to bed, because we both know she could probably use one about right now to help wind down this evening. Trust me when I tell you she’ll certainly love it!
For my wife and I, finding the perfect stroller was a serious task. So many options, so many brands, so many prices and so many hours spent comparing all of them. For us, we knew we wanted something that could do a lot, wouldn’t break the bank, looked good and was small enough for our living space, vehicle and narrow grocery store aisles. That’s a lot to ask for, apparently. But, we came to the conclusion that we needed a travel system. We searched high and low for the best stroller that we could afford and appealed to us.
Eventually, we landed on the Scoot from Stokke. It’s light, small enough for our small home, fit easily in the trunk of our somewhat small car, was within our price range (~$700) and was compatible with the car seat we wanted, the Nuna Pipa ($300) with the Stokke car seat adapter. Even better though, Stokke collaborated with Nuna to release a Stokke x Nuna Pipa ($350) which worked with Stokke strollers without the adapters and came in the black melange fabric we wanted anyway. So, that pretty much settled our decision. Additionally, we came across a great deal from Diapers.com they had running on Stokke products. We had already become fans of Diapers.com anyway, (365 day return policy, easy returns, price matching, quick/free shipping, awesome customer service, etc.) so that was the icing on the cake.
That probably sounded a lot easier than it actually was. We spent A LOT of time researching and looking at most the strollers listed below before making a decision. It was important to us that whatever we bought was going to last, hopefully through the use of a second child. Our only concern was, do we get a stroller that can become a double stroller later? We decided against it because 1) we don’t know when we’ll have said second child and 2) if we absolutely need to get a double stroller, we’ll hopefully be able to sell our current stroller for a decent amount before purchasing a double. The Stokke Cruzi was one that offered a sibling seat option, but at over twice the cost of the Scoot, it was justifiable at the time.
We loved pretty much everything about the others we looked at. The main reasons we went against them though, was either because of price, size or weight. The Britax B-Agile was tempting because of its costs and Britax seems to be a trusted name. Tons of our friends have them and love them, but we just really found that the Scoot just felt better ergonomically and had we gone with the Britax, we wouldn’t have been able to use the Nuna Pipa with it.
Two that we didn’t look at the time, but are listed below, are the Cybex Priam (it wasn’t out at the time) and the Voyager from Phil&Teds. If we were looking for a stroller right now, we would have definitely included these two into our top picks. The Cybex Priam stroller is really lightweight, yet it’s great for various terrain. It, like many of the others listed is a 3-in-1 in system and it’s just really a beautifully designed stroller as well as their carseats too. What I love about it, from what I can tell, is how well it folds down and easily it can be stored. The Phil&Teds Voyager is a 4-in-1 system and can accommodate ONE OR TWO car seats from either their own line, Mountain Buggy, Graco, Chico, Maxi Cosi, Peg Perego and Cybex. To use it with two seats, you simply need the adapter they offer.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these though. All are carefully designed to help make life with a baby a little bit easier and to have great style. The ones we focused in on for ourselves were all easy to use, seemed comfortable for our baby and were made of quality, durable materials and deliberately left the obnoxious “cheese” factor off the product that a lot of brands use to sell their products.
So, if we were to be on the stroller hunt again, this would be our list of the best strollers of 2016 that we’d begin with and narrow down from there.
With spring right around the corner, and what feels like a bad case of cabin fever from this winter, I’m itching to get out into the woods and set up camp for a weekend. I’ve been planning and waiting for the day that I can take Forrest camping for the first time, but he’s still got awhile before he’ll be ready. At 3 months old, I don’t think my wife, Jessica, would approve. Plus, I want him to remember it to some extent. I just really cannot wait to pack up the Range Rover and head out toward the mountains and set up in camp in one of Jessica and I’s favorite spots, Black Balsam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest. It’s such a great spot, right along the Appalachian Trail and I know Forrest will love it when he is old enough. Until then, I guess I’ll keep making wish lists of all the great stuff out that there we’ll enjoy on our camping trips once that day arrives. Until then, here is my wish list for our first camping trip with Forrest:
When my wife, Jessica and I decided we both wanted to work together and for ourselves, we were a little over four years away of finding out we were expecting. During those years, we were working together full-time (and we still are). The majority of our time was spent in our home office editing photos, writing emails, compiling blog posts and marketing ourselves. The other portion of time was spent traveling the country and photographing weddings on the weekends. We loved it then and love it now, but the dynamic of how it all worked before a child differs greatly from how it is now. Before our son arrived, it was simply easier. We knew that would be the case, so we tried our best to prepare for the change.
Being a work-at-home parent also means stay-at-home parent, at least for us. We both share a dual role. Our business relies on the both us and therefore, so does our child. We even named our business simply Brett & Jessica because we wanted it to be such a “together” type of thing. So, both of us play a major role in the success of our business and it being our only source of income, we have to make it work or we need to start applying for something else now.
Working from home with a baby is hard. But we love it this way. It’s flexible. We get to witness our sons milestones together. He is able to learn from us and watch our work ethic. We save on caregiver costs.
It just takes extra work and discipline to make it work. Realizing that some days you’ll be more of a work-at-home parent and other days you’ll be more of a stay-at-home parent is a major key to the success of this as well. The following are some tips we implemented into our life and business to make it work and will work for parents who both stay at home or if just one is staying home.
Be flexible, work when you can. Especially during the earlier months of a baby’s life, you’ll need to flexible with them and their routine or their lack thereof. It can be frustrating and your days may be longer than before, but remember why you chose to work this way. It’s a pretty nice tradeoff.
Nap time is prime work time. Since setting definite work hours while working from home is baby or child is nearly impossible, hopefully you’re child naps (recently, ours has not) because that’s obviously going to be your best and most productive time to work. If you’re working together, this is the best time to do any work that requires your collaborative efforts.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps Does Not Apply. How can it? That’s when those of us who work from home do our work. It’s great advice while on maternity leave (and paternity leave if you’re lucky enough to get that), but after that, it’s essential to either work, spend time together or take some time for ourselves whenever your baby or child is sleeping.
Co-work with baby.The Bumbo Seat and the Baby Bjorn Bouncer have been amazing for this. During the time Forrest wasn’t able to support his head, we sat him the bouncer and just used a foot to help bounce him in it while we sat at our desks, which usually helped him sleep. Now that he’s able to hold his head up and is interested in more, we have him hangout in his Bumbo seat on our desks. Both of these were really great, but we’ve been very conscious not to just sit there with a laptop in from our faces or getting lost in the screen of our iMacs while he is needing to communicate or needs our attention. This goes back to first topic, which can be the hardest.
Wear your baby. Yes, some men are actually down with it. I am all for it. I even use Jessica’s Solly Baby Wrap from time to time, although I do prefer our Baby Bjorn Carrier One. Our son can nap right against us and we have both hands free. Sometimes we’ll put our laptops on a bookshelf and work standing up, so his legs don’t get scrunched up too much in the carrier, plus it’s great for our backs and it’s easy to find yourself sitting all day. Simply put, carriers are amazing.
Master multi-tasking. We have had to learn to multitask way better. Somewhat surprisingly, we learned how to utilize our iPhones better, especially while Jessica is feeding. Or emailing clients, taking care of social media, etc while holding our son as he sleeps in our arms because we dare not to put him down in his crib. Make sure to plan ahead if you’re running errands that can be combined. Have to head into town for a meeting? Hit up the post office, bank, supply store, etc on your way back so you don’t have to make another run.
Know/understand each others roles. If you haven’t already established roles within your business together, shame on you and get it done now. Who is going manage the emails? Who is responsible for the website, keeping up with social media or in our case, editing photos? It’s much harder if you’re both trying to tackle the same things or assuming that the other already finished something that you were supposed to do.
Take a step away from your work. If you find yourself getting stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated whether it be from feeling like you are being pulled in a million different directions or because you just cannot get focused, just walk away. Take a minute or two or even a half hour and just regroup yourself.
Make some time for yourself. We all need a little downtime. We need to decompress and clear our minds. Carve out a little time during the day to leisurely read a book or magazine, cook up a nice meal for yourself or go for a walk/run. Work with your partner to help ensure you’re both able to make sure this happens. It’s vital.
I wish there was a magic formula that worked for the work/life balance of dual work-at-home parents, but there just isn’t. Each case is different, let alone each day. The struggles are absolutely real and some of the challengers are more than some can handle. It’s not for everyone and that’s okay. So many people do great with working from home before kids, but after kids, the pressure, stress and anxiety is just too much. But if you’re looking to give it a go, hopefully the tips above will help.
If you have any tips about being a working-at-home parent or couple, I’d love to have you share them in the comments below!