Welcoming Changes: My TOP Three Goals for the Second Half of 2011

It’s been almost a year now since I left my job and embraced full-time motherhood. The past year had its ups and downs for both my husband and myself, with the ups in being just having ALL the time in our hands to enjoy our little boy. We did things we simply would not be able to do had we not left our jobs back in New Jersey (move to Arizona, travel to the Philippines and stay for two-and-a-half months, have mini getaways in between).

The downside of our super extended vacation, or now more aptly, staycation, is that we’ve had to put one of our biggest (if not THE biggest) dreams on hold, and that is buying our own home. For the past year we’ve been living at my parents‘, enjoying the comforts of having Miguel’s grandparents in the same house, uncles and aunties nearby (if not also in the same house), and re-strengthening family bonds that got weakened by the distance of living in two different (and VERY FAR from each other) states. On the plus side, we’ve managed to live comfortably by having one-third less finances than we used to have back in Jersey, with no rent and utilities to pay for aside from what we are contributing to my parents now monthly to help with the upkeep of the house.

But Terrence and I are slowly but surely wanting our lives back. Not necessarily the life before parenthood and Miguel. It’s more the life of having one’s own place…the life where you get to buy practical goods and unnecessary stuff for your home, decorate every room to your liking, and have a place for everything you own. The life where you get to be free to move about–no holds barred–and dictate the rules (and non-rules) of your own castle. The life of being grown-ups.

My parents have been more than welcoming and supportive to the three of us the past year. In many ways our move came at the right time, as we were able to help each other out in the brutal economy of 2010. But now that (almost) a year has passed since our move, it’s time to think about that dream again.

Here are my goals on how to achieve IT…

GOAL #1: Get my real estate license. As cook-y as it sounds, with the housing market being the way it is (or WAS), this has been in the back of my mind ever since BEFORE we moved to Arizona. My dad is a real estate agent, and he has the ability to work from home AND make as little or as much money as he wants. As a Mom, those two factors alone are motivating enough for me. I like the idea of being able to stay at home and be near Miguel while I work, and also not have to work for anyone else but my clients.

GOAL #2: Get driving. Close family and friends know this: I am terrified of driving. I’ve blamed it for many years on my parents’ lack of motivation to push me to drive when I got my driving permit back in high school, their over-protectiveness winning over encouraging me to be a master of this life skill (because think about it really…you can’t do anything if you don’t drive). And then there was this accident I was in eons ago. With an ex. It wasn’t terrible in the larger scheme of things. The car that hit us got the bulk of the damage. But it could have been a LOT worse…with the vehicle we were in ending up on the other side of the road, facing on-coming traffic. In my young(er) years I got lucky enough having my Dad (and a total of three boyfriends…lucky #3 of whom became my husband) willing to drive me around wherever I needed to go. Having always lived near where there was public transportation also helped–because knowing how to get around using public transportation is also a life skill, and would I be doomed if I didn’t know how to ride the trains, buses and subways in the NYC metro area? Yup, probably.

Goal #3: Get us our first home! This would only be possible, of course, once I achieve Goals #1 and #2. Obviously I have to work hard at being either a real estate agent or a property manager (or both). And obviously I would need to drive. Because what’s the sense in getting a real estate license if I can’t even drive myself and my clients around?? (For the record, I have a driver’s license. I DO know how to drive. I just don’t like to.)

Goal #3 would also not be possible, of course, without Terrence’s help. Our plan for the immediate six months is for him to be the full-time stay-at-home parent, while I work on getting my foot in the real estate door. He would continue to look for possible full-time/part-time jobs out there whenever he can, but our priority for him would be taking care of little Miggz while I become (oh yeah!) the breadwinner (which I’m sure they would just be both thrilled about).

So there…my THREE goals for the rest of the year. Sounds easy-peazy-lemon-squeazy, doesn’t it? (Yeah right.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been curbing my cravings for interior decorating for quite a while. So I instead started a scrapbook with plans for our future home.

Our New Home Vision Book. I created it to help keep us on track with what we'd like to have in our future dream home. I can NOT wait to have an actual photo in that blank frame...

I know it will be a challenge (even a long shot) to get there, especially achieving Goal #3. But I have FAITH (and a whole lot of secret super skills) that I know will get us there.

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Intentional, Professional Motherhood

I’ve recently stumbled upon this wonderful blog of Beth Hendrickson, author of Belle Squeaks. In one of her posts on BlogHer, called Hope for the Stay at Home Mom (a must-read post for my fellow stay-at-home New Mammas out there), she suggested this book called Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie C. Martin.

How I wish I've stumbled upon this book sooner! Lord knows I need it.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost a year now. And though there are marked improvements in my ways of mothering, I still can’t help but feel like a novice most days (a TRUE New Mamma, inside out!)

That’s really not great, considering my son is almost two.

I guess there would always be new things that come up, new experiences to face, and new lessons to be learned. I get that. But just like in the business world, I feel like I have to be educated to better my craft (with said craft being MOTHERHOOD, no less.) Just like in the working world, I need to be able to KEEP UP with my mothering (that is to say, be able to keep up with myself). In short, I want to be an intentional, PROFESSIONAL New Mamma.

Coz Lord knows I am doing quite a few things wrong…

– Like how Miguel is still sleeping on our bed (and the three of us have gotten so comfortable with this arrangement that none of us are making any efforts–for now–to move him to his room and in his own bed).

– Like how we have no established routines, except if you can call naptimes at 6 PM and bedtimes past midnight a routine.

– Like how I envisioned our days to be on some kind of normal schedule (I even created a family schedule for us!), but somehow we’ve just been on a non-schedule schedule.

So I have this book on order through Amazon. And I can’t wait to read it!!!

IT probably won’t fix/solve what I’ve listed above (which I’ve learned to embrace in lieu of frustration).

But I’ll take any insight I can get.

A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Other Jobs

On any given day, stay-at-home Mommys do the obvious: care for the kids, do housework (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.), and care for the kids some more. There are other often overlooked tasks however, that are not that obvious, but do take a lot of time and energy as well. Our family’s busy activities the past couple of months have proven that, besides being a Mom, I am also:

The Family Accountant: I make sure that bills are paid on time, funds don’t go overdraft, and that there is enough money saved for future needs and expenses.

Event Planner: Christenings, Birthday Parties, Holidays, Family Reunions…you name it, I am planning it. This includes selecting venues, creating and sending invitations, planning menus, hiring entertainment, cleaning up, sending out thank you cards. It’s a LOT of work, but, I must say, this is the MOST fun for me.

Tax Preparer: The LEAST fun.

Filing our taxes...it's my LEAST favorite of them all.

Travel Agent: Involves searching for flights, hotels, destinations, excursions, travel planning and budgeting, itinerary creation, etc. This task is not bad, as long as I have enough lead time prior to a trip.

Luggage Packer…for lack of a better term: This is NOT my forte. I always wait until the last minute. I take FOREVER to pack. And I always OVER-PACK. I wish someone else can do this for me every time we go away.

Gift-Finder: When there is an occasion that calls for a present, it’s usually I who shops for–and packages–the gift. If it has to be shipped, yup, I am in charge of preparing that too.

Date Planner: Mostly out-of-the-blue stuff…but when I feel like getting away from Mommy and Housework, plus, All of the Above, duties, I search out concerts, comedy shows, Broadway plays, etc. that only my Hubby and I can attend. I LOVE this stuff, even though I know I have to drag my Hubby to most of them LOL!

Activity Researcher: I am always on the lookout for activities we can do as a family. Since I am also the Family Accountant, I prefer the activities to be cheap, if not free. I lucked out on a couple last year, like the Pumpkin Patch and the Arizona State Fair last Autumn. The newspaper is a good source for this.

So…what else do you do on a regular basis as a Stay-At-Home Mom? (I’ve corrected myself. I was already doing these even before I took on Mommyhood full-time–as I’m sure, a LOT of Mommys out there do too! :))

Operation: Family Schedule

We’ve been in Arizona for almost a month, and I must say the progress that we’ve made is great. We’ve got most of our boxes unpacked (except for those tagged as “new home” for when we eventually move into our own home). Our room and Miguel’s room are pretty much set up. For our room I just need to get to work on organizing our files, a task I wanted to get done in New Jersey but didn’t have time for. For Miguel’s room, we just have a wall border to apply, and his transportation and safari-themed bedroom-playroom will be complete.

Now all that’s left to do is LIVE. BREATHE. ENJOY.

In the time we’ve been here, our days have been pretty much unstructured: lazy mornings, brunches, and no designated bedtime except for Miguel. But after a month, I really feel like it’s time to put some order into things, especially if I want to be a productive SAHM. Here’s a preliminary schedule I’ve drafted:

8 AMRise & Shine: Miguel wakes up, takes a bottle. Most days he’ll snuggle and snooze some more for an additional two hours (I’ll try to resist the urge to sleep in with him from now on). I’ll get up, have some coffee while I read for half an hour (emails, Facebook, the morning paper), and contemplate what to prepare for breakfast.

8:30 AMCan I be a Culinary Queen? Time to cook breakfast. I hope to be able to whip up some goodies from my dusty old cookbooks, deviate from the usual bacon and eggs from time to time.

9 AMBreakfast. Just some quality time to enjoy the first meal of the day.

10 AMThe First Chores Get Done. Miguel takes another bottle. Clean-up after breakfast. Take out food for lunch to cook/heat up/or thaw.

10 AM to 12 PMA Two-hour Block for Morning Activities. Playtime… errands… a time to tackle to-do’s.

12 PMLunch Prep. Cook rice, etc. This might be a good time to try out those recipes from Giada or Rachael Ray. Miguel takes another bottle (he only drinks 4 oz. at a time, hence, the frequent two-hour feedings).

1 PMLunch Time.

2 PMClean Up After Lunch. Take out food for dinner to thaw. Another bottle for Miggz.

2:30 PMShower Time.

3 PM to 5 PMMiguel Naps. This is a good time for me to get a break and either nap with him, or work on hobbies I’d like to get back into or start doing (photography, scrapbooking, writing among other things).

5 PMDinner Prep. Miguel wakes up from his nap and takes another bottle. Time for me to cook rice for dinner.

5 PM to 7 PMEvening Activities. Playtime and bonding with the grandparents. A nice two-hour break for me and the hubby to get our own things done.

7 PMDinner. Miguel will take another bottle after his meal.

8 PMTV Time. Fall shows are right around the corner…yess!

9 PMEvening Bath. Then a final bottle for the day for Miggz.

9:30 PMBedtime. Miguel is off to bed. Lights are turned off, and he eventually dozes off.

10 PM Miguel is Asleep. =)

10 PM to 12 Midnight Late Evening Activities for Me and Te. Wash and prepare his bottles for the next day, kitchen clean up, maybe more TV, Facebook time, blog updating, etc.

12 MidnightLights Out. Time for bed. Tomorrow is another day.

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