Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Friday, August 21, 2015

BHM Storytelling Series: The Thirtysomething Blogger, Wife, and Mother-of-Three

Laura, Minneapolis Minnesota

I’ve always been interested in the different ways that women, especially mothers, make decisions for themselves and their families about their work and home life. Equally curious is how these women live out their decisions to make their choices truly work for them because there are so many ways to do it. The BoldHeartMama Storytelling series offers a peek into the lives of mothers from all over, and highlights their unique BoldHeart stories, from struggles to triumphs in work and mothering and life.

Laura, 35, is a blogger, wife, and mother to Bella (6), Oliver (4), and Lily (1). Laura lives in a suburb of Minneapolis and is currently a stay at home parent. Today Laura shares her BoldHeart on everything from her career progression as a former dietician, to a growing self awareness to ask for what she needs, and her happy practice of spending a night alone in a hotel every once in a while to catch up on her sleep so that she can make the most of life with her three kiddos. You can read more of Laura's candid and often poignant writing at her blog Navigating the Mothership.

What factors went into your decision to pursue mothering as a primary investment of your time?
I long had an inkling that I wanted to stay at home with my kids although I can't quite pinpoint why that was my desire. It is partially personality driven: I am a homebody and I don't require a ton of social interaction in my life. I also like doing things that are naturally a part of the at-home parent role: cooking, crafting, being outside, and reading just to name a few! (Note that cleaning did not make that list—ha!)

Bella, Lily, and Oliver, photo credit JP Ramier Photography
When I was pregnant with my first in 2008, I began to half-heartedly look into daycare and was quickly overwhelmed by prices and the waiting lists and all the pieces that would need to come together to make it work. What clinched the decision to stay at home was that I was not at all happy with my current job. However, back in those days I was the higher earner for my little family (as in, just my husband and me) by quite a bit so I was still mindful not to close any doors. During my pregnancy my husband was wrapping up his MBA while working as a lab scientist, but planned to launch a new career upon completion of his MBA. Had things not panned out for him in getting a new and higher-paid position we would have entertained the idea of him being the stay-at-home parent, while I would have continued to work. I am thankful that things fell into place as they did and that I was able to make the switch to staying at home while my husband was able to make the switch to his new career in marketing.

When and how did you know it was the right decision for your family?
Well, I guess that is something we re-evaluate on a regular basis. However, the truest measure of me feeling like this is the right decision is that when I picture the reality of going back to work, whether part-time or full-time, I realize that for me the pros would not outweigh the cons. Being a stay-at-home parent can feel really challenging at times but I know myself well enough to know that I would feel even more drained and anxious trying to coordinate everything as a working mother. I have kept up my continuing education in the event that I ever want to return to work as a dietitian, but I do not foresee myself returning to the field in any traditional capacity.

Did you have to let go of anything to reach this conclusion?
Had I been enjoying my job I think I would have felt quite a loss to step away from my career. But my job was pretty awful at that time so it was lovely to switch to something new. I worked professionally for several years and held jobs as a data coordinator in a laboratory, a nutrition counselor to those with eating disorders, and also as a school food service nutritionist for a large university. If I hadn't had that time in the work force, I think I would feel a greater tug to find out what life is like outside of staying at home. I am really thankful I was able to launch my career before I embarked on the stay-at-home role because it helped me to feel even more confident about the "career change."

Photo credit JP Ramier Photography
How do you make your life work for you right now?
Here is something very key that I have learned about myself over my past six years as a stay-at-home parent: I need to be able to have at least four hours a week to make my own plans. 

My husband works long hours and his job isn't flexible in the sense that he can take off a couple hours in the morning so I can go to the dentist. Over the years it was my inability to make dentist appointments, of all things, that was the catalyst to finally secure a regular sitter. It is not that I enjoy the dentist—not at all!—but I was feeling panicky and locked in by the fact that I truly COULD NOT find a time that worked to make a dentist appointment. 

Now, to be very honest, is four hours enough? Not really. Would I like more? YES ARE YOU KIDDING GIVE ME MORE TIME. Ahem. :) What I am saying (shouting) is that after two months of summer break with my very demanding young children and a little toddler who is not sleeping and having a very rough go of it when it comes to teething, I am particularly drained right now. However, I feel like once my sleep is better and the daily life isn't quite so draining and the older kids are spending time in school each day, I will find four hours very sufficient.

Name three ways that you regularly take care of yourself:
Making time for blogging/writing; protecting my sleep as much as possible with an early bedtime for all of us (and a rest in the middle of each day); and scheduling the regular sitter time each week.

What advice can you share with other mamas about finding life balance and carving out time for themselves in the context of mothering?
I am getting better at asking for what I need in a very specific manner. Rather than expecting that my husband will see the clutter around the house and then extrapolate that I am stressed by that, and then take the next step to help me out by spending some time cleaning, I spell it all out for him: "Hey Max! I am feeling totally overwhelmed looking at all these dishes and all these toys all over the place, so can we work together to clean them up?" Okay, so maybe it doesn't always go so smoothly and sometimes it goes more like, "AAAAARGH, WHY IS THIS HOUSE SUCH A MESS!?" but overall I am more deliberate in my requests. At this point in our marriage I also recognize that Max does not see clutter and feel stress from said clutter the way I do.

I would also like to note that I am getting better about drawing the lines between my bad moods and the causes. Before, I wouldn't make the connection that bad sleep + poor nutrition choices + messy house were feeding my bad mood. Now I can acknowledge that poor sleep leaves me feeling crappy but also that I can make different choices to try to make up for it. It doesn't always work, but it does help when I'm feeling low to identify root causes and address those.

Share a snapshot of a big (or little) dream you hold:
I would love to transition into a career as a writer as the kids get older and my free time isn't so restricted. I tend to think of story ideas in down time and write snippets here and there and I even wrote up my love story in a multi-chapter format after Oliver was born, which was such a good escape during a rough time in my life.

What small steps are you taking to reach that big dream?
Keeping a blog for over ten years has allowed me to exercise my writing muscles in a small and consistent way. There is a discipline to blogging and to taking the time to translate thoughts into words. Some of my posts are total fluff or purely bullet points but others are carefully crafted and revised many times before being published. Years of blogging and interacting with readers has also bolstered my confidence in my writing and my ability to express myself.

Laura and her littles
What does the phrase intentional mothering mean to you, and share the ways that you feel you are successful in this way.
I think intentional mothering means taking parenting seriously and trying to strike the right balance of focusing time and attention on your kids but also letting them figure life out for themselves. To me that means letting them experience negative feelings and work through them. I want them to practice navigating the ups and downs of life so they will be ready to fly when they are on their own. Stepping back and letting them struggle a bit is a challenge for me (and will be a much bigger challenge as they get older) because my instinct is to rush in and fix the hurt and try to make it stop, but I know that it is an important life skill essential to building their self confidence.

From a more practical standpoint, I think I do a really good job when it comes to filling the kids' days with creative endeavors. We do a lot of cooking and crafting and creating. I do a decent job of keeping us active but this is far easier in the summer than in the winter—I live in Minnesota after all! Screen time goes up and down depending on the season (both weather and personal life) but I generally try to keep that to around an hour a day. I find the kids get super grumpy and unpleasant after too much screen time anyway so that helps me to set that limit. 

How has time changed your mothering?
I am less focused on using external sources for "how-to" and more tuned in to my gut feeling. Having more than one kid—or perhaps it is more that the first kid is five years older than the last kid—helps me to recognize that phases will end and hardships will change over time. This lets me let go of obsessing about the current challenges. The baby WILL sleep better at some point and her teeth WILL come in at some point. I know this as I have watched it happen twice before with my older two kids.

Laura and her husband Max
Do you have any tips for keeping a peace-filled home life?
My husband and I have learned to give each other more grace and we try not to needle each other about the little stuff. We are both exhausted right now during this phase of life and we both make mistakes. Life flows much better when we choose to ignore those little annoying things about the other rather than nitpick.

What is one area of your life you wish to address with more intention?
My diet and food choices. I have several frustrating food intolerances and possibly some allergies that for years I have only half-dealt with. As a dietitian and someone who enjoys cooking I have a leg up on others who struggle with similar problems, but I find it hard to buckle down and be restrictive about my diet even when I know it is for the best. I tend to dig-in my heels when I think about not getting to eat whatever I want. But I am slowly figuring out where I can be less restrictive and where I need to be more disciplined in order to feel healthy and energized and not bloated/fatigued/having GI problems. It's a process and I am accepting that it is something that will take years to get sorted rather than weeks. However, I know I could/should put more effort into it!

If you had one day alone/kid-free day how would you spend it?
YES PLEASE! So I am actually doing that right as I write this. My big present for my 35th birthday was a hotel night on my own. This is my first night away from the baby (who is actually not a baby but a 16.5 month-old toddler) and my first chance to SLEEP in awhile. I have done these hotel nights a couple times in the past and here are a couple tips that I can share with you. I used the "top secret" hotel option on Travelocity when booking which means I got a 4-star hotel room for only a little over $100. Score! Then I have also learned to build in a date night at the beginning of the hotel stay. That way I have some nice one-on-one time with my husband before sending him away to deal with our lovely kids all night while I get to sprawl in a king-sized bed all by myself. As to how I am filling in the free hours—I am mostly writing and catching up on blog reading and blog commenting. I am also eating good food and enjoying some HGTV and Food Network shows since I don't have cable at home. It has been blissful and I will hopefully be able to carry some of this energy back into my daily routine when it is time to return home in a few hours.

The BoldHeartMama Storytelling Series is based on the BoldHeartMama Manifesto. Mothering demands BoldHeartedness from all of us. I want to help YOU share your story!

If you are curious to learn more about the series and how you can participate email me at

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