Hey mamas! This week we are heading to Illinois to meet Alison, the mama behind the blog Yoga Pants and Pearls, a stay-at-home mom of two with a passion for toddler education and a love of coffee! Alison embraces the challenges of motherhood and is honest in sharing her journey to overcome them. The qualities that stands out most about Alison are her optimism and joy in motherhood! We know you will love getting to know her as much as we did! So, you know the routine, grab your coffee, tea or wine (wink, wink) and read about how this mama does it!
Tell us about yourself: Where do you live, age, marital status, number of kids and business.
Hi friends! I'm Alison, wife to my college sweetheart, mom to two toddlers and former Special Education teacher. My husband and I are both 27 and we currently live in Illinois. Our babes are almost three (Emma Grace) and fifteen months (Henry) and I have the honor of staying home with them!
Describe a day in the life of you.
Once the kids are awake, it's pretty unpredictable as to when I'll get a moment alone so I try my hardest to wake up before them and drink my coffee, pray or do a short devotional. It really sets the tone for my day. Other days, I roll out of bed when I hear the first peep from a monitor and we start making breakfast together and see my husband off to work. This is our last season where we don't really have anything scheduled weekly to get to. My daughter will start a Mom's Day Out program at church and ballet lessons this fall so I am just soaking in the days where we just do as we please. Most days that means grocery shopping, library time, the discovery center, park play-dates with a few pajama/movie days mixed in for balance. The kids usually nap in the afternoon at the same time and that's when I try to work on my blog, get some cleaning done and prep for dinner! Our favorite time of day is when daddy comes home and after we finish dinner. We try to spend time running around outside and the night always ends with a dance party. Life is pretty sweet right now.
Do you have help? A nanny or housekeeper? Family?
I don't have a nanny or housekeeper. I always joke that laundry is my part-time job! We live close to my husband's extended family and my mom drives up once a week. We are so blessed by that.
How do you manage to have “me” time?
I don't do the best job with this. I always hate the way that sounds, like I'm 100% selfless, which isn't true at all! My husband is really good at telling me to go walk around Target alone or take a long shower when he knows I need a break. We are pretty good at reading each other in that way and know we make a better team when we've both had some time alone.
How do you manage to make time to stay in shape? Do you workout? Diet?
When it is nice out I make sure to load the kids up for a long walk. Otherwise, I usually resort to video work outs on my computer and I do my best to cut out dairy and gluten during the week.
Do you get ready every day? Makeup, hair and curated outfits? If so, how do you do it with children?
Has your style changed after motherhood?
At the risk of sounding vain, I really love to get ready every day. When I feel put together I'm more productive and confident. I do my best to pick out an outfit the night before based on what we are doing and try to do a quick hair and make-up before the kids wake up. Our days run smoother when I'm ready before they get up and I have more time to spend on getting us out the door faster! My style has become a lot more comfortable since having kids. I was all about wearing a shirt and a sweater with a belt and a scarf! I laugh now that my outfits were ‘a lot of work’ before having kids. I tend to gravitate towards classic and simple style now. My go-to is a dress and flats with minimal jewelry. I also feel like I’ve matured a lot in the last three years and have learned what is flattering to my body without stressing about a size.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I'm not sure if this counts as guilty, but I love to paint my nails. I never go get them done at the salon but they are always painted! I would also say that getting into the car alone and singing as loud as I can to Justin Bieber is good stuff, but pretty embarrassing. I also have a hard time passing up a latte from Starbucks, coffee is my number one love language.
If you breastfeed, how do you schedule your day around feedings and outings?
I was able to nurse both kids but for very different lengths of time. I followed the eat, play, sleep routine very loosely and nursed on demand normally.
How many hours of sleep to you get a night on average?
My husband and like to stay up late spending time together and it's rare that one of the kids doesn't wake up, so probably five or six hours. It really isn’t enough but I am not willing to cut out that time at night with husband!
What is a priority for you, and what gets sacrificed? For example, everyone looks great but the house is a disaster, or the house is clean but work deadlines get pushed back.
Laundry always seems to get pushed to the back-burner these days. It’s usually clean but rarely put away. I make it a priority to have dinner ready by the time my husband gets home from work. There is something really special about us all slowing down and eating a (usually loud) meal together.
Do you cook meals every day for your family? If so, how do you plan them?
Yes! Breakfast and lunch are very simple around here... fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, left overs. I plan out dinners for the week and try hard to stick to a schedule. I like to "shop my kitchen," and look for things I already have to build meals around before shopping to save money. There are days though, that no one naps and everyone wants to be held and I send an SOS to the hubby to bring Chipotle immediately! Those are the best nights because we make a picnic on the living room floor and watch Curious George.
Have you ever felt like you are loosing yourself to motherhood and or life? If so, how did you bounce back?
I definitely feel called to be home with my babies right now. I have never felt that being a mom wasn’t enough for me but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. After our second was born I had a really hard time. He had food allergies and acid reflux leaving him in a lot of pain. He would cry for hours at a time, rarely slept and I also had nineteen-month-old attached at my hip at the same time. All I could focus on was how to help my son feel better and I felt guilty for the lack of attention I was giving our daughter. I was on an elimination diet to figure out what foods were bothering my son while I nursed him. I cut out dairy, soy, gluten, nuts, eggs, corn, beef and caffeine. It was suffocating, really. Which is hard to admit because as a mom you want to do everything you can to help your baby. I experienced a lot of anxiety during the first six months of being a family of four. The anxiety made it hard to function and I realized that it really wasn’t normal and that I couldn’t do, “all the things.” I had a hard time leaving the house with the kids and an even harder time inviting anyone over. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t give my kids what I felt they needed, and couldn’t keep up with any cleaning or cooking. I constantly felt nervous and sad, like I was walking around in a cloud just moving from one dirty diaper to the next. There were so many sweet moments during that time as well but it was hard for me to really embrace them. It was around Thanksgiving when my husband lovingly voiced his concerns. He always prayed with me during the really hard moments at night when we couldn’t get our son to stop crying which always calmed me down. I made a to plan to be consistent in working out and reading my bible. When I started to make those things a priority and accepted help with the kids and the housework, I started to feel like myself again. My son started to feel better once we switched him to a hypoallergenic formula and the heaviness of it all started to lift. I really learned what it meant to give yourself grace during that season. I don’t think enough moms talk about what it’s like to have an incredibly fussy baby. Now that my son is healthy, thriving and sleeping (hallelujah) I can look back at so many moments where I should have asked for more help! There should be no shame in asking for help or needing a break. I still need to remind myself of that.
Does hubby help you with anything particular? If so, what and how?
Oh yes. He is always asking me what he can do to make life a little easier for me. I usually just want him to take the kids and play outside so I can do the dishes in silence!
How do you manage motherhood and marriage?
We got married at 23, our daughter was born ten months later and our son nineteen months after that. We were really just figuring out being married and then had to figure out how to be parents! We joke that our five-year plan was just condensed into two years. I try to be sensitive though, in sharing our story. There are so many people struggling with infertility and loss, so my pregnancies and babies are never taken lightly. We make it a point to find little ways to show love to each other which obviously has looked very different as our family has grown. We stay up really late hanging out but also leave notes or try to send encouraging text messages. One moment I’ll never forget is when I was having a really hard time with our son at 3 am and finally got him to sleep. I didn’t want to put him down because I was afraid he’d wake up screaming again so I just rocked him. My husband stumbled in sleepily, laid down on the floor next to the rocking chair and started rubbing my feet without saying a word. I remember thinking I could never do any of this without him and what a gift he is to us! Just like in any relationship, though, we have misunderstandings and lose our patience with each other but always make it a priority to apologize, forgive and move on. We also try really hard to work out any disagreements after the kids are asleep so we can focus on each other without distractions.
Do you work? Do you work in an office or at home? What does your work consist of and how do you get it done during the week?
I am a full-time mama! I started my blog and Instagram page in January and that has been a great outlet for me. My goal through it all, is to encourage other moms and also to help educate their littles. I love creating and sharing easy toddler activities I used to use when I taught, but I also want to share real life experiences as a mom to connect with other women. Being a mom is hard work and knowing there are families out their experiencing what we did with our son, makes me want to reach out and encourage them to know that it gets better! I try to work on my blog during nap time or after bedtime but right now being a mom is my number one priority.
Have your circle of friends changed now that you're a mother? if so, how do you meet new mommy friends?
We were one of the first couples in our friend group to get married and in turn, become parents. I’ve had a hard time meeting new mom friends after moving to where my husband’s job is but I’m trying to put myself out there more. We were created for community and I thrive from being around other women and moms. I’ve just had to learn that hanging out with other women looks a lot more like shouting to each other from across the playground than sitting on the couch enjoying coffee, and that’s ok!
What’s the least favorite household chore you dread doing?
Probably doing the dishes! It just feels never-ending from one meal to the next! However, I’m sure my husband would say putting away the laundry because we are constantly digging through clean laundry baskets looking for clothes to wear. It is just so easy to hide the laundry baskets in our room and forget about it!
Describe a recent experience when you didn’t have it “all together” and how you handled it all.
I feel this way about every thirty minutes. I constantly go from feeling like I DO have it all together, to turning the car around and coming home from a failed outing. When I am in those really hard moments, I try to take a moment to pray before I react. I am so quick to act on my emotions and start to turn into a mom that I’m not proud of. Taking a few moments to gain perspective really helps.
Fill in the blank: As a mother, it's a luxury to let your body wake up on its own after you’re completely rested. What is sleep anymore?
What is your philosophy on balance and does it exist in your home?
We are working on this more recently. In this season of life with little kids, the house is going to be messy and we are going to be tired! Everyday looks different and I am learning in what situations I can put my daily to-do aside and just play. However, I do think it is important for them to see me working hard at my job as a mom. Even if that means dishes, laundry and cooking and finding ways for them to help me and find value in hard work.
What are your dreams outside of motherhood that you would like to accomplish?
I would really love to see my blog continue! Being a mom is hard and I want to make it easier for other moms to find ways to invest in their children educationally. My husband and I have been discussing how we can grow my blog to reach more families and fill more homes with fun, simple activities for toddlers. I have also been hoping to share to style posts and easy outfit ideas for busy moms.
What is one thing that keeps you sane?
One thing I really appreciate about our marriage, is that in those moments when the kids are crying and everything feels impossible, my husband and I can look at each other and just start belly laughing. Things feel so out of control sometimes, but we know we will miss this season of life. Life is way more fun when we can just laugh together and embrace the messy.
What is one question you'd like to ask our fellow mama readers?
I’d love to know some fun (& free) date night ideas! We are trying to be more intentional about time together without the kiddos and we need some fun plans.