In this weeks' "How Does She Do It?" spotlight, we are heading to Arizona and getting to know Paige Rangel. This mama of three and self-described "full time mom/taxi-driver" runs the beautiful blog and Instagram account, The Love Designed Life and also an amazing project called Mother and Child, Co. So kick back, grab your cup of coffee, or glass of wine–depending on which continent you live in, and let's chat with Paige to see how she does it!
Tell us about yourself: Where do you live, age, marital status, number of kids and business.
Hi! I'm Paige, mama to three little birds: Adriano - 5.5, Alessandra - 3, and Diego - 18 months. My husband and I have been married 10 years this June (!) and together we live with our babes in the sunny desert of Phoenix, Arizona. By day, I am a full time mom/taxi driver. Growing up, I never thought I would be a stay at home mom, but now here I am and I honestly can't imagine it any other way. By night, I write my blog, The Love Designed Life, a motherhood lifestyle blog. I also style for my little project I call Mother + Child Co., which are premium photography sessions for mothers + their children at all of life's beautiful stages.
Describe a day in the life of you.
Our day starts early. My kids are usually up around 6:00 am and drag me with them to make breakfast. My husband used to do breakfast duty, but lately he has been going to the gym early, so it's all me. After breakfast, it's get all three kiddos dressed, brushed teeth, beds made and out the door. Seems like we always forget at least 5 things, but somehow we make it and lately we have been doing better about getting out on time. My son's school playground opens at 8:25 am so we drop him off first. My daughter goes to preschool just two days a week, so if it's a Tuesday or Thursday, I take her next. Then, I head to the gym with my littlest. Thank goodness we belong to a really nice gym with fantastic childcare, because after I do yoga (most days) I shower too! Otherwise, showers don't happen for me so often.
By the time we get through all that, it's time to head home for lunch, and then a nap for Diego. Alessandra doesn't nap really anymore, so when she is home, we go for quiet time. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't! Haha. So sometimes I answer emails, and sometimes I don't. Most often during nap time, I really only have time to clean up the tornado from the morning and lunch food thrown on the floor, check Instagram, and then it's time to get everyone up by 2:30 pm so we can pack snacks and head out the door again for school pick-ups.
Lately, we have been keeping busy with after school activities. Sometimes it seems hectic, but we all seem to thrive when we have activities for the kids to look forward too. So it's snacks in the car and then off to basketball, tennis, dance, or yoga! By 5:00 pm we are usually back home for dinner. We are so lucky that most days, dad meets us home around this same time. And he usually cooks dinner because I am wiped! We often turn on the TV at this time because the kids get loopy and it allows one or both of us to make dinner with a little less chaos. Dinner and bedtime are a two-person job with three kids because it's dinner, baths, pajamas, teeth brushing, books, homework, and if there's time, maybe a little more TV. Then there's the one last potty, one last drink of water, one last hug and kiss, and eventually sleep. Since the kids are all different ages, right now their bedtimes are staggered a bit- Diego goes down at 7:00 pm, Alessandra at 7:30 pm, and Adriano at 8:00 pm. Then my husband and I finish all the dishes, laundry, and cleaning up from the day. And then I go to work. I have been getting better lately at going to bed earlier, but I often find myself up until 2:00 am catching up on work, writing a blog post, etc.
Do you have help? A nanny or housekeeper? Family?
We do have a wonderful cleaning lady who comes every other week. And the gym, that I mentioned, is a huge reprieve for me when I need some me-time. I actually sometimes go there just to catch up on work and utilize the childcare. Neither my husband's or my parents live near us, but we do have extended family that helps us every now and then for a date night. Which is just so wonderful because hiring sitters and going out can be so freakin' expensive!
How do you manage to have “me” time?
My gym time every day has been such a blessing for daily me time. Especially since naps around here are so hit-and-miss! Also on the weekends, my husband is really great about taking the kids if I want to do something fun with my girlfriends, catch up on work, or even have time by myself. And of course, he has opportunities to do the same when he needs a break.
How do you manage to make time to stay in shape? Do you workout? Diet?
Oh gosh well staying in shape is a tough one! Again, having access to the gym helps. They have some really wonderful yoga classes there and that is what I enjoy the most. Even still, I have had a hard time shedding the baby weight since baby #3. I have diastasis recti (the abdominal separation from pregnancy, which in some cases like mine, doesn't completely heal on it's own). Basically that just means I have a perma-pooch that won't go away with diet and exercise! But to the diet question, I haven't really dieted at all. When I was breastfeeding my daughter, she couldn't have dairy, even through my breast milk. And I am a vegetarian. Being so restricted in my diet was so hard, that I kinda took an, "I'm going to eat what I want" approach. But eating better is one of my goals for this new year!
Do you get ready every day? Makeup, hair and curated outfits? If so, how do you do it with children?
I shower (almost) every day. Even immediately postpartum with each kid, when I had time to do nothing else other than nurse and keep humans alive, I made time to shower, somehow. My everyday style is mostly my yoga clothes, topknot, and no makeup. But if I shower, I MIGHT put some makeup on. And if I have an event that day to attend, or a date that night, I'll even do my hair. ;)
Has your style changed after motherhood?
After my first and second, it didn't change much because I had to go back to work at a full time office job. The only difference was I had to wear tops with easy access for nursing and pumping. When I became a SAHM, I went through a major identity crisis with my style because I was finding myself in yoga pants every day. And this was when I was not working out AT ALL. Haha. Not that there is anything wrong with that! I know lots of mamas who pull that look off seamlessly. But for me, I just didn't feel myself. Finding my mom-style was a process, but now I am so happy to put on regular clothes most days.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate, wine, and coffee. Almost to a fault. Trying to be less indulgent with all three lately though! I'm not sure if this is considered a guilty pleasure, but I also LOVE yoga and try to do it every day.
If you breastfeed, how do you schedule your day around feedings and outings?
I just finished breastfeeding my youngest a few months ago and I am still sad about it! Since he was older, he was only breastfeeding a couple of times a day - morning and night. So it was no biggie. But when he was little, it was trickier. I would schedule our outings around his 3-hour schedule, school drop-offs and pick-ups, etc. Getting out in those days was NOT easy!
How many hours of sleep to you get a night on average?
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.
I guess everything gets sacrificed a little! It is important to me that all my kids are dressed when we are leaving the house and that the beds are made. The kitchen and living room are most often left a disaster. And please don't go into the laundry room if you ever come to my house! We basically live out of the mountain of clean clothes piled on top of it at all times. Deadlines often get pushed because I have to be 100% mom during the day, which is when a lot of other people do business. And sleep. Sleep definitely gets sacrificed because there just aren't enough hours in the day.
Do you cook meals every day for your family? If so, how do you plan them?
That depends what you define as cooking, haha! I am big on breakfast and totally believe it is the most important meal of the day. My kids LOVE cereal and we do have that some days, but I make eggs a lot, oatmeal, or "bear" toast. I like to keep it healthy and switch it up! Lunches are most often packed by dad and involve a lot of sandwiches. For dinner, we do eat and cook at home a lot! What has helped us so much as far as meal planning goes is our subscription to Sunbasket. It takes the planning and shopping parts out of the whole hassle, and delivers healthy, organic ingredients to make three meals a week right to our house! They are so good and have helped us branch out of our normal food rut too.
Have you ever felt like you are loosing yourself to motherhood and or life? If so, how did you bounce back?
Oh my goodness YES. For me, the first year of each baby's life was the hardest. Each time, for different reasons. One of them partly being that my hormones and emotions were totally out of whack in the postpartum period. After my first was born, I did end up on antidepressants and it helped get me through. But mostly it was just time. I also had a really hard time when we first moved here to Arizona because I simultaneously quit my job, became a stay at home mom, and found out I was pregnant with baby #3. It was a lot of change at once and in so many ways just never how I pictured my life going. Again, time has helped me feel better about all of these changes and to be able to see what opportunities all that change has given me.
Does hubby help you with anything particular? If so, what and how?
He helps with so much! He cooks dinner most every night, helps with bedtime, AND does the dishes. It is seriously such a big help to have him around in the evenings to do all that because for one, it gives me a break after being on with the kids all day. On the weekends, we divide and conquer our busy schedules to get the kids to where they need to be. And he is so great about helping out if I have a photo shoot or any other work on any given day! He works in sales and is able to work from home. The flexibility he has there really helps me to be able to get my work done too.
How do you manage motherhood and marriage?
It is such a hard balance! I won't lie, there have been more times than not where motherhood has come first for me over the past 5.5 years. I think what has really helped get us through is being open and honest with each other at all times (sometimes to a fault). Communication is key! And being respectful of one another and listening when the other needs something. In the beginning of motherhood, I felt like it was just me, doing all of the parenting, household chores, and at the time I was still working full time in an office. I was exhausted! What I learned was that my husband just plain didn't see it that way. Not because he didn't care, but I just don't think he even realized how much I was doing. Over the years, and what feels like thousands of conversations (okay some were more heated than others!) he has stepped up SO much to become the husband and father I have described in the other questions so far. He really is super helpful!
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 do work out of my house, at night after everyone is in bed. My blog is a source of income for me and also my Mother + Child Co. sessions. I wish I could find more time during the day to work, but my days are filled with taking care of my littles, so the nighttime it is.
Have your circle of friends changed now that you're a mother? if so, how do you meet new mommy friends?
Yes and no. When I was pregnant with my first, none of my closest friends were having babies. I felt pretty alone. So I joined a mommy + me group and it was my saving grace for that first year of his life. Those friends are still some of my favorite people today, though now we live in a different city. My best friends from college whom I have always stayed in touch with now all have babies and all of our kids are around the same ages. We are also all separated by distance, but stay close with daily text messages. And I have found a great circle of mom friends in one of the places I once thought very unlikely- Instagram. There is a great community of mamas on that platform that I sincerely adore.
What’s the least favorite household chore you dread doing?
Laundry and dishes. And cleaning the toilets. I am NOT a good housekeeper!
Describe a recent experience when you didn’t have it “all together” and how you handled it all.
Oh the moments I do not have it all together usually aren't pretty! Mom brain is real and I feel like I am always forgetting something (often I am). One of the hardest times of the day is about 5 pm-8 pm. And when my husband is traveling for work, it's really hard to get it all done. I have to stagger bedtimes so I can get all the baths, showers, pajamas, homework, and teeth brushing done. I usually lose my cool at some point and yell at the kids. I try not to as much as possible, but man, it can be so frustrating! There is usually some TV at some point in these evenings to keep them distracted. And take out! I remind myself to breathe and we just get through it. Some nights are easier than others!
Fill in the blank: As a mother, it's a luxury to __________________
To go pee alone! haha. But really to do anything alone is my favorite. I dance through aisles at Target alone. And if I can get a spa day or some other type of luxury like that ALONE, that means it must be a really special day!
What is your philosophy on balance and does it exist in your home?
If it does exist, I haven't found it yet! But I am ever on the quest to find it. I guess for me, the dream would be just to have quality time with my kids, to be able to do the work I am so passionate about, and to be able to sleep enough!
What are your dreams outside of motherhood that you would like to accomplish?
My dream for my blog is to be a resource for other mamas of young children and to be able to connect mamas who are going through similar phases of motherhood. My Mother + Child Co. project is an extension of that and really is like a dream for me. Our aim is to make mamas feel special and to capture priceless moments in their motherhood journey. Every time I get to work with a mama, it makes me so emotional!
What is one thing that keeps you sane?
My daily yoga practice.
What is one question you'd like to ask our fellow mama readers?
I would love to hear what one thing keeps them sane!?
Keep in touch with Paige on her blog and Instagram!