This week we are traveling to the Big Apple to meet Anna, creator of the blog "A Thoughtful Love" and stay-at-home mama to four little ones under the age of 6! Anna loves her hubby, babies, fitness and HATES cooking (we totally get it!) We just love how this mama has prioritized having a family that is at peace and does what's needed to achieve that! So please read on and let's get to know Anna and how she does it all!
Tell us about yourself: Where do you live, age, marital status, number of kids and business. I'm a New York girl! 31 years old, married to my college sweetheart, raising our 4 kids together.
Describe a day in the life of you. Hard to describe a day in the life - every day is different! Ha ha! My basic routine is: Get woken up super early by my toddler, drag myself to the coffee pot, feed all the kids, get my oldest on the bus for school, drop off my second at preschool, and head to the gym. After the gym, I pick up my daughter from preschool and do activities/projects/books/play/errands with all 3 younger kids. Naps/quiet time (a must in our family!). When my oldest comes home from school, we try to spend that hour altogether as a family before my husband leaves for the night shift. After that, it's homework, dinner, baths, bed... and on a good day, I get a couple hours for blogging, photo editing, or just finishing up work around the house.
Do you have help? A nanny or housekeeper? Family? In my dream world, I have a chef because even though I love to bake, I absolutely ha-a-ate cooking! Add in 4 littles ages 6/under and making meals is something I'd so gladly pass to someone else if I could! Ha ha! We are lucky to have both sets of grandparents close by, and they're wonderful about offering to take the kids so we can get a date night or just a little break!
How do you manage to have "me" time? Definitely a struggle for me, and something I'm trying to make room for. I try to schedule time out with a girlfriend once a month; working out is a priority for me, and I've been getting better about planning activities that are just for me, and don't involve the rest of the family. The "me time" really does need to be something outside the house, whether it's something as small as a walk by myself, or something more exciting like an outing with friends. If I'm at home, there are too many distractions - both good and bad! Ha ha - and the "me time" just doesn't happen. I remember one time recently, I tried to take a "relaxing bubble bath," and ended up cleaning the bathroom instead. Oops. :P
How do you manage to make time to stay in shape? Do you workout? Diet? Working out is a priority for me. Shortly after my oldest was born, I joined a local gym, and I've gone 3-5 times a week ever since, including through all my other pregnancies. I notice such a difference in my mood, energy levels, and just overall well-being when I don't work out and (see above question!) exercising at home has just never worked for me. Diet is something that I keep tweaking in our family. I have never followed a specific diet, we just try to eat good foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and as little "boxed" food as possible. But life happens, the days get crazy, and if we eat "less healthy" some days, I don't sweat it.
Do you get ready every day? Makeup, hair and curated outfits? If so, how do you do it with children? Unless we're all sick, I get dressed and put my makeup on every day. I notice an obvious change in my personal motivation when I skip, so I make sure it happens. I have a pretty minimal wardrobe, so picking an outfit isn't a process, and I have my makeup routine down to 10 minutes start to finish. I shower at night and put my hair up so that in the morning, I just take it down and go.
Has your style changed after motherhood? It's definitely simplified, but hasn't changed all that much. I've always preferred wearing solids and neutral colors, with trendy accessories. What has changed is that I prefer to buy less, but buy quality, whereas before I would buy a lot of cheaper quality items, wear them a few times and then they'd sit in my closet.
What's your guilty pleasure? Does watching reruns of "Friends" on Netflix all the time count? Ha ha All my adult friends are talking Game of Thrones, etc. and I'm over here all... nah, just give me some laughs and old-time fun while I eat chips in my bed. ;)
If you breastfeed, how do you schedule your day around feedings and outings? I'm not breastfeeding right now, but when I did, it didn't really affect my day any. I fed around the same time as regular family meals, and then as needed if we were out and about.
How many hours of sleep to you get a night on average? 4-5.
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. Priority for me is a peaceful home and family. Generally, that means keeping our home neat because our family does best in a calm environment. I'm not really concerned about outfits, but I do want my children to learn manners, kindness and respect. So my priorities each day center around those goals. In general, laundry is the first thing to be "sacrificed," closely followed by cooking a fabulous dinner. I'm totally okay with serving eggs or oatmeal for dinner, if that means everyone is peaceful and feeling loved.
Do you cook meals every day for your family? If so, how do you plan them? Ha. Well, I'm pretty sure you've all gotten the memo in this interview that I loathe cooking. So I try to make meals that are as simple as possible and involve minimal kitchen time for me. Any time I cook, I cook double amounts. I use my crockpot often, and do a lot of stir fry, baked chicken, etc. with veggies. I plan meals every two weeks, when I grocery shop, and then make the meals whenever during that two-week period.
Have you ever felt like you are losing yourself to motherhood and/or life? If so, how did you bounce back? Oh my goodness, yes. I shared my story pretty openly on my blog, but I ended up with depression while pregnant with my 4th baby, which turned into severe postpartum depression a few months after she was born. I couldn't function, was overwhelmed by the simplest parts of mothering, and was even suicidal at one point. Luckily, I had friends and a husband who noticed what was happening and when I opened up to them, I got the help I needed.
Does hubby help you with anything particular? If so, what and how? He is very hands-on with the kids, and is the handy-man in our house for any/all minor projects that need to be done. He also actually LOVES to cook, so when time allows, he'll sometimes treat us to an amazing meal. Mostly, he is the main income-provider in our family, so he works long hours and is truly present to his family when he's home.
How do you manage motherhood and marriage? Always a little bit of a juggling act for me, and I don't know if I will ever have it "managed," but what we've found works for us is for each of us to have time together AND time apart (kid-free). We try to have 2 date nights a month - at least one of them out of the house. We encourage each other in our individual hobbies/interests, and each of us has friends of our own, as well as married couple friends. We learned early on that marriage is 100/100 - what that looks like from the outside has changed from time to time, but at all times - we put all in. And the marriage comes first. Always.
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'm home with our kids for now, and the blog is my main work. Having 4 kids so close in age, it made much more sense for us to have one parent stay home. When my second starts kindergarten and my third starts preschool... we might tweak this part of our family setup. ;)
Have your circle of friends changed now that you're a mother? if so, how do you meet new mommy friends? I would have to say that it has grown and definitely strengthened with motherhood. Some friends carried over from college into motherhood, and many beautiful friendships were formed through school/neighborhood. Motherhood has been a common bond that transcends so many differences, and my "mom tribe" is one of the greatest blessings in my life.
What's the least favorite household chore you dread doing? Cooking? Ha ha! Not a huge fan of folding laundry, either.
Describe a recent experience when you didn't have it "all together" and how you handled it all. Oh my goodness, almost every day, you guys. This season of motherhood is a constant juggling act for me and I almost never feel like I have it all together. I just take one day at a time, and try to find the joy in the moments as they come, to hold onto in the crazy ones.
Fill in the blank: As a mother, it's a luxury to __________________ ...do basic things like sleep, eat, make an appointment.
What is your philosophy on balance and does it exist in your home? For me, balance comes down to peace and joy - in our hearts and our homes. Despite the craziness of this season, I think we more or less have found that balance in our life - what works for us in terms of kids/marriage/friendships/finances/goals.
What are your dreams outside of motherhood that you would like to accomplish? My immediate dreams include pursuing a job in social work, and living debt-free. My long-term dreams include travel and photography!
What is one thing that keeps you sane? Coffee, my husband, and going to the gym. Wait that's three things. Maybe I'm not sane after all. Ha ha!
What is one question you'd like to ask our fellow mama readers? What changed for you the most when you became a mother?