Loving the Little Years

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I love my kids and I love being a Mom. But it's not for the faint of heart.

Me and my hubby say it all the time. Parenting is high highs and low lows. The good moments are so sweet, so filled with joy, so precious, so amazing you feel like you're going to explode with gratitude. And the low moments are patience testing, blood pressure raising, character building, push you to your absolute limit. 

So in light of the joys and challenges of parenthood, I've decided to share a few ways that I've found to love life in the midst of the chaos. To find joy in the ordinary. And this isn't coming from someone who looks back on the little years with bliss, this is coming from a Momma who's right in the midst of it. 

Yes, I got peed on last week in the middle of the night. Yes, my baby frequently wakes up at or before 5am. Yes, my day includes cleaning up many a smashed cheerio, spilled milk, and squished black bean. Yes, I love it. And yes, I struggle.

So from a Momma who loves my little ones to pieces, and also feels the weight of the challenge of motherhood, here's my two cents on how to find joy in the journey. 

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  • Sleep lots. Eat Well. Exercise often.

Easier said than done, right? I know, I know. But I've found these three things are crucial. An absolute must. One goes out the window and I can totally tell that I am off.

We want the magic pill so bad. That one that makes us feel rested, thin, and 18 again. But in reality, there's no way to cheat in these few areas in life. And when it comes to being a Mom, I've found there is nothing more paramount then sleeping, eating well, and exercising. It sure ain't sexy, but I find that when I do these three things, and focus on doing them well, my whole outlook, attitude, patience, and energy level are so much better.   

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  • Dress for the kind of day you want to have. 

Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black on this one. Yep, I'm guilty. I thought I'd include a photo of me in my purple striped pajama pants to get you motivated. 

All I know is, the days that I wake up early, get dressed, and put on a little makeup, I feel ready to tackle just about anything. It can feel like a silly little thing, but for whatever reason, being dressed and ready to greet the day makes me feel like I'm ready to take on the world. 

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  • Crank up the music!

Pandora saved my life. Well, not literally, but some days it sure feels like it. 

When my sister introduced me to the Elizabeth Mitchell Pandora station, I wanted to kiss her.

Goodbye overly upbeat, uber cheesy, almost intolerable toddler music. 

Hello happy, refreshing, and wonderful listening. 

Game changer. Go make Elizabeth Mitchell one of your Pandora Stations. Seriously...some good listening. 

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  • Don't compare yourself to others. 

They say comparison is the thief of joy. Oh man, is that true for me. Can I get an amen from the choir? 

Seriously, how easy is it to compare our lives to the highly edited version of life we see of friends, celebrities, bloggers, and pinners of the world? We see only small glimpses into people's worlds...a pseudo reality of their best moments...only what they choose to share on Instagram, and instantly we can spiral, thinking our life is so blah in comparison. 

I'm not anti-technology or social media by any means, but I am cautious of what it can do to my heart. This is definitely a work in progress for me, but I know that when I am more present with my kids than with what's happening on the phone or computer, and when I have boundaries for how I engage the social media world, things seem to go a lot better. 

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  • Give yourself a break.

I've found it's somewhat universal. As moms, we're pretty hard on ourselves. We hold a high standard and have created an ideal in our heads of what we should be living up to. Whenever we fall short, we feel guilty. 

My super hero mom ideal includes kids who are always polite, incredibly obedient, don't throw fits, never watch TV, eat an attractively presented wide variety of healthy food, are outside and active several hours each day, and are always fun to be around. That just gets me started. 

Oh goodness. You wonder why I have issues. 

When I admit to what I really expect, I realize I expect too much. Too much from little ones who are just learning, just beginning in life, and just figuring it all out. They are kids after all. And I want them to be! 

If I can give up some of my high ideals, for myself and for my kids, I can enjoy the beautiful mess. I can laugh...both at myself and them. I can enjoy the journey. 

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If all else fails, and let's face it, sometimes it does, then I pretend that I am in a real life episode of The Amazing Race. I imagine that I have to complete whatever "challenge" is ahead of me, with both girls in tow, without losing my cool. If I do, I win a million dollars. 

Heeheeee... maybe I should write to the show and suggest it. Amazing Race: Parenthood Edition. Phil Koeghan hands each team a toddler at the beginning of the season with which they have to include in all their travels and challenges. Now there's an idea, CBS. 

Happy midweek to you all! 

xo, 

Vanessa

***If you need some more great tips on navigating parenthood, I HIGHLY recommend ordering a copy of Loving the Little Years : Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. One of my all time favorite parenting books. Practical, witty, and chapters short enough to tackle before I crash for the night. Score.