I’ve said before that I’m not the most maternal person so I’m asking for all the tips, hacks, & tricks I can get. Jule is #momgoals all the way so I had to ask her to come on & give her take on motherhood. A little background for ya…
Jule & I were introduced by our friend Ingrid de la Mare-Kenny ( who is fabulous ). Ingrid raved about Jule & told me I had to meet her & that I would absolutely love her. When Jule was featured on Julie Lauren’s podcast Hashtag No Filter, I immediately fell in love & started watching her Instagram Stories. After watching Jule, I saw she had a real gift of connecting with her audience on a fun level. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, & she gets it. She’s smart as a whip, she’s fucking funny, & she’s totally someone I would hang out with in person if we lived on the same coast.
ACTUALLY !!!! We did hang out in person. We met at The King Cole bar in New York City. Jule tells the story on her last blog post for TSC where she shares 10 life hacks. It’s a good one guys. Fresher laundry, fizzier champagne, the best frying pan & more. You gotta check it out.
With that, let’s welcome back Jule The Bee to the blog.
This morning was a doozy. It started with me cornering my two children in their bathroom & threatening their very existence. Tensions are running high in my household with construction that has been going on since June 6th. Living in tight quarters together through dust, noise, debris, & decisions ( like thousands of decisions ) on the daily has created an environment that has tested my parenting skills ( & my marriage, but we can save that topic for another time ) in a way that I never dreamed of.
But while I have excused myself from Yom Kippur this year to get this piece written & do some quiet soul searching on my own, I cannot excuse myself from the 24/7 job of mothering. So when preggo mama Lauryn Evarts aka “The Skinny Confidential” reached out & asked if I would write another piece for her blog on the topic of motherhood, it felt like the perfect fit.
There is so much emotion wrapped up in this topic for me. It’s the single most complicated endeavor I have ever taken on with zero hope of ever crossing the finish line. We never get to run through that ribbon at the end of the race signifying we finished successfully. There is no finish line. Remember that scene in the movie Parenthood? No? Go watch it; it’s one of my faves. Report back, please.
Lauryn asked me for my top 10 motherhood tips. Gulp. There are no hacks, no whittling it down to a top 10, but here’s what I can offer to those patting their swollen bellies nervous with anticipation from the idea of motherhood & here’s what I can offer to those already in the trenches. And by the way, every mother is. And I feel sorry for the ones who won’t admit they are. There is no room for Martha Stewart in motherhood, trust me on this one.
But here’s what has gotten me through from minute one & here’s what continues to help me now, even with kids at 11 & 13 years old. Double gulp.
♡ Squeaky clean sanity.
You are doing great if you get a shower. There will be days when you are so tired & dirty & sleep deprived with nipples sore & cracked & bleeding from breastfeeding, ( that was so not a plug for breastfeeding; I am all about happy mommy/happy baby, & don’t give a rat’s ass if you bottle feed ) if you fall into bed clean at night it should be considered a successful day.
I used to place the baby in a vibrating bouncy seat & my 2 year old in front of a basket kept in our bathroom specifically for him filled with books, chunky wooden puzzles, & soft toys that he couldn’t whack the baby with by accident ( or was that on purpose? ), along with our Wheaten Terrier Luca, I’d lock the bathroom door from the inside & actually get a long, hot more often than not, fairly delicious, semi-relaxing shower. Privacy? Who dat? But clean hair, hot steam & swan diving into bed smelling human was everything. Come to think of it, it’s still my definition of surviving.
♡ Eye contact, always.
Make them make eye contact. From the time that they emerged into this world I have made it a point to make eye contact with my children & to expect the same from them in return. It signifies respect, it shows a connected communication, & it guarantees that you don’t hear later on, “I never heard you say that.”
As babies, that eye contact is part of how they will communicate with you when words have not yet formed. Eye contact can reveal humor, discipline, love, anger, an entire spectrum of emotions & commands without a word being said. To this day I say to my kids all the time, “Give me your eyes.” It tells them to lock into what’s going on outside of their phones & technology & to tune into me. Their mother. Their BOSS. Correct.
♡ Manners are a non-negotiable.
Channel your inner southerner. Manners are part of raising nice kids, but they also segway into raising nice adults! While I am southern born, I am northern raised & I swear my tiny, very southern mother became even more southern when a move to New Jersey threatened to squash the southern out of her & her children. We were slightly terrified of her. Always. And while I LOVE the fact that I laugh till my stomach hurts with my boys, they better always be a wee bit afraid of me, too.
Of course pleases & thank yous are important, but it all begins with that eye contact ( see above ) & not allowing your kids to hide behind the shy card. I wanted my kids to be able to converse with other people, not just other kids their age, but also OUR peers! If they don’t stand up when an adult approaches our table, shake hands or give a hug where appropriate, they are dead. Like dust. Like I own you & I will destroy you if you embarrass yourself/me. One a& the same. You/your child. Most people don’t get that. I’m here to tell you, it be true. They are a direct reflection of YOU.
♡ Dance & then dance some more.
Growing up in my house, dinners were always tense. There was very little pleasure in being around the dinner table together. From the time my kids were babies Bazz & I made it a habit to have dance parties in our little yellow kitchen. Tired? Throw on Pink & make that kid squeal with delight in his high chair while mommy dances like a total ass. Had a bad day at the office? JLo might be the cure. Music makes motherhood more fun. To this day & for anyone who watches me on my Instagram Stories, music makes my world go ’round. It’s probably what I miss most about being tits deep in this construction & not having a kitchen. I cannot wait to christen that new space with music, challah french toast & a dance party with my boys.
♡ Don’t forget the wine.
ALWAYS have a bottle of your favorite wine on hand. Every time I see Arielle Charnas of Something Navy sipping on her red wine at the 5ish pm hour on her Instagram feed I start to salivate. It’s like a Pavlovian motherhood bell sounds & we all can breathe a bit easier that another day is in the books & we can collectively take a sip & sigh. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a champagne & wine guzzling whore. My favorites to have on hand chilled& at the ready are Veuve Cliquot Champagne & Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Night night Ruby Lou, sleep well Esme, go to bed Madden & Dex!!!!
♡ Ask for help.
Never ever did any mother regret spending money on help. There were moments when I would have handed over both my kids to Jack The Ripper just to get in an hour of sleep. Here’s a secret. YOU CAN PAY PEOPLE TO WATCH YOUR CHILDREN WHILE YOU SLEEP. Oh! You’re a martyr? Well, knock that shit off right now. No one likes a complainer who refuses to seek help. I’m not suggesting that you break budgets or hand them off to the guy who mows your grass ( though Antonio is wonderful with my kids & believe me I’ve thought about it ), I am suggesting that you carve out a small budget ( or a large one depending on your sitch ) & work those hours! And by work I mean drive around the corner from your house & take a fucking nap in your car if that’s what you need. I used to pretend to leave the house & sneak back in once the kids were settled with a sitter & go take a delicious drooling nap. I would have paid anything for sleep. Have a mother in law who will come rock him or her for free? Lucky you, take her up on it, you fool! Now, go sleep! And then while you’re at it, grab that shower too!
When Madden was 6 weeks old, Bazz moved us to Manchester, Vermont for two months while he temporarily took over as CEO of a local company that he had invested in. I felt like I was in The Shining. There we were in the middle of bumble FUCK Vermont, in a sprawling 6,000 square foot rented home with a newborn. Did I mention we had one car up there? Every morning Bazz would leave for the office & I would sit in that house with that baby going a little bit more crazy with each passing day. Each night Bazz would come “home” to find his wife in the fetal position on the floor of the kitchen covered in spit up & bitterness. I hated it. But I was also focused on the wrong shit. The laundry was perfect & smelled of Dreft & not one item of Madden’s clothing touched the dryer, the bed was perfectly made, & every single thank you note for every single baby gift was perfectly written & marked off in an Excel spreadsheet. And I was miserable. Sleep deprived, alone, & without help. Don’t be a Jule The Bee in the woods of VT bitter & dirty & alone. Open your mouth & ask for help. Very rarely will you regret it. Also, that’s part of the joy of spending money on it. The only opinion that matters is the one who writes the check.
♡ Keep those kiddos clean.
Ya know how I told you that falling into bed clean at the end of the day is a marker of success & survival? Well, guess what? Same goes for your kiddos. I am fairly certain that in the 11 & 13 years on this earth my kids have skipped a bath or a shower maybe 3 times. And I believe each of these times were from being on an overnight flight to I don’t remember where. And by the way, even then everyone has to shower right before we leave for the airport. While I am well aware that I am bat shit crazy & that nothing brings me greater joy than all things & people clean & organized, I also know that warm water, bubbles & dim lighting brings about better moods & sleep patterns. It also kills time. And sometimes that’s what motherhood is about, killing time & getting through. My kids were the most scheduled babies ever. They were like that because their mother ( me, The Bee ) required it! I craved knowing what was coming next. Especially when I went back to work for a stint & other people were helping me to raise them. Bath time is one of those time blocks that is controllable, pleasurable ( most of the time ), & signifies bedtime. And let’s be honest, THAT is the best signal ever!
♡ 1, 2, 3 Magic!
Count to three & mean it. I am not kidding when I tell you the following: my kids still stop dead in their tracks if I start to count. Are you knee deep in diapers, terrible twos or just lost in your own head as to how you are going to discipline these creatures? Grab a copy of the only parenting book that I personally found effective & do a quick read.
ONE! If I even mutter this under my breath quietly in public they know I’m not fucking around. TWO! Make eye contact while you count. And let me tell you ( I’m not exaggerating ) I think I’ve gotten to THREE maybe twice. MAGIC!
Tired & sleep deprived & desperate for me to give you the Cliffs Notes version? I got ya covered. Here it is in a nutshell: you are not raising cute babies, you are raising human beings. The magic is the follow through. One & two is their warning to get their shit together. Three is the magic because they now know that you are the boss, you are quietly ( sometimes not so quietly ) in control, & that YOU are in the driver’s seat. Not them. YOU. Guess what? They don’t want to be anyway. Not really. So have a plan & don’t be afraid to implement it, don’t you dare hesitate. Follow through is everything. Otherwise you’ve basically just taken a toddler, ripped its diaper off & handed him a gun. That’s what you should picture every time you think you’re too tired to follow through.
Also, & hugely important, I am not suggesting for one second that I know what your consequence should be with your kid. I am suggesting that you use common sense. I never used this as a means to hit my kids. Once, when Madden was about two, I gave him what a friend of mine at the time called a “stinger.” It was basically a rough, quick slap to the hand & to this day, all these years later, I feel physically ill when I think of that moment. I will never forget the look of shock on my son’s face when I slapped his tiny hand. Ugh. Had I been listening to my gut & not the religious rantings of that friend & her idea of discipline, I would have recognized that my kid didn’t require that & all he needed were gentle but firm boundaries. “1,2,3 Magic” is for boundary settings. “Please go brush your teeth” is an example of where this works. Catching your child kicking the dog or hitting his sister, not so much. For something like that you’d go straight to the consequence. Make sense? Good! ‘Cause spoiler alert, it doesn’t get any easier. So nip this shit in the bud. Yeppers.
♡ DWV for the win.
Heads up. Kids are gross. So is their laundry. Sweat, spit up, baby poop, & later on potty training gone horribly wrong, & smelly soccer socks. Need I say more? So every single time you place that PeaPod order or maneuver your grocery cart down the aisle of your local supermarket, grab a bottle of Distilled White Vinegar. Pour it in your bleach compartment, dump some in the drum of your machine & use it in place of bleach. It kills bacteria, it eliminates smells, it whitens your whites, it’s safe on colors, it’s safe for your babies skin, & it’s good for the environment. You’re welcome. You might remember I talked about my Top 10 Life Hacks on TSC earlier this year, which included using distilled white vinegar. Read them all here.
♡ Drink them in.
You’re gonna get frustrated, pissed, wish you had more of a life, think thoughts you feel ashamed to think, let alone would admit out loud, but still please drink them in. Also, let them feel you drink them in. It’s ok to go from smelling their baby heads to grabbing your 13 year old & kissing the top of his head that now is on the verge of towering over your own. It’s true that the days drag on & the years fly by. Drink it in, just like you would that tall, cold, bubble filled flute of the best champagne. Drink it in. & Lauryn, should you need that drool filled sleep for an hour or two, you can always call me & I’ll hold the baby.
P.S. All illustrations are by @courtneycoloring.
I hope you guys are loving Jule’s posts as much as I am. Want to hear more? Well, guess what? Jule & Julie Lauren of Hashtag No Filter will be doing a live podcast recording with Lindsey Metselaar of We Met At Acme on October 16th in NYC.
Listen to them chat about dating, relationships, marriage, motherhood, divorce, sex, following your passion, friendships, & a lot more juicy stuff. Get your tickets here!
In the meantime, be sure to follow Jule on Instagram. Also, for more Jule The Bee & all the buzz head over to julethebee.com. Jule has so many amazing recipes & product recommendations. You have to check out her magic pan. She sent me one & it’s the best.
+ head over to Jule’s blog to read my top 10 life hacks.
++ scope Sivan Ayla’s post on how to keep your life after having a baby.