Musings On Hot Mess Motherhood

The not-having-it-all-together Frugalwoods fam

People think I have it all together. The only reason I know this is because a lot of people email me saying, “wow, you really have it all together.” I close those emails immediately and never respond because: 1) my email inbox is a horror show of un-replied-to messages; and 2) I don’t know how to explain to these well-meaning strangers that I in no way have it all together. Mostly I am a mess and I spend my days trying to get through them with sporadic bursts of creativity in the form of writing or, as it happens right now, making gigantic sandwiches from excavated refrigerator remnants.

When you write about your life, as I do, there’s a tremendous temptation to make oneself look good. Most of us, after all, would prefer not to look like disorganized morons–speaking for myself here (although I did show you guys that before photo of my atrocious basement… ). But it’s also true that each one of us has a personal pros and cons list. I’ve written about my cons many times over the years–and quite a bit in my book–because one of my goals in writing is to share how I learn and evolve as a person. I don’t write about my downsides to whine about my life, or in search of sympathy or advice; I write about them because they’re part of life. I write about them because I feel better when I read about other people who’ve experienced what I experience.

My hope is that perhaps by writing about my imperfect journey, some of you might find comfort, solace, a sense of belonging, or, at the very least, a laugh. I am riddled with errors, self-doubt (and mustard from my sandwich at present moment) and so today, please enjoy a vingnette on how I most definitely do not have it all together, with some thoughts on how I’m trying to better get it together.

Why I Haven’t Been Writing Much Lately

I haven’t been writing much lately. Or at least, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to or as much as I used to. One reason for this? My life is hectic.

My book baby and actual baby

The past five months threw me off with their frenzy. It’s all good, wonderful, wanted stuff, but despite how wonderful and wanted it is, it strained my abilities as a multi-tasking, high energy, gets-a-lot-done type of person. I feel much more like a myopic, unfocused, exhausted person lately. In February of this year, our second daughter–Littlewoods–was born. A few weeks later, my first book published. Then, our older daughter’s preschool went on summer break. Next up was a slew of summer visitors to the homestead, accompanied by the accelerated, dizzying pace of summer outside work: planting and tending the garden, pruning the fruit trees, harvesting wood for winter, and on and on.

Each and every one of these things is wonderful and wanted. Each and every one of these things was conceived of and executed at my behest. In so many ways, I am living out my dream life of being a writer, mama, and homesteader. But I wasn’t prepared for how different our lives would be with the glorious addition of Littlewoods. One kid is a ton of work, but two kids under age three often feels like a suffocating amount of work. I recently wrote that parenting little kids feels like walking through water with clothes on because you’re constantly exhausted, constantly on alert, and constantly in demand by one child or the other. The wonderful is so closely twined with the overwhelmed.

So in short, I’m super busy.

The Other Reason

The other reason I haven’t been writing as much lately is that I’m afraid you might not want to read what I want to write; because the thing is, my focus isn’t on money right now. It’s not on frugality or increasing my income or doing spectacularly efficient things with my taxes. It’s just not. Lately, every time I sit down to try and write to you about investing or 401ks or optimal frugality, I just can’t. I don’t have the words or the inspirational thoughts because my attention is sucked back towards my kids (but hey, lucky for you, there are no less than 458 articles on this site that you can read and most of them are about money. Although one is about popcorn. And another is about bananas. Then there’s a whole series about stuff I’ve found in the trash… but the rest are about money, I swear!).

Peonies in our garden

Rather than militate against this phase of my life and write something profoundly corny about why frugality has made me a happier person (which it has!), I think I’ll write about where I find myself right now. Your enthusiastic reactions to my recent piece about looking like someone’s mom (which, whoa buddy, I do… ) opened my mind up to the possibility that maybe you DO want to hear about my days these days. That maybe you ARE interested in the grinding minutiae that is parenting.

Lately, my This Month On The Homestead posts are chronicles of the herculean work my husband does around our property to maintain and advance our permaculture homesteading goals. “But what about you, Mrs. Frugalwoods? What is it that YOU do?” many of you have asked. Well, I’ll tell you.

Impermanent Work

All of my work these days feels impermanent, which is an aspect of parenting small children that challenges my personality on a visceral level. I run around with few opportunities to sit down or eat food (or go to the bathroom alone… ) all day long and what do I have to show for it after they’re in bed? Nothing. Or at least, nothing tangible.

Me and the crew

I empty the dishwasher, I load the dishwasher. I clean the kitchen, I mess up the kitchen, I clean it again. I wash laundry, it gets dirty, I wash it again. My never-ending household maintence cycle tempts me with the illusion of accomplishment, only to rip it out of my hands the next time someone (not me, I swear) pees their pants. I’m on an endless treadmill of repeated, rote work. And I’m not a treadmill person. I’ll sweep the floors and experience this weird elation that FINALLY I have DONE SOMETHING with my life. Someone pin a medal on me. Then I turn around and Babywoods is making foot impressions on play-dough that I can just HEAR grinding into the floor boards. I like to see things completed. I like to check off a list and move onto the next thing, but linear success doesn’t happen for me these days.

I think I’m in the R&D phase of parenting. I’m laying the groundwork for (hopefully) encouraging the growth of intelligent, kind, hilarious, thoughtful people. I know my work isn’t all for naught and I know that the intangibles are where it’s at. But still, it’d be great to get a report card on parenting, wouldn’t it? To KNOW that we’re doing the right things. To see a big, fat A for “teaching your child not to dump soup in her lap during dinner. A+ for that one, mom.” But straightforward metrics don’t exist. It’s a long slog, parenting, and it’s tough to know if your decisions are right.

Maybe I’m setting my kids up for major success; on the other hand, maybe I’m failing them spectacularly. It’s a lot easier to accurately manage your money, which might be why I’ve found so much fulfillment (and comfort) in writing about just that. Parenting, on the other hand, feels like sticking my head into a cave so dark I can’t see my own feet and yet expecting to emerge with gold in my hands. In other words, impossible and rewarding. There’s a level of nuance and intuition to parenting that can’t be put into a spreadsheet, which chafes against my nature.

I’d much rather execute a formula for their successful upbringing, since “going by feel” is not my forte. This is EXACTLY why I’m so good with money–I’m like, heck yes, money! You are in a spreadsheet, I am saving more than I earn, I am investing the surplus, I am projecting out for decades–YES! This is also the EXACT reason why I struggle so much with the murky, nebulous metrics of parenting. My consolation is devouring parenting books to try and divine how to raise great kids. I derive comfort from expanding my knowledge of child development, but I’m still left unsure at the end of each day.

Attaining Enlightenment While Chopping Wood

Babywoods playing at our creek

As soon as I finish a load of laundry, I see the stack mounting against me, piled up with baby spit-upon towels and berry-stained toddler shirts (and pants and socks… ). So I try to internalize the Zen concept of attaining enlightenment while chopping wood. The idea is that through repeated, mindless actions (although believe me, I have to pay attention while doing laundry, just ask any parent who has accidentally washed a non-washable toy… ), you can reach a higher plane of consciousness because your mind is allowed to simplify and rest in meditation. (P.S. I am not a learned Buddhist, so I’ve probably mangled this maxim, but you get the gist).

Good idea, right? However, I’m certain those monks were not trying to keep two kids alive while doing their wood chopping chores. Would that all I had to do was something so simple as chop wood or empty a dishwasher without small fingers trying to assist me (Babywoods “measured” the dishwasher with a ribbon the other morning while I tried to empty it with Littlewoods in a carrier on my chest, grasping at every dish I picked up). The constant vigilance of parenting means that my mind is rarely my own. It’s bifurcated into multiple streams of thought at nearly every moment of every day. Restful meditative states are hard to come by.

Let me give you an example. All of this happens at the same time, on a regular basis:

  • Baby is crying, so I’m trying to remember what time she woke up from her last nap? Is she hungry or tired? Or both?
  • Toddler is asking, “can I please color with markers while I use the potty?” Make a quick decision about which I’d rather clean up: pee or marker stains. Opt for marker stains and situate her on the potty with notebook and markers.
  • Hear washing machine chime and rush to swap it out because we have a high-efficiency machine, which is awesome, but means that every load takes 19 days to complete and if I don’t swap the loads IMMEDIATELY, I cannot get our family of four’s laundry done in a single day and the chore will stretch languidly over the entire week, draping dirty socks over every surface.
  • Realize it’s 10:30am and I still haven’t finished eating my breakfast. Try to scarf a few bites before toddler announces she’s done on the potty and needs a wipe.
  • Conclude baby is crying because she’s both hungry and tired and that I’ll need to take her upstairs on account of her intense interest in her older sister, which means she WILL NOT nurse unless we’re upstairs alone in her bedroom.
  • Abandon partially-eaten breakfast and take infant upstairs to nurse while toddler accidentally trips over full potty, which I forgot to dump out on account of infant screaming.
  • Balance sobbing infant in arms while mopping up potty contents and sequestering all toys that were in the swath of destruction. Fling a saturated teddy bear into the bathroom sink in the hopes that this is out of reach of the toddler, who will otherwise grab it, kiss it, and snuggle it on my couch. Remind self that kids are gross.
  • Take infant upstairs to nurse and settle in crib for a nap before returning to complete that load of laundry, find my toddler, and perhaps, maybe even finish my breakfast. Wonder, with abiding hope, if I can find my coffee thermos?
  • Return downstairs to find toddler enthusiastically “rearranging” the kitchen pantry.

Time elapsed: ten minutes.

This is not hyperbole. This is not made up. These antics play out in our house hour after hour, day after day, as they do in the homes of all families with young children.

After a ten minute spurt like this, I catch myself wondering what on this green earth I did with my time before I had kids. I mean this in a serious and literal sense. How was I EVER busy or stressed???? Ridiculous, I know, but there’s a temptation to imagine one’s pre-kid life and lament. Now, I’m just glad if we can get to the end of the day with minimal/manageable damage to selves and property.

Even though I can fall into the maddening comparison of how free my time, my brain, and my body used to be, I also acknowledge that my children bring me a deep, lasting contentment. I’m absent many of the existential fears I used to harbor. I’m not worried about the future in the same preoccupied, obsessed way. I’m not trying to figure out where happiness will come from. It’s right here, in my moments of exasperation and soaked teddy bear flinging. When I can part the curtain of my exhaustion long enough to feel it, I find actual enduring peace in the present moment, which is a new experience for me.

Parenting Under The Best Of Circumstances

A recognition that doles out a modicum of comfort is that, while all of my work is impermanent, so are my concerns. I fully realize that the struggles of our days–which are physically draining–aren’t longterm challenges. While the stress of each moment (such as the above ten-minute excerpt of an embarrassingly typical morning for us) is intense, it’s also true that the moment it’s resolved (and the baby is put down for nap and the pantry reassembled), we’re onto the next thing. I don’t (yet) have to grapple with frightening concerns about where my kids are at 11pm (they’re both in cribs for this reason) or if they’re choosing good friends or making wise choices. That time will come.

Toddler + pitchfork. What could go wrong?

I also recognize, with no small amount of guilt, that I am parenting under the best of circumstances. I have everything and yet I still struggle to get through the day with two kids intact. I’m fortunate beyond belief that both of my kids are healthy and happy. I’m lucky beyond reason that I have a wonderful partner in parenting and in life. I’m ridiculously blessed that I don’t have to worry about money. I choose this lifestyle, I choose not to send my kids to daycare, and this is a luxury all its own. I find myself awash in an embarrassment of riches, and nevertheless, I’m challenged and exhausted.

I mention this both to acknowledge my immense privilege, but also to discuss the wellspring of empathy I’ve developed since becoming a parent. I was much quicker to judge before having kids. I jumped to conclusions about people’s lives and their circumstances in ways that my lived experiences simply won’t allow me to anymore. Let me tell you, I knew SO MUCH about parenting before I had children. Now? The nuance and brutal slog of each day is humbling (P.S. a MASSIVE reminder to self NOT to dole out advice on things I don’t have firsthand experience of).

I no longer have the capacity to judge someone else’s screaming child in a grocery story (because I’ve been there) and I don’t have the ability to judge someone else’s spending either (because my own spending is higher since having kids) and the list goes on. The growth of empathy is an imperfect, unintentional practice for me, but it’s one of the most pronounced outcroppings of parenthood for my husband and me. My hope is that when I can breathe again, and when I have more than fifteen minutes to myself, and when I can conceive of leaving my house without at least one child in tow, I will find a way to translate this empathy into action. I do it right now with my charitable donations, but I need to do it with my time. I feel guilty that I can’t do it with my time right now, which compounds the spiral of guilt. But I stop myself. I reflect that I feel guilty and that is a fact. Then I vow to turn that guilt–and the resulting empathy–into action. There’s something jagged about parenting, unmatched in other aspects of life, that makes me want to help parents who don’t have the resources that I do. That’s the best I can do right now. Write words about how I will one day be helpful to others.

Mine Are Fleeting Fears

For now, my life is the stuff of minutiae. It is the stuff of changing teeny, tiny diapers and realizing that my children’s needs are fairly straightforward and simply met. They want me and my attention, which feels so hard to give through my fog of physical and mental exhaustion.

How did I end up on my tummy?! Again??!!

But I can give it and I do give it and they reward me with smiles, giggles, snuggles (often accompanied by an unintentional, yet oddly painful, headbutt) and glimpses of the people they’re becoming. Babywoods is developing compassion, as evidenced by the following conversation with a balloon the other day: “I love you, Balloon, and I will take care of you!” It would be nice for her to say that to, for example, one of her parents, but hey, I will take kindness wherever it comes. And I really shouldn’t complain because in a public restroom recently she told me (at full volume) that she was proud of me for going potty. Hey, I was proud of me too. The other day I was in the kitchen struggling to get a loaf of bread started in the bread machine, singing the ABCs with Babywoods (you know you’ve hit rock bottom when you forget some of the ABCs…. ), and consoling the infant by rocking her bouncer with my foot, when Babywoods popped up, ran out to get a toy and sat down next to her sister, softly crooning, “it’s ok, I’m here, let’s look at this toy!” Heart-melting. Also, I DID finally get the bread in (with all of the ingredients, thank you very much).

These ephemeral bursts of anguish are so quickly followed by the triumph of Babywoods remembering to say “please” or “thank you” in public without a reminder. Of Littlewoods learning to roll over (and then getting stuck on her tummy–not her fave position–and squawking until we roll her back over so that she can re-tummy herself… ). Of internalizing the message, delivered to me by a wise friend the other day, that the nature of reality is that everything will change. I am not in a static role of caring for tiny children. I am not defined entirely by these years and, in some ways, I just need to get through them.

Finding Joy Amid Exhaustion

Looking like the mom I am

I work to see the beauty in how simple my kids’ needs are right now and in the fact that hugs and kisses usually do make everything better. It’s hard to have this perspective when I look down and realize the baby has spit up her (carefully prepared by me) sweet potato puree onto my pants, which JUST (and I mean they were still warm) came out of the dryer.

It’s hard to have perspective at 3am when I’m awakened, yet again, by an infant needing to nurse. It’s hard to have perspective when I remind our toddler to speak nicely, and not yell, for the actual 700th time in a morning. It’s hard to have perspective when I employ a general’s strategic approach to engineer a scenario whereby both of my precious angels nap at the same time (I mean, is that so hard, kids?!), only to hear dulcet “meeeehhhhhssss” emanating from the baby’s room the exact moment I’ve finally snuggled the toddler in for her nap.

I try to remember that, in some ways, this is an easy phase of life. Both of my kids are under my roof, safe, and within reach. They devour our attention and love us wildly, which hey, is pretty nice. Having once been a teenager, I can assert we’ll go through a phase of them not being so interested in the parental units, so I try to enjoy the moments when they cling to me–actually cling like tiny monkeys–while I also carry a laundry hamper, as though walking across the house without me is tantamount to torture.

In Conclusion

So what’s the takeaway here? What’s the thesis of this ramble? Why did you just bother to read it? My hope is that you’ve glimpsed a time in your life–perhaps the time you’re in right now–when you wanted to sink more fully into the present, despite how ragged it felt.

Don’t worry, I have a plan for you and bullet points will get us there (they are my friends during this fractured, ten-minutes-at-a-time, style of writing). I can either write this way or not at all. So here goes:

  • Lean into the phase of life you’re in. It’s expensive and difficult (if not impossible) to militate against it. Embrace the frustrations and elations specific to where you are on life’s journey. Doing so will allow you to live without regrets. If you’re always pressed into the wind, you’ll miss the point of where you are right now. After all, soon enough it’ll be over because…
  • Life is a series of changes and amendments. Recognize that it’s all fleeting. This makes the bad times move on more swiftly and lets you savor the good times like a raspberry that’s ripe for only a day or two (what a stupid analogy, but you get the idea).
  • Recognize and acknowledge privilege and abundance in a way that encourages the growth of empathy and in turn, translates that empathy into action to help people who need your help.
  • Transform guilt into gratitude and gratitude into action (that’s similar to the previous bullet, but I really like that phrase as a meditation, so there ya go).
  • Pray–in a serious way–that potty training will not last until your child turns five. Amen.

How do you embrace challenging times? How do you find the joy amid the exhaustion and struggle?

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257 Responses

  1. Holy Beardless Batman – Mr. FW shaved! Another observation from the first photo above? It might be the one in which BabyWoods looks the most like you. She has your eyes, there’s no question!

    Thank you for (another) witty, honest, and introspective post. As a “constantly recovering perfectionist” who tends to be goal-centric myself, I can relate to some of the challenges of feeling like we’re simply spinning our wheels when parenting. Impermanent work is an excellent term. Mrs. FFP bears the brunt of that here in our household, and I need to do a better job of appreciating and recognizing her for that.

    Digging a ditch only to fill it right back in can be absolutely demoralizing if done once, much less over and over and over again. Sometimes that’s what impermanent work and parenting overall can feel like. But I think if we zoom out and take the big picture view, we’ll see that over time all of that digging served to loosen the soil in preparation for the planting of a lush and fertile garden where our children will grow and flourish. At least, we can hope 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    Yes! Yes, yes, so much yes! This is the first years of my journey into Motherhood exactly, but much more eloquently written. The desire to actually be able to finish a task is real, my friend. 🙂 Even though I love what I do staying home with the littles, there are some days I am so jealous of my husband. He gets to go have adult conversations, he gets to go potty by himself, he gets time in the car by himself to decompress. I know work is not a vacation, and he is super helpful and supportive when he is home, but I do look forward to the one day a week when I go to my job.

    I think the one thing all those parenting books I read before my first didn’t’ prepare me for was the guilt. The guilt of having feelings like, when is summer vacation going to be over so you can go back to school, and oh, my gosh, is it bedtime yet? I try to balance those thoughts with remembering that they won’t be little forever, and that I will miss these times. Eventually. 🙂

    Please post more about this type of family life if you would. It is so encouraging seeing someone admitting that they don’t know it all, and that some days they barely have it together. I know that the majority of people are like this, like me, but sometimes its nice to see it. But, if you are too busy being Mama to post, I totally get it, and will not judge. 🙂

    p.s. You got this, Mama! The days are long, but the weeks are short.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And so true about the ability to go potty by oneself…. and breathe alone (as I type with a baby in my lap 😉 ). I will indeed try to write about this more, I’m glad to hear it resonated :).

    • Laronda says:

      Jen put down everything I would say about those years. I envied my work-outside-the-home husband sooo much. And that first year with two under four nearly did me in. Little people just need endless time and attention, whether you’ve had any sleep or sit-down meals. Now that our baby (#3) is four, life is quite different. Kids in school/preschool, plenty of actual help with chores, conversations instead of constantly repeating the same stock phrases, everyone can take themselves to the bathroom–it’s a beautiful thing. And I can finally see that the intense work of the early years is paying off. The older two are well-adjusted, mostly polite, kind people, and I can take a little bit of credit for that, after all of those years of not having a way to measure any of my efforts. It’s a journey like no other, as you know, and I’m glad to have had the experience of parenting littles as I think it taught me a great deal about my own limitations, patience, and empathy. But I’m terrifically happy to be on to the next phase now!

  3. Kathleen says:

    As a mom to three little ones, I laughed out loud reading the part where you couldn’t write about 401(k) investing because you (and the rest of us) are just trying to survive! I empathize 100%. My only question is how you found the time to write all this!

  4. Nicole says:

    Thank you for this Mrs FW. Of course these things are all wanted, but the adjustment from going from single and independent human being , to a mother with humans constantly hanging off of her body is indeed a hard one. Just when you thing you’ve got this thing down, life throws you the next challenge. It is completely humbling to realize you just can’t “do it all” anymore , and we are all just doing the best we can. I think you are doing a great job and I admire that you were able to release your book during this hectic time.

  5. Caroline says:

    You are hard in the trenches now and the thing is, however your life was organised, whatever you were doing, be it in the city, country, working full time, housewife, WHATEVER… the transition from one to two children is HARD, man. I found it much, much harder than 2 to 3 and third child was wholly unplanned and, um, ”a surprise” at a time when we JUST thought we were done with the whole ”baby stage”. This first year with the two of them, disregarding all and any other considerations is going to be extremely tiring and all-consuming. And yes, tired people who are stretched sometimes make less-fiscally-wonderful decisions from time to time. It’s not an excuse to live on takeaway or be ridiculous, but sometimes the line of ease and least resistance is the more financially expensive one.

    The very second Estelle goes back to school, and of course the little one is that tiny, tiny bit older, when breastfeeding is finished or nearly finished, things will ease. Yes, you will still be busy and tired, yes this will continue for a while, but you’ll find these little windows of breathing space and things will work more smoothly. You’re doing the hardest, hardest bit now. Luckily they’re cute and do adorable things or we’d never keep them!

  6. Susan says:

    When my husband and I were in the throes of a screaming toddler we kept reminding ourselves that putting in the hard work when they are young pays off later. Today our eight-year-old is a well-behaved girl. It’s more like preparing the fields at this point. It is exhausting. Also, I read one time that moms like to read because unlike the chores around the house “the book stays read.” Ha, so true. Kudos to writing a long article and keeping a sense of humor!

    • Leah says:

      “The book stays read.” Oh my goodness, amazing! Yes and yes!

    • You two seem really patient. I try to stay calm for the first 10 minutes of my toddler screaming and just lose it. I think I’ll need some anger management training once our 2nd baby is born. Screaming and crying all day sounds no good at all >_<

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      “the book stays read”–How very perfect!!! We read a ton of books every day and I do need to remind myself that IS an accomplishment 🙂

    • Judy Welles says:

      …unless you’re reading to a toddler. Then the instant the book is read, it becomes unread again and you have to read it again… and again… and again… and again. Soon you will be able to recite entire children’s books by heart.

  7. Jane says:

    This is my life right now, too! Thank you for writing what I am too exhausted to put into words. It’s nice to remember that I’m not alone in this phase of life. I mean, duh, of course I’m not, but sometimes it can feel so isolating to be home with two small kiddos all the time. The most annoying thing is when people ask how you are and you start telling them how cranky you are because you’ve hardly slept in the last five months and they just go “oh, make the most of this wonderful time!” I find myself resenting my cats, who just laze around all day, oblivious to what I do to keep the household running and everyone fed. Also people sitting in cafes ALONE reading a book. Why didn’t I appreciate the ability to do that before I had kids? Anyway, as you say, there are also wonderful moments amidst the chaos, and those are what keep me going.
    Littlewoods is just gorgeous, btw.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Solidarity!!! Oh I am with you on the “wonderful time” comments, I’m like, uh yeah… nope. ALONE READING A BOOK?? What wonder is that??? Hard to believe that used to be ME :)! It will be us again someday, I’m sure

      • Dana Jespersen says:

        Thus is why I read in the shower. Bless watedp roof phone cases, though I have brought a magazine in with me during desperate times

    • Elvira says:

      Today I went to a cafe to do exactly that: read a book, alone. Begged my an aunt of my husband to watch the childfen for two hours. I sat and read in the heat but I craved that alone time after a whole month with the children constantly around (no school, no daycare).

  8. Dee says:

    You’ve got this! This too shall pass…..I remember how hard those first few months were each time we had a new little one (we have 4), now they are a young adult, teenagers and a pre-teen, and it seems like a distant memory. You never stop mothering- I found myself asking my 23 year old the other day if he said ‘Thank you’ at the store (he did)! Be kind to yourself and don’t try to do everything perfectly-the kids won’t notice, I promise.

  9. Lauren says:

    There are no words to express my gratitude to you for writing this article other than “Thank you!” I could try to explain why this article is so vital but the reasons are innumerable. You are doing a great job and I’m grateful for your honesty and insights!

  10. Rachel says:

    …. that potty training will not last until your child is 5. Amen and amen.

  11. Leah says:

    In my own throes of parenting, so I’ll finish this post later, but I had to comment to say this: SOLIDARITY! I feel you. This is my life too, right down to the “why did I not accomplish SO MUCH MORE before I had children?” Because I get “a lot” done now with my one year old clinging to my leg (this very minute) as I’m reading this blog post, entertaining him, debating when to wake the four year old (trouble with bedtime tonight or blissful quiet now?), and downloading pictures so I can clear off our camera so I can take more pictures because we’re going on vacation today.

    I have no advice or words of wisdom or anything like that. Okay, maybe one: do you have a water table (or can you rig one up?). That’s perfect for naked play with a potty right nearby to encourage the potty training. Just saying. My friends trained their kids by letting them run around naked all summer. I wanted to, but we live right next to a big road (sigh).

    Okay, back to the no advice. Just know that you’re not alone, and I really, really appreciate you writing this eloquent (yes!) and delightful blog post so that I don’t feel alone either.

    THANK YOU! HANG IN THERE!

  12. Wow that account of what happened within those 10 minutes sounds really stressful. Our toddler is a bit older than 3, and we’re expecting a new baby in a month or so. It’ll be just my husband and me with a toddler and an infant. My colleagues have been warning me that it’d be really hectic. I heed their advice but try not to stress over it.

    We will still keep our toddler in daycare, which many people will say is an easy way out. But we just want to be in the best shape possible as parents to handle a newborn and everything else that might happen at home. I’ll return to work after the 2nd baby, which again some might say an easy way out. But what’s the point of making ourselves and our kids miserable when there’s an easier way to do things?

    I think the most important thing is we make our decision and stick with it. I hear you on the routine, frustration and stress. I don’t want to be a crazy screaming mama, but sometimes I find myself to be one >_<

    • Leah says:

      I kept my 3 year old in daycare for a month and a half after my new dude was born. LIFESAVER. Not the easy way out — it’s using your resources. My husband and I are both teachers, so that got me through the end of the year until he could be home with me and the kids.

      I have to say, having two is not so bad most of the time. A little rough when I have to do bedtime alone but mostly fine. Wise to give yourself time to adjust to the new baby without your big kid.

      Working is not the easy way out. Neither is staying home. No matter what, you have to be “on” all day and then again all night. They’re different forms of work but both work.

      • Nicely put! Thank you for your kind comment, Leah. Sometimes I feel like I’m being blamed/guilted for not staying at home with my kids and instead choosing to work. That makes me feel uneasy. Each arrangement has its own challenges as you pointed out 🙂

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          I so agree with Leah!! There’s no “easy” way to parent and there shouldn’t be any guilt associated with what we choose to do! It’s all challenging and wonderful at the same time. So hang in there–you’re doing great!!!!

          • LongTIme Frugal says:

            Speaking from experience, you child(ren) will not “suffer” if in day care unless you are totally abdicating your parental duties. Even then it won’t be due to day care. Mine survived, mine thrived. The younger is still good friends with a friend made at day care – 27 years ago. And yes, despite Dr. Laura (and other with her mindset), you are your child(ren)s mom. Doesn’t matter if you are a SAHM or a working-outside-the-house mom.

            If you live in a rural area and/or in neighborhood with no other children, day care/play groups etc. are where you child(ren) learn to interact with other children. There were no children where we lived and no children in my parents’ neighborhood. We sent our oldest to day care a couple days a week after our youngest was born for this very reason. Again, I hope for the day when infants don’t *have* to be in day care but that is not the reality for a lot of parents.

            No matter how hard you try, at some point your child(ren) will catch colds etc., just a matter of when (day care/play groups or school).

  13. Oh man you’re in the thick of it. I was looking through photos I’d somehow posted on Shutterfly (mostly before I had two kids) and it’s amazing how many moments there were, captured, that I have no real memory of. I don’t really remember the first three years of Little ThreeYear’s life. At. all. It’s just a blur. Now they’re 8 and 11 and I’m in a totally different stage, dimly remembering (or not) the insanity that is parenting two young kids. But when I looked at the photos, the kids were smiling. A lot. Or screaming. I tended to photograph them smiling or screaming. Anyway, I took from that, that even though I felt like a crazy woman most of the time I was home with my young kids, and completely ineffectual in housework, parenting, etc., I think my kids had really happy early years. I think they made great memories and had lots of mom and dad time. I can juuuust start to see the fruits of all that endless, “pointless” work in their kindness, their thoughtfulness, their creativity peeking out at times now. But their table manners. Somehow I completely messed that up. My 8-year-old still eats with his hands. If you can somehow fit it in, may I suggest focusing on that a little bit? Love to you all in this crazy season!

  14. Amy says:

    Oh man, I think I just had a PTSD flashback reading this post! Mine are nearly 7 and 3 1/2, and holy COW, those early months and years are SO HARD (I have just begun to experience let-up). I have a memory that stands in, for me, as the perfect example of how hard it was: changing a poopy pull-up on the toddler with one hand, as I sat on the floor holding a nursing infant in the other arm/hand. One wrong move would have spelled disaster and I just remember feeling so desperate and like I so didn’t want to do this (I may or may not have cried after I finally finished, I can’t remember). People kept saying, “It gets better, it gets better,” and I’m not sure that it helped, but it didn’t hurt either. I knew from so many other moms that it wouldn’t be this hard always. And like everything else, it gets *incrementally* better. Little freedoms return.

    And DO NOT beat yourself about not wanting/not being able to write about money or finances…I so clearly remember that involuntary draw back to my children when all I wanted to do was write. But it was like my brain was on autopilot and could only think “kids kids kids kids kids” even when I logically wanted to do so many other things. I felt like my brain became slow and stupid and singularly focused on their well-being even when I wanted nothing more than to quit thinking about them for just five minutes. The physical and especially mental exhaustion from that constant loop of chores and thinking about who needs what next is so so depleting. Get help wherever and whenever you can. Ask friends and family to bring you meals when they come to visit. Find babysitters regularly, and pay for them without guilt. I paid for a babysitter twice a week for just 3-4 hours each time every week starting when my son was 4 months old; we had no family in town, and I had to get over how it would look to other people that I was a stay-at-home mom with a babysitter a couple days a week. Take care of yourself in any way you can!

  15. I remember our first kid 18 years ago. I had my poor wife track wet and soiled diapers and I would put them in a spreadsheet. Why o why did I do that. If your kids are clothed, fed, in good health (most of the time) when they go to bed each night you get an A for the day. My wife still has many years to go as our youngest is almost 3. She knows what you go through and I know because she tells me daily the fun she has 🙂
    Take care,
    Mark

  16. Mrs. COD says:

    Yes to all of this! The relentlessness of parenting can be rough for sure. And there’s no scientific certainty in any methods or strategies, since kids are individual people and will develop in their own way. Embracing the season of life one is in is key (as is taking full advantage of date nights when grandparents visit!).

  17. Katie says:

    Ah potty training…yesterday my son woke up, took off his night time diaper, neatly wrapped it up and put in the trash and pooped….in the trash can. I found that little gem later on during the day…. He’s learning!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      In the trash can–nicely done, kid!!! Babywoods is potty trained, but has the occasional accident, which always feels so defeating–not to mention GROSS.

      • Jane says:

        My 3.5 year-old has been potty trained since he was two, but he recently discovered Lego and has become absolutely obsessed. It now seems he can’t multitask, i.e. play with Lego and realise he needs to use the bathroom at the same time, so he’s had sooo many accidents lately, which is really disheartening. I’m sure it will end again, but yeah, it is gross.

        • LongTime Frugal says:

          Prenatal classes make no mention of gross or the high probability of “events” that make you gag.

  18. Jana Colgin says:

    Great job! You get an A+ and extra credit for this wonderful blogpost! Well done! You’re killing it! I mean, just look at all these exclamation points you’ve earned!!

    I want to read about whatever you want to write about. If that means sweet potato yack on freshly laundered sweat pants, then that’s what I want. Only not on me. On you, because kids are terrifying. 😉

    So thank you for being awesome!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      haha, thank you Jana! you’re the best!!!!

    • Laura says:

      Agreed. I started reading for the finance stuff, but I am still here because you are a thoughtful, interesting writer. I also have a toddler, so a lot of this hit home and made me laugh in recognition!

  19. Missy says:

    Mrs. Frugalwoods, you have most definitely earned an A+. You deserve it.

    Why? Because you care and you persevere. Because you slog through the dishes and the laundry and the pee and tears and snot and the magical state that is universal babyhood and the bipolar state that is universal littlehood and the OMG exhausted and perpetually frazzled state that is universal mom-of-littles and you wonder if you’re doing it right and some days you feel like running far away from all this but you keep on keepin’ on because, you know, family. And because it’s hard to run anywhere when one child is strapped to your chest and the other is clinging for dear life to your leg.

    Yes. That is the exact criteria for an A+. I wish I had known that when mine were little (they have littles of their own now…) If I had known that I might not have been so very hard on myself. You are doing good mama. These days are shorter than you think, so do try to treasure these present moments as you are able.

    Some of my memories from (very distant) childhood… The scent and feel of my favorite freshly washed pajamas as I’m being tucked into bed… mom making dinner on a cold winter evening when the light is just fading from the sky and an incredible feeling of warmth and safety that I now associate with that time of day… helping mom care for my two younger sisters and feeling so proud that I could do grown up jobs… And that time that we were all acting up at the table at lunch time, and my mom scooped up a spoonful of jello – – – and flipped it across the table right in my sister’s face. Stopped us cold – a few moments of dead silence followed by smiles and laughter. That happened about 50 years ago and I remember it like yesterday.

    These are the memories you are making for your children every day. All this perpetual and intransient little stuff really does count. Your work matters and you matter. Even frazzled moms make good memories for their children. You are doing a good job, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

    You go girl. You are awesome.

    • Judy Welles says:

      Thanks for a great laugh, Missy! The jello flip is so much better than slamming your children’s heads against a brick wall, which is what I sometimes felt like doing BUT NEVER DID — LET’S MAKE THAT PERFECTLY CLEAR!

  20. Sarah says:

    Considering we have a baby on the way, I’ll ravenously read everything you have to say on the subject of parenting! My husband and I were also just talking about, after an uber frugal month discussion, that you guys have made it to where you want to be, and because you blogged the journey we already have the roadmap for how to get there. Now we’re ready to read about what happens when you attain your goals, and how it’s wonderful (and sometimes really not wonderful too). So lean into your present stage of life on this blog too—we want to read about homesteading and how to survive with small children!

  21. Carolyn Cook says:

    I LOVE THIS POST. Hang in there. Even with all that going on, you write beautifully. Thank you.

  22. Jean Bontrager says:

    Yes. It is all true. I have two children, 27, actually 19 :), and an almost 30 year old. I remember these years, also in Vermont, canning, freezing, frugal, hand-me-down, thrifting days. I agree you are fortunate not to worry about money, we did, but they are still some of the exhausting days I have lived through. I appreciate your honesty and it helps me forgive myself for my, not always measured, parenting! Carry on! It goes fast, and I wish I could have had a bit more perspective and sought some help when I was beside myself.

  23. Naomi says:

    Past: Here’s a secret. This is why I followed you in the first place. You care about frugality, sure, as do I. But, more importantly, you have a child a little older than one of mine, so our challenges overlap in a way that people who have different aged kids just don’t. I have a million thoughts from toddlers helping with chores to kid book recommendations, but they’ll have to wait. Life….

  24. SUSAN D says:

    A very well written article and it takes me back to when I was taking care of my infant daughter and balancing phone calls and orders from Central USA.. I was also glad that I didn’t put my child into day care. I enjoyed our day to day living, made new friends in our neighborhood and visited various playgrounds. Now my daughter is almost 28, living in a nearby city with her boyfriend and we enjoy visiting them. We love our Grand Cats!!! I enjoyed reading your book. Love being frugal and also I remember shopping for food with my daughter. We always spent a Little more, but we had fun being together.Keep plugging along and we are enjoying your posts.

  25. Jean says:

    Motherhood is very difficult, that being said, I so much envy you! I did not have the luxury to be a stay at home mom. I only had one child who turned out beautifully but she had to go to daycare while I worked long hours as a nurse and my husband also worked long hours. My days off were wonderful and cherished and hectic all at the same time. Embrace your time with those beautiful little girls and realize there is nothing in the house that cannot wait awhile or a day before getting done except for food. All else can wait. I know you try to be very frugal but splurge and buy some paper plates. They do not have to be expensive. I buy cheap ones for a sandwich and a little better ones for a meal. We use these a few times in the weak which helps us to not fill the dishwasher as quickly. Also cheap paper napkins. I have my 93 year old mother living with us which has its own challenges such as waking us up at 1 am to tell us she was hot, not paying attention to the fact that there was 3 covers on top of the she🙁. Enjoy those little ones as much as you can. They grow up soooo quickly and no longer need you as much and then it will just be the two of you again. I know that is a blessed feeling when it first occurs but years later you are really missing the hectic days, Halloween, Easter, etc.

    • Lin says:

      Jean, thank you for your comments as I was a full time working mom and then get home to my second job. I agree food on the table is a priority and I taught my 3 kids to cook as a necessity. We used paper plates too. Never had a dishwasher. When I complained at work about all the hectic times running around to take 3 kids to various sports and clubs, my boss told me to cherish it because it goes by fast, he was so right!! How did we ever find time? I still HATE doing laundry and washing dishes by hand so learning shortcuts like paper plates or wearing same clothes over and over is a blessing. No guilt here! I love life! Wish I could live longer and be healthier. I had 8 mini-strokes, continued working for 15 more years, have AFIB and other health issues but I realize the small crap doesn’t matter. I have learned to say ‘”whatever” just like kids do!!!

  26. Rae Elizabeth Batig says:

    We love you because you are human. We can relate to your writing. Write for us when you can but most importantly take care of yourself so you can take care of your family. BTW you are beautiful and you have very adorable kids. Mr. F is pretty easy on the eyes too!!!!!!!!!!!! No need to respond!

  27. Kim says:

    This writing only supports my opinion that moms are HEROES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one wanted to be a mom more than me (achieved after years of infertility, surgery and finally, adoption. Oh, how I love what God did for us.) But, the guilt of finding the job so ………………………hard! So mind-numbing at times! Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo important!

    You are doing a great job, Mrs. Frugalwoods. Truly, you are! I think it is more stressful than………………….most of the jobs on earth! Rock on and we will be here cheering you on!

    Also, thank you for relieving some of the guilt I have held from those years ago when we did spend more money than we had planned………..just to get through some of the stress………..some fast food…………some preschool……………etc. After all, it is cheaper than an insane asylum.

  28. Stephanie says:

    Parenting small children is like being on constant Death Watch while everything around you keeps bursting into flames. As soon as you put out one fire, you turn around to find three more. It’s mentally and physically exhausting, and until you’re there in the trenches, it’s hard to understand what a toll it takes on you.

    I could have written something similar when my daughter was small. When she was born, my son was almost 12. Quite a gap, and you’d think that would be easier, but he was really involved with stuff at school and needed (and still needs) to be driven everywhere. My daughter didn’t sleep more than 3 hours at a time until she was 18 months- I so wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not- and that kind of long term sleep deprivation is devastating, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was like a crazed mixture of the screamingest teacher you’ve ever had mixed with Night of the Living Dead. It. Was. Terrible. And I felt terrible about it, because like you, I have everything I want- healthy kids, a great husband, a house in the area I’ve always wanted to live in. But there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture, and since my daughter is, ahem, what the parenting books refer to as ‘spirited’, I was pushed to my limits, and the smallest slight- a spilled sippy cup, a phone call at the wrong time, a mess where I’d *just* cleaned- felt like an insurmountable tragedy simply because my brain and body weren’t getting what they needed to function normally. It was honestly the most difficult time in my life.

    So I totally get it. I’ve absolutely been there, and the constant physical and emotional exhaustion from putting out fires every three seconds DOES get better. Things do calm down, and you’ll slowly find, as your girls grow, that you’re able to think of normal things again. And you’ll pass it on to other parents- you already are with this post. I’ve had so many people stop to help me- one woman helped unload my cart and pack my groceries at Aldi one day while my daughter (who was not quite a year then) screamed her head off and struggled to get out of my arms enough that at one point I’m pretty sure I was holding her upside down (I was so exhausted that I was in tears. Bless that woman for helping a struggling mom and not judging). I’ve paid it forward so many times and will continue to do so, because we all need help sometimes.

    Hang in there. It’s hard. It’s a lot harder than any of the parenting books tell us, it’s a lot harder than it looks. But I promise you’ll make it.

  29. Just because these are choices you made doesn’t mean you don’t get to complain about how exhausted you are. Raising children is no joke, even on the best day.
    Also, I hope you keep that guilt to a minimum. You are where you are because you and your husband worked really hard, worked smart and made sacrifices.
    Hang in there.

    • Caroline Bowman says:

      yes, this completely. There seems to be a theme of late, where if someone has the sheer nerve to admit that they’re exhausted and worn out and overwhelmed, well, YOU CHOSE THIS. THINK OF PEOPLE *WITH REAL PROBLEMS* YOU LAZY, FIRST WORLD PERSON. Actually, it is quite fine to feel down, to have low times and, yes, to have a good moan or cry about it. Anyone who is beaming with radiant joy forever after every, single life choice they ever made is on good drugs. Stuff happens, it’s gnarly. It’s fine to vent and acknowledge the un-fun bits.

  30. Ashley H says:

    I welled up, I laughed, I smiled – thank you for this post. I can only imagine the challenges and joy of parenting two children. I have a 9 month old son and am trying to stay in the present moment. I was in a car accident in March and I often feel guilty about leaving him for physio and massage appointments, and for needing help with looking after him (mostly the carrying him around part). I don’t want to wish away my time to when I “feel better”, as I want to cherish his babyhood. I often feel guilty that I can’t “do it all” myself. Your nugget of wisdom about turning guilt into gratitude is one I will try to keep in mind. For example, rather than feel guilt about needing help picking my son up, I can feel grateful that my husband is super supportive – he picks Beckett up, and plonks him down in my arms so I can snuggle him in and feed him. Rather than feel guilty about leaving for appointments, I can feel grateful for the professionals that are helping me regain my strength and flexibility. Rather than feel guilty about not being able to do all the physical activity that I would like to do, I can feel grateful for the activities that I am able to do. I can keep thinking of examples, but I’ll leave it at a hearty thank you. Please write more about these things – our lives as Mommys are interesting too 🙂

  31. Nan says:

    Yes. This. Exactly this. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Kristi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the most honest post I’ve read about motherhood. As a mom of twin 19 month olds whose sole mission is to tear down the house in the most dangerous way possible, this resonated with me so much (including how privileged we are to stay home with our kiddos). Please write more like this – your passion comes through so much, as well as your love. You’re doing amazing!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! I cannot imagine having two at the same age, so I am sending you lots of love and good wishes!! And yes “tear down in the most dangerous way possible” is 100% it. They don’t merely destroy things, they try to eat them in the process…

  33. Laura says:

    Even though I’m not a mother I was glad to read this post. I kinda think that to keep up the passion as a blogger you have to lean into the phase of life you’re in – and if that’s currently the struggles and joys of motherhood for you, while running a frugal homestead in the background, that’s well and good! Your years of struggle to reach your financial goals are over, you can’t be expected to keep on writing the same way forever. I’m sure the majority of your audience will gladly come along for the ride – and much rather you write about where you’re at than go dormant because the blog is no longer a reflection of you. Just keep writing, I say 🙂

  34. Elaine says:

    This is a fantastic description of parenting young children! I’m an organized, list maker kind of person and I remember so well the challenge of surrendering to “impermanent work” and truly living in the moment with my children and all the tasks needed to keep things going. The more I could accept that, the more relaxed I was. My children are grown now and it’s difficult to even remember those days, but you brought them back to me with this beautifully written post. I always appreciate that you acknowledge how lucky you are, even in the midst of this challenging time. Cheering you on!

  35. Greying queen says:

    Ah this is wonderful. I’m a single mum of one 3 year old (who does frequent nursery 3 x a week) and I can relate to much of what you say. I also work in an environment that is quite stressful and challenging (substance misuse) and I struggle with balancing this alongside the need to be perfect – to be the perfect mum, to still look nice ( totally failing on that one) to have my home clean and tidy 24/7. I know when I’m pushing it too hard as my body literally tells me in the form of illness . I am now learning that it’s ok if I don’t look like the pictures pre child and that my house doesn’t need to be perfect . Sometimes it’s fine if my daughter has to play by herself or even heaven forbid tells me she is bored ( yes apparently a 3 yr old does that these days) and it’s ok if I can’t always workout as often as you are ‘supposed to. I’m learning that sometimes looking and feeling a mess is just fine and taking a breath and having some time to rest once she is in bed is totally going to benefit me more that getting the house straightened out

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Wishing you all the best!! I’m actually a big proponent of kids playing alone and “being bored”–from what I’ve read, it encourages creativity and problem solving skills. So let yourself enjoy those times :)!

    • Judy Welles says:

      About playing alone… When my first child could crawl, I got some excellent advice from a friend with somewhat older children. When I got my daughter up from her nap, knowing that she was well-rested and happy, I’d leave her in her room with a baby gate across the door (so she could hear me moving around nearby) and tell her to play by herself, which she happily did, as her toys were handy. The trick was to go get her before she started to fuss and feel lonely — but this way she got at least 15 minutes alone every day and learned to amuse herself. She is now 46 years old, has a Ph.D. and a HUGELY responsible job, and she’s a happy, well-adjusted introvert. Of course there were other factors, but I think that daily time alone really shaped her.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        I so agree! We do a similar play-alone system with Babywoods in her bedroom and have really enjoyed seeing her develop that ability to entertain herself. I am very happy to hear your daughter turned out so well :)!!!!!

    • Caroline Bowman says:

      boredom is not just okay, it’s absolutely critical for young kids. Not relentless, not endless or mean, but periods of being fidgety and bored stimulates creativity, independence and self-motivation. Children now suffer from the lack of this, from the minutely scheduled avalanche of enrichment and excitement people feel they need to ”give them everything”. You are modelling working HARD, having various priorities, being a loving, devoted parent… and an independent person all at the same time. Your little one will benefit greatly from this, watch.

  36. L says:

    The most difficult thing for me has been parenting two teenagers plus an elementary school aged kid. It was pretty smooth sailing for a long time, and then pow! I have felt like meeting the needs of these multiple developmental stages has spread me thinner than I ever knew possible for the last several years. And it continues. Now, as we launch our oldest to college, and I teach another how to drive as I buy fifth grade school supplies for the third kiddo, I also have to keep a keen eye on our spending, the immediate need to save aggressively for college, and, oh yeah, keep those retirement accounts growing. There is really no point to this, just thought I’d share a bit of my experience of choking down FI as raise my family of (for the most part) awesome kids.

    • Lin says:

      After 3 kids and full time job I have mom-guilt as there was never enough time to get it right. Never had a dishwasher (it was me). On the plus side I taught my children how to do lauhdry at 8 or 9 years old and how to cook basics, because let’s face it, after working all day, coming home to take kids to their sports or clubs left little time for anything else. I did BF my kids until age 1 and believe that closeness was worth only sleeping 3 hours at anytime. My 3rd child was colic and did not sleep a full night until he was 2 years old. Looking back that wasn’t as hard as the teenage years. Lots of heartbreak and difficult to manage when driving a car, sports, school functions, friends, drugs, alcohol and peer pressure to try it all becomes their priority. Moms don’t sleep when their kids are teens because we just try to survive each day. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and then I ran out of plans and just winged it. Am I whining and complaining? Yes. Looking back, toddler years were the best, teens the most trying. I’m retired now and get to sleep 6-8 hours a night, pick up my grandaughter after school to watch her til her Mom and Dad come home from work and listen to them complain that they are always tired. I love life!!! It would be boring if everyone were the same. PMA (positive mental attitude) is my lifesaver and my mantra is “Tomorrow is another day”. Inch by inch…

      • L says:

        Thank you for this post! My teens are great kids by any measure, yet I still find it the most trying period of life for me. Good lord, if you could have heard my condom conversation today in the car…

  37. Nancy says:

    Liz, this is possibly the most valuable post you’ve ever written! And I bet it took several days to complete! These days are gone for me, my children are grown—but it is all so true for every single parent of littles. We avid readers have a tendency to idealize you financial writers who seem to have everything together financially….and thus assume that every aspect of your lives are equally amazing. Of course not! You are so normal in many, many ways….and thus we have even more contact points with you. Thank you for your honesty, your heart, and you amazing ability, even in a sleep-deprived haze, to articulate a hilarious story so clearly that we can SEE your daughters and you running around on a typical morning. Thanks for sharing! You made my day.

    It will get better. But life will morph through many amazing changes first, and all of them are shaping and remembering-worthy. Keep those pictures coming! We love them all!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And, my friend, it took so much longer than several days to write–you flatter me :)!!!

  38. Thom Wilson says:

    …………..breathe in………..breathe out………….repeat!

  39. Susan says:

    Draw strength from your ancestors. I have one cousin who eloped at 16, had 11 children and then her husband died (he was tired!). She waited 10 years, then married a widower who had 9 children of his own. She lived to be 88, and looked pretty good at the end.

  40. CH says:

    I am a regular reader, but don’t think I have ever posted before. I chose not to have children because I didn’t think I had a maternal bone in my body and wouldn’t have the patience to properly look after them – e.g. I would be the one beating them within an inch of their life when they scream in the grocery store. As it turns out, my husband (several years older than myself) was diagnosed with dementia last year and I essentially have the equivalent of a three year old to look after. I have found that I am more patient than I thought and I too am trying to appreciate the sweet moments as one day soon they will be no more.

    The background there is simply to let you know that you have a very diverse readership. I enjoy what you write and they way you write it. You do a tremendous job of thinking about what is going on in your life and what you can learn from it. That makes much of what you write about relatable for many, even if they don’t have the exact same life goals or are in the same phase of life that you are.

    This is really all to say, write about whatever you want, whenever you can and your loyal readership will be here and gain something of value.

    A sincere thank you from this loyal reader.

  41. Marina says:

    I’m a similar stage of life as you (one toddler, one on the way) and I just wanted to point out that a high-quality daycare, or nanny or other babysitter is also a luxury! Our son has been in daycare since he was four months old and we’ll be doing the same with #2. I’m also lucky to have my parents close enough that they can babysit and we will probably request their help and the help of other babysitters with 2 kiddos. I hope you and some of the commenters above can use that empathy that you’ve found to acknowledge that there are many different ways to parent and that we are so so fortunate that our kids will have lots of loving caregivers in their lives while my husband and I get to pursue lives outside of parenting.

    Day to day caregiving is extremely hard and, bonus, completely undervalued in our society. I totally get everything that you are feeling because I feel it too when we’re home with our son. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with needing and getting more help, even if you have to spend some money. Your sanity is important too!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Absolutely! I 100% agree with you, which is why I was careful to note in the post that I choose this lifestyle. There is absolutely no one right way to parent!

  42. Anonymous says:

    When you write about “delight you feel when you see your children developing empathy” and ” Of internalizing the message, delivered to me by a wise friend the other day, that the nature of reality is that everything will change. “——- my mind immediately thinks “is this how beautiful (most) people in Vermont are? I want to move there RIGHT NOW”.
    p.s. I lived in MA once, didn’t much care for eastern MA, but did love VT then too. Job made me move (I am relatively happy where I am), but I do now dream of a homestead in VT, MAINLY because I would love to live among such wonderful (like-minded—hopefully I am 🙂 ) people. I hope that my “foreign-born” looks (and I am “foreign-born of Buddhist-tradition who embrace diversity”, & who has lived all over US most my life) will not be an impediment to genuine connection. Don’t think it will be, when I read your thoughts here. In addition, I am frugal without having to try but have learned many more frugal tips reading your blog.

    PLEASE POST whenever you can, it doesn’t matter on what. Thank you.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I think you would love Vermont! Your description of yourself as “foreign-born of Buddhist-tradition who embrace diversity, & who has lived all over US most my life” could apply to SO many of our friends and neighbors out here in the woods of VT :).

  43. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this! I am home with our two year old and expecting our next babe in January, and YES! this is our days to a T, and I am so grateful that you took your precious “alone” time to tell it as it is! You brought some levity to my morning, and as a fellow toddler mom, you know how much that means some days. Of all the podcasts, blog posts, and toddler time rants i have heard, this one speaks my truth. Id like to share a quote – its kind of ling, but ut keeps me going, and I hope it will bring you some encouragement, too.
    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you, Melanie, for sharing such a wonderful quote! Wishing you all the very best with your little ones 🙂

  44. Susanne Wright says:

    Dear Ms. Fruglewoods, I am a 56 year old mother of two grown, college educated kids. And guess what, the parenting never stops! It continues to morph and evolve. Sigh… Wonderful description, the best I’ve ever read, of early motherhood. It’s absolutely all you recounted. A+ mom!!

  45. Ruth says:

    Hi Mrs. FW!
    I love your writing! You are doing a great job as a writer and a mother! Hang in there! I am 61 with 2 adult children, but reading about your day with your toddler and baby brought back familiar memories! Mine are 7 years apart, so your job is much harder, yet still I feel like I had MANY days like yours. Being a frugal mom, I figured out it would cost almost as much as I could earn to hire a baby sitter, so I stayed home with each kid, 3 years each. Still, you need to build in some respite into your day to take care of yourself a bit. Being a city mama, packing my kids onto a stroller and spending the day in the park was one option — somehow getting them out of the house changed the whole dynamic. (Not the same as trying to do something as sensible as shopping — it has to be an outing that is completely kid oriented. Although I did devise a system of having them sniff the soaps while I was standing in line at the supermarket, which they still like to do to this day.) I didn’t try to do as much work as you are doing — leave the laundry and the cleaning for a couple of years (I am naturally messy, so that wasn’t hard to give up). Are there fun jobs the kids can take part in? For example, making a pie and having the toddler making a small pie with a small rolling pin alongside you? This may be tough while baby is still a baby. This meant I did a lot of things I didn’t need to do (like make pies, breads, and quilts — kids can rearrange squares on the floor to make all sorts of designs) and didn’t do most of the things the rest of the world may have deemed necessary (like clean and bathe). My son was busy running up and down the hallways nonstop when I was trying to take care of his diapers so I would just roll them up in a corner and take care of them when my husband showed up after work. The ultimate respite is letting them watch TV or a movie each day for an hour while you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one go — but we didn’t have a TV, so I didn’t end up taking this route. I did find a mommy’s group which got us out of the house once a week, and was a place to share these indescribable experiences with other moms. A note about nursing: I nursed both children for 3 years each (after 6 months it was largely recreational). My trick was to read to the older child while nursing the younger one, which made both children look forward to nursing time.

    From hindsight, spending all day with my kids paid off — they are both kind, educated, employed, independent adults. And your experience now will give you the strength of an AMAZON. No job or task in the “real” world will be anywhere near as challenging or difficult as what you are doing all day, every day right now. No one can organize their time and be as productive as an experienced mom.

    Best of luck, and remember, you are a CHAMPION!

  46. BK says:

    This post really spoke to me as I spend my days mostly just feeding our one-month-old human, changing her, letting her sleep on me, and trying to get in some food and sleep for me at some points. The point about not feeling like you have something to show for it at the end of the day is right on, as is the comment that the laundry just never ends… I am coming to terms with how little I can get accomplished these days. THANK YOU for this post!

  47. Pat Pickett says:

    I believe you. I believe every word. My fourth child was born when the twins (oldest) were just two. The inertia of chaos propelled me to have three more. I’m still here. I’m working as an artist, theologian and pastor. So maybe having chaos when you’re young is a good!

  48. James says:

    I often wonder why people blog and why other people bother to read those blogs. I am not now and never will be a frequent peruser of blogs. Most of what we experience in life is not in any way unique. That’s especially true for people who become parents. We all pretty much ride the same roller coaster. My darling wife, who is trying to teach a husband with a teflon brain to change financial habits, lovingly demanded I take a hike into the Frugalwoods, where people “just like us” are doing things differently and clearing a series of virtual paths for us to follow toward financial independence and greater personal satisfaction. Great, I said – another blogger who’s got all the answers. How have I managed to live 57 years without the sage advice of some stranger on the inter webs.

    And then….

    I read this lengthy post. And I smile at the familiarity of what I’m reading. I actually laugh out loud at the goofy antics of little humans and mama’s descriptions of how she’s trying to live a life while keeping two others going. I find a throatular lump suddenly appearing with accompanying eyeular mistification as the word-shaped pixels spur memories of those common and shared delights, fears, anxieties, joys, frustrations, irrational panic and spectacular satisfaction. I read every word. Right to the last period. I even read the comments.

    And then it occurs to me. THIS is why people blog. And THIS is why people read them.

    You have a gift and we’re all the better for your willingness to offer it to us.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughts and that you took the time to read it all :)! Tell your wife you get an “A” in blog reading 😉

  49. Tara says:

    lol on the laundry. waiting 2 hours for a load to finish is annoying and I hear you. What is my bigger issue in my house is keeping the kitchen and stove clean. You can’t be a cook in your kitchen and expect to maintain a clean kitchen unless you have a gajillion dollars and have in house cleaning staff. So I settle with our dirty ish kitchen that I still clean, but it’s never enough.

    As far as your interests changing: one thing that always got me about how a lot of PF writers are is they have a tendency to live in a vacuum and don’t talk about anything else. We live in a wild world, and things that happen in the news DO affect our lives. I understand writers who are “selling” a product (even if it’s just clicks on their blog), can’t become too political or too much of an activist or too much of a parent blogger lest they lose business through “offense” or disinterest, but at the same time, our lives are more than just writing about saving money and investing. What is happening around you at the micro or macro level affects your life and your personal finance so it should be written about if you feel the urge. Write about what works for you. Tons of bloggers have changed their focus and still retained their following (Cait Flanders is one in particular I know did well with a transition).

    Plus, you have the audience reach that even if a few people lose interest in your musings, you’ll attract new readers with your new topics. Do what works for you.

  50. Kelly says:

    I’ve never commented before, but I just have to say that this is probably my favorite post that you have written . My kids are all teenagers now, but I remember being in the stage you are in. And it is exhausting, but a wonderful privilege as well. You have said it all so much better than I could have. Thank you for sharing! You’re children are beautiful, and so are you. I’m enjoying following your journey. Not just regarding finances, but as parents as well.

  51. BK says:

    Rhis post really spoke to me as I spend my days mostly just feeding our small human, changing her, letting her sleep on me, and trying to get in some food and sleep for me at some point. THANK YOU for this post – I have been feeling some of these same things and it’s so comforting to see it articulated by someone else.

  52. Stevie says:

    I love this and thank you for it. Your raw honesty and relate-ability is exactly what drew me to your blog in the first place. I’m in a similar stage of life, with a 2 year old boy and another little coming next month. I dove head first into turning around our personal finances and getting our financial “house” in order earlier this month 100% as a way of getting a sense of control and feeling like things are at least a little bit in order before our lives get EVEN MORE chaotic. Do I wish I had taken steps 2 years ago to put myself in a better financial position today? Yes. But I didn’t, and I have found your blog to be a source of continued motivation as I work to correct those errors and set us up for a secure future. From one mama to another – you are doing great. As a fellow mama, part time homesteader, and spreadsheet lover, thanks for allowing this glimpse into your world.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you!! I am SO HAPPY to hear you’ve gotten your money under control–that will help alleviate pressure and stress and I’m so happy for you!

  53. Wade says:

    Our kids are 18, 15 and 11. I have no idea how we survived. In 10 years you will look back and wonder how you survived.

    You do it by forgetting most of it. Don’t sweat the small stuff; it’s all small stuff.

    Say no more. Write less. We’ll survive. You have to as well.

  54. Erin says:

    Thank you for keeping it real.

  55. K says:

    I’m a longtime reader, but I’ve never been big on leaving comments anywhere outside of reddit. My daughter is 18 months now, but those first six colicky reflux months the only thing that kept me going were my husband and silently repeating Winston Churchill quotes to myself (ha!). Anyway, I just wanted you to know I see you and I feel you. You’re a wonderful mom and you’re doing great, Mrs. Frugalwoods.

    (And as an aside, I would happily read whatever you wanted to write about, especially if it was parenting. There are so many parenting blogs out there that are just not for me – and my favorite posts of yours from the past few years have been about frugal family stuff! Plus I really appreciate your promotion of shopping secondhand; not just for frugal reasons but because I want my child to have an atmosphere to breathe.)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for commenting!!! I am all about the secondhand, for so, so many reasons! Enjoy your 18-month-old!!

  56. Monica says:

    Firs off, I am always happy to see a post from you, whatever it is you are wiring about! What a thought filled post this was – Thanks for sharing this time of your life! I especially loved your description covering mere 10 minutes of your day I recall those days in my own life well. I am a Single Moom By Choice (SMC) so we have always been a one parent huosehold and accordingly I had to do all the day to day child care and chores both inside and outside the house ,as well as my full time job. I have two boys, now ages 18 and 15, but I so remember the types of days you describe. I recall deciding that I would tidy up only once during the day and then after they went to bed. It seemed useless to put things away when they would just be out again soon. I am on the other end now – one about to go to college (in Vermont!) and getting up before me to go to work every day during the summer, the other indepently going about his summer days (still sleeping at 10 am on a friday). I work from home quite a bit and sometime wish for the days when the boys needed me more. Let me be clear however, the teenage phase has been very, very hard in different ways. The most challenging time of all for me so far! My neighbor has 2 and 4 year old boys and I recall how hard that is – we chat daily while out in the yard – she also knows how hard it is for me during this teenage phase – hopefully she will be prepared – I certainly was not!

  57. Jessica says:

    Thanks for the post-you are so not alone! We always knew that first year after a baby that we wouldn’t have a garden, the house was going to look “worn,” and chores are best tackled after both parents are home (one to watch the kiddos). It is the best of times and in some weird way the most difficult and stressful. Questioning if you are “acing the parenting thing” is often the best sign that you are a caring parent doing a great job. *We also live in the country and our kids have “outside clothes.” It is a pain to change before and after going outside, but it saves on a ton of laundry. They can wear the same clothes for weeks and who cares how dirty they get.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh yeah, we are all about “outside clothes”–those things come off before she gets past the mudroom! Helps tremendously with both laundry and the cleanliness of the home interior 😉

  58. Marcia says:

    “Hot mess motherhood” is really just “motherhood”, though the fog/ walking through water with your clothes on, starts to fade when they reach age 4.

    Though my children are older (12 and 6 now), my days are much the same. You are never caught up, your mind is full of a million things. This week, my husband was traveling – so it was left to me to do 2 camp dropoffs, 2 camp pickups (at 2 different locations and times). Oh, plus a full time job, two loads of laundry (because it’s baseball camp and there’s only 2 pairs of underwear that fit a cup, sigh), 2 dishwasher loads, endless dishes, packing two lunches every day (the 6 yo gets lunch at camp). Baths, snuggles, reading, reminders “brush your teeth”, “Do your reading”. Did I mention cleaning lady day? Yes, happened to be here when we got back from camp.

    All of this means that my “full time job” wasn’t full time, and I had to take 4 hours of PTO. But in those 4 hours I was able to take kid to the orthodontist appointment and share a snack at the park. There was a tiny sliver of time to go to the beach for the sunset. Still I wouldn’t change my place with spouse, who had a solid week of 12 hour days and bad midwestern chain restaurant food.

    Things get easier very slowly.

    • Marcia says:

      Oh my big accomplishment for the week was:
      12 yo now automatically puts his dishes in the dishwasher without asking

      and he did 3 chores
      taking out the trash
      folding his laundry
      making his bed

      winning!

      • Caroline Bowman says:

        this is the other side, the bit where when they get a bit bigger, they become… whisper it… useful and accomplished and pleasant! I know! My 11 year old made his little brother some toast the other day, when he was whining he was hungry and I was busy, then he took out the full kitchen trash. I nearly fell over.

  59. Knudsoka says:

    Oh my god. YES. Thank you for writing this.

  60. Cheryl says:

    I knew you were not kidding describing hungry baby, toddler potty scene. I lived it with 2 under 2! I have a picture of myself trapped in my rocking chair with my newborn asleep at my breast and my toddler also asleep on me. I could not get up! DH came home and snapped the picture. Then just as things are really calming down and the oldest is in second grade and the younger daughter was in kindergarten, I found out I was pregnant with #3 daughter! I don’t know how I lived through raising 3 daughters and working full time, being a cheerleader mom for 10 years straight and soccer mom for 12 years straight with our very talented youngest who played class 1 ball! Now my days are chaotic when my granddaughters are here and the 3 year old is on the potty and needs a book to look at and the 9 year old and her friend from across the street decide they want to embroider and I am digging out the computer for them to pick out a pattern, pulling out the light boxes (I accidentally bought 2), finding the right pens to trace, cutting fabric, finding hoops, needles and setting out the thread. Meanwhile the 3 year old is done….”Grandma I need you” in her sing song voice……Oh I get it. But just think, I know it’s a long way off, but hopefully you will have a few grandchildren and even though it gets crazy, you will be able to send them home and regroup! Your big reward is the title of grandma. Seriously. My mother never told me how much I would love those babies, either my children or my grandchildren. Hang in there, every stage in life is the best!

    • LongTime Frugal says:

      There is no “how did I live through it” – we just did it. I too worked full-time and had the luxury of my Mom watching my daughters. They later did go to daycare and are none the worse for wear. Younger daughter met one of her good friends at day care (they were around 1 1/2 years old). I will state that when they were in day care, they were not there when the doors opened and were not the last ones picked up. I dropped off as my work day started later than my husband’s. He picked up as he got off earlier than I did (and fed them a home cooked supper before I got home from work). Bottom line: there is no playbook, you do what works best for you and your child(ren).
      And not to start WWIII BUT call it what you like – day care, preschool, nursery – someone else is in charge of your child(ren) for X amount of time. I will say some day care facilities are better than others. Sadly, how much you can afford to pay is a major factor. I hope the day comes where women can be home with their child for the first year. But until our country has a major shift in mindset, that is not financially possible for most families, frugal or otherwise.

  61. Mesquite says:

    I’m so very glad you wrote this. I can look back on my time as a parent now that I’m 56 years old and I can tell you that your life will not be your own until your children are 21 to 25 years of age. Set aside your life until then. Then you can go back to having moments of peace and quiet and reset your goals for yourself.
    Parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do in this life no matter what your circumstance. But it also can bring you the most joy and the most growth. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel and then you can enjoy grandkids!

  62. We have no children but I can understand that mood where you don’t want to write money. I get those all too much! Love frugality but I just need a hug right now, ok? From a supportive community! Ok? Love to talk income and efficent taxes but there’s more to life sometimes ok!!

    I’ve jumped off the money bus to self explore other topics and I thought it was IMMENSELY fun to write for a change.

  63. Sara Lynch says:

    I only have one and I can identify with almost every single word. She is almost 13 and even though I don’t have butts to wipe, you’re still vigilant it’s true. I remember when my daughter was about 4 months old, I caught myself crying in the kitchen because I just wanted to make a lot of vegetable soup. Wasn’t going to happen that afternoon because not holding my daughter wasn’t going to happen in her world. My friend has 2 young boys and keeping the youngest one alive and relatively uninjured is her main priority. He has no fear and loves jumping off of things. Her older is a thoughtful and beautiful soul that has more stories about dinosaurs and magic portals than anyone could possibly imagine. And he really wants your attention while he is weaving his tale.
    I always think back to when women had to do everything by hand!!! How?! I mean how did they do this?! We are talking pioneer times. It makes me really appreciate my own privilege to be sure.
    Oh, one more thing, eat at night. When I would get up to a crying baby at 3am, I would grab a handful of cheese sticks, a couple of granola bars and a couple of apples. Anything I could eat with one hand while she nursed. It’s one of the main times of the day that I got my calories in. Trying to eat hot food over a nursing baby is fraught with peril to be sure.

    • LongTime Frugal says:

      “because not holding my daughter wasn’t going to happen in her world.” I remember having one of those days. I called my Mom and said “come over, your granddaughter is driving me crazy”. She came over and took over holding duty for a couple of hours.

      I fondly remember being able to eat like an offensive lineman yet loose the baby weight when I was nursing.

  64. Hang in there, Liz! You’re an awesome mama and this stage of life is temporary. (As the horse has left the barn and it’s too late to recommend sleeping peacefully without children and just being the coolest aunt ever 😉 )
    You have a loyal following who will gladly read whatever your heart wants to write, and if your target audience shifts, so be it. And if you focus elsewhere and write less for a while, so be it. There are no rules here.

  65. Natasha says:

    A friend of mine once said, when asked what parenting two was like, “Someone is always crying. The toddler, the baby, or me”. Your post is my life right now, too. Mine are one and three, and the exhaustion is a constant companion. Like you, I sometimes feel like I’m spinning my wheels endlessly, but sometimes there is light at the end of the tunnel (yesterday they read a book together and I got a whole 5 minutes of peace!). Thank you for writing this. So often we hear about the joys of parenthood without the acknowledgement that parenting is some of the hardest work there is, and none of us really has it all together.

  66. Soggysuzzi says:

    Take it one day at a time and forget trying to put things in some sort of workable schedule. Leave the psychological stuff in the bottom left hand drawer. Be Scarlett O’Hara – tomorrow is another day. And whatever you do, life will get in the way of your plans, schedules and clean clothes. It won’t get better, just different challenges. You will eventually be able to sleep, breathe and stay cleaner. It’s OK if the dishes sit in the sink or the clean clothes are still piled up on a bed somewhere. You can’t do it all and the frustration with the mundane will eventually be managed and eventually those little hands will help you fold and put away the clothes. When you need help get it. You are in the fortunate position that you can hire someone if you need a break. Don’t feel guilty, do it. Remember your relationship with hubby is important and it is inevitable that this will go down the drain (at least for awhile) while you are trying to do it all.

  67. Stephanie says:

    I have 4 kids ages 9-1, so I can really relate to this and enjoyed reading your thoughts. I also get so frustrated with my daughter yelling all the time. And my older boys are old enough to help out a lot with household chores, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get them to do just one simple task. Just yesterday my 7 year old had a full blown tantrum because I expected him to vacuum a room, something he’s done many times before and is quite capable of doing by himself. It would’ve been faster and less stressful to just do it myself rather than deal with 30 minutes of him yelling and throwing things. But the point is not to have a vacuumed room, it’s to raise a responsible person! I have to keep reminding myself that.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      SO TRUE!!! We are steadfast in not giving into our toddler, which is a harder path, but we hope one that will yield good results!

  68. Diana says:

    As a mother of an 11 month old I really appreciate these posts! I appreciate your honesty and it helps me to have a better perspective on my own cirsumstamces so THANK YOU for the work you do, in your own home and in the world. Because I believe the world is a better place when we take seriously our responsibilities in our home and family. I came to your blog because I liked your philosophies on money, but also enjoy all the topics you choose to write about. So basically, if you keep writing, I will keep reading : ) because If you can write about money and make it interesting and enjoyable (which you do very well) I’m confident you can successfully write about any topic!

    Best wishes to you and your sweet family.

  69. Oriana says:

    Thank you for sharing the truth of everything your’re going through right now. I started reading this blog to learn more about financial independence, but stayed because of posts like this one. Your words are honest, funny, and beautifully written. I read a new Furgalwoods post the moment I see it in my inbox and love all the different topics you cover because they come from such an authentic place. And I LOVE the bullet points at the end, thank you for the reminders to lean in where we are and be grateful for all that we have.

  70. Ginny says:

    This is my favorite post you have ever written. I am embarking on marriage next month and probably starting a family pretty soon after (my non-spring chicken status necessitates haste) so I need all the real talk I can get. Thanks for a heavy dose. I’ll never be ready, but that’s ok. Apparently, nobody ever is!

  71. Diana says:

    I read what you’ve written with misty eyes. While I wouldn’t want to do it again, I would love to be a spectator for a day. To see the sweet faces, to hear the voices, and especially to breathe in their smells (after a bath, of course, not the other smells). I have a fledgling adult in the mix now, and I can’t fathom how it passed so quickly.

  72. A says:

    I would LOVE more posts like this!

  73. Sue H. says:

    What a great post. As a mom to two girls, roughly 2 years apart, who are now in their 30s, I read this with a feeling of a sort of sweet nostalgia. I firmly believe that every stage/age that kids go through brings with it something that makes it horrible/awful and something that makes it sweet/wonderful.

  74. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this honest and wise post. You are an encouragement to me, a stay-home mom of a 4 and 6 year old, who still spends a lot of time struggling with how much it doesn’t look like I’m doing. Your words about embracing where you are now are my mantra. You are one of the women in the world I most admire.

  75. Lucy says:

    Thank you for being so open and honest! I’m in the trying-to-conceive stage and kinda freaking out. I’ve read so much about how hard parenting is that I’ve kinda psyched myself out and can barely remember why it seemed like a good idea, though we’ve discussed it for years and made the decision very carefully. I’m fully prepared for the first few years to be a tough slog, so maybe going in with the worst of expectations means I’ll be pleasantly surprised? People say “it’s all worth it!” and so on, but it’s hard to see that from the other side. I guess it’s just a leap of faith (which, as a logical more than an emotional person, I am finding surprisingly hard to make).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes! It’s definitely a leap of faith. It took us 13 months to get pregnant with our first and I’m so grateful that we did! It’s not easy to parent–I wouldn’t want to sugar coat it–but it is also miraculous, hilarious, and fulfilling. That being said, it isn’t for everyone and I would never push someone into parenthood who didn’t feel prepared. When I was pregnant with my first a friend told me that it was good I was concerned about being a parent, because if I wasn’t, I’d be delusional. So I think a healthy dose of reality is good even as you eagerly anticipate all the joys and wonders of pregnancy and kids.

  76. Gwen Bridge says:

    this was great thank you. I had two kids and was often frustrated because I could not do the things I wanted to, go to the bathroom by myself yes and maybe have some time to read the paper. But then I had twins! It is exponentially harder and busier but somehow so much better. My husband completely surrendered our lives to our children and unexpectedly we are happier and the family is happier. I now really ‘feel like a mom’. I always did but there is something about the complete surrender which is liberating and allows me to be a more and better mom. From time to time though, I still wish, but with no frustration or malice, that I could read the paper, in burst of longer than 1 or 2 sentences.

  77. Nora says:

    Beautiful article. I hope we get to read more like this! I feel like I know what to do with my money and if not, I can reference an article here so I love the more “life” driven articles. It’s a reminder that we aren’t perfect but also a great way to aspire to parent. I’m sure as your children age, you will have more frugal teachings for us and I can’t wait!

  78. Rose says:

    We have one child (7.5 months) and I wonder if we have another I will be like, “how did I think I was busy before with just one kid? Two is insane!” But you’ve got this. Motherhood is really hard and you have to be mentally so strong when your day to day is with the wee folk (which you are!). I feel like I accomplish a huge task just by managing to eat throughout the day.

    Hang in there!!

  79. Diyana says:

    Thank you for this article. You have perfectly described my life and even some of the feelings which I couldn’t figure out myself. I have just one child and I feel overwhelmed already, this is why I’m afraid to add another member to the family.

    I am grateful for having the opportunity to enjoy a prolonged maternity leave (2 years so far, probably another year to go) but God do I sometimes wish to return to work tomorrow…

    By the way, I somehow missed the fact that you guys are into permaculture. This is absolutely fantastic as I am very passionate about it. Love to read more about this part of your journey.

    Anyway, thank you for making me feel I am not alone on those days full of joy, exhaustion, tears and laughter. It is a rollercoaster ride, ten minyat a time…

    Love,
    Diyana from Slovakia

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Love to you too!! Maybe I’ve forgotten to write about permaculture–hah!!! Better put that on my to do list 😉

  80. Dixie Koch says:

    It is all the little things I also have come to appreciate. I am 58 and have the care of a four year old and an eighty year old. Spent 21/2 hours at the clinic with a room full of four year olds and grandma’s getting kids ready for school with immunizations. It made the noise and impatience all worth it when he came out and told the boy that was next not to be scared and he would be alright that the shots did not hurt that bad. Apparently it was under discussion before we went back

  81. I really appreciate your openness re: parenting – the challenges and the wins. While of course it’s a rewarding endeavor, it can also be an exhausting, stressful, and lonely experience. You are not alone!

  82. Torrie says:

    Yeah, if you’re in the throes of potty training now…best of luck to you! It really is the worst part of parenting so far (for me, anyway).

    I remember once seeing a graphic (that I’m sooooo wishing now that I’d pinned or something!) that showed several different pie charts with each slice of the pie representing different slots of time to do different things. The one labeled “before kids” and the one labeled “after having one kid” were staggeringly different—the sleep slice got way thinner, as did the time for exercise, wasting time, hanging out with friends…but then the creator of the different pie charts said something to the effect of (which I know you’ve said before): “I get more done in that tiny ‘productivity” sliver than I did when I had five times that amount before having kids.

    Isn’t that the truth, though!

    I also blog, and I think it’s funny that our reactions to having our second children (I just had my baby last month) were completely opposite–you’ve wanted to blog about motherhood and what you’re in the thick of, and I want to blog about almost anything but that (just because I need a break from the constant-ness of it all!). I think they both have their merits!

    But whatever you choose to write about, you know you’ve got loads of faithful readers (including me) who will read whatever you want to give us! Long live the Frugalwoods!

  83. Donna says:

    When you go from one kid to two, it feels like the work doesn’t double, it triples or quadruples! These are hard, exhausting, exhilarating days. My girls are now in their twenties and sometimes I wish I could go back in time to when they were small. (And then I regain my sanity, haha.) Loved your post and found found myself laughing and nodding in agreement. Great job, momma!

  84. Leah says:

    1. I enjoyed this maybe most of any article you’ve written, especially because it made me laugh out loud numerous times
    2. I learned a new word (“militate”) and I quite like it
    3. You wrote about trying to not be busy after the birth of your first and then realizing that you LIKE being busy and going back to your own roots, and I just wanted to say that I found that so incredibly reassuring, especially as I was just a few weeks shy of giving birth to our first (baby boy born in April).

    So I’m summary, THANK YOU for sharing your perspective and wisdom and humor with us all — we love all aspects of your life, not just the numbers!

  85. Emily says:

    Mrs. FW, Thank you for sharing this post. I don’t have children myself but I work in the hospital as a pediatric RN & I am studying to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Hearing you talk about what it is like to have 2 small children helps me better understand the struggles that parents face. I see glimpses of what you discuss at work but your writing helps me to understand more and judge less. Thank you for sharing your struggles. Your children are lucky to have such a loving and invested mother!

  86. Meghan says:

    I just wanted to say I FEEL YOU! Parenting is so, so hard, but it brings so much joy to every day. I just have to remember to stop and appreciate said joy. My husband and I constantly ask ourselves what the heck did we do with our time before having children? Thanks for being so real and letting all of us who are still in the trenches know that we are not alone!

  87. Pauline says:

    I don’t know if there is a MOPS (Mother of Pre Schooler) group near you or not, but many women love this informal group get together. The kids can play together while the moms lend emotional support, tell their stories, and develop friendships. You are doing a great job and your children will realize how great their childhood growing up in the country was when they are adults.

  88. Nicole Alonzo says:

    Are you familiar with the writings of Laura Vanderkam? She often quotes a saying that she read on a basket from a strawberry farm: Remember, the berry season is short. She uses this as a reminder to enjoy the small pleasures of the phase of life that you find yourself in (as well as for other things, for instance to plan fun seasonal activities). All this to say, your raspberry analogy was perfect.

  89. Maria Vidakis says:

    Your honesty is refreshing! I Enjoy your blog immensely! I wish I had had a writer like you to follow when my kids were young! I don’t think your readers mind that you don’t want you write about money!

  90. Emilie says:

    I’ve read and re-read your post, and, imho, you are doing everything right as a mum. Truly, you are. I’ve come to believe that most messes made by children are really acts of exploring, learning and growing. They repeat the mess, which is exasperating, but each time they learn something new – however small that might be. The work often seems mindless and it IS so under appreciated in our culture. And it seems, especially in the early years, there is nothing to show for the myriad minuscule bits of work a mom does in any given day. Twenty eight years ago, our oldest was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when no one knew what that or gluten was. I made all her food from scratch, and like cleaning, there was nothing to show for it as I started baking all over again the next day. Many were the nights I went to bed so completely exhausted I couldn’t even cry, though the sensation sat there in my chest.

    Perhaps my worst day was in a paint store with my 4 month old. I was standing in line holding her, and then smelled her dirty diaper. Finally I go to the head of the line, paid for the paint, turned to go, and slipped in some of that “smelly diaper stuff” that had oozed out onto the floor. Protecting the baby as I went down, I somehow let go of the paint can, which hit the floor and the lid popped off. I ran out of that store into 100 degree heat, got the baby in her car seat and drove out of that parking lot quite quickly. I drove to a nearby mall parking lot, air conditioning blasting, sat in the car and just bawled: What am I doing? I’m no good at this. Why hadn’t I taken the stroller in? And why, oh why, had I quit the job I was so good at, and decided to do THIS which I was so bad at? Being a mother … everyone does this so easily, why am I the only one that is just horrible at it despite trying so hard? Pity party, pity party, pity party …..

    I can only offer what some of the others already have: a) find a couple of good, honest moms who have kids your kid’s age, so they understand what you’re living; b) find even just one older mom [whose kids seem well adjusted!] who can emotionally support you. When you are emotionally sustained, you’re better equipped to sustain those little ones and, finally, c) after our last child was born, and it felt as though all hell had broken loose, at some point I sat down and made a short list of what absolutely had to get done in a given day for me to feel OK as a mom. It was this: “feed them, change them, be kind to them” .. “and to myself” I later scrawled in.

    I had a decent professional career before having children; my husband also has a decent professional career and puts in very long hours. We both agree, the hardest job in the world is being good parents. In the beginning, its labor intensive; later on, its emotionally intensive, but just hang in there. Our youngest recently finished graduate school and someone remarked, “oh you must be so proud of her.” And I thought to myself, I’m most proud of her because she is simply a good and kind human being. I hope you will find that as well, and I trust you will.

  91. Vivian Blossom says:

    Dear God, this brought back so many memories. Three kids under 3-1/2, one bathroom, no disposable diapers, always a dirty diaper in the toilet to rinse out, a childless friend coming over because she had nothing to do, me wishing she would leave so I could move on with all my work, the in-laws deciding that they would gift us with a new puppy so I would have another puddle to clean up, the cat having kittens and the child shutting the door accidentally on one of them, and the list goes on. We won’t even touch the teen years…..my reward? The sight of my 3 beautiful, smart and talented daughters, all with fantastic jobs and families of their own who love and appreciate us for all we have done for them, and try to do the same for their families. My heart is full…..

  92. Emilie says:

    The potty training thing made me laugh. My 3 year old likes to congratulate people in public toilets when she hears them pee! I at first was embarrassed, and am now simply happy she’s not narrating my bathroom experiences. Most women laugh and thank her. And I hope they take some of this laughter and feel a little bit better in their day. I know I do! I know my daughter wants to help the people of the world in her own small way. She’s the first kid to remark on a baby crying and wanting them to make them feel better. Motherhood is definitely the most exhausting thing, and I have NO IDEA where all of my free time went before, because it sure as hell is gone now!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, I’m so glad to hear Babywoods isn’t the only one who sees the public restroom as a great forum for congratulating people ;).

  93. Emily says:

    Thank you, thank you for this. It is so easy to get lost in the “uniqueness fallacy,” and feel I am the only one going through this madness. But you, madame, are my people. Thank you for the much needed laugh and hope today. You are such a blessing, and your family is lucky to have you. Keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight.

  94. Norm says:

    What a fantastic entry, Mrs. Frugalwoods! Your description of the rote work gives me a new appreciation of moms everywhere. I like your depiction of the seeming lack of progress and tangible goalposts. It just makes me understand how frustrating it can feel. Keep up the good work!

  95. Accountant from Alabama says:

    Avid reader of your blog! Never commented until this post. SO MANY “YES” moments. You get me! The accountant in me squealed in delight reading about the differences you are experiencing. Accepting the non linear phase of early parenting is hard. And right on about the free time and stress, hmm, ok?! WHO was I before the babe? LOVE your writing and real life examples. Keep going!

  96. Alice says:

    Thanks for your honesty. I’ve found this with other blogs I’ve read–the author has children and the focus shifts to kids. This is understandable, but I am not interested in children. I’ll just skip the child-centric posts and hope for FI posts when you can write them.

  97. singlemalt says:

    Surprisingly I understand the ‘overwhelmed’ feeling. Taking care of a wife with bone cancer as she fights for her life is indeed overwhelming. Yes the dishes are to be washed, and the clothes, and the floor vacuumed, and the cooking to be done, (poor lady, I’m the world’s worst cook). But it’s worth it.
    I fell flat down in love with her 41 years ago, and I still am as I approach 85.

  98. Jackie says:

    I’d love to see you write more about your current stage of life. I’m in a similar transition from financially focused DINK to new mother, and it’s an underserved segment of the PF world. Would write more but babe woke up!

  99. Erin says:

    Thank you for this. The passage on “impermanent work” puts words to a friction I also feel between my personality and the reality of parenting little kids (kid in my case). For me, I know I’m doing okay when I can keep a sense of humor about incidents like the potty/teddy bear story you mention–when I can’t see the humor I know I need to find more help and take a break. I also struggle with guilt about having a hard time when my life situation is (1) privileged, (2) what I wanted, and (3) something I *knew* would be challenging. To paraphrase wise council I received–just because this is what you wanted and you knew it would be hard…doesn’t magically make it not hard!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true!!!! Be gentle with yourself and confident that you are doing the right thing! (advice to self too!)

  100. Annika says:

    I almost started crying while reading your post because I know exactly how you feel. My two little girls are 19 months apart in age and I feel like I don’t get anything done – all the time. And I do have to admit – because I love your blog and book and have read every article at least twice – that I sometimes find myself thinking: “Just look at Mrs. Frugalwoods. She has two little children as well and a homestead on top and she finds time to write a blog and a book and even volunteers. You must be doing something wrong and need to work harder to get more done.” I also struggle with the feeling that I haven’t “accomplished” anything at the end of the day besides redundant household chores and taking care of my kids. But then I remind myself that I AM RAISING TWO TINY HUMANS and what more purposeful job could there be?
    Thank you for your honesty. I will continue reading, regardless of the direction your writing will take you.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You are so welcome and I’m so glad I could dispel the myth of me having it all together! It’s a daily struggle!! And, for what it’s worth, I volunteer from home (editing and writing for community organizations) since I can barely get it together enough to leave the house ;)!!!

  101. Sandy says:

    This may well be my favorite piece of all that you’ve written (and I’ve read every word!). As a mom of a 31-year-old daughter and a 36-year-old son, I can relate, although I was employed and frequently traveling for business throughout their childhoods, so they were daycare kids. At this juncture (with both of them wonderful, self-reliant, kind, happily partnered adults) my perspective is that there is no “right” way to parent, and the most important thing we can do for our children is to “see” them and nurture who they already are. Kudos to you for attempting to parent mindfully, and kudos to you for finding the absurd humor in raising little humans!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! You are so right–there is absolutely no one right way to parent, which is one of the things I find so challenging about it!!! So happy to hear your children are happily grown 🙂

  102. Jessica says:

    I mean, I don’t know what your birthing situation was, but you’ve had two kids. I’m not sure we’d judge you if it was you that pee’d your pants, just a little.

  103. Jeni says:

    YOU ARE DOING A TERRIFIC JOB, MAMA. <- I try to say this to any mama I see with young kids (someone said it to me when I was in the teeny baby mess of having 2 littles under 3 and I was so grateful I nearly wept) – but girl, it's especially true for you. The only way we get through this phase is with honesty, and people who love you no matter the mess, and with a community of supportive like-minded-folks who are looking for the opportunity to see the beauty in the mess and not in perfection. Your honesty in the struggle is a public service and I am super grateful for it! My littles are now 3 and 6, and the world looks so different now – I promise. It's a big deal when you can reclaim your body as yours again!
    For what it's worth, I think posts like this are terrific. And I would love to see how you handle finances within the mess, even if it's not just good 401K advice. I came to the frugal world when I had two little teenies (and my husband and I were/are both working full time), and I remember gazing in admiration and awe at your sense of planning, efficiency, wisdom, etc at your life in Boston – but man it was hard to make it all work in that phase of childhood for us. While it's important to have your non-negotiables and sense of what your family is about, so much about parenting is about tradeoffs to make that stuff happen – and when those tradeoffs happen with money, as they do sometimes, I think writing more about that (even if it goes against budget or financial ideals) can be really helpful for people. I, for one, would love to hear more about people who are working with good intentions for their families and being honest about their lives and finances in the process, even if it sometimes feels messy. Anyway, what I love most about this blog is your honesty – financial advice is easy to come by, but financial honesty (even in the midst of a beautiful mess) is a breath of fresh air. In short, and again, YOU'RE DOING A TERRIFIC JOB, MAMA.

  104. Amanda says:

    This post is fantastic! You probably don’t feel fantastic, but you are and you absolutely got this! Thank you for opening up and sharing about your daily life with 2 very young kids. Good luck!

  105. Sarah says:

    Loved reading this during the peace and quiet of the 2 year olds nap and while the 4 year old pooped (by herself! Without needing me to do anything!). It is so exhausting taking care of two little kids, but I can now see that it is starting to get a bit easier (at least physically). No one needs me to carry them, everyone can pretty much tell me why they are crying, and they mostly sleep through the night!

  106. Laura Lee says:

    Love this article, of course it took me three times of trying to sit down and an episode of Daniel Tiger to finish it!

    While sweaty and wanting a shower because the chickens needed to be blockaded in the fence with rocks all around so they will stop digging out and digging up my precious garden. Next time they get out it is the stew pot…out of patience chickens, even though the boys love to catch you!

  107. Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing the challenges and more importantly the funny moments. Especially with the potty-soaked teddy bear. Your post also reminded me how much harder everything might be with a full-time job in tow.

  108. Christine Keefe says:

    I’d also add that it’s OK to feel like it doesn’t “go so fast” as people love to tell you when you have little kids. Hindsight must have a way of making people forget reality. Mine are 9 and 12 now, and I can attest to the fact that their first 5 years or so didn’t go fast. In fact, they went so painfully slowly. It was worth it though. I can honestly say that these years now are going so fast. The early years are hard work. FWIW, thinking about finances took a backseat for me until my youngest was around 4 or so. I just didn’t have the brainpower to deal with it. Autopilot mode for finances is a blessing in those years!

  109. Jeanne Swygart says:

    Oh do I remember those days! I had twins who did not sleep through the night for 10 months! And I was so organized before the twins! And too critical of other mothers wondering what they did with their time all day at home! But just when I thought i could not last one more day the twins would look up and smile or coo or discover each other and all was good. My purpose in life at that time was to love, love, love my family!

  110. sunshineshed says:

    We are in the (surprisingly less fun than I thought it would be) stage of trying to start our family. No, this post did not scare me to go back on birth control. I would love more posts about parenting and motherhood if and when you have the time. As we navigate this path, it’s hard to find bloggers (and other families IRL) who are parents of young kids that I relate to. I’m not looking for Instagram perfect, just real.

  111. Gayge E Fritz says:

    Oh what memories your post has brought back!!! Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! It is one of the most challenging, joyful, exhausting, hilarious, gut-wrenching, surreal, roller-coaster ride times of your life. Mine are 23 and 20 now, but your post took me back so vividly! I was right there with you…over-turned potty chair, pee-soaked teddy bear and all!! You are doing such an amazing job and I’m so grateful you have chosen to share it with us. Your desire to write may be an internal drive that needs to be satisfied for you to feel complete, but the quality of your writing is a true gift to all us who get to read it and thus go on this incredible ride with you. Thank you for sharing this glimpse of your days. I laughed and cried because it was so relatable. Those of us who have been down this path will never forget it and we can attest to the truth that this season passes quickly and before you know it, life changes again…and again…and again. I was once trapped in a handicapped bathroom stall with a nursing infant and a potty-training failure and nothing to clean up with! I’ll never forget the three retired ladies, companions in the restroom who recognized my plight, who flew into action cranking out paper towels, wetting them in the sink and passing them under the stall door. All the while they laughed and reminisced about their own experiences. One even went to find my husband at our table to send him to get clean clothes for us from our suitcases. (of course we were traveling far from home!) I have a brick pathway that connects to our patio but essentially has no real purpose. I begged my husband to allow me to put it there after he completed the entire brick patio while I did the usual daily routines that would never stay finished. I was so jealous that he got to complete that task. He watched the little ones for me so I could have a chance to work on it and see some fruit of my labor that stayed complete. Crazy, I know, but the desperation to feel that you have accomplished something tangible is a powerful, emotional drive during this exhausting and crazy time of your life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this part of your adventures. I can tell you that some of the challenges from the other side are more intense and heart-wrenching…but still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Get some rest if you can. Treat yourself with the loving pat on the back that you so deserve. You are one hot mess of a talented, gifted woman raising a beautiful family, making a real difference for others along the way while sharing her joys and sorrows with the world. Thank you for that. Love, hugs and encouraging prayers to you and your family from NC.

  112. Virginia says:

    Thank you for this! I was both laughing and crying the entire time I read it – you really captured the essence of being a mom to small kids!
    My daughter is now 14 and very much not so interested in spending time with either of the parental units. Don’t get me wrong – she’s wonderful – but things have shifted. (After about a year of mourning this shift, I am OK with it and we are moving towards the separation that is completely natural at this time of her life. I’m getting my time back and I’m really enjoying it.)
    About a year ago I watched a short video of us together where she was 6 and still so interested in whether or not I was paying attention to her and trying so hard to connect with me. It was so hard to remember that time when she wanted to be with me so intensely that I immediately burst into tears. So I’m saying all this to let you know that it is completely overwhelming when they are young but enjoy it as much as you can. I think getting some space and down time (and sleep!) really helps keep the perspective and allow you to really enjoy your time with them when they’re small. You will really cherish these moments forever. Thanks again! Virginia

  113. Maureen says:

    In the 80’s, when I had two babies, 17 months apart and couldn’t eat, drink, sleep, walk, think…… a wise older woman told me to breathe. Just stop, breathe, smile and find the joy of each moment. She told me these days are the building blocks of our lives and memories from that moment on. I wasn’t always succesful but as I practiced this I found more calm, smiles and laughs each day. I began to take heart photos of special moments, just the everyday precious moments like you described, to take out in memory when it was a hard day. Also, writing it on the calendar became essential. When I walked in to find my little ones in the bathroom, my makeup smeared all over their faces- as well as floor, walls, sink, cabinet, I was able to take a breath, grab my camera for a photo and dump everyone in the tub while re-cleaning the bath and have bright shining faces as company arrived. And I have pictures we greatly enjoy 30 years later. Because time does go by that fast. I am forever indebted to this friend for words that have molded me and my children. I would never become a woman of constant peace and calm, but boy did this help. You’re doing a wonderful job, your daughter’s compassion was certainly learned and more lasting than anything else you will be known for.

  114. Mr. Tako says:

    Hehe, welcome to family life Mrs. Frugalwoods. Sounds like my life!

    Nothing makes you an adult like being a parent to more than one child. Nothing ages you faster either.

    Don’t worry, it gets a little better with time. (We’re *finally* almost nearly kinda maybe out of diapers after 5 long-assed years. Hurrah!)

  115. Krista says:

    Thanks so much for this post! When we started saving money and being frugal it looked like a whole lot of nothing is happening for a long, long time. We put in effort (make coffee in thermos to take to playground) but we barely saw any rewards. We wondered if it was worth it. Fast forward 5 years and amazing things have happened. Interest is earning interest! The rewards are becoming clear! I had a giant epiphany (smile) last year that anything awesome (fitness, losing weight, saving money, having great kids, study, etc.) requires that period where it looks like nothing is amounting to anything!
    We have a 9 year old and a 5 year old and just last year we’ve been seeing massive parenting payoffs such as: all the swimming lessons resulted in our kids actually learning to swim, they can ride bikes, we went on our first successful camping trip where everyone slept and completed a with 5 km hike with no one being carried.
    I think your post is great and totally relates to the theme of your blog! You’re playing the long game with parenting just like you are with your finances. Thanks for sharing!

  116. Kate says:

    Yeah, I hear you. We have one who is Babywood’s age. We won’t have another for a lot of reasons but one of them is that I always feel like I’m losing my mind. We have 3 acres with our 3 horses at home and 3 chickens, and have been trying to create a little permaculture oasis here, and it’s A LOT.

  117. Lee says:

    I never had little ones, though, as a 59 year old widow, I adopted 3 teenage boys who didn’t speak English (another set of challenges :-). And I LOVE hearing about your day-to-day life. Though I am interested in frugal living, I have always read your blog, and book, simply because I love your writing! Thank you.
    PS Ten years on, the boys, now men, all speak wonderful English and now have their own families..so I did end up with little ones after all.(3 grandsons under 6) And am blessed that the two boys with children, live across the street from me. Life is good.

  118. Cindy says:

    Ok -so this post took me all day to read because of constant and necessary interruptions by my three kids. I kept coming back to read it-because you are definitely in the trenches as I am. Like I always tell myself, there’s no rest for the weary and that sums it up for me right now. Thank goodness all people seem to remember are smiling faces and sweetness when talking about their grown children. I get tired of hearing “enjoy it” when I’m constantly changing a poopy diaper or answering the never ending cry of mommy! Or a baby that thinks I’ll **never return** if I leave the room to use the bathroom… Anyway, you keep writing when you can, and do not worry about the times you can’t. Good luck!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      YES! I’m right there with you, Cindy!

      • Cindy says:

        And I forgot to mention there was one time my daughter successfully used the potty(we would put it in the middle of the playroom for easy use)only to find that the insert hadn’t been in place. She peed right onto the carpeting…..;)

  119. Melindi says:

    Don’t read parenting books anymore…. you know what’s right for them and you – nobody is super parent and sometimes these books just make you feel guilty. The house will get tidy one day, (perhaps when they go to school,) but they are loved, healthy, eat well, wear reasonably clean clothes and have loads of fun! If you raise happy loved confident children that know right from wrong, can be independent (eventually it will happen….) ,and will have a go at anything, you have done a great job. Yep, those endless chores will seem endless for a long time yet, but it will be easier one day, I promise. Melindi

  120. Emily DeLuca says:

    Your post reminds me of why I decided not to home-school my two children after five+ years of full-time mothering with no babysitters and no breaks! But now that I am older, I miss those days. Hang in there!

  121. Glenna says:

    From the perspective of a now grandmother – Enjoy it, savor it…even the spit up and potty accidents. The days are long but the years are so short!!

  122. Emily says:

    10,000 times yes to all of the above! What I found particularly meaningful was your discussion of gratitude and guilt and privilege. I work around 10 hours per week (I’m a public interest lawyer) but otherwise I am home with my kids (just turned 4 and almost 2) doing much of what you described.

    So much of my mental energy is spent 1)looking at the dumpster fire news cycle 2)feeling horrible about it 3)feeling horrible about not doing more to combat it 4)feeling overwhelmed with meeting the needs of 2 small humans 5) feeling guilty about my need for support in this moment even given all my privilege……and on it goes…..

    I’m lucky that my professional work is deeply meaningful, but it’s still a struggle. A great read!

  123. Susan D. says:

    Every mother’s life is hectic. I always find it amusing when they realize that. Mother’s lives through the ages have been the same.

  124. Diana E Sung says:

    Blogging often entails a kind of recasting of our experiences in the most positive light. That’s one reason I find it so fulfilling because the practice of writing it all down reminds me to see the positive in those moments where parenting and life pressures feel overwhelming. I really appreciate the positive spin of your blogging voice.

    Parenting is so humbling. I know all parents have different philosophies, but I think the extent of our ability to shape the personhood of our children is quite limited–two little people live with me who come from my husband and I, but they are unique beings with their own preferences and impulses. While I can guide them and empower them to become their best selves and expand or limit their exposure to certain things, they are not (and will never be) direct reflections of my parental influence. That’s where most of us went wrong before becoming parents–failing to realize that children are unique beings! Providing unconditional love and support, and meeting their needs to the best of your abilities is what parenting is all about. In that way, we’re all doing what we can, so I know many people (including myself) appreciate this post. Thanks for sharing the mess. (And as someone just a bit further along the parenting journey with a 6 year old and a 3 year old, some things do get easier, though some get more complicated. I think that’s the norm for this gig-for-life.)

  125. M says:

    Hi Mrs Frugalwoods, thanks! Your article about the reality of parenthood was very inclusive because you talk about how it feels for a goal driven person to be working constantly without visible goals. By opening the concept out by reflecting that many things could cause a person to have this frustration, it didn’t feel like this article was a conversation just for parents. Meaningful stuff is often the challenging stuff.
    (It also feels like you don’t judge people for not having or not wanting to have children. It’s a breath of fresh air sometimes.)
    Keep up the posts on life, while the rest of us catch up with our frugality skills! A permaculture post would be lovely (and relatable too!).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And yes, absolutely no judgement on whether or not people have kids–that is a totally personal decision!

  126. Jenny says:

    Thank you for writing this. As the mom of two adult children (21 and 23) I will just tell you that it goes by so quickly. Enjoy the time when they are little and still want you near. No one told me this during the middle of terrible twos, potty training, sleepless nights etc. It does sound like you’re embracing all of the chaos. Be well. Love your blog.

  127. Tiffany says:

    Great article, I can totally relate with three kids 4 and under! What are your favorite parenting books?

  128. Wendy says:

    Wow, do I ever remember those days! I used to insist on mowing the lawn so that something I did would last for more than 10 minutes : )
    Now, I relish every weekend they are home from college and try not to hear the quiet when they go back.

  129. Wendy says:

    Loved this and am living a lot of this right now too. Laughter certainly helps. Thank you so much for making me laugh about all of this. I’ve often felt like I’m walking through water too trying to get something small done! Or maybe molasses. 😉 Just need to embrace the hot messiness right now. Thank you again and loved your book too.

  130. Deb says:

    Chiming in that I also very much enjoy your writings and insight regardless. What I also appreciate is your mention and reflections on choice – and even your mind swirling on the various choices. As you often mentioned about frugality, you understand that your frugality is a choice and are cognizant that it isn’t a “choice” for everyone. I feel it is sometimes similar with parenting situations – there are many that cannot make the choice to stay at home – and there are some that make the choice, but understand because of this choice other concessions are made. As a SAHM for 14yrs, I have had the word “luxury” and “lucky” thrown in my face more times than I can remember. “Oh, you’re a SAHM, I do not have that luxury.” Yeah, my “luxury” involved so many days as you described – the longing for adult conversation and to go the bathroom alone, meltdowns in the most inconvenient places, and unbelievable guilt. I also had the “luxury” of living 5 people in a 2 bed house, driving a 17yr old car with no AC, traveling once a decade and perhaps getting a meal out once a season. Not the extravagant and indulgent lifestyle the word seems to conjure up. All the while, my kids’ friends’ parents ate out, traveled, had brand new cars, and we would get questioned often by our kids about the “why we don’t”. I’ve even had people at my kids’ school tell me that I should do their volunteer hours for them – since I don’t work (tried to pull off that they were joking – not funny).
    I am not unhappy about the choice I made, would I do some things differently, most probably, but it seemed right for our family at the time. I think some of our labeling discounts choices and can add to parent stress – regardless of the choice. Thank you for reinforcing that there are a variety of personal decisions, roads & lifestyles on life’s journey.

  131. This is a seriously beautiful piece of writing. Really, it was captivating. Reminded of my days with a 5-year-old and an infant WHILE WORKING FULL TIME. (I now have a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old, still work full time). These days of early babyhood are tough with two little kids but you’ll look back on them with fondness. They’re also good for helping you get your emotional and financial houses in order (and seems to me you are doing great in both realms!)

  132. With my 2 year old, it’s amazing how I can feel “this is the best stage ever” and “this is the hardest stage ever” at the same time. How I can’t wait until nap time and then if she naps a bit longer than usual, I miss her.

  133. Terri says:

    Summer must be ending. As a teacher I feel relaxed and have sympathy for you!!!! You are so correct that this time is passing faster than you will ever know. Breathe and enjoy it as much as you possibly can.

  134. wilma says:

    As a mom of three, let me tell you: it gets SO much easier when they (mostly) sleep through the night. Hugs.

  135. Angela says:

    Oh my goodness, I was nodding yes to so much of this! My two children are 18 months apart, and those first two years were insane. Like you, I was parenting in good circumstances as I am married to a great man plus we had lots of family support. And it was STILL hard.

    I know it’s hard in these baby days, but I promise one day you’ll realise ‘I don’t have to watch the youngest like a hawk anymore ‘ or ‘ we can go out as a family and all enjoy it without meltdowns/naps required/poo explosions’. My kids are 4 and 5 now, and life is much, much easier.

  136. Mandy says:

    A wise woman once said to me, “They won’t be babies forever.” And I thought about that SO MUCH. She was right, of course. Doesn’t make it easier, though!

  137. Bridgid Good says:

    I love this article! It made me both laugh and get a little weepy. I have two sons who are now 11 and 14. I was a stay at home mom with them and many days now I miss and pine for those younger years when I was the center of their world, and we spent so much time together and shared so many moments. Now, they are just trying to become independent humans and I sometimes feel like such an outsider. I say often that I would give up part of my own life to go back to age 4 and spend time with that boy again (I loved age 4 with my kids). I was also reminded, by your article, to embrace where you are in life and collect all the good there is to be found in the moments now. Babies and toddlers are physically exhausting, while teenagers and young adults are emotionally exhausting.

    Enjoy all those hugs and kisses and all the attention you get now! It truly is wonderful! Thanks for all your writing about money or parenthood…it’s all great!

  138. Joan Dinatale says:

    I am 70 years old. I raised three daughters with my husband. If it had not been for a Mother’s Center I would have lost my mind after having my first child who breast fed every two hours. A Mother’s Center is a place where your children are watched while you are in the same building having heartfelt. discussions about your childrearing experiences with other moms. Women tend to be relational beings. I have followed your journey because one of my daughters was considering a homestead experience in vermont. I thought it was wonderful but i also thought she may have to work hard to create a social network where she can be real about the isolating yet wonderful experience of motherhood with other women. There is healing , strength, and hope in friends walking the same path along side of you. This blog post provides that. You were real. It is healing.

  139. Dorothy says:

    Hello Mrs. FW – l’m a long time reader, first time commenter. As an “older” reader of your blog, I note that many of the comments above are from parents in the thick of parenting young children. Although I know that YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS, the time we have with our kiddos when they are this needy is so short. I had the great joy of having my college age Son intern at my Company for the last 10 weeks. It made me think so much about how quickly he has grown up. I was reminded of the fact that he is standing up on his own and doesn’t need me as much anymore – what I wouldn’t give to go back to a day when he was two years old, dependent completely on me, and I was the main person in his life. It’s like you say though, we need to embrace the Season we are in. Hence, I tried to squeeze as much as I could out of being able to interact with him at my work setting for a brief period. Please squeeze everything you can out of this Season. It passes by so quickly – but you already know this. : )

  140. Karen says:

    Please keep writing about anything you can! You have a wonderful command of the English language and string together words like an artist! And have a wonderful sense of human nature to boot! Although its been many years since my children were young, your article brought me right back into the thick of it!! Loved the 10 minute timeline!! I didn’t read all the comments but I was wondering if Mr. FW could give you a little respite once a week maybe so you could perhaps volunteer or maybe go to a coffee shop to have some alone time? (I am sure he already helps out tremendously with the children because you both seem to be a wonderful team) Just knowing you could have time to yourself might make you feel a little more like your inner self? Love your blog no matter what you write about…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you, Karen! Yes, Mr. FW and I already co-parent :). I wrote this post mostly from my perspective because it’s easier for me to write through my own lens–or rather, through the viewpoint of one person. You’ll note that my This Month On The Homestead posts are mostly written from the perspective of Mr. FW since he does all of the outdoor labor on our property. Working as a team is wonderful, but it’s not always easy to convey the exact logistics in writing ;).

  141. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder of what the early years are like. My oldest is heading off to college this fall and my youngest is in high school. They are both great people and I am so fortunate to have been able to spend time with them when they were little. Hardest thing I’ve ever done and entirely worth it. Be sure you take good care of yourself too. Put your own oxygen mask on first and all that. 🙂

    Keep going!

    PS – “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” was a sanity saver.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for the book recommendation! I’ve been meaning to read that one and haven’t yet!

  142. Sandy says:

    I have just relived my life of 45 years ago and also that of our daughters a short 8 years ago. Thank you, we often forget those endless days and in turn forget to be full of gratitude for those beginnings, without them we would not be where we are today. You just scored A+ in my books. Just do what is required to make life work now, pretend the clean dishwasher is extra cupboard space….it works! You are a natural at mothering and if something you read in a book about parenting makes you go UMMMM, just rip that page out! I helped one daughter with that when it came to soother = nipple confusion. Relax and enjoy the ride, although it may feel rough at times it too quickly becomes a distant memory.

  143. Iris says:

    Coming from a slightly different place – now retired, daughter graduated from college and gainfully employed 3 hours away. But we were both working full time, sharing the load, and feeling overwhelmed when she was little. Different issues.

    One piece of advice, which I offer to all those distraught over how long their HE washer takes to finish a load. You don’t HAVE to use the longest cycle available., though that requires separating loads, which has some additional appeal when kids’ contaminated (you know what I mean) clothes are involved. Using a pre-wash cycle (yes it uses a bit more water though not much more soap, split the soap between the two cycles) and a shorter main wash may be both more effective and shorter. And starting a load that really needs the longest setting just before you head to bed is absolutely a requirement.

    Pre-child, after a job move, we were living in a townhouse with laundry in the basement. A trip to the dollar store gave me a bunch of cheap laundry baskets for sorting, and I preserved that approach in the house, though they are 2-levels high with a level on the floor and one on shelves below the counter. Still works great, and let’s you minimize the number of loads based on usage.

    There is no rule that says all your laundry has to be done in one day. Start a washer load at your bedtime, put in dryer in the morning, and deal with it that way. You don’t feed your family a weeks’ worth of meals in a single day, do you?

    And don’t listen to those who say to enjoy it because they’re only little for a short while. They are, but when they’re little, can communicate and follow at least some instructions is much more fun.

  144. Martine says:

    I must be honest and say I didn’t read every word of your post, I kinda skim read it! However the jist of it is that motherhood is wonderful and overwhelming and simple and complicated and a lesson in moving around as a pack I think. I am now well past the mothering stage, I’m at the grandmothering stage but I well remember most of the things you mentioned. I had three children under 5 and all were planned and loved and I loved every minute of it as a stay home mum. However that is not to say I didn’t have times when I felt frustrated, lonely, tired, overwhelmed, and all the things you said but you know what? I have three lovely grown up children who are a credit to us and I maintain that is what makes it all worthwhile. I worry hugely about the young parents today who have to/choose to work out of the home and leave the children in day care etc. I worry these children become institutionalised and in our days of ‘correctness’ children are no longer encouraged to snuggle on a lap for some downtime in daycare. Everything seems to be aimed at education and being busy at all times. There is of course a place for education in childrens lives, of course there is, but it should be secondary to just being a child and playing and lazing about or running about like a headless chicken. You and your husband are giving your children the very best start in life and I think you will reap the benefits further down the road. Thats when you’ll get your report card. People will admire your children and that rubs off on the parents too. I feel like I’ve been on my soapbox here, sorry! You’re doing good, relax and enjoy, time flies and before you know it you’ll be babysitting your grandchildren! x

  145. Sam says:

    People used to say to me all the time when I had my older daughter and newborn twins (3 kids under 3 and the twins were a massive, unplanned surprise), “I don’t know how you do it.” The reality is that we all just do it and it always feels hard whether you are going 0 to 1, 1 to 2, or in my case, 1 to 3. In the beginnng, I cried every day until I learned to take everything one minute at a time. Eventually, that turned to an hour at a time and now it is day to day with a 12 year old and two 9 year olds. They have been free range all summer and I’ve gotten loads done. Hang tight Frugal Mama, this time of life will be here before you know it.

  146. Sandy says:

    Once you have children you will never, ever be “done”. I like to think that having children took me off the infinite road of linear thinking, as in, where does the linear road end? I now accept that life is circular. We all have to do the daily necessities, even dads. And then we all have to do the daily necessities again! And again…which means that we lived another day.

    As a breastfeeding mother, I simply changed my priorities. I learned to “cook once, eat many times” so the kitchen was only truly messy once or twice a week. Instead of obsessing over the dust everywhere, I cleaned only the dust that bothered me in the moment. Having a frugal, clutter-free lifestyle helped. Being a stay-at-home mom has a lot of benefits in that regard, but coming into it from the Type A world of constant accomplishments is very, very hard. Knowing if you are doing it “right” is scary. The bottom line is that everything you do out of love is right. If you are angry or intolerant of your children’s stages of development, that is the only time “ur doin it rong”.

    Now I’m a retired grandmother, and I’m still caught up in my children’s lives. And, I still try to overload myself with projects to “accomplish”. I’ve learned to say no to the overachiever in my head that wants to bite off more than I can chew. I have accomplished my goals in life. Anything else I manage to accomplish has to be for the enjoyment of the project, only. A famous psychologist once said, “Don’t Should on yourself.” That’s my mantra.

  147. Lisa says:

    Thank you!!! My kids are exactly your kids’ age (one week older each) and my life looks exactly like yours. I know your “ten minutes” so well and in the evenings, when my husband comes home from work, I’m exhausted and the house is a big mess and he must think “what has she done all day?”, although I was running through house and garden all day. Some days ago I was cooking big batches of early apples from our garden that had to be processed immediately to not go to waste, and the kids wanted my attention, and thousand other things waited to be done, and I asked myself “How does it Mrs. Frugalwoods, she has a bigger garden and more fruit to process than I?” I’m glad to hear that you’re also struggling 😉 And I’m sure that one day I’ll miss those days where the children are always with me <3

  148. Martha C says:

    Thank you! Wonderful post, wonderful writing. It is such a privilege to be let into the “hot mess” truth of a writer’s life. And I know it’s scary to share. Hope you feel the truth that we all LOVE the sweetness of your honesty and vulnerability.

    I’ve got 3 grownish girls. It’s my baby’s 21st bday. It’s been a wild wild ride to say the least. My perspective, FWIW, is to lean in the best you can to each phase, enjoy what you can (and there’s a lot to cherish) AND fully celebrate the passing of the stages. I walked out of our last high school choir concert singing “Hey Hey Goodbye” cuz I was so sick of the HS years.

    Right now my hubby and I LOVE the empty nest. We loved the full one too, but now we embrace the peace, quiet and well-deserved time for ourselves.

    Good luck to you, and I look forward to reading more of your wonderful writing.

  149. Teri says:

    You will look back at your life and realize this time went by in a flash. Just enjoy, because you’ve planned your life so you can. That special look your baby gives you, that affirms you are the most wonderful sight she has ever seen and when your toddler has you in tears from laughter make it all worth while. If you are really lucky you can take a shower by yourself !

  150. Jen says:

    Great post! So refreshing and helpful to see behind the curtain. Lots of love to you and the family!

  151. Michele says:

    I love this! Please do more!

  152. Rachel says:

    Those tips are a good wake up for me, particularly the guilt into gratitude. That’s a great concept.

  153. Amanda Fortier says:

    I love this post! Reminds me of me when I went from one to two kids! I promise it gets easier and we even added a third to the bunch. I love reading your blog and following you. We will be getting out of the military after 15 years and relocating to Maine where we would love a big farmhouse(would like to foster one more child) with a barn for horses. Your homestead inspires me💕

  154. Jenni says:

    Mrs. Frugalwoods, I finished reading your book last night and I loved it. I couldn’t put it down and then with 20 pages left, I put it down because I didn’t want it to end. I finally read through the last 20 pages and closed the book, satisfied, inspired. I also have a hard working husband and 2 daughters and 12 acres in the forest. (Long story short, we are currently living hundreds of kms away from that forest but it’s still ours). We also purchased it in our early 30s, even the real estate agent was trying to talk us out of it! I am about 10 years older than you are and thinking back to when my girls were the ages of your daughters….I am baffled that you wrote a book! An awesome book. You are an extremely talented writer and I just love a great love story. Thank you. You are depositing into your children’s emotional bank accounts every day you are with them so most definitely, lean in to this time and keep writing about it. Lots of respect and gratitude from Northern Alberta.

  155. Rachel says:

    This may be my favorite post ever! I sincerely hope you don’t take offense to this, but I had actually stopped reading your blog, after going years devouring every post, because I just couldn’t relate any more. I would read your expenses reports, and think “where is the $2 ‘OMG, both of my children are sick, I got 2 hours of sleep last night, and I somehow ran out of coffee” expense?” or “where is the $1500 worth of ‘I’m on my way to visit my dying dad for the fifth time in 6 weeks flights/fuel” expense?

    Your frugality, organization, and upbeat attitude felt so perfect in a way that just made me wonder, “what am I doing wrong in life?” It’s encouraging to see that not everything is perfect all the time. 🙂 Please do more of this so the rest of us can feel sane! I also always appreciate when you discuss your privilege, along with your commitment to frugality. Honesty with a balanced perspective is so refreshing!

    • Rachel says:

      Ugh, I re-read this and I’m worried it came across as criticizing your past writing for being too positive. I hope you didn’t read it that way! Just saying that I recently went thru a difficult time, and it’s nice to be reminded that other people are a “hot mess” sometimes too. 🙂

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        No worries at all! I didn’t take it as a critical thing! I am just so happy to hear that this resonated and I hope I can provide some hot mess solidarity 🙂

  156. Krysten says:

    As someone who once hysterically sobbed to her husband, “I. Just. Need To. Accomplish. One. Thing,” I hear you. It gets easier, I promise. One thing that helped during that season of my life was the occasional solo trip to the grocery store. I would listen to a podcast/talk to a friend on speaker phone while driving there and blissfully and methodically shop for groceries, reading the occasional label and not at all stressed that someone was going to cry/pee/vomit. Highly recommended.

  157. Melissa says:

    I recently became a step-mother to a five and seven year old and I cannot express my disdain for laundry and dishes at this point. I never used to hate either. But now that I’m constantly doing laundry and dishes, and there is never enough time for both, its mind numbing. For a happily child-free woman of 40, this has been like being thrown into the deep end of a very, very cold, very deep pool, with few swimming skills and everyone looking on wondering why you’re not doing a better job of adjusting. I’ve finally put words to my feelings and started telling my boyfriend about how I feel (overwhelmed on good days), and he gets it. But its incredibly hard.

    I do accomplish a lot during my days as a social worker. And I knit. And run. So I accomplish quite a lot, really. But that damned laundry and dishes…

    PS- please do keep up with other topics…. despite step-motherhood, I don’t really relate to being a mother. Because I’m not one. I’d love an article about broaching the subject of barter relationships. (As in, I’ve picked up a $100 per month yoga habit that I’d like to start to trade some hours at the studio for a discount and I don’t know the etiquette of that sort of thing…. ) Also, etiquette in general about frugality would be nice. I recently had an experience with another family where we invited them to a family home for the weekend. We hosted, paid for food, (including breakfast out), fire wood, etc., and I felt a little taken advantage of. I’d love to know how to talk about those sorts of things ahead of time rather than feeling bad at the back end.

    So sort of family related, and sort of all life related?

    Hang in there. This too shall pass. 😉

  158. Bridget says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. In an age of Instagram and Facebook, where mothers have photos of looking like they’ve stepped off the catwalk with indeed beautiful AND well-behaved children who are taking classes; this post is tremendously helpful and REAL. I am in the thick of it with a 3 year old and a 7 month old. I seriously wonder how we could possibly make so much washing? How could we dirty so many dishes? It is relentless. but I oo just keep thinking this is a phase…a very short phase in the scheme of life. I struggled with parenthood, due to being a box ticker and a planner and achieving everything at full speed, i have had to slow my mind and self down considerably. It is incredibly hard not knowing if we are making the right decisions. I lean on my husband and say to him, we are in for one hell of a ride together! Thank you so much and much love!

  159. Brook says:

    I am a mom. You know, one of those super hero combination women with a baby in my arms nursing, one hanging on my ankle and one wrapped around my neck. I did accomplish something really important! I gave birth to these little monkeys. The only thing I cannot do is peel carrots with all three clinging to me like baby opossums. Always remember that all over the world, there is a mother somewhere experiencing that very SAME moment.

  160. Pat says:

    I loved this. I can sooo identify. My husband and I are about to turn 65 and 70. We do foster care for children ages birth to 5 plus we have an 8 yr old who came to live with us when she was 2 and we adopted her. We have 20 acres, a large garden, an orchard and all the work that goes with it. My husband is retiring in Oct so I will finally have help! We have 6 adult children in their 30’s and 40’s so it’s not like we didn’t know what we were getting into. I can honestly say that there’s a reason women my age don’t have babies. It’s exhausting! I think my daughter summed it up best. Cleaning house when you have little kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. But it will all be worth it in the long run.

  161. Rose says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this. I’m in the same trench as you with two littles, and was nodding along in agreement when you wrote about seeing little glimpses of empathy or ‘good behaviour’ and feel like all that intangible work is starting to grow roots and leaves.

    Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short, which feels pretty accurate these days. Solidarity.

  162. Thank you for this! You have so much company, I think. I blogged regularly before my twins were born (it was such a helpful outlet for my infertility journey) and now that there are three, I rarely blog and my focus has shifted so intensely to other things. I still write occasionally, but it’s just not an itch that needs to be scratched very often these days. This season will pass and I think I will write again more someday, or maybe I won’t. Personally, I’m quite glad that I never intended to have much reach or monetize my online journal. It’s there for my needs, and if someone else enjoys it, then great.

    I also write and read extensively on the computer for work (I work outside part time) and between that and the draw of social media (I, like many others, need to put down the phone more), I just don’t need more reasons to stare at a screen right now.

    I enjoy what you share when you do! Write when you want or need to. You have a beautiful family!

    Cheers!

  163. Clelie says:

    A very successful post!= based on all your replies & conversation. You painted a very accurate picture of parenting littles. Thank you for sharing your story! Reminded me of my parenting trench days.

    I didn’t read all the comments- so perhaps folks have already shared this~ however I wanted to highlight- that the way that we/ N.A. culture largely does parenting these days, has problems.

    I don’t think that mothers were really designed to parent 2 or more children under 5 largely alone for days on end. This is a lot easier in community, For Example– when the aunties/ uncles, grandma/ grandpas/ neighbours- can take the children in the afternoon so that you can recover much needed sleep- or perhaps have some time to string thoughts together uninterrupted and enjoy some adult conversation.

    There is a very real epidemic of post-partum depression and I think being isolated and under a huge amount of pressure is one of the causes.

    So while I think it is super awesome to have strategies and ideas around mindset for getting thru this time. I also work to create more community and I get help with parenting– so that it isn’t all up to me and my partner and I can do other things that I enjoy.

    I don’t want my words to come off as judgemental… I just wonder about the hero-ism of trying to go it alone-ish at this time….

    Why not create a culture where parenting does not become all consuming and we can continue to participate in more of the ways that we did pre-kids?

    Or even doing parenting with other parents and children… so you can support each other and have shared reality and accomplishments, celebrate each other’s successes etc…

  164. Kids ARE gross! I only have the one kid (and two dogs) but definitely remember the haze of “wait, what comes next in the alphabet??”

    And I heave a deep sigh when you call this the easy phase of life because you’re right and I’ve reminded myself of how precious these oh-so-hard and stressful days are.

    That was how I got through working full time and momming full time, solo, during long work days, and working third shift on top of it. I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can right now and even if it feels not good enough, I AM devoting my all to it and that’s something to be proud of. And it’s hard not to feel that upwelling of joy when after a crying jag or tantrum, JB comes out and asks to help with something, or asks for a hug. Would that life were always that simple: let out your rage in a minute-long howl, feel better, and ask for the hug you know you want. 🙂

  165. Emily says:

    Oh my goodness – this is an epic post! I absolutely adore it! THANK YOU for your honesty and humor 🙂

  166. Dana Sullivan says:

    This is such a beautiful, perceptive, and wise piece of writing. If you can take an experience like this and synthesize it into such a good article *while the thing is still happening*, I feel like you could write anything. Thank you.

    It feels like you would be well within your rights as a human to have written a long rant, or something bitter and fatalistic, but instead you gave us something accessible and educational. You are a very strong person!

    • Dana Sullivan says:

      And also, I hope that you get some relief in some way in the short term! Or in general, I hope you find the balance between acceptance and change-seeking that works for you.

  167. mary says:

    superbly written. my kids are grown, but I still teared up at the memories and laughed too. it almost seems I was where you are just yesterday-and can almost smell the sweet baby smell and feel the chubby little fingers reaching for me. thanks for the reminder. just enjoy your littles.

  168. Yes, we want to read it!!
    ” I’ll sweep the floors and experience this weird elation that FINALLY I have DONE SOMETHING with my life. Someone pin a medal on me. ” This is so me! And the baby and toddler (2 &5) are our weekend grandparenting realities!

  169. Lia Vanover says:

    It does get easier….it’s slow and incremental….but then you look up one day and realize your 14 year old has COMPLETELY taken over the laundry responsibility and your 11 year old cleans her own room ,unloads the dishwasher, and takes out the recycling. ( all for the sake of allowances, full disclosure, but still a pittance compared to the cost of my time and energy). ” This too shall pass” is a quote often chimed in these comments and it rings true. However, when you look up and realize these little human beings have started taking care of themselves…..leaving less and less responsibility for you…. you will wish they were babies again ( if just for one day). Each day probably feels like an eternity of spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. Yet 10 years will pass like the blink of an eye and you will wonder where the time went.My best advice; take help when it’s offered ( you need your sanity, fill up your cup so that you have the reserve to give back to your family) Relish in the time you are in now. All the nasty self doubts and perfectionist stuff nagging at the back of your mind are useless and draining. Let those thoughts go, they weigh you down and they give nothing of substance in return. Surround yourself with friends who lift you up, family that loves you and the joy that comes with the acquisition of knowledge and experience. Count your blessings ( daily if needed) and you start to re-align your goals. I come from a secular belief system, but still take time to write down what I am grateful for from time to time. ( we can pay all our bills, we are not beholden to any person or entity, everyone is healthy, we have a loving extended family…etc) and after listing all that I am grateful for, I realize it really doesn’t matter if my kitchen is immaculate or if I was too tired to make a gourmet dinner. That’s all small stuff. My BLESSINGS….that was the BIG stuff and I have that covered. And YOU DO TOO! Congratulations!!

  170. Caitlin says:

    It took me a few hours to read this article. During session one, I was strapped up to my breast pump. Once my husband brought the sleeping newborn in the room, lights were off, pumps were shut down, and it was time to get SOME sleep. Session two just ended – scene – a King sized bad, a sleep deprived mom who has just been peed on whilst changing her newborn son on her bed in the dark (guess today is laundry day!) and is now balancing a phone and infant and bottle.

    As a fellow mom with two under 3, I’m I’m the trenches with you. And it’s refreshing to hear that I’m not alone and that other people are finding joy in the middle of the midnight feeds and mountain chain of laundry.

    Thanks for rambling and sharing a slice of your life. Finance is fun (and why I follow your story!) but we’re more than one dimensional. Hearing about family life adds those deeper dimension to your story and more personality to your page.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for reading, Caitlin!! I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve written while either nursing or pumping. I so feel you on those midnight pees… come, on babies, get it together ;).

  171. Eve says:

    This is great, Mrs. Frugalwoods! Please continue posting about your life (kids and homesteading and the likes), you write beautifully and it makes my days better. And ditch the guilt of not being/doing what you wish to be/do. Just like you said, it’s a season of life and you just have to lean into it 🙂

  172. merrilly says:

    I laughed out loud reading your list of things happening in ten minutes……because that’s our life right now as well. Granted, one just turned two, so life is less about nursing and more about figuring out what new things he can reach everyday. Thanks for an honest look at life with littles- it’s so nice to hear that someone else has the same sense of “what the heck did I do all day!” I feel that way all the time- and also wonder what on earth I did with my time when I didn’t have kids. Thank you.

  173. amber k says:

    I’m so happy you wrote this post. I have a 6 year old and 1 year old. Some days it feels like I’m just keeping my head above water – trying to work from home a few hours a day / navigate summer vacation / my husband works at home right now / we just moved to a new home we are renovating. You are doing a great job. This season of motherhood with littles is intense – I’m trying to steal moments of self care. I’ve also found listening to podcasts helps me feel like I talk to adults more than I do 😀 oxo

  174. Lynn says:

    I just read this post today and it so unexpectedly spoke to my heart. I remember those days when I was a stay-at-home mother of a young toddler. That toddler is now a 24-year old young man and I am a traveling business woman with a fulfilling career. But I long for those seemingly endless days of crazy. So to all of you mothers who think it will never end. It does. And it is a bitter-sweet ending. Take time to enjoy all of the crazy you can. On another note, I hate to bring this up, but parenting a young adult is not any easier than a toddler. You basically now have a toddler who drives, makes insane decisions and you still keep hoping that you didn’t somehow screw them up since you were working without a manual. Thank you for taking the time to write out such a poignant peek into your life.

  175. Natalie Kirschstein says:

    I remember the really tough toddler & baby times (mine are 6 & 9). I never fully realized what was so tough about it, beyond the constancy and being hyper vigilant, until reading this post. You hit the nail on the head when you say it’s work that is impermanent. By chance, just after reading your post, I came across this article, which articulates the same sort of thing, about invisibility and intangibility, and I thought you might enjoy it:
    https://www.mother.ly/work/the-invisible-work-of-a-stay-at-home-mom?

  176. Ann Moody says:

    You just absolutely crack me up. You are coming as close as possible to being a mathematically perfect mom, which probably does not exactly exist, but still. There are in fact metrics all around; of course some are tricky because they are mostly more qualitative than quantitative. But there are plenty of both kinds. Are your girls loved, happy, nurtured, and physically well-nourished and cared for? You know perfectly well what that means, and you can score them in binary code: instead of a scale from 1-10, only two scores: 1 and 0. Of course you are a 1 on all those counts. You could very easily quantify other things. Are they verbal on schedule? Are they within a reasonable growth percentile? How many doctor appointments end well? Do you read daily to the girls? If not, weekly? Do you provide other sensory enrichment? Obviously you do with your farmstead full of outdoor treasures for them to delight in. Is the family shelter kept in livable and safe condition? If a concern is identified, to you respond by adjusting to address it?

    You are very considerate and kind to think of us cheapskates out here at all, but the fact of the matter is, over time, being a parent is going to make you even better at your own frugality than you ever realized. It will constantly open facets and opportunities you hadn’t considered, or that have new application in the context of the children. It’s also going to help you get comfortable with occasional splurges beyond your previous dreams, because you have been responsible and have put away a few extra shekels over the years, and once in a while when it comes to your kiddies, you want something spectacular.

    Just love this journey. I had only one baby when I was almost 40 and the BEST thing I did was take everyone’s advice and savor it. Every stinkin’ second, good and bad. And this with a child who did not sleep through the night until she was FOUR YEARS OLD. I knew she would be my only one. Every day (and night) was only going to happen once and then be a baby day or night in my memory. Even now at 12 when she is often a pain in the backside near teen, I am STILL doing that. She is only going to go through these young adult years once and then she will LEAVE. Forever. The child will, anyway. If we are incredibly fortunate the adult will love us enough and be of a character to continue to share her life with us. But they don’t belong to us, and never do, and never did. God lets us borrow them for a precious short time and entrusts us to do our very best. Then they belong to themselves.

    Be kind to yourself mama. You are currently the most valuable asset on the Frugalwoods estate.

  177. Captain DIY says:

    Sounds like you pretty much have it all under wraps! I have raised my kids up to near-human form (8 and 4) and I definitely have it all together now. Definitely.
    Aw nuts, one of them just pulled a fish out of the fish tank. Anyway, great story!

  178. Shannon says:

    This is great! Perhaps your best article yet. After reading how you totally organized every inch of your house last winter, I couldn’t believe it. I think it would take me an entire year. So, this post is probably how most of us have felt or are feeling about motherhood. It’s tough. I have twins that are now 11. I remember my mom telling me when they were little and I was feeling overwhelmed that those were my best years with them. At the time, I thought she was crazy, since they didn’t feel like my best years. Just going to the bathroom alone was a challenge! Now that mine are older, and now I have three kids, I miss it when they were little. The third child really made things a bit more difficult. I was always so busy. So, don’t expect that everything is going to get done. Just enjoy your kids. I read an article this summer about a mom writing about her 14 year old son. She was sad that she just had 4 summers left with him. That made me stop and reflect to enjoy the moments. It’s o.k. that we don’t have it all together.

  179. Annie says:

    I have loved this blog for a long time, but never so much as when I read this. As a full-time-work-at-home mom of three very gross yet very loved little boys, this just absolutely made my day. Your ten minutes sounds like my ten minutes, and I wish somebody would do documentaries about these sorts of ten minutes! They are rather extraordinary. Thank you so much for this post.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh Annie, I’m so glad to hear we’re in this together!! “very gross yet very loved” is such a perfect description of my children as well… 😉

  180. Angela says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. I really appreciate this post. My kids are 3 and 5, so we are going through many of the same things. Do you have any favorite parenting books?

  181. Maya says:

    I have a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old, and your post totally spoke to me. I spend so much energy trying to get it together while always feeling like I’m a hot mess. Thank you for assuring me that I’m not alone. Lately I’ve been trying to give up on trying to accomplish things once in a while for a few minutes and just be in the moment. I also try to remind myself that we are doing the most important job on Earth – raising the next generation. At some point the world will be in their hands. I also try to remember that having a clean counter top will probably contribute little to developing kind, thoughtful humans to steward our planet. So I try to say screw it and focus on reading a book with them or take the 5 minutes when they are occupied to grab some me time so I can be a more balanced momma. Oh yeah and don’t expect a thing from yourself until that baby sleeps through the night. The amount of sleep we get in the beginning is inhuman. All easier said than done, but things are already crazy enough without making ourselves crazier.

  182. Seonwoo says:

    JD Roth said on a podcast once that when he started his blog Money Boss, that he had intended it to be for advanced personal finance topics. And he branded it that way. He felt boxed in, that he couldn’t write about anything else. But later he looked back and said it’s just a box in his mind.

    Your blog may be called Frugalwoods, and what propelled your blog to success is the financial posts, but it doesn’t mean you should avoid writing about anything else!

    Then again, I’m one to talk. I used to run the blog fiby40.com and I decided to switch to a blog with the url seonwoolee.com because I felt boxed in – I wanted to write about topics that have absolutely nothing to do with finance =).

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