motherhood

Fall Rhythms and Routines

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The house is quiet this morning. I showered and put on mascara without a tiny interrupter asking if she could have second breakfast yet. Anyone else have kids with Hobbit-like stomachs? 

But not today. Today we launched our two girls into the world after their favorite breakfast, a quick prayer and extra hugs. The prep work of getting them back into school is mostly done. We bought the notebooks, extra folders, a new lunchbox and non-itchy socks. They are ready! Mission accomplished, right?

In years past, this is where I’ve missed a step. I’ve focused so hard on the launching, I haven’t considered the questions around re-entry. What’s the plan for when they get home? And I don’t just mean questions about snacks and screen time, but what kind of mood and spirit do I want the afternoons and evenings to look like? And how can I teach them more autonomy this year? How can I get them on board with packing healthy lunches for themselves and not leaving their water bottles and shoes strewn all over the house?!

We need new rhythms. Ones for each point in the day that build on themselves as the kids find their new normal routine. I don’t expect them to have it all together the first week (or month!) but I do want to teach them more skills and responsibility with each school year as they grow.

Here are some preliminary thoughts as we kick off Fall. Maybe it will be helpful for you as you launch and prepare for re-entry with your own kiddos.


The 3 R’s of Establishing a Fall Rhythm


  1. Retraining - This started before the first day of school, but I know it will take several weeks to implement. Getting up, dressed, breakfast, brush teeth, get meds, etc. It’s a lot of small steps to get done, and I don’t want to have to repeat it everyday for the rest of my days. But they still need these reminders. What tools or strategies can I implement to help retrain my kids this Fall? Do we need a checklist? A dry erase board? Alarm clocks? Or just more practice and grace? Yes, always more grace.


  1. Resetting - This is a huge struggle in our house. Prepping for the next day tends to get forgotten between dinner cleanup and bath time. Then the next morning, we’re scrabbling to find notebooks and that favorite sweatshirt. Making this an evening rhythm will take some effort on my part, but habits don’t happen overnight. It’s worth the extra time and energy for a peaceful morning.


  1. Reflecting - Sitting down each Sunday and taking a look at the past week is so helpful. What went smooth? What could be changed or adjusted? What do we need to pay attention to? What can we let go? Getting my kids into this habit will hopefully be a skill they use and implement often. Reflection is too often overlooked, but so valuable for moving forward.


This is where I’m putting my energy this Fall when it comes to establishing new rhythms. If you’re curious how I implement them, be sure to follow along on Instagram. I’ll start a highlight there for Fall routines and rhythms. We’re in this together!


Happy September, friends!

xo

Erin

The Guilt-Free Guide for Back-to-School

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The hot and steamy wasteland of August is finally coming to an end. My kids are sufficiently packed, prepped and waiting anxiously for their meet-the-teacher Open House.


It’s also that time where I take stock of our Summer. Did we do everything we talked about? Did we connect, rest and have fun? I hope so. I experience every emotion the week before my kids go back to school. I have butterflies, (will they have friends in their class?) anxieties, (will Amelia be okay at the peanut-free lunch table?) and hopeful anticipation (will the teacher get her?).


And all of this is mixed with my own feelings of inadequacy and a sufficient dose of Mom guilt. Can you relate? If this sounds like you at all, here are five steps I’ve been using to shed that guilt. We could all use less guilt and more grace this school year.

5 Steps for Easing Back into School with Less Guilt and More Grace:


Step 1: LEAVE IT UNFINISHED.

Lots of things are left undone on the Bucket List we diligently crafted in June. June Mom was do-all-the-things! But August Mom.Is.Tired. And that’s okay. 

Circle one or two things from that big, dreamy bucket list and shelf them for next year. OR, better yet, let’s work them into our Fall or Winter Break calendar. If you didn’t make it to the water park, maybe head to the carnival when it’s in town. Swap that Summer specific item for something that can work in a later season.

We are not machines, we cannot (and should not) make EVERYTHING happen when we want it to happen. Give yourself grace on what’s left undone. 


Step 2:  LET IT BE A MESS. OR DON’T.

There’s a strong chance at this point of Summer Vacation that your house looks like a bomb went off. Repeat after me: It’s fine. It’s all going to be fine.

Eventually, the legos will be cleared off the dining room table and your kitchen will smell like citrus cleaning spray instead of moldy pool towels.

You’ll get there. Let the mess linger for just a bit longer. If it’s really making you crazy, then mandate Summer-Clean-Up day with the kids. Reward with popsicles, screen time or a pool afternoon. 

Ultimately, do whatever you need to do to feel like a person. It’s going to be fine.

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Step 3: FEEL YOUR FEELINGS.

You may feel simultaneously gleeful and broken-hearted about another Summer ending. We have the capacity to feel both. Do not be shamed by the threat-like reminder of “We only have 18 Summers with our kids!”. Don’t let that guilt determine how you go through your days. We can be excited for the space and time again, but also wish we could hold on to that freedom and fun a bit longer. Motherhood is full of grey space and randomly crying for no reason. If you start to get worked up, see Step 1.


Step 4: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.

If you’re staring down a shopping or to-do list a mile long (been there), fear not. It’ll all get done…eventually. It just might not happen this week. Some of these loose ends might not be figured out until September. If at all. 

Buy the notebooks, do the things, but let go of everything being perfectly ready for school on day one. Inevitably, they’ll come home with another list or assignment that you missed or couldn’t anticipate. Do what you can do and let go of the rest. Remember, done is better than perfect.


Step 5: PLAN YOUR DAY ONE.

Plan your Day One now. Nope, not for the kids. You. How will you mark the the first day of school? Will you park it in front of Netflix for an hour or swing thru the Starbucks lane? It’s a big deal for the kids, but also for you. It’s the ending of a season and the start of something new. Take a moment to notice your feelings, mark the day and treat yourself.


I’m cheering you on! Happy First Day, Momma.


 

P.S. Looking for community this Fall? Join our Limitless Motherhood group! We share our weekly goals, dinner tips and lots of encouragement. See you there!

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My Top Apps for Real, Meaningful Connection

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Okay, I promise this is not a social media blast post where I tell you all about the evils of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. About how they are actually doing the opposite of what they set out to do. I certainly love me some IG stories and sending random GIFS and hearts to all my online pals. I see the good that has come from social media, and I still want to champion it as a means of bringing people together.


Besides, you probably already know all the negative side effects of too much social media. The comparison. The self doubt. The proverbial highlight reel. The constant scrolling. The she-went-on-another-vacation-and-I’m-here-scrubbing-toilets moment. Okay, maybe that last one is just me?


In his latest book, Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport unpacks how as social creatures, we have hit a tipping point with our consumption of media apps. He states, “the key issue is that using social media tends to take people away from the real-world socializing that’s massively more valuable…the more you use social media, the less time you tend to devote to offline interaction, and therefore the worse this value deficit becomes-leaving the heaviest social media users much more likely to be lonely and miserable.” Essentially, the more we click, the emptier we can feel.


I’m raising my hand here, because I have witnessed this first hand in my own life. This past year, I have been pretty vulnerable in sharing how lonely I have felt. Not because my relationships have suffered, but because when your work is predominately in front of a screen at home, it can feel isolating.

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Extrovert, introvert, we all need more time face-to-face. But what happens when schedules are busy and we can’t always make that happen? Or our closest friends live half a world away? How can we move past the quick Instagram like/comment habit into a more authentic way of connecting with those we love?


Let’s talk about what apps on your phone actually foster REAL and meaningful friendship. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re hungry for authentic conversation. I want face-to-face or voice-to-voice camaraderie, support and growth. People being people-y together. I’m so here for it.

  1. Voxer:

    If you’re a business owner, this one is probably nothing new. Voxer is essentially an app that allows you to walkie-talkie with friends. You can check it when it’s convenient for you. There’s something really lovely in hearing the voice of a friend after a particularly hard day of mothering. The intonation of her voice when she tells you something important. The laughter that makes it feel she’s right there beside you. This has been a gift to me in more ways than I can express. If you’re missing girlfriends or relatives, have them download this app with you! Set a weekly Vox date and make it happen.

  2. Marco Polo:

    This is another helpful app when you’re craving some face-to-face time. It’s a video chat service that allows for group chats and shares, so you can essentially get all your college besties in the same “room”. One of my closest friends lives in Hawaii, so she often sends me Polos of her kids and their daily life. We’ve had some real heart to heart chats and prayed through events in our lives together via that app. There is no replacement for seeing someone’s face. Download this app for better connection with people you value and want more face time with!

  3. Actual Phone

    I know, this is revolutionary, but stay with me. I am trying to be better about keeping actual phone conversations with certain friends. Not everyone I love wants to keep these apps, and taking the time to connect over a phone call means I care about growing that friendship. In high school, I’d talk for HOURS and now I can barely be bothered to pick up. I don’t want to be that way. When was the last time you had a good, lengthy phone conversation?

The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.
— Steven Covey

I challenge you to set aside time for these other ways of connecting. If you can’t meet over coffee this week (or month!) then get creative with how you cultivate friendships. I don’t think there’s ever been a more difficult time to keep adult friendships. Even with ALL the media and apps and methods at our disposable, we still struggle to prioritize our relationships. If you’re craving real connection and not only surface small talk, it will take some intention. But it’s so worth the extra effort. Promise.

xo

Erin

 

Limitless Motherhood Facebook Community!

Motherhood Facebook Community

I believe that social media should be just that…social! I’m so tired of ads, political rants and people yelling at the internet. One way I’ve found the fun on social media is through Facebook groups. I’m in a variety of amazing groups where the focus is connection, collaboration and growth. Okay, and there’s usually some pretty epic GIF threads happening as well LOL.


Twice a month I send out the Limitless Motherhood newsletter to readers, but I’ve been missing connecting with them every day. So, we carried the conversation over into a Facebook group and we’re having so much fun getting to know one another!

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much
— Helen Keller

Our topics have ranged from favorite podcasts on motherhood to morning routines. It’s my hope to use this group as an encouragement and not just add to the noise of Facebook. If you’re looking for a group with a more positive and uplifting atmosphere, then I hope you’ll join us!

And if you’re not on the email list yet, start there! I promise nothing spammy, just two short emails a month from yours truly. Hint: Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day topic is about the 5 Love Languages!

P.S. If you’re still reading, I’m sending you all the non-creepy internet hugs! I have some BIG writing goals over the next several months. Would you help hold me accountable? I’ll be sharing more of my process over on Instagram. AND there is a super fun giveaway starting todaaaay! So hop on over - you can find me @erinammons there.

See you soon!

Erin

The Latest from Instagram…

There's Nothing Magical About January | Limitless Motherhood

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Doesn’t this month feel approximately 537 days long? Clearly we’ve been January-ing for at least 2 months now.


You know what January feels like to me at this point? It feels like striving. Striving to stay on course with our sunny New Years resolutions and try-harder-next-times. 


January feels like homework.

January feels like a budget.


It’s freezing outside, but not snowing.

Everyone has raw noses.

We checked so many boxes, but not that one.

We’re having the best start to the year EVER…or we’re nowhere close.


Wherever you find yourself at the end of January, know this:

There is nothing magical about January.

But there is something magical in letting go of all the striving. Silencing the voice that reminds you that you’re not quite where you wanted to be. It whispers about how your aim faltered or shattered way off course. 

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Or maybe your January has been incredible and you feel extra pressure to make February even better. Worried you’ll slip off track next time, convinced that your bubble will burst. Am I the only one who worries about being too happy?


But if your January looked imperfect, you’re in good company. 

Let’s remember that we can change our minds. 

We can decide something isn’t working. 

We can choose to sit and wait. 

We can get up and go. 

We can try again or not.

It’s only a month and there are eleven more just like it.


Focus that attention on what you did right or where you witnessed kindness. Things that made you smile and look up from your to-do list. 


Thank January for what it taught you and carry along any good habits it brought. Forgive all the rest.


P.S. If you’re a Mom in the middle of striving, I have a community just for us. Hop over to the Facebook group and introduce yourself. I can’t wait to meet you!

Best,

Erin

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The Latest From Instagram:

My Word of the Year + Social Media Break(thru)

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Happy 2019, friends! I hope you had a restful and joy-filled holiday. I know the other parents out there are probably relieved the kids are back to school, but also sad because holiday break is officially over. I’m definitely in that bittersweet camp. I’m ready for our routine to return, but I so loved our pajamas-till-noon-Christmas-movie-marathon week of cookies and snuggles. My soul needed it!

There’s lots of chatter around the start of January about choosing a word for the year. One word that acts as an anchor for your intentions in the coming seasons. I have been doing this for several years now and find it really helps me prepare for the months ahead.

In the past few years, my words have been:

2016 - Brave

2017 - Intentional

2018 - Patient

I thought my word for 2019 was going to be clarity. But, as I mined through my powersheets, the word ‘keep’ came to the front of my mind. Keep is a small, seemingly inconsequential word. What could it possibly do for me? It didn’t feel weighty or important enough.

But that word just wouldn’t leave me alone. I considered all the different uses and meanings. There’s a lot for such a little word! And many of them apply to where my heart is right now.

as in:

…keep going

…keep pursuing

…keep the faith

…keep it up

…keep staying open

…keep showing up


Once I dove into
thesarus.com and began to unpack ALL the meanings and sub-meanings around this word, I was blown away.

Synonyms: carry, enjoy, manage, preserve, save, direct, grasp, retain

In many ways, all these synonyms feel like behaviors that would bring me more clarity. In this keeping, I’ll unlock certainty in different areas of my life. I’m ready to ‘keep’ 2019.

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Since November, I’d been planning on taking a more extended social media sabbatical. When you run a business, Facebook and Instagram are (like it or not) necessary tools to grow and reach an audience. It had been on my heart though that it was time to put the phone down over Christmas break and be present with the people I love best.

Even though my decision felt resolute, I was worried that the temptation to check my notifications would still be there. Would the habit be too strong to shake? 

Welp, it’s been over 10 days and I’m so proud of myself for keeping the commitment. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of taking a longer break, do it!

Here are a few takeaways from my social media sabbatical:

  • Feeling more even-keeled and less quick to anger over small frustrations.

  • I can leave my phone behind sometimes. I did forget it on a quick grocery store run, and embraced how free it felt.

  • Taking pictures for the joy of my family and not just to share online.

  • Less FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) and feeling truly content.

  • I slowed down and made room to just do nothing.

My best breakthrough? It was way easier and painless than I had anticipated. I’d envisioned it being so much harder, but truthfully…I was ready for the break.

The week between Christmas and New Year feels like a sort of time warp. It goes quickly but seems to stretch and linger. Can you relate?

I hope you got a chance to breath and reset for the new year. If you have a word for 2019, drop it in the comments below - I’d love to hear!

Best,

Erin

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Are you in?

Join the Limitless Motherhood community and be encouraged in 2019!

'Quiet the Noise' Newsletter Series! | Limitless Motherhood

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My ever insightful sister texted this to me yesterday…

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…was anything ever more true?! If you just laughed or snorted or nodded your head, friend - you.are.not.alone.

It’s coming. The joy and excitement of the holidays! And yet, (uh oh, here comes the and yet) we are busier than ever during a season meant for slowing and savoring.

Let me start by saying I have zero intentions of adding more to your already fully loaded plate. Next week that plate will be loaded with Thanksgiving dinner yumminess, but will your head and heart match up with the spirit of the day? These are the things I ruminate over. I know, it’s weird.

But, here we are.

So, I’m creating a simple step for us. A way to limit all that noise, noise…noise!

And no, I’m not talking about little Cindy Lou making a racket down in WhoVille.

I’m talking about the noise from our newsfeeds, email accounts and piles of clutter. The holiday season can be so loud, and I don’t want that stealing my joy.

Because if we can limit just a fraction of the noise and stress coming at us, maybe we can find some space to breath. Just maybe there’s a bit of white space waiting for us to lean into. A pair of cozy slippers for our overwhelmed minds.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be sending out a short series of challenges in the Limitless Motherhood newsletter. These challenges are meant to give you one simple step to quieting the noise. This series will include 3 challenges, all sent out over the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s my hope they will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to celebrate with intention!

Not on the list yet? Click below and join the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

The first challenge is coming tomorrow! Use the following hashtag over on instagram so I can find and cheer you on throughout the series this season!

#quietthenoise2018

I can’t wait for us to all find more white space this holiday season. Let’s end the year with purpose and a peaceful mind! Chat soon.

Best,

Erin

She Speaks Studio Top Takeaways! | Personal

If you ever get the opportunity to invest in a dream that’s so big you-can’t-say-it-aloud-because-OMG-it-is-terrifying….do it. Book the room, pack way too many shoes, board that plane, find a babysitter, leave before dawn…whatever it is you need to do. Make. It. Happen.

Hurricane Florence pushed back the date of the She Speaks Studio to November, and I had been anxiously awaiting it now for months.

She Speaks Studio was put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and if you have no idea what this organization is - I suggest you check it out if you’re looking for resources to grow in your faith.


This was the first Studio event and it was organized with instructional time, keynote speakers and hands-on workshop time. I signed up for the writing track and immediately made some amazing new friendships. I love how God cares enough about the details to make sure we were all sitting together at the same table!


Confession: I cried at least 395 times over the span of 1 1/2 days. Here are a few takeaways I never want to forget: 

  • Listening to best-selling author and speaker, Lysa TerKeurst, remind us that God does not want to be explained away, but invited in

  • When author, Suzie Eller said “when we hesitate in our calling, it becomes about us and not about God.”

  • The personal and heartbreaking stories of some of the strongest women I’ve ever met. Getting to hug them and process through some big emotions was an honor.

  • Having a mentor I respect, read my writing, look me in the eye and say “This is really, really good. Go write this.” #totallysobbed

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I am beyond grateful for this experience and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use it!

Curious what I’m doing? 

Join the Limitless Motherhood and come along for the ride!

Check out Instagram for more behind-the-scenes moments!

xo

Erin

Battling Mom Guilt and Seeking Truth | Personal | #MomLife

“Mom, I haven’t had ANY time with you! I'm tired of you working all the time.”

Right in the heart pangs.

I sat on the edge of her bed and attempted to reason with a very dramatic (where does she get this from?!) eight-year-old. 

I am pretty sure that no Mom escapes the guilt from time to time. No matter if you work outside of the home full time, or you're with your kids at home. It affects us all! I am no exception to this and the balance of working from home has been a tricky one with young kids. Navigating each season of my business and our family's needs has had it's own frustrations and victories. 

As I left that evening, I had to go through my own gut check. I searched for the truth under the guilt and doubt.

- Am I working too much?

The Truth: Busy season is ramping up, but I only commit to 2-3 sessions a week and my kids will see me most of the coming weekends. I block off specific dates and trips so I'm available for family time. We make time for individual dates with our girls each month. I'm home for bedtime and books most nights of the week. I attend field trips and volunteer in their classrooms. 

The truth is that I've learned to build boundaries into my business and to schedule our family time first.

And when I zoom out, I can see all the quality time and connection we really have. Do I want them to remember me jumping on their beds belting out the 1980’s Gummy Bears cartoon theme song?! Yep, that happened last week. And yes, I want them to know that their Mom is silly and goony and can shake off the role of ‘rule enforcer and snack-maker’ on occasion. 

"...bouncing here and there and everywhere..."

"...bouncing here and there and everywhere..."

When I can let go of those lingering doubts, I can look at the past week, month and season. The truth is, we have an abundance of valuable family time. My most recent favorite is introducing the kids to my fav board game - Clue!

Side Note: It's -always- Mr. Green or Miss Scarlet... I mean, they just look guilty - right?

I have learned that quality can sometimes trump quantity with my kids, and this has ebbed and flowed as they've grown. When I say ‘yes’ to doing something they love together, it fills their cup. It might only be 20 minutes, but the length of time is irrelevant. Sometimes Mommy can only handle playing Batman for 20 minutes, and that's okay!

Now, I’m never going to get it all right, because, that’s life. I know the Mom Guilt will come and I'll have to go through my gut check all over again. But I pray I am creating these points of purposeful connection with my girls to be stored into their memory banks for a lifetime. 

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Explaining to my kids that I work from home is challenging. Just because I’m here, doesn’t always mean I’m available. As we merge into Summer Vacation, I have already talked with them about certain time boundaries, but that we will still have plenty of fun together. Setting the right expectations before that last week of school will hopefully save my sanity. Check in with me mid-August and we’ll see how it’s going, ha! ;)

If you're hit with the pangs of Mom Guilt, remember to have a gut check. Ask yourself the tough questions, but then take a step back.

On the hard days, remind yourself of the truth. The truth is we're all doing our very best with these gifts God has entrusted us with. And each season comes with new challenges, changes and triumphs.

Let's shake off the guilt and choose truth together. xoxo 

Best,

Erin

 

Half-Homemade | #MomLife | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

Last week was Spring Break with my kiddos and it was such a good, soul-filling time. My oldest turned eight - which feels SO grown up! #sobfest

 It's been a couple of years since she's had a proper party, so we had a Harry Potter themed celebration with some of her pals. If you know me (like, at all) you know my love for all things Harry Potter. Yes, I was already an adult when I read the books - but my love is REAL, ya'll. 

Also, I'm Team Hufflepuff if you wanted to know. 

Take the quiz here and let me know what house you are! 

Sorting Quiz!

I had so much fun planning the little details of the party, without going tooo overboard. Pinterest is full of so many free printable downloads - highly recommend! We had a platform 9 3/4..

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Ollivander's wand shop...

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...and Amelia requested a cake similar to the one Hagrid makes Harry in book one. 

This was the BEST request for a cake yet. I love making the girls' birthday cakes myself, so this was a no brainer since I'm not particularly skilled in this area. Me and my good friend, Betty Crocker, whipped up a chocolate cake and then I made my specialty - homemade, make-your-teeth-ache buttercream frosting.

As I was attempting to ice the cake a la Hagrid, I had a funny realization pop in my head.

I'm a 'half-homemade' kind of Mom. 

I don't make myself crazy trying to make every detail perfect for my kids. There are many things I say no to. But for certain things, I go ALL in. Sure, it was cake from the box - but it had some added love and Mom pizazz attached to it.

Also, my far more skilled husband piped on the lettering:

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Mothering in 2018 can feel like a race to impress. If I'm not careful, I can easily slip into the mindset of believing I'm not doing enough for my kids. By embracing this 'half-homemade' approach, I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I'm all about that messy imperfection in life, so choosing to focus on doing a few things really well... reminds me I can't do everything. I just can't. And that is more than okay. 

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Can you relate? What are some examples from your mothering that are 'half-homemade'? Leave a comment - I'd love to know. :)

xoxo

Erin

P.S. And because the internet has a wealth of hysterical content, this GIF is for all the Harry Potter fans! You're welcome.

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