Olivia and I worked on a Motherhood Q&A this week! Olivia asked me questions about being a working mom here. I asked Olivia about life as a successful SAHM in this post. As a working mom, I had so many questions to ask her. She was so sweet in answering all 20 of my questions! Go follow her on Instagram here, she does beautiful pictures of Hawaii life. Her blog is called Olivia’s Odessey. She has a Like-To-Know-It page as well.
I’m Olivia, I’m 27 and I’m a navy wife of a little over a year. I have a four-month-old son named Shepard. I used to be a manager at a call center and worked around 60 hours a week and thought about my job constantly. Now I am a stay-at-home mom and it’s been a big adjustment! We also moved from Colorado to Hawaii last year. I am interested in baby development and play, cooking, business, and household management. I love the beach and the outdoors here in Hawaii.
1. How do you deal with mom burnout?
If I’m home alone with him and feel burnt out, I put him in his crib and walk to the back porch for like five minutes. Or I take him for a drive or a walk. If my husband is home, he can take him for an hour or two while I get my groove back.
2. Do you have time to a social network with friends/other moms with a newborn baby?
I do! When Shepard was first born, I had some postpartum anxiety. My doctor suggested something called the family Hui, which is a support network here in Hawaii. I also started going to church and made a friend with another military spouse. I’ve had to get flexible and creative with Shepard’s naps and feeding to make this happen, but it’s been so worth it.
3. What is your cleaning schedule like as a successful SAHM?
I have a mother’s helper come twice a week for two hours each time. She either cleans or plays with Shepard while I clean and organize. We moved into our house a few weeks before he was born so we’re still kind of getting settled. I clean during his naps (if he takes them) but that’s also when I eat, cook, shower, etc, so having the mother’s helper has been extremely helpful. Before having her, my husband and I both were constantly running to do chores and now we can relax a bit and enjoy our family time.
4. Do you sleep when the baby sleeps? (I had a very hard time with this)
Haha I absolutely do not sleep when the baby sleeps. I feel like nobody does! I get stuff done or have “me time” when he sleeps. Or I pump.
5. Was the transition from working mom to SAHM really hard for you? You worked 60 hours a week which is a lot!
It was really hard. My identity was so connected to work and making money that when I quit to stay home, I barely felt like a person. It was crazy. My family was so supportive but I didn’t fully understand the value of my new role, and I didn’t know who I was within it and separate from it. The last couple of months, I’ve been really working on rediscovering myself within the context of being a mom.
6. What are your favorite meals to make?
We love Cajun chicken pasta and taco bowls! We also grab pokè from the grocery store pretty frequently.
7. Are you planning baby-led weaning or purees?
I’m honestly not sure yet. I’m so freaked out about the bad stuff that can potentially be in baby food, so I will probably make all his food whether it’s puréed or not.
8. Are you going to do Montessori-style play?
Mostly yes! My biggest rule for myself as a parent is to not be all-or-nothing. So, I cloth diaper 90% of the time. I breastfeed, but once in a great while he has a bottle that I pumped and he’s even had formulas a couple of times. We love Montessori-style play and theory, and already follow it often, but not always. I don’t want to be too rigid so we just do what Shepard seems to like!
9. Is being a SAHM worth it in your eyes?
For me, it is. Before I started finding myself in this new role, I wanted to go back to work because I felt lost. Now, I feel more connected with myself than I have in years. I feel so blessed to be the one who cares for my baby all day and sees all the precious little moments. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
10. How is it without family around? Do you have a babysitter for date nights?
It would be nice to have family around to help us, and just to hang out with. It was really hard in the beginning once my mom left and my husband went back to work. But, I’m so confident now in my ability to take care of Shepard. We don’t have a babysitter, we’re just not comfortable leaving him with anyone yet. We take him places with us, like to the beach or botanical garden. Due to the pandemic, we don’t go to restaurants and bars right now, so our “date nights” are usually more like takeout and board games after the baby is asleep.
11. What is the first thing you do when you move to a new base?
This is the first place we’ve been stationed and it was crazy moving because of COVID. Next time, the first thing I do will be to hire some help and fully move in in the first week.
12. Do you like Hawaii or Colorado better?
Hawaii, by far! I love the beach, I love the weather, it’s just made for me! It’s amazing to get to be outside every day. But Colorado is beautiful and I miss the friends I made there.
13. How do you think being a military mom is different than a non-military mom?
There’s more alone-ness. The Navy can (and does) call him in at the drop of a hat, any day, any time, for any length of time. I spend a lot of time alone with Shepard and I spent most of my pregnancy alone. However, this isn’t all bad. It forces you to find yourself, things you enjoy, projects to work on, and friends. It makes you so strong and confident. And it’s super exciting when he comes home!
14. Your number 1 advice tip for a new mom?
Don’t get caught up in doing things “right.” There are so freaking many decisions to make and for most of them there is no one right answer. You love your baby. Trust yourself. Talk to your pediatrician and do some research but don’t drive yourself crazy.
15. How to afford financially to be a successful SAHM? Do you budget? (We have to budget daycare since it’s so expensive)
Daycare is so expensive! Basically when we were deciding if I’d stay home or continue working, we looked at the cost of daycare and felt it wouldn’t be worth it for me to miss out on this time with Shepard for the amount of money I’d make. We left Colorado when I was already pregnant, so I would’ve needed to find a new job here in Hawaii. Daycare costs about half of what we thought I could make, so it wasn’t worth it for us. We’re thankful that my husband’s job provides plenty for us currently.
16. How long do you plan to breastfeed?
I’m shooting for a year or maybe more, but we’re thinking about having another baby so that might complicate things. If I can, I’d like to breastfeed for two years (of course with food).
17. Have you noticed breastfeeding does anything different to your body?
Yes! I dropped the pregnancy weight but also dropped to my lowest weight since high school. I’m hungry and thirsty like all the time.
18. Did you take a class for breastfeeding or did you learn naturally?
A lactation consultant came to our hospital room and showed me what to do. Shepard caught on right away, but the hospital provided a ton of resources for us just in case we had any difficulty.
19. Did you have any of the common breastfeeding problems?
It was fairly easy for us. The biggest difficulty was that my nipples killed for a few weeks. It’s been tough to be his food source because it’s hard to ever leave him. He feeds on demand too so I never want to leave and have him be hungry. That’s why I sometimes pump bottles and he’s had a little formula, just so I can leave for an hour or two.
20. How have you been overall with the huge life adjustment from having a baby?
I’ve wanted a baby for years, but my life wasn’t ready for one. I’ve been so thrilled with my precious son and seeing my husband become a father. It’s been a huge adjustment learning how to be a mom and still be me, but it’s been the best journey of my life!
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Comment below if you have any more questions for Olivia or me! She is such a successful SAHM, her love for Shepard is throughout her answers! As first-time moms, we both had to adjust to life a lot but it’s worth it!
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