When it comes to moms, we don't always have the answers to everything but we do often have good advice based on experience. We asked moms from all walks of life and all stages of motherhood how they make the holidays less stressful and more beautiful + meaningful. Here are our favorite 10 answers:
1. Bake with the kiddos ... but only if you like baking. If you don't like baking with your kids, that's ok. Buy some cookies from the store... it's alright!
2. Christmas is not my favorite season but this year I am following the heart of my child. She loves Christmas so much - I am trying to look at Christmas through her eyes.
3. More experiences, less presents.
4. Lazy family days + fun friends or date nights! It's fun to enjoy the season without kiddos sometimes too!
5. Helping others and trying what I can to make the season special for someone else always gives me beautiful perspective on the true meaning of Christmas.
6. I aim for our first gifts purchased to be for the less fortunate. Some years that means the kids choose a child from the angel tree to buy a gift for, other years it means collecting items for the local shelter.
7. Vintage Christmas music - it always makes my heart feel a little bit lighter!
8. Turn off the phones for the night, make some popcorn, and watch Christmas movie together with loved ones.
9. More saying NO to the things that stress me out.
10. More grace. For yourself...and for everyone. There's a lot of focus on having the "perfect" holiday and it's just not realistic, so just keeping that in mind helps me have the happiest holidays I can!
Head to Pinterest and you’ll undoubtedly find hundreds if not thousands of ways to “create magic” and make this “the best holiday ever.” While the intention with these posts and articles is undoubtedly well meaning, it can feel overwhelming.
How can I add one more thing to my already crazy schedule? Creating magic? I’ll be happy if I remember to get something for everyone on my list.
Mama, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t require special reindeer shaped holiday treats, glittery faux snow dusted mantels or a month of special countdown-to-Christmas activities to make memories this holiday season.
Make memories this holiday season by just stepping back, taking a deep breath, and soaking in the moment. Do you see the way your little ones eyes sparkle when they see the first snow of the year? That’s a memory. The way your kids snuggle in as you read their favorite holiday book before bed - savor that feeling. That’s a memory. The way those sweet little squeaky voices are constantly singing parts of Jingle Bells (all. day. long.) That’s a memory.
Sometimes, it’s ok to not focus so much on trying to create the perfect memories for our children, but rather, to take in the moments of our everyday. So this holiday season, take it in mama. That’s a memory.
A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new project we're working on here at Le Papier Studio, and we've been truly humbled by the response, kind words, and messages of encouragement we've received as we embark on honoring the memories of parents who have suffered the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.
We're beyond honored to share the story of Avelyn as our first in this new series of blog features. Her mother, Somer, was gracious enough to share how her sweet daughter's life continues to inspire and encourage her, and we're forever grateful to be able to share it here with you.
We found out before Avelyn was born that she had severe congenital heart defects (CHD). Shortly thereafter, we picked up our lives & relocated nearly 6 hours from home to a city with a renowned children’s hospital to provide her a shot at life. We had every hope that with multiple open heart surgeries, we would see her grow into adulthood.
On December 17, 2015 she was pulled from my womb limp & gray, but still fought to announce her presence. Her soft wail was actually her battle cry. It was her asserting our fight for her survival, was now also her fight—& fight she would until her last breath 18 months later.
Our daughter endured horrors alongside miracles. She experienced nearly every complication in the book & some still not classified. Yet to know her & her spirit—you’d never imagine it. Even after 4.5 months of intubation & 4 open heart surgeries, she was the sweetest most affectionate soul. She inspired everyone around her to be better & do better.
She gave us strength to accomplish what we all believed impossible. We fought by her side day & night, not only to keep her alive, but to provide every bit of normalcy possible in her 450 consecutive days of hospitalization (much of which was spent within the ICU). When she woke, she knew her mama or daddy would be there to scoop her up.
I still dream of those street chubby hands reaching for me in expectation. She loved, trusted, & interacted with those around her just like any other infant. She made sure her daddy & I knew she loved us (something we cling to since we’ve lost her). She was the absolute light of our lives. Close to the end of her life she was doing better than she ever had, & better than most providers ever expected. I cannot describe the feeling of finally bringing our daughter home after 17 months of living the unimaginable (5+ hours from home). Feelings of joy & fear mingled indistinguishable from another. And yet we clung to our baby, rejoicing in her & all she had accomplished. Sadly just weeks later more complications arose & back to the hospital we traveled via emergency transport. She never saw the outside of hospital walls again after that admission.
Coming home without the light that was our daughter wrecked us. We couldn’t function without her & often didn’t want to. She was the absolute best of us; the world lost its vibrancy the day she died. We began to seek the quietness of nature early on, & soon learned that we feel her presence most in beautiful natural spaces.
(photo by Forever June Weddings)
Somehow, the wilder the place, the more solace we find. I can’t say that every parent would find exploring wilds until utterly exhausted as an adequate coping mechanism for child loss. But for us, it’s when we feel our beautiful girl’s spirit closest. Even so, for months I felt a nagging desire to have a tangible declaration of motherhood for all to see. A fellow CHD mom suggested LPS & I immediately emailed begging for a silhouette of my precious Avie. Unfortunately, I had no proper profile photos, but Vana worked miracles in building a composite from over a dozen images. She captured my beautiful girl & her precious curls. I haven’t taken the necklace off since the day it arrived at my door. Now, more than a year later, I’m in the final weeks of pregnancy with Avie’s little sister. My only birthing request is to wear the silhouette necklace. Having Avie’s likeness physically close to my heart reminds me that she was here, she loved, & our love for her shall never fade.
All images of Avie are @w.o.b.h
Gift giving is one of my love languages. It’s an expression of love for me to find the perfect gift, thoughtfully chosen and given to the recipient. These don’t have to be large, expensive or extravagant gifts, but rather something meaningful that I think will bring joy to the person on the receiving end.
As we enter the holiday season, I encourage you to take just a moment to calm your mind from all the buzz, from all the ads and marketing telling you what the MUST HAVE gift is this year. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and really think about the person you are shopping for. What do they love? What brings them joy? What are their unique passions or interests, traits and personality quirks?
It may be tempting to just grab something to have a gift to give them, but being mindful can elevate your gifting this holiday season to an experience more joy filled and heart warming than ever before.
Working from home can be both a blessing and a challenge if you don’t have some sort of routine in place. In the 10 years of running my business from home, I’ve had to set some rules in order to keep myself disciplined and get work done. Adding kids and house work to the picture sure doesn’t make it easier either but it’s possible. Take heart!
Below are a few tips proven to work for me that might work for you too. Keep in mind, if you want to make working from home successful you are going to have to follow through and get real with how things are going to work.
1. Make a list of things that need to get done every day and do them!
It has become a routine for me to make a list the night before of 3 things I need to get done the following day. I keep the list short on purpose so that I can get to the bottom of it every single day. If it helps you, go ahead and plan the entire week and allocate only 3 items per each day of the week. I find it’s better to complete all 3 items on my list every single day than working on an ongoing list which I may eventually fall behind on.
2. Have a routine - especially if you are the creative type.
I wasn’t always good at managing my time, especially before kids joined our family. Being a creative entrepreneur I constantly struggled with distraction. Becoming a mother has helped me value time more. To this day my biggest struggle is keeping myself focused to one task at a time. Having a routine has helped me establish patterns that help me work more efficiently. The days I have help with my youngest I have learned to maximize my time and get the majority of the work done during those hours. I still do most of my work during naps and after bedtime.
Find the best time/s you can get work done and stick with it. Life happens and sometimes things do fall through the cracks but what’s important here is for you to be consistent.
3. Create a space that inspires you.
This should have been Tip # 1! I am a firm believer of creating a space for yourself and your work is the best thing you can do for your business. It doesn’t matter how big or little the space is, it will increase your productivity. Investing in my home office was one of the best decisions we ever took. I feel happy, inspired and re-charged each time I step inside it. Aaron and I use my office even when I don’t work. It has become our favorite room in the house to catch up on a favorite show or have a discussion after the boys go to bed.
4. Schedule your time on Social Media.
Social media is a huge time sucker (hello Instagram, I'm looking at you!) Schedule a set time to get on it – don’t get lost on the what-is-everyone-up-to-today land. I try to schedule a lot of our social media posts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, this blog post) to go out at certain time that way I am not glued to them all day long. Log off all social media. It is tempting to check Instagram every time you get a notification of someone commenting on your posts. Don’t do it! Instead focus on getting your 3 items on your to-do list done!
5. Get out of your pajamas.
I have a confession: I don’t always do this! Part of me enjoys the feeling of working on comfy clothes. Recently I’ve made an effort to put a new outfit almost every day. I do this because it puts me in the right mindset plus it gives me a chance to put on some of my favorite pieces.
6. Don’t underestimate the human interaction.
Working from home can be lonely and at times depressing. Get out when you can. Call a friend and set up a lunch date. I try to schedule these dates monthly. Having a human/adult interaction is good for my mental well-being. I often hop on the phone and call one of my girlfriennds just so that I can get out of the rut when I need to or pick her brain on something business or family related.
Don’t forget to be part of your community – whether that means attending PTO meetings at your children’s school or volunteering your time at your church or favorite non-profit. You know there’s a whole world out there, outside of the internet. Try to embrace it!
Do you also work from home? Share your tips if you do. I’d love to hear!
(photographs are of my home studio)
This past week we introduced the Le Papier Studio Community Manager, Alyssa, over on our Instagram feed - and the response was so warm.
As mothers, it's easy to feel alone in our struggles, but the truth is, all mamas have hard days, weeks, and even months, and surrounding ourselves with a tribe of women to help us get through those times is essential. If you think about it, the wisdom and knowledge learned over a lifetime of mothering is insane. By tapping into the minds and experiences of those who have gone before us, who are walking alongside us, and who are just beginning their motherhood journeys...the reward and treasure trove of support that can be found there is priceless. Truly.
Please continue to engage with our posts - not just so we continue to stay in your feed (which let's be honest, is a definite perk!) but because you, your experiences and your voice is SO valuable. Lift up a mama who shares about a struggle or is having a hard time, give a virtual high five to a mom who is nailing it... let's build each other up as we navigate this thing called life, and this experience called motherhood.
One of my favorite traditions this time of year (like most moms, I'm sure) is the First Day of School photo. I've seen some of the most creative and darling ideas on my friends' Facebook feeds or Instagram, Pinterest abounds with inspiration, but no matter how the picture turns out, it's the act of capturing that first day, the newest fresh start...seeing the smiles that say "Bring it on, I'm ready!" that makes my heart feel all those warm fuzzy feels.
I know things can get rushed, or busy...that first day, first week, first month of school can be a blur, but I encourage you to just snap a photo. It doesn't have to be perfectly styles, amazingly creative, or involve a week of prep work. Just take the picture, because in 20 years you won't care how it turned out. You'll just be so glad you have that memory forever!
John (1st grade) was excited to document his first day back. Nikolas on the other hand (8th grader) didn't want anything to do with that board but agreed to stand by his brother and act excited :) Still I was pleased we got to snap a few pictures to remember this moment.
We've heard it before:
"Enjoy each state!"
"It goes so fast."
"Some day you'll wish you had these days back."
It all sounds good and true, but in the middle of the third sleepless night in a row or white cleaning up the second spilled cup of milk during breakfast it's easy to feel like you're ready for this stage to be done. To be in a place where everyone can be just a pinch more independent (and not quite so messy).
But then, the baby sleeps, the toddler cooperates and the school-ager draws you a picture, sign her name, and adds a heart and says "For you, mama." You look around and realize you're in the middle of one of the most intense seasons of your life, but that you wouldn't trade it for the world. And in an instant you think "oh please stay like this...each of you...for just a little longer."
(John, 6 and Nikolas, 13 - Richmond, VA)
As another summer draws to a close and school time draws near, I can't help but feel a little bit of anticipation I remember feeling as a kid. A mix of excitement and nerves, feeling ready for a fresh start but also mourning the loss of the familiarity of summer. With kids still at home, our days run best when we have some semblance of a routine and having school start seems to jump start us on our way back to our rhythm.
(John at last year's first day of school)
One of the best things about owning + operating Le Papier Studio is the amazing customers we meet. They become more like friends and family and we take capturing their precious memories and turning them into heirlooms very seriously.
Today we're visiting with one of our treasured customers, Eleyna. This sweet mama has been a wonderful cheerleader of LPS and not only has used us for creating beautiful heirloom jewelry for herself, but also for her husband and home. Let us introduce you to Eleyna!
Tell us a bit about yourself! Hearing about our customers and their families always warms our hearts - we love to know about the people and stories behind the pieces we create!
I am a software engineer, but currently stay-at-home mom living in Bronxville, New York. My husband and I are originally from Toronto, Canada and moved to NYC about 12 years ago. We moved up to the suburbs when we wanted more space for our family: a 3.5 year old boy named Henry and a 1.5 year old gift named Penelope.
Oh how sweet! Your household must be so full of giggles and fun! You've been one of our biggest supporters and a customer for a while now - can you talk a bit about what it's like to work with us here at LPS?
Working with you guys has been seamless. From ordering my pieces to reviewing my proofs and receiving the final product, it's felt so easy! I've always been very happy with your interpretation of my pictures and your vision.
That's exactly what we aim to do here, making bringing an heirloom piece custom to you to fruition - seamlessly. Thank you so much for your kind words. What's your favorite thing about your LPS pieces?
The pieces are just classic. I like things that are simple and timeless.
We do, too! There's something about a silhouette, especially that seems to transcend time and be a universally loved way to capture a person. And you're right, the fact that they're classic and timeless makes them perfect for passing down as heirlooms to the future generations.
What does your LPS heirloom piece mean to you?
The silhouettes of my children when they are tiny will always have a special place in my heart and I will forever cherish the watercolor of my home because it was the first real house that was ours and was the place where we had our babies.
Homes hold such meaning and memories. It was an honor creating a home illustration for you. And those tiny charms...sigh. There is nothing sweeter, is there?
One final question. Motherhood is a big job. It can be a lot of find yourself responsible for raising little ones and everything that comes with it. If you could give one piece of advice to new mamas, what would it be?
I try to tell myself everyday to embrace the chaos. I don't know if it's working, but I think it's something to strive for.
Embrace the chaos! A perfect mantra for those long days yet fleeting years. You're doing a fantastic job, Eleyna! Thank you so much for sharing your love for LPS with us. It's an honor to have created your special pieces!