AND SO IT continues. the NEW CHAPTER IN THE BOOK OF WEESTRUCTED, AND YOU’RE INCLUDED. HERE ARE THE STORIES OF MOMS LIKE YOU, AS TOLD BY ONE OF OUR FAVORITES, MARISSA ELLIS. THIS WEEK’S ‘WEE WING IT’ INTERVIEW IS WITH mama BRITTANY SHIVES. TAKE A SEAT, MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE IN YOUR “MOTHERHOOD WINGING IT” MUG, AND DIVE INTO BRITTANY’s world of keeping calm WITH TWO UNDER TWO. ENJOY!
Marissa: Hi Brittany! How are you doing? Ready for Christmas?
Brittany: We are doing pretty good! My hubby is a teacher so he has the next two weeks off which is really nice. We are doing a really low key Christmas this year so I have had most of our gifts for awhile, but not one single thing is wrapped. My husband is the wrapper around these parts, I am awful! And instead of buying each other gifts, we started gifting each other a year of dates…I am so behind this year!!! So I need to get on that!
Marissa: Well that is a brilliant idea! I love that. What does he teach?
Brittany: He has taught high school math and been an athletic director for the past six years. This is his first year doing middle school math though.
M: Oh man, that’s awesome. Both teachers, how cool! Tell me about the rest of the family.
B: Ok! So we have two daughters. Sadie is our oldest. She turned three in September. She is a miniature version of myself so I call my mom and apologize a lot. Ellasyn is 20 months. We weren’t planning on having kids so close in age, but once we survived that first year, it’s actually been really fun! I used to teach fifth grade and always planned on going back, but Sadie was born seven weeks early. I ended up having a lot of complications and we weren’t sure if we could have any more kids. I had surgery when she was about six months old and then planned to go back that next school year…. then we found out I was pregnant! I actually loving staying home now and we are thinking about possibly homeschooling for a while. So we will see!
M: I feel you girl! You give me hope that there’s light at the end of this ‘having kids close together’ tunnel. What do you miss most about teaching?
B: Yes! I can’t imagine one more in the mix, but that first year is so tough. It gets so much easier after that! Oh I miss a lot! I miss my fifth graders. They were so awesome! I also miss having coworkers. As far as the other stuff that I used to miss (like lesson planning, etc.) now that we are homeschooling for preschool, I don’t have to miss it anymore. Most of what I do with the girls, I do more for my own sanity. I love getting to plan and prep and watch them learn.
M: How cool that you can transition some of those skills to homeschool though. You’re not a stay at home mom who had to leave a corporate job, you left teaching, which you will still be doing at home! That’s awesome.
B: Yes after I had Sadie I felt so conflicted. My students had always been my babies and I felt like it would be so different if I went back. I felt like I couldn’t be the best teacher I could be anymore because I would be thinking about Sadie. Since my husband is a teacher too (and we actually taught at the same charter school), that was literally our entire life before we had kids.
M: Oh I can only imagine!
B: I knew it wouldn’t be my whole life anymore and I felt so guilty! I never thought I would want to homeschool, but now we are really considering it.
M: It feels impossible to find that balance once you become a mama. Everything changes!
B: Oh yes! That mom guilt is something no one warns you about!
M: Add that to the list of about one million other things.
B: So true!
M: What would you say is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about yourself since becoming a mom?
B: Hmmm that is tough! I think I have learned to let things go. I have always been a pretty big control freak, but when Sadie was born so early, there were so many things out of my control. It has forced me to become a much more easygoing mom than I probably would have been. Then once we threw Ella into the mix, I really had to let a lot go. It’s actually been freeing! Although I will admit, I am still a work in progress for sure.
M: Aren’t we all? I hear that exact sentiment from a lot of moms. Nothing is in our control and that can be both frustrating and a little liberating.
B: Definitely! Toddlers can really put you in your place. Last night Sadie went out to dinner with her tap shoes on!
M: Oh my gosh I just laughed out loud. Talk about picking your battles. I think I’m about to enter this stage with the twins any day now.
B: I’m sure! Sadie learned to dress herself really young which is both good and bad. Most days we don’t leave the house without some sort of tutu on or her Elsa dress.
M: Love that. And love that you just let her do her thing!
B: The other day a lady stopped me at the grocery store and said “thanks for sharing the joy of them” and it was just so sweet of her to say! We get a lot of different kinds of looks when we are out with their outfit choices, but most of the time it isn’t a super positive response.
M: I love that she said that. There are too many people who focus on the negative and sometimes as moms all we need is reassurance that we’re doing okay!
B: Yes! I could have hugged her!
M: If I ever have all three kids out of the house by myself (which is EXTREMELY rare), people look at me like I have two heads. But the occasional “that’s such a blessing” remark almost cancels out how many times I hear a scoff followed by “you really have your hands full”.
B: As if you didn’t already know that!!!
M: Right? So are you doing homeschool prep now? Is that what’s going on in your picture?
B: Yes! We just finished up our “fall semester” so I am starting to plan for the new year. When my hubby is off I try and take advantage so I can plan months at a time. If it’s not planned ahead of time, it won’t happen. I also started this thing called Toddler Book Club so I try and plan ahead for that too.
M: I can’t even imagine how much work that must be. Ooh! Tell me about that!
B: It’s really not too bad! I try and pick weekly themes and then just head to Pinterest. There are so many great ideas already out there! Toddler Book Club was an idea I thought of last year, it’s kind of a glorified play date. I pick some books or themes and once a month we meet. We usually let the kids play, then have a snack and then do some sort of craft around the book. I have so much fun planning and some of my friends have been nice enough to take turns hosting with me. It started with just my girls and two of their friends, but at our Christmas party last week we had 15 kids!
M: I am beyond obsessed with that idea, how awesome! Totally wish I lived there and could invite myself You just sound like such a good mama. Your tiny humans are lucky to have you!
B: That would be awesome! It’s pretty crazy, but fun! For our Christmas party I thought it would be fun for the kids to decorate gingerbread houses. I spent a few hours putting them all together and then the night before I realized my dog had eaten half of them! It was a disaster!
M: Ohhhh my gosh. What did you do? “Winging it” at it’s max.
B: Well first I told my husband that I never wanted to see our dog again….so I obviously rolled with the punches (facepalm). Luckily my mom was at the store so she grabbed me another box and I just made some more. It definitely wasn’t my finest moment!
M: Sounds like you handled it pretty well, all things considered. We can’t be totally gracious all the time.
B: I tried to tell my husband that the girls use up most of my patience every day so there just isn’t much left for the pets.
M: Oh my gosh, I love it. We have those conversations pretty regularly. Frequently it’s comments about the kids being lucky they’re cute!
B: So true!!!
M: Well, thanks so much for chatting with me, it’s been awesome learning a little more about you. Anything else you’d like to share?
B: Hmm I guess I just really want to help other moms know that they can do fun learning activities at home if they want to. I started my Instagram (@evereverafterjbs) to share ideas with other moms and I love when my friends share that their little ones loved trying out the activities. That’s what it’s all about! I really don’t want to come across like I have it all together and I am trying to raise a bunch of geniuses. The structure of adding in some learning activities has been the right fit for my family and helped me survive two under two.
Thank you so much for sharing with me too! It was really nice talking to you
M: I love what you’re doing and am inspired by it! Thanks again, so nice chatting with you. Hope you guys have a Merry Christmas!
B: Thank you! Merry Christmas!
CHECK OUT MORE OF MY WORDS AND A FEW FROM MY PAL, AND CREATIVE BABE (OF WEESTRUCTED) AMY ON OUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @MOTHERHOODWINGINGIT
AND DON’T FORGET TO HASHTAG HOW YOU ‘WING IT’ WITH #WEEWINGIT
MARISSA ELLIS IS A WIFE, MOTHER OF THREE, AND ALL AROUND AWESOME HUMAN BEING. SHE RESIDES IN DENVER, COLORADO.