Hey there! I am Heather Nelsen, a 32-year-old mom of 2 (with one more on the way!) living in Atlanta. My husband, Matt, and I have been married for 9 years and dated for 6 years before that, so we have almost spent more of our lives together than apart (Is that right?! Man, I'm starting to feel old.)
We have a son named Ryan who is 2, a daughter, Natalie, who is almost 1, and a Golden Retriever named Tally who will turn 4 in April and very much lives up to his "first born" role. 😉 And this June, we'll be adding our third little baby to our family! 3 kiddos in less than 3 years- not at all something we would have imagined if you asked us 4 years ago. You can read our journey to parenthood here, but suffice it to say we are overjoyed with our three surprise blessings and are totally excited to embrace the chaos that will be three little ones under three come June.
I love meeting new people through the blogging world, so feel free to stop by my space, and say hello when you do! And thanks again to Samantha for having me today!
Now for a little Q&A.
Disclaimer: I tried to answer the motherhood-related questions as honestly as possible- I am far from a pro (remember, I'm only a little over 2 years in myself!) and definitely do not think there is a right way to do it all.
What is your blog? Tell us about it and how you got started?
I write a lifestyle, food & family blog (found here) where I share everything from recipes to travel experiences, book reviews, confessions, and snippets from our day-to-day life so that I can one day look back and remember these sweet, early days with our kiddos.
I started my blog in the middle of the Academy Awards. I was on a girls' weekend with three of my college roommates (pre-kids for all of us), and since I have never been a huge fan of award shows (crazy, right?!) or great at sitting long enough to take in the full 3+ hours of them, I pulled out a laptop and started a blog. My three girlfriends tossed out names for the blog as we watched, and we landed on Notes from the Nelsens.
We know you are busy being a mom of two, do you have a job outside of the home too?
Prior to having Ryan, I taught elementary school for 7 years. Over the course of my seven years, I taught all grades, K-5, and loooved my years at my school. But I knew in my heart of hearts that I would not be able to give my classroom kids the same kind of attention and energy once I had children of my own. And honestly, I just really didn't want to miss a single minute of being a mom. Starting a family was not an easy process for us, so once we were blessed with our first baby boy, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be home with him to experience every little milestone he would reach in his first year and beyond.
Do you blog full time, part time or whenever you are able? How do you balance blogging, "you time", and motherhood?
I blog part-time, writing an average of 3 posts per week. As far as balancing blogging, wife-ing, mom-ing, and house-ing, I try to get in some "me-time" before my kids wake up. I have always been a morning person, and I have learned over the last two years that I am a better mom (and kinder person in general) 😉 when I make time in the morning to have a quiet time and accomplish a few things before all of my other roles begin. My kids are early risers (our day usually starts around 6:30), so I try to wake up anywhere between 4:30-5:30 depending on what I want to get done before they rise. I try to get 7 hours of sleep at night, so I typically set my alarm for 7 hours from the time I fall asleep (which is the second I close my eyes). This allows me to use nap time to take care of the other household responsibilities like laundry, dinner-prep, and cleaning.
Any tips/tricks you can share with readers on how to balance passions, mom and home life?
My advice would be to figure out these two things: what are your most productive hours of the day, and how many hours of sleep do you require to function well throughout the day?
I am a morning person and am good for nothing at night. So I choose to wake up before my kids and then feel like I've accomplished my personal to-do list before I switch to my role as mom. Nothing is worse (for my kids or for me) than feeling like I am giving half-effort or energy in all areas, particularly in my role as mom. So the early-morning time allows me to take care of my "me things" so that I can be intentional with them once they are awake.
The second piece of advice- determining the number of hours of sleep you require- has been super helpful for me since becoming a mom. Whether you're a working mom or stay-at-home mom, you learn pretty quickly that there just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want to accomplish if you're not intentional with your time. So take a few weeks to test out different hours of sleep (6 or less hours for a few nights, 7 or more hours for a few nights, etc.) until you land on what feels best to you. As much as I would love to be one of those people who only needs 5 hours of sleep, 7 is my number. Give me 7 hours, and I'll give you my best for the day… well, most of the time. 😉
I know you are lucky to be able to be at home with your kids now! How have you made that work financially? What have you found works for your family?
Matt and I decided before trying to start a family that I would stay home once we had kids. Prior to having kids, we were pretty intentional about not spending two salaries so that we never got used to the extra, but I can honestly say that I would live in a one bedroom shack in the middle of nowhere for the chance to be at home! The days are certainly not always easy, but it's the kind of hard I want to be a part of and I'm thankful I can be. That being said, I know there are plenty of moms who love balancing work and mom-life or need to balance both, so if I could give advice to working moms, it would be to land on a child-care situation that makes you feel best about being gone. If that means paying more and altering spending to make it work, do it. You can't put a price tag on peace of mind when it comes to your kids!
How do you keep organized? Share some of your tricks with us!
I am a list lover. Every night, I make a list using the notes app on my phone of the 4-5 things I want to accomplish the following day, usually in those hours before my kids are awake. Sometimes those things are more reminder-related (get crock-pot meal ready, answer emails, order more pacifiers, etc.) and are quick check-offs after my devotion/quiet time. Other items are what I want to start and finish before bed time that night, and others are portions of monthly goals I'm chipping away at and work on a little bit each day. By I try to keep the list to under 6 things so that the whole list can be completed in a day.
I also love my calendar and love having a plan. I have a calendar for our weekly events in my phone, use the notes app for planning weekly blog posts, and each morning figure out the time we need to be out the door and work backward from there to determine when we need to start getting ready.
On that note, a mom of four shared with me once that she allots 10 minutes per child for getting out the door. So if they need to be pulling out by 9am, she tells herself to be ready by 8:20. This philosophy has been huge for me and has proven to be so true. Since we just have two right now, I try to be ready 20 minutes before we actually have to leave… and inevitably things happen (diaper explosion, forgot the bottle, need to run back in for an extra change of clothes, extra consoling for a something that couldn't be done independently for our two-year-old… and the list goes on!). I'm telling you, it's like magic. And what would be a stressful 20-minute-late exit, turns into a we're-actually-right-on-time moment-of-relief as I close the garage doors. Not to mention, being on time in the early stages of momhood equates to majorly winning in my book. And all majorly-winning moments in the early momhood days should be celebrated, right?!
What does a typical day look like for you? (blogging to-do's included)
I am not one who is a stickler for an exact schedule- some days our kids are ravenous for lunch at 10:30 and Ryan is requesting his crib at noon- but overall I would say this is the general routine we stick to.
4:30-5:30 – Wake up, coffee, quiet time, blogging, bills, email ("me-things")
6:30 – Kids wake up (diaper changes, breakfast, clothes, "help" daddy get ready for work and/or make smoothies with him)
7:00-7:30 – Matt leaves for work and we play toys
8:00 – Natalie takes a morning nap, Ryan and I watch a show together or play toys that aren't allowed out or are harder to play with when Natalie is awake (puzzles, board games, marbles, cash register)
9:15 – Wake Natalie up
9:30 – Daily activity (walk to the park, zoo, mall playground, play date at someone's house, host a play date at our house, etc.)
11:30 – Lunch
1:00 – Naps for both (Diaper changes, bottle for Natalie / "milk & stories time" for Ryan)
1:30-3:30 – Back to "me-things" and my check-off list for the day (plus a 2nd cup of coffee) 🙂
3:30 – Natalie wakes up – play time with her
4:00 – Ryan wakes up – go for a walk, play outside, or play toys
5:00 – Natalie eats dinner, Ryan plays toys, watches a show, or has iPad time
5:30 – Bath for both followed by bottle for Natalie
6:00 – Natalie goes down for the night
(Matt gets home between 5:45-6:30 depending on the day)
6:15 (or as soon as Matt gets home if later) – Dinner followed by play time
7:00 – The 3 of us go upstairs for "milk & stories" time in Ryan's room
7:30-7:45 – Bed for Ryan
7:45 – Matt cleans the kitchen while I finish laundry or shower
8:00 – Me + Matt time
9:30-10:00 – CRASH 🙂
What advice would you give to a new mom (like myself) who is attempting to balance it all and keep her head above water?
Breathe! Everything lasts for a season. The good seasons end and the tough seasons end too. You will sleep again for more than 2 hours at a time. You will take a shower and have time to use shampoo and conditioner without stressing about whether your baby is crying or questioning whether you're a terrible mom because you know your baby is crying and just really need to get the soap out of your hair before you rescue him from the torture that is napping in his crib instead of on your chest. You will fit into your clothes again. You will go on a date with your husband and be able to really enjoy it again. You will figure out how to balance it all (or most of it anyways). You will! So try hard to just EMBRACE where you are because (as I'm learning already) some days are long, but the years are so short. And remember to give yourself GRACE. We're not supposed to know what we're doing all the time (our poor kids!), especially when it's all so new in the beginning. But one day I think we'll look back and remember more of the sweet moments than the ones where we're just trying to keep our heads above water, so let's try to be present in the moment and not worry about doing it all perfectly.
Thank you for having me, Samantha!!
Samantha's friends and readers, please feel free to stop by my blog and say hello! You can also find us here: