Honest Mom Series – Feature #1, Charlotte

Welcome to the first feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the next installment.image

Our first mom is 28 year old Charlotte, wife to Ben and mom to 2 adorable boys, Preston (3 1/2) and Mason (15 months). From knowing Ben & Charlotte, I admire their commitment to one another. They’ve always seemed very sensitive to one another’s needs and selfless in the desire to make the other one happy. Charlotte is a SAHM.

A little about her: Charlotte’s story starts in England, where she was raised until the age of 10, when they moved to Michigan for her dad’s job. She attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in psychology (she understands this is random).  She & Ben met while in college, through a mutual friend, in 2005. They were engaged in 2006 and married on Aug 4th, 2007. Once married, they moved to Chicago and lived there for 6.5 years until this past April when they moved back to Michigan to take over Ben’s family business- a Christmas Tree Farm! Charlotte loves her dad’s lasagna, Chuck Norris jokes, visiting family in London, and wants to see the 7 Wonders of the World.

When asked about her parenting style, Charlotte says she and Ben look to God for guidance, and rely on their parents advice in some areas. She believes her greatest strengths are being understanding, approachable, and patient, and can sense when her boys are uncomfortable. She wants to soak in every moment with her boys, and picks her battles. She says, “I never want my boys to think that spilled milk is more important than them.”

If you had to choose a mission statement for you as a mom, what would it be? I am here to protect, guide, and teach. I see it as my purpose to shape my boys into Men, with my hubby leading. I want to show them how to treat a lady and how a lady should treat them in a relationship.  I want to instill into them Godly principles and what their true worth is.

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? The boys wake up around 7-7:30. They come out and get to watch Disney Jr. while I get them their breakfast (PB on toast with bananas, or waffles with strawberries, or cereal). We then get dressed for the day and either make our way to a playdate, or the library, or grocery store. If we are going to be at home I make sure to have at least one craft for the day, whether that be helping me cook dinner, make cupcakes, coloring, painting, etc.  We do best if we stay busy with playdates.  We usually have at least two playdates a week scheduled. They love them and it gives me time to chat with other moms.  We also go to the museum, for a walk, etc. We try to be home for lunch so I can give them food, then Mason will go down for a nap for 2-3 hours.  During that time I get to spend quality time with my Preston: we do puzzles, or read, or play whatever he wants. I let the daytime schedule be more easy going, mainly because I don’t want to hold Preston back from doing anything just because Mason has to nap.  Mason learned to adjust to napping in the stroller and car early on.  I do follow betimes closely though; my boys have always been good sleepers, but they NEED their sleep!  Once Mason wakes up, the boys have a snack, then usually play together while I prep dinner.  We eat dinner around 5pm as a family up at the table.  We then play some more till about 6, then its bath time and the start of our bedtime routine.  They take a bath, get to watch some more Disney Jr, then we read them a book and they are in bed by 7pm.

On to housework! Are you fully responsible for those duties? No! Thankfully my hubby is awesome and helps out completely! Even though I stay at home and he works, he knows that I need help. We don’t really have anything set in stone as to who does what, its kind of on the spot, seeing what needs to be done everyday.
How about the boys – do they do chores? I JUST started to have Preston do chores.  He has to pick up his room every night, and also help pick up the living room.  He now knows to put dirty laundry in his hamper in his closet, and has to put his dishes in the sink after eating.  Mason tries to help with picking up toys which is awesome – he just wants to be like his big brother! I had a hard time instilling these; I never had any chores growing up, but I want to teach them to serve and be good husbands. We use a reward system (M&M’s work well!).

How do you discipline the boys? We will put them in time out or take toys or privileges away from them if they do not listen repeatedly.  We will ask twice, and if they do not do as we say, then we will take things away.  It works well for Preston, he is very sensitive and does not respond to yelling, and honestly I’ve never tried spanking, nor will I ever.  I’m not much of a disciplinarian, and that’s been something I have had to overcome, and realize I cannot just be friends.  I had a huge fear (but now have victory over) that something bad would happen after I disciplined one of them, and then that would be the last thing they would remember of me, and not feel loved. Our house rules are basic: pick up your toys when you are don; put your dishes in the sink; put trash where it belongs; say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’; no hitting or pushing.

What are your nutritional guidelines? We have a meat, veggie and starch with each meal. Fruit for dessert unless it’s a special occasion, or if they are sick then I really will give them whatever they want!

Let’s focus on you for a minute. Do you get time to yourself? When and how? Without time to myself, I would not be a good Mom.  My hubby is great about helping me get me time.  I go get my nails done, go grocery shopping(yes that counts!), going to get coffee with a friend, my MOPS meeting. I’m sure I could start a hobby, but I’m still trying to figure out what I would want to pursue that I would be passionate about.

Tell us about your struggles and challenges as a mom. After Mason was born, I just didn’t feel right.  I was overjoyed that I had two healthy boys, however, I could not get an anxious feeling away from me.  I was so worried that I wasn’t giving BOTH boys 100% of me, now that they had to share.  I was worried that I would step away to do something with one and the other would get hurt, or feel unloved.  Ben had started to notice things, and finally asked me when Mason was about 2 weeks old if I was ok. I broke down.  I was completely honest that I was having a mini breakdown daily.  He suggested I go talk to my Doctor, and he also talked to his boss at the time who was awesome and gave him more flexibility at work.  Of course I was still in denial and didn’t go to the Doctor right away.  When Mason was 6 weeks at my checkup, I just broke down and was diagnosed with post partum anxiety (after a very long appointment with him).  I knew I didn’t feel depressed; I had honestly never been happier that I had two healthy boys, but there was a feeling I could not shake.  He recommended me to a family therapist who specialized in Moms with post partum.  I saw her for a few months and she helped me a ton. Now, Mason is 15 months and I feel I have complete victory over this.  I now wake up daily SO excited that I get to spend every minute of every day with my boys, without the daunting feeling I had. I struggle with social pressure to be perfect, and to do everything because I am a SAHM. My greatest fear is my boys will get something that I can’t fix, and I will lose them.

Speaking of social pressure… What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? To be it all! To be super mom.  I think there is so much judgment that comes along with ‘mommyhood’ nowadays.  We are judged on how we give birth, how we feed our babies, how we sleep train, how we school them, etc.  I think its hard to really be true to yourself sometimes and do what you know is right in your heart.

What are some of your proudest moments? Preston starting preschool and doing so well with it – at his parents evening we were told that he is such a big helper and so polite.  Seeing my boys play together so well and give each other kisses.
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What is your greatest hope for the boys? Health and happiness.  Happiness meaning whatever makes them happy; if they are happy, I am happy.
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