I Played Hooky Today-and It Was Ok

Today’s blog post represents a new beginning for Mommy, ESQ.
In an effort to give you different perspectives from working moms across all sorts of professions, we’ve been recruiting working moms to write for us from all walks of life.

Today, we bring you a post from our newest Mommy, ESQ. blogger, Mary Caligiure. Mary is a working mom to an amazing eight month-old baby, Amadeo. She’s also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. I have known Mary for many years now, and she’s incredibly giving, smart and hard-working. She’s a great addition to our team. 

Mary, on behalf of Mommy, ESQ., we’re so happy to have you writing for us!


“I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. I’m going to have to take a sick day.” This was the monumental decision that I made at 6:00 AM this morning. I decided to play hooky from work. Some may call it a personal day. Some may call it a mental health day. Whatever the name, I did it.

This decision was not come by easily. I work in an extremely demanding field (who doesn’t?!) where decisions that I make on a daily basis could affect the safety and well-being of a child-of many children. I find myself, in this position, worrying constantly whether the decisions that I make could result in a child being severely neglected or abused. No pressure. In reality, am I fully responsible? Of course not. But the truth is I care very passionately about my work and the children who I oversee and could not live with myself if something happened on my watch. So, I feel responsible.

Usually my job permits me to leave at an hour where I can get home in time to spend at least 30 minutes with my baby before he starts to melt down and needs to be put to bed for the night. Although slim, I cherish those 30 minutes that I get. Over the last few weeks, though, I was required to work late nights, resulting in my only seeing my 8 month year old son for a brief amount of time in the morning as I was rushing to get ready for work and for a brief moment in the middle of the night when he needed his dream feeding. I missed him. I missed snuggling him and smelling his head. I would ask my wife, who I am lucky enough to have as a stay-at-home mom, if she would send me pictures and videos throughout the day, just to briefly squelch those urges to leave work and rush home prematurely. Those “fixes” were only momentary, however, and finally, last night, I rushed through the door to try to catch my son for five minutes before he had to go to bed, and burst into tears. I hated not seeing him and having my, albeit small, quality time with him when I came home from work. Something had to give. In that moment, I informed my wife that I was quitting my job and we would have to find a way to live off the land. Perhaps I watch too much Alaskan Bush People-but I digress.

We, as mothers, feel that no one can care for our child as well as we can. So we like to take on more responsibility in caring for our child without asking for help-even at the expense of our own emotional and physical well-being. At my job, I feel the same. I feel like if I’m not at work, concerns will go unaddressed, things will not happen as they should, and the entire agency will fall apart. Am I a narcissist? I don’t consider myself one. I just feel responsible.

But something amazing happened today. I “called out sick.” I decided to take the time I so desperately needed to play with my baby, feed him, sniff his head, and kiss his cheeks about 1000 times (you would too. They really are bitable cheeks!). I allowed myself one day to not feel guilty for not going to work and for fibbing about my illness. I allowed myself the freedom to fully and whole-heartedly enjoy my mid-week day off with my wife and my baby. The most amazing part-nothing catastrophic happened at work. (I may have spoken to my boss at the end of the day just to check in). My staff continued to do what they always do. My clients continued to do what they always do. It was ok. Will I have to work a little bit harder tomorrow to catch up on what I missed today? Sure. But I will be able to go into work tomorrow with more focus, more energy, and more motivation than I was two days ago. I will be able to

go in to the office with the memories I created today with my baby, such as watching him giggle as my two dogs chased a ball in the back yard or watching him pull every book off of the book shelf as he explored each one with his little hands. I feel rejuvenated and, chances are that I will be even more productive tomorrow than I would have been in the two days combined had I not taken today off.

From this day off, I learned the importance of listening to my instincts. I learned the importance of taking time to stop, breathe, and focus on what’s really important. I learned that taking a day to spend quality time with my family is not something to feel guilty about and the world won’t come to a screeching halt if I need to take a day away from work. Is this something I will do all the time? No. I need a job and I understand the value of being able to provide for my family financially. But I also now know that periodically, I can play hooky-and it’s ok.


Chris Phone2Mary Caligiure is first and foremost a new mother to an amazing baby boy who is the light of her life. She and her wife enjoy spending time watching this little man as he begins to navigate and master this world trough play and exploration. Mary is also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and has been working in the mental health and child welfare field for the past nine years. She currently works in a supervisory position within the child welfare field with families who are struggling with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, terminal illness, developmental delays, gang involvement, and various other psychosocial issues. To decompress, she loves spending time with her family, kissing her baby’s cheeks, sewing, reading, and working on various DIY Projects.

THINGS WE LOVE – Top Five Holiday Gifts for Working Moms

Whether you’re shopping for a working mom in your life or trying to come up with ideas for yourself that you can subtly drop to your significant other, we’re all searching for something this holiday season! As a working mom, I’m always on the hunt for products that will make my life easier and help me to spend more time focusing on my family instead of the office.

Here’s what I’m asking Santa for this year!

  1. A Smartphone Holder for the Stroller

Stroller Phone

I can speak from experience that this would be incredibly helpful for those of us that are expected to have access to our work e-mail outside of the office. It’s never fun to fumble through my pockets for my phone when I’m taking the girls for a stroll or try to push my stroller with one hand while I try (usually unsuccessfully) to type in my phone’s password. I’ve found these online and in Best Buy for about $40, and I think it’s an excellent gift of stocking stuffer for the working mom. The best part about it is that most of them can be attached to any type of handle, so you can also use it on your bike or treadmill.

 

  1. A Bluetooth Headset

Bluetooth headsetSo, this isn’t on my Christmas list this year…because I already bought it on Black Friday. And, I can tell you from experience that this should be at the top of all of your lists. Before getting my headset, I always felt like I needed a third–or fourth–hand to juggle my phone. I’d get a client call while carrying my briefcase and a diaper bag. Or, someone would call while I was working from home and trying to change a diaper. It’s also just generally more convenient to not have to fidget with wires while wearing a winter coat and running to Port Authority for my commute home. I got the LG Tone Pro headset when I purchased my LG v10 smartphone this Black Friday. They’re about $49.99, and they totally do the trick. A must-have for the working mom this season!

Also, the LG v10 smartphone is totally worth it. As someone who basically uses her phone only to respond to e-mails and take pictures of her kids, it totally delivers.

 

  1. A Contigo Leak-proof Travel Mug

travel mugFor the working (and commuting) mom that loves her coffee, I totally recommend a Contigo travel mug. Priced at about $13, I think this makes the perfect stocking stuffer. Whether I’m making my own coffee at home or running to 7-11 before hitting the bus, I use this mug every day. It conveniently fits in my purse and doesn’t leak. I might even purchase another one before the season is out!

 

  1. A Commuter Tote Bag

toteWhat working mom couldn’t stand to upgrade the bag she commutes with? I’ve been hunting down the perfect commuter tote bag this year that won’t break the bank. I mean, I’d happily accept a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote, but I don’t exactly have a thousand dollars to blow on a new tote bag. I also have a pretty serious L.L. Bean problem obsession, so I’m asking Santa for this red leather Town and Field Tote from L.L. Bean online ($179.00 + free shipping). There are also some really cute options from Stella & Dot for the working mom in your life.

 

  1. A Family Photoshoot

Portrait  (73)Perhaps I can’t speak for all working moms out there, but there’s nothing more special to me than our family photos. I spend a lot of time away from home, and I love being able to show my co-workers, clients, and friends professional photos of my kids. I keep them on my phone, and I frame them and keep them in my office. They cheer me up on my roughest days at work. It’s a great (and often overlooked) gift to give to a working mom. We live in New Jersey and swear by What a Pretty Picture. The photographer, Tabitha Arce, is very reasonably-priced, and I’ve never seen her take a bad picture. We’ll be booking her for all of our family photoshoots, birthday parties, christenings, etc. to come! (Tabitha, if you’re reading this…Emily’s first birthday is coming up and we’re 100% booking you for it!) If you’re in the tri-state area and interested in booking this service for the working mom in your life, I would totally reach out. She’s exceptional!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.

WAKE UP WEDNESDAY – BE EXCITED FOR YOUR LIFE!

Today’s Thought:
If your life was a movie, would you go see the sequel?


I’ll admit it: I had a little bit of writer’s block for today’s #WakeUpWednesday post. I’m usually struggling with something at this point in the week. Whether it’s difficult client work, Emily’s crazy sleep habits, Mary Pat being sick, or feeling exhausted because I’m dealing with some of these things, I’m usually begging for Friday by now. It’s easy to identify a helpful #WakeUpWednesday topic when I’m struggling with something. It’s not so easy to whip something up when things are going well. What’s more, I thought that this week would be the easiest week to write something because I’m dealing with all of these things. Instead, I’m waking up feeling present, excited for each day, refreshed, and devoid of anything to write about.

I realized this morning that what I should be writing about is exactly how I’ve been feeling-excited for my life.

When I sit down and think about it, my life is rather monotonous. I wake up every morning get dressed, eat breakfast, commute, work all day, commute and then come home to eat dinner with my family and go to bed. How is it that I’m so excited every day? How have I managed to find such joy in what some would find to be horribly boring?

Although it’s always possible that this is just holiday cheer and I’ll get back to my usual, “struggling for balance” self in 2016, this feels more permanent, and I think it’s the product of some changes that I made in my life and schedule while Mommy, ESQ. was on hiatus. It’s a significant and life-altering shift, and one that I think all of us need to experience in order to joyfully experience what I’ve termed “working motherhood.”

If you aren’t excited or charged up about what you’re doing, you may experience financial success or raise amazing children, but you’re doing it at the expense of your emotional and physical health. If that’s the case, why do it at all? Why not live a life you’re excited about? Or, before rearranging your whole life, why not try instituting some small changes that allow you to have the time, energy, and perspective to feel that excitement?

This is your challenge for the next week: Savor every moment of your life. Feel more, love deeper, and laugh harder. Make the following changes and see if it doesn’t improve your current attitude towards your job, motherhood, and life:

  1. Have a “pre-mortem” meeting with yourself.  You’ve all heard of a post-mortem meeting, right? It’s when you meet after having gone through something and analyze what went wrong, what went right, what could have gone better, etc. Instead, have a pre-mortem meeting with yourself. Think about the portions of your days that stress you out and plan ahead on how to eliminate them. For example, my mornings stress me out the most. Emily is a terrible sleeper and would wake up as soon as she heard me trying to get dressed, making my coffee, packing my lunch, and running out the door. I hate leaving her as it is; it’s that much harder when I have to leave her and she’s screaming for Mommy to come pick her up. In order to minimize the noise and time spent putzing around in the morning getting myself together, I started planning my outfits for the week on Sunday night and hanging them close to the bathroom, where I can get dressed. I started charging my phone and leaving my bag in a more convenient place by the front door with my shoes. I started packing my lunch and setting the timer on my coffee pot the night before. Not only does it keep Emily sound asleep, but also I can wake up later and have a great, stress-free start to my day. You can “pre-mortem” plan for any and all aspects of your life. And, eliminating these stressors will certainly give you the time, space, and energy to feel more excited for your life! I actually got the idea to start doing this from an amazing TED Talk that you can view by clicking this link.
  2. Take Care of Your Body and Health.  I know that you can all agree that the first thing to go when you’re a working mom is your care for your own body and health. Who has time to take care of themselves when there’s a baby or toddler that needs you and hasn’t seen you all day? I can’t stress enough how important this is. Take your vitamins. Shower regularly. Wash your hair. Instead of staying up late after the kids go to bed so you can have a moment to yourself, get a decent night’s sleep. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and I feel like a human again. I’ve even been adding in a little extra B-12, and it’s done amazing things for my psyche and my waistline. When you take care of yourself, you feel better about yourself. And, you have the physical and mental ability to feel deep excitement and satisfaction with every aspect of your life.
  3. Spend…Time…With Your Partner. Okay, so the days of making love on the kitchen floor in the middle of the day may be over. But that doesn’t mean that every encounter needs to feel like “we have 20 minutes before the baby starts crying and it’s been two weeks since the last opportunity for it, we might as well just get this over with.” Be adventurous. Read the Kama Sutra. Get a babysitter. Do it regularly. It’ll be the best forty bucks on a sitter you’ve ever spent, and I guarantee you’ll start feeling excited for every day and like your “pre-working mommy” self again.

I wish you all a wonderful, productive, and exciting! end of the week. Happy Wednesday, mamas!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.

THINGS WE LOVE! – FIVE DIY MONTESSORI-STYLE GIFTS FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS

As a working mom to a 2 and ½-year old and a 9-month old, I don’t think there is any time more awe-inspiring, wondrous, or stressful for me than the holidays. Not only am I dealing with the everyday strains of a busy fourth quarter, but I also have to find the time to figure out what to give my girls for Christmas. And, I’m always trying not to break the bank while doing it. (I’m finding this to be especially difficult because I’m trying to create the best First Christmas EVER for our youngest!)

Additionally, it’s always important for my husband and I to provide our girls with fun and interactive books, toys, and activities that encourage their independence and allow us to spend lots of time together as a family. As a working mom, it’s especially important for me to spend real, quality time with my daughters. I definitely see the value in technology; however, I want the time that I spend outside of the office to be filled with memories that will last a lifetime. For me, that means spending time playing dress up, running around, and getting my hands dirty with my little girls.

We’re Montessori parents, which means that we’ve carefully planned out our home as a learning environment. When we moved into our home a year ago, we designed a playroom that promotes independence and free play and caters to our girls’ natural curiosity. We packed this room with discovery stations and toys, and we spend lots of time playing with them in there. This Christmas, we’re looking to expand this environment into the rest of our home and have spent lots of time researching how best to do this. It’s going to take a little creativity, DIY, and effort on our parts, but we’ve discovered that we can easily expand this Montessori learning environment into the rest of our house without breaking the bank. And, we couldn’t wait to share our research with you!

The list below contains our top five Montessori-style gifts for infants and toddlers, and we hope that it’ll give you some gift ideas as we sleigh ride into this holiday season!

  1. A Star Box for Infants

Star Box.jpg

For the cost of a cardboard box, some extra Christmas lights, and a pair of scissors, you can create a Star Box for your infant and/or toddler. I can’t wait to put this together. I really think our youngest, Emily, is going to get a kick out of it. She’s mesmerized by anything and everything bright and shiny! All you need to do is poke some holes in the top of the box, stick your Christmas lights through the hole, plug it in and let your little one crawl around. I even think our oldest, Mary Pat, is going to love it!

  1. An Animal Discovery Box

Animal Discovery Box

If I’m being honest, it doesn’t take much to entertain our toddler. Sure, she loves her YouTube Kids app on my phone, but she’s just as thrilled by books, flash cards, and figurines. She’s going through a phase where she LOVES animals. So, this Christmas, we’re going to make her an animal discovery box. Print out some pictures of animals, paste them to index cards, and get some animal figurines, and you’ve got the makings for a GREAT Montessori discovery box. I’d even recommend laminating the index cards. If your toddlers are anything like mine, they’re going to want to play with these while drinking a juice box or eating a snack, and laminating them protects them against ruin! For about $15 maximum, you, too, can give your infants and toddlers hours of great learning and fun!

  1. A Kitchen Prep Station and Table

Kitchen Prep Station.jpg

My husband is a classically-trained chef, and Mary Pat always wants to help him cook. We’re super excited to set up a prep station for her this Christmas because she’s finally hitting the age where she can get involved in the process. We’ve been working with her on her listening skills, and she’s beginning to take directions very well. We’re going to set up a little wooden table for her in our kitchen and put a cutting board on it. That’ll be her “prep station.” We’re also going to set up a drawer in our kitchen where all of her kitchen utensils will be. She’ll have plastic knives, measuring cups, a vegetable peeler, etc. We envision her using this prep station when my husband cooks at night, as well as during meal and snack times throughout the day. The goal is for her to learn to feed herself. I think this is a great idea and learning tool, and I can’t wait to get her started!

  1. A Pull Up Bar

Pull Up Bar

I am most excited about setting up this pull up bar and mirror for Emily. We’re currently in negotiations about where to place the pull up bar in our home; however, I’m thinking we can modify the version above to be more portable. I’ve seen some renditions of this on the Internet where parents make a free-standing pull up bar in front of a mirror, rather than attaching it to a wall. Emily is just getting to the point where she’s starting to pull herself up on anything she can find (couches, steps, the dogs…). She’s also enchanted by her own reflection. I truly believe this will be one of her most favorite gifts this Christmas. And, the best part about this is, the whole thing costs about $10! It’s the perfect gift for our little angel baby!

  1. Locks and Latches Sets

Latches and Locks

We’re going to try to make some of these a little bit more complicated for Mary Pat, but you can get a sense for what our plan is from the picture above. I think we’re going to make these on our own to keep the cost down; however, you can totally find them on the Internet by searching for “Montessori locks and latches.” The goal of the toy is to get your infant or toddler to use his/her natural curiosity to figure out how to open and close the locks. By making an easier and a more complicated set, we’re hoping that our girls can play with them together and teach each other how to use them. I think it’s going to be a great way to strengthen their problem-solving skills and foster some sisterly-love!


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Today’s post is brought to you by Lisa Marie Lanham, the founder of Mommy, ESQ. Lisa is also an associate in the Consumer Finance Regulatory practice of a large New York City law firm. She loves her job, her family, and helping working moms find a balance between the growing demands of a family and a successful, full-time career. She has trained with the International Maternity Institute and offers group and one-on-one maternity coaching to all working moms. If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach her by commenting below, e-mailing Mommy_ESQ@outlook.com, or posting on any of Mommy, ESQ.’s social media pages.