Malisa is a working mom of two young daughters (almost 4 and almost 2). She works in marketing by day and dabbles in many side projects in the evening, such as real food meal planning consulting, sewing and creating a new solution for parents looking for daycare. Malisa is passionate about real food meal planning, home-cooked meals, and natural living, but also enjoys a weekly donut and iced coffee always.
Connect With Malisa
Q. How did becoming a mother change you?
Malisa Getting pregnant with my first baby really changed the way that I thought about chemicals and ingredients in my food and personal care products. I wanted to be as healthy as possible for my pregnancy and didn’t want to put harsh chemicals or perfumes on my baby, that’s really when my real food and natural living journey went into full force and has continued since!
Becoming a mom also made me more anxious. I suffered from postpartum anxiety after my second daughter was born, and I still carry that anxiety with me sometimes. I get anxious and scared of irrational things happening to my kids or me, the world they are growing up in, and what will happen with such a rocky political situation right now. I’ve been able to cope with a lot of the anxiety after seeking therapy and natural remedies, but it does creep in and affect me from time to time.
I’ve always been a “mother hen” type, as the oldest child in my family, so becoming a caretaker wasn’t a new skill for me. But, it definitely intensified it. Knowing that I grew these two perfect little beings in my body and am one of two people that are responsible for raising them well makes it so much more real.
Q. Are you a conventional or unconventional mother?
Malisa If we were in the 1960s, I think I’d be considered conventional, but today, probably unconventional! I’m a modern day hippie: we used cloth diapers and wipes, think coconut oil cures all, use non-toxic products on our kids, and I had water births and breastfed both of my daughters for 13 months. I think this philosophy is becoming more mainstream again, but there are definitely people who think I’m a crazy crunchy lady, too
In terms of my motherhood style, I’m generally pretty laid back with letting my kids explore their boundaries, whether that’s my 22-month-old climbing a rock wall at the park, or my 3 year old wanting to help cook dinner over the hot stove. My husband and I believe in letting kids explore what they are interested in and try not to get in their way too much, but of course make sure they are doing so safely. We also encourage them to try new things and solve problems on their own, or at least try, before asking (whining) for help.
My kids get screen time on the weekends, but we set a timer. We eat real food and home cooked meals most days, but Little Caesar’s is in our life on occasion. I get frustrated with them, but at the end of the day, I miss them when they are in bed. It’s all a balance!
Q. What is the hardest part of being a Mother based on your experience?
Malisa I’m an impatient person, and having toddlers does not jive with that. It’s really hard for me to let them take their time and let them do things at their own pace. Obviously, that is a huge part of learning to be independent and self-sufficient, so it’s been a learning process for me and in some ways, I’ve gotten better about going with the flow instead of worrying about being on a set timeline for everything.
Also, raising a 3-year-old is a challenge every day. I joke that 3-year-olds are the most emotionally unstable people on the planet, but it really isn’t a joke!
Q. Is Motherhood different than you had imagined? Is your reality better than what you imagined?
Malisa When I was pregnant with my first, I really only imagined the baby stage and was excited about how we’d be a cute little family of 4 (including our dog). For me, it’s only been possible to imagine the stage you are in or the very next stage. I remember when my first was an infant, I’d heard about the 4-month sleep regression and being so scared of it happening (I really treasure my sleep). But then it happened, and you just get through it because you have to. You can’t avoid it and you have to survive it, so you just have to wade through it until the next thing comes along, which is every few weeks with a baby!
One thing that is better than I could have imagined is the ability for kids to forgive. I’ve lost my patience with my older daughter (see “raising a 3-year-old” above…) and feel absolutely horrible after the fact, but she forgets and forgives so fast, telling me an hour later that she loves me and I’m the best mom ever. It’s a lesson in forgiving others and myself, and I’m so thankful that she is able to give me grace when I’m not my best.
Q. Who is your ‘mom’ role model? Please elaborate.
Malisa My own mom has always been my biggest encourager, and always expressed excitement and happiness for our latest adventures. I try to be the same way for my kids and hope that I can be supportive in all they do, even if I don’t agree with it!
I’m also going to cheat and say that my husband is actually a parenting role model for me. He is the patient one, who can have a child melting down in his face one minute, and have them laughing the next. He can stay calm in the most stressful and frustrating moments, so it’s often that if I’m at my limit, I tag him in to handle the offending child. He is also the master question answerer for our 3-year old. Her favorite thing to ask is “why,” even if you just completely answered her question, and my husband seems to know detailed information about the most random topics, which usually can appease her. He also gives her the most scientific, accurate answers possible, which usually stops the questioning because the answer is so over her head! J Plus, he’s definitely the fun parent: he doesn’t let a mess scare him off, he lets the kids jump all over him, throws them up in the air (a little too high) while they shriek with glee, and is much better at the “playing” aspect of parenting. I’m so thankful to have him as a partner in raising our kids!
Q. What do you do for ‘me time’? Or share something you do to recharge.
Malisa I take a day off of work in the middle of the week once every month or two to have a “me day.” Usually, that means I go to the gym, get some coffee, get a pedicure, shop for myself, or just do other projects that I don’t usually have time for. I also go to the gym after work on Tuesday nights. That’s my one guaranteed workout at the gym each week!
On the weekends, I use the kids’ nap time to prep food for the week, listen to podcasts or take the dog for a long walk. I’m huge into meal planning and making my own food, so I consider doing that “me time” because I’m really passionate about it!
I also try to get up and do yoga for 10-15 minutes in the morning, or take a walk at lunch to listen to my favorite podcasts and get some fresh air.
Q. Share a family tradition you do with your kids.
Malisa My kids are still really young, but we do already have some traditions that I really love!
The first one is that we always eat dinner together at the table. With picky eating becoming a thing, even if they don’t eat the meal, they have to stay at the table for family time. This will probably change as they get older and get more involved with activities, but my rule will always be that if we are home, we will eat together at the table. It’s a great time to connect after being apart all day and it’s part of the limited time I get to spend with them each night.
Secondly, the whole family gets ready for bed together — flossing and brushing, putting on jammies, filling up waters, etc. —and then we all play or read in our older daughter’s room before they split up for their individual bedtimes.
We also have homemade from scratch waffles or pancakes one day every weekend, which accidentally became a tradition, but it has stuck!
Q. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a mother?
Malisa I’ve come back to this question several times over the past few weeks as I’ve been thinking about these answers. I keep skipping over the question because it’s a hard one.
Sure, I’ve done things in heated moments that I’m not proud of, and have raised my voice, taken out frustrations on my kids, or fed them too much sugar because that’s what I needed to do to get through a particularly hard day. Those things are all just part of being a human, and being a mom. Every day isn’t going to be glitter and rainbows from sun up to sun down, and you will do things that you aren’t proud of or feel guilty about nearly every day. But to me, that doesn’t necessarily make them mistakes.
Are there things I’d like to do better or stop doing? Yes! I’m not perfect by any means, and I try to give myself a break because I’m pretty sure my kids will turn out just fine, even if I have some shortcomings as a mom.
Q. What’s the one thing you wish you could do differently as a mother?
Malisa I wish I could be in the moment more. I’m not very good at free play or make believe with my kids, and it’s hard for me to sit still and just play when I know I have a lot of things to do around the house. I find myself saying “Ok, I just need to do xyz first” when they ask me to play and I’ve really been trying to be better about that. Wiping the counter at that exact moment isn’t that important!
Q. As a mother, what do you feel you miss out on the most?
Malisa Right now, I don’t feel I’m missing out on too much. My kids are out of the infancy stage, so I am able to do a lot more in terms of hobbies and connecting with friends because a child isn’t relying on my body for food anymore. (Shout out to my husband, who encourages me to get out of the house by myself as much as I need/want!)
Of course, I always wish I could connect more with friends, but we’re all in this same stage together, and it’s just understood that we can’t go to happy hour multiple times a week, or spend a whole day leisurely shopping more than a few times a year. We do make the most of the time we do get to spend together though!
Now that I think about it, I have missed out on my annual tropical vacation since I was either pregnant or nursing, except for a 2-month break, from January 2013 to September 2016! But, I think my husband and I will be going away next winter, so there’s something to look forward to!
Q. What is one thing you wish to teach your children?
Malisa Acceptance of all people, even if they don’t believe in the same things as us. I want my kids to be kind and empathetic to those who don’t have the privileges they do.
Q. What is your biggest fear as a mother?
Malisa Because of my anxiety, my biggest fears tend to be about something bad happening to my kids, or that something will happen to me where I won’t be there to raise them. I really try to not let it impact me on a daily basis because we have to live our lives.
I also fear that I won’t be close to my daughters when they grow up, so I really want to focus on creating that close bond and trust that is needed for them to feel comfortable coming to me.
Q. What word would your kid (s) use to describe you? and why?
Malisa Being that they are still so young, I’m not sure they would have a specific descriptive word!
My older daughter would probably describe me by things I do for her, like make her smoothies, read her books, and watch cookie decorating videos with her before bed. Lately, she’s been thanking us for making dinner, so it feels nice to be recognized for the things I do to keep them healthy and happy!
My almost 2-year-old calls me “Bobby” about 80% of the time because that’s her daycare provider’s name, so I get really excited when she actually calls me mama! J
In the future, I hope they describe me as creative, engaged, present, caring, and loving. I know I won’t always be their best friend, but I hope they always trust me and are comfortable coming to me!
Q. What is one piece of advice you would give a new or expectant mother?
Malisa Don’t listen to other people’s advice! One thing isn’t going to work for every mom or baby. You have to find what you’re most comfortable with and what your baby likes.
Real advice: when you bring your baby home, everyone wants to come over and visit. You just birthed a baby, your nipples will be on fire, you will be bleeding, you maybe got one stretch of 2 hours of sleep the night before and you may not have showered for a few days. Do not feel bad about saying no to people in those early weeks if you are feeling overwhelmed. Your health and well-being are most important. Make your partner be the bad guy if you need to (especially if it’s his/her family), but get the rest you need. People can drop off meals on the steps and meet the baby when you feel like your life isn’t upside down.
Q. What do you wish your kid (s) knew about you?
Malisa That I have dreams and goals in life that I’m really trying to achieve. I have passions and hobbies that make me happy and have nothing to do with parenting them. That my husband and I aren’t only parents.
As a mom with young kids, it can be hard to not focus on your kids all of the time. I think it’s healthy to do things without your kids, and let them see that you have interests, and successes, that don’t include them. Now that my kids are out of the infancy stage, I definitely get out more on my own to focus on my hobbies and interests, and it has made me a better mom overall.
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