by Melissa Lawrence
as told to Julie Weingarden Dubin
I always wanted a big family but sometimes it’s hard to believe I had five kids in 6-1/2 years. My kids (ages 8, 7, 5, 3 and 1), are closely spaced (13, 19, 21, and 22 months) apart. From September 2003, through December 2011, I was basically either pregnant or nursing. The toughest part was bringing home a new baby when my first was only 13 months old and moving the same month! After that, everything seemed easier.
My secret is organization. Coordinating everything is how I survive. In my house everyone eats the same thing, everyone naps at the same time and on most days my kids do the same activities. I’m a huge fan of early bedtimes — by 7:30 it's lights out and that gives me a few hours to get my act together.
The tricky thing about having a lot of kids at once is feeling like you can't meet everyone's needs at all times. My children certainly have moments when they want me all to themselves, and those moments tend to be the hardest for me because I feel stressed and inadequate — like I’m not being a good enough mom. But as my life kept getting busier, I sort of learned not to stress too much about the little ups and downs. When I paid less attention to the hiccups, I found that my kids were more settled.
I started the parenting website, CloudMom, right after the birth of my fifth child, Marielle, in December 2010. Back when I had my first baby I had such a hard time getting a handle on breastfeeding and caring for a newborn that many days I barely made it into the shower, let alone out of the house! By the time I had Marielle, I felt that I had my own little systems and routines that made things easier for me.
I was dying to share what I had been through and learned, so I started filming videos right in the baby's nursery! Having had a prior internet video business (I was the co-founder of a company called JuiceBoxJungle) and a background in entertainment (I worked at HBO for many years) video had become my passion. So from that CloudMom (my sixth baby) was born.
CloudMom is a comprehensive video resource for moms offering practical advice. We have more than 100 videos on the first year with your baby — everything from breastfeeding to choosing strollers. We also produce vlogs on issues and create text content where I weigh in on things that are trending in the parenting space. I’ve been through it and I tell it like it is.
CloudMom is truly a labor of love for me. I enjoy talking about babies and kids and sharing what I’m going through as a mom. And after years of working in a corporate job, I love that I can work from home, see my kids when they barrel through the door or my littlest when she wakes up from her nap. I feel really blessed to have those moments with them each day while working on something I find so rewarding.
I hope my kids learn the value of family and of working hard at something they love. I feel blessed to have children and I feel grounded by how much I love them… something really crappy can happen and I’ll think, I have these beautiful kids, this is not such a big deal. I believe in following my gut.
Everyone thought we were nuts to have all of these kids but we did it because it was in our hearts. It won’t be easy, but I’m happy to have the challenge.
Take a deep breath and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We look at other moms and say, “Oh, she’s got it together... she’s totally happy all the time… ” But we all have our ups and downs. If we admit this, we take the pressure off each other. It’s also important to follow your gut. Instinct is a part of our intelligence and it can guide you.
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