Let's Talk Motherhood: In Conversation with Erika Linden
One of the goals of this space, in addition to having a journal of sorts chronicling my experiences in pregnancy and motherhood, is to share real talk and advice with like-minded women and mothers. As it turns out, the blogging and Insta world is brimming with inspiring women, which made kickstarting this interview series easy. So, in honour of Mother's Day this weekend, I'm happy to share with you the first installment featuring Erika Linden, mom of Soren (5½) and Poppy (3½), with a third baby due in August.
Where do you live?
Winnipeg, Manitoba - a city in the very centre of Canada.
What do you do? Are you a working mom, stay-at-home-mom, etc.?
I work in marketing, currently for a biotechnology company that manufactures oral health products for dogs! Last year I made the switch to work four days a week, and it has been wonderful. Having an extra day to be with the kids, get groceries, clean the house, meal prep, etc. has been so great for our family.
What hobbies do you love?
I love spending time with my family, if that counts as a hobby! I also love to bake, to entertain, to read when I have time, to travel, and to blog (also when I have time!).
You're currently pregnant with your third child. What have you done so far to prepare for baby?
Yikes – this is a bad question for a third baby! I have done very little to prepare so far… I think one of the things I’ve learned from having two kids is that babies do not need a lot. I plan to create a ‘baby nook’ in our master bedroom for the first few months of the baby’s life. We have three bedrooms, and I figured there was no need to rush the older two into a shared space just yet, even though they really want bunk beds. I’ve bought a couple things – some beautiful swaddle blankets and some new onesies. We also had to buy a new stroller, which I was luckily able to find second-hand.
Any prenatal products you can't live without?
Well, I dutifully take my pre-natal vitamins, and try to lather on moisturizer daily to keep my skin healthy and stretch marks at bay. I bought a pair of maternity jeans from H & M that I have lived in, and with the warmer weather on its way I hope to start wearing lots of loose, flowing maxi dresses.
What is your favourite way to pamper yourself during pregnancy?
A pre-natal massage! Lying on your stomach while pregnant is not really possible, for obvious reasons, so getting to lie on a comfy massage table with a cut-out for your belly is amazing. I also go to a weekly pre-natal yoga class, which I love. It’s the one time of the week where I can focus solely on myself and my growing baby… and stretching feels so good when you’re pregnant.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of pregnancy? The most enjoyable?
As a naturally busy person, I find it difficult to want to do so many things, but not be able to. I make to-do lists and then feel guilty for not checking anything off.
I love feeling the baby kick and move around, something that you pick up earlier with subsequent pregnancies. One of my favourite parts of the day is when I first wake up in the morning, and feel a little kick or roll. It’s like the baby is saying good morning!
What are your top 3 baby products that you'll be sure to have on hand once the baby is born?
Hmm… top 3? I love Aden and Anais swaddle blankets because they are so versatile. They work for swaddling, as a sun cover, as a burp cloth, a changing mat, and a nursing cover. I still have some that were gifted to me with my first son, and after hundreds of washes they look great and are super soft.
I plan to breastfeed if I’m able to, and I’ve learned from experience that I NEED a prescription nipple ointment. With my first son I honestly tried a dozen different creams, ointments, supplements, and old-wives tales. Finally, a pharmacist recommended this type of cream and my symptoms all went away. Breastfeeding went from agony to enjoyable, and I was able to nurse both kids for well over a year.
Baby-wearing is pretty much essential when you have other children, and I have a Solly Baby Wrap on my wish list. I’ve used other wraps and slings, and they are wonderful for soothing a fussy baby while at the same time being able to make dinner or do some light house-keeping. When the baby gets a little older I will transition to the Ergo Baby Carrier which is wonderful for walks and naps on the go.
What does a typical day look like for you and your family?
A typical day starts for us before 7, often with the four of us crammed into our queen-sized bed. I get up and get ready, and then wake the kids and get them dressed. We eat breakfast together – typically cereal, toast, or oatmeal, and then I walk my son to his bus stop. He’s in French-immersion kindergarten for half days, and an after-school program for the other half of the day. Once he’s on the bus I come home, gather my stuff for work, and say good-bye to my daughter and husband. I arrive at work around 8:15, which is about the same time my husband drops off our daughter at her wonderful Montessori program – which she goes to three days per week.
We are lucky in that my husband’s job is quite flexible, and he’s able to meet our son at the bus-stop at 3:45 and then pick up Poppy from Montessori. When I get home around 5, they are all likely reading books or perhaps watching Peppa Pig while my husband prepares dinner. He has become quite the chef in the last few months – something that I am grateful for! We eat dinner together, and try as hard as possible to get the kids to eat their vegetables. They are both somewhat picky, but will also surprise us by what they do like, such as roasted asparagus and spicy sausages.
This week soccer started, so three days a week we are at the soccer field from 6-7pm. It’s nice to enjoy the weather outside, as well as meet so many of our neighbours that we barely see during the long cold winters. Around 7:15 I try to get the kids into the bath, and then we follow up with books and songs in bed. Ideally they will be asleep by 8, which is when I come downstairs and start making lunches for the next day. Once my ‘duties’ are completed, I’ll sit down to edit photos or work on a blog post, or watch a tv show with my husband. I’ve been trying to read more this year, so I often end the day with a half hour or so of reading in bed. It’s a nicer way to wind down as compared to watching a drama on Netflix.
On ‘mommy days’ as my daughter calls them, which are Thursdays (my day off), Saturdays and Sundays, we often explore our city. We try new coffee shops, go for bike rides, visit museums, go to the farmers markets in the summer, or just hang out at the local playground. We spend lots of time together as a family, which we cherish.
What is your favourite activity to do as a family?
At this time of year I would have to say a family bike ride that lasts the entire day! The kids settle in to their bike carrier, and we hit up coffee shops, playgrounds, and anything else that looks like fun. However, I’m realizing that biking while 6 months pregnant may not be the best activity. After our first ride of the season last weekend, I was bragging about how great it was. Two days later I was sooo sore… and I worry that will only get worse at the pregnancy progresses.
How do you make time for yourself now that you have young children?
I love spending an hour at a yoga class or a ballet barre class, or even taking the dog for a long walk around our neighbourhood. In the winter, an evening at a bookstore or at the mall without kids is amazing. I will get a coffee and wander leisurely through stores, not worrying about any little hands breaking things or asking me to buy them toys.
How do you keep your marriage strong after children?
This is a work in progress for us, and I honestly don’t think we’ve quite got it figured out. We try to spend time together when we can, but I think more planning is needed. For years I’ve been talking about getting a standing baby-sitter a couple times a month, but it’s never quite happened. On the days when we do go on dates, just the two of us, we always say ‘We need to do this more often!’
What is the best piece of advice you've received about motherhood?
Hmm… probably that everything is a stage. When you have a 4-month old going through a sleep regression, you fear it will never end. It will. The same goes for a 10-month old who won’t let you out of his sight… even to go to the bathroom. This too shall pass. And when your two year old hits another kid at the playground? You’ll look at your sweet four year old and wonder how they are even the same person! Everything passes, but this means both the good and the bad. I would take a day of baby-clinginess right now, as my oldest is about to turn six. While you’re in the moment you think it will never end, but one day you’ll look back on those moments and wish you could re-live them.
What is your sweetest motherhood memory?
This is a tough one! Probably the sweetest little voice telling me ‘I wuv you, mama’ without any prompting!
Any advice for new moms out there?
Trust your instincts, go with the flow, don’t read a lot of parenting books… ha! No seriously, if you have friends or family who are parents, I think they have the best advice available, and best of all you get to hear it straight from them. A conversation can go a long way, especially in the newborn days when you may feel a little isolated or lonely. Parenting books have some good advice, for sure, but I gained so much more from several mom groups that I was a part of.