This past weekend saw the close of my latest interior design project: our office play nook. I never saw myself as the type of mom to give my kids a playroom, especially not in our modestly sized home. The advent of the whole playroom thing is a maximalist American trend that milks the excess of space in oversized suburban homes for what it's worth; playrooms aren't the norm in most other countries. Admittedly, most suburban homes in the U.S. are blessed with more square footage than an average sized family knows what to do with, hence, all the non-essential luxury spaces like: walk-in closets, guest rooms, offices, man caves, and, you guessed it, playrooms. Granted, I'm sure that there are plenty of smaller scale American homes that can afford to sacrifice certain spaces for the nonessential purposes of childhood recreation. Ours is an example of the latter, a home that covers our family's needs beyond measure without being incongruously huge; we are a family of four after all, and our open-concept 1400 square foot townhome is comfortable enough to grant us the luxury of personal space while keeping us close together all the same. We don't need more than that and could honestly live with less.
Our home is a standard 3 bed/2.5 bath, and because our children are still quite young, they will be room-sharing until their personal needs for privacy increase, freeing up one room in the house which, up until recently, was used exclusively as an office/workspace. Now, if you read my kid clutter post, you know that one of my secrets to controlling kid clutter is by creating play nooks throughout the more frequently inhabited areas of the home, play nooks that are easy to tidy and aesthetically harmonious with the home's design. In our case, the two areas in which we spend most of our day are the living room (downstairs) and the office (upstairs).
That said, we didn't have such a play corner upstairs which often led to file boxes being opened, office supplies being displaced, and electronics being mishandled at the curious hands of our two year old. My husband and I spend a fair amount of time in our office space. For him it's a place to pore over legal documents, communicate with clients, and advance his secondary career as a writer. For me, it's where I grade papers, plan lessons, write blog posts, and pump (usually while doing all of the above). We never leave our children downstairs without supervision (or anywhere for that matter), so we take them with us to the office when we need to work. Given the time that we spend up there, it's important that we share this space peacefully with our children.
The play corner strategy has proven to be an effective one for adulting in harmony with toddling toddlers; the play table in our living room keeps our two year old from exploring our very interesting kitchen cabinets and scaling our oh-so-climbable bookcases. Very rarely do I find myself redirecting in this area of our home so in order to achieve this same effect in the office, we'd need to create a play nook there too. I decided that the play nook would need to be entertaining enough to keep her from venturing into our workspace. It would also need to be gender neutral for baby brother to grow into, take up relatively little real-estate in the way of square footage, and run on lots of imagination fuel, maximizing the pretend-play possibilities well beyond their toddler years. And, because I'm a self-proclaimed design snob, it would have to look whimsical enough for children without being too cringy for adults.
After much brainstorming, pinning, visualizing and ultimately putting it all together, here are the results...
Throughout most of my home I've stayed within a muted color palette of soft grays, whites, and varying shades of taupe with selective pops of divergent color. However, I decided that for the sake of making this play nook the happiest little place in the house, I myself would play outside of the comfort zone of my usual color choices. I'm quite satisfied with the synergy of the colors and patterns that I chose. I love the interaction between the cool, soothing mint and warm, cheery coral; these soft pastels add color without being loud and overstimulating. The pattern play between the tribal print on the teepee and the rugby stripes on the area rug keeps things visually interesting without getting too busy. The result is that perfectly balanced sweet spot between playtime and downtime.
I chose as the centerpiece of the play nook, a trendy mint teepee with a subtle southwestern pattern. The selection of a teepee over another play table or a mini playhouse was intentional. The teepee, much like the play table downstairs, is a natural gathering point, which means most of the active play time and toy clutter will gravitate towards the teepee and not all over the office floor. In addition, it has that "grow with me" quality that I look for in larger ticket children's items; I can see the teepee evolving with my children as they go from playing "house," to having sleepovers, to using it as a cozy reading/study nook. Heck! Even I love hanging out in this teepee and I'm well into my twenties.
I dressed up the teepee with a few throw pillows, one on each side to hold open the flaps of the entryway. These pillows make the teepee an even cozier place to snuggle up with a good book or have an afternoon tea party with a few stuffed animal friends. I particularly love the way the messages on these pillows align so perfectly with the notion of exploration and happiness through imagination. Within the teepee, I've placed a "hot air balloon"canvas bin that holds their "upstairs toys" and a couple of cuddly blankets. When not in use, the toy bin is tucked away discretely in the corner of the teepee.
On the main wall we hung 18 inch white wooden letters that spell out the very function of the nook, defining the space and setting it apart from the office function of the room. They were a pain to hang, as the holes on the backs of the letters were poorly planned but my tenacious and clever husband overcame the impractical design. And I'm glad he did, as I really like the way that the letters add dimension to the wall without outshining the pieces in the forefront.
I added a sense a whimsy to my children's personalized reading chairs by accenting them with these fun cloud and sun pillows. The chairs are the regular-sized Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chairs, which I happened to catch on sale. I wouldn't recommend purchasing without a generous coupon, as they are overpriced. These chairs come in three different sizes. I chose to go with the medium size because the smallest looked like it wouldn't last past the toddler years and the largest was not significantly larger than the regular chair. I've personally sat in my kids' Anywhere Chairs and I find them to be supportive enough for my adult height and weight, comfy even, so I expect that these will be "grow with me" type items that can be used for years to come.
At the far left corner of the nook, I've styled the narrow vertical wall space with a playful unicorn head, a vibrant "Happy Place" sign, and a whimsical cloud-shaped bookshelf. The shelf is quite stable but I wouldn't load it up with much more than a small selection of books as it isn't designed to hold a lot of weight. I rotate the books from the nursery library weekly so that the selection on the cloud shelf is always fresh for teepee time.
By far, my favorite design choice for styling the teepee has got to be these LED fairy string lights. They were fairly inexpensive and do not need to be plugged into any outlets. I simply wrapped them around the poles and let them hang down the sides of the teepee fabric. My daughter loves turning them on at night before bed; it makes story time so much more magical and "hyggelig."
Perhaps having a play nook like ours does not align with minimalism in the strictest sense but it does align with a few of the principles of domestic minimalism: the intentionality of surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy and setting strict limits on clutter. We've been mindful to avoid filling this space with an excess of toys by limiting toy storage to one modest toy bin (if the toys don't fit, it's time to declutter). Unlike most playrooms, the idea behind our nook is not to house an abundance of toys; toys are not the main attraction. It's the teepee and reading chairs that are the true stars of the play nook, acting as the launch pad for the most minimalist plaything children have: imagination.
I hope this tour of our play nook has inspired you to take on some new creative design projects in your home, for yourself or for your children. Thank you as always for your readership.
Lately, there's been a word trending on social media that has caught my attention as a language teacher and has captured my heart as a minimalist. It is neither English, Spanish, nor Portuguese (the languages in which I am proficient) and doesn't seem to have an equivalent term in any of these languages. You may have noticed the #hygge hashtag popping up on Instagram. "Hygge," pronounced "hoo-guh," is a Danish word that encapsulates a feeling of contentment and well-being that is homely and charming yet luxurious in a uniquely understated way. The danes are some of the happiest people in the world, despite their long, dark winters, and many attribute their satisfaction in life to making a little time for "hygge."
Hygee is low-key luxury. It is not loud or proud. It isn't about treating oneself to retail therapy when stressed or taking expensive get-away vacations when tired. It's about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere at home, alone or with friends, an atmosphere that feeds one's passion for the here, the now, and the everyday. It is about being present, acknowledging the little things and emphasizing them with rituals that make them all the more delightful. Rushing through your first break of the day while chugging down insipid powdered coffee in a styrofoam cup that's been reheated for the third time this morning (any fellow teachers out there feelin' me?) is clearly not hygge. Making time on a quiet evening to sip your favorite hot beverage in a pretty vintage tea cup while wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket and engulfed by the plush cushions of a large chaise as you admire the orange sunset outside a nearby window... now that is hygge.
You may think that your life is too noisy and fast-paced for such quiet, slow pleasures, but truthfully, hygge is the best medicine for an overtired person who is half-heartedly shuffling through the motions. Hygge can be made to fit into anyone's routine no matter what their work schedule or personal life is like. It's all about identifying opportunities to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
So now that you know what hygge is, let's talk about some ways to bring it into your home. Today I'll be discussing 4 ways you can achieve a "hyggelig" atmosphere through vision and sound, visual hygge and auditory hygge respectively. (Be sure to look out for Part 2 of my Two-Part series on hygge where I'll be discussing the social, gustatory, tactile, and olfactory dimensions of hygge and sharing 4 ways to create them at home.)
1. Visual Hygge: Use Warm Accent Lighting
Minimalist blogger, Jenny Mustard, said it best when she stated in her hygge themed video, "Overhead ceiling light is where hygge goes to die." There is nothing more harsh and unforgiving than overhead ceiling light. It does nothing to flatter our features and nothing to enhance our mood. If you want your space to feel inviting and intimate, especially in the evenings, when there is little natural light pouring into your home, strategically placed table lamps and floor lamps are the way to go.
Back when I was a student attending university and living in the dorms, I inherited a vintage emerald green floor lamp from my roommate, a gift that I couldn't have appreciated more given the cold cell-like nature of most dorm rooms; if standard household ceiling light is where hygge goes to be killed then overhead dormitory light is where hygge goes to be massacred. The happy light the vintage lamp cast on our bland, sad walls transformed our dorm from a prison cell to a charming studio apartment. It truly was the perfect complement to our quiet evenings in, when we would engage in all sorts of philosophical discussions, trying to sort out all the mysteries of the universe over a pot of rosemary tea. We never dared touch the light switches. That kind of lighting was far too severe and "un-hygge" for our cozy evening tea.
Although table lamps and floor lamps are very effective ways to warm up a living space, they are not the only pathways to creating visual hygge through accent lighting. String lights, fairy lights, and lanterns are also enchanting ways to bring a tender glow to your home. Feel free to hang a few lanterns and dress the headboard of your bed with string lights or, better still, drape them over the frame of your favorite window. If you're looking for something even more atmospheric than what incandescent accent lighting can provide, keep reading. The most fool-proof source of visual hygge is next.
Note how I've strategically arranged table the lamps in our living room to hug the area where we spend time together as a family or with guests. This intimate area of kinship and togetherness is made all the more intimate while enveloped by the warm glow emitted from the lamps. The choice of lamps also helps establish a sense of hygge. For instance, the rustic aesthetic of the large lamp that sits at the corner of the sofa table appeals to the rural aesthetic of hygge, as it is unsophisticated and casual yet luxurious all the same.
2. Visual Hygge: Light Candles
Lighting a candle is no doubt the fastest and simplest way to achieve visual hygge in the home. On dark and stormy Miami days, I personally love to light a lavender scented candle on my sofa table and cuddle with my children on the couch. If my children are napping at the same time (almost never happens!), I relish that rare silence by candlelight. Lighting a candle brings a sense of mysticism to even the most mundane setting. There's a reason candles are used in so many different rites of passage, from birthdays to Christmas. The soft, flickering glow of candlelight draws the focus away from any detractors that may rob sacred moments of their sanctity and highlights what is most important: the here and now.
There are many ways to incorporate the comforting warmth of candlelight into everyday activities. You can bathe by candlelight in the evenings, make a lit candle the centerpiece of your dining table at mealtimes, or light a candle on your nightstand while you lose yourself in a chapter of your favorite book before bed. Perhaps a realistic flameless candle is the way to go if you fear that your rambunctious toddler will knock your lit candle right off the table, an unfortunate event that, apart from being hazardous to your family, is hazardous to your hygge: instant hygge killer. Whatever you decide, just be sure to keep your home environment free of neurotoxins by choosing naturally scented soy candles or purifying beeswax candles over the mainstream artificial kind which are some of the biggest players in the problem of domestic air pollution.
3. Auditory Hygge: Make Time for Silence
No one appreciates the value of silence as much as a teacher. As a teacher myself, some of the most revitalizing moments in my day are those short breaks where my students are out for specials and the classroom, a place constantly booming with the sounds of book bags rolling in and the echoing thunder of students' voices as they collaborate on learning tasks, is overcome by an unusual silence. After a storm of active learning, surging with the brilliant and satisfying sparks of "ah-ha!" moments, comes a much needed calm.
Our lives are filled with so much noise, whether we are teachers, students, office workers, or stay-at-home parents. Whatever it is that we do for work, whatever our livelihood, noise is bound to infiltrate our work space and living space. Sometimes it's a jarring physical noise, like the honking sound of car horns at a traffic halt as you make your commute. Sometimes it's the mental static that keeps you up at night, robbing you of sleep as you yourself ponder how you are going to rob Peter to pay Paul. Sometimes these noises are wonderful, such as the sound of students engaged in learning. Sometimes it's an intellectual wave of thoughts and ideas that inspire us to take on new creative projects. Whatever the source, it is important to make time for silence in our space.
Turn off the television, power off the phone and all other electronics, turn down the lights, and just be still and "enjoy the silence" (yes, like the Depeche Mode song). You can take this time to meditate for mental clarity or perhaps start on that book you've been meaning to read for a while. If you are a Christian like me, this is an opportune moment to put yourself in the Lord's presence, as it is often in the sanctity of silence that we can hear Him answering our prayers, those same prayers our hearts whisper throughout our noisy days.
4. Auditory Hygge: Play Sentimental Music
Although there's a certain sacred quality to silence that makes it a special way to bring auditory hygge into our lives, there is also a soul-kindling quality to playing soothing, mood-setting music that is just as transformative. I have fond memories as a child of my mother preparing dinner with the lights turned down and Dulce Pontes's "Lagrimas" album playing in the background. The delicious smells filling the kitchen and mingling with the ethereal yet rustic sound of Pontes' rendition of "Povo que lavas no rio" is a nostalgic memory that has been forever imprinted on my heart. Whenever I need to break the monotony of daily tasks, such as setting the table and prepping dinner, I load up my favorite "fado" on Pandora and let myself become inspired.
If you don't know what "fado" is, it is another one of those words that has no true translation in English; perhaps the closest translation would be "fate" given it's similar linguistic layout. The Portuguese word "fado" refers to a genre of music that is unique to the Portuguese culture. Although much of fado is typically mournful and expresses "saudade" or longing, many fados are songs about everyday life in the rural countryside and by the sea that are contemplative but not necessarily tragic. It's this "rustic" quality that makes fado such a hyggelig experience for me, personally. Your choice of background music doesn't have to be fado but if you want to be swept away by the hauntingly beautiful sounds and voices of the mountainous Portuguese countryside, dotted with a charming array of fish markets, cow pastures, and ancient Roman abbeys, all from the comfort of your own home, I recommend running a Pandora search for Dulce Pontes, Amalia Rodrigues, or Maritza.
Ultimately, whatever your choice of soul-soothing music, whether Chopin, Barry White, or Fado itself, let it put the magic back into your cozy evening and transform an ordinary evening at home into a stirring, rustic experience. So pick your favorite sentimental track. And, to be clear, by sentimental I don't mean sad or angry, just something charming that makes you feel warm inside and makes your hairs stand on end because of it's overwhelming loveliness ("algo que te eriza la piel," as we say in Spanish). This is not the time to listen to break-up tracks nor is it the time to rock out to "melt your face metal," as my husband would say. So save that Slayer album for another time.
There you have it: 4 ways to make your home look and sound warmer, cozier, and hyggelig.
Stay tuned next week for Hygge Part 2: 4 More Ways to Have a Hyggelig Home, where I will be discussing ways to enhance the social, gustatory, tactile and olfactory dimensions of this wonderful philosophy.
What is your favorite way to create visual/auditory hygge? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, stay cozy, friends!
Clutter-free and toddlers don't usually come together in the same sentence, much less in the same room. But it doesn't have to be this way. Whenever family or friends come to visit I often hear them say, "Do your kids have toys?" and "Do kids even live here?". The answer to these is: yes and yes. Yes, my kids have plenty of toys. And, yes, they live here. But the fact that we have small children doesn't have to be self-evident in every space of our home. Here are my tips for keeping "kid clutter" under control.
1. Keep Toys Hidden in Plain Sight
I'm going to start with the cleverest clutter-busting tip on this list, the one that has saved our home from looking like one giant play zoo: invest in furniture that serves a dual purpose, its hidden function being storage. All of our "toy boxes" have both an adult function and a child function. For instance, we don't own a coffee table in our home. Instead, we use a large faux leather storage ottoman as our "coffee table." It also doubles as a foot rest or extra seating when we have lots of guests over. But perhaps the best kept secret is that our ottoman is home to my toddler's larger ticket toys like her dollhouse, cars, trucks (yes, girls can play with trucks!) and a number of stuffed animals. And since it's made of a wipeable faux leather material, it also functions as our downstairs diaper changing station. Three functions in one.
We swiped up this ottoman at Home Goods for under $100 when we were furnishing our honeymooners' apartment way back in our newlywed days. Back then, it was primarily used as our "Netflix and Chill" foot rest or seating for when my husband and I used to do some gaming after dinner, you know, before children happened. Little did we know 6 years later we'd be finding so many new uses for it!
Another example of the functionality of a dual-purpose storage piece is this tufted bench I picked up at Walmart for a little over $50 when we first moved into our house. I've seen similar benches at Home Goods and Target at reasonable price ranges. I chose to style this little bench with a few coordinating throw pillows to make it more "hygge." I've also accented it with a framed reproduction of my favorite Klimpt, a tapestry that my husband and I picked up at a busy Florentine market years ago on our Italian honeymoon. This sentimental artwork aggrandizes the tiny bench that would otherwise get lost in the long, empty vertical space above it (we have 11 foot ceilings downstairs). For adults, this is a cozy little spot to page through a book from our nearby bookcase. For our children, this is the place where major playtime decisions are made. The space blends so seamlessly with the rest of the house that there is no way you'd ever guess that this is my daughter's primary toy box!
Within the bench, I've sorted out my kids' smaller toys by type and placed them in clear plastic bins that are easy to grab and put back. As a rule of thumb, I don't let my daughter play with with more than two boxes at the same time. She would have to put everything back in the boxes and deposit them back into the "toy chest" before grabbing a new box. These bins have been a major play time game-changer. Before we got them, picking out all these Peppa Pig figurines and Fisher Price Little People from the bottom of the bench was a dreadful undertaking! She'd literally have to empty the whole bench just to find the "Happy Birthday" Peppa or "Skye" from Paw Patrol. The bins have seen to that. All that's left to do is label them.
If you don't have storage furniture you can always find creative uses for furniture that you already own. The lower drawers in your TV cabinet or a beautiful basket at the bottom of your end table can serve as good places to store toys away.
Aside from toys, another source of "kid clutter" that I like to keep out of sight when not in use is the diaper caddy. Containing diapers, burp cloths, toiletries and clothes in one place such as a caddy or basket is a good idea but an even better idea is to keep it somewhere accessible when needed but hidden in plain sight when not in use.
I like to "hide" our diaper caddy on the bottom shelf of an end table in our living room, where I spend most of the day with my kids. The end table is also very close to the storage ottoman that I love to use as a makeshift changing station.
2. Invest in Quality Play Furniture
I know it may be tempting for a frugal minimalist to want to purchase a budget-friendly plastic play table in loud colors that may or may not have popular preschool characters on it. And a more extreme minimalist mother may forgo the play table altogether and that's cool. If you're either of these types of mommas, do you, girl! You know your family's needs best. As for for me, I find that I'm somewhere in between. I want my kids to have a play station where I can "contain the chaos" and keep the clutter off of the floor. But I also want it to be aesthetically pleasing because, quite frankly, I'm a home decor brat. I'm the reason companies like Pottery Barn Kids and The Land of Nod exist! I'm selfish, like pretty things, and can't bear to let Disney and Sesame Street furnish my home.
The play table I chose to give my daughter for Christmas is the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow With You Activity Table. Yes, a pricey choice, I know. But I was very intentional about this purchase. I wanted to invest in a table that is not only beautiful, blending seamlessly enough with our home that we wouldn't need to hide it or "tolerate" it, but also one that would grow with our children. The Carolina table has been a wonderful choice because of its height and upgradable features. The height of the table and chairs is comfortable enough for my daughter and I to play for hours. The wood is definitely sturdy enough to support an adult. I can attest to this as my daughter enthusiastically seats every grandparent, aunt, and uncle that visits at her table. Perhaps the best part is that when my kids outgrow the pretend play phase, we have the option to evolve it into a homework/study station.
You certainly don't have to go the pricey Pottery Barn route. Companies like Target, Ikea, and Melissa & Doug offer beautiful, high quality play tables at much lower price points. But if you do decide to go through Pottery Barn Kids, make sure you wait for a 20-25% coupon with free shipping to get the most bang for your buck. It certainly reduced the price of our table significantly!
The take-home message of this tip is to look around for play furniture that doesn't make you cringe, that fits into your space without creating visual clutter (like a brightly colored character themed table might), and blends seamlessly with your decor. We chose to go with a white table because our home has a lot of white accents. But if your home is furnished with natural wood-grain textures, an unpainted wood table might be a better option for you. Find what makes you happy so that you don't feel like you need to wince every time you look at it, especially when you're trying to soak in you home's ambiance. Your kids honestly won't care what it looks like so long as they have a little place in your family room to claim as their own.
3. Create Simple and Elegant Play Nooks throughout your Home
Once you've invested in some quality play furniture and identified hidden storage solutions around your home, it's time to create play nooks in the main areas of your home. Simplicity is key here because in order to keep clutter under control, the play nook needs to be sensibly styled so that it is easy to tidy. We live in a bilevel home and spend most of our day in the family room so logically, this is the best location for our downstairs play nook. The play table currently sits by a corner window of the family room, a short distance from the storage ottoman and the tufted bench (from Tip #1) so all my daughter has to do is walk over to either of these, choose the toys she wants to play with, and take them to her table. Here she plays with her dollhouse, has tea parties, reads books, and colors. The possibilities are endless! However, the playtime chaos is confined, for the most part, to this corner of the family room, which makes tidying up at the end of the day fast and easy.
Upstairs, I'm currently creating another play nook in the office, where my husband or I spend a good portion of our evenings, writing, working, grading papers, lesson planning, etc. In our current home, a modest 3 bed/2 bath, we don't have a spare room to designate as the "playroom" nor do we want one because it is a better use of space to combine the play space with the office so that the kids are under constant supervision while we work. Since this particular play nook is completely separate from the more formal areas of the home, such as the family room and dining room, I've chosen to go with more color here while still keeping it simple, elegant and minimal. In the current image, the play nook is still missing a few finishing touches. There will be a future post on how the office play nook turns out so stay tuned!
4. Donate and Declutter Regularly
Finally, it's always a good idea to regularly assess what we've accumulated, what gets used regularly and what has fallen out of use, that way, we don't have to worry about clutter overcoming our carefully planned storage systems and play nooks. I often hear parents complain about how the toys are always out in the open because there simply isn't enough room in the toy box or playroom anymore. If this is happening to you and the kid clutter is robbing you of your inner domestic peace, it's time to assess how many toys there are in total, which ones get played with and which ones are played out.
My children are two and under so I am presently in direct control of which toys we keep and which ones we donate. Regular decluttering prevents the quantity of toys from building up. As a rule of thumb, any occasion in which toys are received, such as Christmas and birthdays, are used as opportunities to declutter. Whenever our children receive a gift, we go through the toys they already own and see what can be donated to make room for this new toy. Kids grow so fast at this stage that there's always at least one toy they've outgrown. Same goes for clothing but wardrobe management is a topic for another day.
If your children are old enough to make responsible decisions about their belongings, get them involved in the process of going through each toy or game, deciding how often each one gets played with and determining if it holds any sentimental value. Some things may not be played with often but may trigger a strong emotional response, such as a fond memory of the person that gave it to them. It's important to be able to distinguish between honoring the sentimental value of a certain toy and justifying the hoarding of toys that no longer "spark joy," as organization guru, Marie Kondo, would say. The decluttering process is a lesson in mindfulness. It's a lesson in gratitude, in acknowledging the good fortune of simply having objects that bring us joy. It's also a lesson in giving up some of what you have for the happiness of others and not holding onto more than what you need to be happy. It's a lesson I wish I'd had more hands-on opportunities to learn as a child but that I hope to share with my own children when they are old enough to understand.
It is my sincere hope that even one of these tips has been helpful to anyone struggling with reclaiming their inner domestic peace amid the wonderful chaos that is "kid clutter." Thanks for your readership.
About la maestra:
Bienvenidos! Bem-vindos! I'm Ali, a World Language maestra from Miami who went from hard-core maximalist to soft-core minimalist upon becoming a mother. The flexible form of minimalism that I practice, domestic minimalism, allows me to run my household efficiently and foster a home free of clutter and full of joy for my whole family. This is where I record my experiences as a wife, working mother of two, and homemaker. Thanks for stopping by.