profile picture of Julie Pennell
Julie Pennell

What One Stay-at-Home Mom Learned From Her Own Mother

As a stay-at-home mom herself, Lorraine had plenty of wisdom to pass down to daughter Lauren.

When it comes to advice, Lauren Finore of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, knows the best tips come from people who have been in your situation. That’s one of the reasons she’s thankful for her mom Lorraine—the perfect source for tried-and-true advice about raising a child. “It’s amazing that she went through exactly what I’m going through,” Lauren says, adding that they both made the same choices on things like staying home with their kids. The two live nearby, making it easy for Lorraine to lend an extra hand in raising one-year-old Jimmy, especially since Lauren’s husband travels for work a couple of times a month. From the gentle reminders that things will get easier to her secrets for creating a happy baby environment, Lauren shares some of her mom’s most valuable wisdom.

Go with the flow “Growing up, I learned from my parents that it’s important to be flexible. For example, we try to get out of the house at a certain time for an event, but as we’re walking out the door, Jimmy may all of a sudden need a diaper change, or even worse, he ruined the car seat and now we have to scrub it and scrub him. Instead of being upset that we’ll be late, my husband and I look at each other and laugh. Our house is chaotic on a daily basis, but we call it ‘happy chaos.’ My parents taught me this joy in being flexible. Trusting that everything will work out is very important to a new mom because every day there are going to be things that are out of our control.”

Make time for independent moments “My mom made the choice to stay with my brother and me when we were growing up, and now I’m staying home with my son. It was the hardest decision I had to make because I was a professional with my own career, and giving that up made me feel like I lost my independence in a way. Many of my friends are working moms so I can’t really talk to them about it, but I can talk to my mom because she went through the exact same thing. She didn't have too much time away from my brother and me, and she felt the struggle. My mom told me she called her friend, who was also a new mom at the time, and cried to her saying, ‘I just want to book a hotel for one night so I can sleep without any interruptions.’ She shares that with me when she comes to give me a break, and I’ve learned that I’m a better mom when I come back from having some time to myself to clear my mind. Like yesterday, I was about to step into the shower when Jimmy got up. I asked my mom to rock him back to sleep so I could have a moment. As I was standing there in the shower, all I could think was, ‘This is amazing!’ Being a stay-at-home mom, I need some alone time, and my mom completely understands that.”

Savor the moments, even when they’re tough “The most important lesson I’ve learned from my mom has been to really savor every moment with my child because it doesn’t last, and I’ve seen that in action. He’s coming up on one year and I look back on the pictures thinking he’s growing so fast, and every day he’s doing something new. She tells me to try not to be so overwhelmed with my lack of sleep. I’m trying to remember that, especially when he’s wide awake in the middle of the night! But she also reminds me that when he has a hard time sleeping, he’s not trying to be difficult. And when he’s crying, it’s just because he doesn’t know how to communicate yet. ‘It’s temporary’ is something that she tells me a lot.”

Consistency is key “I’m lucky that my mom and I are able to be together a lot—and she’s been around my son 90 percent of the time. I spend a lot of time with her doing things like going on walks, heading to doctors’ appointments and attending church. Just this morning she mentioned how meaningful it is that our family is able to be together. She’s said before that consistency is so important for him—the people he’s around, the food he’s eating, the schedule he’s keeping. I think that helps us keep a very positive environment.”

Give yourself peace of mind “She sat me and my husband down and said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve had this conversation yet, and it might be a little awkward, but it’s important to discuss how Jimmy would be cared for if something happened to you.’ We were already thinking about getting life insurance but hearing it from my mom solidified our decision. It’s hard to think about it—not only death, but also if something were to happen and my husband couldn’t work anymore—but you want to give yourself peace of mind. Having insurance makes you feel more confident and comfortable.”

PHOTO: Matt Furman