Laura Olstad Blankstein | Another Mother Her Way
Laura Olstad Blankstein has a generosity, warmth and style to her that comes through in her work and personal life (and her Instagram). But nothing has brought all that out more than motherhood. Laura has two smiley children, Chloe and Ford, and after starting that chapter in her life she left a reputed firm to start her own independent design practice - LOB Interiors. Laura candidly talks about moving closer to family, small business stress and learning that it is ok to ask for help as a self-employed, stay-at-home mom.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
Well besides the obvious…stretch marks, exhaustion, and some extra lbs. I became content. So much of life I have spent worrying about what is next; where am I going to college, where am I moving, what job I should apply for, what I am doing next weekend…the list goes on. Honestly, once I became a mom I stopped thinking about what is next and more about what is now. I think it stems from knowing that I have always wanted children, and as cheesy as it may sound, the second Chloe was in my arms I felt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I also found a sense of confidence and appreciation after child birth. I had a realization that I was stronger than I could have ever imagined and that I was so lucky to have my husband by my side (even despite him almost passing out while I got the epidural). Becoming a mother also meant we became parents and I felt so lucky to have him as my partner in this whole parenting thing.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
When I was 6 months pregnant my husband and I made the decision to move to California from Chicago. It was an incredibly hard choice because we have the most amazing family and friends who live there and we were so happy in Chicago. As we discussed the pros and cons to moving we both knew that we wanted our children to live in a place where they were exposed to the outdoors all year long; which is a bit tricky in Chicago with its lovely winter weather. We also had my entire family out here including 5 nieces and nephews. It was important to us that our children grew up playing and learning from their cousins as well as having the appreciation for beautiful land that Northern California has to offer.
Besides deciding to move, I also quit my job at a very well known design firm and started my own business. I can’t tell you how much insecurity and doubt I had about going off on my own. I questioned whether I was good enough on a daily basis. Yet, over time I realized that the only one doubting me was me; and as I mentioned above, after I gave birth I got this sense of confidence that I was strong and capable. Trust me, I still have days where I can’t sleep because I’m worried a client won’t LOVE what I selected for them; but I know I am trying my best. As long as I can say that then I am cool with whatever the end result is.
And to the question would I do it again? 100% Yes!
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
I swear if I wasn’t laughing at the crazy stuff that comes with being a mom then I would lose my mind! When you are in the thick of potty training, sleep training, baby proofing, nursing and everything else in between you need to be able to laugh when sh*t hits the fan….or floor because we didn’t get to the potty in time :)
Sorry, sort of an obvious one. Not a day goes by I don’t tell them multiple times how much I love them.
When things are tough I talk about them. When things are great I talk about them. I don't sugar coat or hide how I feel. Being honest about the highs and lows of motherhood is crucial. We all have our moments and knowing other moms do to is so reassuring!
The kind of mother I want to be is one that my children can come to for anything. I hope they grow up knowing that I am here for them no matter what!
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
Reading and journaling….Just kidding!
Although I wish I was someone like that, at the end of the day I am just too wiped out to sit down to write about my day and or read about someone else’s. The way I decompress after a long day is a good glass of wine and whatever trash TV is on my DVR. I sound so sophisticated right? But seriously, relaxing on the sofa and catching up on whatever show we are binge watching helps me reset for the next day.
I also found that getting a manicure makes me feel great. Especially on the days were I have purposely put on workout clothes so other people think I could only look this bad because I just came from an intense workout at the gym. When the true story is that I just haven’t showered in two days and I was barely able to brush my teeth between meltdowns and getting the kids fed, dressed and in the car. On those days I am so grateful that I have taken time to get my nails done. It may sound insignificant, but seeing my nice manicure while I change a diaper or help my daughter try on her 7th outfit reminds me that I still have it…somewhere behind that fake gym outfit and unwashed hair I am still sort of put together.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
My biggest advocate who helped me find balance was my husband. It took me a long time to get comfortable to ask for help. I felt guilty wanting other people to watch my kids. In being self-employed and wanting to prove I could also be the stay at home mom, I felt that I needed to do it all by myself. It was my husband who told me time and time again that he wanted me to have help. He wanted me to have a few days where I could focus on work or just me so I wouldn’t get lost in all the things moms do. When our daughter turned one, I finally caved and we got a part-time nanny who now comes twice a week for a few hours. I feel fortunate that we are able to have her help and I don’t know why it took me so long to be convinced that it was ok to ask for a few hours a week to be away from the kids.
Aside from that, my family is my rock and that includes my nearest and dearest friends (who are family to me). I honestly get choked up writing about it. Being able to shoot a text asking for help to watch the kids so I can run a last minute client meeting or calling them to get together for a mid afternoon lunch because I need to break up the day is everything! Even a simple FaceTime call to Chicago or New York gives me the support I need. Every person needs a community where they can be themselves to laugh, vent or cry at any time. I am lucky that my chosen community starts with my family.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
Hmmmm where do I begin??
Right now my hot topic is patience! What mother isn’t working on this? I just want to try harder to take a moment before I react. It’s so easy to get frustrated but I am trying to remind myself that these little people are learning everything from me so I have to practice what I preach.