While I soak up this precious newborn time, I’ve asked a few of my friends if they wanted to contribute a guest post for my blog! Today I’m excited to introduce my Insta-Turned-IRL friend, Sam. I have been following Sam on Instagram for a while and we recently met for the first time (though it felt like we had known each other for years)! While I love her drool worthy interiors and wanderlust-inducing travels, I have most appreciated following her motherhood journey. You can catch up on Sam’s blog here & follow her on Instagram @samanthavarvel.
Hi! My name is Sam, and I am so honored to be able to write a guest post here today and help give Carly a much-deserved opportunity to rest and take in her first few weeks as a new mom! (Maternity leave is so important!) I have found so much joy in following Carly over the years through the various stages of her life. We have gone through many of the same milestones around the same time, from college to postgraduate days in New York City, and she has always been such a cheerful source of inspiration to me. I am just totally flattered she would invite me here and am so excited to see her enter such a special new phase in her life as she has welcomed her beautiful baby Jack home. I know she will embrace this new role with love, positivity, and classic style, as she does with everything in her life!
I thought a lot about what I could possibly write that would be worthy to Carly’s readers right now, and decided nothing could be more pertinent than the topic of motherhood, as Carly is transitioning into her new life as a mom. I became a mother myself just over two years ago when my baby boy Peter was born. I was 27 and about four years into a career in finance in New York City. I have since welcomed my second baby, a little girl named Kit, in March, to our new home in the suburbs (Connecticut). All the while I’ve been documenting the things I love over on my insta and samanthavarvel.com, which has been my creative outlet when I have a rare free moment!
There are so many facets to the experience of new motherhood that deserve exploring; it’s hard to focus in on just one! But the aspect I feel most strongly about that has helped me embrace and enjoy my new life as “mom” to the fullest extent has been finding a way to keep those things about myself that I loved and enjoyed pre-baby and making them a major part of my new life as a “mom.” Maybe that sounds trite, but I personally think this is the key to finding true joy in the process, even with all of its ups and downs (believe me, adjusting to TWO kids has had me in a complete tailspin many days). I love being Peter and Kit’s mom, and it’s my favorite part of myself now, but I don’t think that means – for me or for anyone – that I have to give up the parts of life that I enjoyed before! Meshing all the unique components of myself into a new life that I love has been the magic of this chapter. For me, that spans from personal style, to home decor, and my love of travel, and I wanted to share a little bit about how I prioritize these things in my life!
STYLE (FOR BABY AND ME!)
When I first found out I was expecting for the first time, I immediately began envisioning bows and florals and lace and all those adorable things for a baby girl. I am the first child in my family and I just never imagined anything other than having a girl first! I was in for a surprise when the ultrasound technician told us unusually early that we were having a boy. But I now say all the time that having a boy was THE most wonderful surprise of my life. I could never imagine anything other than Peter – he is pure joy and love, more than I could ever wish for. AND I have had the most fabulous time dressing him up.
I perhaps get more of a thrill out of baby clothing now than my own clothing and have such fun finding adorable little boy clothes for my son. You have to hunt a little harder for the cute boy clothes, but when you find them… it’s just so good. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than when he wears a wide-brimmed hat or when our outfits coordinate. I would say my love for good clothes has only been accentuated since becoming a mom. I’ll never shut up about how shirt dresses are the unsung hero of motherhood that work through all stages of pregnancy and postpartum, but I also do not shy away from a fabulously impractical frock from time to time.
As I mentioned, we moved into our first home, in Connecticut, just before our baby girl Kit was born. Interior design has always been a huge passion of mine so even with two children I knew I wanted to find a way to make our home “pretty” while still practical, and that would bring us joy and comfort every day. With little adjustments like making sure our coffee table doesn’t have sharp edges and making sure any breakable decorative objects are placed out of reach, I’ve found it totally doable to maintain a sense of personal style in our home that is still accommodative and comfortable with our kids. We were lucky that the built-ins in our living room already were built with cabinets on the bottom (perfect for toy storage out of sight), and shelving up top for my favorite blue and white porcelain pieces! Plus there are so many great cleaning products out there for those inevitable moments when there’s a spill on the couch or rug. We haven’t had any scribbles on wallpaper yet – I am bracing myself for that moment. But I think part of decorating when you have kids at home is assuming these things will happen and embracing the little messes and imperfections. They add charm and are a sign that there’s a family enjoying life in your home.
We took Peter on his first international trip when he was just a month old, to my mother’s home she renovated in Provence, France! It was the easiest flight we ever took with him — I remember thinking it was such a breeze! The truth is that the newborn stage is ideal for traveling and it only gets increasingly harder as they reach the toddler stage. We took him to four countries that summer and those are some of the best memories of my life! It has always been important to me to prioritize travel even with kids. I grew up moving around internationally — my family was always on the go — and I want to keep that spirit in my life even as we continue to grow. I am always looking for new gear and tip to make travel with kids easier, and sharing what I find!
I started my website, samanthavarvel.com, when Peter was about nine months old, to document all of these things! It has been such fun for me to have a creative outlet, even as all the while I have continued my career in finance in the city. I am a big believer that women — moms — are multi-faceted and should freely embrace all the aspects of themselves, no matter how varied they may be. Just because you have a high-intensity corporate job doesn’t mean you can’t also love baby fashion and photography and run a lifestyle blog or whatever your passion may be. There’s a chapter for everything — I am sure I won’t work in finance forever and maybe my blog will be but a phase — but it has been amazing for me to see that becoming a mom wasn’t the end of the road for all of my creative pursuits, but in many ways, it was the beginning! And I hope that every woman can see that this stage can bring with it so much wonder. It’s all what you make of it, and I’m striving to embrace everything that comes with it and more. I am positive Carly will do the same and can’t wait to have a front row seat. xx