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2018 In Review

December 30, 2018

Oh, what a year! I think 2018 has been one of the most challenging of my personal life and career. It’s been full of highs (watching Flora grow and Piper become an amazing big sister, finally getting to experience the magic of Paris, working with some incredible brand partners) and lows (postpartum anxiety, having a difficult time balancing motherhood and work and no childcare for Flora). I said bittersweet goodbye to Glitter Guide after 7 years! Felt the pressure of this industry in a new way as we fully rely on this platform as my source of income 

As I work on goals for myself and business I always love the opportunity to reflect on the previous year – so here are some of my favorite + least favorite highlights, the most popular posts and products purchased by TMN community! 

Highlights 

This marks 2 full years since I launched The Mama Notes, rebranding from my style blog and 10 years total in blogging. It’s also my first year BLOGGING FULL TIME!!!  This is a huge accomplishment for me and something I’ve worked towards for years. I am able to support our family from this site while working from home and for that I am FOREVER grateful. It’s hard. This year has been REALLY hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t thank YOU, for showing up, reading, commenting and supporting me. I hope that you have found value from this site and my social channels! 

Earlier this year I launched The Mama Notes Inner Circle – which is a group of moms who share their insights, favorite products and more a few times a year. I use their responses to put together crowd sourced posts and they are some of my favorites to work on, well received by the community and something I really want to do more of in 2019! 

I plugged away at trying to grow @TheMamaNotes Instagram – and brought on some help for a while trying to manage it all. It was a huge personal accomplishment to hit 10k followers which allowed us to access the ‘swipe up’ feature and link to stories helping our overall traffic for the site. I was blown away to hit 20k followers this holiday season and I really think I found my grove sharing easy, fun and cute projects, DIYs and recipes in that space. Expect a lot more of that there and here on the site in 2019!! I had SO much fun working on that and really found I missed producing original content.

And while my personal Instagram continues to be one of the lows for me (more below) I really started sharing more personal style on @CaitlinKruse which I had so much fun with. I began doing try-on’s in stores and style sessions with some other friends where we share different ways to style the same item. Plan to keep this up in the new year! 

I loved having the opportunity to work with so many incredible brands this year — from traveling to California with Safeway  to developing recipes with Rana Pasta . Despite last minute deadlines, challenging ourselves to take much more of our own photography – I thrive off of the challenge and opportunity to come up with content that will engage and benefit the readers here! 

We also did a few small home makeovers, my major, wish, dream, hope for 2019 is to do our kitchen. I think it will actually change my life! But in the meantime…. we finally got a new front door, worked on making cosmetic changes in our hallway , I organized our bathroom and the Ikea shelves changed our living room entirely

After sitting on it for a WHILE I bit the bullet and dove into selling essential oils with Young Living. It’s been a great source of happiness for me and my family, and I really hope to have more time to work on the business side of selling more in 2019! 

I crossed another long-time goal off my list and worked on two product collaborations. I learned a LOT during this process. The MAMA robe and locket :) 

My best friend got married this year and I loved being a part of her wedding and traveling to Charleston for her bachelorette party! It was so much fun to take a girls trip. I also went up to New York to visit my two best friends there and then a month later we all took a spontaneous trip to Paris which was one of the best things I did for myself this year! 2018 has really shown me that I THRIVE off of these solo trips that leave me inspired and refreshed and make me a better wife and mom. I used to think of them as selfish but now I completely understand how necessary they are for me personally. 

We did a bunch of family travel in 2018 and really figured out how to travel with 2 kids!! We loved our 2 weeks in Maine with my family and taking a trip to the beach with our friends was SO MUCH FUN. We had a blast camping with Austin’s family in Virginia and can’t wait to make that a yearly tradition. 

And some lows…. 

Keeping it real with some of the lower points 2018 brought my way. 

Oh boy! Let’s start with Instagram! I can’t count how many hours I spent feeling bad about myself and my work in 2018 all because of this platform. I mean hours upon hours going down the rabbit hole of comparison, looking at other moms who started in this game just this year and have a captive, engaged audience.  While @TheMamaNotes channel continues to grow my personal one just loses followers and has horrible engagement with every post. I spend SO much time working on it and it’s just the most depressing and frustrating part of my business right now. Advertisers really care about these numbers so I have to keep it a priority and hope going into 2019 I can make some changes that will help but in all honesty for my mental health I REALLY wish I could quit my personal Instagram. I love sharing with people on Stories but it’s become such an all consuming source of negativity in my life and makes me really unhappy. I’ve missed out on countless opportunities with brands because of my engagement and it makes me want to start from scratch! 

I had a MAJOR website glitch this year in which my traffic reports were wrong, so all of the goals and milestones I thought I was hitting in 2018 were all null. I had a really hard time recovering from this, and it happened recently, in November. It was super discouraging and I was really worried about losing advertisers. It’s the first time I’ve really CRIED over my business. I’ve tried to move forward and keep working away but I felt really defeated and sad for a while. 

I lost a year long partnership that I had planned for, signed a contract and was really excited about – I realize these things happen in this business but it doesn’t make it any easier! 

And home life has still been a big struggle for me. We count on the income from my work to cover our bills but I don’t have a dedicated work schedule, all of my evenings are spent working, I’m tired, unorganized and most of the time I feel like I’m failing at both my job and getting frustrated & worn out by my daughters. I HATE this. I hate feeling like I’m failing and I hate feeling annoyed by my sweet, beautiful daughters who just want my attention. I’ve come to the point where I will have to make changes in January in order to continue working from home on this site. I long for the day when at 8pm I can watch a movie or read a book and not have to work – sneak in an hour or two of time for myself. I can barely get my hair done a few times a year and I haven’t exercised in MONTHS upon months. 

Top Posts 

On the site these were the top posts for 2018, none of which were actually written this year! 

My Pregnancy Safe Skincare – this post went viral on Pinterest after I first published and continues to be the top post of the entire year! 

My Anti-Aging Breastfeeding Friendly Skincare post is right behind. 

I’m updating both of these posts in January with more RECENT favorites!!  

19 Postpartum Essentials Every New Mom Needs – one of my favorites and such an important post. So many pregnant mamas don’t realize how much they need to stock up on for THEMSELVES after baby is born! 

How I Went Dairy & Soy-Free For A Year While Breastfeeding – a huge recap post and full of resources from when I had to do this diet because of Piper’s GI issues! 

Oh, Crap Potty Training Post – the potty training method we used with Piper back in 2017 and gets Googled a lot! 

And a few of the top posts that were originally published in 2018!

My Review Of The Willow Breast Pump! Don’t think I’ve ever got so many questions about a product review before. Ultimately I loved using the Willow, but didn’t replace my bags once I ran out since they are costly! 

My Postpartum Wardrobe Favorites which was written 2 months after I had my second baby. 

Baby Sleep & Wake Chart we used with Flora was also really popular, and I highly suggest it. Both of my girls slept through the night around 6 weeks and highly credit it to keeping them on a daytime routine! 

Our DIY Ikea Billy Bookcases were a hit and one of my personal favorite projects to have worked on this year! 

Top Products Mama Notes Readers Purchased

#1 top selling item is this Juice Beauty Pregnancy Peel – it’s a LIFE changer for your skin when you’re pregnant and can’t use many chemicals. 

#2 item is this Belly Bandit Pregnancy Band to use during postpartum. 

People LOVE these comfy sleep bras to wear during pregnancy + breastfeeding. 

These COZY joggers were the top selling clothing item – I’ve got them 2 years in a row and they are perfect for errands and lounging around the house. 

This year I really started sharing more style and shopping posts on Instagram. 

It was the fall of the sweater coat Madewell Sweater Coat + the J.Crew one, too! 

This Target cardigan was a great find and I wore it all season long – and even at the end of the summer. 

I love my stretchy Abercrombie jeans and apparently y’all do, too! They have a great high-rise and are perfect for postpartum. My Madewell high-rise denim was nearly as popular and by far my favorite, worth the investment once you figure out your postpartum sizing! 

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  1. Lauren

    December 30th, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I look forward to your posts everyday! You’re amazing and i can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!! Xo

  2. Lauren Lashway

    December 30th, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    You do such a wonderful job and I’m always so impressed with how you seem so calm managing it all. Hoping you get some of those mindless nights with nothing to do very soon, because all mamas need those. I love your content and find it all so relevant. Thank you thank you thank you! (And your personal Instagram account is my favorite ☺️)

    Lauren (fellow lover of blush)

  3. Lauren Lashway

    December 30th, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    You do such a wonderful job and I’m always so impressed with how you seem so calm managing it all. Hoping you get some of those mindless nights with nothing to do very soon, because all mamas need those. I love your content and find it all so relevant. Thank you thank you thank you! (And your personal Instagram account is my favorite ☺️)

    Lauren (fellow lover of blush)

  4. Cheri Elisabeth

    December 30th, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for not just saying what a wonderful “insta”perfect year you had. Thank you for keeping it real. It’s hard. I know. I have one child and work from home with no help. I’m trying to grow a YouTube channel and Instagram on the side. I get it. It will get easier. Cheers to 2019 Mama!

  5. Erin

    December 30th, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I love visiting both your personal IG and Mama Notes. We share a similar style and I always appreciate the research you have done. I can always trust everything you recommend and I have to say a lot of my closet are things you’ve posted. I don’t have a blog or even a fascinating IG grid but I come down with the comparison bug all the time. I’m always trying to keep up with the Jones. Social media tricks you into thinking everyone else has it all! One of my NY resolutions is to be more present and unplug. Thanks for saving me time and energy having to shop for myself And making my closet prettier. Even if I don’t eeally have cool places to go. Lol! Happy New year!

  6. Misty

    December 30th, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing such an honest post. I really enjoy your feed!! Happy New Year!

  7. Brooke

    December 30th, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    I just feel for you.. you are not alone and you are doing a great job! From one mama to another!

  8. Devyn

    December 30th, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I loved reading this post. I’m sorry you had a tough year balancing your work and home life while battling the new frustrating Instagram algorithm. I just wanted to reach out and say I’ve been a loyal follower for a almost 3 or 4 years now! My first daughter was born just a few weeks before Flora so I loved following along as we always seemed to be going through similar things around the same time. Best of luck in 2019! I will definitely do my best to continue liking and to start commenting on your photos because I do love following your accounts. Cheers!

  9. Crystal Karges

    December 31st, 2018 at 1:17 am

    You’re doing an amazing job, mama, hang in there! As a work-from-home mama of 5, I totally and completely relate to the highs and lows you’re going through. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into creating and nurturing such a beautiful community for us mamas. Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing your journey! I hope all the best for you and your beautiful family- may 2019 be your best year yet! Xx

  10. Lauren

    December 31st, 2018 at 2:16 am

    What a great exercise (highs and lows) for all of us! Thanks for sharing!! ❤️❤️

  11. caitlin

    December 31st, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    I think you’re doing a great job, mama! I’ve been a follower for a long time, but I fell more in love with your blog this year. All the mom content – especially the cute crafts and recipes you do with Piper! Just wanted to send some love from a stranger :) Happy New Year!

  12. Jessica Moss

    December 31st, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    As someone who has wanted to blog for years, I cannot tell you how much respect I have for you and this post! I can only imagine how hard it is to put yourself out there and dedicate so much time and attention – only to feel like you aren’t reaching the milestones you had hoped for. I was a brand new Mom this year and turned to your page often for advice and I can’t thank you enough! Happy New Year!

  13. Brigitte McRae

    December 31st, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing! Its crazy that you are losing followers on your personal IG- it’s serioualy my favourite account. I hope things look up for 2019- keep it up Caitlyn!

  14. Karen

    December 31st, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Love your blog! You know Juice Beauty’s roots are in pregnancy as that is when I had the “aha” moment that most beauty products are filled with unwanted chemicals that could be harmful to humans or the planet! xo Karen