Welcome to the Super Mama Series! Meet Eva-Maria Smith, the writer and photographer behind House of Smilla. In her home, she's working on embracing the concept of "hygge", becoming minimalist, and generating happiness. She strives to live more mindfully and find inspiration in the small things. Her story is one about slowing down, kind mothering, simple homemaking and embracing nature. It is a journey, a learning experience.
She has a soft spot for nordic noir, red wine, hot baths and neutrals. Currently, she's in the midst of moving from Germany back to Texas with her husband Truman, daughter Smilla, and son Winter.
"I see the world as a worse place than before. I’m more aware of the destruction of this beautiful planet going on around me. I am more worried about political upheaval and war. I am heartbroken over the poor, the starving, the sick. However, I also see the hope. I look at my daughter and I see the potential she has to make this world a better place. It is our children who will make a difference. As a mother, I see myself in the responsibility to raise her to be open-minded, educated, strong and with the desire to do better for the world. I have met a lot of inspiring mothers lately, raising a lot of inspiring children and that is what gives me hope in the end of the day. The most rewarding part is the little moments when you look at your child and you think “this is part of me” “this perfect human being playing on my rug is the best thing I have ever done”.
I wish someone would have told me to continue oiling my belly after the baby is out. That is when I actually got my stretch marks. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things of course! But I wonder why no one told me to keep massaging, or why I didn’t think of that myself. If I could tell anyone something about birth it's this: “Don’t be scared. It may not turn out the way you want it, but it will be the most beautiful day of your life either way."
“The days are long but the years a short” is a perfect reminder on a stressful day, that we need to enjoy even the hard moments, as they are fleeting and can never be returned.
I would love to pass on the knowledge that babies require a lot of love and patience and time and very few “things”. With my first I definitely got too many, I thought "necessary”, items. With baby Winter I am much more minimal. A couple of high quality swaddles, a good carrier or wrap and some organic clothing are really the most important items to me. My stroller is a wonderful “luxury” to have."
ON THE WORK LIFE JUGGLE
"To me it wasn’t too hard to adjust at first, as we wanted this baby so bad and had to work so hard for our daughter. So when I became pregnant I was just over the moon and I think the struggle made it easy to overlook the hardship of certain days. However, after a few months I didn’t get enough rest, as I was pursuing my photography business too hard too soon, and I got worn out. Now I have learned, that I have to put my well-being and calm first. Work second. Even if that is frustrating at times.
In our house, the responsibilities are managed relatively old-fashioned. He brings home the bacon (the biggest chunks of it anyway), I cook it, we eat it together. It works for us at this point. I love that even after a stressful workday it is important to him to do the bedtime routine with our daughter, and he is heartbroken when he misses it. It gives me a moment to breathe, and them some time to bond.
Due to my husband's career we move quite frequently. However, this summer we move for the first time after having two children in this home that we have had for the past few years. It will be a huge adjustment to leave our closest friends and everything my daughter ever knew behind to move back to the US. I’m slightly mortified to be honest. I’m not sure what seems to be helping just yet. Any good advice is greatly appreciated. However, I will try to stay as calm as possible throughout the move and hope that a “slow living” attitude will make all the difference. We shall see. Big adventures ahead this year."
ON SELF CARE
"If I have energy left, I love to spend it being creative. Whether I simply sit down to edit photos, write a blog, run around the house taking stills, or go on a photo walk. This type of work really recharges me. Also, getting together with fellow creative friends over coffee and talking about our visions, ideas and businesses. These gatherings usually leave me with tons of new inspiration and energy. My other favorite self-care routine is to watch my favorite German crime show on my laptop from the bathtub on a Sunday night. Doesn’t sound fancy, but with a glass of red wine and some chocolate it is the stuff of my dreams. My husband tries to keep that time open for me every week.
Whenever I have a wild mothering day, I love to just take it outside. Nature has a calming effect on all of us and immediately puts things in perspective. If I only have a moment to refocus I try to brew a cup of tea or coffee. I mindfully watch my pour, the way the hot drink swirls in my cup and what patterns the milk leaves behind. I very much savor the first sips. It is very soothing. I’m not religious, but this is God in a cup if you will. Try it! I also love yoga, but I’d be lying if I would claim that there is any consistency in my practice at this point.
My routine is one of minimalism & efficiency. I clean my face with pure organic sweet almond oil - a very soothing ritual. The steamy hot bamboo wash cloths I use to take it off feels like I am taking the stresses of the day away. Every morning I apply blush. I’m very fair skinned and without it I just look sickly. I use a rose colored one from the German natural cosmetic brand “Alverde”. If I feel like my skin is drying I use my “rose cream” from Dr. Hauschka. I also love carrying Dr. Hauschka lip balm in my diaper bag/purse. It is very nourishing, but makes my lips nicely shine at the same time. Lastly, I swear by my homemade dry shampoo (cacao, cinnamon, arrowroot powder and patchouli essential oil) for those crazy mornings, where I don’t have time to fix my hair properly. Let’s face it - that’s a lot of mornings in motherhood.
I think “finding” the time for self-care is the wrong way to put it when you are a mother. It is more so “making time for self-care”. Once you realize how important it is in order to stay resilient it gets easier to make room for it. I mostly communicate my self-care needs with my husband and then look at our schedules to see when there is room for “me time”. Unfortunately we live to far away from family, to have them help on a daily basis, but when I visit, I will take them up on babysitting offers, sleeping in, sneaking away to take a bath etc. Also, I’m a firm believer in a nice little nap time routine for the whole family. I use this time to work (again, my creative work is very re-charging), for my own naps, or simply to flip through a magazine. I don’t know how this last one will go with the new baby arriving. But these past year, nap time has been a savior. It leaves me and my daughter in a better mood. It was hard to skip playdates and coffees to return home to nap - but it is worth it. I noticed, that when we are always on the go we end up tired, cranky and unbalanced. So I slowed down our days and it is magical."
ON FAMILY TIME
"Last year we took an RV and drove through Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and that was beautiful. My favorite trip though, was when we went to Kerry, Ireland. Smilla, my daughter was 9 months old. That made it a very “slow” vacation. We stayed in a “glamper” (a vintage camper) on a nice little family farm, indulged in homemade breakfasts, early bedtime, and hiking around with Smilla in the carrier. A lot of scones, love, and the beautiful Irish countryside. We returned rejuvenated and very happy. We traveled by plane which was easy at the time, as she wasn’t walking yet, and was just happily gazing out the window. Once we arrived we just planned our days according to her needs -- just like at home -- we would have time for rest. I feel like with kids (and me too by the way!) it is always an easy formula: keep everyone from being too tired or too hungry and the world is ok.
My perfect Sunday includes a long family brunch, a beautiful walk, and a whole lot of doing nothing. Coffee and cake around 3-4 in the afternoon. Smilla and I usually have a tea/coffee break every day after nap time and as often as we can we like to include “Papa”, neighbors or friends. It’s a great way to break up the afternoon, indulge in a treat (small, wonderful bakery goods or homemade pastries) and talk. The Danes call it “Fika”, we in Germany call it “Kaffeekraenzchen”. It is a delight.
My husband is currently gone for work. I took little videos throughout the week of the kids and sent it to him in a little family film. To see how touched he was about it, was the most special moment. If we can’t be together physically we have to find other ways to bond."