Goals

One Scary Thing Per Day

I would like to take a second to share this video with everyone.

As an extremely shy kid as well, I have let fear stop me from a lot of things in my life. Even now as a stubborn, outspoken adult, I find that I am stopped by things that scare me.

I love her idea of “one scary thing per day” even if it is just as small as saying hi to someone. By continuously pushing our comfort zones we become more and more brave.

I would like to take this time to affirm a challenge for myself. I commit to doing one scary thing a day for the next month. That is my goal. If it goes well (which why wouldn’t it). I’ll make it a commitment of one more month. Then another. I will help my kids face their one scary thing a day and encourage them to keep going.   I encourage you to join me.

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Family · Mom Life · Toddlerhood

3 Ways To Include More Play

I had a few people reach out to me about my last post about playing with my kids at the beach. See the original post here

A few of you shared sentiments that you would love to have more time to play with your kids in your everyday life, but there is never enough time. I agree. I don’t have enough time. I never get all my chores done around the house. I most certainly don’t have time to finish everything I want to do. I don’t even have the energy to clean up the messes they made that day, let alone add one more thing into my schedule. But for me, my look changed one day. Tempest asked me to sit with her and said “just sit, don’t get up” It was then I realized between work, school, and housework I hadn’t sat and played with her in over a week. I knew this wasn’t the parent I wanted to be. I didn’t want to sit by while my children kept themselves occupied and out of my way. I wanted to be in their with them.

So, I decided to make a very big effort to live the life that was important to me. I didn’t want to be so preoccupied with if the dishes were done that I missed playing with my children. Here is my top 3 things that I have been working on to incorporate play into my everyday life more.

1. Make chores into games  

My daughters love helping. They aren’t very good at it, but that is ok. Let them help with what they want. But also demand they help. If my research tells me anything, it is that kids as young as one can help around the house and believe me, I’ve done a lot of research. I’m a bit of a research junkie (and I use “a bit” here as in the Dead Sea is “a bit” salty). So, get them involved. This not only means you are spending time with them, but it also means less to be done around the house.

But this isn’t just about getting them to help, it is about making chores into games. My children love to play basketball with their blocks as they pick them up. Or see who can pick up the cars the fastest. Anything that makes household work feel like fun and not chores.

The girls favorite of this is called “AH! It’s a monster!” This happens every time I vacuum. They run in and out of the room I am vacuuming screaming “AH! It’s going to get me!” and then proceed to either run out of the room or jump on the bed for protection from the vacuum monster. Sure it takes me an extra minute to chase them down with the vacuum, but it’s worth it for my kids to have fun. Plus, my floor probably needs that extra second of vacuum time

2. Schedule

This is one of these things that I always know, but I never really “know,” Things work better when I schedule them. The more things I have to do, the more need I have for a schedule. But parenting always seems to be the one area that goes out the window first. When I get busy I don’t take time to stop and think about what needs to be done, I just keep going. This is how I end up doing little meaningless tasks and nothing I actually want to get done.

Instead, I have stopped and written out an entire schedule. Anyone with small children knows my schedule will never work. It will constantly be off and interrupted. But the point of it isn’t to follow it to the letter, its to prioritize what needs to be done, and what is the most valued thing for me to do.

Our scheduling now includes time to play with the kids. Ten minutes each day I spend with each child in our mother/daughter alone time. Scheduling it means it is on the top of my list and not something that can wait until tomorrow. It’s only ten minutes, I can find it. My kids get attention, I get to see how smart and loving they are.

3. Stop Competing 

This is the area I am still really working on. As I mentioned in my last post, I want to be seen as the cool mom. The mom who has it all together. The mom who can do everything. For me, this included having a house that is spotless, being put together and physically fit, having kids that are beautifully dressed, and always well-behaved. I am not all those things, at least not always. I have good days where I think “I finally have this figured out” but most days my house is a disaster, my children are running around naked, and I haven’t showered in a week.  I had to let go of the idea that my house had to be Better Homes and Garden cover quality. I don’t have to have the fancy wonderful, everything looks pristine life. I have to do what works for me. And guess what? Other’s don’t have that life either. If you know someone whose house always looks like a magazine cover, they have a secret they aren’t telling you. Or at the very least they don’t live with two toddlers.  When I stop competing, I realize I don’t have to have everything perfect to be happy. I let my floor have crumbs and I frequently have laundry piled up in front of my washer. My children have dirt on their faces and clothes (if they are wearing any). I am still working on getting over the embarrassment and shame of not having the legos color coded into their own individual baskets.

When we let go of these ideas that we have to be perfect, we have more time in our life. And we aren’t afraid to say “The dishes can wait for tomorrow.”

So here it is; the three best tips I can give you about making your life about playing. I haven’t perfected these. I will keep trying. This is my promise to myself and my children.

 

Do you have something that helps you remember to play more? Please add it in the comments. I would love to hear it.

Family · Mom Life · Toddlerhood

Playing: The Lost Art of Parenting

One of the most amazing things about beach days is seeing how excited my children are. Until this week, our beach days have been relatively been relatively secluded. We normally pick beaches that are out of the way and go on cooler days (and on days like Wednesday) so there is never that many other people. Until this week. This week we decided to go to the beach on a Saturday when it was 90 degrees out. Needless to say, It was packed. We found our little spot on the sand and staked it out.  We set up our beach tent, got out our sand castle buckets, and I dug a hole in the sand and filled it with water. Soon enough The girls had a sand castle village, that was being terrorized by Alice-o-saurous as fast as it was being built. And I was covered in sand from head to toe (legitimately, Alice threw a bucket of sand down my dress).

This is when I began to look around. The family in front of us had lawn chairs, and coolers, and a radio. They were gabbing away, occasionally yelling for their kids to come back. The group next to us were 3 teenagers who were chain-smoking cigarets while trying to look cool. And soon enough our kids were joined by a gang of 4 more kids all around their age, with parents parked off of the beach at picnic tables. I realized I was the only adult that was covered in sand. The only one to be sitting on the sand without a chair or a towel. Certainly, the only one encouraging their children to make and jump in puddles and not caring if they splashed me.

I felt very self-conscious. As much as I would like to be (and pretend to be) I’m not a self-confident person. Me and those teens had something in common, I want to be perceived as the “cool kid”. But I had to stop and ask myself, who exactly were the “cool kids”? Are there such things as cool moms? And are they the group I was really trying to impress? I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions. Truth is, I’ve felt a little out of touch with who I want to impress. My husband and I are both more of the loner type. I don’t, and have never, made friends easily. I don’t have a tribe, or clan, or even neighbors to Keep up with the Joneses. Really the only person I have that I am trying to keep up with is the fictitious “They” that lives in my head. “They” are the parents who have it all together, the ones who make dinner every night, and whose kids are well-behaved and polite. “They” would never think about letting their children have a bag of chips for breakfast because they are too tired to get up. Or let their kids wear PJs all day to avoid making extra laundry. “They” have this whole work/life balance figured out and still manage to be put together and in impeccable shape.

“They” do not exist.

What does exist is me. Covered in sand. Swimming in clothes because I don’t own a bathing suit that fits me. Soaking wet. Playing with my children.

There isn’t enough play. I don’t want to be the parent that watches their kids play. I want to be down there, playing with them.  I want to cover them in sand and have them cover me. I want to help my kids build sand castles and dig holes. I had more fun with my kids than I could ever imagine. I hope that I set a good model for them to enjoy mud and enjoy play. Once I stopped worrying about trying to impress, I was able to let go, and actually impress those who matter, my two wonderful children.

This is just my story, but my hope is that it will encourage you to get down and play. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Don’t be afraid of a little sand in your eye.

 

If you want more Advice on ways to incorporate Playing, please see: The How to Guide: 3 Ways to Incorporate Play

Education · Preschool · Toddlerhood

The School Journey Begins

Before we even had kids, Tim and I began talking about homeschooling. Neither of us had a fantastic experience in school and I feel like it has only gotten worse. I didn’t want my kids to hate school. I didn’t want them to feel dumb or not good enough. Or memorize facts for some test that won’t matter in their lives in a week. I want them to find passion. I want them to be interested to learn how things work and see learning as fun and adventurous. The best way for us would be to homeschool. Once Tempest started to get bigger it is obvious that she will need a little more room than the classroom provides. She is extremely active and very stubborn. I don’t think I could get her to sit at a desk for 8 hours if I physically taped her to the chair. She would just be running around with a chair taped to her.

There is a weird thing that happens when you decide to homeschool before you actually have kids, mainly, there is an awkward time in between your child’s birth and the time they are school age. You very much feel like a homeschool mom, but you aren’t technically homeschooling yet. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t teaching my children the foundations that our homeschooling will be based on.

So now, Tempest has reached the pre-school age and we have begun our “official” preschool homeschooling. We’ve decided to start with something that resembles the “unschooling” movement. Mostly because at this point, pre-pre-school and pre-school age, they really should be focused on playing, not on worksheet or skill and drill stuff. This could possibly change in the future, but we are a take it one day at a time type people.

Our earliest focus has been on colors and letters. We actually taught Tempest her letters mostly on accident. We received a set of foam bath letters as a gift and throughout bath time would ask Tempest what color it was. We would start talking about the letters. She eventually started telling us what they were (and then telling Alice).

Bath

It isn’t important that our children get all the right answers, or know everything all at the same time. Alice is just learning letters. She knows about half, half she doesn’t. And that works for us. What we do is encourage their learning. We have letters all over the place. We love letters. And try to have them all over our house. It helps the girls learn. But what is more important is that its fun.

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We hope to keep up this speed and allow our learning to be fun. Even if sometimes it takes awhile. I hope to also share my homeschooling adventure with you all.

If you’re interested in what toys we like, check out below for mine and the girls’ favorite letter toys: (These links contain affiliate links and we may make a commission, but we are sharing because we love them and would not promote a product that we don’t support)





Family · Mom Life · Toddlerhood

What?! Two?! Where is Time Going?

If you ever want to make time speed up in your life, have a baby. I know it’s a widely over used saying that “they grow up so fast” but it is definitely true.

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Yesterday my baby turned two. My oldest is three and a half. My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on Saturday. And come November we will have officially been together 11 years.

I still think of life without kids as just around two years ago, but really it’s been much longer.

I tell people all the time, “they aren’t old enough for that” but then realize either they are, or will be soon enough. I don’t have babies. I have a full on toddler. And even though I still call them both toddlers, Tempest is actually preschool age and we’ve begun our homeschool journey by teaching pre-math and drawing letters.

So, when someone says “they grow up so fast” they mean it. And no matter how fast you thought that would be pre-kids, it’ll be faster once they are born and growing.

I know every parent gets told multiple times to cherish the time you have. And some days that’s going to be really hard. Even though your children will grow up in the blink of an eye, some days you will wonder how there is still 3 hours until nap time. And you will wait for each second to pass.

But most days, you’ll find yourself wondering where the time went.  Most days are so filled that they are constant movement. Today is already half over. It’s already 1:30. I barely had the breakfast dishes cleaned up before the girls started whining about lunch. Alice is still in her PJs. Tempest isn’t dressed either but instead decided to “run around nakey butt” so she can pee in the potty chair. I’ve got one cup of coffee down. I haven’t done anything else except fetch food and sippy cups. And help with clean-up because “it’s too hard if you don’t help”

My friends praise me for how much I do, but honestly, I never feel like I do much. Its because as a parent, non-kid accomplishments are slow. I can never dedicate 4 hours to something. Since becoming a parent, everything in my life is done in 5 minute spurts. and most of those are done with a toddler talking at me or at the very least screaming in the background.  It’s in these moments, when I see my friends who are kid-less or who have grown children tell me that they took a 2 hour nap, or that they think they will decide to paint for an hour. And part of me gets really jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually really happy for their accomplishments, but sometimes it seems like it is so much time. And I think about my kid-less years and the time I “wasted”. I think about the times I complained about not getting enough sleep, or the times I thought I was so busy and “couldn’t possibly fit another thing into my schedule”. But the truth is, I was busy. My friends are busy too. As a parent, my schedule is unpredictable. It is also exhausting. I don’t actually get a lot done, but it takes a lot of energy to constantly switch tasks. I forget this.

Time in my life is the most precious resource. My children are two and three and a half. I didn’t get to do many things I wanted to do with my children as babies. Now, it’s time to let that go and move on. And time to realize, we don’t have time to do all the things I want to with them as toddlers. We will never get to everything. But I can cherish my time and try to make the best of my time. It doesn’t mean that I will be in-love with every moment of my life. It does mean that I will work on making more days special, for me and my children. I will take every opportunity to slow down life because it is too fast and children grow at a rapid speed.

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The Newly Two Year Old 

 

Family · Mom Life

I’ll Take a Time-Out

When Tempest is upset with me she tells me to go to my room for a time-out. Most of the time I just want to tell her “Child, you don’t even know how much I would love a time-out”

The thing about parenting, unlike every other job, is that you are always on. You are always in parent mode. There is never a time in my life that I can forget about being a parent. And there is always a possibility that I will have to get up to get some tiny human juice. (Or be interrupted while writing a blog post for a toddler to tell me they are tired, but don’t want to sleep). But when you are always on it means that you can never fully relax. Even when I am sleeping my brain is still hardwired to hear when someone might be getting up or crying.

For someone like me, who grew up an only child, in a household where I got lots of alone time, this is crazy. I need alone time, even just to sit and do nothing, but mostly to be able to get my head together and be able to think again. I understand why mothers now frequently are absentminded and frantic. I now am one of them. Because there is always input coming at me. My life is a constant battle for just a second of peace and quiet. Frequently, this comes at night between midnight and one thirty in the morning, when Tempest is finally asleep and Alice has yet to wake up. But this is also the time when I know I should be sleeping, because I know that running on only 4 hours of sleep average isn’t good for my body. And I know that the large amount of energy drinks I am addicted to could probably fuel a rocket ship to the moon. But I need that moment. I need to cherish the silence (even if it is usually interrupted by husband snoring).  So, I take it. Typically I don’t do more than play dumb games (usually nomograms if you must know) on my kindle because I don’t possess the brainpower to do much else. So, any time I get a few extra moments to sit in time-out, I’ll take them. Because parenting is hard, and doesn’t come with lunch breaks.

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Mom bribes babies with chips and TV so she can sit for a second without being crawled on
Family · Mom Life

Why Do We Feel Mommy Guilt?

Mommy guilt is real. And it is soul crushing. The thing about mommy guilt is that you will get it no matter what you decide to do. The thing they don’t tell you about becoming a mother is that every decision you make from the moment your cute little bundle of joy comes into your life is wrong. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s wrong, and you are wrong for thinking it is right. Change your mind? nope, still wrong.

Now, I’m a hyper-rational person. My husband jokes that I am so logical that I might be a robot (who has been programmed to cry to make me appear normal). There is no rationale for parenting. There will always be something, somewhere that tells you that you are setting your children up for failure or lifelong therapy bills, or probably both. But the truth is that I thought I would know. And in many cases I did, at least after carefully weighing both sides.

I knew cloth diapers where the way we wanted to go. Until I had a baby that was too small to fit in them. And by the time she did I was so far behind in baby pee and vomit covered laundry that I couldn’t imagine making more.

Well, I knew that we wanted to delay vaccines and I was debating whether I wanted to do them at all. Then Tempest contracted whooping cough at 2 weeks and almost died. And despite not being old enough for vaccines, I felt like the worst mother in all of the world for even considering not vaccinating. So, right on schedule, my children are vaccinated.

Well, I knew I was going to breastfeed until at least one. Until Tempest refused to breastfeed despite a fantastic lactation consultant. And to be perfectly honest, I hated it too, every second of it.

Well, I knew we wanted to stick with freshly made baby food. Until we received about 3 million jars of food from WIC and ended up just using those.

Well, I knew I didn’t want to ever let my child cry without comforting her. Until she had been crying for 3 straight hours, with me holding her and I couldn’t take anymore crying in my ear. And after a minute of her screaming alone in her own bed, she started playing, then fell asleep.

Well, I knew we would never co-sleep. Until I was too exhausted and hurt to get out of bed even one more time at night

Yes, the truth is I didn’t know. I don’t know anything about being a parent. It may come as a shock to you, but I am not the perfect parent ::gasp:: I know.

We are all still figuring this parenting thing out, including me.

So, why do we still feel so much mom guilt? Because we think we should be perfect. We shame each other for our children acting out. We worry about what my child will turn out like if I don’t tell them “no” enough, or maybe I am saying “no” too much. We worry that they are getting too much screen time or junk food. We make fun of parents who opt for random conveniences like fast food, or formula keurigs, or wipe warmers. We shame parents for not controlling their children when they are crazy in the store. But we care about our kids. We want to give them everything. The problem is we don’t know what everything is. And we beat ourselves up for it.

You think if I knew if either being a stay at home mom or a working mom would be the exact thing that would set my children on the right life path, that there would be any second that I wouldn’t make it happen either way? No, and neither would you.  But we don’t know. Just like we don’t know about any of the other things. But we still feel guilt. It isn’t coming from our children (unless you’re talking about giving them one more pack of gummies, or staying up past their bedtime). This guilt comes from us. Judging ourselves. And judging ourselves incredibly harshly.

My husband doesn’t feel this guilt. And it isn’t because he isn’t as good of a parent or doesn’t care as much. He is a great father, and much of the time takes the lead role as parent in this household. But he doesn’t have daddy guilt. Because he just does what seems right to him, without worrying about how other dad’s will view him. Or what they say behind his back. He doesn’t worry about what the latest parenting website says. And while I still have to remind him some changes are good and important (like rear facing child seats, and bike helmets) he generally does things the way he was raised. And there is something comforting in that, after all, I did pick him so he must have been raised somewhat right. The thing is that in an area of technology and individualism we forget to think about what worked and what works for us. Our job as parents shouldn’t be to re-invent the wheel, but take the wheel we were given and make it better.

I forget that sometimes I don’t have to have all the right answers, I just have to have a “for now” answer. And that answer could (and maybe should) change. But as long as I am striving to do what is best for my kids, then I don’t have to feel guilty about that.

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The girls with grandma