So What… At Least… (A road trip story)

* Author’s Note: So what if this post was written a month THREE months ago! I still want to share it… if only for the mere fact that I personally really needed to remember this experience. :-)

~

Bump! POP! Bang!

Sigh…

BikeRackMountains

I guess it could have been worse.

We could have been in the middle of nowhere, with only mountains in our view, no cell reception or sign of any exit for miles.

That would have been really bad. But (lucky us!) when we heard: Bump! POP! Bang! we were in a city(ish?) area that also appeared (somewhat) safe. 1

1 A positive fact when your van’s bike rack decides it no longer wants to hold your family’s four bikes while driving on the highway.

~

SO WHAT:
That we had to leave our BRAND NEW bikes locked up at a busy, barely-standing-because-its-under-construction gas station?

AT LEAST:
(Due to the construction) the gas station’s (very nice!) owner happened to be there and gave us his blessing along with indication that he would watch said new bikes as we quickly made our way to purchase a new bike rack (at a sporting goods store located only minutes away). 2

2 Ah, if it had only been that easy.

~

SO WHAT:
That the sporting goods store carried no bike racks that could fit all 4 of our bikes? (Unless our van had a hitch – which of course ours doesn’t!)

AT LEAST:
The salesman was very knowledgeable and gave us the name (and number) of a bike shop located only a few minutes away!

(Good news for a moment until…)

~

SO WHAT:
That en route to the bike store we happened to call first, only to learn that our particular van’s make and model will never work with any (affordable) bike rack unless the rack is connected to a hitch. And that additionally, the type of rack we have will always eventually “snap off a van’s spoiler” (exactly what we discovered happened to us) because of how the van is designed (van design = good for aerodynamics, bad for bike-riding-families-of-five)3.

AT LEAST:
We were all safe
AND our new bikes were all safe
AND we had not gotten into an accident
AND we had not caused an accident because of this “glitch”
… yet.

3 Really, who chooses a van for aerodynamics anyway? Don’t most people buy vans to haul all their kids – and their friends and their bikes! – around?

~

SO WHAT :
That (while going on hour two of our long, frustrating detour) driving back to the gas station bike-rack-less (while brainstorming every unlikely bike-rack-disaster solution) ominous clouds popped out of nowhere.

AT LEAST:
We were trapped in our van with 3 children (ages 10, 7 and 3) at a gas station where we could conveniently refill our gas tank (allowing us to keep the overhead DVD player running for the kids).4

4 Seriously, I don’t even think the kids realized we where having” issues” as they sat in the back of the van with their headphones on staring at the newly purchased movie we had gotten for our vacation travels.

~

SO WHAT:
That our rear spoiler to our van had nearly popped off (we hadn’t truly noticed this until the bike store told us this is probably what happened and we were able to take a look at it after the storm subsided).

AT LEAST:
The storm only lasted 20 minutes, my husband and I were still on (somewhat cordial) speaking terms and we managed a temporary “fix” to get us to my parents’, good friends’, son’s house (did you get that relationship connection?) 5 which happened to be only another 20 minutes from our bike-rack-breakdown headquarters (a.k.a. – the construction ridden gas station)

5 Yes, people who barely knew us graciously agreed to store all four of our bikes for a week in their backyard storage barn while we whisked off to Hilton Head Island.

~

SO WHAT:
That the bike rack broke AGAIN just as we pulled off the exit to my parents’, good friends’, son’s house.

AT LEAST:
We were able to temporarily fix it (again)
AND we were all safe
AND our new bikes were all safe
AND we had not gotten into an accident
AND we had not caused an accident
yet.

Sure it was a little annoying.

Yep, it was not the best way to begin a vacation.

And NO, we will NOT ever drive again (flying is worth the cost after this trip).

We made it there. And that’s all that matters.6

6 Albeit we kicked ourselves that we hadn’t just decided to rent bikes in the first place, since it was only $100 (including drop off and pick up at our beach house). Additionally, after arriving we realized that the thin wheels of our new hybrid bikes would have never allowed us to ride on the plush beaches of Hilton Head.

HiltonHeadHomeOur beautiful beach house directly on the beach!


IceCreaminHiltonHead
Eating lots of ice cream as a family.

 

And plenty of biking throughout the island and on the beach!

HiltonHeadBiking

~
The vacation was definitely memorable.

And most importantly, we made it home.

  • Despite a 14 hour return drive with three kids.
  • Despite a detour caused by construction-stopped traffic.
  • Despite another 3 hour trip (after picking up our bikes from my parents’, good friends’, son’s house) with a “rigged” bike rake on our van and being on pins and needles as we drove-stopped-checked bikes, drove-stopped-checked bikes, drove-stopped-checked bikes (the entire 3 hours).

Yep. SO WHAT?
AT LEAST we made it home.

Kids safe. New bikes safe.

And of course, the first things we do upon return is count our blessings and take a bike ride…

Bike-Trip-at-Home

… close by, so we had no need for a bike rack.

Leave a Comment: What disastrous events have you had to say “So what?” to while on a road trip?

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The Lies Guilt Tells You

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Allowing myself to do that which (at first glance) seemingly only benefits me – is always much more challenging than initially anticipated.

Take for instance a recent Friday morning.

I had made arrangements to attend a group tennis lesson preceded by an early morning Yoga class.

Sounds like a really nice Friday morning – yeah?

The fact of the matter is: managing 3 hours of “me time” requires a ridiculous amount of detailed planning – from arranging breakfast and babysitters, to pre-packing swim bags and lining up carpools.

Needless to say, it was not as simple as just get-up-and-go. (Is it ever?)

In fact, “get-up and go” is rarely a term I find myself using anymore.

And always, just steps behind my extensive planning for “me time” is the growing voice of guilt trying to weave its way into my day and hunting for any moment of weakness to break through my wall of self confidence.

That Friday morning of yoga and tennis… guilt almost found me.

Guilt pulled.

It prodded.
It poked.
It pounded to be let in.

Guilt whispered ever-so-subtly how yoga and tennis lessons should not be worth all these absurd arrangements with way-too-hard-to-implement plans.

Yet, there was one thought which managed to keep my wall of confidence from crumbling.

One thought that has saved me again and again, allowed me to help block out the loud nagging voice of guilt and which I felt imperative to share here.

And that thought is:

I want to show my children that they are important
by modeling that I value my own health and personal life.

As my children become adults, I want them to remember the importance of their own health and sanity.*

*Even now as I type this guilt is trying to tell me how selfish this sounds. But – Insert figures in ears – NAH, NAH, NAH – I’m not listing.

I used to think as a mother that I wasn’t doing my job if I focused too much on my own needs and not solely on my kids.

But that’s were I believe I went wrong.
I neglected to realize that guilt is a very good liar.
Guilt worked overtime in it’s pursuit to convince me that I was not that important.

This truth is, as parents, focusing on our own health and personal well being DOESN’T just benefit us. If you are not doing for yourself what you want for your kids, how can you possibly model to them self worth?

When my own children become parents, I don’t want them to believe that their own lives don’t have as much value as their children’s.

We are our children’s role models.

I need to remember that, and never allow guilt to let me believe differently.

Leave a Comment: How do you help fight the powerful presence that guilt can sometimes claim in us as parents?

The Lies Guilt Tells You~ Thought to be quoted from American Author Robert Fulghum

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The Little “Big City” of Ann Arbor, Michigan

We woke up feeling refreshed, sunken deep into the comfortable cushion of the hotel mattress.

Our ears listened to sounds of distant cars and songs of the early morning birds, and our eyes opened to the sun tightly squeezing it’s way through the elegant room’s heavy curtains.

Ann Arbor Hotel RoomOur room and view at The Dahlmann Campus Inn of Ann Arbor Michigan.

A far cry from the typical rude awakening of the squeaky (yet incredibly LOUD) voice of our toddler demanding from the depths of his dark bedroom:

“Momma! I want to GET. UP!”

Seemingly so far, yet in reality so logistically close to the familiar sounds of our home.

Last year, for our wedding anniversary my husband and I were able to get away for three blissful days to Northern, Michigan. This year (due to other commitments) we we were only able to fit in a last minute get away to Ann Arbor, Michigan – located just 30 minutes or so from our hometown in Ohio.

Ann Arbor Campus Inn - Entrance

Even though that morning we were waking up only 45 miles away from home and were technically just 14 hours into our getaway with (at most) 5 hours left – we still managed to get the break we needed.

The evening before had been flooded by on-and-off again showers.

We wandered the streets and university campus of the little “big city” of Ann Arbor – umbrellas in hand – in search of good food, a sip-able martini and an early bedtime.

Streets of Ann Arbor, MichiganThe streets and campus of Ann Arbor, Michigan including (clockwise from top to bottom):
1.) the Prickly Pear (Mexican cuisine – where we ate dinner),
2.) Nickels Arcade (enclosed, open air shopping alley), 3.) downtown Ann Arbor streets,
4.) self photo at the Black Pearl Seafood and Martini Bar and 5.) the U of M Campus.

Rain and all, it was still a fine night fill with (uninterrupted) conversations, however it was the morning that we had really both been looking forward to.

As self proclaimed early-riser-enthusiasts, my husband and I enjoyed awaking to the quiet of a comfortable room, a large cup of coffee sipped along side a croissant and newspaper, and the beauty of the left over puddles from last night’s summer showers.

After the luxury of slowly waking up, we eventually lazily packed up our overnight bags, checked out of our hotel and continued wandering the streets, neighborhoods and back allies of A2 for hours – conquering miles and miles of the city.

Ann Arbor Campus WalkClockwise left to right: 1.) Outdoor painted steel sculpture by Mark di Suvero in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
2.) U of M Football Stadium 3.) A view of the city of Ann Arbor from the University of Michigan Football Stadium.

And unbelievably, we still managed to returned back to our hometown that afternoon for an evening of fireworks with the kids.

Fireworks

A happy anniversary with just enough “time off” to remember how much we enjoy and appreciate the rare time we get to spend together as a couple.

Leave a comment: Even the smallest amount of time off can help rejuvenate your spirits. Don’t you think?

Posted in Things I'd Like to Remember, Travel | 2 Comments

On Being Busy

On Being Busy

I sat with my head tilted upwards, my eyes concentrating on the temple ceiling, trying to use the advantage of gravity to force the teary sadness back into my eyes. What an amazing life this busy man / husband / father / grandfather / lawyer / volunteer had lived.

On this particular Sunday morning, my husband and I were sitting at a funeral service, helping to honor the life of a dear friend’s father. Listening to close friends and family tell stories of his life made me realize with certainty that being busy isn’t always a bad thing.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

Lately I have been reflecting a lot on the act of “being busy.”

For instance, the other afternoon while at a sporting event for one of my children, I ran into** a mother who (admittedly) intimidates me. Every time I am in her presence I get this uneasy feeling that she is judging my every move and it makes me uncomfortable.*

*As a significant side note, I have come to realize that I have 2 different reactions to feeling uncomfortable: a.) try to avoid the obstacle causing the discomfort OR – if that isn’t an option – b.) talk.

**At the moment it would have been tougher to avoid this obstacle-of-a-woman, so I choose to talk.

I shot her a wide smile and casually said:

“Hi! How has your weekend been?”

To which her response back was simply a flat, monotoned:

“Hello.”

Feeling even more uncomfortable I continued with my one-sided dialogue.

“Our weekend has been busy!” I proclaimed brightly. “We’ve had a baseball practice, three soccer games and still two more to go! Whew!” I finished. (Trying to force a smile and feeling increasingly ill at ease.)

There was a short pause where in she glanced up at me as if she might have something significant to say back. However, instead of sharing her weekend adventures with me (as I had anticipated), she replied in an irritated tone:

“You know, you do it to yourself. You don’t need to be so busy.”

I smiled and quickly exited, trying not to let on how frustrated and disappointed I was in the outcome of our conversation.

Defining Busy

Being busy often gets a bad rap.

People use the word busy in place of the word overwhelmed or stressed. Sometimes the word busy is used to describe a series of events that the speaker themselves wished they didn’t need to play a part of. (I know, I’ve used it in this sense too.)

However, I’d like to take a moment to write in defense of the word busy. Because sometimes busy is not a 4-lettered, bad word.

When I think of my life I would probably use the word busy to help describe it.

And the thing is – I’m okay with that. A majority of the time I’m exponentially more happy being busy than being idle.

Honestly, if you think about it we’re all busy… we just vary in what we’re busy doing.

  • Some of us may be busy driving kids around town.
  • Others may keep busy working out, or planning vacations, or cleaning the house.
  • You might be busy working, or worrying, or dealing with an unforeseen tragedy.
  • Or maybe you are busy relaxing?

The dictionary defines busy as:

Having a great deal to do
OR
Occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention.

Notice that specifically what you occupy your time with IS NOT part of the definition.

Of course I have times when I am too busy. (I often refer to this as “crazy-busy”.) Or moments (even days) where I may be doing something that feels like a waste of my time or which frustrates me.

Yet when possible I choose to fill my time doing things I love.
Most of the time I am (or at least strive to be) happily busy with life.

In fact often when I am not busy is when life starts to feel lonely.

Respecting Others’ Busyness Limits

I walked away from the brief, previously described sporting event encounter with that other mother feeling a little mad, a little sad and a little defensive.

See the thing is, if I had further explained my busyness, I would have told this woman what a fun weekend it had been. How we had spent Saturday cheering on our daughter in soccer and that same evening touring downtown Ann Arbor, enjoying the beautiful weather which allowed for a lovely street-side patio family dinner.

But I let it drop. I didn’t owe her any explanations.

In defense of the word busy, maybe we should not automatically assume just because someone says they are busy that they are overwhelmed. These two words are not always synonymous with each other.

I personally attempt to set and constantly reevaluate my own limits on busyness.

Not every day will be happy. Not every day will be well spent. However, from this point forward, I intend to respect others’ busyness limits in hope that they’ll respect mine.

~

One day, when my close friends and family bury me, it is my hope that my life will have been filled with even half the happily busy days recalled of the amazing gentleman put to rest that Sunday morning.

For me, being “happily busy” feels purposeful and right. What about you?

Leave a Comment: Have you ever noticed how different every person’s (and family’s) ideas are on being busy?

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A Success Story

A Success Story~
Once upon a time…

I started feeling a little overwhelmed.
To be more specific, “once upon a time” was Wednesday, March 13th.

To an everyday observer browsing through my electronic calendar to precisely that day – this abundant flood of chaos may not be obvious. In fact, looking back at that particular date (in all actuality) shows an absence of activity.

  • No meetings.
  • No appointments.
  • No sporting practices.
  • No music classes.
  • No school events (for my children OR myself as an instructor).

My electronic calendar (which removes days within “daily view mode” if no activities are present) just skipped over that day as if it never even existed.

However I know this isn’t true – this day did occur.

I know this because: This is the day in my week where I schedule in time for writing here at On-the-Go Momma. Because I haven’t written a new post here since March 10th, I recognize the Wednesday after my last live post date here as the day:

I was successful.
(Yes, you heard me right.)

On Wednesday, March 13th, I was successful in giving myself a break and a pass when I needed it most.

I remembered to respect my limits.
I looked at my time and calculated my priorities.
I enlisted support.

So let me take a little time to fill you in on what I’ve been (successfully) up to over the last couple months…

Parent Forum on School SafetyAs President of our School District’s Parent Organization (which services 2 high schools, 3 middle schools and 7 elementary schools)
I helped to lead a Parent Forum on School Safety and our district’s implementation of the A.L.I.C.E. Safety Training Program.

Soccer in the SnowI went to many crazy (but fun) weekend soccer tournaments (some of which were IN. THE. SNOW.)

Sylvania Life MagazineI accomplished a longtime goal of writing for a print publication by securing an every-other month advice column
(titled: Momma’s Corner) and also writing a Mothers’ Day  feature article in a community magazine called Sylvania Life.

Spring Break Family VacationWe traveled to Florida over Easter to visit my parents and were able to have some much-needed family fun!

In my role as a staff member for the National Association of Mothers’ Centers I wrote, designed and interactively created an eBook (soon to be released) providing a clearer step-by-step guide for others hoping to begin a Mothers’ Center Group.

Start A Group Guide eBookThe cover and initial page of the book (which has been a work in progress for many months now!)

I also traveled to Manhasset, New York (Long Island) in my roll as an NAMC staff member to lead and participate in an amazing retreat for the leaders of Mothers’ Center Groups across the nation.

NAMC Leadership Council RetreatCan you find me in this image? See more images and read about the retreat here.

Additionally, I was thrilled to learn that my post: Can Potty Training be Fun? was selected by Babble.com to be published in Babble’s Best of Blogs Campaign eBook to be released next winter!

  • Yes. I’ve kept myself busy (both professionally and personally).
  • Yes. It was a little overwhelming at times.
  • And YES. I missed this space!

As summer begins I am ready for less work and more play. But I am also ready to get back to doing one of the things I love most – sharing stories here.

Leave a Comment: Life changes. What do you give up when the going gets overwhelmingly tough?

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Thoughts on Patience and Support

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LaughterANDFrustationQuote3

It was a hard day.

I got up at 5:30 a.m., showered, greeted a babysitter at 7, attended a meeting, went to a doctor’s appointment, returned home in just enough time to get the kids off to school and my toddler in the car in order to dash off to his weekly speech session.

I then proceeded to rush home for lunch, unsuccessfully attempt to get said toddler down for a nap, so I could (in turn) participate in back-to-back work-related phone conferences.

In the midst of trying to maintain my afternoon meeting:

  • My recently potty trained son needed to go the the bathroom three times
  • My dog puked all over the mudroom
  • My 3-year-old (you know, the one who chose NOT to nap) proceeded to quite suddenly adjust the television volume up full blast – causing me to jump at my office desk, spill my water and nearly scream in unexpected surprise during the phone conference I was attempting to participate in.

Needless to say, my afternoon meetings were cut short.

As my kids arrived home from school I quickly cleaned up the dog puke while facilitating homework amongst one cranky, tired toddler who was minus one much needed nap.

Normally, after a day like this my patience and nerves would be fried. Yet on this day, somewhere amongst all the frantic chaos and building exhaustion I managed to find a long overdue pocket of patience. Clinging to this very fragile bubble of patience, I turned to my 10-year-old in desperate need of a little support – anyone’s support!

“Honey,” I began (with a tone of self pity). “You know those days when you come home from school and have piano lessons followed by soccer practice and somewhere in between have to find time to fit in homework too?” (Admittedly, we try to cut down on days like those, but they still happen…)

She nodded in clear remembrance of these occasional days of back-to-back madness.

“Well, that is the type of day I am having today. It’s been rough one.” I concluded (remembering to force a smile so as not to have her worry too much).

Maybe I shouldn’t have opened up to her, but I needed to verbalize my stress. I needed understanding, compassion and an ear to listen (if only for a second) to my mounting frustrations. Her eyes recognized my distress and she responded by returning a smile my way. For just a split-second we shared this unique bond – the connection from a common experience of dealing with hard days.

That was all I needed. Someone to smile, to sympathize and to understand.

I wonder if she knows how much her smile of support meant to me? It’s amazing what just a little support will do to carry you through a rough day.

~

I grabbed a quick bite to eat before leaving to drive my middle son to music followed by two more back-to-back meetings and knew without a doubt that I would survive.

It felt good.

It felt good to feel supported and remain somewhat in control of a day that could have very easily become unmanageable and have tumbled to shambles. It was a hard day – made bearable by a small, often hidden pocket of patience and just a little support.

I think I may try to chose patience and support more often. It certainly beats the alternative…

Leave a Comment: Do you talk to your children about your struggles when you’re having a hard day?

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Dissecting an “Off” Day

AnOffDay

We looked at each other. Terror filled our eyes, yet oddly, we both still felt the strength of two women ready to fight. our way. OUT.

Knowing our last hour of life could quite possibly be near, my heart beat fast and loud as I tried to calmly review my options. I turned from my friend and then to our captor whose face was that of a everyday, unrecognizable madman.

I was trapped.
Kidnapped. Held hostage by… who? I didn’t know.
(It all had happened so fast.)

And now, here we were, my friend and I – stuck in this tiny box-of-a-room by a mad man who still wasn’t aware we had recognized his devious plan.

I slowly stepped back, trying not to let the panic outweigh my natural instincts.

I spied the small (but still large enough) window to my right. Do I dare?

Quickly, making my choice, I casually and silently edged opened the window, slipped out of its tight opening, leaving my friend behind and … RAN. As fast I could – down the dark and desolate street. AWAY.

Until suddenly
I was stopped
by distant words.

“Kate. Honey? Are you going to get up?” said the gentle voice of my husband.

A dream. It had all been … a dream? Well, more like a nightmare straight out of an opening scene of CSI (which coincidentally I had been watching the previous night prior to going to bed). It felt so real though.

And I knew
without a doubt
that I was not ready for the day ahead.

~

Last Wednesday, I straggled through my day – tired, cranky, low on patience, and feeling as if I was doing 10 million things yet accomplishing absolutely nothing. However, I couldn’t quite pin-point why my whole day felt off.

Again and again, I tried writing my weekly blog post here and nothing came to me. Everything I typed sounded inauthentic.

Finally, as the day inched towards its end, I chose to leave the noise of my husband, my kids and American Idol (obnoxiously blaring from the television). With my iPad in hand, I led my tired, cranky self up the stairs to type in the quiet confines of my bedroom.

It was only by sitting in the exact place I had woken up in, that I began to remember the dream I had risen to. And not until that moment did I also realize the impact the dream had on my day.

The imagination – is a powerful thing.

Tell me: Do you ever have a day that just doesn’t feel right, a day where you can’t reconcile what seems off? It’s been a while since I’ve woken to a nightmare. Maybe there really is such a thing as “waking up on the wrong side of the bed”?

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Magic Eraser, I Bid Thee Farewell.

MagicEraser

Magic Eraser… oh, how I love thee.
Let me count the ways:

  1. Bathtub
  2. Sinks
  3. Faucets
  4. Toilets
  5. Tile Floors
  6. Wood Trim
  7. Shower Walls, Shower Door, Shower Spout
  8. Cabinetry

I could effortlessly go on. In fact, quite possibly I should invest stock in the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Heck! I joined Costco merely as a means to easily buy magic erasers in bulk.

As sweat trickled down my forehead, this is the ode I mentally composed in order to help pass my time during my weekly monthly (if I’m lucky) attempt to erase the dirt in our master bathroom.

The Early Day Obsession

When Mr. Clean 1st introduced the Magic Eraser, I couldn’t put it down. I lived in an old 1950′s home with lots of “character” and it was like a game to indeed see what this magical eraser could conquer cleaning next.

  • Permanent Marker? Not permanent any more.
  • Lifelong grimy tile grout? Never again.
  • Irreparable marks (thought to be physical damage) to appliances, cabinetry and walls? Nothing’s to big a job for this amazing tool.

I was mystified. And hooked.

Using my Magic Eraser for the 1st year was almost like my husband’s initial encounter with his power washer. Obsessive.

Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to its miraculous cleaning abilities. My obsession has gradually turned into a mature relationship, with mutual respect for the tool that does the erasing and the eraser herself (a.k.a. me).

There is only one thing I’ve found that the Magic Eraser cannot repair:

My sincere contempt for cleaning our family’s bathrooms.

An Unlikely Solution

“There. Voila!” I finished, immediately slumping down to the floor clutching what was left of my powerful, but physically draining Magic Eraser. With the (long overdue) necessary job finally complete, I sat exhausted just outside the now pristine bathroom.

Maybe if I washed our bathrooms more often than just once-a-month they wouldn’t take this long to clean? However, truth be told, cleaning the bathroom just does not seem a priority most days.

Slowly I rose and (looking as though I had just left the gym) headed downstairs to start dinner. “Maybe I should simply pay someone to clean the bathroom.” I only half jokingly said under my breath (yet aloud) to no-one in particular.

“Really Mom?” Said my 10-year-old who happened to overhear my remark. “I’d do it! How much would you pay me?”

I’m sort-of new at having a “big kid.” Having recently turned 10, there is something very unique and different now about my oldest daughter. She can go from my little girl to seemingly all grown up quicker than my toddler can tear down my son’s Lego creations. It honestly would not have occurred to me that she might be interested in picking up a “part-time job” as our bathroom scrubber.

“How much?” she asked again, interrupting my thoughts.

Bathrooms are HARD work and having just come down from completing the deed, I was in the mindset that I would have paid someone BIG BUCKS to scour what I’d just scrubbed. Wisely though, I thought to reverse the question back at her.

“How much do you think it’s worth?” I responded.

Shyly she looked up at me, not used to negotiating money with her mom. “Well, maybe $10?” she said, her excitement building around the fact that I was taking her seriously.

“Come on! I can do it.” She exclaimed, seeing my hesitation that it would get done and get done well. And then, I noticed her eyes light up with one last question.

“Do I get to use the Magic Eraser?” she enthusiastically inquired.

“Well of course.” I smiled.

“Yes!” she cheered, making a “cha-ching” like move with her right arm. “$10 dollars AND I get to use the Magic Eraser! Bingo!”

Secretly I smiled with pride in that last statement – while composing my farewell ode:

Magic Eraser. Oh, how I love thee.
Let me pass thee on…

However, if the state of her bedroom (and her bedroom desk) is any indication of how the bathroom will be kept cleaned… maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath?

MagicEraserRoom

Leave a Comment. What was your child’s first “paying” job? Anyone else out there a recovering Magic Eraser addict?

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The Busy, On-the-Go Momma’s 3-Step Guide to Maintaining Work-Life Sanity: STEP 3

Note: The following is the final part of a 3 part series aimed to help better manage a busy parent’s days. The full series includes: Step 1: Prioritize, followed by Step 2: Find Time. If you haven’t read Step 1, please start here.

Work-Life-Sanity-Step-3

I’ve always been a list maker. I used to make lists merely for the satisfaction of being able to cross something off of it. However, since becoming a multitasking momma of three, my lists are way more then just symbolic of my accomplishments. Most times …

I need my lists.

Things get lost if they aren’t on “the list”. Things fall off my plate, roll under the table and are eaten by my dog – never to be thought of again (until someone kindly reminds me of my forgotten task) if a duty inadvertently doesn’t make “the list”.

I’ll admit, sometimes just looking at “the list” can make me panic. And it is during these weeks – the weeks when I am overcome with anxiety and when my to-do lists seems a mile long – where (I’m not going to lie) Step 2: Finding Time in my 3 step guide feels like a joke.

This is about the point when I need to take a step backwards and remember Step 1: Prioritize and only then move forward with Step 3.

Step 3: Locate Solutions within Limits

When a to-do list looks too long, the most important part of this 3 step process is NOT to revert back to the days of sulking and despair and oh-woe-is-me self pity. Well, OK. Maybe take a few hours minutes to sulk – sometimes you need that… BUT, remember that you need to find a solution, and that solutions don’t always need to solve a problem.

That may sound crazy. How do you find a solution without solving the problem? Sometimes, when met with a work-life crisis, a solution is simply to deal with a problem.

  • Look back at Step 1. What are your priorities?
  • Tackle Step 2. Find as much time as possible (which occasionally means tapping into your Flexible/Me time).
  • But remember Step 3 and understand and respect your limits.

Time, although able to be found, cannot be captured and changed. There are only 24 hours in the day to work with (for a good reason).

The best part of this 3-step system is that you’ve already determined your time availability. You know what you are capable of, where your time should be spent, and also that you have priorities.

Don’t. Forget. Your priorities.

Dealing with a Scheduling Overload

This is what I suggest trying to do when a “scheduling emergency” takes place.

1. Utilize “reserve time” and communicate with others.

When you need to access time that you’ve previously earmarked to family or other things – make sure your spouse and family members know this. This may seem obvious, but sometimes in hindsight of course I’ve found that I try to keep my stresses all to myself. When you don’t tell loved ones what you’re going through, there is no possible way for them to understand AND help. Keep everyone in the loop and most times they will bend over backwards to support you. Which leads me to my 2nd tip…

2. Find support.

Find babysitters. Find family. Talk to friends. Locating and finding support is NOT a misuse of time. Support for yourself is vital. The first thing I have a habit of deleting when overwhelmed is “me time”, when in reality, I think this move (which I admittedly make all too often) is counter-productive. You can only effectively survive without feeding your own soul for so long.

In response to my own bad habit of excluding “me time” when overwhelmed with work, I recently decided to begin new group (within the confines of my Mothers’ Center group – a local and national support group for mothers). I worked with 2 other busy mommas to form a group we are calling Executive Mommas. This new group will meet once a month and allow working parents to network and learn from each other, while also getting support through their joys and frustrations of working and mothering – effectively multitasking work with support and me time.

3. Give myself a pass.

When all else fails, allowing yourself a “pass” is the only healthy solution (in my opinion). Save this pass, use it wisely, but use it. Use it and lose the guilt. Because guilt will not help you move forward.

Source: someecards.com via Kate on Pinterest

 

When the Craziness Subsides

When all said and done, and your scheduling emergency begins to fade, analyze what led to it, try to determine how you can avoid it from reoccurring, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, look ahead. You can’t change the past, you can only learn from it.

  • What did you learn from all the craziness.
  • Does something need to be dropped?

It’s important to recognize if scheduling overloads start to happen too frequently. Sometimes you may have to revisit your priorities and where your time has been allocated. If overload seems to be happening all-too-much then something’s got to go.

So there you have it. My 3-step guide to maintaining better work-life sanity.

Step 1: Prioritize
Step 2: Find Time
Step 3: Locate Solutions within Limits

It’s worked for me. Could it work for you?

Leave a Comment: Are there any other solutions that you have found when dealing with a scheduling overload?

~

Next week I’ll be back to the “normally scheduled On-the-Go Momma programming.” Thanks so much for joining me in this series. DON’T FORGET: the best way to keep up with each new post is to have it delivered directly to your email inbox by clicking here!

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Gray Hairs – A Valentine’s Day Letter

*I wrote this quickly (as you’ll see) but wanted to share, because sometimes it is important to share.

To my husband:

Today, I looked in the mirror and found one more gray hair.

Which caused me to pause, and desperately try to remind myself that aging is okay. *sigh*
Which caused me to pause further, and look at where I’m at and where I’ve come from in life.

Which in turn, caused me to think of you.

So here I am, sitting in our kitchen the day before Valentine’s day, frantically typing on my iPad,

swaddled up in my ugly (yet very snuggly) gray bathrobe,
crowned by a purple bath towel wrapped around my recently washed hair,
diligently trying to ignore both the LOUD buzz of the washing machine and our toddler (who sits cuddled within our unmade bed watching cartoons – certainly indicative of a less-than perfect mothering diversion tactic)

I am intentionally ignoring them because I felt this desire to sit (at this moment) and write to you (at this moment) because it seems a priority tell you how much I appreciate your support.

I used to think that marriage was about love, and children, and passion, and romance, and sometimes challenges, and sometimes struggles…

And it’s true, marriage is all these things.
But lately, I’ve concluded that marriage is also about support.

Support when I’m doing too many things.
Support when I’m struggling with my priorities.
Support when I am successful at something or have reason to celebrate.
Support when I make a decision (even if you don’t agree with it).
Support when I’m tired, or sick, or tired and sick.
Support even when I complain. Or am grumpy. Or sad. Or nervous.

And also,
support on days like today,
the days when I find a gray hair.

Aging – it not only changes the color of my hair, but also my perspective.

Thank you for your love, our children, your passion, our romance, your willingness to work through the challenges and struggles, but most of all for your support.

Happy  Valentine’s  Day.

(Okay. Gotta go. Micky Mouse is over, the laundry needs changed, my hair needs dried, and … well you know the drill… time to go fight the gray hairs.)

Love always,
Your wife

BeMineYa know… just to prove that the bed got made, my hair got dried, and the toddler didn’t get ignored for too long.

Leave a Comment: Who provides you with support through the good and the bad?

~

P.S. To readers other than my husband… Don’t worry! Monday I will continue and conclude my series: A 3 Step Guide to Maintaining Work-Life Sanity. This was just a necessary interruption :)

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