The Busy, On-the-Go Momma’s 3-Step Guide to Maintaining Work-Life Sanity: STEP 2

Note: The following is the 2nd part of a 3 part series aimed to help better manage a busy parent’s days. The full series includes Step 1: Prioritize, and ends with Step 3: Locate Solutions within Limits (soon to be published). If you haven’t read Step 1, please start here.

Work-Life-Sanity-Step-2

Hello? Time? … Where are you?

Peak-a-boo! Are you hiding under my cluttered desk?
Knock, knock! Did you lock yourself in the basement with the Wii?
I know! You must be in my bed! (Because lord knows I haven’t been in there long enough to attempt a good, solid search.)

You can’t fool me “Mr. Time,” I know you’re out there.

As a parent, you might often think of hide-and-seek as a game we play with our kids. But personally speaking, most of the time I think of it as a game I play with time. You can’t capture time, but I do think with a little prioritizing time can be found.

In my last post I talked about Step 1 in my 3-step process to gain back more work-life sanity. This 1st step – to prioritize – focused on listing personal goals of where I’d ideally like to most spend my time.

However, truth be told, establishing priorities and acting on these priorities are two separate things, which in turn led me to Step 2 and my next course of action:

Figuring out how to find the time to fit my newly accepted priorities into my life.

Step 2: Find Time

Some people (unfortunately I am not yet one of them) plan their family’s weekly meals in order to not be scrambling to feed everyone at the last minute. I may not plan my weekly meals, but I do a similar thing with my own daily schedule.

I’ve come to believe it TAKES time to FIND time.

Lately I’ve made it a priority on Sundays to invest 20-30 minutes planning out my week both personally and professionally.

First, write your to-do list.

I spend 10 minutes writing a list of everything I ideally would like to get done over the week in regards to work. Note: This should include volunteer, paid, and/or any significant household work.

To-Do-ListJust a snip-it of how my list looks. I actually type it out on my Notes Application
which syncs between my iPhone, iPad and Mac so I will never be without my to-do list.

Next, determine your time parameters.

I divide my days into chunks to help me determine when my time could be best put to use. I spend about 5 minutes determining family time and available work time.

I suggest dividing your time into 4 categories:

  • Family Time (time where my family’s needs have to be prioritized)
  • Available Work Time (time to use toward volunteer, paid, and/or household work)
  • Non-Flexible Time (time during the week where I have things scheduled that are not flexible.)
  • Flexible/Me Time* (time that I don’t like to work)

* Ideally there would be no work over these periods established as flexible/overflow time. But it is really nice to know that there is time banked for weeks that are a little busier. HOWEVER I find it is important to keep reminding myself that these times should be last resorts!

For me, these categories looks like this:

Family Time
Monday – Friday 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. (before school)

Monday – Thursday 3:45 – 8:00 p.m. (after school thru bedtime)
Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30 – 12:30 (dedicated time spent with my toddler still at home)

Available Work Time
Monday – Friday 5:30 – 7:30 a.m. (I am an early riser)

Monday 8 – 11 a.m. (weekly babysitter lined up)
Monday – Thursday 12:30 – 3:45 (afternoon nap for my toddler)

Non – Flexible Time
Monday 11-1 (Toddler Music class) (New On-the-Go-Momma post goes live)

Tuesday 12:45 – 2 (weekly work staff meeting via phone)
Thursday 9 – 11:30 a.m. (Local Mothers’ Center meeting) (New Mothers Central post goes live)
Friday 8 – 2 (babysitter comes, I teach at a local community college)

Flexible/Me Time
Weekends

Evenings (after 8 p.m.)

Finally, formulate your plan.

I purchased a day-of-the-week dry erase board and different colored dry erase markers.

Oranization-Tools

I spend typically 10 minutes adding my to-do list onto my dry erase calendar. This allows me to determine when (and if!) I can fit everything into the week.

Red = Things to do in the A.M.
Green = Things to do in the P.M.
Black (w/a box around them) = Things that are non-flexibal
Blue = Things that may need to use my flexible/me time

As I write items on the dry erase board schedule, I always refer back to my “family time schedule” and know that the activities I add on the board cannot co-exist with or cross over to that time.

This is what my office wall with my new work-life organization tactic looks like.

Home-Office-Schedule-Space

It may look chaotic, however it is most certainly organized chaos. As a busy parent, I’ll take organized chaos over crazy chaos any day. Regardless, this system really works for me.

Why?

  • It gives me assurance that everything has a time and place to get done.
  • It helps ward off the panic I sometimes feel when my to-do list seems overwhelmingly long.
  • It forces me to remember the time I’ve scheduled to dedicate to my family and myself.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: I no longer feel as though I am aimlessly searching for “Mr. Time” in an unfair game of hide-and-seek. I know where time is for the busy week ahead.

As I complete items on the calendar, I erase them. If they don’t get erased, at least I know they weren’t accomplished. Which leads me to one last very important detail:

Sometimes… not everything can be completed
and/or fits into the open times.

Sometimes there really ISN’T a time and place for everything to get done. What do I do then? I’ll address this in my last step of this guide.

My final post in this series will discuss Step 3: Locating Solutions within Limits.

Leave a Comment: What do you think? Does this seem doable? Oh, and please, please, PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who gets panicked when my to-do list seems overwhelmingly long?

~

Make sure not to miss the next post in this series. Have each new post delivered directly to your email inbox by clicking here!

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The Busy, On-the-Go Momma’s 3-Step Guide to Maintaining Work-Life Sanity: STEP 1

~Work-Life-Sanity

~
As a parent 99.9% of the time – balance doesn’t exist.

Something always drops.

  • Effective week at work? Home looks buried in a mess.
  • House miraculously spit-spot? Family life suffered as you cleaned.
  • Plentiful family bonding time? Often leads to an overwhelming work week.

Really, how often is: you home clean, your to-do-list cleared, and your family time together abundant – all simultaneously?

NEVER. (Or at least VERY rarely in my experience.)

Work-Life balance (in my mind) is a myth. Occasionally I feel like I can see its hazy shadows appearing in the distant future, however usually (just as quickly as it appears) it slips out of sight. I’ve begun to believe that finding a lasting balance just isn’t possible.

But prioritizing… well that’s another matter, and something a little more controllable. And prioritizing is the 1st step I needed to take in order reclaim my own work-life sanity.

Step 1: Prioritize

Often as a busy parent, I loose myself in the act of merely surviving my day – putting one step painstakingly in front of the other – day after day after monotonous day. Time to look ahead never seems to be available, however one always manages to find the time to look back at what went wrong.

Why is it that we allow ourselves so much time to focus on past mistakes, when we should be using these precious moments to instead look at something we can actually change in the future?

A couple weeks ago I had a moment. A < I-can-barely-pull-my-head-out-of-the-toy-cluttered floors, my-paper-filled-office-desk and my-endless-hours-of-chauffeuring-services > moment.

When (after a couple days of sulking and despair and oh-woe-is-me self pity) it hit me.

BAM!

Somewhere along the way I forgot about priorities.

I had been reflecting and not prioritizing, panicking and not planning, putting one foot in front of the other and not taking the time I needed to look towards the next mile marker along the road I was dangerously, blindly traveling.

I came to the conclusion that the first step to a better mix between my work and my life began with:

Re-focusing on my priorities.

So I started to mentally list and envision my own ideal goals.
I asked myself the question: In a perfect “balanced” life – what should my time reflect?

This is what I came up with.

  1. Be able to fully separate family time from work time
  2. Be available for my kids before and after school (ie. when they are home)
  3. Have a distinct time and conscious plan to effectively complete my paid and volunteer work
  4. Make a conscious, planned effort to do something for myself (beyond just my work and my family)

This was the beginning of my plan to take back my sunken sanity.

STEP 1: Prioritize. Think about, envision and determine my work-life priorities.

Next up, Step 2: Finding Time – because establishing priorities and acting on these priorities are beyond a doubt TWO SEPARATE THINGS.

Leave a Comment: Do you spend most of your time merely attempting to get through your busy day? If you were to list your own work-life priorities what would they be?

~

I frequently hear myself saying: “If only I had just a little more time.”

Time can easily escape me (especially since becoming a parent), and often I feel as though my life reflects a circus juggling act of work, family and whatever other balls happen to be tossed in.

Recently I’ve discover that by investing only 15-30 additional minutes each week, I am able to constantly “find more time” in my busy week. The post you just read is the 1st of 3 steps I use to help better manage my busy days. The full series will include: Step 2: Find Time and Step 3: Locate Solutions Within Limits (both soon to be published).

Maybe my 3-step solution can help you too?

Make sure not to miss the next post in this series.
Have each new post delivered directly to your email inbox by clicking here!

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Posted in Family, Things I'd Like to Remember, Work Life | 7 Comments

Where Am I?

I looked down to notice the tag of my underwear sticking out.

I know, TMI. BUT…

Putting my underwear on inside out and backwards is really only the icing on the cake of how balance seems to be teetering lately in my life.

Where am I?
Over the last week – not here.

I had a Friday “Busy Week” post begun last week.

It started like this:

1TheWeekend16smMon-Tues-Wed

 

And ended like this.

5Thursday16sm

Yes, I actually did snap a shot and write
“Taking a Weekend Break” on it.

Honestly, we all need a break sometimes. And because of that, I never hit publish on a post that was really only half done.

The fact of the matter is…

I’m still not back. Because today, you can find me here sharing a story about my own unexpected mess with Adrienne at The Mommy Mess.

The Mommy Mess

What are your biggest challenges as a parent? Do your children break-up and make-up faster than you can even distinguish the original problem? How do you keep yourself positive as a parent when often feeling like the bad guy?

These are the questions I aim to answer in my story of a recent family movie night gone bad.

I hope you will visit me over there!

And maybe … I’ll come back over here soon too. (I plan to! Promise! Fingers crossed for Monday!)

~

If you are stopping by to visit me from my post at The Mommy Mess:

WELCOME!

  • Learn more about me here
  • Check out some of my favorite posts here
  • Or visit me at Mothers Central were I also blog as part of my work as a staff member of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers.

And let me entertain you as I talk about my busy, on-the-go life in motherhood and so much more!

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Furby Knows Best: The Real Story of Why I Became a Furby Fan

~
SURPRISE! On December 25th we welcomed the newest member to our household – a purple furry creature best known as Furby.

Furby

~
Technically, I was forewarned of Furby’s arrival…

(One of many early November phone conversations between my mother and I)

Mom: Have you ever heard of Furby?
Me: Umm… it sounds familiar, not sure. What is it?

Mom: It is this cute little fuzzy creature with big ears that talks furbish.
Me: {Silence…}

Mom: AND there is an app that you can get to feed it!
Me: {increasingly awkward silence…  a.k.a. No response}

Mom: So anyway, I am getting it for your sister’s kids and I think your kids will love it too.
Me: {knowing it is discussion-less} Ohh-kay… interesting?

Admittedly, I don’t think I really got what this Furby-thing-of-a-bob was.
(I mean, would you from that conversation?)

Our New Needy Friend

After the holidays, it took us a little while to get around to Furby.

However eventually, after the latest Wii Games were played, legos were built and puzzles were pieced together – from the wee corners of my daughter’s cluttered bedroom dresser (where admittedly I tried to hide it) my kids spied the purple furry thing.

The discovery was bound to happened.

On the snowy and cold afternoon of the unavoidable Furby unearthing, I sat writing in my home office when my daughter first approached me. “Mom,” she questioned. “Can you help me open Furby?”

“Sure.” I flatly responded (not particularly sold on his value).

Minutes later my writing was interrupted again by a request for batteries.
Followed by the need for a screw driver to put in the batteries.
Followed by a plea to download the Furby app.

Until finally I gave up on work and gave in to Furby’s overly excessive needs.

Things I discovered about Furby over the past week:
(which others may already know, but which I failed to research prior to our inescapable Furby acquisition)

  • He has no “Off” switch.
  • He has a mean streak.
  • You TOO can learn furbish! (Yes! There’s an app for that!)
  • My 3-year old is consumed with a need to feed Furby (via the iPad app)

The other night, in a successful attempt to divert my 3-year-old from another over-obsessive Furby feeding binge, we decided upon having a “family dance party.”

If you haven’t see Furby bust a beat – he’s got moves.
No joke. (In our case, think Michael Jackson as a purple ball of hair).

It really is hysterical.
I actually found myself softening to the little fuzzball.

After about 45 minutes of giggles, all us “non-Furby-folk” were starting to get a bit tired. It was late evening and my children’s bedtime was looming. So instead of dancing with him we decided to watched him dance.

I’m not certain if he somehow “sensed” our exhaustion (because – at this point – I am willing to believe anything about Furby-the-Great), or if instead he just decided he did not like Maroon 5. Because this is what happened:


Direct video link here.

Apparently my kids hold Furby’s judgement in high regard, because if Furby was ready for bed…

SO. WERE. THEY.

Anyone Anything who can get my kids to bed this quickly, is moved up a notch in my book.
I think I’m officially a Furby Fan.

P.S. Thanks Mom – for the “gentle” Furby push 🙂

Leave a Comment: Do you have a Furby? Are you a Furby fan? What it the funniest thing your Furby has done?

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Where Did the Busy Week Go? {Edition 15}

Do you find it hard to recall what you do in just a week’s time?

I often do. Even as I look back through my calendar at my busy week to share with you here, I realize how little these few photo memories capture of what I really do.

Yet many of these seemingly insignificant moments might have been lost in my “mommy mind” if it weren’t for these Friday posts. So these are the memories I have conjured up this week.

~

The weekend was spent doing a lot of work.
However, we gave ourselves a break in the evening both nights
for fun dinner outings (1 with couples-only / 1 with the full family).

Margarita’s at a nearby Mexican restaurant
+ while-we-wait projects for the kids
= Lots of fun for everyone.

1TheWeekend15

I love this semester’s new work/life schedule.
Because I don’t teach as many college classes,
I have more flexibility with my home time.

On Monday’s my work day is now broken up by my toddler’s Kindermusik Class.
And this week, while my middle son was at evening basketball practice,
the other two children and I decided to play with our newest family addition…

Furby.
(Hint, hint… I think this may be a larger story for Monday’s post.)

2Monday15

Tuesday was busy… but better than most.
It can be hard to capture Tuesday via photo
because our business is somewhat dull…

However there are dull moments of fun,
and this photo of our new tooth brush “location” exemplifies that.

“Momma ‘ook! I see ‘ooble!”
(translation: Momma look! I see double)

3Tuesday15

I have been trying to give myself more
“non-weekend” time to write for this blog.

And also more time to relax.

So on Wednesday afternoons, my goal is
to write on my iPad, in our comfy chair, while the toddler sleeps.
(Usually my dog joins me – thus the “furry” photo of my blanket-covered legs below.)

Week 1 = Success.
A perfect weekly activity to get me over the mid-week hump.
(Don’t you think?)

4Wednesday15

Do you ever dish out “motherly advice” to your children
only to realize (in hindsight)
that you aren’t practicing what you preach?

This Thursday’s Mothers Central Blog was titled:

Taking Our Own “Motherly Advice” – Things
We Tell Our Children That We Often Don’t Do Ourselves

(Please tell me that I am not the only one that does this!)

5Thursday15

Leave a Comment: Now it’s your turn – where did your busy week go? Do you think you manage a good work/life mix? (I definitely find this challenging!)

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Can Potty Training be Fun?

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by
the way (s)he handles the following 3 things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights potty training.”

~ Maya Angelou
(Admittedly, the quote is slightly altered to better fit my current life situation.)

The Potty King - Can Potty Training Be Fun?~

I detest potty training even MORE than my never ending piles of laundry.
(And that is saying a lot.)

Potty Training Approach + Increased Laundry
= 1 Very Cranky Momma

Time and time again I have been unable to change this above mathematical equation.

For the record, potty training (at least in my book) will never be fun. I’d be happy if I could just make is less unbearable.

Adjusting the Equation

One might think that having “prior experience” training my two other children, I wouldn’t dread my third child’s experience as much. But rest assured…

I. Did. Dread it.

Enough so, that this time around I attempted to adjust the aforementioned equation – primarily due to the resulting sum of its calculation. I was determined NOT to be consumed with crankiness.

After some strategic thinking, I came to the conclusion that my efforts should lie in changing my approach. (Since I figured there was no way I was going to change my laundry load.)

Adjusting Potty Training Approach + Increased Laundry
= A very Much Less Cranky Momma
(Right?)

This modification seemed the most obvious to me, because in the past I’ve never really had much of an “approach” to potty training. The only thing I recall most from my previous potty training experiences was my own increased levels of FRUSTRATION.

Following a little bit of research, I made up my mind to undertake a 3-day method that a friend had recommended to me. I reminded myself that if all else failed, at the very least I could manage three days of crankiness.

Over our three day potty training time period I will admit that I did more loads of laundry than I thought humanly possible.

I wiped the same part of the bathroom floor down over and over multiple times. The skin on my hands became chapped and wrinkled from excessive hand washing. And, no matter how many times I accessed the Clorox Wipes, air freshener and Febreze, ultimately it took days before I could somewhat erase the soiled stench that lingered around my home.

Regardless, at the end of our three days, we were mostly successful. And in hindsight I think it was as a result of something that I had previously never taken into consideration.

I had in fact, completely missed an important potty training factor.

The Missing Factor

The potty training approach we used was dependent upon a lot of components*, however the one element I never paid much attention to prior was the ME factor. And (in my case) this detail turned out to be just as important (if not more) then the actual toddler training aspect.

The method I utilized strongly relied on eliminating the frustrations that parents often exhibit throughout the training process. It inadvertently focused on increasing my own parental patience by encouraging positive reinforcement and discouraging negativity.

There were no endless hours of obligatory sitting on the potty, under no circumstances were you to punish or yell at your child for having “an accident,” and at no point were you to force your child on the potty. (All slightly unthinkable and/or difficult suggestions for me to implement in the past.)

This method was just as much a training for the parents, as it was for the child.

Through the experience what I discovered what a missing factor in my past potty training equation. The secret to potty training lied not only in the approach, but also in the parents’ patience.

So I’ve adjusted my equation:

Potty Training Approach + Increased Laundry + Parental Patience
= 1 Bearable Potty Training Experience for Momma

Potty training will never be categorized under “fun” in my book, making it “bearable” is enough for me. This time it was miraculously a win-win situation – undeniably a milestone for my toddler, but also a BIG victory for me.

My only regret is that I didn’t adjust my equation earlier.

~

Leave a Comment: Have you been successful at potty training? What helped you feel victorious? (It has been my experience that oftentimes we successfully reach the desired end result yet still feel somewhat defeated.) If you have yet to potty train your own child, what do you think your plan of attack will be?

*NOTE: this post is not meant to be a potty training tutorial (obviously) but to offer a possible component to potty training that I think many parents (myself included) often miss. Different potty training methods work for different people. However, in case you are interested, I used this potty training guide and method. (This link is not an affiliate link)

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Where Did the Busy Week Go? {Edition 14}

~
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… The days fly by faster than the tumultuous winds of a hurricane. I am beginning to lose all hope of slowing time down.

So instead I focus on maintaining my memories. This past week is filled with memories of transitioning back to school and work..

~

Over the weekend we enjoyed our last couple days
of “nothing to do” but hang around the house…
(which is quickly becoming a favorite pastime of mine.)

The Weekend 14

However, if I have to watch
One. More. Cars. Movie
(“Cars” pronounced: ‘Arrs in toddler-ese)
I think I might just change my name to Sally Shiftwell.

Seriously,
it is getting ridiculous.

We were all (except the toddler) ready to move forward with reality
and leave Disney’s Cars (1 & 2) behind as just a

distant

Christmas break

memory.

~

OK. That needed to be said. Moving on to Monday…

~

To help better balance my family and work life,
I’ve dropped down to only teaching one college class this semester.
Mondays will no longer be spent teaching.

This Monday however, I still worked all day doing lesson plans…
but I gladly returned to quasi-vacation mode in the evening,
reading books with the kids and playing (what else!) cars.

Monday 14

Tuesday.

Really?

Do we really need to see more music class photos,
or speech photos, or photos of us eating on-the-go in the car?

Who wants pictures of me on a phone conference all afternoon?
Followed by homework, and more Kindermusik, and another evening meeting?

Not I. Really!

So (again) let’s move on…

~

Because Wednesday, well Wednesday
WAS WONDERFUL!
(So much better than Tuesday.)

No Work. And ALL Play.
(Playing with the kids that is.)
And the day was filled with lovely messes.

Wednesday 14

And the messes were eventually followed by:

Thursday,

and one of my all time favorite posts
for the Mothers Central Blog.

I often get asked:

WHY I love my Mothers’ Center group,
WHY Mothers Center is so important to me and
IF I think the money I pay towards our dues is worth it.

YES! I’ve no doubt. And this is why…
(I hope you’ll read the post. This organization has played such a vital roll in my life since becoming a mother.)

Thursday 14

Leave a Comment: Just curious – how long do you think it takes for a toddler obsession (a.k.a. Cars, a.k.a. ‘Arrs) to fade?

Posted in Family, Where Did the Busy Week Go? | 2 Comments

Breaking the Code: The Secret to Effectively Communicating with a 10-Year-Old

~Walkie Talkie

“Rodger that. Over and out.” I said to my daughter as I completed the task of emptying the last of the household trash cans. Only a few more seconds squeaked by until I again heard the familiar loud buzz of the walkie talkies.

{Br-rri-innng}

The military-like device loudly and sharply rang, followed by my daughter’s somewhat muffled voice. “Mom? One ring means: I have a question. Two rings means: I’m finished.

{Beep}

{Short Pause}

A loud, crackling br-rri-innng quickly sounded again.

“OK Mom? Do you understand?” she asked, reminiscent of what one often imagines an army drill sergeant sounding like.

{Beep}

{Br-rri-innng} “Got it!” {Beep} I responded back, a smile slowly slipping across my face.

Sometimes I feel as though my oldest child and I don’t connect and communicate as well as we used to. But that morning, the morning of her 10th birthday party, she was diligently and willingly (with the assistance of walkie-talkies, her newest birthday acquisition) helping me to set-up her afternoon dance-themed party without any hesitation, questions or whining.

We were alone, an unusual occurrence. My husband had left with our two younger boys to go grocery shopping in order to allow us to prepare the house by ourselves.

No toddler crying.
No 6-year-old vying for my attention.
No thoughts of work, or to-do lists, or even laundry filled my mind.*

*OK, I’ll admit… maybe a couple thoughts of laundry muscled their way into my brain.

Age ten to my daughter indicated her entrance into the “double-digit” years.

However to me, whatever the birthday age – ten or two, this day would forever be reminiscent of the moment my husband and I physically became parents.

Images momentarily flashed through my mind as I remembered our first Christmas together as a family unit of three, along with the ensuing (occasional) nights of snuggles and the (many more) nights of sleep struggles. And then visions of my daughter’s growth through the years caused me to stop my party preparations and made me cringe, realizing how quickly time had passed by.

I hesitantly looked down at my watch – the heavy bearer of time – and appropriately noticed the hour (and subsequently the PJ’s I was still wearing).

“Time just won’t stop ticking.” I uttered to myself, as panic started setting in over how little time I had left before our party guests began arriving.

{Br-rri-innng}

“OK. I’ve finished.” I spoke into the walkie-talkie (much louder than necessary). “I’m hopping in the shower A.S.A.P. Hurry up, you need to get dressed too! Over and out.” {Beep}

I raced up to my shower and started the water rushing, my body now tense as I began my normal fight against the clock.

I had spent all morning gallivanting around the house, walkie-talkie in hand – pretending as if I too was 10 again, without a care in the world. I hadn’t realized how much time I had allowed to slip by.

{Br-rri-innng} (I heard through the sprinkle of the shower water.)

“Mom?”

{Beep} {Short Pause}

{Br-rri-innng}

When you’re finished you’re supposed to ring twice! Remember? You need to listen! {Beep}

{Br-rri-innng}

And Mom? I LOVE these walkie-talkies! It’s SO cool that I can talk to you whenEVER I want to.

{Beep}

And the shower water disappeared. I had broken the code. I had found (if only for a moment) a way to communicate with my daughter that she loved.

The sudden rush of the day faded away. At that moment, I couldn’t think of anything I would rather be doing than “walking” and “talking” to my 10-year-old.

Birthday10

Leave a Comment: What gifts have been given to your child that inadvertently turned out to be gifts to yourself?

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Where did the Busy Week(s) Go? {Edition 11, 12 & 13}

~
Two full weeks off from this blog… Wow. And with those weeks off, I’ve missed 3 busy-week posts… so let’s play a little catch-up, shall we?

School Ended for a 2+ week break…
and we celebrated being home together by:

visiting the lights at the Toledo Zoo,
having some sleddin’ fun
and watching our holiday card collection grow.

School's Out for Winter Break

We then wished my daughter a happy 10th birthday…

celebrating with family (twice) and her friends (once)
at a dance-themed party which was complete with dance instruction
choreographed to a “tweenie-ish” Disney Channel song.

Turning 10 years old(You gotta love the fun socks and handmade scarfs doubling as costumes and party favors!)

Christmas came and went.

Along with a lot of traveling to visit family,
we also managed to potty train our youngest
(that’s seriously a post in itself)
which required a lot sitting around the home.
(At least we were able to thoroughly enjoy all our new stuff!)

Christmas and Potty TrainingTop center image = the Black Friday Purchase (a.k.a. a VERY cheap kayak!)

Sure enough by his 3rd Birthday, we had a potty trained toddler!

STOP.

(I want to make sure you caught that – and not the potty training part.)

Yes… you heard me right.
We celebrated both my oldest daughter’s
and my youngest son’s birthdays

within 10 days of each other…
(I know… poor planning.)

More Birthdays - Turning Three

After all the birthday parties and Christmas gatherings,
we were happy to bring in the New Year
and some much needed R&R.

Happy New Year 2013

Welcome 2013.

I missed this space… but I would have missed my family more had I not given them the time they deserved during these busy past couple of weeks.

Leave a Comment: How would you handle 4 Christmas gatherings, 3 children (home from school), 2 birthday celebrations and 1 very crazy “break” from reality?

BocaFrau
Linking up again with Susi of Boca Frau for her Picture Perfect Weekly.
Posted in Chaos, Family, Where Did the Busy Week Go? | Tagged | 2 Comments

Parental Powers

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“And the Angel was like SHAZAAM! you’re pregnant.
Yep! Just hit her with some magic and was all like SHAZAAM!”

~ A student perspective (misunderstanding?) of how Mary became pregnant with Jesus
(as written in our church’s hilarious Christmas pageant which my children participated in this weekend).

~

Whether or not immaculate conception is part of your personal beliefs, there is something as parents, caregivers and adults that we all should believe in: We do have power.

As guardians of children, we have more power than we know.

Being a parent of young children I can give hugs and kisses.
I can offer up hope when my children feel hopeless.
And I can hand out smiles when I see frowns.

I can show my little ones how to: build a castle, complete a book report and do a cartwheel. (Ok, maybe “technically” I can no longer “show them” how to do a cartwheel… but I can at least encourage them?)

Book-ReportMy oldest completing her book report by herself this weekend.

I can help them gather their toys and make their beds. Or insist they gather their own toys and make their own beds (depending on the day, their age and my own level of patience).

I can buy shoes for my children that I absolutely loath only because they absolutely love them.

Ugle ShoesOh, how I dislike these shoes… but I try to pick and choose my battles.

I can refuse to buy my child the 3DS device that he really, really wants because he already has a DSiXL (and what could possibly be so different between the two devices?) only to find out that the game he also really, really wants is not made for the older gaming device, in turn causing me to begin second guessing my decision and subsequently realize that sometimes it’s OK to maybe change my mind… eventually, not yet! But maybe eventually…

(OK. Sorry. I got a little bit off track.)

(Hypothetically speaking…) I can force insist that my child need to wear his assigned donkey costume in the church Christmas pageant even though he really doesn’t want to. (Because we all have to suck it up and take one for the team every once in a while, right?)

Donkey CostumeHypothetically speaking of course.

More importantly, I can make sure my children learn the difference between needs and wants, help them to understand how much they have and how much others still need, while modeling empathy and understanding (as I silently continue to work on these skills myself).

I can discipline them when they misbehave (because I know I need to teach my kids how to be successful in life – even though it often breaks my heart to do so).

I can remember to give my young children enough sleep (so I might not have as great of a need to discipline them and thus less momentary-breakings-of-my-heart). HOWEVER, I can also “forget” to put them to bed occasionally because we were just having Too. Much. Fun. (It’s OK, really. I just need to realize that there might be some heartbreak’en discipline the next day…)

I can potty train them. (Hopefully! Although I am beginning to wonder…)
I can show them how and when to lead and follow. (Because both skills are important.)

But most of all,
I can show them how to love by loving them unconditionally
(even when they do break my heart).

As parents, we have a lot of power to shape the future.

Let’s use it.
SHAZAAM!

Leave a Comment: Our most powerful job is as parents, caregivers and guardians to the children who touch our lives. How do you use that power?

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Note #1: I will be taking a short break for a couple weeks to “use my parental power” over the holidays. See you in the New Year!

Note #2: This post was partially written as a parental response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Sometimes, the only power I feel I do have when left feeling “powerless” against such a horrible tragedy is to focus on how I can mold my own children.

Note #3: I was inspired by the writing prompt “I Can” and am linking up this post with Just. Be. Enough.

Note #4: No. More. Notes 🙂

Just.Be.Enough. has a mission to empower, inspire, and remind women, parents
and children that the time has come to celebrate ourselves.

Posted in Family | Tagged | 14 Comments