Archive for the ‘The Rest’ Category

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

Last Day of School 2018

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

The 2017-2018 school year honestly felt like ten thousand years for all of us. When the kids started E was deployed, Finnegan had just turned one, and things were so crazy I barely remember the fall. The last 2 months have felt like an entirely new decade. I’m hoping summer doesn’t fly by too fast, we could all use a little laziness.

All three kids big kids ended the school year on high notes. Caroline won an award for best second grader (based both on behavior and grades), Evan won an award for musical achievement, and Lincoln got accepted to a full day pre-k program for next year, where he’ll continue to get speech services. They all adjusted to school well and are a tiny bit sad it’s over now, because they’ll miss their friends and fun stuff like music and recess during the summer. I will miss school breakfast and lunch, as well as the 2 hours of quiet every afternoon while Finn napped. But we have a ton of stuff on our calendar for the summer, plus plenty of lazy days to spend at the lake, so we are ready. Bring on the summer!

 

 

5 Tips To Survive Summer With Little Kids

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Blog disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of The Breastfeeding Shop via SoFluential Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Guys, summer is here!

You can read that in a super happy, excited voice: Horray! It’s summer! No school! Beach days! Ice cream for dinner!

Or you can read that in a slightly panicked voice: Summer is HERE. You are out of time to find camps or activities and I hope you like making 17 separate meals a day.

I have a million children. Technically, the actual number is four, but let me tell you reality means absolutely nothing when all of them are hungry/bored/tired/mad/have a tiny hangnail/thirsty/fighting at the same time. Four kids at four different ages means four different sets of needs and ability levels and nap (or no nap) schedules. Did I mention I also really hate having to feed everyone all the time? I really hate that part.

After 9 summers as the parent of at least one baby I’ve learned a lot about how to survive – and enjoy – summer, even with a million kids, even when I’m solo-parenting, even when I’m running on empty by lunchtime and still have a long way to go before bed. Here are my top 5 best tips to survive summer with little kids.

  1. Add more children. OK, this seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. Some of our easiest playdates are with my friend Sarah, who also has four children. Her kids + my kids = so many kids there’s always someone to play with or talk to or rope into your particular imaginary world. My babies love having big kids to play with who aren’t the regular big kids they see every day, and then when my big kids see the babies getting attention from other kids they remember that they love their babies too and then everyone just seems more fun.
  2. Find your happy place. Our happy place is The Lake. The Lake is a local beach club we pay a membership for each year. It has lots of big trees for shade, picnic tables, grills, a big grassy field for running around, a beach for digging and swimming, a dock for fishing, swings and a playset for climbing and it’s awesome. The Lake requires some supervision, but not nearly as much as you might think (see tip 3). If you don’t have a lake, think of somewhere your whole family enjoys – somewhere kid-friendly, where you might run into other kids for your’s to play with, where you can SIT DOWN and relax. It might take a few tries, but one you have a happy place it can be your go-to all summer long when you can’t stand to stare at the inside of your house any longer but don’t have the energy to do something new. Go every morning. Go every afternoon. Don’t worry you go to the same place too much, your kids don’t mind.
  3. Floaties. Listen, kids are going to try to drown themselves. It’s just what they do. If you have a tiny baby who can’t walk or crawl yet, your summer will be fine. If you’ve reached the mobile stage, going anywhere near water is beyond stressful. We have the floaty rule: if you are near the water, you wear a floaty. The baby wears one 100% of the time at the lake. The toddler wears one 85% of the time at the lake. The big kids – who are 9 and 7 – had to pass a swim test last year and this year before I let them give up the floaties. If we go to a pool, anyone who can’t touch the bottom wears a floaty. Our friends enforce floaty rules with their kids, my parents enfore floaty rules at their house, it’s just non-negotiable. We have found that the Speedo brand Splash Jammers are ideal – they have shoulder straps as well as arm floats, they’re approved by the Coast Guard as life jackets, and even my 1-year-old can’t get it off on his own. Target sells them. WEAR YOUR FLOATIES.
  4. Lower your standards. For real, set that bar at a level you can achieve by noon every day. Did your children eat something? Does the baby have a clean diaper? Did you remember to eat something too? Is your house clean enough that you could escape in case of a fire? Then you’re fine. Tomorrow you can put away some laundry or do the dishes. Next week you can plan a fun outing to the zoo or the splash pad. But right now, you’re doing fine. It’s fine. You’re a good parent.
  5. Have fun. This tip is sort of like “treasure every moment because you only get 18 summers with your kid before they’re old enough to leave home” but that is bad advice no one needs. The days are long but the years are short is the same thing, but again, the days are SO long it’s not helpful to remind anyone it won’t last forever. But we can try to have fun, even when we have small humans to take care of. Put on a bathing suit and get in the water with them. Have ice cream for lunch or dinner (or lunch and dinner). Roll your windows down in the car. Play music really loud and have a dance party. My kids get such a kick out of me being Fun Mom, they act surprised and delighted every time. It’s like when Fun Dad chases them around pretending to be a dinosaur or Fun Grandma lets them pick out candy at the grocery store. You can be fun too! You’re the boss, even if you bend the rules a little bit for a special treat. It won’t ruin your children forever, I promise.

Military friends! One way to make your life easier when you have a baby is getting a NO COST breast pump from The Breastfeeding Shop. If you have Tricare, all you need is a prescription from your doctor and The Breastfeeding Shop will ship a pump right to your house. If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a new baby, be sure to tell them about this program, because having a pump is a lifesaver when you’re nursing. My baby will be 2 in August and I still need my pump occasionally (yup, still nursing, nope, no plans to stop). Check out The Breastfeeding Shop’s Tricare page for more information.

Fun Mom

Monday, May 7th, 2018

I am sticking with my theory that if we stay really super busy all the time that this underway will pass quickly.

I REALLY hope it’s working for the kids because all it’s doing for me is making me exhausted. I live with a constant vague sense of dread that I’m forgetting something or that we’re late for something or that I’m supposed to be somewhere else.

My iPhone seems to agree with me, because every 2 minutes the little alert pops up that says “blah blah number of minutes to get home” and offers me directions back to my house. Usually, it’s offering me directions to ballet or swim or cheer or karate or whatever else we’re supposed to be doing. I find that very helpful, if somewhat creepy since I never specifically told my phone I was going those places. It just learned them. But constantly telling me I should be headed back to the house is freaking me out. WHAT AM I LATE FOR, IPHONE?

Yesterday we were 15 minutes late to Caroline’s mandatory extra ballet recital because Lincoln lost his shoes at our morning playdate. The good news is we did eventually find them, but every single time we need to get from point A to point B something like that happens.

It’s really hard to be Fun Mom when you also have to be Find Your Shoes Mom and No You Can’t Have Freeze Pops For Breakfast Mom and Stop Talking And Go To Bed Mom. I want to have ice cream for dinner too. I don’t want to spend the afternoon putting away laundry and changing sheets and doing dishes. Fun Mom doesn’t have to do that stuff. But there isn’t anyone else, so right now I’m Fun Mom and Regular Mom, which means I go to bed at 9:30 and haven’t seen a grown-up TV show in three weeks.

But we have been having a lot of fun.

p.s. It was about 73 degrees at the first beach and 65 the second time. I am raising hardy New England children.

 

Boring Things I Recommend

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

This is some old school blogging today, without a meaningful lesson or beautiful photographs or some sort of inspirational truth. It’s just a list of boring things. Over the past couple of years, I have purchased or been given several items that have made me wonder why I lived so long without them. Every single time I use them, I am amazed at how much better/easier/happier my day becomes. There are many times where you buy something new, think “This is AMAZING!” and then quickly fall out of love. These are not those things. These are things I am still in love with at least six months later, so I am going to recommend some of them to you today. It’s a very eclectic list.

    1. Robot Vacuum – The only thing I asked for for Christmas 2016 was a robot vacuum and I still love it just as much today as I did the first time it cleaned my floor. The one I have is a Roomba 960, but as long as you read a bunch of reviews before you buy I would suggest looking for deals. I do super love the customer service and warranty that came with mine – I’ve had both the base and the actual body replaced for free and the moving parts that break/wear out can be replaced easily. Having a robot vacuum is not the same as having a housekeeper. I still do a LOT of cleaning, including both sweeping and mopping, to stay on top of four kids plus pets. The robot needs me to keep junk off the floors so it can suck up dirt and crumbs and hair and everything else. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t empty it in the morning so it doesn’t run the next night. All that being said, it’s SO NICE to let the Roomba vacuum my room or the kids’ rooms (I just carry it upstairs and press start) while I do dishes or put away laundry or finish some other chore. My house is at least 150% cleaner than it was pre-robot vacuum.
    2. Meat thermometer – OK, you probably already own a meat thermometer and right now you’re like “Um, I got a meat thermometer when I was 18 and moved into an apartment and I’ve been cooking meat thoroughly and to the correct temperature for YEARS,” Well in that case, you’re definitely smarter than I am. For years I’ve been pulling meat out of the oven, cutting it open to check, and then putting it back because I ALWAYS misjudged whether or not it was cooked. Last fall I finally got a meat thermometer because I needed it for Thanksgiving, but since then I’ve used it for everything. I made duck that wasn’t overcooked! I made a roast for Christmas that was delicious! I made chicken last night and didn’t poison my family! This is the one I bought based on reviews. It’s still going strong although when I eventually replace it I might buy a more expensive one. I am no longer terrified to cook meat when we have company over (if you’ve ever eaten at my house, I probably served you pasta salad and now you know why) and I feel like a real grown up.
    3. Kitchen scale – Originally I wanted a food scale for measuring portions. I still do that sometimes. Or I use it for exact measures when making macarons or other fancy baking. But mostly I used my kitchen scale to ship packages. In the past few years, I’ve joined various buy/sell/trade groups for a wide variety of stuff on Facebook. (I wrote a lot about buying kid clothes in this post, and now I buy even more in BST groups.) But beyond BUYING is RESELLING stuff that we’ve outgrown or outfits the kids don’t love. It’s truly pretty easy but the thing that always trips people up is having to go to the post office to pay for postage and send things. NOT ME. I can sell a dress, pay for postage, print a label and have it in my mail carrier’s hands within minutes. Even if you only mail stuff occasionally, it’s so much easier to do it all at home than at the post office. It also made setting up a Kidizen shop a piece of cake, so even if I don’t have time for a brand resale page on FB I can list stuff and sell it for about 50% more than what I would get if I dropped it off at the consignment shop. If you sign up for Kidizen with my referral link, you get $5 off (and I get a $5 credit too).  I am SURE there are people who are anti-using-a-food-scale-for-postage, but I’ve been doing it for several years now and never had a problem with my weights being wrong.
    4. Carbona Stain Devils Stain Removers – MAGIC. I just got chocolate AND blood out of one of Finn’s shirts. Caroline spills stuff on her beautiful boutique clothes all the time that leave “water marks”, which is what people on the resale boards call grease or oil. Carbona takes them right out, so the dress I bought for $20 because it was in play condition is now in great condition. I don’t have an affiliate link or a referral link or any connection to this company at all. I just buy the little bottles at the grocery store when they’re on sale. But they’ve gotten out marks that both Shout and OxiClean haven’t touched so if you have kids (or ever spill stuff on yourself), you need these.
    5. Face cleansing wipes – It doesn’t matter which kind you buy, although if you have a brand you REALLY love, please recommend them. I bought four packs of these Neutrogena ones and I keep them everywhere so I no longer have an excuse not to wash my face before bed. I am too old for bad skin care. I’m pretty much too old for medium skin care too. It’s time to ramp up to good-to-excellent skincare, but because I am both old AND tired I don’t have the energy for a complicated, multi-step routine. Face wipes mean my skin looks significantly better even on days where I don’t do anything else.
    6. Caffeine eye serum – OK, so I do have ONE face product I use all the time. Buy this serum from The Ordinary. I just dab a little under my eyes in the morning after I brush my teeth and I swear it makes my eye bags/dark circles significantly less noticeable. I actually love all their products because you can create a whole skincare system without spending much money, but this is the only thing I would swear is super effective.
    7. Tiny, individual flossers – I don’t know know why it took me so long to just buy a whole bunch of these and keep them in my car, but if you don’t already do this I highly recommend it. I keep this bag of them in my center console so if we’re running late to practice or ballet or whatever I can just do a quick floss at a stoplight. I cannot over-exaggerate how adult and put together it makes me feel to be able to deal with having something stuck in my teeth without any angst.

Well now, wasn’t that boring? Last night I was doubting this was even worth posting and then I realized I had used four of these things within the last couple hours and maybe someone else needs something small (or big) to buy that makes their life easier/better/happier. And please tell me what things have changed your life this year.

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