The Honest Truth About Summer

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As a mom I admit that it is my least favorite time of the year.....but probably not for the reason you think!!!

 

I will be honest.  I really don’t like summer.  While many love having the days of sleeping in, vacations, pools and more, for me it means something different.  In a word – FIGHTING.  Wait, let’s make that three words –  NON-STOP FIGHTING.

I have three kids, who I truly love with all my heart.  I really do.  They range in age from 6 – 10.  They have different personalities.  They are passionate about so many different things.  They love summer and swimming.  However, there are days when it feels like what they love most are the endless days of ……..  fighting.

Each day seems to start with the same ideology that today will be different.   Right?  Who am I kidding?!  I wake wishing and hoping that today will be the day when they won’t fight or argue about who gets to sit on the sofa or which episode of Paw Patrol will be played on the TV.    Is today the one when they will not complain about their brother annoying them by dressing as a police officer for the 47th time in a week?  Pffffttt……that only happens in fantasy land.

They fight. Somedays, it feels like they fight non-stop.  No matter what we try from the coin discipline method to tickets and even fines….nothing seems to work.  Short of locking them up in their rooms all day long, there is nothing I can seem to do to get them to get along.  There are days I’ll admit that a cocktail sounds good….and I look at the clock and it is 9:22 a.m.  (It is 5 o’clock somewhere, isn’t it?)

Pool Time Fun

We do have a lot of fun together.  We visit the store and check out the toys and games.  We will have lunch out (and even an occasional picnic).  We spend LOTS of time at the pool.   We’ll visit arcades and an indoor bounce house.  We’ll download a movie and make snacks and curl up together on the sofa.  I am doing my best to make summer fun for them and to give myself a break from the bickering.  When we partake in these fun activities, it is very welcoming.  I get that much needed break from the arguing.  However, as soon as we are done or headed back home, it seems that they pick right back up where they left off.  Can you say instant headache?

Of course, there are times when I try to have fun with the fighting.  I will whine back at them just like they do.  That often makes them laugh and they forget that they were mad.  Yet, there are those few times when it does have the opposite effect and makes them more angry.  We do time outs and alone time in our rooms.  My personal favorite is when I make them give one another a hug. They really hate that, but what more can I do? Oooo wait….maybe I need to have them sit on the sofa for 5 minutes holding hands.  THAT would be fun!!!!

Countdown to back to school

To be completely honest, I am in countdown mode to school starting again.   Now, before someone says I am trying to dump my kids onto teachers, please note that is NOT true.  I do love my kids and actually – I really like them too (outside of those times they are fighting).    It is NOT because I don’t like to be around them.  They are funny little people who say the most amazing or hilarious things.   In fact, just a week ago, my 10 year old told her dad that she thinks he makes $956.24 every two weeks and her grandma made around $325.  I was laughing so hard I was nearly in tears.  They really are fun to be around….most days.

To be completely truthful, there are a few reasons I like school.  First of all, it gives them more structure and a regular routine.  We still do some routines in the summer (regular bedtimes and eating schedules) but we also try to not be as rigid.  After all, they are kids and need down time from the daily grind (as we all do).  Sure, they love the lazy days of sleeping in and playing, but even they admit that they get bored.

That is another reason I like school….they have something to do.  I can’t entertain them all of the time.  I tell them that too.  I spend plenty of time doing things with them  (see above) but I can’t be a playmate all day long.  I think I’d lose my ever loving mind!

The final reason I like school is the break we get from one another.  You see, that is why they they fight.  They are together 24/7.  There is no break given to them.  They do not have very many opportunities to bond with friends without a sibling being close by.  They thrive through those friendships and the socializing that they get with those who are their own age.  They need a chance to get away from one another and those few hours at school each day seems to help.

I love my kids with all my heart, but the summer…not so much?  Three full months away from school is a bit overrated.  I, for one, am ready to see the Back to School signs coming up and knowing that we are just a few weeks away from getting back to school, and THAT’S okay!

Now, where did I set that glass of wine?

Thank Heavens for the Reset Button

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The reset button - I love that we get to hit this each night to start each day anew.  We forget the bad things that happened and get a fresh start!

 

Let me start this by saying that I love my kids.  I love them more than anything else in this world.  However, motherhood itself?  Let’s just say that there are days when I wish I could write up my resignation and leave it on the kitchen table.  Those days are the worst.

These days start off the same as any other.  I wake my kids with by stroking their faces and rubbing their backs.  They roll over and smile at me and usually sit up and give me my morning hug (something my six year old can’t start her day without doing).  We all head down the steps and into the kitchen to get breakfast.  Then, it begins.

The next question, which is the same as every other day of the week is asked of them, “What do you want for breakfast?”  That is usually followed by at least one of them sharing the cereal they want.  However, it seems that at least one of the three has to say “I don’t know.”  Wait, not just say that, but rather, whine it.  I normally respond by listing off the items we have including the varieties of cereal, waffles and pancakes.  Most of the time, that helps them and they select from the list.  There are those times when they still are not sure.  I don’t stand there waiting for a response at that time.  I tell them to just think about it and let me know when they have decided and then I will be happy to get that for them.

While they are eating breakfast, I being making lunches for school.  I grab the same things that they normally love (and have asked me to pack for them) and suddenly I hear “I don’t want THAT for lunch!!!”  I ask them what they will have in it’s place, explaining that if is the fruit, they need a replacement fruit.  That usually leads to whining and telling me that they don’t know.  Once again, I tell them to just let me know and I’ll finish packing lunch, but that if they don’t tell me before it is time to  leave, they will go without.

“I don’t want that in lunch today, but I don’t know what I want!”

By this time, the one child who can’t decide what he or she wants to eat is now whining telling me that they are starving for breakfast.  I respond to them reminding them that I already gave them choices.  They tell me that they don’t want those things and I tell them that they will have to choose or go to school hungry.  This leads to more whining….and sometimes tears.  I have to suck it up, hold back the urge to yell and remind them that they have to eat a good breakfast so that they can focus and learn at school.  After repeating the same list (at least 2 or 3 times), we finally decide on something.  Whew!  Oh wait……now we still have to figure out what to pack for lunch!!  UGH!

Back to lunch decisions we go and after himming and hawwing around, we finally find something.  YES!  The lunchboxes go into the backpacks with all of the signed papers and now it is time to head up the steps to get dressed.  As we reach the top of the steps I tell the kids to get dressed, make their beds and then meet me in the bathroom so I can help them get their hair combed and so that they can brush their teeth.   I will then usually head off to start a load of laundry or make my own bed.  After few minutes, I hear my son in his room playing with his Legos.  I go in and remind him to get dressed and walk out again.

I am taking care of more things while they are working on getting ready when I hear giggling and video games.  Up the steps I go again to find that they have made progress – shirts are on – but they are playing video games in their underwear.  I start to get a little upset and raise my voice reminding them that they need to get dressed for school.

At this point, I know that they are not focused, so I stand in the hallway outside of their rooms while they continue to get dressed. They come out and say they are ready to go and I ask them if they plan on wearing socks.  Socks.  Really?  You know you wear socks every. single. day.  I look up and again, my son has one sock on and has started to play with his army men.  My voice raises, yet again and I tell him to get his socks and shoes on.  He starts to whine back and I remind him that he is not new here and to do what he does every day of the week.

“You are not new here.  You know what you do before school every day of the week.”

We finally manage to get dressed (even socks and shoes).  We even make it into the bathroom to get teeth brushed and hair combed.  I then remind them to make their beds (part of their daily chores).  Enter another sigh……. they get distracted again and are playing.  At this point, Mom’s patience is running thin  and they can tell it by the sound of my voice.  After some tears and discussion about the rules of living under our roof, the beds are made – finally.  Are they perfect?  No.  Do I care? Absolutely not.  The point is that they made them as well as I can expect young children to make a bed.

The rest of the morning goes pretty well.  The timer goes off telling them it is time to get on the coats and head to catch the bus.  They all leave giving me hugs and smiles as they walk out the door.  It is 8:02 and I am exhausted.  I’ve repeated myself more times than I care to count.  Some days, I’ve had to yell at them (and I truly hate those days).  But now, they are off to school and it is my time.

I jump in and get busy working either on the website or doing things around the house.  I always squeeze in some time for myself be it reading, watching TV or just relaxing by the fire.  It is very important for my well being to make sure I do something for me, every single day of the week.  Without that, I lose a part of Tracie and see only the wife and mom versions of myself.

“I take time for me, so I can be the best version of myself for my family.”

At 4:20 they come bursting through the door. One is usually whining about something the other did on the bus or walk home. We start the repeat of what do you want for a snack.  I remind them to put their backpacks, coats and shoes where they belong and not in the middle of the floor.  The fighting continues, followed by the crying and the whining.  Oh how I hate the whining.

This continues off and on until dinner time, when we get an entirely new set of whiners gracing us with their presence at the table.  These are the “Ewww!!!  What’s that!!???” and “How much of that do I have to eat?” and “I don’t like that!!” whiners.  I am sure that these same little beings live in other homes too!  After more sighs, we finally get them to try the new food and wouldn’t you know, more times than not, they actually like it!  (Well, except for my son, the world’s pickiest eater, he likes NOTHING).

Once dinner is done, the next round of whining begins. This time is usually my oldest, complaining that she has to take a shower.  I swear, if she would get into the shower when I tell her to, she would be done in less time than she spends complaining that she has to take a shower.  The younger two jump into their baths ready to play.

Once the baths are done, we start books and homework.  If there is none, then it is playtime.  Games, books, cards or even just them playing on the floor rounds out the evening.  I know better than to relax as it is not yet done.  The final scene comes at 7:45…..bedtime.  Most of the time this happens without incident.  Most of the time.

There are the nights when the blanket is missing or we forgot the teddy bear.  It is quite often me listening to the sound of my own voice “Brush your teeth and go potty.”  Sadly, I say that more times than I care to admit.  After the fifth time, my voice gets louder — or my husband’s gets louder.

Finally.  Finally they are in bed.  They drift off to sleep.  In those moments of checking them before turning in for the night, God hits the “reset” button in my brain.  I look at them sleeping and forget the whining and fighting earlier in the day.  In those moments, I feel nothing but love for my kids. I can’t wait to see them in the morning……where I get to relive the day all over again.  And you know what, despite it all, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Thank heavens for the daily reset button.”

GULP! Notes From Boys Already?! She’s Growing Up Too Fast.

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Kids grow up so fast!  Where did my little girl go?

When my kids get home from school each day, I open the door and greet them each with a smile and a hug.  Yesterday, my 6 year old and 7 year old smiled as usual, but my 10 year old had a grin on her face.  Seriously.  She looked like the cat who swallowed the canary.

She bounded through the door and said right away “This is the best day ever!!”  I asked her what happened and she just kept smiling.  She wouldn’t tell me.  So, I again said “Why, what happened?!!!” — this time a little more persistently.  She then spilled the beans.  She said “I got a note from ‘Bobby’ and he gave me his phone number!!!”

I about passed out.  Yep, right there on the steps.  Thank goodness I had my hand on the railing to steady me.  Being the mom I am, I tried to play it cool while my insides were screaming – “NOPE!  Not gonna happen!!”  I asked her the questions that any mom would and this is how the conversation went:

M:  So, is this a boy you like?
E:  I don’t know.
M:  What do you mean you don’t know, is he just a friend?
E:  (Big grin) – I think so.
M:  Do you think he is cute?
E: MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!
M:  I just asked.  What did the note say?
E:  He said he liked me as a friend and gave me his phone number so I can call him.
M:  So, he is just a friend, you don’t like him more than that.
E:  Yeah, he is a friend.

She laid the note down on the counter and proceeded with her afternoon snack and routine.  I can not tell you how much restraint it took for me not to pick up that note and read it.  We are talking “coffee addict in Starbucks with unlimited funds” restraint.  I turned and walked away.  When I went back into the kitchen, the note was still lying there.  I actually could swear I heard it taunting me:

“Come on Tracie.  You know you want to read me.  Do it.  She’ll never know.  You can fold me back up when you are done.”

In that moment, I reached for the note.  With it in my right hand, I walked to my daughter and said “Here, you might want to put this somewhere so you do not lose it” and I walked away.  I did it!  I did not interfere in her personal life.  GULP.  Her. Personal. Life.

Later on, when all the kids were in the room with me, I pushed the conversation a bit more.  I asked her if she liked boys and wanted a boyfriend.  My 7 year old immediately shouted out “You have to be 18 to have a boyfriend or girlfriend” which was countered with “YEAH!” from my 6 year old. (Boy, how I wish I could hold them all to that idea).  My ten year old say “No, you don’t have to be 18, but you do have to be a teenager.”  YES!

So there it was.  It hit me.  My daughter is growing up.  She is ten and may not yet really be into boys, but it is going to happen.  I am going to blink and she will be 13 and come home telling me that she has a boyfriend.  I started thinking that she is just too young for this.  I thought back to when I was a kid and when I had my first boyfriend and it hit me.  Yes.  I was in the 4th grade.

Back then, you would “go together” – to which my mom would always say “where are you going”.  I would roll my eyes and try to explain it to this person who really didn’t know anything (or so I thought).  And your relationship, if you can even call it that, was lucky to make it past 3 days.  If you made it a week, well that was like 50 years in marriage!  We didn’t kiss.  We didn’t hold hands.  Heck – I don’t even think we spoke with one another.  I was young and naive and the world was so different back then.

Now, I am hearing horror stories of 6th grade girls wearing tight jeans and low cut shirts.  They have boyfriends and hold hands wherever they go.  What sickened me the most is when I heard that these girls and boys were having sex.  Yes.  At age 12.  Parents are encouraging the dating by going on group dates with them.  They are hosting parties and allowing the kids to have time alone (totally unsupervised as if you are upstairs and the kids are downstairs, who is watching them).  I guess my kids won’t like me.  They won’t be doing these activities anytime soon.  They may be the “only person” who can’t go to the party.  I’m your mom – not your friend.  This is my job to protect you for as long as I can.

I am scared for my kids.  I know they are so tired of me talking to them about strangers and drugs. I am positive that they get that very well — *Pats self on the back*.    Now, we are starting the talks about the birds and the bees.   While I am teaching my children to wait, I can only hope and pray that they listen.  I pray that their guardian angel and the Lord guide them to make wise choices.  I hope they know that they are more than a body for pleasure, they are a person.  I hope they know that if someone respects them, they will not force them to do something they do not want to do.  My head is spinning thinking of all of these things I have to teach my kids.

I know I can’t shelter my children from the world.  They do have to grow up.  I just have to keep the lines of communication open with them. I need to make sure they know how to respect themselves and the opposite sex.  It is my job to teach them right from wrong on both a moral and ethical level.  I know that if I do my job, they are going to still make mistakes, but they are going to know that they have my support and that I am here to help them pick up the pieces.

Even though I know all of this, my heart wants to grab them and go find a time machine.  I want to go back 9 years when I could sit with my daughter and rock her in the chair in her room.  To that happy, chubby little toddler learning to talk.  I want to hold that nursing baby and watch her fall asleep.  I want to watch my son learn to walk for the first time.  I want to stand over that crib and watch these miracles sleep at night.

I think I need to go drown my sorrows of “losing” my baby.  Anyone want to split a carton of chocolate chip ice cream with me?

I’m Not Perfect. And I’m MORE Than Fine With That.

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perfect

 

This summer I’ve struggled.  In fact, I’ve struggled a LOT.  Summer is not just sleeping in, swimming pools and hanging outside.  For me, it is trying to strike a balance between running this website, TV segments, interviews, family time and being a mom.  Truth be told – most of the time I don’t do it very well.

I struggle day in and day out to meet the needs of my kids and at the same time, tending to my business.  It may mean a phone call runs into the time I should watch the movie with the kids or that I have to reschedule a meeting so I can spend the day at the pool.  It means that something goes to the wayside.  It means….dare I say it…….I am not perfect!

There.  I said it.  In fact, let me say it again:

 

I AM NOT PERFECT.

 

You know what? I’m fine with that.  The reason is because when I do something, I do it completely.  When I work, I give myself 100% to what I am doing and it means my kids have to wait an extra few minutes for breakfast or for the movie to be turned on.  The same is true when I am in Mom Mode.  I don’t check Facebook.  I don’t answer questions.  I don’t look at emails.  I may even miss sharing a hot deal!  Why?  Cuz I am not perfect and can not do it all.

 

I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

 

Being perfect is overrated – and honestly unattainable.  I would rather be happy and my family be happy than strive for perfection.  That is just too much pressure!!  So I do what I can.  There are days when something suffers as it doesn’t get the attention it needs.  I may end up losing my patience with the kids when I am trying to work on a deadline and they are fighting in the background.   I don’t necessarily post every deal I see.  I may even post a deal and then it turns out that the coupon is gone by the time the post is on my site.  These things make me less than perfect and I am fine with that.

I am me.  That is all I can be. God did not make me perfect.  He made me flawed because that is who I am suppose to be.  I am suppose to have this personality.  I am suppose to be this kind of wife and mother.  I am who I am suppose to be.

 

I AM WHO I AM SUPPOSE TO BE.

 

So, I say, that is good enough for me.  I am not perfect.  However, I am a great mom.  I have employees who love me.  I am a great friend.  I am a loving spouse.  And the thing is, I sometimes fail doing those things too.  But you know what, that’s OK.  After all, between perfection and happiness – I choose happiness.   Hands down.

A Day In The Life of a Work At Home Mom

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WAHM | www.pennypinchinmom.com

There seems to be this ongoing argument that stay at home moms (SAHM) have it easier than moms who have a traditional job.  This is nonsense.  Whether you work at home and are paid (or not) or if you get up each day and drive into work and have kids – you are a working mother.  Plain and simple.  We all work hard – we just do it differently.

While I have not ever worked outside of the home since I’ve had my kids, I’ve had a period of time when I did not have a job outside of taking care of my kids and my house.  A few years back, I started this website and added the role of employee to that of mom and wife.  I’ve experienced some challenges trying to juggle taking care of my kids along with working.   There are still days when I get it wrong and have to work harder the next day to find a better balance.

I have had friends who work outside of the home say that it is tough as they have to fit in cleaning, homework, shopping and what not outside of the time that the are not at work.  I completely understand and empathize with them.   What a lot of people may not realize is how difficult it can be to work from home when you have kids.  Some may think that it would be great to get the housework and shopping done during the day, but that doesn’t always happen.

I’ve also had people ask me how I can do it all.  All I do is try.  I am not superwoman.  I’m no better than anyone else.  I have the same struggles as everyone else and every single day is a challenge to find the right balance of working and tending to my kids.  I make a LOT of mistakes.  I may get sucked into the computer longer than I intend.  There are times when I am late responding to emails or deadlines because I’m playing with my kids.   And, before someone says that is the way it should be, it is important to know that I run a business and just because I am a mom, it does not mean that it is OK to miss taking care of work related issues timely.

So, if you want to know how I do it, here goes.  This, is what an average day working at home, with three young children, may look like:

I roll out of bed at around 6:30 (on the days that my youngest is not actually up by 6 am).  I usually sneak in some snuggles before she is asking me to get her something for breakfast and to put her favorite show on television.  I get her settled and sit down for a minute, thinking I might be able to check my email while she is enthralled in her morning episode of Doc McStuffins, when my oldest usually comes down the steps.

I usually have a moment of dejavu as I need to get breakfast for her as well. I stop what I’m doing and make sure that she gets something to eat.  Around this time, I go get the dog and feed her breakfast and put her in the backyard.  Just as I sit down (the girls are entertained for a few minutes)…..you guessed it…..my son gets up and also asks for his breakfast.  I’m happy to get him what he needs (including that coloring page he wants or the paper or truck from the basement).  I make sure the girls are also OK and don’t need anything more while I am up.  Once again, I sit down and attempt to work.

Within 15 minutes (if I am lucky to survive that long), I am beckoned for a refill on chocolate milk.  After a few “I didn’t hear you’s” (waiting for the “please” I require from my kids), I get up and get her something to drink.  While I’m up, I go ahead and let the dog inside and may sneak up the steps and throw a load in the washing machine.  Or, as usually happens, I just turn the machine back on and toss in more soap as I forgot about the load I started yesterday and now it needs to be washed again.

iStock_000013408441XSmall

Once that is done, I sit down again.  Around this time, the kids are done eating and playing together.  On a good day, I can usually make it around 30 minutes before someone starts fighting…..or yelling….or crying.  After a long sigh, I get up and take care of the issue (or might just tell them that they need to figure out the problem on their own).  I settle back in and can usually fit in an hour of work.  YEAH!!!  I’m done working.  Well, at least done with one job (for now).

I head up the steps and gather the troops to tell them to do their morning chores:  make their beds, pick up their rooms, get dressed, brush their teeth and comb their hair.  Once they are done, I might have a few minutes to actually try to sneak in a shower.  I’ll admit that there are days when I don’t get in a shower until after we go to the pool (say around 3 or 4).  However, on a good day, I can fit in my shower before 11 am!  Once I’m dressed, we will head out to the store, play school, play hide and seek.  I let the kids have an equal say in deciding what we’ll do.

After another hour or two, it is time for me to change my hat again and work on the house.  I need to clean up the breakfast dishes, sweep the floor and get more laundry done (and maybe sneak onto Facebook to check my page for questions from readers).  I always ask the kids to come back downstairs to pick up the items that have already made it down the steps (which is more than you might think).   This is usually pretty successful whenever I say if they don’t, toys might end up in toy jail.    Once we are done, all 3 kids head off to play together and that actually works for me….until I have to break up another argument or take away the pirate eye patch as they are fighting over it…….again.

We make it to lunchtime and so I whip up something fun for the kids (during which I sometimes play restaurant where I am the waitress taking orders).  Once they all have their lunch, I might have a moment to make something for myself.  I sit back down to try to work again for an hour or two.  In a perfect world I would be able to get 2 hours of work done in 2 hours.  I may sit for 2 hours, but I am lucky if I get 1 hours’ worth of work completed between the requests for drinks, ending fights, printing coloring pages or just to ask mommy questions.  Don’t take me wrong, I love my kids with all of my heart, but oh what I would not give once in a while to work for an hour without an interruption.

At this point, I usually pull out my little red tomato timer and place it on the corner of my desk.  This is a sign to my kids that I am working hard and trying to wrap up my work so that I can do something with them.  It sometimes actually works.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It rarely works.  My oldest is really good about seeing the timer and knowing that I need a little time to get my work done so I can do something with them.  My younger two try, but hey, it is hard not to cry to mommy when you find a scratch on your finger that is 3 days old and you really need a bandage at that very moment.

Photo1

As we head into the afternoon we will play outside, go bowling, hit the pool or whatever my kids decide they would like to do that day.  We spend some time trying to fit in some fun together.  When we get home, the phone rings as it is time for a call I had set up (knowing that this should be a good time of the day).  Of course, as it rings, someone decides to have a meltdown.  This means I have to ask if I can return the call in 10 minutes, allowing me time to get my child(ren) calmed down.

Once the call ends, it is time for an afternoon snack, I take that 15 minutes to get on line and take care of a few things.  I’ll admit that my 15 minute session usually ends up being 30 – 45 minutes.  This is the time of day when I rarely am interrupted, so I take full advantage and seize the moment!

Once I’m done, I log off and tend to the laundry again and plan ahead for dinner.  Once my husband gets home and is settled, he’ll take over and tend to the kids if I need to log on.  Wait.  Let me rephrase that.  My husband gets home and TRIES to tend to the kids.  I really think that he must be a superhero with invisibility powers as my kids never seem to see him sitting right beside me in the chair and never ask him for anything.  (I am sure some of you can relate to this – can’t you?  Surely it is not only my kids who can’t see their father).

invis1

We get through dinnertime and by this time, I am wiped.  After a day of housework, blogging and playing with my kids, I am just exhausted.  My husband is amazing and will usually take the kids up the steps to get a bath.  That allows me a few minutes to sneak on line.  Or, dare I say it, a few minutes to read or do absolutely NOTHING.

After baths are done, the kids will have 30 – 45 minutes until bedtime. My husband will sometimes play with them or they just want to play alone.  This is one of my rare free moments of the day.   We usually spend the evenings very low key.  Once the younger two are off to bed, I might play cards or Clue with my daughter.  She often likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and just watch Ruff Ruffman (which she DVRd that day).  It isn’t about always being active with us, just being on the couch with her is sometimes exactly what she needs from me.

Once my kids are in bed, I get back online.  I get my lists ready for the following day. I may prepare some posts ahead of time.  I will respond to my emails.  I try (not always very successfully) to work ahead so that the next day I can get up and do it all over again.

I share this not to discredit the work any mom does.  Not in the slightest.  I don’t think I work harder than any other mom out there.  I work differently.  If a mom works at home, she may fully relate to the way my day goes.  It might help her to know that she is not alone.   We all work hard.  We all love our kids.  However, who among us doesn’t just wish for 10 minutes during the middle of the day when we could sit down and read a book and not feel guilty about it when there is so much more to do?

And now, since it is nearly 10:30 at night, I need to get busy checking my email………or maybe I’ll just go to bed.

Mom Guilt — And What We Need To Do About It

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So many moms deal with this every day -- Mom Guilt!  You are not alone and honestly - you do NOT need to feel guilty!  We all should support one another and know we sometimes have to slip into survival mode (and that's OK)!

If you are a Mom, you’ve probably experienced MG at least more than once.  What is MG?  That dreaded illness called Mom Guilt.   Moms can experience this if they happened to use infant formula rather than nurse or even if they pick up that new pair of shoes at the mall when the kids all need new socks.

MG strikes moms of all ages — whether you are 25 0r 45.  It doesn’t discriminate based upon where you live, your income or your ethnicity.  It hits.  And when it does, it usually strikes hard.

So, what can you do about it?  Sure, it is simple for others to say “don’t feel guilty about what you do.”  It is not that simple.  If we could just turn off those feelings, do people think that we would not have already done so? I know I certainly would!

What I have had to do is remember one thing – I am not perfect.  None of us are.  We are all human and we will all do things which we regret or of which we are not proud.  Here are a few things I’ve done and why I’ve decided NOT to beat myself up about it anymore – and why you shouldn’t either!

 

Turning the TV on to watch the kids.

 

There are times when I just need to get things done.  I might be needing to pack to get ready to go out of town, be on a deadline with a company or need to get the bathroom cleaned from last night’s muddy bath time.

I stopped feeling guilty about this a long time ago.  How?  I knew that the shows I turned on for my kids to watch were educational.  It wasn’t like I had turned on “The Real Housewives of anything” and left the room.  I usually opted for PBS, Sprout or Disney, Jr.  These are shows which I knew were geared towards my kids and were OK for them to watch.

I also knew that there was no way I could teach my kids everything – that is just unrealistic of me to think.  It was great to see them learn new words and how to treat others – which stemmed from both what my husband and I were teaching them and the reinforcement from these programs.

Now that my kids are older, I use the parental controls on our TV so that I know when I am not in the room, that they will only be able to watch those programs of which my husband and I approve.  If they try to buy a movie, they would need the passcode.  I don’t have to worry that they are watching something that I might question.

This was an easy one for me to let go of – and hopefully you can do the same.  You are not a bad mom if you turn to the TV once in a while.  In fact, it shows you are a real on.

 

Junk Food for Dinner.

 

Let’s face it, there are evening when you are just wiped and too tired to think, let alone want to stand in the kitchen fixing dinner.  Sure, there are some families who would never think of swinging through the drive-thru of the golden arches and you know what – that’s OK!!

An occasional meal of fast food will not kill you nor your kids.  It will not make them obese.  There are usually some healthy options you can pick up for them — leaving the french fries and sodas behind.  Grab milk and apples instead – that way  you are getting them the nutrition you want with the convenience you need.

Of course, if you find that you turn to fast food more than you cook at home, then you might truly need to re-evaluate your menu planning. However, if you stop by once a week or so to grab dinner, it is OK.  If someone judges you, then that is on them and not you.    Just let it go and know you are not killing your kids.

Raising Your Voice.

 

It happens to all of us.  Show me a mom who says she’s never once had to yell at her kids and I’ll wonder if she is really telling the truth.  Now, do we feel good when we do it?  Of course not.  Most of the time, I actually find myself apologizing to my kids shortly afterwards.

When it happens, it is usually because it’s been building and building.  I stay calm most of the time and then finally there is the proverbial straw that breaks the came’s back and I just snap.  I might yell over the must ridiculous thing.  I end up having to turn right around and apologize at them for getting upset.  The thing is, I am human and I make mistakes.  I always take the steps to apologize and make it right.

Do I yell all of the time?  No.  If you find that you do, it might be good to talk to someone about it.  Stress in your life can ooze out into everything – including your patience (or lack thereof) with your own kids.  Just take note of what you are doing and why and find a way to fix it.

Of course, when the kids run through the house with muddy shoes, just know that you won’t be alone if you happen to raise your voice.  You are human!

Spending Money On Yourself.

 

This is the one which seems to bring upon the most guilt for moms.  It seems that every time I decide to pick up something for myself – even something small like a new necklace – one of the kids ends up needing something.  So then, I instantly feel guilty that I spent $20 on myself when I now need to spend money on shoes for the kids.  That was $20 I could use for them when I really did not need that necklace.

It took me a long time to realize that it is OK to let the kids’ wear socks with holes in them a bit longer.  That it is OK if the jeans have holes in the knees.  Honestly, my kids could care less about those things than me.  It’s true – just ask them.

I work hard.  I work hard every single day of the week. It is not just work on this website, it is work around the house.  I cook. I clean.  I make sure 3 little human beings are cared for and loved.  I take care of my husband.  I grocery shop.  I meal plan.  The list goes on and on.  When I look at all I do, I realize that I deserve to pamper myself once in a while.  For me, spending money on myself is my own thank you to myself for what I do.  My husband actually agrees with me.

Those moments when I say I spent some money on new clothes for myself today and picked up nothing for the kids, I get an “I’m proud of you” from my husband.  And you know what?  He is right!  Moms always put their needs last and that is not always bad.  However, there are times when we must put ourselves first or we will grow to harbor resentment and that is not healthy either.

So go ahead!  Go shopping (just make sure you find a deal and use a coupon)!

What types of mom guilt have you experienced?  What did you do about it?  Please share!

Reflections In My Rear View Mirror

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mirror

 

Today is our last day of school.  Finally.  After adding seven extra days due to winter’s late arrival – we made it.   My kids normally take the bus to school (as much as they would me rather drive them every morning).  When it rains or snows, however, I don’t make them stand on the corner and wait.  Instead,  I drive my mini van to the corner so they can stay dry.

Once we are parked, they always unbuckle their seat belts and will climb around the back of the van as I watch down the street to give the “Bus is here!” bellow to get them out the door. I’ve done this many times this school year and never gave it much thought to look in the mirror.   For some reason this morning, I did just that.  I watched them in the mirror.

They were all kneeling on the backseat, looking out the back window.  For a moment, I had a flash forward of the 3 of them talking about final days of school and college, knowing all too well that those years will be here all too soon.  In that instant tears filled in my eyes.   I realized how quickly time flies by.

In that moment of watching them, nothing mattered.  Not the rain.  Not the messy dishes on the counter.  What mattered was just to watch them.  It mattered to just remember that very moment — this age of them being innocent and small.

This morning, I was in a state of bliss with my kids.  Well, at least until hearing “Charlotte!!  Move over!!!” when I was quickly brought back to reality.

My Dirty Little Secret: I DON’T Do It All

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The truth is - I don't do it all.  I make mistakes - lots of them.  Most days I'm in survival mode and that is fine by me!

I have been asked so many times, “Tracie, How do you do it all?”   “How do you balance a blog, kids and everything else?”   “You seem like you’ve got it all figured out.”  To these comments I just nod and say “I try my best.”  That is the truth, but the secret is – I don’t.  Strike that – I do it all in the way that works for me.

I read other websites or see photos and often find myself comparing myself to these other moms.  You know the ones I am talking about, don’t you?  Those who have the perfect Easter crafts done by their kids.  Those who plan elaborate meals for their family every night of the week.  The moms who play with their kids every second of every day — and still have not a hair out of place. I wonder, how do they do it?!  I start to question myself.  I question if I am doing all I should.  I quickly smack myself and say “Wake up!  You are not perfect — and neither are they!”

You see, when you look at a blog or a mom on the playground, you see only what they want you to see — and often you see only what you want to see.  They may be fighting an illness or marriage problems.  One of her children may be dealing with developmental issues.  She might be a pack rat who lives in a house filled with clutter.  She might be on her phone checking for an email about a sick relative.  Her blog may be her escape from what she is dealing with at home. The point is this – we don’t know.  Not unless they share, of course.

What you may not know about me is that I often stay in bed until close to 7 am while my kids are playing downstairs.  It is my chance to get myself geared up, ready to face another day.  Then, I get up and immediately corral kids to the counter to get breakfast — usually by my having to call them a minimum of 4 times before they finally “hear” what I am saying.  After that, I repeat myself another 4 or 5 times reminding them to get dressed, make their beds and brush their teeth.

Once they are out the door and off to school, I try to squeeze in a game with my youngest before she too heads off to preschool.  However, most days, she would rather just play by herself.  Does this make me a bad mom?  Nope!  I ask her if she wants to do something with mommy and then if she tells me no, that was her choice.  I then start working.  Truth be told, I have to set a timer for myself so I don’t forget to stop working to take her to school.

There are times when I turn to my computer to escape my life.  I need to block out the fighting, the arguing, and the chaos which can come with being a mom.  It isn’t always work.  It is often trying to connect with others (as some of my closest friends “live” in my computer).  It is reading blogs.  It is following a twitter feed or even reading the news. I sometimes need just five more minutes to get a post done and need the kids to wait for a drink of milk.

There are other times when I want nothing to do with technology.  I want to snuggle with my kids. I want to play Red Light Green Light with them in the front yard.  I choose to hire a sitter and have a dinner out with my husband.

I’m the mom who says “Just 5 more minutes” which turns into 10 or 15 minutes.  I’m also the mom who drops what she is doing when her child asks her a question.  I’m the mom who loses her temper and yells.  I’m also the mom who drops everything to get another glass of chocolate milk or to find that lost toy.

Does any of this make me a bad mom?  Of course not.  I am far from perfect, but tell, me – who is?  What does perfect or a “good” mom mean?  To me, a good mom is one who loves her kids with all of her heart and does the best she can.  It isn’t about the diapers she uses, the way she feeds her infant or how she educates her kids.  It isn’t about the games they play, the crafts they do or the meals that you fix.  I am so tired of us all comparing ourselves and trying to achieve this perfect mom status.

None of us are perfect.  What we are, is human.  We are moms.  We love our kids.  We do our best.  That makes us all more alike than some may want to admit. Ask your kids and I am sure that they will tell you that you are the perfect mom.  And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters anyhow?

So, do I do it all? Nope.  Well, not perfectly.  And you know what?  That’s OK by me.

A Lesson I Learned From Kindergartners (And One I Wish the World Would Follow)

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kindergarten

This past week, I had an opportunity to join my son and 40 other fun loving kindergartners and go on a field trip.  As we all got ready to get onto the bus, some were excited while others were nervous.  When instructed, they all placed their lunches into a basket and lined up, ready to head out to the big yellow bus waiting for them outside.  They giggled and chattered while heading outside where they climbed on board.  They each started yelling “Zavier – sit by me!” “I want to sit by Lillian!”  “Where can I sit?”  Finally, we were all settled in and on our way.

As most kindergartners (who are bubbling up with anticipation at this point) might do – they got a tad loud.  They were ready to join their friends for a day of fun.  Even amongst the nearly deafening noise, I noticed all of these children talking to everyone around them.  No whispers.  No exclusions.  I figured it was part of the excitement of heading to our destination.

40 minutes later we arrived at the museum and everyone listened and lined up.  They all hung up their coats in orderly fashion.  No one tried to butt to the front of the line.  No one cared who hung up their coat first.  They did not cut in front of one another and no one yelled.  Again, I figured it was just excitement.

Once we were settled, we broke out into our groups and began to explore.  I watched all of these kids playing together.  No one cared that they had a different teacher or were not in the same class.  They were out of school and at a museum where they were allowed to encouraged to TOUCH everything!  They had so much fun exploring together.

The moment which really struck me was lunch time.  The kids all grabbed their lunches (which were filled with more Lunchables than I think I’ve seen outside of a grocery store display) and started eating.  They all talked to one another.  They laughed.  No one was excluded.

Did you read that “no one was excluded.”  These kids truly do not care what color of skin their classmate has.  They don’t care that one of the kids might be a tad overweight.  They don’t care if someone is not wearing name brand shoes.  It didn’t matter if her hair was styled perfectly and she was wearing the perfect accessory.  They don’t care if they are all different.  In fact, I don’t think they even really noticed.

As I watched, my mind took these 40 children forward 18 years — to the high school cafeteria.  Would any of these kids be shunned because of her size or the color of his skin? Would someone be excluded because he talked differently or because she was a smarter than the rest of them?  Would the one who was an amazing athlete still talk to the kid who couldn’t run if his life depended upon it?  Probably not.  But then again, adults wouldn’t either.

You see, kindergartners live in the moment.  They are excited to experience new things in life.  They love learning.  They love having so many friends to talk to and to play with.  They don’t care about that other stuff.  They don’t worry about where someone lives or what they have or don’t have.

I have often read All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, but it really struck me at this moment.  I saw this in action – in front of my very own eyes.    What I saw –I could tell these kids believed.  What I wondered is when do they learn to hate others?  More importantly — HOW do they learn this?  Is it just something in their DNA?  Do they learn it from parents, TV, magazines?

My guess is they learn this way of thinking through many influencers.  I just wish that there were a way for kids not to pick up these bad habits.  I just truly wish that they could keep the joy and faith in friends throughout their lives.  Would there be bullying?  Would anyone ever have to attend school in fear of being teased?  Would anyone have to avoid lunch time or friends because he or she was excluded?

Can you just imagine what an amazing world this would be, if we all had the open mind of a kindergartner?  Ponder that (while I reach for another juice box).

30 Days of Counting My Blessings: Day 2 – My Husband

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Continuing with my 30 days of blessings brings me to day 2!

Day 2.  What am I thankful for?

MY HUSBAND

God truly blessed me with an amazing man.  He has such a warm heart and has to be the most patient person in the world.  He gives me an amazing amount of support – no matter which direction my life may lead.

He loves his children more than words can say.  He is involved with their lives and takes time away from work to get get involved with school projects and even sucks it up and does those “not so fun” projects with them when they need it.

He loves me unconditionally.  He loves me when I am not the easiest person to love.  He isn’t perfect — but he is a perfect match for me.

What are you thankful for?