Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

If you’ve heard of impostor syndrome, chances are you’ve probably felt it at least once in your life. It’s actually a term that’s somewhat new to me. I first heard it a year or so ago when I was telling my husband that I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing as a blogger.

He told me there was actually a name for that- Impostor Syndrome. It’s when people doubt their skills and accomplishments and they feel like a fraud. When I looked it up, I found out that it was pretty common for bloggers. It helped to know that I was wasn’t the only one who felt this way sometimes.

Now that I’m exploring my options for going back to work as a counselor, I’m starting to feel impostor syndrome again. I haven’t done it in so long and I’m afraid that I won’t know what to say or how to help. Plus how can I help others when I’m dealing with my own problems? Surprisingly, I’ve learned that many counselors feel the same way. The more I learn about it, the more I see that most people have felt like an impostor at some point in their careers.

Letting it stop you from trying the thing you’ve always wanted to do isn’t the only option though. I’ve been working through mine with my counselor and today I realized that for me impostor syndrome comes from being a perfectionist. I put too much pressure on myself to be perfect. So I don’t feel like I’m an expert because I’m not perfect.

But expecting perfection from myself or anyone else is unrealistic. No one is perfect! No matter how hard you try, you can’t know everything there is to know. So instead of focusing on what I don’t know, I’m working on paying more attention to what I do know.

pinterest pin Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Fighting Impostor Syndrome

To overcome impostor syndrome, I’m working on reminding myself these things:

  • I have the skills I need to be a good counselor.
  • Not only do I have a Master’s degree, but I went through all of the steps to get licensed.
  • I care enough about helping others that I want to make it my job. That has to be a good place to start.
  • Before I had kids, I was building a successful private practice. My clients were coming back so they must have thought it was helping.
  • If I don’t try, I’ll never know if I could have been successful.

This is still a work in progress for me, but I will always have to keep learning and working on myself if I want to be good at anything.

If you’re trying something new or going back to work after some time away, maybe you’ve had the same fears I’ve had. What has helped you to work through the self-doubt?

Related Post

More Than Just A Mom

Disney Bound

When you plan a trip for six months, the pressure to get it right can feel overwhelming.

Add in a trip with kids where you’re spending thousands of dollars to what’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth and the fact that you tend to over think everything. And it can start to feel like you’re planning your wedding all over again.

A friend asked me if I felt like my families’ happiness was on my shoulders and it was like she was reading my thoughts. Except she isn’t a fortune teller. She’s just a mom who has planned a Disney trip or two.

I spent the week or two prior to our trip feeling almost frozen. All of the pressure had gotten to me.

The pressure that I had put on myself. My kids have only been to Disney once and they were only four and one. So really they had nothing to compare this trip to. They didn’t know how many or what kind of rides to expect.

The Spiral

Even still I had overwhelming anxiety about our trip. I started having anxiety about my anxiety. This wasn’t really something new to me, but this time it felt like it was never going to pass.

My anxiety had me fooled into thinking that I’d be too anxious to enjoy Disney World.

What has the world come to that moms are spending their time worrying about whether or not their family will have fun on vacation? It’s not that I didn’t have anything else to do. I just couldn’t get these bad thoughts out of my mind.

Thankfully once we set out to drive to Florida, all of that did fade away. It was like Disney was somehow already working it’s magic on me.

Am I the only one who has experienced this roller coaster of emotions? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Stay tuned next week for tips on surviving Disney World with kids.

Redefining The Summer Slump

I started out this summer on top of my game. I was feeling really good and ready to conquer spending 24/7 with my kids for the next ten weeks. They would have to earn screen time every day and it would be limited to two hours a day. I had ideas for activities to keep us busy and active every day. But even the best laid plans go out the window sometimes. 

Instead of setting screen time limits, I consider it a parenting win when there is an hour in the day that my kids are not watching tv or playing video games. Didn’t I say I’d never use tv as a babysitter? Never say never. 

Instead of spending time blogging every day, I’ve had a pretty consistent daily afternoon nap. But it’s ok, because this summer I’ve decided to totally embrace the “whatever goes motto.” I’m keeping my kids alive and fed and that means I’m doing my job. 

Instead of feeling guilty about how much screen time my kids are getting, I’m reminding myself that sometimes we’re meant to slow down. Instead of calling this season the Summer Slump, I’m renaming it the Summer Slow Down.

I’m considering the fact that maybe I need to catch up on my sleep. And I’m giving myself a little grace for not having activities planned every single day of the summer.

We’re actually getting ready to go on vacation tomorrow and then have another trip planned at the end of the month. So we’ll probably need a vacation from our vacations soon.

How is your summer going so far? Please tell me I’m not alone and share your story in the comments.

Surviving Summer As A Stay At Home Mom

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite. We will always give our honest opinions on these products and the opinions expressed on this blog are purely our own.

With the end of the school year right around the corner, I’m having mixed emotions. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a little, eating lots of watermelon, going on summer vacation, and hopefully getting to spend our days at the pool.

I’m also dreading it a little bit. Is that bad?

As a stay at home mom, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to survive this summer. My kids being out of school also means that I will have less time to myself. It also means less time to write, get errands done, and that I basically become their event planner for the summer. 

I’ve been feeling kind of stressed out too. May is always a stressful month to me.

There are so many extra things going on in May such as:

  • Teacher appreciation week
  • Swim team practice
  • Soccer games on Saturdays
  • Taekwondo twice a week
  • Planning summer vacations

Someone pointed out to me the other day that the stress is also because May is a time of transition. We’re transitioning from the school year to the summer. Even though this is mostly a good thing, it still means a change in our routine.

I was thinking about what makes me feel less stressed and I thought other moms might want to hear what I’m doing to help myself survive this summer as a stay at home mom.

5 Tips for Surviving Summer as a “Stay at Home Mom”

1. Lower your expectations. Then lower them again.

I’ve always said that the best way to survive anything as a mom is to lower your expectations. Recently I heard someone add on to that advice by saying to lower your expectations and then make them even lower. It’s such good advice in my opinion. Not because you should strive for being a bad mom this summer. But because we as moms tend to strive for perfection. We think we have to do it all for our kids. In reality what our kids enjoy most are the little things like making memories together and getting our undivided attention.

2. Allow your kids to earn screen time.

One thing I’m planning to do to make this summer easier is to make my kids earn screen time every day. I’m going to do this by using a reward system.

For example: They can read a book, do chores, or play with each other without fighting for 1 hr. Then they’ll earn 1 hour of screen time. My boys are 6 and 9 so an hour is feasable for them. But if you have younger kids, you might want to try 30 minutes.

This will help give my kids something sense of routine and then while they are having screen time I will be able to get things done. I don’t know about you, but the only time I can really get anything done when my kids are home is when they are either watching tv or playing video games. Otherwise, I have to get them a snack, drink, or play referee every 5 minutes. 

3. Plan a vacation or staycation.

Having something to look forward to always helps me get through days that are harder as a mom. This year we’re planning a trip to Disney and to the mountains with family. We’re all looking forward to both trips of course!

4. Schedule self-care.

Find a way to get regular breaks. I blog about the importance of taking care of yourself as a mom pretty often. You can check out my previous posts What Self Care Means To Moms or Self Care For Busy Moms to learn more about why self-care is important.

During the summer when kids will be home 24/7 scheduling self-care into your week or even every day if you can is going to be essential to surviving! Hire a high schooler to help a few hours a week if you can. If you can’t find a way to get a break, then wake up early and take 10 minutes to do something that’s just for you. 

Sometimes I think we make self-care out to be harder than it is. It can become another thing we have to do that we don’t have time for. But even taking 5-10 minutes a day or a few times a week to do something for yourself can help you fill your cup. Then you’ll be able to be a better mom for your kids.

5. Celebrate summer with a party.

Since we have been counting down the days until summer break, I obviously know how excited my kids are for the last day of school. Instead of focusing on the challenges summer will bring, celebrating this transition will be more fun.

We’re going to invite some of our neighbors and school friends over for a water balloon fight on the last day of school. I’ll blow up our kiddie pool and get the water slide out.

I might even ask the ice cream truck to drive by that day. Because what kid doesn’t love ice cream? Nothing says summer more than getting to pick out your favorite treat while listening to the catchy ice cream truck tune.

Planning Your Party

Basic Invite has FREE websites that you can use for your party as well as beautiful stationery to help you get the word out to your guests. Since I just decided at the last minute to throw a Celebrate Summer Party, I’m using the free website tool. Then I can just send the link to our friends and even share it on social media if I want to!

If you have a High School Senior, Basic Invite also has graduation announcements, personalized graduation invites, and graduation open house invitations. They’re great quality and completely customizable.

Basic Invite graduation announcements and party invitations
Basic Invite Graduation Announcements

A few other reasons I like Basic Invite are:

  • Almost Unlimited Color Options- Over 180 different colors to choose from.
  • Custom Samples- So you can see the paper quality and how your invitation will print.
  • Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes- They’re all peel and seal to make it easier to send them out quickly!
  • Address Capturing Service- Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows you to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media to request friends and family’s addresses.
  • Foil- Foil cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold. You can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs.

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51. So it’s a great time to give them a try!

Basic Invite Birthday Invitations

I hope these tips help you survive your summer as a stay at home mom. If you’re a mom, what would you add to the list? We’d love for you to share in the comments!

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Unusual Pomp and Circumstance

10 Simple Ways Moms Can Help Save The Environment

If you read my post about finding your passion, you might already know that saving the environment is important to me. But you may not have realized how many ways you can help. I know that my actions alone will not save the planet. What I can do is share some ideas with you that might help you make small changes. Together we can make a bigger impact.

Thanks to being raised by John Denver loving parents, I know that we should “Celebrate Earth Day, every day.” But of course, the day we all officially celebrate Earth Day reminds us how precious our world is. Earth Day makes us stop and think about how important it is to take care of our planet!

I recently spoke to friend and former classmate Allen Ellison who is running for Florida’s US Senate seat in in 2022. He is committed to curbing the effects of climate change and preserving our natural resources to reduce the impact on our children’s health and future. When asked how his campaign’s platform on protecting the environment affects moms Ellison stated, “All moms should want the best future for their children and that means supporting a clean environment for them to enjoy. As Senator, I will push for ways to combat climate change, clean our water, protect our environment and save our public lands through legislation and strong advocacy. “

How Can Moms Help Save The Environment?

There are many little things that moms can do to help their families be a part of saving the environment. Instead of seeing the problem of climate change as something out of our reach, we can make small changes in each of our homes.

Over spring break this year, we visited a sea turtle rescue in the Florida panhandle. I didn’t expect my family to be so interested, but we ended up spending almost 2 hours there. We learned a lot about how our everyday behaviors can pose a threat to our animals.

For example, bringing a plastic grocery bag with you to the beach can actually stop a sea turtle from being able to nest. We often bring these types of bags with us so that we have somewhere to put all of our trash. Then we can make sure to bring our trash out with us and throw it away. But think about how easily a plastic trash bag can be carried away by a strong gust of wind! Instead of bringing plastic bags, make sure to bring a canvas bag or something that is actually biodegradable in case it does accidentally blow away.

Here’s another thing that I learned years ago that stuck with me. Avoid buying soda or drinks that are packaged with plastic rings around them. These plastic rings can get stuck around our animals necks. If we do end up buying drinks like this, I always make sure to cut the rings up. At least that way they won’t get stuck on an animal.

Mother and child holding hands with recycling icon on top showing how they are saving the environment

Make Small Changes

I used to get overwhelmed when I thought about eliminating all of the products that my family uses that might be harmful to the environment. But I’ve changed my mindset. Now I try to think about how making small changes can have a bigger impact over time.

If we use reusable silicone bags instead of a ziplock bag for my kids’ school lunches, that saves around 400 ziplock bags per year! Even if I use reusable bags only half of the time, we are still stopping 200 plastic bags from ending up in landfills or oceans!

Here are 10 other changes you can make that might seem small, but that can make a big impact over time.

10 Simple Changes For Moms To Help Save The Environment

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1. Skip the straws.

You may have noticed recently that many restaurants don’t offer you a straw unless you ask. Some don’t have straws at all which has forced people to start carrying around reusable straws. There are so many options for reusable straws, but my preference would be stainless steel like these by VEHHE.

2. Avoid buying new decor for your house just so it can match.

This isn’t something that I thought about having an impact on our environment. A friend pointed out  that wanting to have all of your plastic storage containers match is going to use more plastic than necessary. Does it really matter if you have mismatched plastic bins in your closet or under your bed? Instead of going out to buy new ones, use what you already have.

3. If you do want to get rid of household items, make sure to donate them to someone that can use them.

We have a really cool Facebook group in my community called Buy Nothing. You can pretty much find someone to take anything off your hands. You can also find things you might need there too. What you might consider old and useless may actually be something that one of your neighbors can use!

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

4. Use reusable bags.

I’ve been trying for years to use reusable shopping bags when I go grocery shopping, but for some reason I can’t get myself in the habit. I asked some friends their tips on making this a habit and here’s what they suggested:

  • Put reusable shopping bags in your car where you will see them when you get to the grocery store.
  • One mom suggested putting them under her daughter’s car seat. So when she grabbed her daughter, she would see the bags.
  • Another friend suggested putting the bags right by the door so that I would remember to grab them on my way out.

5. Stop buying bottled water.

This can seem so simple, but it can have a really big impact. I actually prefer the taste of drinking water out of a filter from our fridge to bottled water. Plus I can fit a lot more water into a reusable water bottle and keep it cold longer.

6. Replace ziplock bags with reusable silicone bags.

Like I said before, this can have a really big impact over time even if you don’t use reusable bags every day. Here’s one brand that several of my friends recommended:

7. Stop using makeup remover pads or cotton balls.

My sister-in-law crocheted the women in my family some make-up remover pads and they actually work better than cotton balls. They are machine washable and will last a really long time. If you don’t have a crafty sister-in-law like me, you can

8. Switch to unpaper towels.

I recently discovered unpaper towels! They might sound silly, but they’re basically just a towel made from terry cloth that you can use multiple times, wash, and use again! Plus they usually have a fun pattern that makes cleaning a little more fun. (Ok ok maybe not fun, but at least they can brighten it up a little).

9. Buy concentrated cleaning products.

Norwex has many products that can help you make an impact on the environment. One of my favorites is their thieves spray which you can mix with water and use to clean your counters, degreasing, or even as an air freshener.

10. Limit the amount of meat you cook with.

A friend of mine Lori Randall, has a blog that shares how her family is making changes in how they live to reduce their carbon footprint. You can read her blog Kissing Carbon Goodbye here and learn more simple changes to make to reduce your carbon footprint. She also includes changes that will take more effort, but have an even bigger impact.

Lori points out that raising livestock accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually, especially ruminants like cows. She refers to Paul Hawkin’s book Drawdown. In his book Hawkins ranks reducing food waste #3 and changing to a plant-based diet #4 out of 80 solutions to stop global warming.

This one would be hard for my family, but you can make small changes here too. If a recipe calls for 1 lb of meat, use .75lbs instead. That probably wouldn’t be enough to really notice a difference in your meal. Over time it can have a big impact on the environment though.

Some of these changes may seem like a lot. But any change worth making is hard. Over time, it will become part of your lifestyle and you won’t miss it.

What other changes can moms make to help save the environment? What would you add to the list? Please share them in the comments section!

 

 

Nerf Darts & Dirty Socks

Everywhere I look there are nerf darts and dirty socks. They’re in between the couch cushions, wedged under every piece of furniture, and jammed into every corner of my house. I swear I could probably spend all day picking up the tiny little pieces of neon orange foam and still not get all of them.

To make matters worse, at some point over the last year my husband decided to buy a giant box of like 500 more of them. I have no idea what he was thinking. It must have been a pandemic induced state of psychosis. Clearly he thought it was necessary to bring his nerf game to the next level. But did he even consider how much extra work it would be to clean them all up?

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing how much fun my boys have getting into these nerf gun wars. They love it anytime their dad plays with them, especially when he chases them around the house. Even though it always inevitably ends with someone crying because they got shot in the face.

The Aftermath

But somehow when the war is over everyone magically disappears. Then I’m the one left to pick it all up. I know, I know, I could force my kids to help clean them up, but have you ever actually made a 6 year old pick up their toys? It’s pretty excruciating. I’d even say that I might enjoy going to the dentist more than suffering through more than 10 minutes of it.

Let’s not forget about all the dirty socks I’ve been gifted with over the years. On top of being squished up into tiny little balls and somehow strategically placed in every room of the house, they’re also super stinky! Do boys not have a sense of smell? If that was the case, things would actually make a lot more sense.

On top of the dirty socks and nerf darts, there’s the endless crumbs under the kitchen table, toothpaste smeared all over the bathroom sink, and couch cushion forts in the living room.  There isn’t one room in our house that hasn’t been taken over and destroyed by the kids.

Excuse The Mess We Live Here

Embrace The Mess

Let’s face it though, it comes with the territory. Once you have kids, your house will never truly be clean again. Not for long anyways. Even if I do spend all day getting it spotless, as soon as they get home the mess will instantly reappear.

Just like I’ll never win the war on laundry or dishes, I’ll never be able to pick up all the nerf darts. I have learned a few tricks, like threatening to give everything that doesn’t get cleaned up to charity. They work sometimes, but not without lots of tears. Sometimes we can motivate the kids to clean up when it’s time for them to get paid their monthly allowance. Nothing works better than bribing them with money.

We usually just end up cleaning like crazy before someone comes over. Honestly though, I’d rather have friends that don’t care if the house is messy when they come over. Those are the best friends in my opinion.

In reality, I have to let the mess go. Because if I’m going to let the mess bother me, I’m probably going to spend my whole time as a mom being bothered. That would take all the fun out of being a mom!

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More Than Just A Mom

Have you ever felt like you didn’t know what to do with your life? If you’re a mom I’m sure you’re probably always busy. You have a never-ending list of things that need to be done like housework, grocery shopping, giving your kids attention, and trying to find time to exercise. Or you’re working a 9-5 job, but you just aren’t feeling fulfilled. Maybe that’s because you haven’t asked yourself the right questions to help you with finding your passion.

My inspiration:

I personally always thought I knew what my purpose in life was, but when I became a mom, it seemed so out of reach. For a long time, my dream was to be a pediatrician. When I was 8 or 9, I got a human skeleton kit for Christmas. I remember spending hours learning about all of the bones- what their names were and where they were supposed to go. Then I’d put the whole thing together and take it apart over and over. I was fascinated!

Seeing the movie Patch Adams inspired me to be a doctor even more. I wanted to be just like Patch Adams and open a clinic for sick kids. It was going to be a place that would be fun and kids wouldn’t be scared to go there. 10 years or so later, I still had that same dream. I started out college as pre-med, but after the first semester, I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I hated chemistry and biology, and spending the next 7+ years learning about those subjects sounded daunting!

The problem was, I had convinced myself so early on that I had to be a doctor and had no clue what my other options were. I was also ashamed and thought everyone would be disappointed if I gave up on my dream so easily.

Luckily no one really cared!

Besides maybe volleyball, my favorite class at the time was psychology. I easily changed my major and then got my master’s in counseling. After going through multiple losses as a child, and then my dad in college, I realized what I really wanted to do was help people. I wanted to help kids who had experienced loss too. People were always telling me they thought I was good with kids and I really enjoyed being around them. So it felt like working with children in some capacity was what God wanted me to do with my life.

When I first became a mom, I was working part-time at a psychiatric hospital while trying to build a play therapy practice. Juggling two jobs as a new mom didn’t last long and I eventually closed my practice. Not only was I feeling burnt out and exhausted, but I was really self-conscious about the fact I didn’t know what I was doing. I felt like a fraud trying to tell other people how to parent. Honestly, all I really wanted was to be at home with my baby.

Changing Directions

At that time, I started working for an insurance company doing reviews for behavioral healthcare. Even though the job paid really well, I started feeling less fulfilled. That experience taught me that money isn’t everything and reminded me that what I really wanted to do with my life was make a positive impact.

When my 2nd son was born, we decided that the cost of daycare wasn’t worth the long hours and emotional stress my job was causing. So, I became a stay-at-home-mom. I remember thinking how great it would be to not have to “work” anymore. Being a full-time mom and housewife wasn’t all it had been cracked up to be though. We’ve all heard the term, the grass is always greener. It’s so true! Even though the 2nd time around with a newborn was much easier for us, I was always exhausted and constantly waiting for the day to end.

Starting Over

Our original plan had been that I’d go back to work once both our boys were in school.  When that time finally came, I had no clue what I wanted to do! I’d spent all those years in school getting a degree to become a counselor, but I just couldn’t see myself doing it anymore.

I got a part-time job at a church where I worked weekends, but that meant getting to spend less time with my family. Somewhere during that time I started blogging, but I wasn’t spending much time on it. Mainly because I didn’t HAVE any time!

Then my husband encouraged me to quit the job at the church and start writing more. It seemed like it could really be my dream job. The hours would be flexible and I could do two of the things I enjoy- helping people by sharing my experiences and writing.

Little did I know how much it would take to build a successful blog though. Finally now after about 2 ½ years it’s starting to feel more like I’m doing what I should be doing with my life.

Writing about the struggles of being a mom is therapeutic and it also gives me a sense of purpose. When I start to have doubts, I remember that maybe there’s a mom out there somewhere that needs to hear what I have to say. That drives me to make myself keep going.

One lesson I’ve learned is that you can always find a way to do what you love, but nothing in life is EVER really easy. Actually, the things in life that are worth doing can sometimes be THE HARDEST!

Here’s what helped me find my passion:

So many people have helped me figure out what to do with my life over the past 15 years since graduation. They all basically said the same thing, “You just need to find your passion!”

This topic was once a source of frustration and pain, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt like I’d spent my whole life trying to figure that out! At one point, I thought maybe I was meant to “just be a mom”.  There were times when it felt like I had even lost my identity completely to motherhood. Now I know that for that season of my life, my job was actually to be “just a mom.”

As I approach 40 this year, now I’m realizing that not everyone knows what they want to be right after college. Actually, I think most people change careers at some point, especially moms.

The more I thought about the question “what are you passionate about?” the more I could see that there were actually a lot of things. It took a few years for me to really figure it out, but my goals in life are pretty simple.

They fall into 3 categories:

  • Achieving World Peace
  • Saving the Environment
  • Finding a Cure for Cancer

Ok, maybe they’re not so simple after all. But there are little things I can do that will help make an impact.

I can help moms see that they aren’t alone by sharing my parenting struggles. I can teach my kids how to be more aware of how our actions harm the environment.

Sometimes I think I can help achieve world peace, but then I realize I can’t control how others think or what they do. What I can do is try to be a positive influence on other people.

Now I’m realizing that it’s ok that I struggled with finding my passion at first. At that time in my life, my job actually WAS to take care of my kids. That was the whole reason I became a stay-at-home mom when I did.

So, if you’re like I was a few years ago and just starting to think about what you want to do with your life at 35, you aren’t alone. Finding your passion can be really overwhelming at first! If you can find time in your busy schedule, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the questions below though. Maybe they’ll help you start to see what you’re meant to do.

Text HOW MOMS CAN FIND THEIR PASSION AFTER KIDS with image of a mom on a computer

5 Questions to Consider When Finding Your Passion:

1) What brings you joy?

What makes you happy and gives you the feel-good vibes? What makes you smile when you think about it? For me, it’s getting outside. I’m at my happiest when I’m outside, especially when I’m near water. Going to the beach or to the river by our house helps me feel calm and it makes me feel more grounded.

When I start to feel off-balance, I try to go outside for a walk or run. It’s not always easy with my kids’ busy schedules, but my husband knows that it’s something I need to do in order to stay sane!  Here are some other ways I stay balanced as a busy mom. 

2) What drives you to wake up in the morning?

Besides your alarm, what are the things that motivate you to crawl out of bed instead of hitting snooze all day? For many people the answer is money and for moms, it’s usually our kids. We usually don’t have a choice but to wake up and make them breakfast or to make sure they aren’t going to burn the house down.

Try to think about it differently though. If you had all the time and money in the world what would you want to spend your day doing?

3) What do you want to learn more about?

What are you interested in? When you were in school, what were your favorite subjects or the ones you were best at?

4) What do you wish you could do more often?

Again, forget about how busy you are and just think about the things you wish you had more time to do. If this season of your life is too full it’s ok. You can come back to them later when you have more down time.

5) What are the things you care about most?

Are there any causes that you want to get more involved in like rescuing animals or reducing pollution? Once you’ve spent time thinking about these things, find a way to do them more often. Maybe you can volunteer while your kids are in school or on the weekends. Or maybe you just spend time learning more about an organization that interests you.

Do what works for you.

If you don’t have time to volunteer right now, maybe you can donate money or resources to organizations that support these things. For you, it could be that being on a committee or emailing someone who works there to share your ideas.

I’ve been involved as a volunteer in many roles over the years as a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes the most valuable person in a meeting was the person who suggested a fundraiser that we hadn’t thought of. Or maybe they had a connection to someone who we didn’t and were able to start a conversation that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Even if they weren’t able to see the idea through, there were others in the organization who knew of a group of people who could help.

Sometimes a little help can go a long way too. Part of my job when I worked at the church was recruiting volunteers to help with special events. Without the guy who came to help move heavy boxes for 30 minutes, we would have never been able to put on the Christmas event for our families. You might not realize it, but a few minutes of your time once a quarter can have a big impact.

Maybe you aren’t at the stage of your life where you have time to do what you’re passionate about. Or you might not have any clue how to figure that out right now. That’s ok. Being a mom is an important job too and it may actually be the most important one of all.

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Finding Joy In The Chaos

Finding joy during the chaos of the holidays can be almost impossible sometimes. It’s easy to get so caught up in your to-do list that you forget the reason you’re celebrating in the first place. 

The song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has been playing on repeat in my head. It’s kind of like a slap in the face at times, because there’s a chance this year it really will be just me celebrating by myself. If we’re lucky, we may get to spend time with our immediate family, but it will be a little different. We won’t give each other hugs, and we’ll try to keep 6 feet apart.

There’s also a chance that I’ll be in quarantine in my bedroom if the COVID test I took on Friday comes back positive. It’s more than likely just a bad sinus infection for me, but there’s always that fear that I’ve got the virus.

Since so many other people are in the same boat, the testing sites are overcrowded with multiple hour waits. And test results that might normally be back in 3 days are taking 5. So my anxiety is a little bit ramped up right now. 

Remember last year when I wrote about Managing Holiday Stress? Well on top of all the usual chaos of the holidays, this year we all get to add in more things to worry about. 

For me the added stress is questioning: 

  • Do I have COVID or is it just a bad cold? 
  • Should we get together with our families?
  • If we do see our families for the holidays, what does that look like?
  • Should we order dinner so that we don’t have to worry about making everything and then having to change our plans at the last minute? 
  • Is it safe to travel across state lines?
  • What about that one relative who doesn’t believe in wearing masks, are we going to take the risk and see them?

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that stress levels are at an all time high for us all.

Despite these things, I truly believe it’s still possible to have a Merry Christmas this year.
A few nights ago I watched the cheesy “chic flick” as my hubby likes to call them, “The Secret: Dare To Dream.” This movie is based on the book “The Secret'”, by Rhonda Byrne. 

The book is about the idea of positive thinking and how each of us has the ability to impact the outcome of our lives with our thoughts. It was a good reminder to me that life really is what you make it. It may seem cliche or hoaky poaky to some of you, but I think that if you believe something in your heart, you really can influence the way that your life turns out.

thinking positively despite others negativity

The thing is, it’s all about perception.

Let me give you an example. I have two boys who are close to the same age (6 and 8). One of them seems to approach most things in life with a glass-half-empty point of view and the other is usually a little more optimistic. 

I told a friend the other day that my oldest is my emo kid. My other son is super laid back and easy going. So when we deliver bad news to both of them, it seems like the older one immediately gets upset and starts to think the worst. The younger one, often responds with things like, “That’s ok. We can still have fun!” 

A change in plans.

We found out last week that my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids won’t be able to come for Christmas this year due to increased COVID cases where we live and potential exposures within our immediate family. We’ve been looking forward to them coming for a few months. We were all optimistic that if we were extra careful, and stayed home the weeks leading up to the holidays they would be able to make it. But sometimes the best laid plans fall to pieces. Understandably, they decided that it’s too risky to travel from Texas to Georgia given everything going on. 

I waited to tell my kids because I knew they would be disappointed. Plus the day I found out they weren’t coming was also the day of their holiday parties at school. They were super excited about being off for the Winter Break and I didn’t want to ruin that. 

The next day, my oldest must have heard our conversations and figured out what was going on. Either that or he put two and two together when playdates started getting canceled, school had to switch to virtual learning, and we started avoiding playgrounds if there were any other kids there. 

So he asked me if his cousins were still coming for Christmas. I had to tell him the truth and give him the bad news. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. So I gave him permission to be sad. I told him I was disappointed too, but told him that it just wasn’t safe to travel right now. He stormed off to his room and started crying. When I went in to talk to him, he said, “This is the worst day of my life!”

Staying Optimistic

My 6 year old walked in a few minutes later and asked what was wrong. I explained that his cousins weren’t going to be able to come for Christmas and his response was, “Oh….Hey mom can you read me a book?” Then he tried to console his brother and said something about how we could still do other fun stuff right? 

Both of my kids had valid responses to the situation and were disappointed, but one reacted with a more positive outlook than the other. Just like moms can also choose how to react to the chaos they may be experiencing right now- The chaos caused by all the uncertainty and fear that we’re facing. 

You can choose to react with sadness, disappointment, and anger. You can choose to get angry about your circumstances and blame others for why things aren’t going the way you hoped. 

Or you can choose joy.

Pinterest image that says finding joy in the chaos

You can celebrate the small things that are going right for your family. Celebrate that you can be together.

Find something small to be thankful for in each moment. It could be that you have food to eat for Christmas dinner. Even if it’s not the usual 5-course meal with all of your relatives. Maybe you can think of the bright side that you and your kids have more time to spend with each other this year rather than traveling from place to place to spend time with all the different sides of your family. 

If you decide to see your family, you can be thankful that you get to spend the holidays with them. And you can celebrate the fact that you’re healthy enough to be together.  

Moms, you can still make the holidays bright for your family this year, no matter what your individual circumstances are. Sometimes it’s hard to see the light in all the darkness, but if you take time to open your eyes you will. It’s there! 

Moving Forward

On that note, I’m going to be taking a few weeks off to reflect on 2020. As much as I just want to forget about this year altogether, it will be good to reflect on the good and the bad. How can I learn from my mistakes and parts of my life I want to improve if I don’t acknowledge them? 

I’m not going to dwell on the past too much though. Since there was so much to be sad about this year, it will be more fun to focus on the future. 

We’re all hoping that 2021 will be a better year. I think it’s looking like that’s entirely possible. Yes, I know the virus isn’t going away, but I have hope. I AM trying to put out positive thoughts that I want for 2021, remember?

What will you focus on this holiday season as we get ready to start a new year? Share in the comments how you’re going to celebrate joy and what you have to be merry about this holiday season. 

Get “The Secret” on Amazon here:the cover of the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne

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Here’s Why Asking For Help Is So Hard For Moms

Why is it that every self-help article or book for moms reminds us that we have to ask for help yet moms still don’t do it?

For one thing, we all have this mentality that we should be super mom and that we have to do it all. Or at least I do anyway. Maybe that just comes from my competitive nature and the desire to be the best at everything.

I’m working on not comparing myself to others, but that’s hard to do! Especially when sometimes it feels like everyone else around me is happy and I’m not.

To make matters worse, moms are constantly being bombarded with more things to-do.

My To-do List On A Typical Day

“Mom I need more clean underwear! “

Suddenly I remember that I forgot to do that load of laundry before I ran out the door to carpool. Now I set out to move the huge pile of dirty clothes to the basement laundry room, sort it, remember to switch the clean clothes from the wash to the dryer, fold them or at least sort by person, then I can put some underwear in my son’s drawer.

As I’m going through the clean clothes I remember that my 8 year old has had yet another growth spurt and none of his pants from last year fit anymore. I make a mental note to shop online later and order him some more pants. Then I remember that the pants I ordered online last week from brands he usually wears were long enough but too loose in the waist. Maybe I can find some on Ama….I think as my thoughts are interrupted by my youngest son.

laundry piling up because the mom doesn't want to ask for help

“Mom, what are we having for dinner?”

Oh yeah, I’m getting to that, as soon as I finish the laundry. Crap I forgot about the dishes in the sink. As I’m going to the sink I remember that when I did the grocery pick up order this week they were out of low carb tortillas, so I have to run out to the store if we want to have taco night. I didn’t defrost any other meat and it’s 5:30, so that’s our only option.

Husband: “You know we could just get take out. That would be a lot easier.”

But we’ve eaten take out the past 2 nights and I know that’s not good for us. We were just at the pediatrician’s office last week and I had to fudge on my answer when the nurse asked how often we eat fast food per week. Plus it costs a lot of money. And if we want to stay within our budget this month we can’t eat out every single night!

mom on computer with kids climbing on her with text Here's Why Asking For Help Is So Hard For Moms

This is the constant battle moms have to face.

Figuring out how to do what’s best for our kids, but at the same time finding the best work/life balance. Which is another added stressor for many of us moms.

We’re constantly asking ourselves:

  • Do I go back to work full time or do I continue being a stay at home mom?
  • Do I take on more hours at work so we can be in a better situation with our finances?
  • Or do I continue working part-time so that I can be there more for my kids?
  • Maybe I should pick up a “side hustle” so that we can save even more. Plus my friend’s always asking me to join her business selling stuff. Then I could get it for free! (Ahem I’ve tried this one a few times!)

Another reason that we don’t ask for help is that we don’t see other moms doing it very often.

How many times have you seen a friend struggling and said, “let me know if you need anything” only to realize 6 months later that you never heard from them? Then you find out they were struggling a lot of that time and they didn’t reach out. They figured out how to make it through it themselves, or maybe they just didn’t want to ask for help.

Mom who is pretending to be brave and strong like a superhero.

Why is that? It’s not easy to admit that you can’t do everything it takes to be a mom on your own. We all want to show that we’re strong. Or we want to BE strong. We don’t want to admit defeat. Plus we know deep down that all the pressure we’re under is worth having kids. And we know that it’s not going to last forever.

There’s also the mentality for some that all of these things are our jobs as moms. So if we complain or ask for help we sound ungrateful. I personally also don’t really like burdening my friends or family with my problems. I feel like most of the time I created them, so why should I need help solving them?

Or maybe moms don’t like to ask for help because we’re ashamed. If we ask for help then we often have to explain why we need it. Then we wonder if we’re sharing too much about our personal life. This is probably more related to my own social anxiety than anything, but I do think more people struggle with social anxiety than not. Or at least a lot of the moms that I know do.

I know I will survive!

I’m pretty lucky to have some great friends and family who are willing to drop everything and do what they can to help me when I ask.  It’s not always convenient for them, but they will help anyway. They’d rather inconvenience themselves than see me suffer, because that’s what people who truly care about you will do!

I just have to actually ask. Otherwise, they won’t even know that I need help. Most of the time they’re either too busy or too distracted with their own lives. Plus, I do a pretty good job of hiding it when I’m struggling.

So, moms, I encourage you to get past your fears, your embarrassment, and your pride. Talk to your friends and family if you’re struggling. Ask for help. Find a therapist or call your doctor. You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is so much more to life than that! Sometimes all it takes is one call to help you get back on your feet.

If you know a mom who might need to hear this, be sure to share it with her! Sharing is caring!

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The Grass Is Always Greener For Moms

Has anyone been watching the Canadian tv series Workin’ Moms on Netflix? I first heard about it a few months ago when some of my friends recommended it.

At that point, I had kind of written it off since I wasn’t technically a “working mom.” I worried I wouldn’t be able to relate, and to be honest, kind of brushed it off as rude that they had their own tv show. Those working moms….

But since we’ve had more time at home lately, I’ve found myself binge-watching a lot of tv shows. Sometimes late at night (or in the wee hours of the morning) when I can’t sleep, I surprisingly get some time to watch tv shows that I know my husband will have no interest in.

As I’m sitting here now writing this, it’s, 5 a.m. and I’m doing just that. I’m noticing that the working moms’ club is definitely not exclusive to only moms who work 9-5 jobs outside of the home. In fact, it was never meant to be that way.

How so, you say? Well, because EVERY mom works.

Some may work part-time, some overtime, some even work multiple jobs. But most of us moms never really stop working! Especially if our kids are still little and really as long as they’re still living at home.

Once they go to college the work doesn’t actually stop. It just becomes “work” around trying to get our grown children to cut the apron strings. The focus of parenting changes to teaching them to support themselves without us physically being there every day.

Our Current Situation

With most schools deciding to go virtual in the Fall, the workload is suddenly feeling like it’s going to be even BIGGER for all of us. Parents are having to make really hard family decisions.

A mom struggling to work and spend time with her kid

Questions moms are thinking about right now:

  • How do I keep our family safe while still being able to provide for their needs?
  • Who will make sure my kids are where they need to be academically if they haven’t seen a teacher face to face in months?
  • Am I qualified to be my child’s teacher on top of everything else I already do?
  • Do I have the time, energy, and patience to teach them?
  • How will I get my “real” job done and make sure they’re still learning?
  • How can I possibly keep my sanity any longer?
  • What will all of this cost?
  • How long is it going to last? How long can we live like this?
  • Will people think I’m selfish if I prioritize what I want instead of what my kids need?
  • Is the risk of sending my kids back to school in person worth it?
  • Should we uproot our whole family and move somewhere else?

Some moms don’t even get to decide anything. The choices have already been made for them! Luckily I have a partner in all of this, but some moms don’t. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that is for them!

For me, the question is whether or not it’s a good time for me to go back to work.

Outside of a few part-time jobs, I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for the past 5 years. It feels like I’m being forced to decide if going back to work right now is more important than the safety of my kids.

Then I start to think about not only my family’s physical needs, but also how much they need to be with their friends and how we all need a break from each other. What ends up happening for me, is I just get overwhelmed with all of the unknowns and what-ifs. I usually just put the decisions off and hope they’ll be easier later.

As I listen to other friends of mine trying to navigate making these difficult decisions for their own families, I’m reminded that the grass is always greener.

No matter what your situation is in parenting, there’s always going to be someone else’s life that seems better. It’s so easy from the outside to think others have it easier than we do, but in reality, we all have struggles. We all just carry them differently.

Moms who are jealous of each other

What we choose to share with others isn’t always the real picture. So, I think we as moms have to stick together. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll keep saying it… It takes a village!

Here are a few ways that we can help each other wade through these waters together.

I’m sure you can think of other ways to help the moms in your own life. I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!

6 TIPS TO HELP MOMS MAKE BIG DECISIONS

1. THINK ABOUT YOUR VALUES

What’s most important to you and your family? Make that your priority.

Take a break from social media so you can quiet all of other peoples’ opinions and focus on what really matters to YOUR family.

2. REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT

Whatever your situation is, you are not alone.

Some days it may feel like you’re the only one struggling with something, but I guarantee someone out there is feeling the same way. You just have to look for them!

3. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

We won’t know all the answers right away and we may never know ALL the answers. Give yourself some grace to make mistakes and just try to put one step in front of the other.

Take it one day at a time right now. We don’t really know for sure what tomorrow’s going to look like anyway. So I suggest making decisions about the future based on how things look right now.

4. STOP JUDGING OTHERS

A friend of mine recently told me about how several years ago her daughter wanted to go further in gymnastics. She couldn’t though because the only thing offered at her gym was practice every day from 4:30-5:30.

And when she asked how working moms did it, she was met with an awkward glare. I think she described the other person as saying something like, “Oh you’re one of those.” Or maybe she just interpreted it that way.

A mom being hypocritical and judging another mom

The point is, every mom’s situation is different and we all are doing the best we can.

Aren’t we supposed to be on the same team anyway? So don’t judge other moms for the decisions they make for their families.

Chances are when you start focusing on yourself, making your own decisions will be a lot easier.

5. DON’T BE TOO SENSITIVE

This may sound like a contradiction, but what I mean is don’t take everything personally. Sometimes what may feel like someone judging your ability to be a mom, isn’t.

It may be your own insecurity. The person you’re feeling that from may even be projecting how they feel like a bad mom on you because they wish they could be more like you!

6. LEAN IN TO HELP

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You may have never actually taken your next-door neighbor up on their offer to help watch your kids. Now is the time to do it. One day you can return the favor somehow.

Or hire help if you can. It’s ok to pay someone to come clean your house once a month if that will help make your to-do list a little shorter on the weekends.

Do what works for YOU! I’m not pretending to be an expert, but I do want moms to know that they aren’t alone. We have to stick together!

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