Unusual Pomp and Circumstance

Last Friday was my kids’ last official day of school. Surprisingly they weren’t as excited for that day to come as I expected. I thought they’d be thrilled to be done with homeschooling with their least favorite teacher. But to them it felt like any other day.

Maybe that was because the days are all blurring together now and they really didn’t know what day it was.

We were blessed by a family whose business sponsored an ice cream truck in our neighborhood to celebrate the last day of school. A few days before their teachers had hosted end of the year “parties on zoom.” But it just wasn’t the same.

That night at dinner I asked my 5-year-old if he was excited that he finished Kindergarten and was moving up to 1st grade. His response kind of threw me for a loop.

“But I didn’t finish Kindergarten!” he said. 

That’s when I realized that he was seeing everything from a totally different perspective. Through his eyes, school stopped abruptly two months ago and he never went back.

He didn’t get to have a Kindergarten graduation where his name would have been called so that he could walk across the cafeteria stage to get his diploma. There was no party with his classmates or watching movies and eating sugary treats during the last week of school.

school bus

I know that graduating from Kindergarten isn’t as big of a deal as graduating from high school. He didn’t miss his Senior prom or his Senior Skip Day. Luckily for him, there will be plenty more years of school to see his friends again. There will be time to make memories and participate in all the traditions.

Our kids may be resilient and forget all about the year they were stuck at home for months at a time without even being able to see their grandparents or friends. They may even be enjoying the extra time they’re getting at home with their family. They might not mind the lack of structure, and that they’re getting to stay up late every night.

But they are still feeling the effects of all the birthday parties and vacations that have been cancelled. They still might be sad that they didn’t get to hug their teachers goodbye on the last day of school.

Even though it might not be the same, they are still finishing their school year and moving on to the next. So make sure to let your child know how proud you are of them.

celebrating the end of school with water balloons

HOW TO CELEBRATE THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL:

  • Have an ice cream sunday bar.
  • Throw a dance party.
  • Let your child pick out a new outside water toy for the Summer.
  • Have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.
  • Watch a movie together as a family and let your child pick the movie.
  • Take a special picture on your front porch (even if you forgot to do it on the last day of school and have to take it a week later.)
  • Have a water balloon fight.

You don’t have to organize a 50 car parade of friends and family, but you can still make their end of the school year feel special. Get creative!

This article from Psychology Today has more ideas on how to help your child deal with disappointment. Share in the comments your ideas!

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HOW TO CELEBRATE THE END OF SCHOOL DURING QUARANTINE

Donuts For Lunch

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how to limit screen time. Ironically after hitting publish, I immediately felt guilty. I didn’t even want to share the post on social media.

I felt like such a hypocrite!

Who was I to tell people how to limit their child’s screen time when I couldn’t even enforce those boundaries myself? I had the best intentions. But somehow I had lost all motivation to be creative with my kids. I lost the energy to put up a fight when they pushed back.

Somehow my kids had gone from getting a few hours of screen time a day to me letting them pretty much have as much as they wanted.

I felt like the world’s worst mom.

Why Moms Need Self-Compassion

Don’t get me wrong. I knew that it was ok to bend the rules right now. We’re all stuck at home and we can’t see our friends. But the amount of screen time my kids were getting was making me feel sick.

On top of that, when I was able to gather enough energy to make my kids turn off their devices they didn’t understand why. My 8-year-old started talking back. Taking away all the limits made them think they were completely in control.

But since we’ve been dealing with this pandemic, I’ve been trying really hard to give myself self-compassion.

That means forgiving myself. It means letting go of all the mom guilt. It means not holding myself to a higher standard than I would hold others.

If one of my mom friends called me and told me how horrible she was feeling about letting her kids have too much screen time while we’re in the middle of quarantine, I would tell her not to. I would tell her all the reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty and remind her that she’s doing the best she can.

WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?

Self-compassion is defined as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It’s being kind to yourself and understanding that we’re all human and we make mistakes. No one is perfect and super mom doesn’t exist.

There will be days when I don’t get to the dishes until 10:00 at night and the breakfast crumbs will still be on the table.

It’s ok if we don’t get through all of the assigned school work every day. That won’t make me any less of a mom.

Sometimes we all just need a break. We need time to work through all the mixed up emotions we’re dealing with. We need time to ride out the storm. If letting our kids watch tv or play video games for 4 hours is the only way we can get through the day, it will be ok.

It’s ok if we eat breakfast at 10 am, have donuts for lunch, and pizza for dinner. We might even top it off with ice cream for dessert.

Because it’s not always going to be this way.

And tomorrow’s a new day. Just because 1 or 2, or even 4 or 5 days go by where my kids have what feels like way too much screen time, that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and do something awesome the next day. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m doing tons of fun stuff with them too.

There’s always tomorrow to go for a hike or a walk around the block. We can try the Pinterest craft or Youtube drawing tutorial another day. We always have the weekend to try a new recipe or play a never ending game of Monopoly.

What would giving yourself more self-compassion look like for you? I’d love for you to share in the comments.

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4 Quick Tips For Limiting Screen Time

I’m not going to lie, my kids have had more tech time lately than I’d care to admit right now. But they’re stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time with little breaks to get out of the house.

My 5-year-old has a broken arm and a cast up to his elbow, so we’re limited on what we can do. On top of that, we live on a busy street and our front yard is really steep. Our backyard is non-existent because our house is next to a creek. Plus we decided a few months ago to redo our back deck, and unfortunately it’s currently in pieces.

Eventually we’ll have a brand new back deck and hopefully will be able to enjoy the outside a little more. But for now, I’m trying to be creative and finding activities to do outside like chalk obstacle courses, animal charades, jump the river, shadow drawings, and basically whatever you can do on a giant grassy slope.

Playing Jump The River

Get two long sticks or pieces of rope. Put them about a foot apart and see who can jump across. Move the rope or sticks back a little further apart and try again. The person who can make the longest jump wins!

Shadow Drawings

Shadow Drawings

We’re lucky to live in a neighborhood with lots of trails and a beautiful lake, but everyone else has had the idea to use them too and that can make social distancing hard.

Despite my best efforts, there have been plenty of days over the past few weeks where we haven’t even gotten outside. I’m ok with my kids getting more screen time than usual right now, but some days I just want them to play.

As a former play therapist, I know the importance of play. I know that kids need to use their creative minds. I also know that play is their language when they don’t have the words to say what they want to. So I’m trying to encourage play as much as possible.

I will be the last to judge you if you let your kids have tech time all day, but sometimes I feel like my kids need a break from it.

If you need help getting your kids off their screens, I have a few tips that might help.

4 TIPS FOR LIMITING SCREEN TIME

4 TIPS FOR LIMITING SCREEN TIME

SET LIMITS

My kids get up around 7 am most mornings. I’m not a morning person at all. So they’re allowed to play video games or watch tv until I get up, but at 9 am they know they have to turn them off.

I’ve also made the rule that they can’t play video games during the week until they finish their school work. And then I try to limit their tech time to 1 hour. They usually get to watch tv at night before bed too.

2. GIVE THEM A WARNING

I try to give my kids a warning 5 minutes before their time is going to be up so there won’t be any surprises. That way they can finish up their game too.

3. BE CONSISTENT

I’m definitely not always consistent, but I try the best I can. If your child knows that when you say something you mean it, they are less likely to try to talk you out of it when you enforce a limit.

4. GET THEM STARTED

Sometimes if I have an activity planned like chalk painting outside. Once I get them outside they come up with other fun things to do on their own.

Here’s a super easy way to make chalk paint!

  • Put a few tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Add a few tablespoons of water.
  • Add food coloring.
  • Mix it up!
Chalk Painting

Chalk Painting

For more ideas check out Days With Gray. Beth has tons of fun activities to do with kids and her Breakfast Invitations make setting your kids up to play without screens easy to do.

What fun activities are you doing with your kids?

If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to share it with your friends!

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10 Things I’m Doing When Social Distancing Is Over

I’ve been trying to stay positive and reminding myself that one day our lives will be back to normal. 

I started a Gratitude Challenge on my Facebook page. Every day I’m writing 3 things I’m grateful for right now. A few of the things I’ve shared so far have been:

1. That my husband can work from home. Although I’m not sure he’s loving it as much as I do.

2. That he’s home for dinner every night and we can eat together as a family.

3. Playing board games together, even if my 5 year old is a dirty cheater.

4. That my husband has been grilling more, hence me not having to cook as much.

5. Going on family walks together in our neighborhood.

6. Living close enough to the Chattahoochee River that we can walk, bike or run there.

7. That I bought a bike a few years ago and finally dusted it off to ride it.

8. Amazon has toilet paper now, even if it will take a week to get here.

9. Not getting hurt when I crashed on my bike today.

10. The beautiful weather we’re having in Georgia.

It’s also been really cool to see all the things my friends have shared about what they’re grateful for.

Eventually we will be able to get out of the house without worrying about getting sick.

Have you ever had a free day as a mom and spent the whole time thinking about what you were going to do? Or even worse, did you waste the few hours you had catching up on laundry or cleaning your house?

I’m not going to let that happen when we finally can get out of the house!

So I’m working on my list of what I’ll do with all of my freedom.

10 Things I'm Doing When Social Distancing Is Over 2

These Are The 10 Things I Miss The Most:

  • Eating dinner in a restaurant
  • Sitting in a coffee shop
  • Walking through the mall
  • Going to the movies
  • Getting hugs from friends and their littles
  • Weekly play dates with friends
  • Pedicures at the nail salon
  • Workout classes at the gym- especially yoga
  • Sending the kids to their grandma’s house for a long weekend
  • Going to the beach

I’m also planning a weekend away with my girlfriends to do some of these things. Hopefully that will happen sooner than 2021.

What’s on your list? I’m going to keep adding to mine.

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This Too Shall Pass

This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

This….

Too….

Shall….

Pass….

I’m trying to convince myself of this, but it’s hard because we don’t know how long it will really be.

I’m trying to stay positive and put on a happy face for my kids. But honestly, I’m struggling. This is hard. And there are moments that I need to just cry.

This post really isn’t going to be anything profound and may not be that helpful. But there may be someone who needs to hear this.

Most of us are now involuntarily homeschooling our kids. And when they are at home, they just want to play. They just want to watch tv and play video games.

After my first week on the job as my kids’ teacher I felt like a failure. It was like pulling teeth just to get them to do the bare minimum.

One day I told my son I was sorry that I got so frustrated and told him that I’m just not used to being a teacher. He said, “Yeah. And we’re not used to doing so much work at home either.”

I realized that it’s not just me feeling the struggle. This is new for all of us and there’s no handbook.

I’ve seen all those color-coded schedules floating around social media. They are great in theory, but they’re not for me. I need to stop trying so hard to be the perfect teacher and focus on what I know.

What I know is that my kids need me to keep getting up every day and showing up. If we don’t get through all the required work that’s ok. The teachers have even said they know they’re giving us a lot and they don’t expect us to get it all done.

Focusing On The Positive

I’m trying to find something positive to focus on every day. A few weeks ago it was raining a lot, but now the weather is nice. We’re getting outside more and enjoying the fresh air.

Today we made a chalk mosaic on our driveway. For just a moment, I forgot about the coronavirus. For a brief moment, it felt like any other day.

We’ve done some video chats with friends and family this week and that helps get me through the days too. It helps to stay connected.

There have been moments over the past week where I’ve felt lonely and hopeless, but then I remember that this too shall pass. Those moments will pass and this virus will pass eventually too.

What is helping you get through your days? Share in the comments what you’re doing. Maybe it will help someone else!

 

This Too Shall Pass Moms

 

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Feeding Your Baby Formula Doesn’t Make You A Bad Mom

If you’re considering feeding your baby formula, but worried it will make you a bad mom- think again. There’s hardly any information out there to suggest that choosing formula over breastfeeding is ok. That doesn’t mean it’s not. What’s really important is that your baby is fed!

When my 8-year-old was born, I really wanted to breastfeed but I just couldn’t.

I tried.

I really did.

Of course I’d heard about all the benefits of breastfeeding your baby, and I wanted those things. I wanted what was best for him. But continuing to breastfeed would have meant sacrificing so much.

He was never satisfied. We suffered through two hour-long breastfeeding sessions only for him to still be hungry when they were through.

I listened to my friends’ advice and asked for a lactation consultant right away while we were in the hospital. When we got home, I called the lactation hotline for more guidance.

We tried everything they recommended. I made an appointment with another lactation consultant in the hospital’s outpatient office. They showed me different feeding positions, taught me lots of tricks, and even gave me a nipple shield to help with latching. It helped a little.

But my baby still wasn’t satisfied.

He just couldn’t latch. I had plenty of milk and I was in pain because there was no release. But I would have endured all the pain in the world if he was getting the nutrients that he needed.

The bonding experience that everyone says you get from breastfeeding wasn’t there. It was quite the opposite actually. I was so stressed and resented every feeding session. I was constantly in tears, and my husband felt helpless because there was nothing he could do to help.

We Tried Everything

Finally I decided to try pumping exclusively. So that way at least my baby would be getting the nutrients of breastmilk. But then not only did I have to pump for 30 minutes every 3 hours, I still had to feed my baby. On top of that, I had to clean and sterilize the 50 tiny little plastic parts that the pump required to work. Oh, and we had the bottles that came in 5 different parts, which also had to be cleaned and sterilized after each feeding.

Mother pumping breastmilk to feed her baby.

By the time I was done with one feeding, it would be time for another feeding session. Plus because my baby wasn’t getting enough to eat, he didn’t nap well either. As a newborn, he was only taking one or two 20 minute naps a day. I really felt like I couldn’t do anything right!

I felt like a failure as a mom. 

We lasted about 4 months struggling to figure out breastfeeding and pumping.

Then I went back to work part-time and the only place that I could pump was my boss’s office. I worked intake at a psych hospital, and there was nowhere else private enough to go. I was constantly worried that my boss would forget I was in his office pumping and barge in on me. Plus I wondered if the sound of the pump would bother people in the next room who were in session. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

At my postpartum check-up, my doctor said I had inverted nipples. She asked if it was something that I’d always had. Of course, I couldn’t remember. It could be a sign of cancer, it could be from all of the pumping, or it could be something I was born with.

I had to go to a specialist and have a biopsy to rule out cancer. Everything came back clear, but I still have to go back for yearly ultrasounds.

When I became pregnant again a few years later, my husband said, “I don’t think you should put yourself through all of that stress again! Why not just feed him formula?”

“Why Not Just Feed Him Formula?”

Was he crazy? I mean, I knew I didn’t want to go through all of that again, but what would happen if our baby didn’t get all of those nutrients that breastmilk provides? Is feeding your baby formula from the beginning even an option? 

Plus, I’d heard all the bogus claims like how breastfeeding makes your babies smarter. How could a mom deprive her child of that opportunity?

So I started doing research and not only did I find out that my husband wasn’t breastfed, but I also found out that feeding your baby formula is really ok!

Copy-of-MASTER-COPY-carly-templates-700x1550-2

The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend breastfeeding as the best nutritional source for your baby. I’m not trying to tell anyone they shouldn’t do it.

But Harvard MD Claire McCarthy says we shouldn’t demoralize formula feeding. She points out that since such a strong emphasis is put on breastfeeding, it makes it seem like it has to be all or nothing. Then more moms give up trying because they think they’re failing anyway and they might as well not try.

Mom Shaming Carries On

But people still shame moms for choosing not to breastfeed. Hospitals don’t even offer formula as an option until you ask, and even then they might try to convince you to try breastfeeding.

I can’t remember how many nurses I had to tell when we were in the hospital with our 2nd that I was going to feed him formula. I think the question was asked at every feeding. And EVERY time it was like a stab in the gut to me.

I still feel guilty when I’m with my mom friends and they start talking about breastfeeding like it’s the only option.

Mom holding baby with a bottle of formula in front of her.
Listen, I now know that breastfeeding is hard, and it’s probably not easy for anyone. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try or that you should give up easily.

What’s Important Is Feeding Your Baby

What I am saying is that it’s ok if you do give up. It’s even ok if you don’t ever try. Feeding your baby formula doesn’t make you any less of a mom. It definitely doesn’t make you a bad mom. If you decide to feed your baby with formula, you are still FEEDING your baby.

Actually, according to the CDC in 2018, less than 50% of infants are exclusively breastfed through 3 months and about 25% are exclusively breastfed through 6 months. You are not alone if you decide to choose formula.

We all have to stop judging each other and start being more supportive. Everyone has the right to decide how they want to parent their children!

Being a mom is hard enough without all the judgment!

So if you have a friend who is struggling to breastfeed, please please please don’t make her feel judged. The best thing you can do is support whatever decision she makes! It’s hers to decide.

Quote about not saying anything if it’s not nice

Share this with a friend that you think needs to hear it. No mom going through this should feel like they’re the only one. 

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pinterest image about how feeding your baby formula doesn't make you a bad mom

 

8 Gifts Moms Really Want For Valentine’s Day

So let’s be real. The gift that moms really want is not something you can buy from a store. What moms really want is to be able to drink their coffee while it’s hot and pee alone in peace. The best gift you can give is to take the kids out of the house so they can do whatever they please for a few hours.

But if you insist on buying a Valentine’s gift for the mom in your life here a few ideas. Better yet, give her one or two of these gifts and then take the kids out of the house so she can actually use them!

I’m doing a series on self-care. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite things that I like to use to take care of myself.

IDEAS TO HELP YOU GET ORGANIZED

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I love anything by Kate Spade. How cute is this journal my sister-in-law got me for Christmas? She has good taste!

I would love to have this sticky note set to write my never ending to-do lists. They may never get done, but at least they would look good!

If you really want to go all out, this Kate Spade Office Supplies Tackle Box has everything moms need to stay organized!

GIFTS TO PROMOTE RELAXATION

If the mom in your life is anything like me, when they get the chance to relax in the tub, they light a candle too. These Woodwick Candles make a crackling sound when you burn them. So they help soothe your sense of sound more than just a regular candle would.

BOOKS TO READ

I love to read any chance I get. Getting into a good book can really help me forget about whatever mom stress I’m dealing with. The only downside is that I stay up too late reading. Then I still have to get up super early to take my kids to school. I don’t think that’s going to stop me anytime soon though. Here are a few of my favorite books that I’ve read recently:

GIFTS TO PAMPER

Most of the time, moms are the ones to get up in the middle of the night with the crying baby, so we often lose sleep. Kate Somerville’s Intensive Exfoliating Treatment can help! It improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles including crow’s feet. The best part is that it only takes 2 minutes to use! A little goes a long way so don’t let the price tag fool you. You can make the travel size stretch for several months!

You can follow the exfoliator up with this Organic Rose Water by Insta Natural. If you have sensitive skin, I highly recommend this. It not only soothes and hydrates, but it naturally balances your skin’s ph to help you get your natural glow back.

In the Winter, I love to wear my Lamo Moccasin slippers around the house to keep my feet warm. You can never have too many pairs of slippers. Since they do get a little stinky after about a year, it’s nice to trade them out for new ones.

I hope this helps you decide what to get that mom in your life who needs a little help taking care of herself this Valentine’s Day!

If you’re a mom reading this, share what you hope to get for Valentine’s Day. I would have added chocolate, but I kind of want that from a local chocolate store, not the kind you can get on Amazon!

Make sure to follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss out on any of our future posts!

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My Anxious Life

Living with anxiety is not new to me. In fact, I remember the first time I realized I might have it. We were going down the escalator in Macy’s at Lenox Mall. Anyone in Georgia knows that Lenox is the busiest mall in Atlanta. Nothing specific really happened to trigger my anxiety, other than the store being really crowded.

The details are kind of a blur. But I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of panic covering me like a blanket. I started feeling like I was in another place- like I was about to pass out.

It was like I was outside of my body physically, but I fully knew where I was in my head.

mom who looks really anxious and nervous

I remember saying something to my husband about how I didn’t feel right and then I started to get really upset. He looked at me like I was crazy, but once he realized I wasn’t joking he said something that made me snap out of it. I don’t remember what that was either, but I think it had something to do with reminding me to breathe.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I had a mini panic attack that day. I think I’ve always had some form of anxiety, but it’s changed as I’ve gotten older.

As long as I can remember, there have been periods where I’ve had trouble sleeping. As a little girl, everything had to be just right in my room in order for me to fall asleep. My stuffed animals had to be in a specific spot and the bathroom light in the hallway had to be on with the door opened just a crack.

When I was 8 or 9 I would sneak into my parent’s bedroom and fall asleep on the floor in front of their bed. For some reason, I just felt safer there.

Something was different about me.

I had plenty of friends back then, but I was always a little awkward physically. I had frizzy curly hair that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to brush out.

It’s a miracle I didn’t get teased by more than
my brothers!!!

My growth spurt hit at 12 or 13 and I shot up taller than a lot of the boys in my grade. Along with that came huge hips and what I then called “thunder thighs.”

I wasn’t like the other girls in my grade- the ones that boys paid attention to. Those girls had straight hair and they were super skinny. I know now that the things I was ashamed of back then are what make me who I am.

I’m still working on my self-confidence, but I’m able to recognize that my thighs are strong, and my curly hair makes me unique.

But I also think that feeling so strongly about being different made me nervous. I remember lying awake late at night replaying all the conversations I’d had that day, obsessing over what I said or didn’t say. I’d stay up so late worrying that I couldn’t wake up on time for school the next day.

Once I got closer to graduating, I had more important things to worry about. I stressed over where I was going to college, what I wanted to be, and getting a perfect 4.0.

I know it’s not that abnormal to worry about those things, but I remember the only B I got in high school like it just happened yesterday. I’ll never forget how devastated I was! I think I took the obsessing and worrying a little too far.

Maybe I had anxiety back then and just didn’t know it yet.

What Is Anxiety Anyway?

The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

I can definitely say I’ve been able to check all of those boxes at some point in my life. But now that I’m a mom, living with anxiety has taken on a whole new meaning.

What Anxiety Looks Like For Moms

It’s worrying that I yelled too much last night and I didn’t play enough. And falling asleep wondering if my kids know how much I love them.

It’s hearing a siren and hoping it’s not someone I love. This feels even worse if it happens when my kids are at school!

It’s thinking that my friends don’t like me anymore when I haven’t heard from them in a while. Then it’s checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if they texted me back when I ask them if they want to meet up.

It’s walking into a party praying that I don’t look ridiculously out of style in my jeans that never fit right after I had kids and my sweater from last season.

It’s hoping that my child isn’t being a mean kid on the playground, but being too scared that he is to intervene and find out. And if he is, it’s being too uncertain of my parenting style to know what to do or the right words to say.

It’s worrying that my son’s going to fall off the monkey bars and break his arm again. Or that my other son’s getting too close to the edge and will fall off too. Then he’ll end up needing surgery again and he’ll be so scared because of what he’s already been through.

It’s lying awake at night thinking of all the things I need to do, worrying that I’m going to forget one of them. Then finally getting up to make lunches at midnight or sign my child’s permission slip, because I don’t trust myself to remember.

It’s making my kids hold my hands extra tight in every parking lot and losing my cool when they don’t listen and run off.

It’s worrying that the car in front of me is going to slam on the breaks. Sometimes, when it’s raining really hard and I’m driving in it, it’s worrying that I’m going to start skidding across four lanes of traffic and end up in the median. And if I do end up dying, what will happen to my kids? Who will take care of them? Where will they live? Who will be there to see them graduate and help them plan their future weddings?

Sometimes, it’s not wanting to get out of bed.

All the time, it’s second-guessing myself as a mom. Wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Questioning if I’m feeding my kids the right thing- if I should be giving them more veggies and less candy.

Are these things all normal? Does every mom feel this way sometimes about their kids? I don’t know, but what I do know is that if you’re out there feeling this way, you’re not alone.

There Is Help For Moms Living With Anxiety

Mom feeling freed from her anxiety.

If you’re feeling anxious or worried enough that you feel like it’s stopping you from doing your job as a mom, please reach out for help. Find someone you feel safe talking to. It can make a big difference! Psychology today is a great place to start.

Some other things that help me are:

  • Journaling
  • Deep Breathing
  • Regular Exercise

Check out my previous blog on Self Care For Busy Moms, for more tips on managing anxiety as a mom.

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Let Them Be Little

Why am I always trying so hard to rush my kids to grow up? I put a lot of pressure on them to be “big” and do things for themselves.

That’s not always a bad thing. I know they need to learn eventually and if I’m always doing everything for them they never will. But sometimes I wonder if I’m stealing their childhood.

Is society’s sense of urgency making me parent that way?

When my kids were babies, I just wanted the sleepless nights to end.

Everyone would say things like:

“Enjoy the baby snuggles while you can. They’ll be gone before you know it.”

But I was secretly searching baby books for answers about when it would end.

I wanted to know what age they had to be when I wouldn’t have to wake them to feed them anymore. Then I wanted to know how much they needed to weigh before they could sleep through the night. Once I read that when a baby weighs about 12 lbs they can last all night without feeding. I became obsessed with how much they weighed after that.

When they were between 2 and 3 years old, I was researching what age to start potty training so that we could get out of diapers.

Once they were able to eat solid food, I was waiting for the day they’d be able to feed themselves. Then I was counting down the days until they’d be in school full time, so I could really get a break.

I think my youngest has probably felt this the most. Without realizing it, I compare what he can do to what his big brother can do. But I forget that his brother is almost 3 years older. I assume that because my oldest can go to the bathroom by himself, so should he.

I forget that he’s at a different stage developmentally and being potty trained is still a new-ish skill for him. As much as I want him to wipe himself and remember to wash his hands with soap without being reminded, he is only 5!

Can We Just Slow It Down?

Last week I had a moment where I realized I need to stop rushing my kids to grow up though. You know those moments as a mom where you feel like you just want time to stand still?

The ones where you picture your kids leaving for college and you realize that everyone was right….Your days where your kids are at home with you are numbered. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get sentimental like this often, but every now and then I do. 

Sometimes I worry that my 5 -year-old missed out on a lot of the things that little kids are into like Mickey Mouse and Elmo. When he wanted to watch preschool shows, his brother would tell him they were for babies. Since he thinks his big brother hung the moon, he stopped asking to watch those shows.  He graduated right to super heros and Sponge Bob at age 3! 

Little brother and big brother
Dressing just like big brother

Goodbye Too Soon?

A few years ago, we realized that our kids were both really interested in Legos. The younger one was able to put together regular size Lego sets, so we decided to get rid of all of our duplo Legos. Ever since then, my youngest has asked why we had to get rid of them. 

This year, he asked for more for Christmas. When I was helping with the holiday party in his classroom, I noticed that he went right to the Duplo legos during the free play time. Plus any time I ask him what he does during centers at school, he says that he plays with the duplos.

So Santa got him a set of duplo Legos. They must be his favorite gift because he has played with them over and over again. Instead of spending a few hours putting together a Lego set and then losing interest when it’s done, he creates something new every day. 

Last week I noticed that the instruction booklet that came in the duplo Lego box had a piece missing. The missing piece was the part that said the age range was 1 ½ +.

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Lego instruction booklet

I know the plus sign after the 1 ½ is open-ended, but I wondered if my 5-year-old read it differently. Did he think his brother would think he’s a baby for playing with them?

It made me realize that he might need permission to just be 5. He might need me to give that to him. So I thought of a few things I can do. 

6 Tips For Giving Your Child Permission To Be A Kid:

  1. Build-in time for pretend play. Sometimes if I’m not careful, my kids will go days in a row where they don’t actually play with their toys. We’re always rushing from one activity to the next after school and on the weekends. Then when we’re at home, it’s easy to just turn on the tv or let my kids play endless amounts of video games. I “try” to set limits on screentime and when that time is up, I tell them to go in their play room and play. Sometimes they resist and complain that they’re bored, but I show them how they can use their imagination.
  2. Play more. My goal is to actually sit down and play with my kids, when I can, at least 30 minutes a week. During this time, I make sure to turn off all devices and play whatever they want me to.
  3. Organize their toys and make them easier to find. By helping my son find his Paw Patrol and PJ Mask characters and putting them in a special place, he’s more likely to go play with them when he’s bored. 
  4. Talk about how it’s ok to like toys or shows that older siblings might say are for babies. I’ve had to remind my 5-year-old often that he’s not a baby even if he likes different things than his brother.
  5. Watch Peter Pan and sing ‘I’ll never grow up’. This one’s a classic and always makes me wish I was still a kid. 

In the end, I also have to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom and feeling guilty about how I might’ve messed up. Deep down, I know that I’m doing the best I can and my kids know how much I love them.

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Managing Holiday Stress- 4 Quick Tips For Moms

December is here and so is the stress of the holiday season. For me it started on Thanksgiving and has only gotten worse since then. Now that Christmas is only 2 weeks away, I’m starting to really feel overwhelmed.

But why? Why do I do this to myself every single year? Last year, I made a conscious decision to say, “No” to more and decided not to do Christmas cards. As much as I love giving and receiving real mail, it’s just one more thing to do during such a busy time of the year.

I felt guilty when I started receiving cards from others though. I also regretted not sending them out to family that lives far away and might look forward to getting them from us.

So this year, I drug my family through the process of getting professional photos taken and I put myself through the unnecessary stress of trying to design the perfect card. Now I still have to find time to send them out and hope I can do it before the holidays are over!

Stress Snowballs

The stress we feel during the holidays comes from so many different places and much of it is from the little things that add up. It’s not just from the extra gatherings we attend during this time of year and all of the gifts we run around searching for.

We also have to figure out what to wear to the parties, how we’ll get there, and what we’ll bring with us. If we’re bringing food we have to shop for the ingredients and then find the time to bake or cook the food.

THEN, once you’re at the event, some of us have added stress about what they can eat or how we’re going to refrain from eating too much.

Add to the list the regular everyday stressors of life like paying your bills and keeping your house clean. For moms, we also have to take care of our kids and make sure we aren’t neglecting them. Otherwise, they start to act out for our attention which causes even more stress.

If you’re like me and have even one birthday in your family in December (we have 3), then you can forget a moment of downtime.

All of this leads to the perfect storm. You have an idea in your head of the perfect Christmas that you want to provide for your family, but it never goes that way. If you’re already feeling stressed, when one little thing goes wrong you feel like you just can’t handle it.

Lost in Transit

For example, I bought my husband, whose birthday is December 7th, the birthday gift he really wanted online in early November. I thought I was getting a head start, but come to find out everyone else wanted the same thing. So the shipping status said that it would arrive on Dec. 5th.

I thought it would be cutting it close, and started to get him something else instead. I decided it was worth the wait though, because I knew it was what he really wanted. Well, Dec. 5th came and the package didn’t. Apparently, it got hung up on Black Friday somewhere in Norcross, GA (which is ironically the next town over).

I was able to get a replacement sent, but it won’t be here until AFTER Christmas, in January!!!!

Luckily, I had already ordered a vest that he wanted on Black Friday and was going to give it to him for Christmas. So I was able to give him that for his birthday instead. Except that when I took it out of the box to wrap it, it was the wrong size.

The company that I bought it from doesn’t do exchanges, but I could return the item for free and order another one. So I ordered another one with expedited shipping. But guess what my mom brain did…….ordered the wrong size…..AGAIN!!!

I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t you just cancel the order? Well I couldn’t. The store didn’t have any available customer service reps working on Saturdays and they don’t allow cancellations for online orders. Not only could I not exchange the wrong sized vest again, I also couldn’t cancel the order. The guy at the Fed-Ex counter at Staples is going to know me on a first name basis by the end of this.

I knew what I had done immediately after I pressed the order button, but it was too late. Something that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, caused me to break down in tears. Because I was already feeling stressed by all of the other things piling up.

The reality is, we can’t control all of these things. Not only are they out of our control, but stressing about them takes away from the real reason we celebrate holidays anyway.

So, I did what any girl would do in this situation. I let out a loud scream and pounded my head on the steering wheel. And then I drove my car to DSW and got some new shoes.

Before I did that, I took a few minutes to write in my journal. When I was writing, I realized that I can’t let all of these little things get me down.

I need to focus on what really matters. When I start to feel stressed by the holiday mayhem, I’m going to take a deep breath and remember what Christmas is all about. It’s about the birth of our Savior, Jesus!

Here are some other ways I’m MANAGING HOLIDAY STRESS:

Setting Boundaries

I’m also trying to set boundaries and I’m working on saying NO. It’s ok if we can’t go to every holiday party we’re invited to. We might miss something fun and the fear of missing out is hard. But filling every minute of your family’s time isn’t healthy.

Letting Go Of Being Perfect

It’s ok if every day isn’t perfect and I don’t have the perfect gift for every person on my list. What really matters is the spirit of giving and the thought that goes into it.

We don’t have to have the perfect Christmas tree with the fullest branches. And it doesn’t have to look perfect when the decorations are put on.

Before I had kids, I used to think each strand of lights had to be equal distance apart and the ornaments all had to be color coordinated.

I’ve had to let go of that, because decorating the tree with my kids is a tradition my family looks forward to. If I’m trying to boss everyone around and control where they put each ornament, that takes the fun out of it for everyone.

                                                       Our imperfect Christmas tree.

Putting Down My Device

I’m putting down my device so that I can just BE with my family and enjoy spending time with them. My kids will only be this little for a few more years. Eventually, they’re going to grow up and move out. They’ll have their own families and I may not get to see them as much over the holidays.

Although, my 5-year-old says he wants to live with me forever. So there’s a chance he’ll be living in our basement at 35.

Remembering To Breathe

I’m taking time to breathe and making sure that I’m going to yoga even when I have a million other things to do. I’m taking a few minutes to pause in the car before running into the store to get the crucial ingredient I need to make the special Christmas recipe.

Here are some other ways I practice self-care. As a mom, it’s so important that we don’t forget about our own needs so that we can stay strong enough to be there for our families.

Praying

I’m taking time to pray and asking God to help me remember why we celebrate. I’m asking for his help, because I know that I can’t do it all on my own.

And next year, I’m not sending Christmas cards! Who am I kidding, I probably will. But that’s ok. If I learn anything, next year I’ll make the cards in September when there aren’t any birthdays in our family.

This Christmas, I hope you’re able to take time to enjoy the traditions your family has while avoiding some of the holiday mayhem!

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Pinterest pin showing mom who needs help managing holiday stress