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?

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More Than Just A Mom

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.

Five Ways To Encourage Your Child To Love Reading

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

My kids have always loved to read. I’m not sure if it’s because they have two parents who enjoy it or if it’s because of the things below that we do to encourage them to love reading. But I know how important it is for every child’s education and development. So I’m going to share some of the things we do in our house in case you need ideas to help your kids develop a love of reading. Here they are!

Five Ways To Encourage Your Child To Love Reading

pinterest 5 ways to encourage your child to love reading

1. Don’t Interfere With Their Choice Of Books

My boys love to read books like Captain Underpants, Super Diaper Baby, and Fart Quest. Basically if it has anything to do with bodily functions they are interested. They also are only really interested in reading graphic novels. My oldest is fully capable of reading books without pictures, but any time I try to encourage him to read more challenging books he loses interest in reading altogether. So I try really hard not to interfere.

As much as I’d like for him to read the classics, it’s important that I allow him the option to choose what he reads. I don’t want reading to be one more thing that he has to do and I want him to enjoy it so it’s important for me to give him control over what he reads.

That being said I do still gently encourage other books by suggesting the ones I think he may be interested in. There have been times when he looked at a book that my youngest picked out and said it was dumb. But then when I started reading it to him, my oldest would stop reading his book and listen.

This leads me to my next suggestion.

2. Model Reading

Children learn by watching others. So if you want your kids to love reading show them that you do too. My husband and I both love to read so this is easy for us. If you don’t love reading or don’t feel like you have time I encourage you to give it a try. Maybe you just haven’t found the right book.

Goodreads is a website where you can enter in the names of books that you’ve enjoyed and they will make suggestions based on your interest. You can keep track of books you want to read and books that you’ve read too! I’ve found some books that I ended up loving this way.

A few of my recent favorite books are:

3. Never Say No To Books

Ok I never say never so instead I should say we hardly ever say no to books. If my kids bring home a flier for the book fair from school, I almost always send in money to let them buy at least 1 book. We also like to take trips to Barnes and Noble and let our kids pick out a book when we need something fun to do.

We almost never say no when they ask for a new book or when one of their favorite series comes out with a new book. The downside is that our house is overflowing with books, but I know that eventually they will outgrow some of them and we’ll pass them on to someone else.

4. Make Books Accessible

We have books all over our house. Both of my kids have bookshelves in their room that are full of books. We also have books in their playroom and there’s usually a book or two in the car. Having books throughout the house makes them more accessible and they are more likely to pick one up if they’re bored when there’s one nearby.

Many times when we go run errands or pretty much anywhere, my kids are reading in the car. Even though having books in the car makes it seem more cluttered, I allow it because it encourages them to pick one up to read every time we’re in it.

We recently discovered a book subscription service called Storytime. Storytime delivers hand-selected books to your door through the USPS that are tailored to your child’s development. These books are focused on topics that encourage social-emotional learning and help your child process major life events.

Even though my boys are into reading chapter books, they both really enjoyed reading the books that we received from Storytime and chose them to read several nights in a row. I was surprised by how much they enjoyed Those Shoes as well as the other books that were in our bag.

In fact, my 6-year-old didn’t want to send them back! The cool thing about Storytime is if you want to purchase the books, you can! And Storytime’s prices are cheaper than what you would pay anywhere else.

5. Make Reading A Part Of Your Bedtime Routine

We’ve been reading to our kids every night at bedtime since they were born. If your kids are older and this isn’t a part of your routine at night already, that’s ok. You can start small by reading 1 book or 10 pages of a book if it’s longer every night. The goal is to read 20 minutes every day, but even if your child reads for 10 minutes a few times a week that is better than nothing.

These are a few things we do in our house that encourage our kids to love reading. Do your kids love to read? If so, what else would you add to this list? Share in the comments below.

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10 Kid Friendly Hiking Trails in North Georgia

The weather is perfect for hiking in North Georgia this time of year and there are so many trails that are within driving distance of where we live in Atlanta. As an outdoor lover, I have taken my family to a lot of them over the past year. Hiking is really therapeutic to me. It was also one of the few things that we could do safely when we were on lockdown last year. We discovered some beautiful trails that you may not know are within driving distance if you live in the Atlanta area. In my opinion, these are ten of the best kid friendly hiking trails in North Georgia.

pinterest 10 kid friendly hiking trails in north Georgia

1. Vickery Creek

If you live in the Atlanta area, the Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill is right in your backyard. It’s not only a great place to catch the sunset, but you can also see this amazing waterfall from multiple viewing spots.

Vickery Creek Falls

Did you know that the reason waterfalls are so relaxing is that the splashing of the water creates negative ions that balance out all of the toxins we take in? Once the negative ions we inhale at waterfalls reach our bloodstream, they release serotonin- the feel good chemical that reduces stress and depression.

There are a few different places to start this hike, but the one I prefer is behind the Old Roswell Mill near the Roswell Square. If you park at this location you can walk to the old historic mill and learn about it’s role in Southern history. You can also catch a bite to eat after your hike at one of the nearby restaurants such as Souper Jenny or Moxie Burger.

The total distance of this trail system is 5 miles, but it’s easily broken down into shorter hikes depending on how much time you have.

Mom Tip:

This trail doesn’t go all the way around like it looks on the map. So make sure to factor in your walk back to wherever you started when you’re planning your hike.

2. Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Trail

At the rock formation on top of the Indian Seats trail

We hiked Indian Seats right after a thunderstorm had knocked down trees blocking the road to get to the shorter trail. I was pleasantly surprised that my six and nine year old both made it the whole four miles without much complaining. There’s a beautiful view at the top of the natural rock formation that makes it worth the steep hike.

The entire Sawnee Mountain Park is 821 acres with 11 miles of trails. There are many different routes you can take and the park rangers at the visitor center are super helpful with tips about which one will be best for your family.

Mom Tip:

The shorter hike which starts at the parking lot on Bettis Tribble Gap Road is ideal for families with younger children. You can even see a treehouse and fairy houses on this trail.

If you do the longer trail that starts on Spot Road, there are picnic tables about halfway up where you can stop for a snack or water break.

3. Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls is part of the Georgia State park system. It’s located between Ellijay and Dahlonega. There are several cabins, campsites, and even a lodge if you want to stay over night.

This is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve seen! It’s 729 feet high and the hike is 604 steps up to the top. So if you have really small children, you may want to drive up to the top where you can still get a great view of the falls without the strenuous hike. My boys are 6 and 9 and they hiked it without any problem.

Mom Tips:

I recommend parking at the bottom and walking up the stairs, stopping for a snack at the top, and then walking down the Westridge Falls Trail and Spring Trail. This way you can see something different from when you hiked up and it’s less scary to me than walking straight down all the stairs.

Amicalola Falls

4. Eagles Rest

Eagle’s Rest is a little known secret on the top of Mt Oglethorpe just outside of Jasper, Georgia. It has some really breathtaking views, an observation deck, and a carved wooden eagle statue that took me by surprise.

scenic view at Eagle's Rest hiking trail in Jasper, Georgia
Scenic view from Eagle’s Rest

Mom Tip:

The Eagle’s Rest Trail is a short .5 mile hike where you might even see some fairy houses if you look hard enough.

5. Falls Branch Falls

Falls Branch Falls is another hidden gem just outside Blue Ridge, Georgia. This is a short hike to a waterfall and it’s perfect if you have younger kids who can’t walk too far.

Falls Branch Falls

If you’re looking for something else to do after your hike, there’s plenty to do in the area. Blue Ridge has tons of other hiking trails including the Toccoa River Bridge. After our hike, we went gem mining at Lilly Pad Village which also has fishing, mini-golf, and hot cocoa in the winter.

6. Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center

I recently found this trail that runs along the Chattahoochee River and it’s right down the street from my house. If you’re looking for a good kid friendly hike in North Fulton County, I highly recommend checking this one out.

There are several different routes you can take to make this hike as short or as long as you want. You can also make it more difficult by choosing one of the steeper sections. And if you want your kids to have space to run around freely, there are several clearings where they can do just that!

view of Chatahoochee River from kid friendly hike at Chatahoochee Environmental Education Center

Mom Tip:

If you park at the Environmental Education Center, there is no restroom so make sure to go before you leave the house. But if you hike a few miles in there is another parking lot with a public restroom. You could park here if needed, but this section is often more crowded. Also there is a $3 parking fee to park in the lot with a bathroom, which you can pay using your phone.

7. Autrey Mill

We spent many summer days here last summer during the pandemic. It’s a great place to meet up with friends and hike a short walk down to the river. Then you can let your kids play in the water and cool off while you relax.

Autrey Mill also has a small indoor exhibit with a few animals including Pebbles the African Spurred Tortoise, fish, snakes, and frogs. And there are rabbits, goats, ducks, and chicken that you can feed outside.

Mom Tip:

Make sure to check out the teepee and the monkey statues that are on the Forest Trail.

8. Brasstown Bald

family photo at observation deck on top of Brasstown Bald hiking trail in North Georgia
Family photo at top of observation deck on Brasstown Bald.

Brasstown Bald is about 2 hours North of Atlanta just outside Blairsville, Georgia. Let me warn you now, the road is mostly curvy. If you get car sick easily, this may not be the best hike for you. But if you can stick it out, the view at the top of this short but steep trail is well worth the drive! There are several longer trails surrounding the .6 mile paved foot trail to the observation deck, but so far we haven’t tried them.

There is a really neat museum at the top with more friendly park rangers who can tell you all about the surrounding trails and waterfalls nearby. One told us that if you can make this hike in October, you can even see the skyline of Atlanta from the top.

Mom Tips:

There’s a shuttle service that will take you to the top if you and your little ones choose not to walk up the steep trail. It only runs 10-4:30 with a break from 12:30-1:10. Also, the park is closed seasonally during the winter months. You can still hike the trails and pay with cash using the honor system, but the bathrooms and trail are not maintained during that time.

9. Stone Mountain

If you live in Georgia, you’re probably aware of Stone Mountain. It’s kind of hard to miss actually if you live anywhere east of 285. But for those who have never made the trek to this giant quartz monzonite landmark, I highly recommend checking it out. There is enough to do at the park to make it a full day trip, including restaurants and a laser show at night. Certain times of year there are super fun family friendly festivals such as The Yellow Daisy Festival.

Fun Facts: Stone Mountain is 1,683 feet tall with a base circumference of 3.8 miles. It was created by a pocket of magma trapped underground 300 million years ago and came to the surface15 million years ago through uplift and erosion. In the1800s, it was excavated for granite used in cities across the country.

Mom Tips:

There is 5 mile trail around the mountain that you can run, walk, bike, or drive. The hike up the mountain is only 1 mile long, but some parts are very steep. There’s also a cable car that will take you to the top if you’d rather skip the hike.

10. Arabia Mountain

Arabia Mountain is in Lithonia, Georgia just east of Atlanta. There are over 30 miles of trails here, but I recommend parking at the Atlanta Wildlife Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE) at 4158 Klondike Road. The trail from this spot will take you to a short hike over a monadnock rock formation formed by erosion with giant flower filled craters. It kind of has an illusion of walking on the moon.

diamorpha in solution pit on Arabia Mountain hiking trail
Beautiful diamorpha in solution pit on Arabia Mountain.

We hiked this trail with some friends and brought a picnic lunch. The kids had a blast making wooden forts and running around together. We even saw some tadpoles in a pool of water.

child sitting on tree limb on Arabia Mountain hiking trail
Using wood to build a fort on Arabia Mountain.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of ten of the best kid friendly hiking trails in North Georgia. Do you have any more to add to the list?

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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

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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Living With Anxiety and Depression In Times of Extreme Uncertainty

My journey as a mom has been like a rollercoaster ride.

I’m happy to say that right now I feel like I’m coming to a smooth part of the ride. The part that’s after the thrill where you can sit back and enjoy the adrenaline high. The part where you don’t want it to end, but you know you’ll have to get off soon.

You might be wondering how this could be possible when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Our world is filled with so much uncertainty, yet I’m feeling so good.

Back in March, this was definitely not the case. When quarantine started I was feeling ok. My 5-year-old had just broken his arm and needed surgery. We were stuck at home and I was forced to homeschool my kids.

My daily routine of getting up at 6:30, taking the kids to school, coming home to make a nice breakfast, going for a run or to a class at the gym, spending a few hours writing, cleaning up, and doing some laundry had all been thrown out the window.

I wasn’t even going to the grocery store anymore. I’d lost my girls’ nights out and couldn’t’ see my friends at playgroups or PTA meetings.

Despite all of this, I was still surviving and remained optimistic. I was getting my runs in when I could, but they slowly turned into walks.

Taking A Turn For The Worse

At some point, I started to have less energy. I’d drag myself out of bed in the morning, but I immediately couldn’t stop thinking about how good it would feel to go back to bed later that day.

mom struggling with anxiety and depression

I had no interest in playing with my kids. As the weeks went by, I was still going for my walks, but the whole time I was out walking I’d dread having to go back home.

I kept hearing from other moms and parenting experts that I needed to find a routine. They were saying that it would help us get through virtual learning and would help me feel better. I just didn’t have the energy to do it.

Then I started to dread everything. It felt like there’d never be anything to look forward to again. I felt so hopeless. I’m not going to say I lost hope, but I could see how some people in my situation could have.

Even though I had people all around me telling me how much they loved me, I just felt so sad.

Luckily, I had started going to a therapist right before all of this happened. So I had already built a relationship with her.

She had mentioned medication a few times in January when we first met. But I told her it wasn’t something I wanted to try. I’d tried medication before and didn’t like the way it made me feel.

As a good therapist should, she persisted. Finally one day, she pointed out that taking medication would be like giving me training wheels. It could help give me just enough motivation and energy to use the tools we were practicing during therapy.

How One Phone Call Can Mean So Much

Then a good friend called me. She’d noticed that I wasn’t the same and told me about her experience with medication. She told me how much it had helped her and gave me the name of her doctor.

I was able to get in the same week, and was started on an antidepressant right away. After just a few days, I started to have energy again. Then after a few weeks of taking it, I felt like another person.

During my therapy sessions, I started noticing myself falling into negative or anxious thought patterns again. This time my reaction was different though. I noticed when I was doing it and was able to stop myself. It finally dawned on me how that is the whole point of going to counseling!

There’s no magic pill that will solve all your problems. Taking medication was life-changing for me though.

Fighting The Resistance

It’s not easy to share my story with the world. But I know how long I resisted taking medications and how much it ended up helping me once I finally gave it another try. The only regret I have now is that I didn’t try it sooner.

Over the past few days, I’ve been hearing story after story of other moms struggling. I realized that if I let my fear of being vulnerable stop me from sharing, then I may be missing out on helping someone who really needs to hear that they aren’t alone.

 

Moms are struggling now more than ever! Experts agree that coronavirus is taking a larger toll on women, especially moms.

On top of all our regular motherly duties we are juggling virtual learning, keeping our kids’ safe, making sure the masks are always clean, and trying to figure out a way to maintain a socially distant social life.

I don’t know what I would have done without my husband a few months ago. Not only did he remind me that my family needed me, but he took on many of the household tasks I usually did.

I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been if I was working a full-time job on top of everything else.

It may seem like it’s easy for someone like me who is a former therapist to say how much it can help. But I’ve seen so many different counselors over the years, and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I really felt like it was helping.

Moving Forward

Part of that could be that it wasn’t the right fit. Or maybe I wasn’t doing the homework that I needed to really change. But I think this time, the medication really did give me the extra boost that I needed to move forward.

I’m not going to say that I’m completely cured. Medication isn’t the end all be all. There will still be hard days. Especially right now, with a pandemic that isn’t going away anytime soon.

My kids are going to be little for a while and are going to be needy. My free time will be limited and there will be other bumps and turns on the roller coaster along the way. There may even be times where the ride malfunctions and I’ll have to call for back up.

At least now I have this period where I’m feeling good to look back on. If I do start to spiral again, I’ll know that there is hope. I’ll be able to really say to myself this too shall pass and believe it.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. Even if you’ve tried getting help before and it didn’t seem to work. Try again!

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Pinterest Managing Anxiety and Depression as a Mom in Times of Extreme Uncertainty with a sad mom holding her son

The Secret To Raising Little Boys

What’s the secret to raising little boys?

Well it’s not rocket science. It’s not even really anything that profound.

It may be something you’ve already heard before.

Have you ever felt like you had to ask your child 10 times to brush their teeth before you could leave the house?

If you’re a boy mom, 28 may be a much more realistic number.

Until last week, I thought it was because my kids were annoyed by the sound of my voice and they must have been tuning me out.

I’ve considered whether their ears are super sensitive like dogs. Maybe when I ask them to do something important my voice is a super high frequency like a whistle would sound to a dog?

Or maybe they just like the sound of my voice so much, that they want to hear me say things over and over again?

I recently learned that’s not the case at all.

I heard a parenting talk by David Thomas, author of the books Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Tyndale House Publishers) and Are My Kids on Track? The 12 Emotional, Social & Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach.

Thomas spoke about the different developmental milestones that children reach at each age. The main point that I took away from it was that 5-8 year old boys are mostly visual learners!

Back To The Basics

I wish I had heard this tip about raising little boys sooner. Even after two years of graduate school and multiple classes on child development, I didn’t realize how differently they learn.

So many meltdowns and power struggles could have been avoided in our house!

I probably did hear this back in Child Development 101. But sometimes you have to live it before it really sinks in.

What really made sense to me was when Thomas pointed out that if your child isn’t doing what you want them to do, it’s really your fault as their parent. It’s your fault because you haven’t set up their environment for success.

It may not seem like it sometimes, but kids actually want to make us happy. They truly want to be good.

So it would make sense that sometimes when they aren’t doing what we want them to, it’s because we have made it too hard for them.

Instead of engaging in power struggles with your kids about why they haven’t done what you asked them to do a hundred times already, make it easy for them to remember.

Boys have a larger part of their brains dedicated to spatial and mechanical functioning than girls do. This is why boys need to be able to visualize things in order to learn them.

Now it makes sense to me why when my husband was starting up his business, he had had little sticky notes all over the wall in our office. Each one had a different task that he wanted to focus on in order to be successful.

Set Them Up For Success

As parents, we can help set our children up for success by using visual cues and reminders around the house.

For example, you could put up a sign with a list of the 3 things your son needs to do in the bathroom before getting ready for school. Make sure to keep it simple.

You could use a small sign that says Flush, Wash, Brush.

A simple list of what steps are needed to get ready in the morning in your child’s bedroom can go a long way! For younger kids, you could use pictures of what the steps are.

Post a schedule near your child’s virtual learning space and make sure it’s visible all day. Here are a few other tips on setting up your child’s virtual learning space.

If you walk through your child’s elementary school, chances are you will see lots of bright and cheery pictures. In their classroom, you’ll probably see lists of expectations and schedules all over the walls.

That’s not just a coincidence!

It also makes sense now why the watch my son got for his 6th birthday was one of his favorite gifts. He didn’t take it off even at night!

It was pretty nice to tell him to check his watch when he asked what time it was every 5 minutes. But now I see why it meant so much to him!

Think Before You Speak

We can use this principle to help us be more proactive.

Instead of always saying things like “stop, no, don’t, quit,” we can show our children what we want them to do. You can easily do this by removing the things from their environments that you don’t want your child doing.

During virtual learning, make sure the only things that are in the learning space are school materials.

The secret to parenting little boys

Of course, this isn’t always realistic or possible to do. But I’m sure you can help by reducing at least some of the distractions.

Following this parenting tip doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set high expectations for our kids. It is a good reminder for why yelling doesn’t get you as far though.

I’m definitely excited to try it and hopefully save my breath a little!

If you enjoyed reading this, I’d love for you to share it with others who you think might need this tip for parenting boys too!

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The Top 10 Tips For Virtual Learning Success

Inside: 10 virtual learning tips to get prepared and set up your family for success. 

2 months ago, I couldn’t wait for school to start back up.

When it came down to deciding whether or not to send our kids back face to face or to enroll them in virtual learning, I was truly stuck though.

Neither decision felt like a good one. Luckily our school superintendent decided for us.

We live in the largest county in Georgia where classroom sizes are usually at least 20 and there are almost 100 schools. Many families have children at more than one school. Those same students ride the same buses, and some teachers even travel to different schools.

All these things paired with the number of COVID 19 cases in our county being on the rise when school started, led the school board to decide it wasn’t safe for anyone to go back to school face to face yet.

I was a little disappointed at first, because it meant I wouldn’t get my days to myself back.

After being stuck at home with my family for almost 6 months, I definitely could use some alone time. I thrive on having time to focus on the things I want to do.

What mom doesn’t?

But I was also relieved that I didn’t have to be the one to make such a huge decision for our family.

Last week was our first week of virtual learning. Despite some technical issues and boredom from my 1st grader, WE SURVIVED!

I know that this semester and really this year will be a learning process for all of us. In the end, it’s something that will only make us stronger. But I think we’ve learned a few things already that might make virtual learning easier for your family.

10 VIRTUAL LEARNING TIPS

1. SET UP A DESIGNATED WORKSPACE

I definitely waited until the last minute to do this, so if you’re starting to panic, don’t. Our workspace is nothing special, but it’s a room we don’t often use. So it was easy to clear it off and designate it for school.

workspace for virtual learning

We got some basic school supplies like paper, pencils, markers, erasers, folders, glue, and a pencil sharpener. Also, if you don’t have a good pair of headphones for your child, make sure to invest in a pair!

I put everything in a small crate and stackable bins like the ones below. Then I got a simple bookshelf to organize everything and make it easy to put it all away at the end of the day.

                                              

 

2. LOG ON EARLY

This might seem obvious, but we had to learn it the hard way. Even though you’ll be at home and won’t have to worry about finding everyone’s shoes, it will still take you some time to get ready in the morning.

I don’t know if it’s just my kids who aren’t morning people.

Or maybe my 6-year-old is the only one that needs 5 reminders to brush his teeth. But you won’t be saving that much time by doing school at home instead of in person.

Our schools are using Microsoft Teams. After a few days, I learned how easy it is to create your own meeting instead of joining the meeting your teacher started. If you log on before she starts the meeting, you’ll see a meeting request pop up on your screen though. So being early definitely helps in this case.

Plus if you have issues logging on and try to email the teacher once the class has already started, she may not see your email if she’s already focused on teaching the lesson.

Being online early will help you get your day started out with fewer frustrations due to technical issues.

3. MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS

Having a designated workspace is the first step in helping to minimize distractions for your students. We try not to have any toys on the table when school is going on. If I sit next to my 6-year-old doing something he’s interested in, it’s distracting to him.

My 8-year-old doesn’t want my help and tells me he’s got it, but my 6-year-old wants me next to him all day.

So I’ve been sitting next to my 6-year-old with my computer. When he asks me what I’m doing, I let him know that I have work to do too. I have a little alarm clock next to his work station that tells him the time and his daily schedule.

4. TURN OFF OTHER DEVICES

Unless you have a crazy amount of Wifi, having more than one person doing a conference call at once will more than likely cause some connection issues. I realized a few months ago that when I’m zooming it helps to turn off all the devices we aren’t actually using.

You can just turn off the wifi on your phone if you aren’t using it, but I also turn off all the ipads in the house. I put my smart watch on airplane mode and I also turn off all the smart TVs in the house. It’s crazy how many things in our house rely on wifi!

5. TAKE SCREEN-FREE BREAKS

Anytime my kids have a break in their schedule, we try to do things that don’t involve a screen.

mom helping child take a break from virtual learning

My 1st grader’s teacher told the class that they need to do something screen-free during their lunch and recess break. She also told them to read for 9 minutes before they can have screen time after school. This week, they have to read 20 minutes every day as their homework.

6. SEPERATE SIBLINGS

We started out with both kids in the dining room. Since my younger son does everything his older brother does, I thought he would get more work done if he was in the same room.

After the first day, we realized that wasn’t the case. My younger son didn’t like wearing the headphones all day and my older son figured out that his teacher couldn’t hear him speak when they were plugged in.

That’s all part of the process though, learning and adapting as you go!

We moved my younger son to the kitchen table so that they could both unplug their headphones if they wanted to. Having all of the school supplies in a small bin has made clean up at the end of the day easy.

7. BE PATIENT

Patience is not always easy, but again, we have to remember that this process is new for everyone! Especially our kids and their teachers.

Yesterday my son cried because he didn’t want to log onto school. His cousins are in town visiting and he said that school ruined his vacation.

We reminded him that he had an extra-long vacation this year and that it was time to go back to school.

I gave him permission to cry for 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes were up, I told him he had to stop and log onto school.

His school counselor taught us this little trick last year when he was having a hard time adjusting to school starting back after the Winter Break. Surprisingly, he doesn’t usually need the whole 5 minutes to cry. But if he did, he would have that time to get it all out.

8. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

Remember that you aren’t the only one trying to figure out how to help your child with virtual learning.

Not only is it hard on the teacher, but every other student is trying to learn how to navigate something that is totally foreign to them. So far, our teachers have been very patient, and I think they want parents to know it’s ok to not have it all figured out yet.

Sometimes, it might feel like you’re failing, but I promise, you’re doing it right momma!

Child doing virtual learning

9. STAY POSITIVE

We may not realize it, but our kids take cues from our attitudes. Try to stay positive and remind them that it’s ok if they don’t have all the answers.

My kids also do really well with positive reinforcement. We use rewards often, but if you don’t find this helpful, that’s ok.

I know that having time to play video games is worth everything to my kids. So before the first day of school, I told them that they couldn’t have screen time after school if they complained.

It worked really well the first day. The next day was a little harder and I realized I had to give them some time to adjust. But after this week, I’m going to be consistent about this rule!

10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

I know all moms struggle with asking for help, but we need it now more than ever!

Find a community. We’re all relying on social media right now to connect with other moms. It’s definitely not the same as meeting in person with your friends, but it still can help you feel less isolated.

If there isn’t already a Facebook group for moms in your neighborhood, start one. Or you can even start another one that focuses only on struggles moms of school-aged kids have.

We have one in our neighborhood called surviving the pandemic with kids. We share tips about virtual learning, but also other challenges that have come up this year!

It takes a village! 

Some parents don’t have a choice but to work. If this is you, you will more than likely need to figure out a plan for getting help before you even get started!

I can’t even imagine how hard it will be for you to juggle your job, keeping your house in one piece, and now having to help your child with virtual learning.

Just remember that any help you can give them is better than nothing. Make sure to communicate any struggles that come up with your child’s teacher.

Communicate with the school administration and the school board. If they don’t hear from you, they won’t know what your struggles are.

What other virtual learning tips do you have for parents who might be struggling with the same issues as you? Make sure to share them in the comments!

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