Since you asked ...

A sample day in the life of a stay-at-home Mom*

Between 5 and 7:30 a.m. Wake up to sounds of my husband trying to be quiet. Marvel that my children slept through the night and pray for another hour of quiet before the party starts. Write morning pages, finish a few things for work and make my shake. Empty dishwasher, start breakfast prep, set out stuff for making dinner. Put in load of laundry.

Head back upstairs where Sam finds me stretching in my room so we do a little Yoga together before his brother wakes up. Sam’s the loudest little Yogi ever so Jake’s up before long and hits the ground running. And then falls hitting his knee on an unidentified object since I was being so negligent as to use the bathroom for a moment.

7:45 a.m. I bring some first-aid stuff upstairs to deal with his scrape. Sam insists his brother wants a boo-boo pack and hurries downstairs to get it. He falls too. So there we are, the three of us on the stairs, two-thirds of us in tears. I suggest we start the day over. We get dressed and come down for breakfast.

8:05 a.m. Noticed the box of Band-aids is suspiciously empty. Found them stuck all over Sam’s door. I scraped them off while he explains that he was “just decorating.”

8:10 a.m. Noticed the Neosporin cap is missing, spent the next 15 minutes hunting for it before Jake finds it and choke to death. Change Jake’s diaper. I’m too slow because in the 12 seconds he had the opportunity he manages to pee all over his lovey, Zebra. Luckily I have a spare.

8:25 a.m. The water I’d set to boil for our oatmeal evaporated in the meantime. Almond butter toast and honey it is. (It helps to remember that when Plan A fails, you’ve got 25 more letters to work with).

8:20-8:30 a.m. Managed Sam’s meltdown over not being allowed to watch “Bob the Builder.”

8:32 a.m. Breakfast on the table, bags are packed from the night before we’ll be out the door on time today. For sure. Except I didn’t read Sam’s mind and therefore “messed up” his toast.

8:33 a.m. Manage another meltdown because I cut Sam’s toast into rectangles instead of his “favorite shape, triangles.” FYI: yesterday, the request was for rectangles. Jake, on the other hand, loves the toast, doesn’t care about the shape but thinks it makes a lovely hat.

8:40 a.m. Eat my toast standing up while combing almond butter out of Jake’s hair.

8:55-9 a.m. Clean up (by which I mean the kids not the breakfast dishes, those get thrown in the sink on a good day), wrangle kids into shoes and car-seats. Catch a whiff of stinky realization that I need to change Jake’s diaper. Stupidly smell his pants to see if he needs new ones. He does. Plus, I need a shower because, well, let’s just say I should’ve used my eyes instead of my nose!

9:00 a.m. Load boys up, lock myself out. Get in through super-secret means, tie my shoes while I pee. Yes, multi-tasking at its finest. Sing wheels-on-the bus all the way to the gym, pausing only to look for Cement Mixer Melvin and Rescue Rita. Also, forgot to announce “Time Tunnel approaching folks.” Promise to try to remember tomorrow.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at the gym daycare, breathless after carrying 30-pound Jake from the back-40 and keeping up with Sam who can’t wait to play trains. In the spirit of efficiency, I consider that my warm-up and sign in pleased that we are, for once, on time today. At which point I’m told I was actually signed up for 9 a.m. Cool.

9:45 a.m. Grateful for a cancelation, I am finally able to hit the treadmill, workout and shower all by myself. Even in an itty-bitty shower stall with little privacy and no scented potions from home this time to shower and get ready in peace is such a luxury that I’m willing to work out hard enough to need one after years of boycotting exercise due to the fact that I hate it. A few people have asked me why I go through the trouble of going to the gym when I could just go for a walk with “one of those kid-pusher things.” For those who don’t know, that would be a stroller and I suppose it’s possible that someone who’s never pushed one with two siblings in it wouldn’t understand that is an exercise in both patience and futility but not so much a physical one since you’re always having to stop to give someone his bottle back or pick up the blanket that you just ran over and will now have to wash before bedtime.

11:00 a.m. Stop at the “Tractor Park” on the way home to supervise play and sharing practice. Watch in awe as other parents are able to relax and read as their children fling sand into my kids’ faces. Remind Sam we don’t have a snack bar because we had to leave the store last time due to his not listening. As he starts to throw a fit remind him that if he does that I won’t have the energy to remember to buy them next time either!

11:30 a.m. Bribe the kids back to the car with the promise of lunch and an episode of “Caillou.” Yes, even if it’s sunny. People say television is a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. I’m more of a “most things in moderation” kind of mom. Ad-lib “Wheels-on-the Bus” all the way home to include all of the “Sweet Pickles” characters.

Since I’m already over my word-count, just trust me that the afternoon is a blur of crafty activities, clean up, sharing practice, explaining why it’s not okay to tow each other by the neck, hunting down remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other naps, prepping dinner, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Google contents of Sam’s giraffe and ideas for how to fix his tail, laundry, and the list goes on.

Yeah, that whole bon-bon thing? It’s crap!

Flash forward to the chaos of the day fading into dinner negotiations, bath time fun and subsequent tsunami zone, then stories, songs, bedtime. I SAID BEDTIME!!!

And then I clock out.

Just kidding.

At Bedtime Jake is screaming for Zebra. Oh, did I not mention that as I was filling the tub he decided to toss Zebra in there, giving him a nice soak. Remember this morning when he peed on the other one and I was so glad I had a spare? Yeah. I didn’t get that into the dryer yet.

Motherhood is full of Sophie’s Choices. Do I give him the wet zebra or the one he peed on this morning?

I’ll leave you on that note … I know there are so many things I missed. I’m sure you can help me fill in the blanks. Hopefully this is enough to demonstrate the “bored” is the dumbest adjective to describe this mad-awesome gig.

*After writing this it was brought to my attention that technically I’m a work-from-home mom but as far as I’m concerned, the details here are representative of the stay-at-home mom part and the work-from-home part happens on the treadmill, at the park while supervising sharing practice, between singing rounds of wheels-on-the-bus, and between 9 p.m and 2 a.m.


Hardy Boys Merger

 

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I had a hard time finding ideas for moving two toddlers into the same bedroom. I’m wondering if that’s because it’s not such a good idea?

Sam really wanted to move into Jake’s room, he’s brought it up repeatedly so finally this morning I decided to do it. The “merger” was way more labor-intensive than I’d planned for because, well … I didn’t really plan it at all. Which some of you know is totally not like me. Bunking the boys together has been in the back of my mind ever since we started visualizing a bathroom upstairs. We’re managing with just one but there’ve been a few times a second bathroom would be just heavenly. (Like the time when our one and only toilet was broken for a day).

And while I’m dreaming … this bathroom would double as a laundry room instead of the laundry-room/pantry broom closet I’ve got going on now. I’m a believer in creating space for our dreams … so, now I have an empty room perfect for our new Ultimate Utility room.

The room isn’t actually empty, because in a smallish house that would be silly. I’ve got plans for that room too, but for now it’s just a mess of possibilities.

As you can see below, the boys were pretty excited and happy about the new Hardy Boys room … I hope I still think it was a good idea in the morning!

 

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p.s. I know, it’s been awhile since my last post … I’m working on getting back into this being one of my top priorities, but I’m still adjusting to a new work schedule and getting regular workouts. (Which is somehow giving me more energy, I never used to believe that, but more on that another day!)

 

* 8:30 p.m. So far I’ve only been interrupted three times writing this post.

*11:30 p.m. So far, so good … fingers crossed.


Go ahead, get pissed. Just don’t stay that way!

I was reading some questions and comments on a parenting board I like when I saw a mom asking how to handle a situation that leaves her feeling angry. Another person responded by telling her that if she was so angry she had little, or no tolerance. So, you know I had to say something.

Are you kidding me? As soon as you start telling people it’s not okay to be angry with their children is when things get dangerous. If you can’t admit that you’re angry, you can’t get help figuring your way through it. And that’s a problem. Why is it that some people advocate for allowing children to feel their entire “rainbow of emotions” but don’t yield that same courtesy to the parents?

Here is a link to a parenting site I poured over last night looking for some solutions to our recent parenting challenges – I’ve been sort of a Zen-Banshee lately. It’s about handling our anger as parents – see?! It’s normal, thank you very much. There’s a lot there to digest, if you can approach it without feeling defensive, all the better. I caught myself cringing a few times but liked the overall concept.

I was most struck by the idea that one of the reasons our children can push our buttons like no other is that in the moment that they {insert behavior that makes you insanely, intensely and instantly furious} it triggers how you felt as a child. (Enough with the eye-rolling, already, just consider the possibility). So for me that looks like, when Sam utterly disregards something I’d just told him, a simple request even, and does whatever he damn well pleases underneath my fury, I feel: dismissed, ignored, unimportant, useless, not heard. These are feelings I remember from early on and understanding that this is what might be happening was eye-opening in a hopeful way. Make sense?

For the article on parent-anger, I only take issue with the last line, #16 I get her point but don’t think shame is the right word to use there.

If I could help eradicate one thing from our personal and parenting arsenals it would be shame. Okay three things: shame, guilt and blame.

Writing as I go, learning as I live and sharing that here with you is one of my ways of combating those things.

This video, sent to me by my friend Rose, is 20 worthwhile minutes and helped me find the courage within myself to start this journey back to my favorite self.

20 minutes of inspiration …

Back soon,

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True story: trust yourself

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My picture-of-the-day today is actually a story. A true story that I want to remember for the rest of my life. A story I want my boys to remember so they know that God always has their back. So much has been written about the power of intuition.

I’m not ready to have my own show or anything, but I have a lot of these kinds of “feelings" and I’ve learned to respect them but this is one of the most obvious lessons in why that’s a good idea.

After a few week hiatus from working out at the Y, I was ready to get back on track. I was looking forward to TWO hours of kid-free time to work out and shower in peace. The boys were stoked to be able to play outside for the first time since we joined the Y. I headed up to take a 55-minute Pilates class and decided I didn’t have enough time. I opted for the EFX machine, worked out for 30 minutes. I wanted to stay and do my cool down so I could finish watching the View’s take on the Casey Anthony trial. But I knew I didn’t have time and hurried to get the boys. I needed to shower, but didn’t. I wanted to pee, but didn’t. I hurried to pick up the boys because I knew with all of my heart that I needed to leave with them immediately. As we were heading out to the van, I heard the crashing sounds of a lady driving her car through the fence where my children had just been playing. And I thanked God for mother’s intuition.

p.s. no one was hurt, except possibly the driver of the car. I suspect she was more shook up than hurt. She was also trapped in her car because she couldn’t open her door as she was wedged between the fence and the tree … As I heard the sirens approaching while I strapped the boys into their carseats, my hands were shaking but my heart was calm.

Trust yourself.


More Love and Logic

(Here’s part 2 of perhaps 3 of the follow-up to my June Baby on Board article.)

For those of you who tune out because this Love and Logic stuff is just for parents, it does work on all kinds of people in your life. Mostly, I think, because the essence is learning to stay in control of yourself and responding instead of reacting. An essential component to the Love and Logic practice is also keeping the focus on what you are willing to do rather than targeting the negative. Just this small switch yields remarkable results.

I also need to say that as with anything, misapplying the principles of Love and Logic (or the Bible, or the Koran…) is the bastardization of the original spirit of the program, so I don’t want to hear stories about how it’s “cruel” and “unfair” and “mean” because someone heard a story somewhere about a parent who thought a reasonable “natural consequence” was actually abusive and harmful. I would hope it is obvious that is not the kind of parenting we’re aiming for here!

These ideas may not be for you and yours, but that’s another thing entirely.

One of my favorite new parenting tools is a three-dollar timer I picked up at Target. Instead of packing a wooden spoon I tucked the timer in my suitcase on a recent family trip. The entire week Sam had no spankings and zero time-outs. This is not to say there weren’t challenges along the way, but I had just enough of this Love and Logic stuff fresh on my mind, and the timer, to give me the tools I needed to practice my new mental-Jedi parenting.

That timer is in charge of time-outs (aka “head check” time), resolves sharing disputes, supervises speed cleaning contests and somehow delights my toddlers in a way I don’t quite get. All I care about is that it works.

In addition to the timer, we created a “timeout” spot where one of two things happen. Depending on the situation, and his response to it, I’ll tell Sam he can come out when he’s ready to act sweet. Or, I get the timer and when he is quiet I set it for two minutes and when it dings, I don’t lecture him about why he was in time out like I once did because I learned in the class that it’s okay to treat your kid like they’re “smarter than the family dog.” Meaning – your kid knows why they’re in there. The timeout is the punishment, save your breath and let everyone move forward as quickly as possible. If you’re not sure they know, tell them on the way to timeout: “In our family we don’t [insert offensive action here].”

One of the first things we learned was the “uh-oh” song – which was confusing to me because as far as I can tell, it’s not actually a song. I am so literal, I searched online for the actual song. I figured out that the “song” is actually the sing-songy voice you use to say “uhhh-ohh” when you see your child about to do something that’s going to cause an issue. So for me, a frequent issue, is seeing one of my boys with their arms mid-air, poised to strike the other one. “Uhh-ohh” in my sing-song voice often makes them pause and re-think their action. When it doesn’t, I take him gently (I repeat gently- dislocated joints were discussed at this point in the class), sing “uh-ohh” and lead them to our time out spot. For Sam, it’s the entry bench, for Jake it’s his play-pen cleared of toys.

{Note: I was concerned that using his playpen as a timeout spot would make it harder for me to use it when I actually needed him to play in there for a moment, turns out I didn’t need to worry. He knows the difference. It’s in how we interact with him and what is said when he goes in there that sets the tone. This is true for bedroom time as well. See below.}

 

Bedroom Time: This is the mother of timeouts. If Sam needs more than the few minutes of a simple timeout to regain his composure, or it’s clear to me that he needs more time to chill out—or if I need to recover from the result of his misbehavior—I take him to his room, always offering a choice. {see below} A favorite from Jennifer’s class “would you like to go on your feet or go in the air?” If he doesn’t walk himself upstairs, I pick him up and get him there. At this point there’s a series of quick choices, if he fails to chose, I pick for him – life lessons in action. “Do you want your door open or closed?” Often, at the start of this, he’s pissed enough that by his throwing a car at the door, I interpret that as needing the door closed. I let him know that he needs to be in there until he can calm down and I’m right here when he’s ready.

p.s. it would be smart of you to remove anything you can stand to have broken. Obviously, this should be a safe place for your child to be alone. And you aren’t taking a bath during this time, as much as you’re waiting nearby where he/she can’t see or hear you for the very moment they are calm so you can either start the timer for a timeout or help them move on with the day.

I know that to some people this seems just awful. For me, the thought of not teaching him that he can calm himself down, with my help if needed, is worse than making him go to his room. I know some people believe there is a path to parenting without punishments. More power to them. I am mindful of teaching my boys that having strong feelings is totally okay. Hurting themselves and others during these emotional storms is not. I needed a way to enforce some of our ground rules to keep everyone safe and sane. These are the things that are working for us. I share them only in the event that they might help someone else.

Finally, today, I’ll share one more key element of this concept: Give lots of choices. You can avoid power struggles by giving plenty of choices when things are going well, always two options each of which work for you. Here’s the part I forgot before the class: if you’re child doesn’t choose within ten seconds, you decide. Super easy ways to do this are at mealtimes: which color cup? Orange or blue? What shape do they want their sandwich? Square or triangle? When they pick circle (as Sam often does) remind them that wasn’t a choice. Square or triangle? Do they want to put on their shirt first, or pants? Whatever … it works wonders.

Perhaps one of the most important things I learned was this:

Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s about practice. And a willingness to be uncomfortable and allow your child to deal with the consequences of their actions rather than hovering over them like a helicopter ready to rescue them the second life gets real.

Resources to learn more

- Love and Logic website

I also like their Facebook page because real parents (and trained Love and Logic teachers) help each other come up with Love and Logic solutions to every day, as well as out of the ordinary, situations.

- A local wealth of information is Jennifer Bass: bassj@newberg.k12.or.us or 503-554-4973. Call to schedule a group class, or to see where more are being offered.


Love and Logic

(Post one of several on this subject)

I’ve been reading parenting books since Sam was a baby in my belly. Some of you may remember this post, but my favorite was the Love and Logic book by Jim and Charles Fay.

Matt and I recently took a parenting class. He would prefer I call it something else since “parenting class” sounds court-mandated. To this I say, I only wish birthing centers popped some Love and Logic DVDs to watch during labor in addition to the dated safety movies which, while helpful, are for emergency situations rather than the practical, day-to-day tips new parents really need.

Maybe I’m not a new parent anymore, but I’ve never had a 3-year-old before. And then with my youngest, it’ll be true that I’ve never had that 3-year-old before!

I was turned on to the concept of Love and Logic when I read an example of it’s use with a teenager on Stacy Julian’s website. It made so much sense to me, and worked with my beliefs about my role as a parent, that I ordered the book targeting the toddler set immediately.

I'd been praying for an opportunity to attend a live workshop so I could troubleshoot some of the things I didn’t quite get. When the flyer came home from Sam’s school that the class was being offered for $30 with childcare included, I was stoked.

Of course, I wrote a column about it but 600 words wasn’t nearly enough to scratch the surface. So, here are a few of the things I had to leave out but still wanted to share.

Techniques I particularly love:

- State what you are willing to do:

“I serve snacks at 10 and 3.”

“I take boys who are behaving swimming.”

“I will listen when your voice is calm like mine.” (Obviously, this works best when you aren’t yelling.) Winking smile 

 

- Phrase things in the positive. This is not the same as not setting limits, it’s just in how you say it.
I had a chance to watch this in action on a recent visit with my parents. We had the same end-goal which was that Sam had to wait until we got to the pool to play with a beach ball. They lead with the obvious “no” and “you can’t play with that now.” This set off a negative reaction. I found it easier to state what he could do, which was: “you’re welcome to play with the ball at the pool.” And then instantly follow up with a choice “do you want to carry it to the car or should I?” He carried it to the car and had a ball at the pool.

PS Had he opted to have a fit instead, I was prepared to tell him we take boys who act nice to the pool and he was welcome to stay home and throw his fit while his brother and I had fun swimming. (Because my mom was at the house and was willing to help with this).

- Teach them how to be successful

I know that seems obvious, it’s just some of the things don’t occur to us when we’re in the middle of a tantrum. So, last night for example Sam threw an epic fit because he couldn’t go with his dad to retrieve our runaway dog. When he calmed down, I asked him if he’d like to learn some ways to deal with his anger that wouldn’t get him in trouble. He said he did.

It was important to me that he understands being angry, even showing it, is not a problem. It’s the way he handles it that matters. I think this is a lesson a lot of adults could stand to learn. Anyway … we talked at dinner about ways his dad and I deal with our anger. I gave an example where I got up, went to the couch and punched the soft cushion a few times while saying: “I am so angry! That felt so unfair!”

Sam said I looked silly. I said “probably so, but I feel better now. Wanna try it?” He did. This morning when he was mad that I wouldn’t let him eat bread out of the bag for breakfast, guess what he did?

Of course, punching cushions might not work for you, so suggest things that would work for everyone.

Tomorrow I’ll post more phrases and concepts I found especially helpful. As always, let me know what you think!


{Project Life–week 10}

 

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Week 10, side 2

I’m having fun with sepia and black and white pictures mixed into the book. I also tucked in a note to our babysitter because it’ll make me smile some day to remember the (very specific) instructions for putting our boys to bed.

Jake – one zebra, one bottle, froggie – turn on heater

Sam – 4 cars books, 2 giraffes, puppy, cold water with ice – turn on fan

Some of you wanted to see the journaling better – I think if you double click on the pictures you can get a closer view … if that doesn’t work let me know and I can post them but I don’t think most people care  as much about the day-to-day besides me and my mom.


‘Round here

 

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Jake is loving eating what we’re eating. I’m still adjusting to the fact that he can. I didn’t factor him in when I cooked curried rice and chicken. I gave him a tiny bite at first and ended up realizing I am officially feeding three hungry guys. Wow.

Jake continues to adore his older brother, but is also annoyed by him at times as illustrated in the following:

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Sam is turning into quite the little personal trainer. He does my “30 day Shred” videos with me and pays close attention, really close.

He forced his dad off the couch last night to “teach" him “Mama and Sam’s exercises.” It reminded me of my dad who used to make us do morning calisthenics, sometimes on snowy balconies if we were in Bend with the Bakos’ and Benkos. So wish I had a picture of that to share with you. I think there were moonboots involved.

Anyway, Sam’s leading his dad through the routine, pretty close to accurately and suddenly says: “And now we pull our pants up and down, up and down.” He said this as he’s tugging at his waist band. Matt gave me the “What the??” look.

“I have no idea.” I shrugged. But then it dawned on me … my workout pants are getting too big and I have to keep pulling them up.

I don’t have any new blog links to share today because I’ve been working on my book report! I haven’t done a formal book review in forever, which I consider a condensed book review. The geek in me is thrilled to have this homework reviewing:


United States of Americana by Kurt B. Reighley

I’ve wanted a book-reviewing gig for a long time but have found them hard to land, so I was delighted to get an email from an editor asking if I wanted to take a shot at it.


Puddle stomps and haircuts

 

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I had one of my favorite mama moments this weekend when Sam and I went on a puddle stomp while Matt’s mom stayed home with Jake. It’s rare to have some one-on-one time with Sam so just that was fun. Then we got a little crazy jumping in every puddle we could find – some deeper than others. A lot deeper. Our boots were soaked. Don’t worry Mami, it was wet but not too cold outside and we hopped right into a hot shower – followed by haircuts from Nana, who by the way is quite a trooper and would kill me for posting this picture of her being a good sport:

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{yes, that is a Safeway bag on her head, she just did her hair}

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Jake’s first haircut … if you don’t count the one from Sam

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And mine … well, I’m told it’ll look better after a lot of product, none of which I own, but she made it look really good with what we had on hand, for about 25 minutes. Then … this again:

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