How to Konmari Kid Stuff

So, have you guys started watching Marie Kondo’s new show on Netlix? Well, I have. I may or may not have already watched the entire thing…so, what?

once upon a time shrug GIF

Before we begin

First of all, if this is your first time konmari-ing, you may have thoughts during the process like:

  • How did I ever let my home get like this?
  • Why did I waste all of this money?
  • I can’t get rid of these things, because I spent good money on them.
  • But so-and-so got me this thing, they would be upset if I got rid of it.
Sound familiar? It’s okay. Take a deep breath and proceed anyway.

There is hope

Also, I want you to know my house is quite tidy. It gets messy all the time, but things have a home and it’s easy to reset. But I wasn’t born that way! Oh no, just ask my sister, whom I shared a room with for 18 years.

Left, my sister and I am right next to her. This was my birthday party with some friends circa 1998. Good times!

I have always been a hoarder and a creative-type who loved posters and drawings all over my wall growing up, and the top drawer of my dresser was full of who knows what and it barely closed. I never got rid of a single stuffed animal. But,I was always interested in organizing, I just didn’t know that you had to de-clutter first. I am learning and practicing on a regular basis, and you can too.

I am learning and practicing on a regular basis, and you can too.

A few pictures of my previous konmari adventures.

Now for the kid stuff…

Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate going through all the kid stuff! Also, one great thing about the konmari method is you will find you probably have all the space and storage products you need, because you will end up having so much less stuff. Let’s go!

  1. Do it as a family on a weekend day you are all home.
  2. Have someone to hold you accountable (I am weird with toys)
  3. Remove the toys you know are their favorites.
  4. Don’t ask your kids what they want to keep, because they will say everything , instead find two items that are similar and ask them to pick between them. Ask, “which one do you want more?” This truly worked so well with my kids, ages 2 &3. I thought there would be resistance on their part, but when I approached it this way, it all worked out.
  5. Explain you are sharing your things with others who may need it.
  6. Immediately put it in the car. Otherwise the clutter will re-enter circulation.
  7. Do kids clothes on your own.
  8. Store seasonal items elsewhere (contrary to konmari advice )
  9. If you are saving the clothes your kids grew out of, in the hopes you will use them for future children, think about going giving some away to someone in need, who could be using them now.
  10. Try to store toys in their closet, or some other closet in smaller containers, by type and only get a few out at a time. You will see you actually can walk across the room again safely, and it will make cleanup much simpler and playtime more fun.

Instead, find two items that are similar and ask, “which one do you want more?”

Take a look at that pile! And this is when I only had one baby!
The containers you see here are from Dollar Tree.
This is a hamper that I already had the was no longer being used.

So tell me, do you have any tips and tricks for de-cluttering your children’s items?

Overcome Resentment Toward Your Husband

Ever since I read, “The Surrendered Wife“, I’ve been very in tune to what I see around me. And you know what I see? So many of us women resent our husbands, and ACCEPT that that’s the way things are (especially after children). And you know what? I get it! Because I am human too. But I also have hope that it isn’t the way things have to be.


Disclaimer: This post is intended for women in relationships that have the everyday kind of frustrations. It is NOT intended for women in relationships with someone who is abusive, struggling with an active addiction, mental illness, or some other severe problem. Obviously, learning some new relationship skills would not be enough to improve the relationship and outside help would be necessary.

But first, a story and a video

Picture this, my husband gets from work, I’m busy making dinner. We get dinner on the table and I see the kids need to wash their hands, so I take it upon myself to get them to do it even though I am DONE. But, I think of my husband and how tired he must be so I do it. And I keep going.

And going.

And going.

After dinner the kids need a bath, and they need to brush their teeth, and read a story…and meanwhile my husband is relaxing, looking at his phone and I feel angry towards him even though I am trying to be a “good wife”.

Sound familiar?

I think many of us women worry so much about what other people are feeling and thinking, when we should first and foremost be tuned in to our own feelings. It is not selfish, it is practical so we can keep on loving at our best. We can only run on empty for so long before we blow up. It’s wonderful if your husband just knows to take over with the kids automatically, but if he doesn’t don’t let that be your excuse to keep things the way they are. You can’t hold your husband accountable for your emotional state. You are the master of your own happiness. When you do everything, you send the message to your husband that you don’t need his help, and he listens.

“You can’t hold your husband accountable for your emotional state. You are the master of your own happiness.”

The ways she behaves in this video I can so relate to. When she tells her kids to clean up their toys, then to go play with them, and then to clean them up again. And oh man, when her husband asked her for a glass of iced tea. Ha! It’s a long video, but even if you just listen to it while you are working on something else, it is worth it.

After surrendering

Imagine this scenario, your husband gets home from work and you had a long hard day. You warmly greet him and tell him that you are going to take a break in the bedroom. You come out refreshed, you have dinner, and when your kids ask things at the dinner table you defer them to your husband, so you can just STOP TALKING. I know it’s hard, because it means you will have to trust your husband’s leadership. There is a time and place to disagree, but if it’s over how many bites of broccoli and chicken Timmy has to eat before he leaves the table, I think you can let your husband take this one and it won’t jeopardize all the “enlightened parenting” you have done.

After dinner, you go take a shower and wash your face. You come out to find the dishes are done. You decide you are not up to giving the kids a bath, so you say “I can’t”, and retreat to your bedroom. Your husband does the whole bedtime routine, without you nagging him, and only calls on you to come kiss them goodnight. You are delighted and you receive his help graciously. Your husband strengthens his bond with the children, feels respected, and gets to have the honor of pleasing you.

“You are delighted and you receive his help graciously. “

So, are you a resentful wife or a surrendered wife?

Have you ever found yourself:

  • Irritated towards your husband and you don’t know why
  • Less attracted to your husband
  • Annoyed about all the little things, like forgetting to put his socks in the hamper
  • Frustrated at his lack of ambition
  • Lonely because he’d rather watch T.V. or stare at his phone than be with you
  • Angry with his lack of support with the kids
  • Wishing he’d help out more around the house
  • Feeling like you have to keep going and going like the energizer bunny because your husband won’t do it.
  • You don’t extend any grace when he is sick or tired. It’s as if you think he “has no right”

Practical ways to transition from resentment to intimacy

Here are some practical ideas for you to regain intimacy with your husband. I turn to them again and again

  • Acceptance. Accept reality. Accept that your husband may never put his underwear in the hamper consistently, even though he knows it bothers you. We are all human, and have bad habits and we can all be careless at times. I know I can be!
  • When you flip out about something small your husband is doing that normally wouldn’t bother you, this is usually a red herring that you need some self care. Go take a nap, a shower, call a friend. If whatever it is is still bothering you after that, then address it when you are in the right state of mind.
  • I don’t know exactly who this quote is from, I think it is Saint Paul, but let  “Seek to outdo one another in generosity” be your mantra. If you have this mindset you won’t be so worried about what your husband is or is not doing, anyway. Also, check this out.
  • Keep your eyes on your page. No peaking at his page! Reflect on your own shortcomings and try to improve. Reflect on your husbands strengths more than you ruminate on his weaknesses. Accentuate the positive.
  • Practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. Thank your husband for all the little things he does.
  • Say “I can’t”when you are too tired or overwhelmed to do something. Practice vulnerability.
  • Practice personal responsibility – he’s not responsible for your happiness, you are.

For more ideas, I highly recommend reading either The Surrendered Wife, or the Empowered Wife. Both are written by the same author. I prefer the Surrendered Wife because it has more specific scenarios. The Empowered Wife is like the updated version.

Even though you may nag your husband at times, become resentful, or disrespectful, you CAN make progress toward being the kind of wife you want to be. Even though your husband may be more distant than he used to be, you CAN restore the intimacy you once shared. Thank God, there’s hope!

Balance In The Chaos of Family Life: Is It Even Possible?

chaos family balance

The Search for Balance

Family life is so chaotic, especially this time of year, but we are committed to learning how to balance “it all”.

My husband is a dad, Special Ed teacher, Grad student, singer, and runner.  I am a mom, blogger, artist, and walker. I also occasionally meet friends for coffee…by myself.  My husband and I go on dates from time to time, and sometimes have someone over for dinner. Our home is constantly one mess after another but it is simple to reset (due to organizing systems I have set in place) even though we have two kids and a dog.

In other words, we are busy. And though we don’t have it all figured out, I wanted to share some things we have found that help us achieve some kind of balance.

How We Do It

First of all, we embrace a “a progress not perfection” mindset. For example, if it’s 8 pm and it’s time for me to blog and the dishes weren’t done yet, oh well. That was all I could do today. I truly work on not beating myself up about it. Honestly, it’s a great lesson in humility.

Image result for litany of humility

I Put the Big Rocks in First

Here’s a story I heard at mass about how we should use our time, talents, and treasure. I learned you have to put the big rocks in more. What I mean by this is, we prioritize.  When I think about my next course of action, I try to think in terms of reality and not what my schedule says, (this is so hard for me) and do the next right thing based on my circumstances. So many things in life are important, but they are not urgent every single day. This quote helps me to  have peace when I didn’t accomplish as much as I set out to:

“Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things…You can’t get everything done in a day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as you’d like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable amount of time, and go to bed with the humiliating yet exhilarating knowledge that you are only a child of God and not God.” – Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P.

 

I Check My Emotional State

If little things are starting to bother me that my husband, children, or even dog do, it’s probably a red herring for the real problem: I’m in need of self-care. It could mean I need to eat something, take a nap, drink some water, call a friend, do some exercise, or do something creative. Usually, if I stop and think about what I need, and take action, I feel much more in balance. In fact, that’s the best way to know you have balance – check how you are feeling.

I Keep a Schedule

I have a Mother’s Rule, my daily schedule which I update on a regular basis. I view it as a guideline of which to live out my goals for my faith, myself, my husband, my children, and my work. I block out my time and leave plenty of margin for activities like meal times or bed times. I want you to know that I normally don’t complete every single thing on my schedule. I fail every single day. But that only makes me rely on God more. I am only human, after all. And life happens. And sometimes I get distracted.

I Reflect

I try to reflect on how I am doing in my vocation on a regular basis. Besides going to confession and doing an examination of conscience, I also think in practical ways how I could have been more productive or attentive on any given day and apply that to the next day.

 

I’m Learning to Surrender to My Husband

This might be one of the most important things that keeps everything in balance. I have to stop myself from trying to be super-woman and doing everything and controlling everything. I have to say “I can’t” and let my husband see my vulnerability and receive his help and gifts graciously. This is very hard for me, but this book has been life-giving for our marriage and family.

We Believe Our Marriage Comes First

If my children interrupt me, or my husband, when we are talking, we try to teach them to wait and say “excuse me”. We want them to know how to respect us and the bond we share. I set aside time each day to be available for my husband. Am I perfect about it? No, but as with any goal I have, I am more likely to get closer to it when I put it on my schedule. I try to write my husband a love letter every Sunday and we go on a date night at least once a month, we are blessed to have in-laws who are willing to do that for us.

We Use Technology to Help us Reach Our Goals

Sometimes my kids watch more T.V. than I prefer, but it is for the sake of my sanity. The rest of the time I do my best to involve them in chores and other activities. It’s all a matter of balance. I have an app on my phone that reminds me of certain habits I am working on. It helps me stay accountable to my goals and not forget to keep in touch with friends and family.

We Prioritize Every Family Member’s Health, Not Just Our Children’s

My husband and I have set up our home life in such a way that each of us can have some dedicated, uninterrupted time on a regular basis. This is for our mental and emotional health. For our physical health, I usually take walks with my kids or dance around with them. I try to keep track of what I eat on myfitnesspal. I don’t skip meals unless intentionally (i.e. intermittent fasting). I consider it my duty and responsibility to stay sound in mind and body for the sake of serving them. My husband goes on a run during his work day. I meal plan and do Walmart grocery pickup.  We take care of our spiritual health by praying, attending mass, and making it to confession as often as we can. We sleep trained our children so we would all be able to have adequate sleep. I take a quiet time each afternoon alongside my children. All of these things together help us manage the stress of such a busy life.

We Are Always Growing

My husband and I don’t stay stuck in a rut. While I am definitely the self-help junkie of the two of us, he is definitely committed to growing as a person. I’m always reading books, working towards goals, tweaking my routine.

I Protect My Peace

I say “no” based on the commitments I have in my schedule. I know what those commitments are because I have a schedule. I have already discerned that I cannot forgo quiet time without bankrupting myself emotionally. I say “I can’t”. (For example, I can’t do the dishes when I have a headache.) I let myself take breaks. After dinner, I go directly to the bathroom and take a shower. That way I get one before I am too tired to do it. I don’t ask my husband to watch the kids. I just say “I’m going to take a shower”. He’s smart. He realizes that means he will be watching them. And guess what? Everything is okay without me.

We Nurture Friendships

Recently, both my husband and I have set up a recurring meetings with one of our closest friends, he sees his friend on Wednesdays after we put the kids to bed, and I see my friend on Thursdays. We are also slowly becoming more hospitable and opening our home more often to friends and family for visits. I make a habit of reaching out to my friends, just to say hi and see how they are, even if it isn’t reciprocated 100% equally. The way I see it, if I miss them it’s my responsibility to say hi and not wait around for them to do so. I also accept that if I want to have a vibrant social calendar, I need to be prepared to be the one doing the inviting 99 % of the time, it’s just reality. We are all so busy and it is so hard to be intentional. I can’t make people invite me, but I can invite them! It’s not so much about what you get from social interactions as it is what you give.

We Do “Special Time”

We try to spend one-on-one time with each of our kids. It could be simple like just reading a book together, or going on an ice cream date. The idea is that each of our children gets some individualized attention so they know how special and precious they are. Do we do this everyday? No, but since it’s on our radar it happens more often than if it wasn’t a goal to begin with.

Even though we are busy, we feel as though we do have a sense of balance

So as you see, the way we make all of things work is both being blessed but also through being intentional. You can have it all, but you have to let go of perfectionism and you have to understand that all the things you want to have in your life may not happen every single day, but over time. You have to accept that most of the time, you will be off track and life will be a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, but when you have your goals set, you will still be going the right direction, and you will still be making progress.

Self-Care: Mind, Body, and Soul – in the Midst of Serving Others

self-care

I learned some new lessons in self-care last week and I was reminded of how much I need it. Last week was a whirlwind of my birthday, Halloween, everyone catching colds and a mouse in the house. The latter resulted in about 5 additional loads of laundry and sanitizing every imaginable surface. Needless to say, I am emotionally drained. (Reality check: I have limits and I need breaks.) So, Saturday night I told my husband that I was going out for the morning. My Sunday plans were:

  • Go to mass
  • Spend time in adoration
  • Send some thank you messages and call my Grandma
  • Work on my blog
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s still hot
  • Check out Starbucks’ Holiday setup (really? That’s it guys? )

All of these things are 10,000 times harder to do when I have kids and a dog in tow. Because:

You should practice self-care because it is essential to serve long term and maintain healthy relationships. As a wife and mom of two young children and a puppy, I am one busy lady. If I am not intentional with my time, I will go days and weeks without a single moment to myself. And it’s not healthy. I become very ornery and overwhelmed when I don’t take time for a breather. And this message isn’t just for moms. It’s for caregivers of any sort. I think all Christians need to get really good at self-care because if you are a truly committed Christian, you’re never really going to be done serving. (Even if your children have grown up and moved out.)

My Definition of Self-Care

Things you do, uninterrupted, that nurture your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes they are spiritual like spending time in prayer or adoration, sometimes they take discipline like exercise, sometimes they are social like visiting a close friend, and other times they are pure pleasure like taking a nice hot bath, getting a pedicure, smelling flowers or savoring dark chocolate. It’s doing things that remind you, you are are a diverse human being who is more than just a mom, caregiver, grandparent, etc. You may also be a sister, daughter, artist, seamstress, avid reader, etc. All parts of you need nurturing and attention.

Times When Self-Care May Not Be Possible

You just had a newborn. Someone is sick. You are going through a very difficult season where someone needs care around the clock. This is okay and normal. But please, constantly evaluate whether or not it is time to thrive again and if there is help available. Assess and reassess your life to try to find pockets of time for rest.

Signs You Need to Practice Self-Care

The simplest way to know if you need self-care is ask yourself, do you feel happy? If not, it’s time. Here are some other signs:

  • Exhaustion has taken over.
  • You feel lonely.
  • You’re angry.
  • You are snapping at those in your care constantly.
  • You just can’t deal, even with small things like putting your kids shoes on.
  • Little things your husband (or other people living with you) does like breathe and exist are irritating you
  • Another mess or bang makes you want to scream

Why You Can Do It And Still Be a Good Christian

I think as Christians we think if we are strong we will serve at all times no matter what and never take a break – because we are called to a life of service and sacrifice, right? But we must not forget we are human. And we have human needs. Here are some examples to give you permission to practice self-care as a Christian:

  • Jesus drank wine, took a nap in a storm, and went off by himself to pray.
  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta spent 4+ hours in prayer and solitude.
  • Monks and nuns around the world spend time in recreation daily and have time to socialize and relax daily.

Importance of a Self-Care Sabbath

I got the idea of a “self-care sabbath” from the book, a Mother’s Rule of Life. The idea is to take time away from care-giving and refresh your soul through prayer, and solitude and even some activities you enjoy. It can be for the whole day or just 4 hours. It’s completely up to you and your unique life circumstances.

Everyday Self-Care

It’s important to know, though, you don’t need to wait until the weekend to practice self-care! You can find ways to make it work in your daily routine.

  • Take a nap.
  • Wake up early and spend time in the quiet or do something creative
  • Slip away after dinner and take a bath
  • Pack everyone up and take a walk so you can get some exercise.

A Special Message to Wives

I can already hear the wives reading this saying, “but my husband won’t let me do that”. Ladies, you don’t ask, you tell. Your husband is not your boss or your father. He is your partner. If he has a serious need, you need to trust he will let you know. All you have to do is communicate what you are going to do, and do it.

But he doesn’t know how to take care of our kids

The kids will be fine. They might eat cookies for breakfast but they won’t go hungry. They might have mismatched clothes, but oh well. Let him father them in his own way. They will probably all be so glad you are taking time away so you aren’t snapping at them left and right. You want what’s best for them, that’s what keeps you from leaving, but sometimes what’s best for them is to be away from you believe it or not! Because they need time with their Dad. And your name doesn’t start with a “G”. Yep, that’s right. You aren’t God and you can’t control everything. So do everyone a favor and take a break.

My husband still won’t step up

What if you try to follow my advice and it still doesn’t work? It sounds like your husband may have some more serious issues and that’s not good and I hope you will seek counseling. But I have a feeling most of the ladies out there haven’t tried this because they fear they are not being a good wife. I think all of us Christians can agree our number one job is to help our husbands and children get to heaven, Amen? Well let me ask you something: what is most likely to help them get to heaven? Doing everything for them and running yourself ragged or teaching them that everyone has needs, including you, and thereby teach them to step up to the plate, to support you and sacrifice and grow spiritually? I’d say it’s the latter, folks.

Additional Resources

Some great videos:

There’s a part in the video below perfectly exemplifies how I can get with my kids when I need self-care. (When she talks about telling her kids to go play with their toys.) Besides that, it’s just hilarious!

The video below is Jennifer Fulwiler speaking about balancing service to family and personal passions.

Some great articles on self-care:

Some excellent books:

And here’s a cute mug I designed!

We women are highly capable creatures. Just because we can do everything, doesn’t mean we should. Our happiness matters too!

So, now you have been given permission to take a break

Even though it feels impossible to practice self-care when you have so many responsibilities, it is so necessary to make time for it so you can keep going. No one can do that for you. It is a choice you have to make.

Make Your Schedule as a Mom and Grace for when Life Happens

two nuns looking up praying

What you’ll find

In this post, I am going to tell you all about how to make your schedule as a mom. It will be completely tailored to your life- something for moms who work outside and inside the home. (Mine is from the perspective of a work-from-home mom) . You’ll also learn how to approach your schedule when life happens – you know the drill – your kids get sick, the dog throws up on every blanket you  own, you have unexpected company, etc. You will take stock of all of your responsibilities but also take into account time for prayer and time to do things you enjoy.

Take a look at your life

What does your daily life look like right now? Do you dread waking up in the morning because the demands of the day just seem insurmountable? Find yourself yelling at your kids most of the time and snapping at your husband? Feel like you are working SO hard but you never get anywhere? Well, my friends, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

The solution

What you need is to make your schedule as a mom. This will help you keep track of all of your responsibilities and get the important things done and at the same time keep your sanity.

A fabulous book

My life changed dramatically when I read this book , “A Mother’s Rule of Life“. It’s about a stay-at-home , homeschooling mom, who is tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out all of the time. She went searching for peace. She was inspired by the simple schedule of religious orders, like the Missionaries of Charity, and how they led productive lives but spent great amounts of time in prayer. When the bell rang for the next block on the schedule, they didn’t hurry trying to finish everything up , they practiced obedience – “okay God, I guess that’s all you wanted me to do today.” (Man, could I use some of that kind of acceptance in my life!) Their goal wasn’t efficiency, it was to serve and to do it peacefully. Because, the old saying, you can’t give what you don’t have, right?

Let’s get started, make your schedule as a mom

  1. Buy a Mother’s Rule of Life. Seriously. You won’t regret it.
  2. Decide on a wake up time and bed time.
  3. Count how many hours you have in a day.
  4. Decide how much time to spend in prayer.
  5. Write down how much time you need for grooming and bathing.
  6. Include time needed for activities you enjoy like reading, drawing, writing.
  7. Include a few break times, 15 minutes each.
  8. Don’t forget time with your husband or social time with those you care about.
  9. Include time with your kids.
  10. Include time for chores
  11. Input meal times (cooking and cleanup) and bed time routines. Overestimate how much time you think you need. This allows margin.
  12. Include time for working. This may be before your kids wake up or you may go to work inside the home.

Now is the time you see if you have any time left over. You probably don’t! This is good though! This is validation that you have so much to take care of and you aren’t just lazy! If you have any leftover time, decide where it should go and if you don’t, decide where you have to cut. If we want to lead a peaceful life, we have to be very discerning about how we use our time.

My mother’s rule

5:30 – 7 :00 AM – Pray, get dressed, drink coffee, work on blog, put makeup on

7:00 – 8:30 AM – Breakfast , say grace, & cleanup & morning chores

8:30-9:00 AM – Kids dressed

9:00 – 9:10 AM- 10 minute break for me

9:10 – 9:40 AM – Put laundry in the dryer and walk the dog

9:40 -9:50 AM – Ab workout

9:50 – 11:50 AM – Outing/errand

11:50 – 12:00 PM – 10 minute break for me

12:00- 1:30 PM – Lunch, say grace, cleanup, laundry put away, story time

1:30 – 2:30 PM – Quiet time me and my son while my daughter naps. I read, blog, draw, or watch You Tube.

2:30 – 3:30 PM – I call this Admin time. It’s for meal planning, week planning, budget planning, etc. If I don’t need to do these things its more quiet time.

3:30-4:30 PM – Kids outside play while I do my afternoon tidy and cleanup routine.

4:30 – 6:00 PM – Make dinner, say grace, cleanup, night cleaning routine

6:00 – 8:00 PM – I shower,  then my kids take a bath, and we have family time, story time and then the kids go to bed.

8:00-9:00 PM – Time to chill with my husband and watch a show or talk or have some other quality time.

9:00 – 9:30 PM – I wind down for bed.

How I Occupy My Kids

My goal is to occupy my kids without screens. To have them play quietly when I need dedicated time.

But life happens. And sometimes life happens A LOT (pregnancy, illness, emergencies, sleep deprivation, newborns, mothering multiple young children, or some other hard or serious circumstance) .

What I’m trying to say is, the TV is a tool in a mom’s toolkit guys. As long as it’s not being used to excess, the content is appropriate, and isn’t there as a substitute of other important activities, I think it’s okay. With that said, my kids watch quite a bit of TV, probably more than the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says they should – but AAP doesn’t know me. They don’t know about what my needs are and our family’s unique circumstances. They don’t know that my kids also help me around the house, play with toys, play with me, bake with me, play with the dog, make messes, play in the dirt, go to the park, go on play dates, read books, roughhouse with my husband, visit family, etc. Sometimes I need to have things a little quieter for my sanity.

Only you know the needs of your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty when your kids watch more TV than you like if you have a serious reason to do so.

When you are off track

You are going to get off track. And trust me, it’s going to be most of the time.  (It is for me.) So, when it happens, just get back on track as soon as the next block starts. Sometimes this may mean there are dishes left in the sink. Remember, the goal is peace not efficiency. But if this keeps happening over and over again, for months on end, it’s time to adjust and re-evaluate your rule.

Maintenance

Plan to evaluate your schedule once every three months or as needed. Three months seems like a good plan to me, though, because by then with my two little ones, my life tends to look quite a bit different.

Conclusion

If your life is spiraling out of control, take heart! No matter what season you are in, you can take control and get the important things done. So go make your schedule as a mom! If you already have one, please let me know in the comments below!

 

There’s Nothing Wrong With You

In your life have you ever felt like there’s something wrong with you? Because, you know, there must be because why else would you be so sensitive ?

Maybe growing up no one validated your feelings. You’d say you felt sad and they’d say that you shouldn’t feel that way or maybe they just would tell you to be quiet. Maybe in your adult life you expressed some deep dark feelings in hope of some compassion and understanding and you were shot down by “oh well I’ve never felt that way” or “that’s just the way life is” . Or maybe you have been vulnerable about some challenges you’ve been having only to have someone lie and act like they have no challenges or worse judge you outright. (I recently told someone my kids were sick and instead of saying poor things or something of the like they said “why? Again?”) Or maybe when you talk about your feelings the ones you love are quick to tell you that you are overreacting or saying you should see things from the other persons point of view when really all you need is to be allowed to feel your feelings and naturally you will come around on your own.

What did this do to you? It made you feel ashamed. Ashamed to have feelings. Ashamed to have needs. Ashamed to be human. It made you feel different. It made you feel like there’s something wrong with you.

It also made you feel vulnerable and like you can’t trust anyone. And that it’s okay for others to mistreat you, because if your family, the people who are supposed to love and protect you, allow for you to be hurt, then it must be okay.

I’m here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. Anyone who’s ever made you feel that way was acting out of fear and not out of love. The loving thing to do is to have empathy and hear someone’s feelings and not make them feel wrong to have them. We can’t control how we feel but we can control what we do.

It’s not normal and healthy for someone to disregard your feelings, to put you down, to say you are too sensitive, to tell you to get over it. They are rolling over you like a bulldozer. The healthy interaction that needs to take place is both parties sharing feelings openly and listening intently to how each person feels in a nonjudgmental, non-accusatory way. Three books that can help with this are :


Is French Parenting Better than American Parenting?

I love to learn about child-rearing practices in different cultures. Especially cultures where women get a super long maternity leave and extremely high-quality daycare. Yeah, I’m a total francophile. So when I found this book about French parenting, you better believe I was intrigued.

Image result for bringing up bebe

This book is well-written and has humor that any woman can relate to. Its about an American mother’s experience observing the common behaviors and patterns in French parenting. I especially loved the parts about sleep training, meal times, and learning to wait.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  1. French women do “the pause” to help their baby sleep all night, usually by 3 months.
  2. French women teach their babies to wait from the beginning.
  3. French babies eat what the family eats, and the baby just has to “taste” it.
  4. If the baby is happy and safe playing on his own, the French just let the baby “live his/her life.”
  5. The French are strict about bedtimes, T.V., and meal times, the rest of the time is unstructured. French children do not snack outside of the 4:30 pm snack time. From three months on, they eat (drink formula or breastfeed if they aren’t having solids yet) breakfast at 8 am, lunch at 12 pm, a snack at 4:30 pm and dinner before bedtime at 8 pm.

Buy it here on Amazon You can get it for less than $2 used (plus shipping). Trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s why:

  • It will give you permission to practice self-care.
  • It will give you and your baby adequate rest.
  • It will help teach your babies patience and independence.
  • It will help you teach your children self-discipline.
  • It will help you to create boundaries and set limits.

But Let’s Talk About Sleep Training

There are so many schools of thought on sleep training, and if the way you are doing it with your children is working for you, Amen sister, I’m so happy for you. But if you and/or your baby are tired and exhausted and co-sleeping is turning into more “co” than “sleep”, this is the book for you.

But sleep training isn’t easy. With my son, it was simpler but with my daughter, I struggled. She learned to sleep through the night easily enough by learning “the pause”, but falling asleep by herself was a different story. It was very difficult for her because she was stimulated  by my presence and didn’t know how to fall asleep on her own. It wasn’t until she was 8 months that I finally decided to let her cry-it-out which was very difficult but necessary for both her and I to receive adequate rest.

Did these ideas work for me?

For the most part, yes. I found this book while I was pregnant with my first and reread it when I had an about to be 15 month-old and a 2 month-old. I tried doing “the pause” with my eldest and he slept through the night by about 1 month old, and was sleeping for 10 hour stretches at night at about 2 months old. The same thing is happening with my youngest.

Does breastfeeding make a difference?

The way I fed the baby doesn’t seem to matter either – I formula fed the oldest and breastfed the youngest. While I do think many factors are at play, like how much your baby weighs etc, I do think the way you parent at night makes a difference.

The way “the pause” works : you “pause” when your baby makes a noise or cries in the night time – only for a few minutes, and you see if the baby was just waking up between sleep cycles. If the baby still cries after the pause, go ahead and feed the baby or change her diaper or do whatever you think she needs.

Aren’t newborns supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?

I think moms aren’t told enough that if the baby is eating well, wetting plenty of diapers, gaining weight and otherwise has no other health problems, it’s OKAY to let them sleep and stop waking them up to feed them every 2 hours. I asked my lactation consultant if I could let my baby sleep and that is what she told me. I think sometimes parents can inadvertently train their babies to wake up in the middle of the night. But , again, every situation is different, and every family has different needs and desires.  I think this technique is worth a try, though, if you want to get some more sleep yourself, and definitely seek help from a professional if you have concerns.

Wait, aren’t kids supposed to eat 6 times a day?

I am well aware of the ideas here in the United States about how many snacks toddlers are supposed to have, but I have tried to keep the same schedule outlined in this book, with meal times only 4 times a day. Not only has this taught my children patience and self-control, it has forced me to learn more self-control as well- because I have to set a good example, after all! My kids have done just fine without frequent snacking and they are hungrier for the healthiest meal of the day at our house – dinner.

The Allure of French Mothers

One thing I perceived about French mothers in the book was a lack of this sense of martyrdom and competition that I see in motherhood in the United States. These mothers don’t seem to lose their sense of self. They remain in touch with their other roles and interests in life. And they don’t neglect their husbands. They seem to have this elegant maturity, a natural balance, and acceptance of their role. They seem to have peace.

I was eclectic and funky before kids, why not still be me after kids?

 

And speaking of self-care and setting limits, here is a design I made.

So do I think French parenting is superior?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and no such thing as a perfect mom, I must say that what is outlined in this book has much wisdom to be gained from it.

Our Simple Fall Decor and a Playlist

Surprise, surprise, I love fall. I love pumpkin spice lattes, cooler weather, boots, and jackets. I love pumpkins, and autumn leaves , and the Anniversary Blend mugs at Starbucks. (Any current baristas reading this? Where is Anniversary blend this year? Or am I just early?)

Anyway, I love all things Fall and I love decorating but I also like to keep clutter minimal and I don’t like having to store a bunch of stuff and I don’t want to spend a ton of money. So what did I do? I improvised!

After watching some Fall decor videos on YouTube, I knew I wanted to make a leaf garland. I had twine but I needed leaves. So I took my kids out to the park one afternoon and they helped me collect leaves, it was a blast. I ended up making a little garland, and using other leaves here and there, and even pinned some around a picture. I also went to Dollar Tree and found four little pumpkins and a little owl. Here are some more photos:

And here is some music I have been listening to lately. I tend to listen to these songs each Fall; they tend to set the mood for me.

Do you have any Fall decorating ideas to share or special traditions with your family? Or any music you listen to each Fall? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t Wait for the Storm to Pass

Image result for storm art

Life is so hard, right? There’s always something, isn’t there? I think sometimes we can get stuck in a cycle of saying things like:

“I hate my job”
“I feel horrible”
“I don’t have any time”
“I have too much to do”
“I’ll be happy when..”
“I’ll start exercising when…”
“I can’t do that because…”

We may say all these things, and sometimes they might have some truth to them. And sometimes they are just excuses. What matters is that life is always going to be hard, we can count on that. We can count on there to always be a storm happening or on it’s way.

Recently, I was telling myself an excuse to keep myself from blogging. I’ve seen that many mom bloggers I follow have regular childcare help, whether it’s friends, neighbors, or family – a village, so to speak. I told myself “I can’t blog until I have regular babysitting in place.” The only trouble is, months would go by and I wouldn’t make any progress in finding a babysitter. And getting a regular babysitter would really stretch our budget. And family doesn’t live close-by. And friends are a big help, but they can’t come as regularly as I’d need. Are you getting the picture here? After watching a video of one of my favorite bloggers, The Daily Connoisseur, I was inspired to find a way to blog anyway because that’s what she does. She just writes before her kids get up and works when they go to bed. What a smart lady! Then there are even other people who manage to work on writing books, 15 minutes at a time!

So if life is always going to be hard, why do we spend our time complaining about it? What if we just started to find ways to “dance in the storm” so to speak. We have to remember, there’s much in life that we don’t have control over. But there is a lot we do have control over. No matter how sick you are, how poor you are, how tired you are, how stretched for time you are, how many responsibilities you have, there is something you can do to make your life just a little better, and to improve the lives of those around you.

happy, inspiring, and wishbone image

Let’s not compound the stress of life by thinking such negative thoughts. Why not practice gratitude? Take time to evaluate our schedule and delete the unnecessary and replace it with what we truly value? Practice contentment so we can be happy now , wherever we are? Just try to live the way you really want to live. Even if you only have 10 minutes to exercise, or read that book, or to talk to your mom who lives far away, etc. 10 minutes still counts. 10 minutes can change your life. (Just ask Maggieothevalley, author of the  10-Minute Quit.)   You can do this. You can take the next step. Eventually, with the right choices and actions, you’ll feel better and get closer to your dreams regardless of your circumstances.

Radical Hospitality

See the source image

I’m currently reading Haley Stewart’s new book, “The Grace of Enough”, and I was inspired by what she wrote about hospitality. We aren’t called to love people who look like us, and were raised like us. We are called to love everyone.

My in-laws are a wonderful example of this kind of radical hospitality. When they host Thanksgiving, they invite all kinds of people who may not have somewhere to go. They come from all backgrounds, income levels, and life circumstances. They welcome everyone.

Haley Stewart brings up a video about what hospitality used to look like, and here it is now (warning: there is some bad language in this video) :

You have to admit, what this guy says is so true!

These days you have to make plans 3 weeks before if you want to see someone. (If they ever answer your text. And they might cancel at last minute because of a better opportunity) And you can’t just ring the doorbell, you at least have to text first. The problem with that, though, is most people will just say no because they aren’t “ready”.

Guys, we don’t have to wait until we can afford a four course meal, a Pinterest-curated home, brand new furniture, and pristine cleanliness for someone to come over. Let’s be like Jennifer Fulwiler, who doesn’t worry to much about the state of her home because she know that it will prevent her from being open to hospitality, she just lights some candles, puts some music on and makes appetizers. Voila, it’s a party. lol

I’m not saying it isn’t nice to decorate, and have a clean and tidy place for people to come, but if you really struggle with those things, you don’t have to wait until you are Martha Stewart to welcome people into your home. Amen? Amen.

Now I really relate to the video I posted because I used to be the type who would hide and army crawl and look for a sword (Okay, fine. Maybe not that last part. ). You see, I’m an introvert and I can be very awkward in social situations, and I also have always been shy. I also have been insecure about not being “enough” and not having “enough” in order to have people over to my home. But this all has changed.

I started to invite people over when I had my first baby. I just wanted to share him with everyone I knew and God gave me a desire to have community. Am I where I need to be? No, but thank God I’m not where I used to be! I have a long way to go , to be more open to all the people in my life.

Let me emphasize, I don’t have a full set of matching dishes. I don’t have designer furniture. I don’t have  a gigantic home. But I have food to share, a place to gather, and love to bestow.  And I think most of us also can check those same boxes. And if some of you have even more abundance materially, I challenge you to share what you have with others. Open your home, share a meal. Otherwise, why have all that stuff? You may as well run a museum.

You may think, like I did, who would want to come to my house? It’s this, or it’s not that, etc. But I have to tell you through experience, it will all work out. No one has ever walked into my home and said “I can’t be here because it’s not fancy enough”. lol!

And I just have to say, of course there is a time to be prudent. Maybe you are going through a lot in your life and you can’t handle the stress of entertaining. Because it is a lot of work. But maybe you are like me, and this becomes the rule of your life instead of the exception. And I have a feeling most of us could probably stretch ourselves a little. Just a little. Jennifer Fulwiler says in one of her books that , and I paraphrase, life is a party, and the more the merrier, but if you are battling a rattlesnake infestation, now probably isn’t the time to have a BBQ – but this probably doesn’t happen as much as we think.

So invite someone over. Reach out to family, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, an acquaintance, an elderly person, a lonely person, your local priest, that single person you know, that one family with all those kids, that couple with no kids. They probably are waiting for you to. I think most of us would love more human connection, but don’t take the first step because we are afraid the other person will only oblige out of pity instead of genuinely wanting to be with us. Get over it, do it anyway. Invite them over. It really is okay to have grilled cheese, and an imperfect house, because hospitality is about loving your guest, not about receiving praise and approval (and likes on Facebook and Instagram.) You and your guest will be blessed by your hospitality. Yes, there will be a mess to clean up, but maybe that’s what being open to life is. Maybe that’s what loves looks like. A beautiful mess.