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?

Currently Enjoying January 2019 and Where I Have Been

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted in awhile. That’s because we have all had terrible colds and, Christmas. My husband was on Christmas vacation , which was such a blessing, but it also meant we weren’t on our usual routine. December was all about Christmas preparations and doctors visits. I think we went to the doctor 5 times and to the emergency room once (!). My poor son hurt his ear.

Aside from telling you where I have been, I just wanted to share some things I have been enjoying lately.

Guide to Catholic Home Education

My new homeschooling friend let me borrow this book. I’m loving it so far! It is answering all of the questions I have about homeschooling.

How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind

This book is brilliant. For anyone who struggles with home management but loves projects that have a clear start and finish (artists are usually this way), this book is for you. Even though I have made much progress in the area of home management, it helped me understand why my brain works the way it does and why cleaning and organizing have been such a struggle. Also, check out her blog!

Having a Laundry Day

I now have a laundry day instead of doing some laundry every day as I posted here. I got the idea from the book I just mentioned above, and I decided to try it out as an experiment. I must say I love the sense of completion that doing all the laundry in one day has, and I love not having to think about it the rest of the days. I feel as though I have more time and I don’t have piles of clothes that need to be put away.

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The Dad Project
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I’ve really been enjoying this podcast – I found it from Kendra Tierney, the blogger of Catholic All Year. Her husband is one the “”podcasters”. I really like what her husband has to say about creating a family culture and avoiding the craziness in the teenage years by starting the way you want to finish. They start discipline with their children as early as when the baby can crawl – wow!

Ben Shapiro Interview with Bishop Baron

With these two brilliant guys together, you know it’s got to be good.

How To Blog For Profit Without Losing Your Soul

This book was recommended by a blogger I found online who didn’t want to pay the high price for “The Elite Blogging Academy”. Apparently it has all the same information! It’s on my wish list.

Sourdough Roast Beef Sandwich

Quick recipe for a great sandwich. Sourdough, horse radish spread, roast beef, smoked Gouda, spinach, tomato, red onion. You’re welcome.

Some other interesting finds:

Very compelling conversion story.

Saint Names Generator– Jennifer Fulwiler created this cool site that helps you find your saint of the year.

Taylor Marshall Goals- I loved this post and especially the podcast he did about goals. He makes a good point that you should set goals in areas you need to work on, while maintaining where you are doing well.

Our New Nativity Set

You can find it on amazon! Just click the image.

False Eye Lashes

I got some false eye lashes at Grocery Outlet of all places and I have been having fun with them. This isn’t the exact brand I got but I like these and they are a good price. I recommend trimming the inner corners for a more natural look.

Netflix Shows
Image result for series of unfortunate events season 3

I greatly enjoy mystery and fantasy and just great stories and this show fits the bill.
I’m a huge fan of the Konmari method so you can bet it didn’t take me long to watch the first season of this show. It inspired me to “konmari” my kid’s toys which is difficult for me; I got rid of 3 bags!
Layering
I have been enjoying layering sweaters and dresses over my chambray shirt, as well as over my black turtleneck. It gives my outfits a quirky vibe while at the same time adding warmth.

What about you? What have you been enjoying lately? I’d love to know in the comments below!



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.

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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.

On Being a Stay-At-Home Mom: Is It Worth It?

mom and son in sun

Recently, a friend of mine asked me:

“Do you like being a stay-at-home mom?”

What a poignant question, and I thought later on…that would make a great blog post!

I love being  stay-at-home mom, but it does come with it’s challenges. I am committed to thrive, however, despite the challenges!

Disclaimer: In this post when I say “stay-at-mom” I am referring to women who do not go to a job outside the home. All moms work, paycheck or not.

Inadequacy, Superiority , and Holiness

But let me get this out of the way. If you have feelings of inadequacy because you aren’t a stay-at-home mom or because you are, that ain’t nothin’ but the devil (as Kalen Allen would say.)

And something else that ain’t nothin’ but the devil? Feeling superior to other women because you are a stay-at-home mom.

We all have different circumstances and we must discern what is best for our family and our situation. The beauty of the modern world is all the options women now have, we are free to be stay-at-home moms (or dads) if our finances allow, work from home, work outside the home,  whatever. And holiness can be achieved no matter where you do your work, God will provide based on your circumstances, so if you have discerned working outside the home is best for you and your family, Amen sister, more power to you! I think work-outside-the-home moms are heroic to spin so many plates. And if you wish you were a stay-at-home mom, and think you can’t be, please take some time and re-evaluate your financial situation. With some sacrifices, you may be able to find a way! (The book Miserly Moms is a great resource for this.)

My Family’s Current Circumstance

I desired to be a stay-at-home mom before we got married and my husband and I both agreed we’d want one of us to be a stay-at-home parent once children came, before we got married. Since we knew we’d want several children, he wanted to be the main provider for our family, and I was happy to stay-at-home, it just works for us. We have to make a lot of sacrifices to make it happen, however. I watch our food budget very closely and I normally cook 6 days out of the week, and I practice other frugal habits. And now that I have a blog, I have transitioned to being a work-at-home mom, and I do my work when my kids are asleep and as my family’s needs allow.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons:

The Pros

  • Seeing all of the milestones.
  • Being highly involved in my children’s discipline and development.
  • Getting to be the primary influence over my children.
  • More capacity for quality time.
  • Flexibility with household duties and ample time for them – it’s easier to be the kind of homemaker I want be,
  • Opportunities for flexible, creative work like blogging.
  • Not having to call out from work when my kids are sick.
  • Not having to worry about the quality of their childcare providers.
  • Not having to pay for childcare.

The Cons

  • No paycheck.
  • Less social interaction.
  • Must be very disciplined.
  • Feeling like I wasted time and money on my college education.
  • Wondering if I am a weirdo because of the choice I’ve made.
  • Being under scrutiny by people who have no idea what I do all day.
  • More pressure to limit screen time because I am the main care provider.

Make the Most of Your Situation

I view the cons of being a stay-at-home mom as opportunities, not unchangeable circumstances :

  • No paycheck. Get creative and find ways to save money.
  • Less social interaction. Join a local moms group, make friends with moms at the park, nurture relationships with your single friends.
  • Must be very disciplined. Grow in self-discipline. Design a schedule that suits your and your family’s unique needs.
  • Feeling like I wasted time and money on my college education. Your education could never be a waste. All you’ve learned you can share with your children. Also, read this.
  • Wondering if I am a weirdo because of the choice I’ve made. Make friends with like-minded women. Read blogs of like-minded women. But do not exclude women of different circumstances. We need friends of all kinds, not just those who share the exact same life situation.
  • Being under scrutiny by people who have no idea what I do all day. Pray for and bless these people. They don’t understand and that’s okay. 
  • More pressure to limit screen time. Give yourself grace about this. You are likely the only one in charge of your kids all day, to keep your sanity you may have to have the T.V. on more than you’d like. Just do your best to try to increase healthier activities and the screen time will decrease as a result.
just a mom
A design I made that outlines the many hats a mom may wear.

What if IClear‘ve done all the above and I’m still not happy?

If you’ve tried everything and you’re not happy, maybe God has called you to work outside the home, or find some other setup that works better for you. If you or your spouse has been trying to make everything work for some time and it’s just not working, then it’s probably not God’s will for your family but that’s good! Exciting things happen when you seek God’s will.

Additional Resources

Books:

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul
Delightful book about how to craft your schedule as a stay-at-home mom.
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This mom learned how to live on one income in San Francisco, California by implementing frugal habits.
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This mom learned what “having it all” can look like in the chaos of having 6 kids in 8 years.

Stay-at-home/work-from-home mom blogs:

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Catholic All Year is the first Catholic mom blog I ever read. Kendra Tierney talks about everything from discipline, to being an introvert, to liturgical living and she even has a few books and some printable prayers.
Image result for jennifer fulwiler
On Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog you will find hilarious tales of her family life which may include scorpions and a fiesty Texan mother-in-law. You’ll also receive some great insight and relief that you aren’t alone.
On Haley Stewart’s blog, you can find inspiration for juggling family life in an unconventional way, as well as have some bookish fun.

And let’s not forget the great and holy moms of different circumstances:

St. Gianna and the working Catholic mom

Great post about what holiness might look like for a work-outside-the-home mom.

For single moms in the Church 

Although this post fails to mention women who have never been married that are single moms, it still gives great insight into what it is like to be a single mom in the Church. My favorite part was this idea: Instead of placing judgement on others, why don’t we offer help?

All this talk about accepting differences reminded me of a song! Just check out that awesome 90’s style and great lyrics.

So, is it worth it?

Even though being a stay-at-home mom, and doing it well, is a daunting task, if it’s your heart’s desire you can find ways to overcome the challenges. And for me, it is worth it. But only you can decide what is best for you and your family.

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!

 

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!

Feel like you are doing things the wrong way?

blue sky clouds silver lining

The Wrong Way

Do you ever feel like you are doing things the wrong way? In the wrong order? You may be doing things on a different timeline from your peers, you may feel you should already be married or have kids or have a dream career. You may feel you disappointed your parents because you followed a different path than what they hoped for. No matter what your perception of “the right way” is, and how far you are from it, there is still hope for you.

An example of one’s person’s idea of the right way

You feel like you are doing things the wrong way because you know you are supposed to go to college, avoid debt, get married after you graduate to someone you have been engaged to 2+ years (just so you are sure), buy a house and THEN have a baby when you are financially ready and then have another one after waiting 3 years and that’s it. No more babies.

‘Cause, ya know, you gotta be responsible, right?

Of course it is good to be responsible. But NOT to the point of leaving no room for love and for God’s plan. If we were perfect all the time we wouldn’t need God!

Some encouragement from someone who did things in a different way

So yeah. If you didn’t do things the “right way”, it’s okay. Neither did I. I didn’t graduate college though I attended for 6+ years. I married my husband after being with him only a year and neither one of us had a college degree and also had a lot of debt, we had our first baby before we were financially ready (or so we thought) and then our next baby came along only a year later (how irresponsible right? Having two babies so close together?)

But guess what? GOD PROVIDES. I’m still alive and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because my life is full of love.

Ashamed

I have often felt ashamed because we aren’t debt-free (we are working on it) , I don’t have my degree, etc. (not much because I really want these things but because I think I SHOULD have them to be a decent human ). I have even felt judged by fellow Christians and even those who practice Natural Family Planning (like we do), for being open to life and having two babies so close together. I called my parents crying when I got pregnant with my second because I was afraid I was irresponsible while at the same time we were doing everything to our knowledge to try and space our children “properly.”

Comparison

I would also compare myself to families who seemed like they had it all together in my “Family Foundations” magazine – people who practiced NFP who seemed to be wealthy, have no debt, owned a home, spaced their kids perfectly, etc. This is why I believe we need more stories of people who genuinely are trying to be prudent but their life has not been picture perfect.

Not an excuse to be irresponsible

Of course don’t be impulsive. Make your discernment based on all the wisdom you have but also have faith. Not everyone’s life will play out the same way because we have all had unique challenges and a different set of resources to work with and that’s okay.

There is still hope for you

You can take heart if your life isn’t playing out the way society or someone else says it should. You can still be happy and you can still dream and set goals and it will all turn out better than your plan. It’s good to make plans, but God is our loving Father and He ultimately knows what is best for us.

7 Things I Had to Accept to Wake Up Early

I’m not a morning person.

But I have goals, and I have kids. And I feel so much better when I am the first one to wake up. So I decided to start waking up at 5:30 A.M. to be dressed, have my makeup on, prayers said and to work on my blog for a bit before my kids wakeup.

Sounds simple right? Wrong. That’s where resistance kicks in. First of all, I like to be up at night, I don’t really get sleepy at night. It’s also my only time during the day for time with my husband. I also tend to snooze my alarm. Here are the things I had to accept to start making my early morning a reality:

  1. I will survive without watching T.V. every single night. Guys, seriously. I was genuinely concerned that I wouldn’t be living my life to the fullest without an episode of “Midsomer Murders” or whatever show that I’m binge watching.
  2. Connecting with my husband each night doesn’t mean I need to be up until 11 P.M. In my mind, I created this law that to have a healthy marriage, we had to spend several hours together every night.
  3. I don’t need to stay up late, I only think I do. Another mental block I had, that if I am going to be refreshed for the next day, I need to stay up late and read or watch T.V. for a few hours.
  4. I need to be in bed by 9 P.M. so I have time to unwind, read and get sleepy. I may not have 2 hours to read a book, but I have 10 minutes!
  5. I have to get up immediately when my alarm goes off, and keep it far from where I’m sleeping. No snoozing allowed!
  6. I need to be very disciplined about when my kids get to bed so I can have quiet time with my husband before I go to bed. Otherwise, it won’t happen before I have to go to bed.
  7. I need to put my phone away when my kids go to bed so I can be present with my husband.  If I don’t, we won’t be able to have a real connection.

In other words, if I can wake up early and make progress toward my goals even though I’m naturally like this:

tired the princess and the frog GIF

so can you!

 

I’m In Love

So guys , I’m in love with this guy. He’s super sweet and he hugs me and kisses me and says he loves me but he also :

  1. Kicks me
  2. Bites me
  3. Runs away from me
  4. Spills his water on purpose
  5. Yells at me
  6. Usually doesn’t listen to me
  7. Throws things at me
  8. Doesn’t appreciate the food I make for him
  9. Doesn’t have a job
  10. Needs help going to the bathroom
  11. Wakes me up in the middle of the night.
  12. Embarrasses me in public
  13. Begs me for sweets and everything he sees at the store
  14. Always says no

Okay, okay. You must think I’m crazy to be in this relationship or you just have figured out I’m talking about my son. Lol

Guys when you feel mad at your kids remember, parenting is super hard and if your child was an adult you would have discontinued contact a long time ago due to their disrespectful behavior! So give yourself the grace to be human and don’t beat yourself up when you feel mad.