A day in the life of a default parent

default parent | noun : the person who children come to for everything

A while ago I read a post on default parenting. It was like someone smacked me upside the head. Why didn’t I put that together before?! The default parent is the one who the children come to. Even if it means walking right past another parent on the way to seek out the default parent. Even when the default parent is in the shower and can’t realistically help find something or help put something on. Children see no obstacles when it comes to finding the default parent to ensure all of their wants and needs are met. Immediately.

Labeling the default parent helped me understand why most days I fall into bed physically and emotionally exhausted. In our house, we share a lot of responsibilities when it comes to parenting. Or we try. Three times in one week, Quinten came into our bedroom at 1 am. He doesn’t say much, but he makes a lot of noise on his way in. He usually throws open the door and loudly makes his way up on my side of the bed. He takes over my pillow and falls asleep in 10 seconds. Each time, I wake Bryan up to carry our very solid preschooler back to his bed. {That’s what a default parent calls delegating.}

Being the default parent translates into being the default housekeeper, food maker, food shopper, and school schedule keeper. No wonder I want to faceplant into my bed most days at 6pm. It’s mentally exhausting to keep so many balls in the air all the time. Children don’t care how much sleep the default parent got. They don’t care if you have a headache or the flu, they have needs to be met on their timeline. To all you default parents, word. 

Nights out are extra special for a default parent. When you get together with other default parents, everyone is responsible and no one needs parented. It’s simply amazing!

  1. You don’t get interrupted
  2. You willingly go with others to the bathroom because it means there’s something to be talked about in private
  3. Getting someone a drink isn’t a chore
  4. No words are off limits!
  5. We naturally take care of each other without noticing

This fall, we took a girls trip to Kansas City. We were basically gone for two days, but I still spent Friday doing all the things so my family was taken care of while I was gone. It’s exhausting being the default parent, even when you’re gone!

Here’s a glimpse into the going-out-of-town-default-parent life.

Responsibilities, Yo.
Wash, dry, and fold. BAM!
Here’s your meal plan family: chili and pizza.
Beer for lunch! Because it’s already a long day.
Always have a friend who knows the life of a default parent.

 

A day in the life of a default parent

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Warning: This is not a post that will help you potty train a child.

No, really. Just because we successfully brought one kid to the proper age of schooling does not mean we know how to raise the other. This a post that will tell you how I spent a weekend trying very hard to convince a very stubborn child to use the toilet.

Here are my tips for potty training:

  1. Stock up on the essentials.
  2. Clear your schedule.
  3. Give them lots of fluids.
  4. Sit on the toilet A LOT.
  5. Give them treats.

Real life:

  1. Nailed it. Stocked up on all the essentials. Even put all the underwear in a cute little bucket. Had the washing machine ready, too.
  2. Three days of no reason to leave the house. Check! That worked until day one evening when he wanted nothing but to leave our house. We bribed him all night long and finally left our house at 8:45pm to get supper because trickles of pee came out!
  3. Day one: He refused to drink more than sips because it would make him pee. {This is when I knew he 1. is very capable of using a toilet,  2. was going to be more stubborn than I thought, and 3. fight me until the death.}
  4. Day one: he willingly sat every time I asked. Day two: he refused to sit on any toilet in our house because he did it yesterday and doesn’t want to do it every day.
  5. YOU CAN HAVE ALL OF YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY IF YOU JUST PEE IN THE TOILET! Here, have three pieces of candy if you’ll just sit on the toilet. Here, have three pieces of candy because I know you have to pee really bad and you “want to go to bed.”

I did have a few wins during the three-day endeavor. Like telling a story about his older brother wearing underwear when he was little and then we guessed which pair were his favorites. {I totally made up a favorite, because he was engaged in a story with me and I had a chance of getting him into underwear.}

My second win was when he asked to go play outside. Within three minutes, I had surpassed a HUGE hurdle and had gotten him into underwear. When I asked how he liked them, he said, “these are comfy!” It seems his previous experiences in underwear may have been a bit dramatic. Or maybe the underwear were no longer laced with acid that burned the skin when worn…

I suppose I would count his first accident as another win. He held the pee in for 3 1/2 hours and didn’t like it when he was covered in pee. That’s a win, right?! So then he held the pee in until 8:30 that night. That’s a stubborn child. He sat down every hour and refused to ever pee. Super stubborn.

Have you ever seen a three-year-old pace the house because he has to pee so bad? We hadn’t either, but it’s pretty funny. Us: “What are you doing?” Him: “Nothing. Just doing this.” Us: “Why? Do you have to go potty?” Him: “No.” Sure. 

Have you ever had a three-year-old ask if it’s time for bed? We hadn’t either. It appears the King of Bedtime Stalling wanted to go to bed at 6:30 one night. Why you ask? Obviously because he had to pee and wanted a pull-up. Here’s where parenting can be fun! All of a sudden we’re willing to let him stay up later, because eventually that pee has to come out. That backfired on me. Literally. He was pretty bouncy {to stop the pee from coming out, obviously} and when he went still I got concerned. Rightfully so as I felt my hand get warm. Yup, he totally peed on me when we were sitting on the couch.

It’s basically a rinse and repeat every time we’re at home. He goes into underwear and holds the pee in. It’s beyond me why I thought that weekend was the magic weekend. He has clearly decided he’s not going to do it yet. I’ll take the wins when I can at this point…and wearing underwear is one of them! Plus, I don’t have the anxiety of a fresh three-year-old mom. He’ll be four in a few weeks and that means he has a bladder of steel that holds up for hours and hours.

Step 1: Stock up on the “essentials”

*Disclaimer: please, no potty training tips. Only tips on favorite stress relief after a LOOOONG day of parenting.  

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Reflections of Kindergarten

We’re starting our fourth week of Kindergarten and I’m feeling like we’re in a good rhythm. With my new job, our morning routine is more relaxed and we basically gained thirty minutes. That means the people in our house who need more sleep {me + children}, get a little extra each day and none of us are as rushed as we used to be. We still have a few areas of improvement – I need to find my new workout groove and Quinten needs to work on his focus while getting himself in the carseat. {Have you seen the meme about being late because a toddler had to buckle himself in? That’s my life.}

While it’s only a month in, we’ve already learned a lot about having a kindergartener.

  1. Recess. Turns out our very first year of school is also the year when the answer to every question is “good,” “nothing,” and “recess.” What we’ve gathered is that recess is spent playing superheros with his buddies. His favorite parts of the day are playing with his friends who aren’t in his class. Luckily, recess happens. Before school started, we had a mini-meltdown because not all the boys were in his class and he was VERY concerned that the other classes would have Batman toys and his wouldn’t. So, recess. With superhero friends. Whew.
  2. They don’t let kindergarteners take home library books the first two weeks. It turns out, week three is the magic number. Every week he told me the next week he would get to take a book home. I hope I always remember the sheer excitement and look in his eyes after his first media day when he told me his school had a LIBRARY! And he got to pick out his own book to look at so he picked a Star Wars book.🙂
  3. One of the areas he’s grown the most in lately is dealing with unexpected or unknown things. We don’t always know the details of his day and he’s been ok with us telling him that. I tell him to see what it’s like that day and tell me when we get home. He accepts it really easily and has a good time telling me about it later. And then he knows for next time! I was nervous about him not dealing well with the unknown, but he’s been doing a really good job of adapting.
  4. This summer I panicked about how he would know how to get food. Thankfully, I was still logical in my thinking and decided that he would have to eat school lunch for a while until it became a routine for him. Some days I look at the food and know he probably won’t like it or I wouldn’t even like it, but he’s been a champ and talks about eating some of everything he gets. And he alternates between white, chocolate, and strawberry milk during lunch. He obviously thinks that’s pretty cool!
  5. He knows where he’s supposed to go! On his second day, when I was worried about us not being with him, he knew exactly where he was supposed to go at drop off. And was rather disappointed that he and his two friends got a special car ride to school for the first week. He wanted to be with the big kids in the van with the daycare logo on it. It wasn’t enough that he got picked up in it, he wanted dropped off. Well, now he’s officially in the van and I kind of wish they had a dashboard camera because I’m sure that van is ridiculous with a bunch of elementary kids in there!
  6. Emotions are heightened. In general, we try not to make a big deal about crying. In our house, it’s ok if boys cry and we never make it a big deal. HOWEVER! We do spend a lot of time asking little boys to take a deep breath and talk about what is wrong. Not that crying is bad, but we can’t help if we don’t know what is going on. {Side note, kids cry a lot.} Since the beginning of August, right after he turned six, we’ve noticed a lot more outbursts when something doesn’t go his way.
  7. It’s hard to keep up with all the things going on in school! Not that I want last minute information, but it’s hard when we get a bunch of stuff that all has different due dates. We don’t have a good organization / office situation at home so it makes it a little more difficult to stay up on everything happening. Thankfully we get reminder texts and stickers that come home on the kids the day before something happens.

It’s still weird talking about having a kindergartener, but he’s rocking it and we’re all figuring it out as we go.


 

Reflections of Kindergarten

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

Bless the hearts of children and parents everywhere. 

We had back-to-school night on Monday. Or in our case, first time IN the school night. Or in Bryan’s case, nerd out remembering where all of his classes used to be and what is “new” since he’s been gone. 

I’m still shocked that when the teacher introduced herself to Maximus, he looked her in the eyes and told her his name. In the sweetest, kind of quiet, and definitely shaky voice. If I hadn’t been holding the heaviest 3-year-old, I would have melted into a puddle. It was the sweetest thing and helped reassure me that he’s going to be fine. 

And I suppose I’ll be fine, too. Other than the random panic about how he’s going to figure out lunch or remembering how shy I was, I’m doing ok with it. He has a lot of friends going to his school and a few in his classroom, so he’s not alone. 

Plus, HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF TO HIS TEACHER. Without any prompting from us. That was one of those proud parent moments that I won’t forget. That’s also why I let my kids answer questions for themselves when adults ask questions. It teaches them good life skills! 

We spent about 20 minutes talking about tomorrow. All the super cool stuff that he’s going to do, who’s taking him where, and how it’s ok that he’s not great at math…yet. Yup, that happened. “But mommy, I’m not great at math. Is math when you, like, add numbers together? Like 10 plus 10?” So Bryan asks him what the answer is and he laughs while he tells us it’s 20. Ok. So maybe you’re kind of ok at math? He did ask me once if I could just stay for his first day. I told him I already had my first day of Kindergarten so I couldn’t. And the teacher will spend tomorrow telling him all the things they’ll do every day. (He’s only there with 1/3 of his class tomorrow and everyone on Friday.)

He picked out his first day clothes…typical Leger boy apparel…and will be sporting a new highlighter yellow dry-fit shirt and black mesh shorts. I don’t blame his comfort level goals. Luckily he still favors jeans over any other sport pant so I’ll keep holding on to hope of a nicer dress code this fall. ;) 

I know Maximus is going to love school. He’s always enjoyed preschool and cares so much about details and why things work. It’s going to be an exciting year for him! 

Bless all the teachers, but especially those who help care for our littlest learners as they adjust to new environments and routines. 

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

Adjusting to the new

I finished my first full week at my new job! Honestly, I’ll be happy when the new job is old habit and the routine is “normal” to me. Everyone says change is hard and I won’t discount that. But, something tells me that spending 10 1/2 years at a job makes this change a little harder than someone who has considerably less time in. Or stays at the same company. 

I thought I’d probably spend the first couple of weeks too busy to fully realize the life change. And maybe enjoying the one job thing so much that I wasn’t thinking about the old. {That’s my style. Deny & ignore.} I have a lot of work to do in the new job so I didn’t expect the first few days to be so hard. Mentally hard. I thought I’d be blissfully ignorant of my major life change. Monday came around and it was so quiet. Not that my team was loud, but I was missing the sound of voices. I used to have a lot of meetings too, which made it hard to get anything done but it filled the quiet air. I hear people but it’s the public or people unlocking their office doors. It’s different when you have no connection to what people are saying. It’s not comforting noise like in a workplace. Basically, I’m going to know every pop song lyric for the rest of time. And I might become that girl in her office singing…OR TALKING TO HERSELF! 

It’s so intriguing to me how a job can mess with your core. How it can make you crave personal contact so much. How it made me view all areas of my life with a gloomy perspective. Then again, I’m a pretty social person who was used to being so busy I barely had time to think. {Which only intensified once I had two job responsibilities.} I’m not used to a wide open schedule. I have a few deadlines next week and I was feeling that familiar anxiety as I contemplated bringing the work home. Until I looked at my calendar for Monday and realized I have one meeting at the end of the day. That means I get to spend the work days getting things done! {Maybe this change won’t be so hard…}

Something clicked on Wednesday and I found my groove again. It was glorious! My mood was sunshiny and bright and I was happy in all areas of my life. I am struggling with the fact that one area can touch so many others and impact my life. I didn’t realize that being able to do things that I was used to would bring my confidence back. Like sending out a message to my softball team about a tournament or coordinating a girls weekend to Kansas City. Things that Kyley does and Kyley can still do. It may be from a different office and email address, but I’m still me. This seems like basic stuff, but my brain has been SO full this summer that those things were always last priority and usually last minute. I enjoy being the organizer and I was finally able to get back to my pre-chaotic planner self! 

We joke at our house that Bryan is a total Type A personality and needs to feel control in all situations. The truth is I do too. I just go about it differently. Mine doesn’t look the same as his so it’s not as obvious. I have certain areas I don’t need to control so it looks like I’m a free spirit. I’m not. {Or I am if you compare me to an engineer! 😉} 

I’ve struggled with my transition because I don’t know EXACTLY what it looks like. It was a cloudy image of something I couldn’t touch. I drove to the right office every day, and it’s starting to feel more like my place, but it’s still not my normal. I know it’ll come, but I want to fast-forward through all those feelings and get there right now! Because it’s unsettling to be in a new situation. And I like to be in control of my mind. 

A sense of peace has come over me this weekend. I’m not spending my Sunday feeling anxious because I’ve already done that first full week. I’ve already had my first board meeting and a lot of other firsts. Now it’s just getting into my groove. Getting used to scheduling meetings via phone or email instead of an Outlook calendar. Not being able to chat with someone via messenger because I’m not part of a company. And parking in really small public parking spaces. 

Five or six weeks ago I wasn’t sure what any of this was going to look like. I was terrified and felt like I was losing control of my life quickly. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I have a better idea now. Time heals, even when you don’t think it actually will. This has definitely been an exercise is patience and faith. I know I could and should have done a million things differently, but I’ve never done things the easy way. This is my journey and I wouldn’t change any of the struggles and pains. If it weren’t for half of my struggles, I wouldn’t have realized how amazing my friends really are. When you’re in a crisis situation, you see how much your friends hold you up when you need them. 

Here’s to week two! 

Adjusting to the new

Taking an unexpected leap

I never planned out my future, it just kind of happened. But as I progressed my career and began managing a department, I saw the future unfold. It wasn’t one I expected, but I was happy with it and began creating my next career goals.

Ten years later, I’m doing something I never expected. I’m leaving it. I’m leaving the best boss I’ve had and the greatest team who is doing such amazing things. I’m leaving a ton of open goals for myself and the department. But for what? To help my community. An amazing opportunity presented itself and I’m sure it was God’s will.

I always read about how people are given these opportunities and they don’t want to but God keeps putting it in front of them. Honestly, I was envious of that. I was sure I’d never be one of those people. At the same time, I questioned if my random thoughts of not working were it. Was I supposed to push myself and leave my career and stay home? Yet, when I thought about doing that I never thought I’d be good at it. I’m not good when I’m left with no real goals. I’m not good at boy activities. It just didn’t feel right. So I kept doing what I was doing. One foot in front of the other.

Now, I really get it. Change is so scary and leaving what I expected to be forever is terrifying. From the unknown future to letting everyone down as I leave. It’s hard. But in my heart I know this is what I’m supposed to do right now. I’m being pulled in this direction and now I understand how people try to push it aside but they just can’t. I truly believe that my professional and personal experiences have led me to this point. I have experienced them so I can do this. It may only be temporary or it may lead to another path I didn’t expect to go down. Either way, I’m making this leap with a lot of faith that I am doing God’s work.

I’m going to miss all my work friends, my co-workers, my team, and my boss. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t be with them every day. As I form new relationships and become more integrated with the community, I’m adjusting to my new norm. I’m excited about the newness, the project, and challenges ahead of me. And, I know that all of my experiences have put me in this position. I am supposed to be walking down this new path. As scary as that may be and as sad as it makes me, it’s what I need to do. To put my skills to use in the way that God wants me to do.

I needed this test of faith. It’s been hard for us the past few years. We’ve had definite challenges and in a sense we’ve gone into survival mode. We’ve had parenting struggles, we haven’t put our marriage first, or even ourselves. I carry the stress of my job around with me. Always wanting more and feeling too much. I “handle” it because that’s what I think I need to do. Bryan has always questioned if I’m really happy and I always tell him that I am. I just assumed this was part of life and juggling so many things. I always pull up my boot straps and deal with it. No free passes.

I know this change is going to be big for our family. It comes with its own set of challenges and I might be gone nights or weekends sometimes, but that comes with flexibility. Flexibility to be there at other times of the day when I normally wouldn’t. Pool days, breakfast dates before school or daycare, or picking them up from school and daycare to go on adventures before its time to make supper. This is huge as I get ready to send one off to kindergarten and look to preschool soon.

One of the “perks” of this new position is the requirement to be involved. My desire to help more and be involved more is part of what I get paid to do. When Maximus starts school, I can be involved for my desire to help cultivate a great learning environment for him but also as a way to better do my job.

It’s scary to not be in control or know how life is going to unfold. It’s terrifying to put an end to the constant and the safe. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you let people down. But, it’s enriching, soul warming, and pretty amazing to see the possibilities of what you can do in this leap of faith move. Not just for myself, or my community, but also for the company I’m leaving. The company that I am so fiercely loyal to. The company that I owe this opportunity to. I hope I can make such an impact that all the community-related discussions we’ve had are now taken care of. So they can focus on their jobs and move into the next chapter of success.

God truly is amazing, even when you don’t think you’re doing a good job honoring him. When you think you’re being selfish and living a life all about you and your surroundings. He still loves you and He still walks you down your chosen path. Be open to His ways and be willing to take that leap no matter how scary it is. Because He will take care of you.

Taking an unexpected leap

Struggles with being and doing it all

On the eve of Maximus’ 6th birthday I’m left feeling a little deflated. My feet feel like dead weight kind of deflated. I spent the day vacuuming, sorting toys, organizing toys, and putting all things kid away. In between that I stopped to have a beer and buy party supplies. {The beer was extra delicious!} I haven’t planned a single thing for this party, but that’s the season of life I’m in right now. Maximus changed his mind twice on his cake, from Lego to Batman. And that means I’m not baking a cake this year. I’m too exhausted with life to feel bad about it. I’m looking at it as one less thing I have to do. 

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad timing that today I feel like I finally have the words to describe my struggles this summer. It’s a mix between being tired of doing It All and wanting some kind of recognition for doing It All. I know I’m not alone in any of this and having small kids only makes it all seem more crazy. But half the time I want recognition that I do a crap ton of stuff. That not everyone can do as much as me. {As I’m writing this I’m realizing that I need to tell my friends they are awesome. I can think of a lot of people who fit this description and I need to build them up.} Most days it feels like no one in my house can pick anything up. It’s utterly exhausting to just look around at all the things I pick up day-after-day. I’m trying really hard to raise boys who clean up after themselves but most days it seems like I’m talking to myself. {Please, no suggestions on how to have kids help around the house…} We make one good step forward and then someone {Quinten} is spreading tooth paste all over the bathroom like an animal. 

Clothes, toys, papers from daycare, and shoes. Every where. Every room I go into has something that belongs to a little person. All surfaces are constantly covered in things that belong plus random clutter. It’s like constant visual noise and it hurts my brain some days. I used to escape by watching shows at night. This summer I’ve found my escape to be my bed. For the most part, it’s a kid-free zone. 

It feels like the weight of all my responsibilities is finally getting to me. I’ve had plenty of pity parties over the past six years. Most of them have been about missing my freedom. Missing the carefree lifestyle and missing my individual identity. This feels different. It’s like I want a break from all of them. It’s a lot of hard work being a mom, wife, employee, boss, and volunteer. It’s really hard to be on from the moment you wake up until the second your mind finally shuts down at night. 

The things I can beat myself up about the most seem to be the ones that I want to escape from the most. Parenting and all the wife duties of taking care of our home. I should do more and be more. Yet, I find myself wanting to do nothing. I want to escape. On our girls trip, I so creatively coined the term “not adulting.” It’s been overused all spring and summer. It’s code for, I need a break from all of this so can we please go out for a drink {or 4}. 

I feel like I’m in Groundhog’s Day. Except it’s pleading with small children about the same things, picking up the same toys, washing the same clothes, making the same foods, putting the same dishes away EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, and doing the same bedtime routine every night. Even our weekly activities are the same – softball nights or band practice night. It’s so routine that I never know what day of the week it is. They all look the same. 

I’ve never felt like I needed spontaneity in my life but this routine and constant responsibilities seem to be doing me in right now. It’s a season, I know it is. That doesn’t make it any easier. I’m not even finding comfort in my friends who send out cries of non-adulting pleas. No solidarity pledge from me. Unless we’re escaping for a night, it’s not doing either of us good to know we both need out. It can be a suffocating feeling. And when I feel suffocated, I disengage with life. I solely exist in bodily form but can’t be expected to engage in meaningful conversation or do much but be there. 

I know I’m not more special than the next struggling mom. I’m not writing this to say I am. I’m writing this because I’m sure there are many who can relate to this feeling. I don’t know how to solve it. While the snaps from friends that say this sucks don’t help, I think our conversations do. There is comfort in talking with someone about the struggles. When people connect about struggling with all the parent responsibilities, it makes us feel less like we’re failing. Makes us feel more normal and ok with this phase. As long as we know everyone finds this hard, then we’ll make it through. Plus, find yourself a tribe who can not adult with you. Preferrably one who can help you have the best time of your life on those days or nights that you can escape! And added bonus if you can pretend to not adult while the kids run around and you drink an adult beverage. 

Struggles with being and doing it all