Seasonal Refocus

It still amazes me that I can get lost in the chaos of life. I’m not new at this wife, mom, or even career thing but I still find myself coming up for air every few months. I can’t put my finger on it, but for some reason we go into survival mode and forget all the tricks to getting by.

Things I’ve stopped doing over the past few months:

  • Following a workout plan or even exercising regularly
  • Eating healthy
  • Cooking meals – ūüė¶ sorry fam
  • Meal planning
  • Going to bed early
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Being organized

Basically, when things get busy I bail on myself. In an effort to survive, I suppose. The irony is that when I stop doing these things, I stop taking care of myself. These are all the things that fill my happiness bucket and when life gets c-r-azy the last thing I should do is empty my happiness bucket.

Lately, I’ve felt this ache for a good book. I ended my summer binge watching a few TV series and now I’m finding myself bored at the end of the day. There’s nothing worse than being bored and exhausted at the same time. What do you do?! I don’t want to physically do anything besides relax and sit!

I recently made a detour to the library on my way home for lunch. I miss the library and the rows upon rows of books. I miss carrying around a stack of new books. I miss watching the librarian scan my books and put them in a neat pile for me to take home. I miss opening up a new book and having huge expectations that the words will sweep me away into a dream place. {This isn’t code for me escaping my life, I just REALLY enjoy stories.}


I looked over my new books and with great care, picked the first one. As I opened the pages and began to immerse myself in the story, I found myself being annoyed with the descriptions. I was frustrated that I was wasting precious minutes reading about yellow walls and fireplaces. It was at that very moment that I realized just how badly I needed those words. I needed the reminder that everything doesn’t have to go at the speed of social media and RIGHT NOW. It’s ok to sit a little longer and read a little more to get the full picture. It’s ok to immerse yourself in your surroundings. It’s ok if something takes a while to build up. {Am I talking about a book or a story from a small child?!}
I started a new workout plan, cleaned up my food the past couple of weeks, have made an effort to be in bed by 10:30, and have attempted to meal plan. I’m not sure why I do this over and over again every few months, but here’s to a reset! Oh, and I hope to spend a lot of time reading over the next few weeks! 

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Seasonal Refocus

The Eve of Another Year

To all the wonderful, passionate, and loving people who put themselves in positions to teach, protect, and love our children…well, summer has been extra good this year. 

Like, maybe my sweaty boys stayed up too late riding bikes and fighting crime on the culdasac and we were lucky to get one shower a week. But we spent a lot of time at the pool and that’s about the same, I think. This summer we got rid of one set of training wheels and are on our way to another set. We mastered swimming without a floatie for one and putting our head under to swim for two. It looked like it was a lot of fun and games, but we were learning and growing. 

Maybe bedtimes pushed back later and later because no one can sleep when the sun is still up. Plus, there was all that crime to fight, stars to look at, and the occasional plot to sneak out at midnight to have sleepovers. I swear, no escape plans ever worked. Those kids slept like the dead, once they gave up on asking 7 million questions and getting out of bed 102 times. Every night. 

I promise that we’ll be on time {ish} now that summer is over. And I’m sorry to the summer crew who watched us walk in every day at 8:12 {probably actually 8:16}, but thank you for saving their favorites even though breakfast was over at 8:15. I’m confident that we’ll get our act together. By Christmas. But also, thank you for keeping it to yourselves on the days that it was obvious I hadn’t showered yet either. I promise that will only be a summer thing. 

My most sincere apologies for their clothing. We haven’t mastered the perfect stain fighter solution and boys are messy. I think 50% of the time they are wearing clean clothes, unless it’s the same outfit from yesterday. Not that it has happened more than twice a week for a certain four-year-old. It’s really hard to tell what clothes are clean or dirty since none of them make it to drawers or laundry baskets. I have tried to instill the idea that they at least change their underwear every couple days. 50% success rate might be a little lofty…A regular shower schedule should bring those odds up to 100%. Well, except for a particular four-year-old taking a head dive in the shower requiring five stitches. {A little too dramatic for a bedtime stall or shower boycott…} 

We might need to work on general hygiene as we work back up to 14 teeth brushing events per week. Don’t judge. Something has to give when it’s 9:30pm and PLEASE.JUST.GO.TO.BED or it’s 8:00am and FOR.THE.LOVE! no we don’t have time to do anything besides walk directly to the car! 

Don’t worry, I bought a $10 planner from Target to get me into the scheduling spirit again. I promise to stay current and advance the months in a timely fashion. I’m looking at you April and May. Boy did I boycott any form of organization in June. Just remember, I’m always a social media post or text away. 

There aren’t any fancy chalkboards or homemade anything, we’re winging the first day of 1st grade and we’ll wing 4-year-old preschool next week. We try to focus more on the moments than the stuff. {But-also I’m 0% crafty.} I can’t promise they’ll look put together, but I can promise they are both worth every bit of love and teaching you give them. Both in their own special way. They’ll bend and grow with you as everyone adjusts to sitting still and remembering how to use listening ears and raising hands before yelling out words. {I am very much looking forward to you getting them back into respectful human status!} 

To all those protecting and teaching our youth, good luck and thank you. And to all the parents, good luck with the shock of another school year. To the special ones teaching my boys, if you let them in they’ll love you forever! And when they love you, they give the best hugs. 

The Eve of Another Year

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

I’ve been here before, in this groundhog day feeling of life. Somehow I’m still surprised by how smooth and¬†easy life can be and then suddenly you’re smacked in the face with¬†life.¬†Like, when did it all¬†get so hard? When did¬†days start bleeding together and when did my to-do list get unmanageable?¬†When did my friends lives get so busy that we barely have time to chat and seeing each other is basically out of the question.

I thrive in social situations. I don’t do alone very well. I miss my friends and I miss my sense of togetherness. Life is getting consumed with¬†work, taking care of a family and home, activities for children, and activities for adults. I’m exhausted by the end of the days and I don’t get rejuvenated during¬†the one-hour of “free time” at the end of each day. I’m constantly forced to choose to spend that time on chores, something for myself, spending time with my husband, or attempting to catch up on sleep. No one warns you about the daily¬†life. Or the constant groundhogs day.

No one warns you about all the tough moments life will throw at you, but no one really warns you about the awesomeness that comes with children. When my¬†four-year-old goes through a phase where he gives air kisses and I¬†know it’s his compromise of not having time to give me¬†a kiss but he knows it makes me¬†happy. Or when, even though he weighs 40something pounds, he asks to be carried into¬†daycare every day and pets me as we walk. {Yes, I think these are strategic to get me to still love him through his orneriness.} My heart melts when my six-year-old goes to the back of the car to unbuckle his brother when unknown forces make a four-year-old suddenly not able to get out of a car seat. Or when Maximus tells me he saw Quinten during the day and gave him a hug. We have a lot of hard in our every day lives, but these little glimpses of sweetness help me wake up and do it all again the next day.

I know long summer days will help me feel refreshed and happy again. Afternoons spent at the pool relaxing and watching the boys play will calm my soul. And sitting in my favorite place on the deck in the slowness of weekend mornings will put me back in my happy place. It won’t slow life down or make us any less busy, but maybe a little more sunshine and warm weather and a lot of baseball and softball will right my world.

I was raised on¬†summers at the ball field and it runs deep in my veins. It won’t solve everything or make anything easier, but I hope it will help me feel grounded again. That it will bring me a sense of peace and calm in this crazy busy time of life. Because at the end of the day, I know how to do the ball field. Playing and watching fills my happiness bucket. Even if sometimes I have the added stress of children who¬†steal my Gatorade and throwing it at a tree until they can get it stuck.

No one warned me that I’d keep having the same day again and again, but¬†they also didn’t tell me that it would make me a stronger person. I may not see the growth today or tomorrow, but I can feel it when I look back. When I pull myself outside of today, I can see how the repetition is propelling me forward. But, I’m still looking around for that easy today!

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

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

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

Boys will be boys

I don’t usually like stereotypes when it comes to genders. However, sometimes my life feels like it’s what boy stereotypes are written by. We don’t play with a lot of “gentle” toys but each boy has their favorite sleeping stuffed animal. They play brothers all the time and that feels like a version of house. Except it’s always the episode where someone is racing or someone is a monster or bad guy. Close enough. 

I won’t say that they take advantage of me. Instead I’ll say I give them a little more freedom. I’m anxiously awaiting the independence phase so I tend to let them roam free a little more. That gets me in trouble sometimes though. Like last weekend when I told Bryan he was on nap duty once he got home from golfing. I gave strict instructions to be nice to each other and I sat outside in the sun. Bryan came home and asked me why they were coloring the house and each other. I was literally on the other side of the glass door. Those sneaky little boys! Needless to say, they had afternoon showers where Bryan managed to scrub Quinten’s name off his back…{I know! Where’s the picture!}


The next time I was home alone with them I sent them outside to play. It was a nice evening and they didn’t need to be inside. Five minutes later they came inside to put on swimming trunks. Whatever. Stay outside. I plopped in a Body Pump DVD and enjoyed 45 minutes of silence. Until I realized that they weren’t just playing in the rain water from last night. THEY WERE PAINTING THEMSELVES IN MUD. Whatever. Stay outside. I finished my workout and went out again to deal with it. And that’s when I found Quinten without any clothes on. Because that’s what boys do. They constantly take off their clothes. 

Boys will be boys

Learning from my children

People always say having kids teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you a different perspective on life. I recently read an article about how mom’s shouldn’t be afraid to talk about kids in the workplace. How they should add parenting to their resumes. That makes sense to me. I am a big believer that having kids has taught me how to handle unpleasant situations and at times even handle employee situations better than I would have six years ago. I look at a tantrum at home and laugh to myself because my 5-year-old is facing the worst situation of his day, while I just dealt with some real stuff at work. While my brain doesn’t want to listen to a tantrum at home after a long day, it puts things into perspective. I see how important it is for me to help him learn how to deal with his problems. I see people throw tantrums in the workplace. Like, a tantrum that rivals my small child but includes lots of swearing while my child only screamed and stomped his feet. Most of the time this happens with someone who doesn’t have children. They only have themselves to take care of. They don’t see the bigger picture in life. They still get to be selfish and act like a small child who isn’t getting what they want.

My kids aren’t just showing me commonalities between the workplace and home, they are also teaching me about myself. It’s not easy for me to open myself up and show my weaknesses. Somewhere along my lifetime I got the mindset that I need to handle whatever is thrown my way. I don’t need to ask for help, I just need to get it done. I don’t feel like I’m stubborn. I don’t know that it makes a difference why I’m stubborn. But I don’t realize I do it. I’ve taken on a lot of stress in my work life and the outsider perspective is that it’s because of my stubbornness. I can kind of see it, but I still struggle with it. How is doing my job because it’s what is asked of me being stubborn? Shouldn’t that just make me a good worker? Is it because I sacrifice myself to do the job? Meaning, I’ll take the world on my shoulders and not burden anyone else.

Trying to discipline my 3-year-old has taught me a lot about myself. And it’s not all things that I wanted to learn. I have a short fuse when it comes to not listening. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that because I spend a good portion of my day asking why no one in this house will listen to me. Seriously? Why can’t anyone do what I say?! Example…the other night I watched the boys walk towards the stairs and Quinten had a glass full of water. I knew what was about to happen. I yelled from across the kitchen, “DO NOT DUMP THAT GLASS OF WATER DOWN THE STAIRS!” At this point, I can’t remember if he even looked at me. It doesn’t matter. He looks at me all the time and does exactly what I told him not to do. He dumped a glass of water down the stairs. Who does that?! Obviously the next thing he did was go down the stairs like a slip ‘n slide. OBVIOUSLY. He was at the bottom of the stairs by the time I made it across the kitchen. {Ask Amanda, she was just as stunned. Welcome to my life.} Then I had to make the choice of putting him in timeout and cleaning up the mess myself or sacrificing an entire roll of paper towels so they could clean it up themselves. I picked the roll of paper towels and went back to my glass of wine. {That’s probably when I gave myself a refill.}

Twenty minutes later Maximus came running into the kitchen yelling about the huge mess that was in the bathroom. A sink full of toilet paper, water on full force, bubbles everywhere, and water all over the place. Why can’t I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friend?!  After I cleaned that mess up and put them to bed, she asked how I wasn’t drinking bottles of wine every night. I don’t know. I really don’t know. More girl nights will help me survive these two!

It is so frustrating to discipline a child who gets worked up even more when you get mad. I don’t know how to not get mad that he’s not listening to me and be calm when I tell him he’s not acting very nice. This is when I realize that we are a lot alike. Both of us extremely angry and both wanting to be the alpha. So I take the wins as they come, sometimes it’s winning a day and other times it’s one disagreement out of many. 

Learning from my children