Finding me again

There’s been a lot of talk on social media about finding your tribe. I absolutely love it!

I went on a girls trip a couple months ago and felt that girl tribe bond. I joked that I couldn’t wait for the trip because I was going to unadult. To adult: to work a desk job, care for a family, take care of a house, and be involved and/or lead multiple community projects. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from all my jobs! I was ready to do whatever Kyley wanted and not worry about taking care of anyone else. {Because on a girls trip you all watch out for each other, but you don’t have to care for anyone else.} It was the best! I found myself again. Me. Not the employee, mommy, wife, or volunteer. Just ME.

Whatever all this tribe talk is, I’ve realized that taking care of me isn’t about 5 am workouts, clean eating, or setting aside time to read and write. That’s taking care of my physical and mental health. While that’s important, I tricked myself into thinking I was focusing on myself. I hear so many parents of young kids talk about how hard it is to be an individual anymore. I get it. I get it hard. But working on your health is different than working on your soul. All this tribe talk has made me realize I need to work on my soul.

Spring is a rejuvenating time for me. I come out from winter hiding and am ready for sun, fun, and friends. I’m looking at this season with a different perspective this year. I’m going to focus on me and cultivate my relationships. Girls nights, trips, family nights with friends, and anything else that fills my bucket {preschool reference: bucket fillers make your heart happy}.

I miss Kyley. The girl who got me to this point in my life. The individual without all the titles. The one who built friendships, a career, and a family. Somewhere along the past six years I got caught up in the workload and keeping babies alive part. I lost sight of keeping the friendships alive and doing things that make me who I am. I thought one night a week sports and random celebrations where filling my individual needs.

Since having kids, I’ve slowly learned to lean on people. With one kid, I thought I had to figure it out on my own. Then came a kid who challenges me in ways I didn’t even know possible. I checked my humility at the door and found an even deeper relationship with my friends because of it. I don’t think I’m any more special than the next person but I have a very hard time asking for help. {Some people in my house would say the ornery blonde got his stubbornness from me. He might be right.} I’m learning that it doesn’t make me weak to ask for advice or even whine a little about my life. My friends are having the same daily struggles. It’s not a bad thing to reach out from the darkness and ask someone to pull you out.

All this tribe talk is making me love and appreciate my friends even more. It’s reminding me to make them a priority and connect with them more often. To make sure they are doing ok or just tell them how much they mean to me. And to spend a little more time focusing on me, even if that means skipping out on a night at home to just be Kyley out with friends.

Find your tribe

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Surviving the last 24 hours of solo parenting

Do you believe in karma? I suppose I do because I have been known to say it a time or two. In early January, I was traveling for work and Bryan ended up only working one day out of an entire week. I can’t remember who got sick first, but at one point they were both home. We had a pretty complicated schedule that Friday as he was leaving town before I was getting back. It would have normally been no big deal – school and daycare. Except they were both home so a grandpa came in to cover for us.

Fast forward a couple of months.

I’m ending a two-week solo gig. Our first week was SUPER.BUSY. We were only home two nights out of six. By the end of the week everyone was worn down and tired. That made for some fun mornings. As we entered week two, our schedule looked good. We were going to be home every night and I had my lunch hours planned to get all my errands done. {Because no one wants to run errands after work with two kids in tow.}

Then Tuesday happened.

One whining child was so tired he couldn’t get his pajamas off to go to the bathroom. {Hashtag: the struggle is real.} The other complaining of his tummy and leg hurting. Off to the kitchen he went to eat his cereal. Pro tip: if your slowest eater is dressed, take advantage and try to get that food in him quicker. Also, he eats about three breakfasts a day but loses his mind if he has to skip the one at home. Back to “help” a 5-year-old figure out how to get off the hallway floor when he’s soooooo.tired. Crying from the kitchen. Sprint through the house because I’m thinking the worst just happened and it was probably throw-up. Nope. Hurt leg really hurts and cereal looks untouched. I pick him up and don’t like the sounds in this throat. Luckily, I have years of experience at this stuff. No thinking required, just action. I stand with my back to the sink as I’m holding him against my chest. Arch my back so his face is over the sink. Or at least I hope it is because I can’t see back there. Shush him as he throws up over my shoulder and calmly talk to Maximus as he buttons his pants and tells Quinten it’s ok. {Yay! He’s able to get dressed again!} When I’m sure he’s done, I look to see that he didn’t have anything in his stomach so it was just a lot of saliva. However, dress goes into the laundry and yoga pants and t-shirt on.

So karma does come back around. The throw up was an isolated incident and in came a small fever. Little did I know, there would be no work and daycare on Wednesday. Maximus woke up around 11:30 that night and was pretty hot. He stayed up until almost 2:30! I eventually let him come into my bed. Quinten stormed into my room around 2:15 terrified of a loud sound and pretty hot as well. It was most definitely a monster or a siren or a mouse or a loud boom or a beeping sound in his room or thunder. He’s just sure of it. I did what any solo parent does at 2am – got everyone’s pillows and blankets and favorite stuff animal and turned on random bathroom and closet lights so everyone could see. And told them to stop talking and use quiet voices and JUST PLEASE GO TO SLEEP. Then I slept on the smallest sliver of my bed, crowded out by Quinten and Wrigley.

Luckily, I had shared a bottle of wine with a friend that evening so whatever I can deal. Because otherwise a person would go crazy after that kind of night. {Yes, I bought the same wine today when we were at the store. Because, yes.}

Wednesday got us two kids staying home! Slight fevers and emotional messes because no one got enough sleep due to our middle-of-the-night party. I was bored out of my mind and tired of watching Curious George, but we survived. And at the end of the day, I drove all around town getting them fast food because it was that kind of day. I high-fived myself when I got them both to sleep in their own beds even though it was raining, windy, and thundering.

AND THEN 2 AM HIT AGAIN!

I sat up in bed as I watched them both come into my room talking away. “Mommy, I’m thirsty. Mommy, I want to sleep in your bed because I’m scared. Mommy, my tummy hurts so I want to sleep in here.” AHHHH! Fifteen minutes later I had all the necessities again and we were settled in. Somehow they slept until close to 8:30, but ruined my early morning workout plans again.

It’s 30 outside, windy, and gloomy. We’re fever-free, it’s spring break, and we’re bored. I took them to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and the grocery store so I could get a Starbucks. {Let’s talk about how I calmly waited out a stubborn 3-year-old who wanted to push his own little cart. GET IN THE OBNOXIOUS FIRE TRUCK. PLEASE AND THANK YOU! I won.} I made them a super awesome lunch of pigs in a blanket and promptly put them all in the fridge because no.one.ate.them.

One more day until Bryan comes home…and a bottle of wine that’s calling my name. When can I open it???

Saying goodbye to naptimes

Life is always changing, especially with small children in the house. I still remember the realization {and sadness} that one of my children was dropping his nap. It was a rough transition for me. That was MY time and then he was invading it, loudly. In an effort to make sure the little one slept, we let Maximus stay in the living room. {One too many ruined naps because he couldn’t be quiet.} 

MY time used to be anything I wanted it to be…naps, catching up on shows, eating junk food…ok those were about the only things I used to do. But it was glorious! Now that time looks a lot different. We recently implemented iPad WITH HEADPHONES. It’s a lifesaver for me. Maximus can watch Axel and Family Fun as much as he wants and I can have quiet time. It’s a big improvement over annoying cartoons. 

By the time naptime comes around I am ready for a break. My heels usually hurt from spending the morning going and standing in my kitchen. {I know, poor weak office worker. It’s really a thing.}  

BRB. Quinten just woke up. A two-hour nap is pretty amazing lately. He is a SIGHT. Blonde hair going EVERY direction. And now the iPad volume is back. But I didn’t even have to remind him to let his brother watch, which is a miracle in itself. We’re struggling with sharing and including our brother in things. Huh. Peppa Pig Santa. Ok then. 

While we seem to have figured out Maximus’ naptime, I haven’t quite figured it out for me. I could clean, workout, do laundry, read, write, or go grocery shopping. I’m not good at getting up early on weekends so I almost always need to get my workout in. Almost everything feels like a job or responsibility and when naptime comes around I just don’t wanna. Grocery shopping is the least ideal one because then I get zero rest all day. {Whoops, sounding like I can’t function without resting.} And cleaning sounds like the most adulting thing to do. Honestly, I usually am already doing laundry. I sit down on the couch to let it finish, the couch swallows me up, and I listen in annoyance as the dryer continuously fluffs as if it’s taunting me to get the clothes before they wrinkle. 

I make a lot of poor choices during naptime, but sometimes I have enough energy left to do a Body Pump workout. Mostly, I social media for an hour or so. {It’s 2016, it’s a verb now.} When I decide to close my eyes, an alarm must sound in Quinten’s room because he comes stumbling out shortly after. And then I’m annoyed again and feeling all sorts of helpless and poor me-like. 

What are you doing during quiet or nap time? 

While on Christmas break, naptimes have been between 1-3 hours. Once we get back into a routine, I expect him to drop down to an hour. It’s like these kids like to constantly make me adjust and change with them! Why can’t they realize that naps are awesome and that we should all do them for 2-4 hours every day?! So now I really need to use my time wisely. I think I’ll focus on writing and reading. Things I can do while being lazy and drinking lattes on the couch. I think that will be my creative focus for 2016. More reading and writing. Less adulting? Just kidding, more efficient adulting so I can enjoy my quiet time without being a lazy couch monster. 

  

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old

It’s really simple to spend an hour and half at the grocery store and only leave with 28 items. It can be accomplished in 22 easy steps.

Step 1: Document the experience for Snappers around the world with a caption, “Lord help me at the grocery store with this guy.”

  
Step 2: Opt for the obnoxious cart to buy yourself a little more time. Convincing the toddler that the red fire truck is WAY better than pushing his own cart. {Lifesaving tip right here, folks.}

Step 3: Get yourself a soy latte, you’ll need something to comfort you. This is a bit of a risk because you’ll spend the precious calm minutes ordering and waiting on your drink. But the crazy is inevitable and I always feel better when I can grab a drink, think, and then respond to the madness.

  
Step 4: Let the toddler help fill the produce bags and count when you put them in. This is a risky move because of the potential for said toddler to ruin your food. In this outing, he may have “softly” banged the apples on the bottom of the cart. I think I got him stopped before he did any damage. We’ll know later when we want to eat them…

Step 5: Stand around and watch the water spray the produce. Three or four times. This was a major time suck, but I was nervous about pulling him away too soon for fear of loud screaming. This is where Step 3 comes in handy. Text your husband, take pictures, and enjoy your latte.

  
Step 6: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving.

Step 7: Stop to see “The Robs” on the way to the free cookie. Also known as the lobster display. Here’s another opportunity to text your husband and enjoy your latte. Almost making it an enjoyable experience.

Step 8: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving and stop to look at all the birthday cakes along the way. Then ask him five times if he’s sure he doesn’t want a cookie. I’m still in disbelief that he passed up a cookie, but I was well prepared to have to go back across the entire store when he wanted one later. {It didn’t happen.}

Step 9: Let him move from sitting behind the wheel to sitting in the top tray of the cart. Whatever. After making sure that the weight could hold him, I gave him strict instructions to sit down and not stand up. And then I had to stop the cart every aisle while he pulled groceries from the bottom cart to play with. At this point I should tell you that I had been strategically putting all the groceries in the bottom cart, as far away from him as possible. That could have enticed him to move out of the seat in the first place.

Step 10: Threaten to put him in time-out when we get home if he doesn’t stop ruining the groceries. Tell him he cannot stand up and if he does either of those again he will sit where he’s supposed to. {Also where I’ve been putting the meat and boxes because he’s sitting in my second storage location.}

Step 11: Tell him we need to hurry and finish shopping so we can see daddy and Maximus. {Also how I got him out of the house. “Let’s go so we can be home when they get home!”}

Step 12: Threaten to tell daddy he wasn’t being nice when we were shopping. Of course do the threatening after picking up his coat off the floor, grabbing the aluminum foil from a different aisle, and pulling the ziplock bags out from under his smashing body.

Step 13: Try to distract him with a flying bird in the store. Not the best move because he missed it.

Step 14: Help him get back into the sitting part of the cart. HALLELUAH!

  
Step 15: Try to distract him with a beeping sound. Worked for a while as he tried to guess what it was.

Step 16: Agree to go into the cold room {wine & spirits} to see if that’s where the beeping sound is coming from. But only after we get all of our stuff. Use this as a threat in case he doesn’t behave while we grab the last of our 28 items.

Step 17: Go into the wine & spirits section and drive around the aisles. Then text your husband to tell him you aren’t buying beer because there’s no safe place to put it in the cart.

Step 18: Pick the checkout aisle he wants to go in to prevent a meltdown. Hand him some non-breakable items so he can help put them on the belt. Pull items off the belt when he starts to scream so he can “help.”

  
Step 19: Ask him once if he wants a coat on and let him keep it off while telling him he’s going to be super cold and say brrr when we get outside. Walk outside the door and stop so he can experience the cold. Then ask him again if he’d like a coat. Take a couple of pictures to document his craziness.

  
Step 20: Put him in the back of the car so he can put the bags in the car.

Step 21: Tell him he needs to get into his seat before I count to three otherwise he can’t watch his Polar Express movie.

Step 22: Sit in your seat, turn up the movie, and drink the rest of your latte.

  
There you have it, 22 easy steps to buying 28 items in an hour and half with a three-year-old helper at the grocery store! One other word of advice, always park the cart in the middle of the aisle when you stop. This prevents your toddler from grabbing things off the shelf. It may be annoying to others, but it’s for the good of the store and patrons. Trust me. No one wants to listen to a three-year-old scream when you take things out of his hand and no one wants to see flying food.

Making it

It’s pretty easy to crop out the mess or edit the words to spin the story into a fairytale, especially on social media. When you don’t have time for people to come over, the chances are low that anyone will know what it’s really like inside your house, or even your life. My life is so busy right now that I’d guess very few people actually know what’s going on. Almost every day I’m battling a new “fire” at work and I usually haven’t fully fixed the last one yet. It’s emotionally and physically draining. One day a few weeks ago, I sat outside in the quiet and just watched the sky. The fighting and crying inside was shut out and I wasn’t responsible for anything for those blissful 10 minutes. After putting in 30 something hours in three days, I was done and the week was only half over. The days are long and the years are short. I get that. When you feel like you’re in an awful version of Groundhog’s Day, it’s not very reassuring. It’s super hard without an end in sight.

It’s hard to say the same things to your children day-after-day when you don’t feel like they get it. Constantly teaching them not to fight, to share things, to not yell, and to use words when they get mad. It’s exhausting. I’m sure it’s exhausting to be inside a 2-year-old body also, but it doesn’t look like he’s exhausted. It looks like he has endless energy. It looks like he’s a runner when we’re in public places, has endless lung capacity, only has one volume {LOUD!}, and does everything we don’t want him to do. I look at my newly turned 5-year-old and see that it does go fast, but then I wonder how the years will go the second time around. Because this time we’re dealing with all kinds of things that we didn’t have to “handle” the first time. And for the sake of sleep, please stop waking up so early! Not only does he need more sleep, but so do the rest of us.

If you ask me how it’s going and my response is anything but “good,” know that I’m surviving by taking it one day at a time. They may not be glorious days, but I’m making it through the best way I can. Some days that means trying to yell over them so they will listen and other days that means running away to the deck for some quiet. Oh yeah, and some days it means coffee.

Setting yourself up to succeed at work and home

Some days it’s really hard to leave work behind at the end of the day. I’ve put together some of my tricks to walking away without feeling guilty about it. Because let’s be honest, some days you leave work and feel guilty about not getting something specific done or just more done in general. You leave wondering what you even accomplished that day. And some days you’re blessed with the gift of productivity and it’s really easy to leave the office. So here are the things that I’m trying to do to make it easier to leave at the end of the day.

WHAT I DO DURING THE DAY

  • Plan your day. As often as my schedule allows, I start the morning by looking at the things I have to get done and map out my day to make it a reality.
  • Be realistic about what you can get done in a day. I’ve failed a lot. It’s usually when I map out my day minute-by-minute. At one time I thought the definition of productive was having every minute assigned. I added in break times to run to the bathroom or get a snack. However, I quickly learned that a phone call, email, or drop-in can get you off track real fast. And then I felt like I had failed in my tasks for the day. Allow those unknowns to “disrupt” your day.
  • Take a break. Sometimes you need to refocus your brain on something non-work related to get back on track. Go talk to a friend. Walk around your office. Step outside for a few minutes.
  • Leave the office for lunch. On my really stressful days, I leave for lunch. When it’s nice out, I eat my lunch outside and soak up some vitamin D.
  • Give yourself a cutoff time. If you’re like me, the end of the workday is a guide and can easily be ignored. Follow your cutoff rules and you’ll start your night feeling successful about doing one thing. You may feel guilty about not getting something done, but it’s better about not getting it done and not following your cutoff time.

WHAT I DO AT NIGHT

  • Be realistic about what you can or can’t do that evening. I learned that bringing work home when I don’t have time to do it, only makes me feel more guilty and ruins my start to the next day.
  • Set limits to working at night or on the weekend. Sometimes you can’t help it, but don’t get into the routine of working every night. It’s hard to break. It also changes your attitude during the workday. Instead of “get it done now” you think, “I can always do it tonight.”
  • Be present at home. Play with your family or get your home life things done. It makes you feel better and helps you take a breath of something outside of work. In the end, making it easier to get back into work the next day.
  • Be active. I’ve found that a walk with my family can make me forget about all my stress or worries from the day.
  • Eat a healthy meal. The act of cooking or eating something healthy helps me reset my mind. {Because sometimes my husband makes the meals.}
  • Know yourself. Some nights, after the kids go to bed, I need to just be on the couch cruising social media. It’s a waste of a “productive” night, but I don’t let my brain get worked up about it. Sometimes I need the simple act of nothing to recharge.
  • Get more sleep. After a particularly stressful day or week, I go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  • Get your work done! If you have to work at night, be quick and efficient. I’ve had a number of night working that has kept me up until midnight and then make me unmotivated the next day. Get in and out, no procrastinating!

Relaxing mother-son time

It’s hard to get the right work-life balance. Set yourself up for success so you can leave work with a guilt-free conscious.

Listening skills: do they really have them?

Listening skills. We learn them at a young age. Now that I’m a parent, I’m not exactly sure what age that is. It feels like a pretty important detail when you’re in the trenches of Preschooler 1 and Toddler 2 facing daily struggles of listening.

I can only assume I say the following in my sleep:

  • Are you listening to me?
  • PLEASE listen to me.
  • Please look at my face.
  • What did I say?
  • PLEASE look at me, what did I just say to you?
  • Do you need to go to your room for not listening?
  • IF you don’t listen, I’m going to send you to your room.

We’re struggling hard with this one and I’m a little surprised that it doesn’t appear to have bounds with age. Most days it feels like both boys spend the same amount of time not listening and doing something mean to the other. When Maximus was 2 1/2, Quinten was just born. I don’t remember ever making a big deal about not listening or using as many words or time outs as we do with Quinten. Maybe this is one of those examples of the younger sibling growing up faster than the older one did. Crap. I think our vision is getting blurred in expectations of the boys because they are acting so similar. Age has gone out the window and we both reach the end of our patience for anyone not listening. Sorry, Quinten.  

You learn a lot about yourself as an individual and parent when you’re faced with these issues. I know our little humans don’t know what buttons to push or even that they can push buttons to get a reaction out of me. But it’s so very hard to try to get out of the house TO GET TO WORK and have ears not listening. Or whining because they don’t like the words you say. I try to give more “opportunities for improvement” when we don’t have somewhere to be, but it’s just as frustrating when I’m trying to make dinner or it’s time to get ready for bed.

I feel that one of the most exhausting parts of parenting is the constant repeating. When you constantly tell them the right thing to do and you aren’t sure you’re even getting through. Or, that they’re listening. I’d be ok if I knew I had to say something 100 times before they really had it. I’d still get tired of doing it, but I would know there’s a successful end to it. Right now, we’re trying certain methods but don’t get any positive feedback. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Is that because of our approach? Is that because of their mood? Do they understand right from wrong? WHO KNOWS!

No one ever says parenting is easy, especially the early years. Honestly, it’s exhausting most days. Give me two energetic, hyper, not listening boys after a full day of juggling work. Well, I’m sure my patience is lower than it should be for a 2-year-old and 4-year-old. But, I’m sure they are tired too and not using their listening skills to the best of their ability. If only two grumpy people equaled a happy interaction!

I know my little humans are capable of listening, I see them do it consistently with other people. I think that’s the first part of successful parenting. It doesn’t matter what they act like at home, how do they act around other people?

How do you get your children to listen? I might need a new bag of tricks.