Category Archives: Family Fun

The art of solo parenting

Last week I got the flu. Seriously, full on fever, aches, cough, chills and everything else that comes with the flu. It was awful. Thankfully, it hit the hardest over the weekend which meant, I could actually be sick. Yup, you heard that right, this mom was able to curl up in bed and not be seen unless someone was bringing me medicine.

How you ask?

The answer is easy, living it is hard… solo parenting.

I never like to refer to my husband and I as “single parents” because we aren’t. We have each other, we are partners, we can do things alone and not necessarily have to find a babysitter. The problem is we are more like team mates for a tag team wrestling match than actual partners. We are only together on the weekends and one week day night for dinner.

That’s it.

The rest of the time it is one parent and two kids. One parent getting everyone dressed and out the door, one parent shuttling everyone to soccer practice, one parent attempting homework and dinner before bedtime. One parent. All the time. It’s exhausting because usually that one parent has also put in a full day’s work. (yes, I realize that many people do this, some don’t even have the help of a spouse…. I’m in awe of these people) The great thing about it is that we both have to do each task. Some days I get the kids to school, some days Stampy does. Some days, I am wondering why my kids just won’t go to bed, some days Stampy seems to have the kids in bed and the dishes washed before I get home from work. (I’m also in awe of him on these days.)

Some days it’s rough. No two days are the same, it’s a constant switch which makes it hard to get into a routine. It’s hard to schedule therapy that everyone can attend when you work opposite shifts. It’s hard to schedule your own appointments with two kids in tow. It’s hard to work as a united front when you are always running solo. It can also lead to more solo parenting on the weekends as everyone runs around like crazy people trying to get things accomplished that is just nearly impossible without an extra set of hands. There are the times you just want your family together as a whole.

Our schedule, although it is not ideal, has given each of us a freedom. A freedom to meet friends out for dinner, a freedom to go away for the weekend, a freedom to go to the gym, a freedom to get sick for the fact that we each are perfectly capable of taking care of our kids in all types of situations. There are no notes left to instruct how to make dinner or where pajamas are. I know that everyone will be bathed and no one will be at 9 PM. I won’t be called over a trivial issue while I’m trying to eat my first peaceful meal in two months. I know that I can utter the words “I think I have the flu, I’m going to bed” and not give a second thought to what is happening in the rest of my house.

And that is a wonderful thing.

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Smiles & Beer at 9 AM. Practicing the art of “leaving the children”

Funny thing, when I tell people that my husband and I are going away I usually get one of two responses. I either get a “good for you!” or a “WTF?”. Rarely is there a reaction in between. That being said, I think leaving the kids is a GOOD THING. In my mind I’m teaching them some great life lessons and hopefully setting them up for future successful relationships. That could also be the beer talking….

With that being said, I give you the  7 reasons I think leaving my kids behind is beneficial.

1. First and Foremost Stampy and I are husband and wife. I used to laugh at the baby advice books that urged me not to neglect my husband. Maybe that’s because it told me that I should simultaneously be nursing a child, changing a diaper and fixing him a sandwich. (ok, maybe not quite that bad, but one was very much pro-serve-your-husband) Down to the nitty gritty it has a good point. To be successful parents and teammates you need to get along. How do you get along? By doing things that you enjoy without someone throwing food on the ground, whining or punching their brother.

2. We are strengthening the grandparent/grandchild bond. Yes, they do see them all week long but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra special one on one time with the grandparents. Even kids need a break from their mundane boring parents that are always telling them to brush their teeth, put their shoes on or go to bed. That is a win-win-win situation.

3. This trip was to run a 10K. The kids have watched us (me, really) train and go running. I think teaching hard work, exercise and goal achievement is one much more effective by showing them instead of telling them. Molly is also learning the art of losing gracefully and perseverance, when she sees that I never win a race but continue to try. However, she never hides her disappointment when she hears that I didn’t win. “Maybe next time, Mom”

4. I get two days without reading food labels. Two. Whole. Days. That only means that my food label reading skills will be rested and ready to go when I get back instead of getting half way through the store and realizing everything in the cart has not been checked. Now, everything will be double and triple checked. Thank you rested, non-autopilot brain.

5. I learn to tone down my Type A, hyper-controlling personality. In order to leave your kids and want the grandparents to do it again, you can’t hound them for every time they give Oreo cookies for breakfast. After all, it’s really not my problem when the sugar high kicks in and at least the kids are eating while I’m gone!

6. I can exercise and drink all before 9 AM. That is two things before 9 AM. Two fun things. Usually those two things are drinking cold coffee and losing my mind trying to get the kids ready for school.

7. I realize I miss the bickering and whining. Crazy, right? But removing myself from it actually makes me miss it (really, the kids) which helps me on the days when no one will listen to a word I say, I just think back and remembered that I missed this. I missed the insanity and wanted to come home to it.

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The embarrassment of parenting

I got my first judgey comment on my Sensational Family Facebook account. I’m oddly proud, I guess I’ve made it?? It came after I reached 100 “likes” on the page. It was a big milestone weekend. The poster asked if I was trying to embarrass my children by posting about their somewhat quirky bathroom habits while away on vacation.

Long and short answer: NO. 

First, I’m pretty sure that kids aren’t embarrassed by their bathroom habits. They will announce to anyone in earshot that they have to poop, pee or that they just have done those things. They also see nothing of hanging all over you while you do the same. Ask any mother and I’m sure she’ll agree.

Second, I am never trying to embarrass my kids. And as kids, they don’t even know what “embarrassment” means. It is a learned feeling. A feeling of shame. A feeling of awkwardness. A feeling of humiliation. You can only feel these things by having someone else make you feel less, make you feel like your actions are less than standard, make you feel less. 

These are feelings my kids have never known.

I don’t hide their idiosyncrasies like they are bad. I allow my kids to flaunt them. They want to wear a tutu in public? Go for it! My son wants to wear princess shoes? Not a problem! We wear ear muffs in July. We take our own food to places that doesn’t allow outside food. We do it proudly.

Kids are wonderfully quirky. They don’t realize there are social “norms” or “standards” they should live up to. Of course we teach manners and being kind, those are standards no one should ignore. We embrace their quirkiness.

We have toileting issues in this house. I’m not going to lie, it can sometimes be emotional, sometimes funny and sometimes stressful. My 5 year old recently stood on an open public beach pulled her bathing suit over and peed into the ocean from the shore. In front of hundreds of strangers. If that didn’t embarrass her, I’m sure me saying she peed in her aunts yard was not embarrassing also. It was the facts. It was shedding humor on what can sometimes be stressful. We were lucky enough to have wonderful family that also embraced our quirkiness that not only didn’t bat an eyelash to it happening but encouraged it.

She was not shamed for her behaviors, she was loved and accepted for them. She knows no embarrassment.

I know in the upcoming years this will change. Their minds will be flooded from public views and friend’s opinions. I’m not looking forward to the day when they might feel ashamed of something that makes them wonderful, something that will keep them from being fulfilled, something that makes them happy. My only hope is that have a strong base to be proud of who they are and keep their heads held high. If not, they will always have family that loves them no matter what they wear, where they choose to pee or who they choose to be. 

Everything changes

This week was a big week here. Both kids are starting to show that they are growing up. Molly got on a school bus and rode to kindergarten camp and has her first loose tooth. Charlie decided he is now going to wear underwear. We are officially a house with “kids”. No more babies, no more toddlers, we have kids.

Part of me is super excited to embark on this next path. Full school days and no more diapers??? Could it be? We’ve reached the point where we have time to get something done and I don’t have to feel guilty as my child runs by with a diaper down to his knees. (Honestly, after five years of changing diapers, I’ve become lazy). We are on the road where I no longer feel like I’m herding cats into the pool and everyone is carrying a bag. I’m not going to lie, I LOVE IT. However, I see them growing and I want to cherish each and every moment now. I want to hold onto who they are and enjoy it because I know that soon it will be Charlie loosing teeth and Molly will be running off with friends at the pool, only coming back to me for ice cream money.

Wanting to enjoy this moment in time made me realize that I’ve had a parenting shift. Not that I wanted to rush through the babies years, but like almost every other parent, we are waiting for the next milestone. When a baby rolls, we wait for the crawl. Once they crawl, we are excited for them to walk. There’s always a next step. First baby food leads into first finger foods and self feeding. I spent 6 long months waiting for Charlie to sleep through the night. Each of these milestones are exciting and they happen fast. I thought I would never forget their stats at certain ages or the dates they crawled, walked, ate, slept, etc and now I can’t even remember (nor do I try) when these things happened. I just think, “eh, it happened”. We waited impatiently, then the milestone happened and before I could truly enjoy where we were, I was already thinking “what’s next?”.

I once had a yoga instructor tell the class that we can’t enjoy our present if we are too busy holding onto the past. I think the same goes for looking forward into the future. The past five years have taught me that the little people I put to bed tonight are not the same people that will wake up in their beds tomorrow. They will be a day older, a day smarter and a day more advanced. So instead of trying to remember each “milestone” or look forward to the next, I plan to take this moment and enjoy it because everything changes.

Embracing Christmas

It’s no secret around here that I’m not a fan of a certain December holiday. I make no attempts to hide the fact that I really dislike Christmas. Somehow long ago I thought it was my duty to make sure everyone had a fantastic holiday and the aftermath just meant that I did not. Then, I had my normal pre-Christmas breakdown but I did something that I don’t usually do, I went over to my schedule at work and I took time off. Not because we had therapy, not for a doctor’s appointment or a school function, but just because I needed some time. Granted it was for the week after Christmas, but I took days off work for me. And it felt good.

Then it snowballed.

I found myself saying I couldn’t go to parties. Not because I had something else to do, but because I didn’t want to.

I found myself accepting the Christmas gifts we could afford and not stressing that it wasn’t enough. The kids have plenty.

I found myself not stressing when certain people didn’t provide ideas for gifts. These people will get what they get. And maybe without a gift receipt to return it.

I found myself making the kids chicken nuggets or sandwiches for dinner because Christmas baking or activities made us late for dinner.

I found myself baking less and accepting the fact that a batch of cookies turned out less than perfect.

I found myself not caring that the kids didn’t sit on Santa’s lap. Neither of them, they were both terrified.

I found myself actually living up to my so-called belief that things don’t have to be perfect.

And it felt good.

I didn’t scream “I HATE CHRISTMAS” this year. Not once. Although I did freak out a little and send my husband a text that read “I JUST WANT TO BAKE F%$&^% COOKIES”, but no one is perfect.

I’m completely prepared for the fact that once again my kids may be afraid of Christmas morning. Or maybe just Molly will. She’ll come around and when she does we will be opening our presents under the tree. Then I hope my family is prepared that I will be drinking wine out of a new wine sippy cup Santa will be leaving in my stocking. After all it’s Christmas and what kind of holiday would it be if there weren’t some day drinking involved.

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Tales from an un-crafty mom

My artistic abilities are comical. Seriously, Stampy came home from work and was crying from laughter looking at my latest “craft” I attempted with the kids. And like all of my artistic endeavors, he had to ask multiple times for verification that my project was in fact what I said it was.

Tonight it was a Rudolph head made from felt.

It all started because I ordered 17 pounds of felt, so I thought I should do something with it.
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Seriously, why did I order so much??

So after I cut out a triangle to make a Christmas tree and about a dozen ornaments, I came up with the brilliant idea to make a Rudolph head and red noses so the kids could play “Pin The Nose On The Reindeer”. Now, I don’t get creative ideas too often so I tend to run with them even when I realize that I have absolutely zero artistic ability to actually carry out the idea. Ignoring that fact I proceeded to make the most satanic goat-deer for my kids to play with. After screaming “monster” and running and hiding, the kids actually played the game for 5 minutes. I consider that a success.

In case you would like to make one yourself (I actually feel like this could be a fun game for kids) I will give you instructions. To start the process, you need brown, red and white felt. I cut out 6 red noses, but that is completely optional. Draw and cut your own animal head. The less it actually looks like a reindeer the better. Then 2 white eyes, I suggest using a marker to give some color to the eyes to tame down the nightmares, but that’s a personal call.
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Once that is done, you can hang on a wall and let the kids have at it. I managed to get each child to close their eyes for about 5 seconds while placing the noses on. I couldn’t tell if they just didn’t get the premise of the game or didn’t want to take their eyes off the demon hanging on our all, lest it attack them.

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Everyone survived. We will be having a cleansing after the Christmas season to rid our house of evil spirits.

 

A Week of Thanks

Every November I try to say what I’m thankful for on Facebook on each day of November. I’m not going to lie, we had a tough week this week but I still managed to start out being thankful for my kids today. In the grand scheme of things, they are pretty awesome, quirkiness and all. However, I feel like I had a lot of be thankful for this week and I feel like I should have started out giving thanks earlier than November first. So, I will share here what I was thankful for this week.

1. Yoga. On top of it’s breathing and relaxation techniques, I’m thankful for the flexibility and strength it has given me. Without out, I don’t think I would have been able to wrestle Molly into her car seat, twice, without all that extra bending ability and core stability.

2. Wine. This should go without saying, but I’m extra thankful for the nice people at Bota for putting it in box form. And making that box slightly classier than Franzia.

3. Radio. Nothing drowns out a child kicking and screaming than Top 40. To be honest, I don’t even know what I was listening to, I couldn’t hear it over the screaming.

4. Swedish Fish. I’m thankful to whichever neighbor gave us Swedish Fish in Charlie’s bag on Halloween. That way at every other house when he handed us a Snickers and said “open this” we could give him a fish and subdue him until the next house.

5. Sleep. I cut my coffee intake by half this week and although I feel much better physically and seem to have less brain fog, I can’t sleep. I’m thankful for it and hope it returns soon.

6. Preschool. Especially the aide in Molly’s class that peeled her out of the car kicking and screaming as if it was nothing and she was happy to see her. Let’s face it, we all know she was thinking “oh Jesus” or maybe not since it’s a Christian preschool but I’m sure whatever her thoughts were, they weren’t great. No one could be excited to have that child in that state being handed to them. I’m her mom and I would run the other direction.

So, there you have it. What I am thankful for this week. I wish I could be thankful for Stampy bringing home some food from his happy hour, especially a cheese plate, but I know that won’t happen.