After the kids got on the bus this morning, I ran around the house like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone! Coming back into the kitchen, I realized it’s time to tackle all of the projects I’ve been putting off until the kids are back at school. The – it will be easier to clean out the playroom, their closet, games, etc – list. Now that I am looking around, I may have wanted to start this process a little earlier.
I am hoping that once I put on some music and start at the top of the list it will all flow from there. Right now, it is pouring rain and I have no motivation. Of course, I have many hours until the boys are home from school. Like my youngest tentatively getting on the bus this morning, I need to take the first step. Pick a project and start it.
In my opinion, all projects need good music. Usually, I play country music while I’m cleaning. The lyrics are easy to sing along with and you can bounce around. Today might be more of a hip hop day. Let the beat drive me through the to-do list (maybe even the explicit versions).
Today is the beginning of my new normal. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and not look too far down the road. My personality is one that wants everything mapped out and nice and neat. I am trying to go with the flow and be myself on this journey. For now, it’s time to turn up the music and take the first step.
So far the summer has been filled with lots of fun and growth. The boys have made great strides in their swimming and social skills – not to mention independence. Early on, I learned that I had tried to fit too much into each day and took a big step back. The boys continued with morning sports activities, but they went to the same camps. On the mornings that I teach, they came with me and went to child watch. Our afternoons and weekends were filled with the beach and friends.
My older son met two brothers last year in his swimming lesson and he was beyond thrilled when they were in his class again this year. My younger son, who tends to warm-up to others at his own pace, also made friends with boys in his swimming lesson this year. They get so excited to see these kids arrive at the beach. They have also found kids from previous soccer and baseball teams and included them in the fun.
For me, it has been an interesting transition to sit back and watch. It seems for so many years, you try to regulate and be sure that your kids are being polite and including others. To watch them interact from a distance has been fun. Overall, the entire group has played well. They have shared shovels, boogie boards and buckets. They dig huge holes and build elaborate sand castles. Of course, there is some Star Wars and military games that go on too.
The formal activities have ended for the summer, but there are many more beach days to come. Hopefully, they will continue to play with their summer friends and be ready for the beginning of the school year. While they have continued to read (or be read to) they have also continued their social growth. The youngest will begin kindergarten in the fall and ride the bus with his older brother. This will truly be a big change for him (and me) but I am confident that he is ready to make new friends and have a great year. The oldest has continued to grow and has done a great job including his little brother. I am assured that he will help show his brother the ropes of a new school and an entirely new adventure.
Watching the boys grow on different levels has helped give me perspective as I also enter a new phase. A year ago, I was anxious to try anything and look for new opportunities. Eventually, a few stuck and now I am in the process of deciding what direction I want to go in this year. Each venture or idea will take a lot of work and I need to set my priorities. This is an interesting balance as a mom. Slowly, but surely – I feel that I am finding the direction I want to head in. It’s currently a matter of what falls into the hobby side of things and where do I see career potential. I am not sure right now, but I am sure it will come.
For now, I am looking forward to enjoying the end of the summer with sand in our toes and smiles on our faces. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen and so is our summer fun!
As human beings, judgment is a survival skill. We observe choices that other people have made and determine how it would help us or hurt us. As the world deals with senseless acts of violence the pain and the act itself is incomprehensible. We turn to judgment. How young is too young to attend a late movie, should the parents have known their child was capable of such an act or looking at the content of the movie itself.
These are all natural reactions because we want to think it won’t happen to us or that this could have been stopped. Sadly, it did happen and there was no way of knowing that brining a small child to the movie could result in injury and death. It is time to take the next step in judgment and have compassion. Compassion is also human nature. This helps to separate us from animals; we see what another person goes through and we can feel for them. The bodies will heal, but many will have emotional injuries that will last a lifetime. Being a strong society will allow us to stand together and lend helping hands. Staying away from the squabble of gun control and movie content will help us move forward. Yes, these are real issues but not the true culprit.
We can make the choice every day to smile and help those in our communities. By reaching out and embracing those near us, we can gain strength and compassion. There are so many organizations looking for volunteers that help people of all shapes and sizes. This is a great time to connect with those around us and not let fear and judgment separate us.
When did being average become a bad thing? It seems in every aspect of our society people are looking upon average as a lack of success. We seem to be living in a world of extremes. You are obese or do military style training, you are wealthy or poor, vegan or junk food lover – what happened to the middle? So many people talk about finding a balance, yet they don’t want to be average. Perhaps it is how we perceive the word.
The funny thing about average is that it’s constantly changing. Look at how much the average cost of living has changed. The same is true for athletics and academics. Personally, I learned to read in first grade which was average at the time. Now, the average first grader is reading chapter books and learning the building blocks of algebra. What used to be unheard of in athletics is now average thanks to different physical training and more advanced equipment. As we continue to grow as a society our average keeps changing.
As a parent, I often reflect on my own memories and experiences. Like everyone, we try to emulate parts of our childhood and maybe tweak other parts. I was a good student and took advanced classes all the way through school. I will never forget the look on my Advanced Placement Physics teacher when he saw that I would be majoring in dance. Having a name at the end of the alphabet, he had read eighteen engineering or pre-med majors and literally stopped in his tracks at dance. He questioned my reasoning for taking his class. My answer was simply that I liked math and science and it was the next logical step. As you might imagine, I never used those great physics skills.
As a dance major, I didn’t need high level math for my gen ed so I took a relatively basic math class. It was in this class that we calculated mortgage and credit card interest. Yes, I had learned these skills early on in math class, but frankly knowing how to compound interest for a mortgage doesn’t mean anything to an eighth grader. I could make the argument that the lower level math class in college was more beneficial than the AP physics in high school for the life that I lead.
Would I change taking advanced classes? Absolutely not, but I don’t think they define me as a person. I am sure they have helped with my daily reasoning skills, but my friends who didn’t take advanced classes are leading wonderful lives. Somewhere along the way, we all met at average and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My goal for my children is to set them up to succeed. For now, that means letting them try a variety of activities and seeing which ones they enjoy. Down the road they will have to make decisions about which ones they want to pursue and I am sure their individual talents will play a role. Most importantly, I hope that they lead a happy life – even if it is average!
I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up on the ocean and to be sharing that experience with my children. We live in a beautiful part of the country and are only a short drive from a variety of beaches. Growing up at the beach, I truly believe that salt water cures EVERYTHING. When we were young, our parents would tell us to soak our bumps and scrapes in the water and they would get better. As we became young adults, we discovered that salt water can help cure the “tiredness” from the night before. Now, as a mom, I have discovered that it can fix arguing children.
Our boys are 5 and 7. We go through phases where they get along and times when they don’t. Right now, is a time that they aren’t getting along. It has been weeks of squabbling with each other. Last weekend, we were lucky enough to sneak in a few hours at the beach as a family. Pulling in the parking lot, everything changed. The kids were helpful bringing their stuff down the beach and stopped whining. After sunscreen, they played in the sand and went swimming. Not an argument to be heard. Of course, everything started up again on the ride home, but it was a great two hours.
The boys are well-trained beach bums. They have been going to the beach since they were born. We have gone through the not wanting to put our feet in the sand, not liking seaweed, trying to eat rocks and shells and not wanting sunscreen – and it’s all been worth it! Now, they both know how to swim, are complacent about sunscreen (they know it’s not an option) and truly enjoy everything the beach has to offer.
We are beach minimalists. Everyone is responsible for their own beach gear. Generally, we bring boogie boards, lunch, towels and sunscreen. I carry my chair and sometimes the boys bring their chairs down. We don’t lug a lot of toys down. A few shovels and buckets do the trick. In the heat of the summer, they spend most of their time playing in the water. During the shoulder seasons, they play in the sand and look for shells. It is a great environment for them to explore. They love looking for fish and shells. Some beaches offer great tidal pools where they look for sand dollars and starfish. The beach is constantly changing as the tides bring in new treasures.
On the weekends, we spend the entire day on the beach as the family. These days are a little different because we drive onto the beach and can pack up our car. This allows us to bring books to read and paper and crayons to color. I am so lucky to raise boys with sand between their toes and the knowledge that salt water cures everything!!
Spring is an extremely busy time of year for parents, especially if your kids are in school. The last few weeks of school are filled with events to attend. You add in any extra activities winding down and it is a lot.
However, it’s a great time of year for making new friends. You are essentially forced to hang out with new people. Over time, more and more faces are familiar; but in the beginning you meet many new parents at the school and at your children’s activities. Think about the random conversations at baseball games, dance rehearsals or sitting outside art classes. It is a group of people, often from different backgrounds, coming together because of their children and sharing a unified experience. Conversations often start with talk about how crazy everyone’s schedule is; this is an easy way for moms to relate. It also provides an opportunity to find out what other moms do. Often in these moments we discover what someone does for work or as a volunteer because it is naturally added to the verbal to-do list she’s sharing with you.
It is also a great time to find new meal ideas. Everyone has to eat and it is difficult to come up with quick, healthy choices. Last night, was a busy one for us and everyone was heading in different directions. We decided to make turkey meatball subs for dinner. It was quick and everyone eats them (not an easy feat in this family). If I have time, I throw chicken in the crock pot with barbecue sauce and serve broccoli slaw (bought at the store and I add a little coleslaw dressing). These are my primary, go-to options but I really need more and I’m always curious about what other people do in the same situation.
Please share any ideas that work for your family at this busy time of year. If you don’t want to comment you can always send me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you
Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 47th Street in Times Square in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We live in Massachusetts and are on April vacation this week. Unlike February vacation, we went away with the kids this time. When the boys were very young we traveled all over the world with them and then didn’t travel for a while. Surprisingly, a lot of the planning is similar. When preparing for long distance travel it is essential to bring a bag of tricks. This bag includes new activities and special snacks. Now that the boys are older, we packed new sketch books and markers so that they can document their trip to New York City. I didn’t anticipate the desire to draw different cars and sights on the five-hour drive, but it entertained them. We also bought a new DVD to play in the portable player, but didn’t use it until our second night in the hotel. We have found that it gives the boys some downtime in the hotel. We also plan a small budget to pick up a small toy in the new place. This rewards the good behavior and mixes up the items that you brought. I also packed snacks that would both fill them and provide some nutritional value.
Another crucial step comes before leaving the house, research. With two little boys, space to run is very important! We always look for parks on the map and make sure we leave open time for them to run around and play (this does not work in Paris – you aren’t allowed on the grass). It is important to pick age appropriate activities. Remember that you are on a family vacation and that it’s important to pick places that work for everyone. Don’t expect small children to behave in long lines – they don’t understand what they are waiting for and it can be stressful for you.
Before traveling to New York, we looked up the different museums and the Met http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/ offers a variety of itineraries for different age groups. It was on this site that I got the idea for the sketch books. Last year, we brought printer paper stapled together and the boys made a book of our overnight trip. So this seemed like a natural progression. They also give suggestions for families with different age children. We are planning to visit the Museum of Natural History tomorrow – what is better than dinosaurs when you are 5 and 7? As part of our research, we discovered they have a discovery zone in addition to the general exhibits. The plan is to complete the museum outing with running around in Central Park. One of their favorite parts of the trip so far has been walking to Times Square. You never know what will excite them, but you want to have a variety of options. We have changed our itinerary everyday to go with the kids moods and level of energy. We had considered taking them to a show, but they have been falling asleep at dinner (6 PM) so a show seems like it would be a disaster – something to save for another trip.
The key to positive family travel is planning, a few treats and flexibility. If you are prepared, you can go with the flow! Enjoy your travels!!!
Macro shot of a box of clementines, Citrus reticulata 'Clementine' . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know that fresh fruit and vegetables are good for us, but they often get thrown into the refrigerator drawer and forgotten about. Often when we are hungry, we want a quick fix and cutting up fruit and veggies can be a pain. The key is to make fruit and vegetables the easy choice.
Buying fruit that can be washed and put into a bowl on the counter is a great place to start. Most kids love apples, bananas and clementines (you probably love them too when you think to eat one). By having them on the counter they can help themselves. The next time they say they are hungry or want a snack, direct them to the fruit bowl. Eventually, they will do it on their own.
Another way to make eating fresh produce easy is to prepare it when you get home from the store. In my house, I have to ration the melon. I cut up the cantaloupe or watermelon and put them into single serving containers. This makes it easy for the kids to grab but they don’t sit with the big container and eat it all in one sitting. I do the same thing for grapes.
Next, is veggies. Baby carrots are a staple in my home. The boys take them from the fridge and eat many a day. Cucumbers are another easy one to prepare ahead. You can cut them in circles or into sticks and put them into containers. I mix it up with the kids so it seems different. Celery is another one to prepare ahead. Basically, it is all about making the fruits and veggies easy to grab finger foods.
Preparing single servings ahead of time is not only easier around the house, but makes it easy to pack them in lunches or for a snack on an outing. Maybe take the family for a walk and enjoy some fresh produce in the middle of your adventure. It will help refresh you and keep you going.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all that it gives us!!
My oldest son turned seven yesterday and I have been a stay at home mom since right before he was born. My youngest is five and will be entering full-day kindergarten in the fall. It has been many years of playgroups, story-hours, preschool chatter, etc. Here comes the “now what?” moment. Knowing this time was coming and not being great at sitting around the house, I began thinking about what direction I wanted to go in a while back. It was a time to look at my different skill sets and passions. Ironically, I have wound up where I wanted to be after graduating from college. I am able to dance and teach pilates.
It was definitely a process to reach this point. First and foremost, I had to get back in shape after having two babies. I went back to taking yoga and pilates regularly. A few moms from preschool and playgroup were looking for toddler tap, so I reached out to a studio that didn’t offer tap and began teaching friends’ kids. Eventually, I began subbing for the director and I created a class for adults. None of these ventures were particularly successful; but they kept me moving in the right direction. I went on to earn my pilates certification and began teaching pilates immediately.
After getting my certification, I knew I needed to build a reputation and teach as often as possible. In just a few short months, I am finding that many opportunities are coming at times that are not convenient for the family. My initial reaction is always to say yes, and I am training myself to say no when the time is right. I went from having nothing other than the family to many projects going on at once. What is the correct balance?
Honestly, I am much more efficient when I have a tight schedule. The house tends to be cleaner and the fridge is stocked on days that I have a lot to do and on days when I am not heavily scheduled I can seriously spend the day surfing the internet, catching up on my DVR, etc. Now comes the challenge of balancing efficiency and not burning out. Like many people, I am still working to find this balance. Remembering to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family. Finding personal fulfillment so that I am a happier and more relaxed mom. It is definitely a work in progress, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to pursue a career that I love and spend quality time with my husband and boys.
Are there ever enough hours in the day? Probably not. It seems as moms we become masters of time management and multitasking. When do we fit in time for ourselves? Some moms are great at recognizing their own needs in addition to those of their children and husbands. Others, feel guilty in taking that half-hour or hour at the gym. Some just don’t like the gym. There are a few factors at work.
Once the kids are in school, we feel that we will have free time. Then it seems that we should be doing something to benefit the household with this new free time. Some go back to work and some have worked all along. Where does the time come from? Perhaps, taking the hour and placing the kids in a child watch or with a babysitter actually benefits mom AND everyone else. It gives you a chance to burn off some stress from the day and reflect upon the days events. It allows the kids a chance to decompress after being held accountable to teachers all day. Once everyone has had this half-hour or hour, they are ready for a conversation. It may help to alleviate the “nothing” response at dinner. Of course, it is important to spend quality family time together, but it is often at this point that everyone is feeling a little stressed and it gets chaotic.
Maybe you stay home and feel the house should be perfect and the cupboards stocked. I find squeezing that hour in for yoga or at the gym actually makes me more efficient in my errand running and household cleaning. Not to mention, it makes me a much nicer mom and wife. I can always notice when I haven’t made time for exercise.
There are days it doesn’t go to plan. Yesterday, for example, I went to take a yoga class. The usual teacher wasn’t feeling well and we had a sub. I wasn’t feeling her class. Truthfully, I am lucky I didn’t get hurt. I had completely checked out and my mind was thinking about my chore list and not what the teacher was saying. It completely threw my day off. If I had listened to my initial reaction and left when I saw the sub, I may have had a more organized day. Perhaps it would have been a good day to hit the treadmill with some hip hop that I don’t listen to with the kids. As a yoga and pilates instructor myself, I always like to give a new teacher a chance but sometimes you aren’t feeling it. Finding the balance of listening to your gut and making sure you get fitness in can be like walking on a tightrope. The first step is to find a class or gym that you like and making a plan to get there. After a few weeks it becomes routine and you won’t think anything of squeezing in the time for your health (physical and mental).
- Grab Your Zen (navigatingvita.com)
- The art of balance (seubank.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Allow Time to Manage You! (flowersandallthingsnice.wordpress.com)