Last night I drank too much wine and cried for the end of my son’s childhood.
Tomorrow morning I’ll receive an email with my 11 year old’s 6th grade schedule. Not his teacher. His schedule.
All summer I’ve been listening to his voice crack and we’ve been giggling about it together.
In the past year my son grew 5 ½ inches. If he keeps up at this rate, he’ll be taller than me when he is 12.
In the spring my husband bought my son a an electric shaver because little kids on the bus were commenting on the beginnings of his mustache.
He has bursts of anger – out of character for him. Today, he thought he lost something and he got mad. He punched the couch. He threw something across the room.
All of a sudden he smells bad. Overnight, he’s gotten pimples. He’s getting stronger. I can ask him to help me up from the floor and he’s strong enough to actually help me.
And I’m sad.
It’s not just the end of elementary school. It’s not just the beginning stages of puberty. It’s all of it. All of it happening at the same time.
I remember so clearly the first day I put my son, my first born, my one and only baby to sleep in his crib for the first time. After 12 weeks sleeping in our room, my husband convinced me that he would survive the night in his own room, in his own crib. He looked so small in that big crib. I remember the first day he slept in his twin size bed. Tiny again. Then I blinked and now my son and I see nearly eye to eye.
When he talks to me about Pokemon and Minecraft, I sit and listen in awe. Not at what he’s saying, but the sound of his new lower voice, that will deepen still. I watch his new taller, longer limbs poking out of pajamas that fit him two months ago.
I look at his beautiful face, his longer, wider nose, his darker eyebrows, his dimple that I used to kiss every night, no longer just a pinpoint in a deliciously chubby cheek, now a longer line in a thinned out, grown up face. I try to remember the baby, the toddler, the child he was at the same time imagining the grown man he will become.
It makes me cry for all the time that has passed. The realization that his childhood years are gone. And I can’t ever get them back.
I know I should be grateful for all the time I still have with him, for this very moment, but right now, I just feel sad.
At this moment, my house is a mess, more than a mess really, it’s a disgrace. The dishwasher needs emptied, the breakfast dishes are piled in the sink, and the crockpot is sitting out, “soaking” with greasy soapy water. There are two loads of laundry dumped on the couch that need folding and the remains of a pretty awesome pillow fort are strewn all over the floor.
This wouldn’t be a big deal except that a friend just texted me to ask if she can stop by in a few minutes to drop some clothes off for the triplets. How can I say no? We love hand-me-downs.
A few years ago, I would have apologized profusely for the mess as I let me friend in the door. I would have explained, in detail, all the very good reasons I had for the place being a mess. You know what else I would have done? I would have apologized for the “mess” even if my house was clean. I would straighten and scrub before inviting people over and still apologize as my mom friends walked in the door.
I’m not even sure why I was apologizing.
Did I imagine other women kept their house cleaner and neater? Was I worried that they were judging my home? I think it had something to do with me trying to present myself as a person who was in control of the chaos that is my life. Then I think it just turned into a habit.
I’ve decided to stop apologizing. I think you should too.
A few years ago, I took my son over to play at a friend’s house. It was his first time there and my first time meeting the mom. They had just moved in and the mom was in the middle of painting a bedroom. There were kids running through the house jumping over toys and shooting nerf guns at each other. Painting supplies and boxes were scattered throughout the house. But there were no apologies. The mom simply stated, “I’m painting today; I’m so excited about how the room is going to turn out.” In the past two years I’ve been to their house a few times and seen it in many stages: neat as a pin as I’m dropping my son off for a birthday party, happily messy as I’m picking my son up after the party and everything in between. Not once has this mom apologized for the state of the house and why should she?
Aren’t our homes the same? Cluttered and chaotic when we put chores aside to play with our kids, when we decide we need to catch up on our latest Netflix binge, or because illness has hit our homes. Sparkling and smelling fresh after a Saturday scrub down or in preparation for a party. We live here and our space reflects that-our kids, our jobs, our busy lives.
So I’m not going to apologize anymore! I’m just going to live in my home, stop caring what others might think and break my habit of apologizing for the mess!
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase an item through a link, I will receive a small commission.
If you are potty training, you are dealing with messes-it’s unavoidable. However, after potty training 4 kiddos, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to keep things a little cleaner and I’m happy to share them with those of you who are currently in the trenches of potty training.
1. Put A Piece of Toilet Paper In the Potty
Always put a square of toilet paper in your child’s little potty. If your little one goes number 2 on his next visit, this trick makes the mess easier to dump in the toilet. Instead of sticking to the potty, it sticks to the toilet paper and will slide out much easier.
2. Choose a Simple Potty Chair
There are so many potties to choose from. The mistake I made while potty training my first was picking a potty that had lots of parts! My son wanted to be the one to dump his little potty in the big potty and it was so difficult for him to take the potty apart which resulted in a few epic spills. Plus, all the parts just meant more pieces for me to wipe down each time he went. By the time my triplets were ready to potty train, we picked a simple potty. A simpler design made it easier for my girls to dump the potty on their own and saved me a lot of cleaning time.
3. Move to the Big Potty as Soon as They are Ready
If your child is open to sitting on the big potty, let them! This eliminates a lot of steps in potty training which also means less things to clean! There are lots of options for potty inserts so the kiddos don’t fall in! You might want to start out with a cushioned seat with handles on the side. But once your kiddos are comfortable, I would recommend replacing your toilet seat with something like this. These seats are easy to use and easy to clean! You don’t have the hassle of taking out the potty insert and wiping it down every time your child goes and there are no drips on the floor because you don’t have to take the seat out!
4. Use Foaming Hand Soap
Little kids and hand soap equals a big mess! Even my big kids use way too much soap when washing their hands, leaving bubbles and soap scum all over the sink. One pump of a foaming hand soap delivers just the right amount for little hands and will keep your sink cleaner.
5. Be Prepared with Cleaning Wipes
Buy a ton of cleaning wipes! These are perfect for quick cleanups in between your regular bathroom clean. And believe me, you’re going to need to do some spot cleaning!
The 4 Products You Need for Keeping Your Bathroom Clean When Potty Training
Here are the products I love:
NextStep Toilet Seat with Built-in Child Potty Training Seat
Hands down, this potty seat is my favorite thing for keeping the bathroom clean. If your child is open to sitting on the big potty, I can’t recommend this enough!
BabyBjorn Potty Chair
If you start out with a potty chair, this one is the tops!
Foaming Hand Soap
Foaming soap keeps your sink cleaner!
Bathroom Cleaning Wipes
Essential for quick clean ups!
What are your best tips for keeping the bathroom clean when potty training?
I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of posts and articles explaining how important it is to teach kids responsibility by having them participate in household chores. This isn’t one of those posts. Even though I absolutely agree it’s important to teach kids responsibility and impart a good work ethic and all that stuff, I’ll let more qualified individuals advise you on that. I’m not here to talk about responsibility, I’m here to share with you the real reasons I make my kids do chores.
1. I’m Tired Of Doing All Chores
Honestly? I’m just tired of it. All these years of doing dishes, laundry, bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting (hahaha just kidding on that one) sweeping and mopping for a family of 6 just kind of got old. Then one day it hit me, “This is bullsnap! These kids are big enough to help!” I don’t know if that aha moment came to me after I saw the classroom list of jobs my triplets happily participated in 1st grade or when my 5th grade son built an incredibly complex Lego structure with moving parts. Either way I figured, if they can do that stuff, they can certainly empty the dishwasher!
2. I Don’t Want Their Spouses to Hate Me
My kids are still in elementary school, but sometimes I walk around my house, stepping over minefields of Legos and Littlest Pet Shop pets and I think, “If I can’t get them to start picking up after themselves what are their spouses going to think of them? What will their spouses think of me? Will they be annoyed that I never taught my kids to actually pick their wet towel up off the floor and hang it up on a hook? Will they be beyond annoyed at me, angry even? Will they let me see my grandchildren?” Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but I really don’t want to send them out into the world thinking that it’s okay to be a slob and have other people pick up after you.
3. I Want Them to Make a Connection
You know, the -if I drop a piece of food on the floor it will stay there forever unless someone picks it up-connection. I don’t think they’ve made that connection quite yet. When my kids drop food on the floor, they make no motion to pick it up. I’m pretty sure they think a magical cleaning fairy comes in at night and takes care of all that. Worse yet, they know that I’ll pick it up so they don’t have to. Well not any more kiddos! Grab that broom and get to sweeping! Mama’s off the clock!
So I set up a cleaning schedule for my kiddos. They each have a daily chore to do during the week, and a bigger chore that they do on Saturdays. It’s been heavenly. Sometimes I actually sit on the couch and direct them around. “You there! Empty the cat litter! And you, other triplet! Wipe the table!” At first I felt a little guilty but then I remembered all those parenting articles written by real grown ups who told me this was a good thing for my kids because, you know, responsibility and stuff!
What about you? Do you make your kids do chores?
I always wanted to be a mom, I loved being around children, and I babysat a ton when I was in high school. So, when I had my first child I thought I was well prepared and the transition would be smooth. To put it simply, it was not. It was hard; it still is hard. But you know what got me through those first clueless and sleepless months and continues to carry me? You guessed it, an amazing group of friends, my mom tribe.
Ladies, we need other mommies who get us, women who we can commiserate with, get advice from, share a laugh with. I am fortunate to have a great tribe of moms in my life. If you are still looking for yours, here are my three tips for finding your crew.
I remember very clearly the day a friend confided in me that she struggled with anxiety, something that I also struggle with. I was blown away that this seemingly perfect mom was dealing with something so difficult and something that I knew about first hand. It deepened our friendship and helped me let go of what felt like a giant secret that I needed to keep. This experience taught me that to truly take my relationships to the next level, beyond surface friendships, I needed to be honest and authentic.
Be yourself. If your house is always a mess, don’t pretend like it’s usually clean. If you always run late, don’t act like this is the only time you’ve shown up ½ hour after playdate started. If you feed your kids processed food, don’t pretend that those fruit snacks are organic. If you don’t feel like you have your act together, don’t act like you do. Because here’s the thing, none of us do. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, there are no perfect moms. We all struggle, none of us have our act together even if we look like we do. Share your imperfections, your struggles, your suffering-that’s what makes you who you are.
Put Yourself Out There
If you wanna find your mom tribe, you gotta put yourself out there. I won’t lie here, this is hard for me and I’ve failed at this over the years. I tried to join a playgroup when my triplets were about 2 and I was told there was no room in the group. I was devastated because the group was made up of a bunch of moms I thought I could really get along with. Luckily for me, these moms started inviting me to things and we did get to be friends. This taught me that I can’t passively sit back and wait for cool moms to show up in my life.
Putting yourself out there means physically going out, or inviting people over. So log off of the interweb and get out there. (Wait, finish reading this first and then you’ll probably want to share it or pin it of course, then you can get off the interweb!) Join a local moms club, start chatting with the other moms at work, or join a mommy and me class. If you are digging any of those moms, ask them out on a playdate! This is super difficult and can be awkward, but it’s a necessary step to finding your mom tribe.
When You Find Your Mom Tribe – Keep It Going
This part can be difficult especially as kids get older. When my littles were tiny and not in school, I set the schedule, chose where we went, and who we hung out with. Mostly, we hit the park with my amazing friends and their adorable littles. Now that my kids are older, their school and extracurricular activities set the schedule, determine where we go, and who we hang out with. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the moms in the karate, dance, and gymnastics waiting rooms because I do. But I will say it takes time out of my life, making it more difficult to get together with the original crew.
It can be very easy to let this new life with new people take over, but once you find your mom tribe, the ones that you really get you, the ones that you can really be yourself around, you need to hold on to them. Invest time in those relationships. Because when you need a shoulder to cry on, it might be a little awkward if the shoulder you choose is some random stranger sitting on a bench outside of dance class.
So what about you? Have you found your tribe yet? Or, are you still looking?
First of all, before I start my tirade, I do want to thank you for bagging my groceries. Not many stores have a designated bagger so that’s nice. I also think it’s great that you are working after school instead of staying home and taking drugs and making out with girls or whatever the kids are doing these days. So, good for you! But I do have a few tips for you and I hope you don’t mind if I share them:
Stop Making the Bags So Freakin’ Heavy
You are obviously very gifted in the spacial intelligence category. I can tell that you are a genius at tetris just by looking at the incredible amount of items you are able to fit into my grocery bag. I mean I would have stopped at two cartons of juice, but you were somehow able to also fit eight boxes of mac and cheese, 2 pounds of butter, a bunch of bananas and a pineapple. It’s like you’ve somehow magically changed my reusable bag into a Mary Poppins carpet bag!
When you pick up the bag to add it to my cart, I can see that you have no trouble at all, what with all that fresh testosterone coursing through your veins, but honey, I’m nearly over the hill, pushing a cart full of kids, so please just stop. I cannot lift this ridiculously heavy bag! Just because you can fit all the things in one bag, doesn’t mean you should.
Don’t Give My Kids Stickers
Honestly I feel bad even suggesting this because it’s such a nice gesture on your part. But I have to be frank here. In the big wide world of stickers, yours are the worst. They barely stick and they feature cartoon animals that no one can really recognize. Like, is this green thing with a beak supposed to be a duck or a platypus? Plus, it only just adds to the time I’m trapped in this store with my adorable little monsters. Then, once you finally find the stickers and pull off four unidentifiable creatures, my kids inevitably fight over who gets the pink elephanty hippo-ish looking animal, which in turn causes added referee work for me.
Don’t Accuse Me of Stealing
Yes, it’s true that I snagged my gallons of milk off the conveyor belt before you were able to slap some paid stickers on them and I’m sorry if I overstepped the bagger boundary, but do you really think I stole them? When you pointed to the gallons in my cart, I was a little worried that you were going to remove them and place both in a bag along with an anvil, but then you so politely clarified by telling me that you just wanted to make sure the cashier rung them up. Seriously, dude? I know people steal; but I’m still insulted that you are in fact, accusing me of stealing to my very face. Maybe next time you think someone is stealing, you can ask the cashier in a more discreet manner.
So, there are some tips for you! Other than these very minor improvements, I think you are well on your way to being an excellent grocery store bagger, or perhaps an expert trunk packer/weight lifter.
The middle age woman who literally could not lift most of her bags and had to unpack them to put them in her minivan and who definitely does not steal milk from grocery store.
I am mom; hear me roar! I can work or stay home, or both! I can kick butt in the office, be available whenever needed, move up in my field and still coach my kids’ soccer team. I can stay home, teach my kids their ABC’s, take them on educational outings every day, volunteer for the preschool and the moms club and still keep an immaculate house and cook organic meals every night! I mean, I can’t actually do all these things and I know because I’ve tried. Maybe you’re doing all the things too, but I’m guessing that you are feeling overwhelmed and down right scattered.
My list of things I’d like to do as a mom include, but are not limited to:, keep a clean and organized house, volunteer at my kids’ school and at my church, maintain a vegetable garden, clip coupons, meal plan, cook from scratch every night, re-do my entire house to like Joanna Gaines’ farmhouse, work part time while my kids are in school and after they go to bed, build my resume and client list, exercise regularly, make time for myself to relax, read the 18 parenting books on my night stand, spend one on one time with each of my four children, drive each one to their different activities, help them with their homework, but not too much so they can learn to be independent and the list goes on and on.
Thing is, I can do all these, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not doing any of them well.
There’s been more than a few nights when my kids are eating cereal for dinner because I’m preparing to teach a class to other people’s children. There’s been a lot of Saturdays that I’ve had to ignore my kids’ countless requests for attention because I was clipping coupons, planning a week’s worth of meals cooked from scratch, shopping for groceries for said healthy meals and prepping food all day. There’s been tons of evenings when I’ve snapped at my kids because they weren’t tying their shoes fast enough to get to one of their many after school activities. There have been late nights when I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime to meet a work deadline because the daytime hours were spent trying to get my house into a state of complete order and cleanliness.
This is not the mom I want to be anymore. The one who does everything, but does it all hurriedly and not very well. The kind of mom with a to-do list an arm long and never gets to cross all the items off. The kind of mom who feels completely overwhelmed with unrealistic and unattainable expectations put upon herself.
I know I can do all the things. But I just don’t want to anymore. So I’m not gonna.
I’m going to take my extremely long list of things I “should” be doing as a mom and I’m going to start crossing stuff off. Like a lot of stuff. I’m going to take that bar that I’ve set ridiculously high and I’m going to lower it…by a lot.
Because yes, I am a mom and moms are awesome and we can do all the things. But the best thing I can do right now is choose to do less.
Who’s with me?
I see you Yelly Mom. You gave your two year old a little bag of goldfish because you thought that would stop her from reaching out of the cart to knock stuff off the shelves and it did, but not for long. The calm only lasted until she spilled her goldfish, leaving you with a big crumbly mess and an inconsolable toddler who doesn’t want another bag of goldfish, she wanted that bag of goldfish.
Your five year old, who is exhausted from a long morning at kindergarten, has finally stopped asking you if you can buy him every damn toy he sees and has taken to running ahead, oh wait, now he’s lagging behind, aaaaaand now he’s running off again.
Your kids are miserable and whining and at the end of their rope and you know how they feel. And here comes the frustration out of your mouth-the yelling. In an attempt to control this MESS of a situation, in an attempt to end this shopping disaster as soon as possible, you start yelling at your kids.
There are people in this store who are judging you, some are giving you dirty looks and maybe, the bolder ones, unsolicited advice on how to properly parent your kids. I know what they see. They see you in this one moment, where you have lost your patience and are snapping at your kids.
They didn’t see you in all those moments before. So many moments-from the time you unstrapped your kids from their car seats, got them safely through the parking lot, and found a cart with two seats so they wouldn’t fight over who gets to sit in the cart. They didn’t see all the moments you gently pulled your two year old’s arm away from the packs of diapers that she desperately wants to throw on the floor or all the times you patiently and politely asked your son to stay with you.
I saw you in those moments Yelly Mom, hell, I’ve been you in those moments! I know that you regret yelling at your kids and I know that you are at the end of your rope today. This isn’t your best parenting moment and it is on display in a store full of judging eyes. Please know that I am not judging you, in fact I am praying for you. When I see you in the store, frazzled and stressed, know that I am praying-asking God to fill you with his peace and to give you his patience. I don’t know if it’s going to work and miraculously fix this moment for you or if you need to throw today out and start again fresh tomorrow. But please know that I see you in all your moments, and I’m praying for you.
I first noticed that my husband was doing things wrong when we had our first child. He could not swaddle at all. He would have to wake me up in the middle of the night to get me to do it for him. When he put diapers on, they were crooked. He didn’t stop halfway through the bottle to burp the baby. Oh, and you should have seen how he put the sheets on the crib! Totally wrinkly and not lined up at all. There’s more too, but I’ll spare you the details (and me the embarrassment of complaining about a husband that did so much!)
It. Drove. Me. Nuts. And I would tell my husband, “You’re doing it wrong” and “Here, let me do it.” I would stop him from helping me so I could do it myself-the proper way. Let me repeat that: I would stop my husband from helping me. Crazy, right?
Then one night, out of my mind with sleep deprivation I figured it out. Maybe I wouldn’t be so tired, if I just let Bill help with the baby. It was a huge light bulb moment for me. I suddenly didn’t care if the diaper was crooked, or he missed a snap on the pj’s or if the formula was a few degrees cooler than I imagined our son liked it. All that mattered in that moment was sleep.
So I started letting him help and it was A-Mazing! I suddenly didn’t care that the baby clothes weren’t folded very neatly, I was just happy they were folded and I didn’t have to do it! I didn’t care if the bottles went through the dishwasher instead of being hand-washed, I was just happy there were clean bottles when I needed them.
Not only did I accept his offer of help, I stopped telling him he was doing it wrong (even though I died a little inside every time he would use like 15 wipes to change a diaper).
I can’t tell you what an impact this lesson has had on my marriage. Instead of trying to control every aspect of my son’s life, our son’s life, I learned to trust my husband and began to let go of my ego and quest for perfectionism. We became a team, instead of me dictating to him the correct way to do things, like he was in my employ. And over time, especially now that my son is a tween, I learned that this ain’t just the mom and son show. My son needs his dad.
So, if your husband’s doing it wrong, let him! He’ll make mistakes and he won’t always do it your way (which we all know is the best way) but you’ll get a break. And more importantly, you’ll get to sit back and watch him put the diaper on crooked while he sings and coos to the baby and the singing and cooing turns into playing cars and bandaging knees and that turns into going for haircuts and talking about girls and over time you’ll see this has become a really awesome bond that your child will have with his dad, a bond that he doesn’t share with anyone else in the world.
Oh, but you might want to go out and get one of those swaddle blankets with the velcro that are really easy to put on because he just might never figure that one out.
As soon as I heard about this challenge, I knew I wanted to participate! The main reason I blog and write about parenting is to lift other mommies up! To let them know that it’s hard, but we are all feeling the struggle. Not one of us is perfect! Let’s celebrate our strengths and stop focusing on what we don’t do well or what we feel like we should be doing better.
Thanks you so much to Kayla O’Neill at Parenting Expert Mom for tagging me in this challenge.
I’m tagging Kaity Stuckert at Beeautiful Blessings, Catherine Murton at Kid & Kin, Rebecca Lyn Miller at Mommy Takes 5, and Madelyn Harrah at Happy Hippy Homemaker.
Show us what you’ve got ladies!
1. I KNOW THAT PERFECTION IS A MYTH: I used to think that being the perfect mom was attainable. Now I know it’s a myth. Once I got to know the moms in community, the ones that seemed perfect, the ones that seemed like they had it all together, I learned that they had the same struggles and insecurities that I did. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt the need to try to be a certain way and I stopped caring what other people thought of my abilities as a mom.
2. I’M LOUD AND CRAZY: My house is never quiet! We are a big, loud family! We sing and dance and sock-ice skate in the kitchen. We make up our own songs and belt the words out. We chase each other around the house and smack talk when we play UNO and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope my children remember our house as loud and fun!
3. I APOLOGIZE: I make a lot of mistakes. I holler at my kids. I forget to wash their karate suit. I get them to school late. But I always apologize. I know I’m not a perfect mom and I want my kids to know that too. I want them to learn that sometimes we mess up: we forget things, we’re mean, we hurt people’s feelings. I want them to be gentle with themselves when they make a mistake and to see the importance of apologizing when you do.
4. I VALUE KINDNESS OVER INTELLIGENCE: Now that my kids are in school, it’s obvious that some have an easier time with schoolwork. While we celebrate all achievements in our home, I am more impressed when my children act kind and generous and loving to one another than when they bring home an A.
5. I GIVE MY CHILDREN ONE ON ONE TIME: With four siblings, I’m sure my kids sometimes feel a little lost in the shuffle, so we go on dates to the arcade or to play mini golf. It’s sometimes hard to fit into our busy schedule but it’s worth it to reconnect with each child and to show them how much I love them!
6. I PUT MY HUSBAND FIRST: Hard as it may be with 4 little kids, I try to make my husband and our marriage a priority. Someday these kids will be grown and gone and it will just be me and hubby left. I don’t want him and our relationship to get lost in the chaos. I also want to teach my children what a good relationship showing them.
7. I MAKE THEM DO CHORES: My school age kids have daily chores and Saturday chores. When the kids sweep and wipe the table, it’s not as clean as when I do it (not even close-sometimes it even looks worse!) I’m not trying to teach them how to be expert cleaners, I’m trying to teach them that this is what we do in a family – we take care of our things and we help each other out.
8. I DON’T LET THEM QUIT: When my kids want to join sport or play and instrument I don’t let them quit. If they sign up a season of soccer and decide they don’t like it after two practices, we still go to soccer until the end of the season. I hope this is teaching them to be faithful to their obligations and to be thoughtful about what activities they sign up for.
9. I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: Over the years I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself to be a good mom-that sometimes the best thing for the whole family is for mom to leave on Saturday morning and not come back until dinnertime. For most families I know, the mom sets the tone for the house. Taking time for myself and coming back refreshed sets a nicer tone than staying in the house and feeling resentful.
10. I TELL MY CHILDREN THAT I LOVE THEM: It may seem small, but it’s important and I do it all day long accompanied with lots of hugs for as long as they let me!
Now it’s time for you to toot your horn! How are you rocking motherhood?