Now the Princess has been doing ballet since she was 3. This wasn't our first performance by any means. But it was the first time every little detail was scrutinized and discussed. I was blown away and thought to myself, have I somehow wound up on that insane show Dance Moms?
1. I need to step up my game in the hair category.
I can do a bun. Yes it took several years of haphazardly throwing her hair up to actually learn how to do a proper bun but I can do one. Silly me, I thought that's all I needed to know. Buns, different types of bobby pins, curls, pony tails… I was on the verge of tears after getting stern looks about her not so ringlet curls. Then a mom pulled me aside and said “Just buy a hairpiece.” It was like the heavens opened up and the angels sang. She saved me from being shunned by the costume lady.
2. A target bag is not an acceptable container of makeup and hair stuff.
As I looked around at the ginormous beasts of makeup organizers I realized I was out gunned. I had one small makeup bag and the rest was thrown in a target bag. Shameful, I know. Organization is key, especially when you are digging to find “Cherries in the Snow” seconds before she needs to be on stage.
3. You can never have too many pins.
Safety, Bobby, you need them all. Go ahead and get different sizes, colors, and shapes too while you're at it. Not only do you lose them seriously where do these things disappear to? but someone else might need one or two or twenty. Plus costumes malfunction all the time, that tiny gold safety pin just might save you from the costume police. Trust me.
4. Be prepared for the extreme Dance Moms.
I liken these women to the dads who forget that little league is suppose to be fun and it is not the World Series. You can spot them easily from their furrowed brows to the way they walk across the room with that superior air about them. Whatever you do, try not to ask them anything. Not even where the bathroom is located. Nothing. They are not interested in helping you only in judging your non-sewing skills and how many fly-aways your kid's bun has.
5. Always be willing to help the new mom.
These amazing women counteract the evils of number 4. I was the new mom, feeling the pressure to get everything perfect. Without the guidance, support, and love from the veteran moms I would still be trying to curl her hair, sobbing as I failed miserably. Thank You Kind Moms for helping me survive our first Nutcracker. I will see you next year, hair piece and makeup holder at the ready.
Have you had an encounter with an extreme sport parent?
Stop laughing and shaking your head. Yes I realize that drama isn't something that stays to a state or even a city. Those new people will eventually bring the drama back around. And running away is not the answer when you are feeling overwhelmed. But a girl can daydream and sometimes that is just what you need to get through the day.
So shut up and dream with me.
These past few months I have had a strong feeling of wanting to go. Where? Anywhere but here. A few places seem to call to me and sometimes I sit and wonder about what it would be like to live there all the time.
The young conqueror spirit in me would love to live in New York. Near enough to the city with room for the kids to play. The energy, the vibes, the excitement, I want it all. Not to mention the shopping and the entertainment factor!
Then there is the Disney Kid that demands a move to Florida. If we lived there, we could go to Disney World whenever we wanted. Just think, having a bad day? A hug from Mickey Mouse could cure that. Something to celebrate? Enjoy fireworks and Mickey shaped ice cream with a Dole Whip. Yum! Eating at a different country each time, playing at the ultimate water parks, and finding all those Hidden Mickeys. Yes Florida definitely is a strong contender for dreaming Ashley's attention.
South Carolina has some say in this too. Not only does one of my close friends live there but we could have my dream home for a lot less than we would pay for it here. It's a beautiful state, rich in history, and also closer to Florida than we are now. Yes the distance to Disney World is always something to consider.
Finally, California. I know that takes me the farthest away from Disney World but DisneyLand is out there and I could always fly back to Florida. Even though I haven't been out there, yet- I will be in October- it's another place that draws me in. It is like New York with the excitement and entertainment factor but with a totally different vibe. My friends have told me once I go out there, I might not want to come back. Honestly, I have felt that way about all the places I've listed here at one time or another.
In the end, it's fun to dream. Ask what if? Think about how you would spend your free time. Research houses and schools in the area. I am clearly a thorough daydreamer. Who knows? Maybe one day I will stop thinking about why we shouldn't, and then the grand adventure of doing something crazy will begin.
What do you daydream about?
As a mom of three, I literally beg, borrow, and steal every quiet moment I get to myself. When one kid finally goes to sleep, it seems like someone else wakes up or needs me.
Working from home doesn't help matters much. When I taught face-to-face at the high school, I got some “me” time. Granted, I squished that “me” time into my 25 minute lunch break or the five minutes between classes, but working outside of the home is very different from working inside the home — with kids.
These days, I depend on my boys to take naps or my daughter to be home from school and willing to play with her brothers. When I find those very small moments, I work my heart out to complete the most demanding and time-sensitive tasks. Then, once the kids are in bed, I work hard again to get caught up and sometimes — just sometimes — I get ahead.
I've learned a few things along the way about how to find time for myself.
- Get it done when you have the chance. Gone are the days of procrastination. Remember when you could put off that English paper until the night before it was due and then crank out an A+? If you're like me, that just doesn't really happen any more. Not that you aren't talented enough. When you're a parent, Murphy's Law kicks in way more than we'd like. If we were to put something off like that, most likely we'd be graced with a sick or teething or just not-sleeping-in-general baby. So, take care of what you need to do as soon as you can. It'll free up more time later.
- Make yourself stop. Setting time limits for work is a good thing. When you work a 9 to 5 “regular” job, you get to (for the most part) clock out and go home. When I was a face-to-face teacher, I did take work home with me. But, with the world of social media and online jobs, we could spend all day and night working. We have to make ourselves quit for the day. I have begun setting a time limit for myself. By 8:30 each night, I try to be offline as long as I don't have any meetings.
- It's okay to put something on the back burner. We have to prioritize. As parents, our children are job #1. Then, we have to look at what else we have on our to-do list and make some choices. Not everything must be done today, and some of it can certainly wait for tomorrow. It's okay to let things go in order to have some time to yourself.
- Decide what you need to be relaxed. Whether it's sitting and watching a TV show or reading the book you've had on your reading list since before baby was born, you deserve time to yourself. What is it that will give you the most relaxing time? Do it. For me, it's watching one of my favorite shows without my computer or iPad or phone in my hands. Sometimes, it's doing something crafty like making a sweet new hairbow for one of my friend's daughters.
When my oldest was born, the most technological item I had was my desktop computer. In the few short years since she joined my life, I've added laptops, tablets, eReaders, and smart phones. It's hard to remove ourselves from work if it's readily available to us.
But we all deserve time to just be us — and to relax.
What tips do you have for finding time for yourself? Share!
Lydia Richmond is a high school English teacher with three kids, two dogs, a cat, and one hunky husband. She blogs over at Cluttered Genius where she writes about the joys of life that — sometimes — get a little cluttered. You can join her on Facebook or Twitter.
If you are the perfect mom with the patience of a saint this blog post is not for you.
For those who know me in real life you might think I hold my stuff together pretty well. And that is true, in public at least. I think we all have the face we wear around others and then the other, the true self that only surfaces when we are at home.For me, I don't want anyone to think I'm a monster of a mother. And maybe monster is an exaggeration. Still, I don't want anyone knowing that sometimes I'm not so nice and calm with my children. After all, I'm a mom blogger. Doesn't that mean I adore my children every second of everyday? Well you might think that but it's not reality. Of course I love them always but I don't always like them. In those situations that's when I lose it.
I'm a passionate person. I do everything 110% be it happy, sad, or upset. Like everything else in life there are two sides to the coin. So while being passionate about things can be positive it can also be very negative. One natural reaction when I'm getting upset is to yell. Who wants to listen to some yell all the time? The Bible verse in proverbs Only a fool gives full vent to his rage kept playing over and over. Sure I wasn't going postal (do people still say that?) but I still felt bad about the yelling. It's like I went from 0 to yelling without any gradual increase in volume. I knew it was wrong and that I wanted to stop.
But how? Every time I tried I fell right back into the biggest trap women face. The comparison trap. I know a lot of moms who seem to have it all together all the time. No matter how bad (yes I said bad) their children are in public or at playdates they just smile and calmly laugh it off. Meanwhile I'm like WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM!?!?!
I felt like a failure as a mother. A pretender, an emotional wolf in patient sheep clothing.
My daughter is generally compliant and with her I don't even need to yell to get my point across. My son however, pushes my buttons (naturally we are the most alike) and everyone gets to hear what happens next. I yell, he yells louder, and nothing gets accomplished. Yeah not fun. So if yelling doesn't work why do I keep doing it? Well I don't know really, automatic reaction I suppose. Sorry it's not more philosophical than that, I'm just trying to be real.
I came across another blog, The Orange Rhino, and was inspired by her story. She set an original goal for herself of 365 without yelling, pretty amazing right? I saw that she is now in year 2 of not yelling which is very encouraging! And that's when I thought “Hey I can do that too! I can go without yelling.” I set a slightly smaller goal for myself of just the school year. But began a little early, because it's never too early to stop yelling. No one knew about this challenge except myself and my family. Part of me didn't want to share encase I failed miserably. Whether this is a success or a train wreck you all will know. And yes that scares me just a little.
To start off my own challenge I did what The Orange Rhino suggested: make a list of my triggers. There was no need to take time and reflect, I already knew what they were and have known for awhile. But knowing and doing are two different things. Now I'm finally taking my list and putting it into use, like a battle plan. For example, I know ahead of time if I didn't get enough sleep or I have a lot of work to do that I'm going to be on edge. So when the kids get going on their “He's looking at me!” or “She's not playing with me!” instead of freaking out I have been walking away. Going into another room to find my center before walking back and handling the sibling drama.
It is important to have someone to keep you in check, an accountability partner. For me, my daughter is very helpful. When I told her about what I wanted to do she was very supportive and agreed that everyone, animals included, needed to stop yelling. Her and I decided that if someone starts yelling we needed to say “remember the no yelling rule!” The boy child is too young to get it but he gives up sooner if the rest of us keep our voices low. I will take that as a win, for now!
The big question: How is it going? It has been 5 days since the last incident.
Do you struggle with yelling and want to stop? Then I encourage you to join me in the no yelling club. Here there is no judging, just encouragement for all of us to be the best mothers we can be. If you need an accountability partner I am here for you! Email me, tweet me, Facebook, whatever and I promise to support you in your journey!
I hate to be the Debbie downer of your summer fun but the facts are the facts. According to the Children’s Aid Society, children lose on average 2 months of grade level equivalency in math and reading during the summer. That can cause serious issues when school starts back up. You don’t want your child to fall behind but you are not trying to audition for world’s biggest villain either. Destroying the fun of summer will not win you any admiration.
So what can you do to prevent summer learning loss without causing a mutiny and cries of Moooooooommmm you are soooooo not fair!!!
As a former teacher, I have some advice that will help stop summer learning loss without stopping the fun. It involves a little bit of trickery and a lot of coffee (for you not them) but it will work. Two for the price of one: these tips can also help combat boredom.
Sign up for the Summer Reading Program at your Local Library.
This program is free, fun, and your child gets to experience books they might not normally choose. Also included are special hands on learning events related to the theme. For instance this year our theme is “In your backyard” and one event includes an interactive meet n greet with local wildlife like turtles, lizards, and frogs.
Take Field Trips to Museums, Historic Sites, or Parks.
I like to research the places ahead of time and come up with a scavenger hunt. For my 4year old I keep it easy but for Miss Smarty Pants (she knows everything at 7) I make it challenging.
Play Board Games.
Bring back family game night and work in some learning while you are at it. From Candyland all the way to Scrabble and Yahtzee, there is a game for every age. Remember it’s not who wins or loses overly competitive parent… it’s about the learning.Just saying!
Embrace your Inner Chef.
Not only is this a great idea for learning moments it is also shown to have a positive effect on picky eaters. Dust off your cookbook or have the kids pick one out at the library and choose a recipe to try. I get my kids involved in every aspect of the meal. They help me shop for things at the grocery store where my youngest spots the colors and helps me count how many of each item we need. Once in the kitchen my oldest will help measure the ingredients and both of them like to taste test. I fully endorse licking the spoon!
Host a Quiz Bowl.
Everything is more fun as a game. Focus on areas they struggle with or let them choose the topic. My daughter loves to quiz me on math and spelling. Albeit early in the morning before I’ve had time to drink my coffee. If you mess up wink wink they love the idea of being able to correct you. Why is that?
10 Free Learning Websites:
- PBS Kids –learning games featuring your favorite characters from PBS.
- Math Manipulatives– Math Playground offers a variety of math games for older children
- National Geographic Kids – all the education you would expect of National Geographic but presented in a fun way
- Into The Book– Reading games for children and resources for teachers and parents. Offers tools for reading comprehension such as inferring, evaluating, questioning, and summarizing
- Fun brain – perfect for grades K-8th, offers math, reading, games, and more.
- Switcheroo Zoo– learn about geography, environment, and wildlife while creating your own animals and habitats.
- Seussville– learn alongside your favorite Dr. Seuss characters with games, activites, videos, and more
- Starfall– reading resources for children beginning to those who can read on their own
- ABCya– educational games for grades K-5th Grade
- Fun Brain– education games, books, and comics for PreSchool thru 8th Grade
Above all Make it Fun.
I don’t want to be chain to a desk reciting times tables any more than they do! We as parents are not out to ruin their summer vacations. They deserve a break from homework and the rigors of a classroom schedule. But they do still need to be engaging their minds. My hope is that these ideas will help you and your children have a productive and awesome summer vacation!