Blended families are complicated in the best of circumstances, and disagreements over where, when, and how family meals happen may seem like the least of a co-parent’s worries. However, when our electronic-free, relaxing meal times turn into a circus-like free-for-all, this momma sometimes finds herself at wit’s end! But then I remember the most important thing: We are together. We are talking about our day and connecting, practicing manners, and making memories. Her stepdad and I are showing our values to this wide-eyed little person who is absorbing every word and action. None of us want #familymealtime to be all discipline because they are only little once and therefore life should be a fun adventure for them. So, I’ve found that if I turn on a little upbeat music during dinner, we are all more relaxed, and when she breaks out into an impromptu dining room dance party, I’m more prone to join in.
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What summer plans do you have for your kiddos? Since both my husband and I work 8-5, all of our activities will have to take place on the weekends. I’ve come up with a plan for every weekend over the summer. My kids get out of school at the end of May, so that leaves us with about 10 weekends to work with. Not only do these activities build our bond as a family, but they also keep us active! (I added a “rest weekend” because rest is just as important as exercise.)
- Weekend 1: Go hiking
- Weekend 2: Visit the park
- Weekend 3: Ride bikes
- Weekend 4: Take a walk
- Weekend 5: Rest weekend
- Weekend 6: Scavenger hunt
- Weekend 7: Go swimming
- Weekend 8: Play sports
- Weekend 9: Yoga
- Weekend 10: Clean up the yard
Do your kids like to drink water? One of my girls does, but it’s always a battle with my four-year-old. I’ve put it in big girl cup, a fun cup with a twirly straw, and a water bottle so she feels like a “big girl”. These things only worked for the first couple of times, then it was back to the drawing board.
I can proudly say I’ve found something that works and is still working! I found a water bottle with a fruit infuser inside of it. I cut up fresh strawberries and lemons, then added water. Not only does it make the water look pretty, but it tastes like strawberry lemonade. I’ve also added fresh blueberries, cherries, and limes. It’s so easy to change up! I’ve even used a clear pitcher with water and ice for home.
It goes so fast, and I rest easy knowing we’re all drinking more water. I hope this can help your family drink more water as much as it has helped mine!
Spring is almost here, which means we get to play outside again. My seven-year-old is in dance, so I don’t worry about her getting enough physical activity, but my four-year-old tries to turn into a couch potato in the winter months. Thankfully, my husband is all about fitness (I’m trying) so we make physical activity a family affair. Here’s a list of our favorite physical activities, both indoor and outdoor:
- Bike riding
- Dance party (Always indoors because I dance like a newborn giraffe)
- Jumping on the trampoline
- Roller skating in the garage
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Indoor basketball (This is a cool trick to make your kids help with laundry)
- Scavenger hunt (Indoor or outdoor)
- “Hide & Seek”
- “Red Light, Green Light” w/ music (Indoor or outdoor)
- Clean house obstacle course (This is my personal favorite)
This morning, my four-year-old was in a horrible mood because of the shirt I put on her. My older daughter never acted like that. The fact is, they’re two different people with very different personalities, and sometimes I forget this. Because of their differences, I have to parent them differently, which makes me seem unfair to them.
I’m probably overthinking this, but I just want to be a good mom. I want to be fair. I want them to think I’m the best. After my daughter was upset with me this morning, I took it really hard. I felt like a bad mom. I looked her in the eye before I went to work, told her I loved her, and to have a good day. She rolled her eyes (Yes, she’s four) and she said she loves me too.
I think we mamas are really hard on ourselves. Sitting in the parking lot before heading into work, I stared in the mirror. I saw those tired eyes. I felt myself judging my parenting skills. Why didn’t I just let her wear the shirt she wanted? That’s when I decided that I am enough. I am doing a good job. She has a personality of her own, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Next time, I will let her wear the shirt she wants. And next time I get down on myself (because we all do), I will remember that this is just a season, and it may be a fuss over a shirt right now but later might be something bigger. So no matter what your hardship is with your babies, don’t forget you have the best job in the world—to be their mama.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! My kids’ school doesn’t allow Valentine’s gifts to be sent to them like they were when I was little. It makes me sad because I know how special it made me feel to receive flowers and goodies from my mom. It felt so good to get gifts in front of our friends because it showed that someone else cared about us, and we liked to show that off. I want my kids to feel that no matter what gifts they can or can’t show off on Valentine’s Day.
So, I’ve decided to start a new tradition for my kids around Valentine’s Day. I’ve made hearts out of construction paper, and every day I write something I love about them and tape it on their bedroom doors. My girls wake up to a new love note every morning, and as a result, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many “I love you, Mom”s! My older daughter even took one to school to show it off! Not only is she spreading my idea to other parents, but showing off her “gift” and getting that same feel I got when my mom sent me a Valentine.
I’ll still have a teddy bear and flower waiting for them when they get home from school on Valentine’s Day, but I think these little love notes make it even more special.
Because being a mom is so tiresome, I have found these quick tips helpful during those restless nights:
- It’s okay to ask for help.
- Sleep when baby sleeps.
- The dishes and laundry can wait!
- Sometimes, sleep is more important than a shower.
Family meals are important to me. In fact, I wish they happened more often. Between work, taking my daughters to dance class, and going to school, it’s challenging to do all the cooking and cleaning myself. If you’re like me, I try to take on EVERYTHING by myself, and I struggle with allowing my daughters to help out in the kitchen. In the back of my mind, I know this helps them build self-esteem and teaches them how to be independent, but as they’re asking me if they can help, all I can think of is how big of a mess they’ll make and how much longer it’s going to take.
That’s not the kind of mom I want to be. 20 years from now, I want my kids to think, “How long did Mom say to cook this?” not “Mom never let me help with anything!“ So this weekend, I decided to change that. I named one of my kids the cooking helper and the other one the cleaning helper (because they also need to do the dirty work behind cooking) and making it a rule to switch duties with every family meal. Not only am I teaching my girls how to be responsible, but they’re also learning healthy recipes while spending quality time with mama.
Last night when I came home from work, I noticed the beauty of the maple tree in my front yard. I see it every day, but I don’t always realize its beauty and what it represents to me.
We planted it soon after we moved into our house, in an earlier season of my life. My children were small and so was the tree. I took pictures of my daughter and son standing in the front yard every year on the first day of school. The tree grew with them every year. Eventually, there was only one child in the photo on the first day of school, and now the tree stands alone on that day each year.
It was in photos of every milestone of our lives, from honor roll to confirmations and graduations. I have a memory of my mother-in-law standing by it with my husband on her last visit to our home. We lost her a few months later.
The tree changes with every season and has grown with the seasons of my life. It tree represents memories and family. It represents growth and change. It represents life.
Gather your children close this holiday season and be grateful for the MOMents together.
I was blessed to spend a full 8 weeks at home with both of my babies after they were born. When I was home with my baby boy, my husband still took my three-year-old daughter to daycare so my son and I could have that special time for us. I was proud to nurse him through his six-week growth spurt with no formula. Every ounce he gained was because of me.
When I went back to work, I had to pump twice a day. At first, it was exciting to pump. It was amazing to me that my body could produce so much milk. After a few months, it wasn’t exciting anymore. I had to remind myself every time I pumped that this was for my son, and that my milk was something only I could give him. My milk had benefits for his whole life, which was more important than taking a break with my friends. I am so thankful for the support I had at work. I had a private place to pump and a boss that understood how important breastfeeding was to me. My co-worker had a baby a few months after me and was also breastfeeding. We supported each other through that first year.
It isn’t easy to work and breastfeed. Expressing breastmilk for my baby was a selfless act of love.