Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time For You

I believe that a large percentage of Moms (myself included) have lost themselves in all of the hustle and bustle of parenthood and life in general. We give away our time and talent to our families and others, who depend on our contributions to make their lives function smoothly. And, by God, we are pretty darn good at it.

Especially after the birth of my second son (putting our kid count at 4), I really started to feel the strains from the responsibilities on my shoulders. This is putting it lightly. You could even say that I had a bit of a breakdown. I fell down the rabbit hole of trying to be Supermom with no regard to what it was doing to me personally. One mistake I use to make is waiting for someone else to tell me when I should take a break. I would work until I was completely fried so my husband finally see the glazed look in my eyes while I am covered in baby drool and folding my 15th load of laundry. And he would take pity on me and tell me to sit and relax. In a moment of clarity I had to ask, "Why am I waiting for permission to take care of myself?"

Just like any thing that is in constant motion, what happens when our energy runs out? If it were a set of rechargeable batteries, you would plug them into the wall for a few hours until they are good as new. Well, now is the point in my little speech were you must ask yourself, "What am I doing to recharge myself?" Where am I plugging in to rest and rejuvenate?

Start here. You must be in control of your own break times. One of the great things about being home is that you get to call your own shots. You are in control of the schedule and it is time to add a new line at the top of the priority list: Time For You.

What do I do?

1) I find solace in exercise. Three mornings per week I go to a fun Jazzercise class that offers childcare services for the one hour class.

2) I love my MOPS group and look forward to those monthly meetings and Mom's Night activities as well.

3) Tuesday night is "Open Life Night". Lately I have been setting aside time on Tuesday evenings to do whatever I feel like doing. I like to spend this time out of the house because I know if I stay here, it won't be long before I'll hear, "Honey, have you seen my socks? Will you change the baby?" So, I spend the evening out and about, either with friends or running errands alone, just getting a chance to breathe and get back in touch with Me. **My husband also gets the same respect and takes time away for himself each week.**

4) I also enjoy pampering myself with spa activities at night. After the kids are sleeping, I will sit at my computer and type my blog or play on Facebook while sporting a refreshing face mask. (I just hope my kids don't come in here during my at-home facial, because I'll probably scare them into therapy!)

You cannot expect to be a fully functioning wife and mom when you are running on fumes. Run out of gas and you're no good to anyone. So, right now, ask yourself, what am I doing to take care of myself? If the answer is: not enough, then use this moment of clarity to make the necessary changes and take Time For You.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Today I just wanted to share an email that has been going around for a while now. Although, I did not compose it, I would like to put it back into the world. The truth in it gives me goosebumps.

Time passes.

Life happens.

Distance separates.

Children grow up.

Jobs come and go.

Love waxes and wanes.

Men don't do what they're supposed to do.

Hearts break.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favors.

Careers end.


Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you...Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, Daughters, Granddaughters, Daughters-in-law, Sisters, Sisters-in-law, Mothers, Mothers-in-law, Grandmothers, Aunties, Nieces, Cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Solitude Quote

"Deliberately seeking solitude—quality time spent away from family and friends—may seem selfish. It is not. Solitude is as necessary for our creative spirits to develop and flourish as are sleep and food for our bodies."

— Sarah Ban Breathnach

From Hold That Thought by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mom's Little Helpers

I unplugged the tv, turned on some fun music, and started cleaning.  Within about 15 minutes, I had the young ones at my feet wanting to help.  I gave the one and two year olds each a Swiffer Duster (because they're fun and there are no chemicals to worry about) and let them dust the living room furniture.  My older son sorted laundry and then helped me clean the kitchen.  After a half-hour, my kitchen was clean, the laundry was ready to be washed and the living room...looked like it had been cleaned by toddlers.  We all took a well deserved break and enjoyed some milk and graham crackers.

Running a large household requires help from all of its members.  I know I cannot do it all myself, there is just too much.  So, I must raise "helpers".  Little kids are eager to please and want to do what you're doing.  I realize that the living room will not be dusted thoroughly, but that is not my goal.  My goal is to get them to participate.  Some chores may take twice as long as they would if you were doing them by yourself, but you are planting seeds of productivity.  The kids love spending time with me and feeling helpful.

Tapping into their desire to help when they are young will make them good housemates when they grow up.  My Mother-In-Law believed this and now my husband is takes initiative with household chores.  (He even made it into a successful business!)

Great chores for kids:  (1)Set the table/clear it.  (2)Bring empty garbage cans up to the house on garbage day.  (3)Help with laundry by teaching them to sort the colors before washing.  And, take the folded clothes to the right rooms.  (4)Organize the tupperware cupboard by letting them find the matching lids for all the different shaped pieces.  (5)Take a water dampened cloth and let them wipe the baseboards.  

Tips:  (1)Keep the chores age appropriate and safe.  (2)Don't over-do the workload.  (3)Play music they like to keep the mood light and fun.  (4)Praise them for their efforts.  High fives and big smiles are wonderful motivators!

My thoughts on $allowance:  I expect everyone to participate in a certain level of household chores because they live here.  Clean your room, put your clothes in the laundry room.  Clean up your messes.  Beyond that, I do pay my teen step-daughters and my oldest son for additional chores.  The amount you choose to pay should depend on your budget and the time it will take the complete the tasks.  Remember, you are setting a precedent.  They will remember what they were paid in the past, so be consistent.

One friend of mine uses a reward system with charts and stickers.  When the chart is full of stickers, they get to choose a family activity or have a trip to the toy store.  This is a great tool and works well for her family.

Don't underestimate your child's abilities.  They just may surprise you, if you let them.  Even the mundane chores you have to do everyday may be "together time" in disguise.  Please comment here with suggestions of what your kids do to help around the house and what works for your families.  Thanks!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Every Mom knows the benefits of reading to your child when they are young.  We want to encourage the love of reading,  spend quality time together, make memories, teach reading skills and nurture creativity.  The list goes on and on, as does your child's request for "just one more story, Mom".  

All this reading can make your book shelf and Mom's attention span, a little stale.  Even though your child may like to hear the same stories over, and over...and over again, Mom may be looking for some fresh material.  

I recently found a cute one called,  "Previously" written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Bruce Ingman.  This funny and clever book is full of the unasked questions of what happened to famous storybook characters.  Where did Goldilocks go after she left the house of the three bears?  Did you know Cinderella had bumped into the The Gingerbread Man as he was being chased by a hungry mob?  This silly and adorable book is worth the read and is definitely a fun way to freshen up that stale reading selection.

Other places to search for great children's books:

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Quote About Naps

It is true that you may occasionally overhear a mother say 
"Children must have their naps, 
It's mother who knows best." 
When what she really means by that 
Is that she needs a rest.

by:  Donna Evleth, "Inspiring Quotations" compiled by A.M. Wells, Jr., 1988

Monday, June 22, 2009


"Well, they're just your step-kids."  

Step-parenting is a prevalent role in our society.  The divorce and re-marriage rates in America support the fact that many people will become step-parents.  Just like raising your biological children, raising step-kids is a road paved with highs and lows, successes and failures and the opportunity to loved and be loved in a fulfilling and beautiful way.

I feel I am qualified to babble on about this particular topic because I am not only a step-mom, but also a step-child with a very special step-mother and step-father to call my own.  (My parents were both remarried when I was in my early teens.)  So, I have had a lot of experience on the subject from many different sides over a significant period of time.    These are simply my opinions; the step-parenting adventure is different for everyone.  (Wow, is that a lot of disclaimers or what!)

My husband was divorced with two kids (ages 2 and 4) when I met him.  We have now been together for 13 years (married for 7).  The girls are now 15 and 17.  Our boys are now 6, 2 and 1.  If you do the math, you can calculate that I have a step-mom for quite a while now.  I was recently asked about my situation by a new step-mom.  After our conversation, I thought sharing this could be beneficial for many new step-parents out there.  So, with her permission, here are some of her questions and my responses.

Newbie:  What do your step kids call you?
Me:  Cathy.  In my house, I am not called "Mom" by my step-kids.  My girls already have a Mom and my role is not to take her place.  I want to be a welcomed addition, not a substitute. 

Newbie:  How do you get your step-kids to respect you?
Me:  Treat your step-kids the way you would want to be treated.  Be interested in them.  Spend one-on-one time with them.  Build a bond and work to keep strengthening that connection.  Support from your partner is also key.  They have to back you up.  When children see a united front, they feel protected and learn boundaries.  Through full support from your spouse, (both verbal and non-verbal), the kids are taught to respect you.  

Newbie:  I feel awkward around my step-kids.  I don't want to scare them off.
Me:  Love your step-kids as if they came from your own body.  Even if the love is new, it will grow stronger every day.  Be patient and be kind.  Kids can tell if you're faking it; this will leave a gap of mistrust in your relationship.  Open your arms and fill your heart with the blessing of a larger family.  

Newbie:  What is an important lesson you have learned?
Me:  Here's a BIG one:  Don't bad talk the other parent in front of the kids, no matter how tempting it may be!  Even if you feel you are speaking the truth, it will only make you look like the enemy in the eyes of your step-kids.  It is a simple virtue to live by, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Why is this such an IMPORTANT rule?  Because everyone deserves a relationship with their parents...period.  Unless there is an abusive situation, do not interfere with the biological parent to child relationship.  Respect and encourage it.  When addressing the Ex, focus on the present, not the past.  Use a civil tongue.  Your efforts in this area will earn respect from both your partner and your step-kids.    

Newbie:  The Ex and I are very different people.  I have a hard time knowing how to handle the kids.
Me:  Avoid talk that sounds like, "How would your Mom handle this situation?  This will encourage the child to critique your position and reduce the respect between you.  Be the best person you know how to be.  Turn to your spouse or other adults for parenting tips, not your step-kids.

Being a step-mom has built character for me as a woman, defined me as a Mom, expanded my role as a caregiver and filled my heart to the rim.  It has also helped to heal some of my own wounds and understand the decisions of my own parents and step-parents.  I believe that God gave me obstacles to prepare me to be a step-mother to these two beautiful people who are more than just my step-kids.