Monday, March 25, 2013

Advice for Moms, part 3: 10 quickies

1.  Tell your daughter about the magic of Brillo pads and Magic Erasers.  No girl needs to ruin her manicure for burnt-on spaghetti or soap scum in the shower.

2.  Never, ever test whether a pair of underwear is clean by smelling.  Assume it's dirty and wash.  

3.  Repeat after me: Sharpies will be placed in locked box or at an elevation no less than 6 feet off the ground.  All other markers & crayons will be washable.  Period.

4.  Make a rule that you will always say "yes" when a child asks you to read to them.

5.  Spend a lot of time around your friends.  You will yell at your kids less frequently & be a better mother in general.

6.  Make messes, milk mustaches, and burp often with your boys.  They will (probably) keep your secrets.

7.  Boys will have B.O. earlier than you think and girls will be hormonal before they're pre-teen.  Prepare yourself.

8.  Read often.  Read deep & read light; read fiction & read non-fiction.  You'll be so glad you did.    

9.  No matter how overwhelming a moment feels, it will pass in 20 minutes.  Just breathe.  

10. __________________________.  Insert your advice here - you always have something to offer another mom, sister, or friend.  What would you say?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Advice for Moms, part 2: Heartwork

This time around I'm not talking about cleaning products or candles or really anything that can be bought.  My advice is simple and directed toward your heart and mind.  My world can be spic and span, organized and sanitized, but if my heart is overgrown with unwelcome vines, everything is wrought with burden and I quickly collapse under the weight.

The weight of comparison.  

To list every single way we compare ourselves would take months.  The list would be long and, frankly, ugly.  Clothes.  Body size.  Homes.  Cars.  Eating habits.  Budgets.  Nail color.  Ability to handle pressure.  Ability to take great photos.  Being photogenic.  Capacity for kids.  Free time or lack thereof.  The list goes on and we haven't even talked about our children.  Are they trendy enough? Are they as obedient as they "should" be?  How well are they reflecting my parenting skills?

Have you ever found yourself comparing the "worst you" to the "best ______" (insert a friend's name).  I've noticed that on particularly hard days - yelling, impatience, mess & chaos, hours of TV babysitter, and zero productivity - I picture one of my best friends in her home, making homemade breads and jams, while fully-showered and dressed, her children reciting Latin, laundry neatly arranged in drawers, classical music in the background, and spending an hour alone with Jesus because she woke up at 4am.  No joke.  I really compare the worst of me to the best of her and it makes me feel so damn inadequate.  Stay with me for a moment and press deeper into this thought because it most certainly doesn't end there.  

That inadequacy quickly turns into the shame that I'm just not a good mother and therefore, must not be qualified to be great in my own home and with my own family.  So I disengage and stop trying.  As a first-born, perfectionisty-type A, I find that it's better to not attempt something I might fail.  Stick to the things that can't be failed - Facebook, Pinterest, watching TV, shopping for clothes or running all over town but not really doing anything.  Those things in horrifying (not healthy) quantities and I suddenly realize that I'm not leading my life and I start to see the fruit of an untended garden.

So I guess this advice all boils down to this, taken from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead written by Brene Brown.

"When it comes to parenting, the practice of framing mothers and fathers as good or bad is both rampant and corrosive - it turns parenting into a shame minefield.  The real questions for parents should be: "Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?"

Let's take measure of how much comparison dictates the way we're functioning in our role as mom and wife.  Tend to your gardens, mama.  Press into the difficult and uncomfortable.  Lean into the challenge and the unpredictable and the risk of failure. Don't be afraid of the unknown - it might just be your greatest success.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Advice for Moms, part 1: Housework

The next few blogs will be short with just a few pieces of encouragement for making life at home with littles...well, maybe a little "brighter."  I know it's hard to stay at home with your kids and I know it's hard having little kids but there are a few things I've learned along the way.  So first let's tackle housework.  Mopping.  Keeping your kitchen sink clean.  Washing dishes & unloading the dishwasher.  Oye vey.  

1.  Buy a candle you love and burn it when you clean.  My personal recommendation: Volcano from Anthropologie.  Ask your hubby to pick it up instead of flowers next time he's in the mood.

My favorite candle: Volcano

2.  Splurge Invest in cleaning products you enjoy.  Maybe it's just me but something that smells good and looks good will probably end up in my shopping cart at Target.  Lately I've been enjoying the Method products, like cleaning spray and hand soap.  Below is my current favorite.  You'll find that it's a few cents more than the boring stuff but well worth the motivation.
Orla Kiely for Method - cute!

3.  I swear I do enough laundry to employ a full-time maid.  I often have to re-wash a cycle (or at least put it through rinse again with fabric softener) because it sits in my washer a little too long.  Done with a little Downy Infusions (seen below in Citrus Spice) and my job gets a little more delightful.  It makes me happy just thinking about it.  

Now this isn't a blog about saving money or going green.  I'm not going to tell you to get over your boredom/frustration/exhaustion and just do your work.  I'm just going to tell you that there are a few practical things out there that can help us find a little joy in the mundane things we do around the house.  

Happy houseworking!