Monday, November 8, 2010

Mom guilt?

Ok - so I have to admit, I don't know if I've ever had "mom guilt". Maybe I did . . . once . . . when I was a younger mom . . . but since much of my memory seems to have left through my breastmilk given to my 4 precious kids, in addition to adding on one more child (via adoption)- to an already crazy and busy household, that younger me quickly vanished amidst my wrinkles, sagging skin and C.A.A.D.D (Child Activated Attention Deficit Disorder). This leaves me in ignorant bliss (or contented apathy?). :)

Seriously though - Have you ever had "mom guilt"? You know - that guilty feeling that creeps up and invades every mom cell in your body when you first go back to work after having a baby? Or maybe it was when you finally decided to go out on a date with your hubby again . . . 5 years after that baby of yours was born?! :) Or the time you went out with your girlfriends - but you couldn't go out till 7 (gotta help feed the kids). . . no . . .8 (I really should give them their baths) . . . no 9 (I don't "trust" my hubby to put the kids in bed correctly, or safely, or at all . . .) . . . Shoot - just forget it. Let's plan a girl's night out in about 18 years!

I am a FIRM believer in mom's taking time for themselves! Now - I am not a lazy mom who only thinks about myself and is just constantly doing what I want to do regardless of my maternal responsibilities. No, I pour my life into my kids in many ways. But I know (and my hubby knows . . . and my kids know) that I am a MUCH better mom when I have had a "break" from time to time! As the old adage says "When momma ain't happy - ain't nobody happy!" It's so true!

I guess my question would really be - Where does this guilt come/stem from? Who told you that you had to feel guilty for taking time for yourself?

Think about it! As a child we are naturally self-centered people (and many adults are still!). When a child comes along - our mother instincts kick in to nurture, protect, manage, feed, etc. (and even change a few hundred dirty diapers! Though, I think that's an instinct I wish we didn't have!) - and suddenly we feel like we cannot think of ourselves anymore. Why? Where did "we" go? Did the "self" part of us just vanish once "mom" came into the picture? Do we have whispered words in our head planted there from others, media, our own mothers, mother-in-laws, well-meaninged (or not-so-well-meaninged) friends - saying "you're not a 'good mom' if . . . "? Where is this guilt coming from? Do we have a hubby that we just don't think is "capable" of handling HIS child by himself? Have we encouraged, empowered and enabled that myth to continue in someway so that it continues to be a reality? Are we being a little too perfectionistic in our mothering? Does a mom not have a support system (hubby, family, friends)? Why not? There are mom's groups out there - there are other moms who could use a support group too, or just a friend . . . so go support each other! We are all in need of a break, support, encouragement - and to hear the words "It's ok to be YOU and to enjoy some things JUST FOR YOURSELF! Your kids will be better off for it!"

Guilt is not something anyone can make you feel. It is a choice you make - to accept and hold onto those feelings of guilt or not. I once heard someone describe it this way. Guilt is like a rock. Someone hurls it at you - "Man - I can't believe you would do that. . . . I would never do something like that . . . you really should have done this . . . I would never parent my kids that way . . . etc." You feel that rock hit you. Ouch! You now have a decision to make - but unfortunately, many people do not know they can even make this decision.

"What decision? Someone just made me feel horrible! What decision do I have to make . . . hurt them back or not hurt them? Throw insults at them about their firstborn child?"

No - the decision you have to make has nothing to do with the other person. You cannot control anyone else but yourself. The decision is - do you hold onto that "guilt rock" or do you drop it to the ground and say "No thanks. I'm not going to accept that guilt rock from you today."

Remember - this is not your rock. It's not your problem that the other person doesn't like what you do/say, how you parent, that you are not following "the norm" of what a mom should do, etc. You do not have to accept that guilt they are passing on to you (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Drop it. Choose not to accept it. Don't carry it around. Let it go. And know that, YOU are the best mom for your child . . . but to be the best mom - you need to BE the best YOU (and not just "Sam's mom")!

So the real question is . . . Who are you? What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy? Who are your friends? What support do you have during these challenging years of raising little ones? Start taking some time for yourself (even if it's just 10 extra minutes in the shower . . . with the door LOCKED and loud music playing so you don't hear the kids trying to bang down the door!). :) Go out to eat with your hubby or your girlfriends. Take up a pottery, painting, or photography class if that's something you like or are passionate about. You need it! You will be a better mom because you will be a better you!

I've been a stay-at-home mom for the last 6 years. The 1st year that I was home 24/7 was really hard (especially since I quit work at the beginning of June - when school ended, my MOPS and Bible study groups ended for the summer, etc. UGH! Dumb timing!) . My 1-2 days out of the house a week to work (and use my "adult" brain and college knowledge and degree) was my sanity break. :) People would always ask me - "How can you work with 4 kids?" I was a better mom because I was working just a couple days a week. It was the breather I needed to refresh my mind (and get it out of the diapers and tantrums!). I enjoyed my job - so it definitely was my sanity break. I didn't neglect my maternal duties - and my husband and I worked out a way to limit the amount of time we needed a babysitter. It also enabled my husband to become a better father! He learned that he really could handle raising his kids! Some teeth might not have been brushed to a mother's standards, and the kids may have worn their clothes to bed from time to time, or eaten cereal for dinner . . . but they are still alive, healthy and happy! :) And so am I!

But what has kept the "me" part happier these last 6 years at home - was being involved in a mom's support group called MOPS (that encouragement and support was crucial!), Bible study and Women's groups at my church, taking a photography class, other classes, traveling to see my sister in NYC and even Switzerland and and Paris (breastpump in tow as my son was 5 months old!), as well as the date nights with my hubby, going out with girlfriends or family members, etc.

So - go get involved in something you enjoy! Even if it's only for 10 minutes a day, or 2 hours a week . . . find something! I used to buy my favorite magazine (a non-parenting magazine!!) as I didn't think I had time to read a book. When I was breastfeeding, or just for 10-20 minutes after the kids were napping, I would flip through my magazine. It wasn't much -but it was something . . . just for me!

After 6 years at home 24/7 - it did feel good to go back to work seasonally this fall giving flu shots. Wow - there's a real world out there! :) I realized I had been home too long, when I accidentally called a patient and a fellow nurse "Babe"! :) Hey - no guilt here! Maybe it's been awhile since anyone called them that! :)

Enjoy being a mom and being YOU . . . guilt free!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It takes a village to make money from home!

What the heck am I talking about? A village? You thought the saying was "It takes a village to raise a child".

Yes - I've heard that too . . . and I agree (in many ways). And, come to think of it - THIS village could help you raise your child(ren) as well!

What I am talking about is a new way to make money from home. I know way too many moms who complain to me that they just wish they knew a way to make some extra money (even before our economy became so bad). Are you one of them? I know I am. Well . . . read on!

Do you hate watching the ads on tv, hearing them on the radio, etc?
What if you were paid to watch a few of them a day? What if you were paid when your friends watched a few of them a day (and their friends, and their friends, and their friends)? Hmm . . . I might just actually enjoy those commercial ads after all. I do enjoy the superbowl ones (usually) - and I'm not even getting paid to watch them!

So - here's the scoop . . .

Check out this quick 2 minute video to get a taste for what this is all about.

After your interest has been peaked - then watch the easy, fun and informative 12 minute presentation that explains it in more detail (the link is just above the 2 minute video. If you can't find it - let me know and I'll send you a link!). Trust me - it's way more fun than reading an FAQ page! :) And don't even try to tell me you don't have 2 minutes (or 12 minutes to watch it)! Umm . . . how many minutes have you spent today reading blogs, going on Facebook, checking your emails?? :) mmm-hmmm . . . I'm right there with you girl! :)

After you have checked it out - Let me know what you think! I love hearing people's opinions - and I also love new adventures (and making money from home while I take care of my kiddos!)!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slashing your Grocery bills with Coupons!

Do you love to use coupons?

Think you know everything about using them?

Want to save more on your grocery bills?

I have to admit . . . I do pretty good at keeping our food budget low for a family of 7. I have used coupons for years (and even bought a course 18 years ago that helped me alot!). But I also have to admit that the last several years I have not used coupons the best that I could (out of laziness . . . and possibly some lack of knowledge).

Are you like me? What is your reason for not using coupons? Not really sure how to use them - or use them for your advantage (and not the company's - who is trying to get you to buy things you might not normally buy!)? Don't have access to any coupons? Don't want to take the time?

There is help!! :)

3 Day Sale for Grocery University

Welcome to Grocery University! This looks like a GREAT resource of information - covering it all! It tells you just about everything you ever wanted to know about couponing - from menu planning, budgeting, coupon terminology, combining coupons and sales, and alot more! :) Check it out!

What’s Included?

The Grocery University course includes 139 minutes of audio MP3 files and a 40-page student workbook (PDF) with more tips, visual aids, example scenarios, and more.

Plus, you’ll also receive a BONUS: the 10-page Grocery University Rock Bottom Price Database PDF, a $10 value on its own, for free! All information is delivered digitally so you can start learning right away!

I never regretted spending money on a couponing course early in my marriage to help us make ends meet. Back then I only spent $20/week on groceries for the 2 of us (though - I think in those college years we were lovin the Top Ramen and Kool Aid still!). Now, if you factor in the increase in prices - I'm probably spending a similar amount per person in our family, maybe just a little more. But if I worked coupons even better - there may be extra money to save for a cruise or something fun . . . . hmm . . . I think I'm getting inspired!

Let me know what you think about it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

One Million Arrows

Hello!! It's been too long!

I am sorry!!

It's not that I have forgotten about you . . . but I've just been busy (5 kids, taking a ministry class, missions trip, summer craziness . . . ). It's not an excuse - I know. But I have missed chatting with you. :)

This morning I listened to a blog radio broadcast (1st time I've done that!). Julie Ferwerda was being interviewed on the Communicating with Power Blog Talk Radio show. Who is Julie Ferwerda? I just found out about her and her latest book a few months ago, signed up for her blog newsletter . . . but have to admit, I haven't taken the time to read them. However, today I did.

Julie is not only a mother, but a passionate author, speaker and orphan advocate - and her latest book is called "One Million Arrows - Raising your Children to Change the World". As I listened to the radio broadcast, I could feel the passion within me being stirred up by the passion that is in Julie - to be more intentional and proactive in teaching our kids, not only about God (and memorizing scriptures, etc), but how to really change the world - how to have an impact on the world around us. It might mean ministering in Africa or China - or it might mean making a difference in your local city, schools, church and neighborhoods. We CAN teach our kids that they CAN make a difference in this world . . . even when they are young!

I could go on and on about this - but I would rather have you check out Julie's book, website, and the BlogTalkRadio broadcast (near the end is an amazing story of one kid who has a passion to be a doctor in Africa. You've GOT to hear that story! As a mom - it made me cry!).

Be intentional about how you can take the reigns in your teaching and training your children to be an "arrow" - shot out into the world to change it for the better. We can't leave this to the church, school teachers, the media or others. As parents - WE are the ones who will impact our children the most and who have the ability to mold, shape, sharpen, and train our "arrows" into the full destiny that God has designed for each of them! Go for it! :) Let's ALL be WORLD CHANGERS! Empower your kids - and keep (or start) calling out the "gold" in them (the treasures inside of them that make them who they are!!). Sometimes that "gold" is hidden and hard to find - but it's there. . . . . .But I'll talk more about that another time! My girls are home and it's time to go swimming!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bedtime Parenting technique. . . FAIL

Ok - so I have to share one of my other attempts at parenting with honor and love - and teaching my kids how to make their own wise choices.

Last week the kids had been sent to bed, but they were doing their usual - running between rooms, laughing, talking, and goofing off (we have 2 bedrooms upstairs - with 2 girls in one and 2 boys in another). I am totally over the whole routine of yelling up the stairs "Be quiet and go to bed! No talking! No playing! It's bedtime!" and then just getting more and more mad as they continued to disobey (and as I continued to not want to have to go up and punish them. Laziness - I know!)

So I decided to try a different scenario at bedtime the other night. We put them to bed and told them we didn't want to hear them or see them. However, immediately they were talking and getting out of bed, running around giggling. I went upstairs calmly and with a smile on my face I said - "Oh - I'm so glad you guys are not tired - because I need you to clean up your rooms!" (which they were supposed to do before bed - but never did). The boys were instantly tired and pretending to be asleep! :) (smart boys!)

But the girls were different. My 9-year-old quickly cleaned up, but my 5-year-old just whined that she couldn't do it. "It's too hard! . . . I can't . . . do. . .it!" I lovingly told her that was totally fine - if she was tired, then she could go to bed (but she just continued to roll around on the floor and whine and fuss). When my older daughter was done I said goodnight and said - "If I hear more talking or running around then I'll assume you are not tired and you can come help me with something else." To which Meghan replied - "I'm still not tired - what else can I do?"

I was trying to think of something that she really wouldn't like so that she would suddenly "become tired" - so I said "oh great! I really need the kitchen floor mopped!" I was expecting a disgusted face and extreme fatigue to set in quickly - but instead I got "ooo - ooo . . . I LOVE to mop!!" as she jumped up and down clapping her hands! :( uh oh.

But the funniest was - that my youngest daughter all of a sudden was sitting on her bed, bouncing up and down saying "I love to mop too! I want to mop!" Dang it! My plan backfired! I couldn't have them both mopping (because they would just play) - so I told my youngest daughter - "Oh hon, you are so tired. I'll let you mop tomorrow. It's ok."

Our mop ended up being broken, so Meg did a few other chores. Wendy all of a sudden appeared downstairs saying she had cleaned her room (Wow -where did that energy come from?!) and she wanted to mop still. In the end, I sent her back up to bed, which resulted in her crying and sobbing because she couldn't mop! :)

I laughed as I told my husband - "I can't believe I have a daughter upstairs so upset because she can't do chores! And I can't believe I'm not letting her!" :) It was too funny. I think next time the chore will be to clean the rat cage or kitty litter box. I know no one likes cleaning those! :) It's best to be prepared for any and every possible scenario that they throw back at me (Dr.'s Cline & Fay would agree - Parenting with Love and Logic). I really didn't think that one through all the way! :)

Do you have a funny parenting story? Please tell me and post it below! I'd love to hear it!

Perfection or Excellence? Obedience or Honor?

What constitutes a dinner? Meat, vegetables, bread, dairy, possibly even some fruit or nuts? So if I’ve met all those requirements – will it be a good meal? What about a “great” or even “excellent” dinner?

Tonight my kids were presented with dinner. I met all the requirements (health-wise). I had meat, a couple veges, some fruit, dairy and even nuts. So why did my kids tell me I was mean, horrible, and that this was the worst day of their lives? Why were they complaining, upset, running off to their rooms, returning briefly to tell me how they would rather starve to death – and it would be ALL my fault?

Why? Because this was the dinner menu:

Meat – pepperoni slices

Veges – cold leftover beans and mashed potatoes

Bread – Ritz crackers

Dairy – slices of American cheese

Fruit – boxes of raisins

Nuts – salted almonds.

No plates. No silverware. No napkins. No cups or drinks even (though – they could have water if they wanted – I just wasn’t setting out any dishware). It was an easy dinner for me to prepare . . . . or should I say – pull out off the shelves. (My husband and I had a delicious dinner though – leftover London broil with Hunter’s sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, and leftover chocolate fondue for dessert!)

Why was I so mean? Why was I presenting my kids with such unusual fare? Was I mad at my kids? Was I bent on torturing them and endangering their lives? Not in the least. In fact, it was just the opposite. It was out of love, honor and a desire to see the best for them.

Excellence. Honor. Love. Respect. Integrity. Wise decisions. These are some of the qualities and character traits that we are striving to impart to our children – to do everything with excellence (“as unto the Lord, not for men”), to treat everyone with honor, love and respect, and to be a person of integrity who can make wise choices. We are not trying to set standards that are unachievable, nor are we seeking perfection from our kids. We are not even expecting them to obey our every command and do only what they are told to do. We are raising leaders. We are raising the next generation – the future of our neighborhoods, businesses, city, country and world. I am not going to be around to always tell them what to do. When they are 18 and in college – I don’t want them to just be another statistic – another drunk college student failing in class and in life, experiencing the harsh consequences of their poor choices. I won’t be there to tell them not to get drunk, not to skip class, not to cheat on an exam. I won’t be there to remind them to do their work or job with integrity and excellence, not just so that they will get promoted. I won’t be there - but in a way, hopefully, I will.

My goal . . . is to let my kids fail as much as they can while they are young and in my house, under my watching eye and guiding heart and hands. Yes, that’s right - I WANT them to FAIL! Why? . . . I want them to learn. I want them to make choices – wise choices. But how are they going to make wise choices as an adult, if they never learn to make wise choices as a child – if they are never given an opportunity – except – “do as I say . . . or else”? I will not be there to dish out the “or else” when they are adults (nor do I want to). They will feel the consequences themselves – and it won’t be pretty. Failing when they are a child will carry much less severe consequences than when they are an adult, but it carries greater benefits throughout their lifetime – as a child and an adult.

Yesterday I left after dinner to attend a meeting. My kids had assured me that they had cleaned their rooms and done their chores before dinner. I didn’t go check, as we are teaching them about honor and integrity. They are not working for me or for their dad - but for God. We were made to be excellent – we were made to do excellent things – we were made to not only honor people, but to be worthy of honor. How do I know? Because we were made in the image of God. He is worthy of honor. He does everything with excellence, and He IS excellent. So – I didn’t “check to make sure” that my kids were being excellent in all they did. However, when I came home and went to say goodnight to them, I saw the results of their efforts to clean. It wasn’t that it wasn’t perfect – it just wasn’t even close – and they knew it. They had excuses – but they all admitted that they “thought” it was “good enough” – but not excellent.

We’ve been teaching our kids about our family working as one body – that we are all part of the same body. If my foot decided not to work one day, to just take a day off, then it would affect the rest of the body. My other leg would have to work hard at walking (or hopping) to get the body where it needed to go. It might give up after becoming exhausted from doing all the work. The arms and hands would then have to take over the function of the legs – something they were not designed to do. The body would wear out quickly and not function well at all.

Our family is the same. If one person decides that he doesn’t want to do his part in the family – it doesn’t just affect him – it affects the whole family. Other parts of the body will have to step in and make up for what he’s not doing. If they don’t, then the body doesn’t get anywhere, or might not eat, or it might even hurt itself. It will fall apart quickly.

So how does all this relate to the delicious meal I prepared so lovingly for our kids?

After the whines, complaints and loud reactions of disbelief and anger from our kids, I sat them down and explained why they were being fed such a delightful meal. I decided that tonight I would NOT cook with excellence. I would still “meet all the requirements” for a meal – just as my kids tell me “but I did my chore”, or “but I picked up all the things off the floor” (and put them on top of the desk or shelf where they don’t belong), or my favorite – “but you didn’t tell me to do that. . . I didn’t know” (even though it’s listed on their chore chart), etc. I wanted my kids to not only hear about excellence – but to see it – or in this case – to see the lack of it. Sometimes you don’t value something, or really understand a concept until it’s taken away or not there. No one can truly know what it’s like to be hungry, unless they’ve gone without a meal or two. No one can truly know what it’s like to be tired, unless they’ve been without sleep. I wanted my kids to see, feel and taste what mediocrity (or really, in this case, sub-standard) was like – and how it affected the whole family. It definitely benefited me – I didn’t have to cook or work hard. But it negatively impacted 5 others. Would they starve? No. Would they be undernourished? No. Would the food be offensive to their taste buds? Possibly. Would they survive? Yes! Would they learn a valuable lesson? Definitely!

With 5 kids, the reactions varied – with most of them throwing a verbal fit, and a couple of them throwing a physical fit – either yelling or running off to their room “to starve”. My youngest child (5 yrs old) decided to look for the best in things and said “mom – this is an excellent meal. Thank you.” And she ate it right up – cold green beans and all! My oldest (14 yrs old) made do – saying the meal was “fair”. My 7 year old eventually came to his senses and heartily ate up his creative homemade “pizzas” (Ritz, pepperoni and American cheese). My 12 year old disappeared up to his room telling me that he was going to starve because he “wasn’t” going to eat this food! He didn’t buy into the “theory” that this food was better than what some starving kids in Africa were eating today.

The most interesting response, to me, was my 9-year-old daughter. Once she realized that this experiment wasn’t a joke, or just a visual lesson – that this really WAS their dinner – she promptly stomped off to her bedroom yelling all sorts of things: “You’re mean! I’m going to starve! You CAN’T make me eat this!” To which I calmly and lovingly responded. “I’m sorry you feel that way. You definitely won’t starve – there will be breakfast in the morning. . . . That’s fine if you don’t want to eat it. That’s your choice. You can choose to eat this or nothing.” She returned from her room a couple minutes later, buried in a blanket with an evil eye peeking out from behind it. “I am NOT going to basketball practice tonight!” and off she stormed again.

“That’s fine hon. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I’ll be happy to take you, but if you don’t want to go – that’s your choice. No problem.” I lovingly replied.

Again, a couple minutes later she reappeared from upstairs. In response to my question about whether this dinner was excellent, good, fair, poor or really bad, she mumbled out - “This dinner sucks.” That was quickly followed up by – “And Mom – I am NOT going to basketball practice – and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!” (stomp, stomp, stomp – back upstairs). I calmly reiterated that it was totally fine if she didn’t want to go – that it was her choice. If she changed her mind, I would be happy to take her – and that we would need to leave in about 20 minutes.

5 minutes later she had changed into her practice clothes and was sitting at the table attempting to make dinner with some extra ingredients she had found in the fridge. “Oh, I’m sorry hon. Those are not part of dinner. You can feel free to make something out of the food on the table.” Another round of complaints – something about how mean I am and how gross the food was. But within a couple minutes she was making her own homemade “pizzas” like her brother. I even heard 3 “Mom, I love you”-s – from my 5, 7 and 14 year olds. Right on time, my 9-year-old daughter joined me in the van, cheerfully eating her pizza sandwiches and chatting my ears off as we headed off to basketball practice.

As I write this – I am sitting at my 9-year-old’s basketball practice – and she just came up and gave me a kiss on the cheek. J

I guess my mean mom status has been upgraded. J

I think we are on our way to seeing more wise choices from our kids. I never did see my 12 year old emerge from his room before we left for practice. But one thing is for sure – he won’t “starve to death” – and just possibly he will remember what excellence, honor and integrity really “tastes” like.

For more ideas on how you can train your kids to make wise choices - check out these books:
Parenting with Love & Logic - Fay & Cline
Loving your kids on purpose - Danny Silk

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just to tickle your funny bone!

True story!

I was in the Target bathroom a few days ago. I came out of the stall and heard some loud fart noises coming from another stall. I couldn't tell if they were real or not - but they were loud. A mom at the sink said "Miles, is that you making those noises?" A sweet little voice from behind one of the stalls said "noo". A look of relief showed up on the mother's face as she said "oh good." Within a second or two, that sweet little voice then continued on . . . "It was my buuutt!"
Relief turned to pure embarrassment as the mom looked my way. I just smiled at her as if to say "Girl - I've been there one too many times! No worries!" She just smiled back and silently chuckled to herself!

Sorry I haven't been writing much this past year. I started another blog called Drink from the Deep. I have spent more time writing there (though, still not as much as I would like). With 5 kids in 4 schools this year, a bunch of sickness this fall, and other things, I haven't had as much time to write in general as I would like.

So - I may stop by from time to time to share with you. I do still think about all my fellow mothers and all we struggle with, have to juggle, have questions about and more. I love sharing with you what I've learned, what I am still learning, and hearing from you about what's on your heart. Feel free to send me a message if you want. I'd love to hear from you!

Just to let you know where I am at this year with mothering (and life) - my word for the year is Simplicity! I am in the process of purging, reorganizing things that haven't been working well - in the house as well as in raising our children (I am REALLY excited about that!), and more. So keep me in your prayers as we are doing some changing around here! :) But it's for the best!