Friday Favorites – I See Me Personalized Children’s Books

Happy Friday Everyone! This post is brought to you by I See Me personalized children’s books! Many of you know by now how much my kids love to read, but guess how much they love to read a book starring themselves? I couldn’t wait to review this awesome find! All of the opinions and enthusiasm for this fun book are completely my own. #ad

Personalized books are an amazing gift idea for any time of year, but with the holidays coming up quickly you are going to want to take a look at this company. I See Me offers a wide variety of personalized gifts, but we are in love with our new Cricket’s U.S.A Road Trip book. (Cricket is the personalized name we chose for this review).

This particular book is an educational tour across all 50 United States of America with my child in the driver’s seat. She gets a personalized driver’s license at the beginning of the story and travels from state to state in a magical car learning fun facts before she lands in her home state with a big welcome home. As she travels the country she can use the scratch off map to mark which states we’ve already visited. This is a great way for her to learn the names of states, help identify key monuments and understand the geography of our country.

This book measures 9”x11” and is approximately 32 pages long. It is great for girls and boys ages 3-8. You can find other personalized gift ideas here.

The quality of this book is wonderful. It looks exactly like the books you purchase from a big retail store. You know the ones that are churned out hundreds at a time by big publishers. Our personalized book is a one and only copy!

You can personalize this book by uploading a photo to create the little character in the book. Since we do not post our kid pics on the Internet, I opted to provide details about my kid’s hair color and complexion for illustrators to create a kid that looks very much like mine. The first page of the book is a personalized dedication which includes a message from me. The personalization menu options used on the company’s website are very user friendly and includes prompts you can chose from to get you started.

My kid was super excited to get this box in the mail. But when she opened it up to see her name and likeness on the cover she was beyond thrilled. She couldn’t even wait for me before she tore right into opening the package!

We had such a blast interacting with this book. My daughter loved scratching off the states we have already been to, and she loved the big celebration at the end when she reached her home state. This was such a hit I can’t wait to get a personalized book for each of my kids for Christmas!

Which storybook would you have personalized for your kiddo?

#affiliates


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Perfection Is Not a Place To Live

 

The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.

What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?

But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.

If only life were that neat and tidy.

Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.

After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.

The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.

It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Friday Favorites – Big-Hearted Charlie Runs The Mile

It’s no secret how much my family and I love to read together. We read together every night before bed, sometimes in the morning before school and sometimes in between. I especially love stories that share a strong message of inclusion and kindness, or show a strong character with determination to meet their goals. When we were asked to review the book Big-Hearted Charlie Runs the Mile by Krista Keating-Joseph we were thrilled! #ad

My kids love getting in on the book reviews for my blog. They often give me notes on what they liked best. They both thought this book was “really good” and “two thumbs up!” They especially loved watching Charlie go from being the underdog to a winner by using his own determination.

The main character, Charlie, was the smallest runner on his team, but he never gave up. He worked hard every day to push himself to be better.  It pays off in the end when he finally grows into his big heart and wins his first race. Charlie later uses his strength and determination to become a Navy SEAL and an American Hero.

I admit I became a little emotional reading this book. Not just because this was a great read and the story behind the making of the book is touching, but my father in law was named Charlie. He was  smaller in stature, but he was a strong hard worker and followed his heart. He was a Vietnam Veteran and will always be our American hero. Maybe there is just something about the name Charlie that generates a big heart.

Krista Keating-Joseph wrote this book about her son without intending to publish it. His grandmother even illustrated it and it was tucked away for over a decade. Then Charlie died while serving in Iraq. Krista, a Gold Heart mom, knew she needed to muster up the courage to publish the book and honor her son by channeling one of the most admirable qualities of her beloved son – his perseverance.

While Charlie’s SEAL career is mentioned, his passing is not, leaving children and families with an uplifting, positive story about hard work, dedication and perseverance from someone who lived his life that way every day.  I think saving the kids the details of Charlie’s passing makes it more relateable to kids and age appropriate. Knowing those details as a mom did have my heart in knots reading this story through the lens of another mother’s memories.

Final verdict is this is a great story the whole family will enjoy. The kids can relate to Charlie’s hard work and determination to make the team and reach his goals. We are so grateful for this story!

 

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and K9 for Warriors in Charlie’s Honor.

 


 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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The Epic Distraction of Social Media

There are days I really fall short of my to-do list. I start out the day with all good intentions but by the end of the day I am still staring down the same basket of unfolded laundry that was there last night. How the heck did my foremothers find the time to clean the house and churn the butter while raising small humans? They didn’t have the distraction of social media!

As a write from home mom I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I surf the net for research. I try to limit my screen time in front of the kids to set a good example. But I have developed a really bad habit of sitting down at my computer and hitting up social media first thing, just to “check in.” An hour will pass before I even realize and I have accomplished nothing on my lengthy list, (unless you count schooling other moms on how to not judge other moms as an accomplishment).

There is a lot of discussion surrounding the effects of social media on our kids, but not much on how it affects our parenting. The average American spends nearly 10 hours per day on screen time. That includes social media and using digital devices. It’s also a lot of time spent being distracted from our responsibilities, and time not finishing things. I always say how much I could get done if I had 10 extra hours in the day. Well, I’ve put my password where my mouth is. I’ve started logging off of social media and only popping in when necessary (for official blogging business of course).

I’ve noticed I make my kids wait less so I can finish typing a comment. I also find myself responding more patiently because I’m not being interrupted from my “conversation.” I haven’t burned dinner in over a week because I am more focused on what I am doing. I am in a much better mood when I’m not confronted by other people’s negative behaviors. I mean really, adulating shouldn’t involve adults yelling at other adults on how to behave in a virtual world that can be obliterated with the touch of a button.

Not only do I have more time and patience in my day, but I’ve learned several things this past week:

  1. Not everything needs a comment. Sometimes people post things to vent a frustration. They aren’t looking for answers, or resources, or any opinions. Maybe they just want to feel heard because they aren’t feeling heard in their real life. Let them have it and scroll on.
  2. Don’t engage. Social media can be a great place to share information. In fact it was the first place I asked for help when I was learning to mother two new babies at once. However, typing a long lecture or tossing out a meme educating another adult on how to behave, or how they should be thinking isn’t going to help change the world. Before you know it you’ve wasted 30 minutes of your day and now you’re feeling grumpy.  Also, there is no holy grail of memes that is going to enlighten thousands of readers to be better people. Just keep scrolling.
  3. Kids are always watching. Our kids can see what kind of memes we share and the language we use, and how we interact with other adults. If we are always treating people with angst, labeling them, or engaging in virtual shoving matches our kids see that too. This forms the way our kids interact with the real world around them. Maybe your kid isn’t on social media just yet, but they will be one day. And everything lives forever on the Internet.
  4. You can’t change people. People use social media for different reasons and they share things they think are funny. Micromanaging people with vague posts or passive aggressive blanket statements like, “if you think this is funny then get off my page” isn’t being very social. My rule of thumb is, “if this were presented to me in the real world how would I respond?” Would I kick this person out of my life for telling a tasteless joke, or just walk away? (In the virtual world walk away = just keep scrolling).
  5. You’re not a cop so stop policing people’s grammar. Here’s the deal, people post things in haste and they don’t take the time to edit because they’ve already moved on to watching videos of baby goats. Spell check is notorious for messing up my messages and selecting words that I am not even looking for. I know I can’t be the only one this happens to. No one is applying for a job, or submitting an essay for a Nobel Prize with their updates. If it bothers you that much perhaps it’s just a “you thing” and not a world problem? Are we gonna achieve world peace through one properly contracted word at a time? Probably not.

Social media is incredible. The technology allows us to stay in touch with people all around the world, yet has the power to distance us from the people right in the same room.  By managing my time on social media I’ve been able to be more productive in managing my household and patient with my kids. I’m also in a better mood because I’m not bombarded by people’s powerful opinions. For example, today I felt happy while folding an entire basket of laundry as soon as the dryer buzzer went off. And now I have more time for baby goat videos. It’s a double win!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Friday Favorites – Uncommon Anniversary Gift Ideas

This post is brought to you by one of my new favorite shopping sites, Uncommon Goods. I am super impressed by their collection of fun and funky finds, as well as their mission to keep sustainability in the forefront of their business.  #Ad

In just a few weeks my husband and I will mark our 13th wedding anniversary. Actually, we have been together for 17 years all together, which completely blows my mind how close that puts us to the 20-year mark. Almost two decades of a life and memories made together. We have survived the threat of the Y2K, the loss of our dads and currently navigating our ever chaotic life with twins. How do you find just the right anniversary gifts for the man that has been there for all of the best and worst moments of your life during the last 20-years?

According to tradition we should exchange gifts made of lace, or a more modern twist, textiles. We are not fancy people so lace wouldn’t be suitable, and the last textiles we purchased were new dish towels for the kitchen. So we aren’t really a glamorous couple either. But we do enjoy giving personalized gifts that tell a story, or make lasting memories.

After a little browsing I’ve been able to narrow it down to three choices.

Our most memorable dates include traveling for concerts and watching our favorite bands. I can tell you that my husband will absolutely flip for an LP personalized with our top 5 relationship songs. If I had to name them:

1. It’s the End of The World, by R.E.M.

2. All Star, by Smash Mouth (don’t judge us by that one alone)

3. Sweet Emotion, by Aerosmith

4. Have a Little Faith In Me, by John Hiatt (our wedding dance)

5. Who Needs Sleep, by Barenaked Ladies.

The Marital Bliss card game looks like a great way to capture the fun of the game nights we used to host in our pre-kid days. The best part is one round takes place over seven days, which is perfect for two busy parents who don’t even have time to finish a conversation. The game includes everyday things you should be doing for your spouse (hint: bring ALL of the groceries in) and makes it into a game.

Keeping with our gaming theme, I am absolutely smitten with this Hearts Four Across game! You can have it personalized with names, or wedding dates. This is a sure to be a hit in our house and make our family game night a little more special.

Decisions, decisions… it’s a hard choice picking the right gift! But no matter what I am excited that these items are made right here in the U.S.A by small manufacturers and individual artists. And, I can choose which charity to donate $1.00 from my order to with the company’s Better to Give program. I love these non-traditional and not very common gift ideas that truly capture our own style. A marriage as unique as ours deserves a unique gift to celebrate.

Find more one of kind gift ideas for the man in your life.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Picture Day Revelation – I’m Nailing This Mom Thing

This year I had the chance to volunteer for picture day at my kids’ school. My last school picture day was over 20 years ago, so it was fun to reminisce. The kids were all so cute and so nervous. I took my role very seriously. Not one kid was getting away with a crazy alpha top on my watch!  I hear you parents complaining on Facebook…”who lets a kid take a photo with their hair sticking up like that?” Not me I can assure you!

My motive for volunteering was purely selfish:  I wanted to spy on my kids. They are in a different school than last year and I wanted to see how they were doing with the change. By now some of you may realize from my posts, that I am blessed with two kids who walk to the beat of their own drums. They are amazingly strong willed and super smart. They can negotiate their way out of anything and school me in critical topics like how the dinosaurs really became extinct, and reason why there should be a first kid to walk on the moon. They take a very heavy stand on these subjects by the way.

Having strong willed kids isn’t easy. I have learned to pick my battles and when to draw the lines, but it is rarely met with a tone of acceptance. Every tiny decision my kids make can take on an entire discussion of its own. Very early on I had to embrace the fact I have zero power when it comes to my kids clothing choices. They have insisted on picking out their own clothes since they were two years old. One year at preschool drop off a parent took one look at my daughter’s outfit and gasped, “I thought wacky Wednesday was next week?!” It was. But my daughter was going through a heavy stripes phase and wore all of them at once that day. No amount of arguing or even gentle nudging was going to change her mind.

Thankfully, school picture day has never been a battle for us. I already know it’s a fight I am going to lose. So I let my kids wear whatever outfit they want to have their youth immortalized in.  I’m prepared for some crazy colors, a demand for accessories, or an oddly placed hair bow. But those aren’t things that will scar them for life so I let them pass. This year my girls did not disappoint. My oldest twin decided she was wearing a hot pink shirt emblazoned with a Batman Symbol, and my youngest twin landed on a Shopkins t-shirt. She liked the colors. I liked that it was still a passable shade of white, and it was stain and wrinkle free. (Those are my set standards for most of their outfits).

Fast forward through picture day and I see kids wearing all different things. Some boys are wearing t-shirts and some boys are wearing ties. Some girls have GIANT sparkly bows and bling and some girls are wearing mini semi-formal dresses (but not one girl wearing Batman). What I realized at the end of the day is that not many of the girls (and some of the boys) were wearing the kind of headstrong confidence my girls were. They were asking their friends to validate if they were pretty enough for their photo, or if their outfit looks cool enough. These youngster were so worried about what their peers think of their physical appearance, or if their parents will approve of their photos. I assured each kid they have a great smile, and that their hair is perfectly in place before handing them off to the photographer. As I watched my girls step into place in front of the camera, with a wide confident smile that declares, “This is me!” I let myself be proud. My girls already know how to be true to themselves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Some days living with two independent and persistent 6-year-olds can be exhausting. But it pushes me to grow in ways I never expect.  Today, I let myself be proud of how far I’ve come in letting go of making everything perfect. There is more to this mom thing than keeping the kids clean and making them wear outfits I chose for them. Raising good humans is hard work. Tears will be shed during this process. Voices will escalate and doubts cast upon my abilities. But when I catch a glimpse of how free my kids feel when they are allowed to be themselves- when I catch them truly liking themselves – that’s where I’m nailing it. Raising little humans who are secure with their own person-hood has been my mission from the start. And it only took a couple of t-shirts on picture day to remind me of that.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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5 Emergency Preparations Your Family Should Work On This September

If your social media news feed looks like mine you are seeing a lot of coverage regarding the hurricanes blowing up the coast and destroying small islands. It’s scary and families often do not know what to do to prepare. Hurricane season is typically August through October, and it isn’t something we prepare for regularly. But I do find myself routinely worrying about the security of my home. When the folks at SimpliSafe reached out to share tips on how to prepare my family for disaster, or an emergency, I thought it would be a great idea to share their tips with all of you.

This post contains #affiliate links that are safe for you to use. This does not change the price of the product, nor am I in any way responsible for your interactions with the seller.

5 Emergency Preparations Your Family Should Work On This September

In a world where it feels like there’s an official month, week, or day for everything, here’s one more occasion to add to your list of things to celebrate. September is National Preparedness Month – a month to get your family and home prepped for emergencies. Here are some ways you can begin making sure your family is prepared this month.

1. Find resources that could help you. The first resources you can set up are emergency alerts. They’re quick to set up and will send text updates to your phone to make you aware of any emergencies that may affect you. Try to follow accounts on social media like BBC World NewsSimpliSafe, and AccuWeather for quick updates on safety and weather. Put together a list of phone numbers, websites, and addresses of resources for emergencies in your area such as the local police and your doctors. Keep this list in a place where everyone in your family can easily access it. After putting together this list, get started on creating an emergency kit. Kits like these are good to keep both in your home and cars. Think about including items like batteries, non-perishable food, and a tool kit.

2. Teach your family about natural disasters. Natural disasters are unfortunately something you don’t have much control over and are often quick to happen. The best you can do to prepare for these is to educate yourself about them and create plans in the case that one occurs near you. Learn about natural disasters that could possibly take place in your area. Find resources for them if there are any near you and share what you learn with your family. Now that you know about the disasters, create a unique plan for each of them. Be sure to keep your family’s needs in mind while creating them. For example, if you have pets, it’s important to consider how you can keep them safe in these situations. Write down your plans for everyone to review and do practice runs of each of them.

3. Practice fire prevention and safety in your home. Just like natural disasters, house fires are typically unexpected. Exercise fire prevention in your home by making sure you all know how to properly use appliances that could lead to fires. Test your smoke detector at least once a month and always have batteries on hand in case they need to be replaced. Create an escape route for every room in the house and practice this plan randomly a few times a year. In the case that a fire does occur, it’s important that your children know how to safely escape and how to react if their clothes catch on fire. There are plenty of resources to make teaching fire safety more fun for kids, like Firefighter Says and coloring sheets. Try calling your local firehouse as well. Firefighters there might have time to teach your family fire safety and show you around the firehouse.

4. Get your older children ready to stay home alone. If you have a child that is old enough to stay home alone, take the steps to make sure they understand how to stay safe. Teach them to safely use potentially dangerous appliances in your home and what to do if someone knocks on the door. Make sure they know where the emergency phone number list is and in what circumstances they should call each number. It’s essential that they know how to correctly lock up the house once you leave as well. If you have a home security system, teach them how to properly arm and disarm it.

5. Make a safe word for your family. Safe words are often overlooked, but are important and have many uses. A safe word can be used to let a family member know that something is wrong or that they need to talk about something bothering them. Create a safe word that others wouldn’t be able to guess – perhaps one of your favorite teacher’s last names or a random city. Talk about instances in which your family might need to use it and what to do if the word is said. Quiz each family member occasionally so no one forgets the word and the plan is in their minds.

What are some ways you prepare your family for emergencies?


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Helping Kids Develop their Leadership Potential with Cool Cats

Do you ever worry if your child will be a leader or a follower? When I was growing up my parents always told me to be a leader and inspire other people to do the right thing. If I just followed along with the crowd I’d miss the chance to be my own person. Being a leader is the one characteristic that has helped me walk away from bad friendships and pushed me through promotions while climbing the corporate ladder. I actually had two amazing careers before I started my third career as a mom all because I learned early on to follow my own lead.

One of the most important things for me to instill in my kids is the ability to be be a leader, not a follower. I want them to follow their own desires vs. following along with the crowd. Leadership doesn’t always mean becoming a CEO, or high level manager, but rather thinking for oneself and making wise choices with confidence. That requires learning to lead. So, when I received this unique leadership playing deck from Cool Cats, I was thrilled to introduce it to my kids. Each card defines a special characteristic for kids to understand. It isn’t about memorizing the definitions; it’s about exposure to leadership language. These cards label each characteristic for success and defines them in short, kid friendly sentences. As kids read them over and over, they begin to internalize these characteristics. As they see themselves as being successful the language now becomes the script for how they describe themselves.

My kids are only in the 1st grade so their attention span for going through the entire deck of cards at once is minimal. To incorporate some fun into our morning routine, we like to select one card at a time to read aloud and talk about as we walk to our bus stop. My kids like to play card dealer and suggest, “Draw a card mom, any card!” then we carry it with us while we walk and discuss. This is a really great way to introduce things like integrity, perseverance and patience. It sets a great tone for the day and sets my kids up for a positive mind set. They may be learning math and reading at school, but at home (and bus stop) they are developing character and values.

I love how the definitions are short and the key concepts are highlighted in yellow. This makes it easy to sprinkle learning moments throughout the day; whether we are running errands, talking at the dinner table or on our way to catch the bus- these cards get the conversation started!

Using the cards at the beginning of a new school year is perfect for us. My kids are starting over at an entirely new school with new teachers and new peers. They need now more than ever to recognize their own strengths, courage and confidence. They need to receive the message that they are capable and can do great things even at their young ages. Reviewing a new card each morning fills their emotional back packs for the day.

Cool Cats playing cards were created by Judith Addington who has an impressive amount of degrees and experience working in childhood development. It is her vision to help kids recognize their own talents and strengths as early as they can, to be our strong leaders of tomorrow. Addington created a variety of tools to help parents and teachers cultivate leadership skills that help children to thrive and grow. The Cool Cats award winning team is comprised of skilled childhood development specialists, brain development specialists, cutting edge media designers and family and child counselors. A lot of expertise goes into creating these tools with parents in mind.

You can find additional Cool Cats leadership products available to use at home, or in the classroom on their website or on Amazon.

I did not receive financial compensation for this review. All honest opinions are my own and are given in exchange for a sample product of Cool Cats playing cards. The links below are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission when used to purchase these products. #affiliates #Amazon


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Building Confident Kids One Project at a Time

I can’t believe we are half way through August and winding down our summer already. Before I know it I’ll be sending the kids off on the bus again. This summer didn’t go exactly as planned, but I am glad that we are able to slow down a bit and enjoy so many new things. I wish we could take a splashy vacation or spend more time traveling, but we are more focused on projects around the home. This is what works for us this year. And even though summer is flying by, I feel like this is the most connected we have been during a summer break.

This year we included our kids in finishing our home projects. Now to be fair, we didn’t crack the whip. We let them work beside us for as long as they could focus, which isn’t super long at age 6. But they helped us for a significant amount of time and there was a good mix of play time in between all their hard work. They helped us install a pool, trim the hedges in our yard and repaint furniture. I know it may sound crazy to hand your 6 year old hedge clippers and say have at it, but that’s kind of what we did. We didn’t just give them free range we gave them a lesson first, and then hung out with them while they trimmed. Instantly, I could see their confidence soar. Knowing that we trusted them to do “grown up work” gave them a tremendous confidence boost. And by treating them like they are capable of doing things that require skill and patience, helps them see those qualities in themselves.

You are probably thinking including the kids in home projects sounds strange, or even dangerous, but it feels perfectly natural to me. I was around age 6 when I was enlisted to help paint and wallpaper in our home. By the time I was 10 I was learning to refinish furniture and how to do simple landscaping. That is what my family did for fun, we renovated together. By the time I was 19, I was so super confident in my abilities that I surprised my mother by repainting her dining room. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she came home from work and stepped into her new putrid rosy pink dining room. She tried really hard to shelter me from her horror and to look thankful, but looking back I think a small piece of her soul cracked that day. It was a horrible color, but she didn’t want to squelch my good deed. I was clearly very proud of my work. But my point is my mother gave me the space to learn new things and to practice them, even at the expense of losing the sanctity of her own space. Learning to complete these kinds of projects made me feel confident and capable. (And I think I learned a lot about color selection that day).

Working on homeowner and DIY projects with my kids helped me realize I am a good teacher, and that I can be patient. I can offer guidance without being demanding. As a mom I typically bark commands and set the rules. But home projects by nature require patience. By slowing down and taking the time to guide vs. demand really created a joyful experience. I hope when my kids look back they remember how patient I can be, and how hard I work to teach them so many different things.

My number one goal as a parent is to raise kids who become confident, self-sufficient and capable adults. So I am delighted they accepted these new challenges. Whether or not they continue to enjoy doing DIY projects when they grow up is entirely up to them. But for now, there is much deeper learning happening than learning the skill itself. Now they will get to reap the rewards of their hard work by swimming in the pool they helped build and sitting in the dining room chairs they helped paint. I hope they remember they can do anything they set their minds to; except when it comes to repainting my dining room in an unauthorized color


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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When You Have a Less Than Perfect Summer

 

You probably saw this meme (or some version of it) pop up in your news feed. All moms start out excited for the laid back summer months and with wide eyed optimism declare that this will be the BEST summer ever! We make “summer bucket lists” and plan big magical vacations. We hit the ground running with so much enthusiasm that if it were a ball it would choke a horse. Then we run out of crafts, take all the trips, the kids eat all the good snacks and we lose every ounce of patience. That’s when the count down to school drop off begins again.

I had a very simple (perfect) plan for this summer. The girls would attend a summer program for six weeks. And in that six weeks I would complete every neglected home project, automate my blog posts, organize all my meals and buy all the school supplies. I’d be so far ahead of the game come September I’d be taking time off for massages and pedicures! All those perfect plans came to a screeching halt when I got the call the night before our summer program was scheduled to begin that it is cancelled. Also cancelled are my hopes and dreams. I do not have a plan B. There is no plan B when you already have a perfect plan A. All the slots for other camps are either taken or we cannot afford them. As a result I am left scrambling. I quickly realize I got this, I’ll just keep doing what we do every summer. I schlep, the kids whine. It’s how we do.

Except this summer. 

 

 

 

This summer I decided to embrace this less than perfect plan. Not because I am #blessed with one more summer with my kids. Not because I am going to turn this around and still make it the #bestsummerever. I decided to embrace the chaos this summer because I am tired. Just so darned tired of holding us all together. Holding my household together and holding my blogging life together. I’m just plain tired. And ya know what? So are my kids. They are tired of my drill sergeant antics pushing them out the door to be perfectly on time for activities. They are tired of getting in the car every single morning to venture off to someplace they did not pick, or to go do a craft they could care less about. None of these activities are for them. They are for me.

I chose to be a stay at home mom nearly 7 years ago (it was supposed to be only 1 year. Another plan that didn’t go accordingly). It has taken nearly all 7 years to discover my kids and I are different people. I just sort of assumed we are a package deal. We spend so much of our waking hours (sometimes our sleeping hours) together that we call ourselves, “the three amigas!” It never occurred to me until this summer that we are nothing alike. We have much in common, but we are so completely different. I am extroverted and I need people. My kids are introverts and they need to be home. Staying home too long can drive me crazy. And so I plan things to do outside the house and force my kids into all kinds of activities. I scream. They cry. We all cry. Rinse, lather, repeat.

 

 

It’s now August. I’ve embraced this chaos for a month which feels like much longer. As a result I made zero blog posts for July. I have made zero business contacts and I have only completed 0.02% of my home projects. We haven’t done very many crafts and we skipped taking a summer vacation. But we have a (bitty) pool and a new basket ball hoop. I’ve read two books and I took an overnight getaway to the beach with a friend. The kids are happier picking out their own daily activities which typically includes playing in the back yard, pool time and playing video games or watching TV. The biggest ventures away from the house have been berry picking, visiting our library and meeting friends at the park.

My memories of summer include TV watching, making up my own things to do and spending time with my friends. My childhood is probably the last time I had any unstructured down time. Kids grow up fast. They won’t remember all the museums we visit, or all the hotels we stay in. But they will remember the tranquil feeling of swinging for hours under their favorite tree in the back yard.

I am enjoying watching them play and reading for myself again. For my extrovert time I escape to dinners with friends, or I invite friends over for dinner more and I make completely un-necessary Target runs. No camps. No travels. No big events. Just “the three amigas” enjoying being their own less than perfect people. Maybe this is the perfect summer after all.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

mamapedia-badge  HVP Individual Badge   Mom blog badge   Mass Hole Mommy blog-lovin