Category: Home Organizing

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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Moms to Kids Everywhere: Make Your Own Damned Sammiches!

So here we are, school is out, the lazy days of summer are upon us and my kids think they have scored it big: they have a personal chef, a maid and a chauffeur. It’s summer time and the living is easy with no homework, no remembering which letter day it is and expecting ice cream for lunch every day. We are only 3 days into summer vacation and I’m already exhausted by the volume of sandwich making! Actually, I’m more exhausted by the volume (watch for the pun) of the whining for sandwiches.

I have been beyond lucky to spend every summer with my kids since they were born. I get what a luxury that is. But I feel like I spend most of my day in the kitchen making snacks and meals, and then cleaning up after all the snacks and the meals. I’ve let the kids help me before and it takes twice as long and actually elicits more whining, “Like, peanut butter and jelly is just so harrrrrd!” I don’t mind feeding my kids. It’s just I can do without all the whining about how I make their food. And if you’re playing along at home right now, feel free to take a shot of whatever you have within reach each time I mention the words “whining” or “sandwich.”

It’s only day 3 and I am ready to break from all the whining! {Shot!} Until I had the spectacular idea that everyone is going to make their own damned sandwiches for dinner. It’s a classic sandwich bar concept most commonly found at social gatherings, parties and picnics. Why not make it feel like a party on a Monday night?

I mean just look at this amazing selection of ham and cheese!

There’s even lettuce to give the illusion of vegetables!

If you’re gonna go full sandwich bar you’ve gotta include the chips! (Potatoes are vegetables too).

Unfortunately, dad ate all the pickles the day before so that left the party feeling a little flat. But that’s OK we’ll be sure to include even more pickles next time!

Also, I served our sandwiches on real plates to show I put a little effort into dinner.

I was so delighted to throw it all on the table and proclaim, “Tonight dear family, you can make your own damned sammiches! Mom is taking a break!” After they accepted this offering, I had a moment of sheer brilliance. I realize I could make an entire week of DIY dinners!! But wait. . . Could I actually get away with filling our entire summer with DIY demands?

Want a drink of water? Do It Yourself!

Want a snack? Do It Yourself!

Want a Popsicle? Do It Yourself!

Want a sandwich? Do It Yourself!! (Yes, you can! I just watched you make one!).

Want a band aid for that microscopic/non-existent scratch? Do It Yourself!

Overall, my kids are good kids. And like most kids they just need constant reminders that they can and they will do things for themselves (including serving themselves).  I’m sure your kids (and maybe your husband) are little like mine. So gather round moms and practice saying it with me, “Do It YOURSELF!!”

 

** BONUS PRINTABLE  Sample SummerDIYDinner Menu

Here are some of my kids favorite things you can get on 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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Friday Favorites Mason JarJackets Review and Giveaway

Almost as a right of passage into parenthood, our house has become overrun with plastic toys, plastic dishes and plastic cups. Even our kid care products come wrapped in plastic packaging. It’s just too much! So, we’ve decided to downsize the amount of plastic we have in our house, and we are starting with our kids dishware. I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to get rid of the 1,000 plastic cups that spill out of the cupboard whenever my kids go in search of just the right one.

Glass is definitely the cleanest and healthiest option for drinking and eating. Not only is it sustainable and reusable, but glass is safe from leaching chemicals into our food and beverages. Making the switch to mason jars for drinking is eco-friendly and economical. Here’s why:

  • Mason Jars are composed of all-natural, sustainable raw materials and are 100% recyclable. They can be reused endlessly!
  • Because they are made of glass, mason jars won’t leach harmful chemicals like BPA/BPS and phthalates into contents.
  • Mason jars are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe  and have endless uses in the kitchen, your home and beyond.
  • Mason jars cost approximately $1.00 per jar (when purchased by the case).

As much I love mason jars for just about everything, we found the two piece lids difficult for little hands to use and we can’t take them on the go. And once the jars get “sweaty” they become slippery. That is until we discovered JarJackets! Super mom and founder, Sacha Laustsen wasn’t thrilled by the plastic cup options for her daughter to drink out of, so she began using mason jars but made them safer by adding a silicone jar jacket to fit. The removable silicone sleeve provides enough shock absorption to withstand the rugged pace of a tiny human. After nearly two years of testing and and revising, Sacha introduced the JarJackets sippy to the world! The sippy lid is all one piece with proper air flow, and is designed to snugly fit the 12 oz mason “jelly” jar. Because mason jar mouths are universally sized, the sippy lids are interchangeable with any regular mouthed mason jar.

The JarJacket sippy is designed to help eliminate chemical exposure, reduce waste and declutter your cupboards! No need to store a bunch of tiny valve pieces and waste time matching the tops. Just store your clean jars with the food grade silicone tops already on. No clutter, and no toxins going into your child’s mouth. The most amazing feature is once your child transitions out of the sippy cup phase, they can continue to use the mason jar with the colorful sleeve on as a drinking glass. No plastic to toss when your child grows out of the sippy cup phase!

Even though my kids are older than the sippy cup crowd these bad boys really come in handy on the go! We enjoy taking our morning smoothie in the car with us. We simply add a straw through the top before leaving the house. The girls carry them back and forth with ease and I don’t worry about leaving the jars in the hot car while we run errands. We rinse them clean to reuse throughout the day for our water and iced tea. The lids come in handy while we are outside in the yard by keeping our drinks safe from insects. I am in love with the simplicity of the design, and how easy it is to take our mason jars with us wherever we go!

If you follow JarJackets on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube you’ll get access to some awesome recipes and mason jar lunch hacks. I am completely hooked on using our JarJackets for more than just sipping! Did you know you can bake a chicken pot pie in a mason jar? Seriously, go watch the video!

As always I am EXCITED to share my love of my favorite things with a giveaway!! Sacha has generously offered to send one lucky winner a 2 PACK of JarJackets + the lids in their choice of color! To enter just comment below and tell us what you put in your mason jars! Unlock extra chances to win by following all the options!



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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received complimentary JarJackets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions (and mason jar obsession) belong solely to The Whatever Mom. #Amazonaffiliate links contained above. These are safe to use and when you shop using the link I receive a very small commission. 

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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4 Reasons You Can and You Will Get a Cleaning Lady

Years ago a friend of mine, newly married and about to have her first child, said “I have to get a cleaning lady. Working 40 hours a week and having a kid AND cleaning my house- it can’t be done.” I remember judging her so hard. I admit before kids I was the judgey single girl who slept as long as she wanted and had no idea how much work (and house cleaning) goes into parenting. My immediate thought was, “do you know how many single moms are raising several children at once, working two jobs and still cleaning their own house? It CAN be done.”

Now that I am a mom, and I know other moms, you know what we want? A cleaning lady. I can’t count how many moms answer this question, “what would you do if you won a million dollars?” with “HIRE A CLEANING LADY!” Why? Because our families don’t stop with the messes! I spent an hour and a half cleaning the house the other day. I scrubbed two bathrooms, vacuumed AND mopped the floors and finished a couple loads of laundry. Just as I was patting myself on my back for a job well done I looked back to the kitchen table now filled with crumbles of the snacks I let the kids eat to keep them occupied, and then I tripped over the trail of toys they pulled from the four corners of the earth to play with while I CLEANED THE HOUSE! GAH!

When you tell people you are hiring a cleaning lady they are thinking one of two things:

  1. You must be rich.
  2. You are being lazy.

Turns out you don’t need to be rich to afford a little extra help, and it actually makes you smart not lazy. Here’s why you should hire a cleaning lady, even if you have to sell a pint of blood to pay for her. Kidding. But I’ll totally do it if I have to!

You save your time. It is actually very rare for moms to get time enough to clean everything that needs to be cleaned in a day without a child asking for a snack, or complaining about the atrocity their sibling just committed. You can’t focus on both things at once. But a cleaning lady is there to JUST clean your house. Her attention isn’t divided so the whole cleaning process goes smoother and faster. What might take you two hours may only take her an hour. That means one more hour of your time to spend it the way you want. Play outside with the kids; sip a beverage on the deck, read a book! Just don’t feel guilty you aren’t the one inside scrubbing out the toilet.

You save your energy. The big misconception of hiring a cleaning lady is that you need her to come to your house every week. Not true! I actually hire someone just to do the bigger cleaning. The summer months are the hardest for me to manage. I can just about keep up with the bare minimum, but having a pro come in twice a month to do the bigger clean is a huge help to my stress level. I feel more energized to do more with the kids like watch them run through the sprinkler while I sip my iced coffee on the deck.

You won’t have to break the bank. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on hiring cleaning help. Just pick out a few hot spots in the house that are difficult for you to keep up with and find someone willing to do those specific tasks. For me I can’t keep up with the bathrooms and the floors in the summer. The kids bring in so much water and dirt from playing outside, and bath time happens every night. It always looks like a show at Sea World after bathing two kids. Hiring someone to mop my floors and scrub down two bathrooms every two weeks costs less than having someone come every week. And so worth the extra time I get back! You can also hire someone to come do a deep cleaning once or twice a year. No harm in asking Santa for a little extra help during the Christmas season!

You can help another mom. Hiring a cleaning company is going to be more expensive than hiring an individual who cleans homes. I found another mom who started cleaning houses so she could have extra cash to be home with her child. She selected when she wanted to work and how much to charge. I was happy to help another local mom provide for her family, and I got shiny floors in return! Total win-win!

You can definitely make having a cleaning lady more affordable by limiting the amount of cleaning hours needed. For example, I make sure my kids pick up all the toys beforehand so vacuuming and mopping are a breeze. I also make sure things are put away in the bathrooms so there isn’t anything to clear out of the tub. Before your help starts they will assess the size of your home and go over everything you’d like to have cleaned before giving you a time frame. Once you agree on a plan they know exactly where to clean and waste no time in getting it finished. Everything is negotiable, so knowing what you want help with really counts.

I only hire extra cleaning help during the summer to maximize my time with my family. Otherwise I couldn’t afford it. I am deeply grateful for the extra help every couple of weeks. The rest of the year I am on my own. Oh and one more bonus, I am less likely to get upset about a new mess in the bathroom after it’s just been cleaned when I wasn’t the one that “just cleaned that!”

Do you ever hire extra cleaning help?

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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Moms, You Won’t Ruin Your Kids If You Don’t Celebrate Every Holiday

I’m sure by now you have read a post or two written by moms asking, “Am I the only one that doesn’t need to go over the top for EVERY holiday?” I see it in nearly every one of my Facebook mom groups during the week of some calendar holiday. I get it because I was that mom too. Only now I realize I was saying it because I was feeling inadequate. I was second guessing what kind of mom I am because I didn’t take the time to invest in a craft with my kid, or spend time planning a surprise for the morning. Of course this completely minimizes all my hard work planning kid activities through the year, simply because I didn’t do it close to a holiday. We do a lot for our kids every single day and it doesn’t always come with glitter and balloons.

So with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter right around the corner, let me share what I’ve learned since making that same statement.

  1. People are who they are. Some moms are hard wired to express their joy openly and with big colorful decorations. To them this is fun. Maybe their mom did the same, or maybe their mom never did anything to celebrate and now celebrating with their kids feels special. Whatever their reason for celebrating, how they celebrate is part of their story and their business.
  2. Social media is meant to be social. Just like in real life, some people are way more social than others. Many folks use their social media accounts to keep their long distance family members included in their daily lives. It is no longer the norm for families to live on the same block any more. So sharing photos on Facebook is the modern equivalent to how our parents used to send pictures in the mail to grandma. Except now instead of just grandma getting to see it and gush over it all 347,000 friends on our list get to see it too.
  3. “No one is parenting at you.” That’s a direct quote from a mom friend. No parent is up through the night plotting to out do you as a parent. There is no trophy we are all vying for and certainly no one is going to recognize you or me as THE ONE, THE ONLY, THE PERFECT MOM!  If other moms are up sacrificing sleep to make magic happen for their kids inside their own homes let them have it. They aren’t looking for you to validate them (or criticize them).
  4. I know who I am. I am not going to be able to recreate someone else’s magical moments in my house. I am not crafty and I don’t have a ton of money. I like things simple and I like to have fun. I am also a last minute mama who can barely handle putting out a nice table cloth and throwing a few coins on the table. Keeping a week long, or even a month long running gag of leprechaun tricks, or elf shenanigans is too much work for me. But I am not judging any other mom who has that kind of stamina. I also know it doesn’t mean she loves her kids more than I love mine. I am willing walk to the ends of the earth for my kids. I’m just not willing to fire up the glue gun for them.
  5. I can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Since I already know the amount of work that goes into motherhood, I can totally appreciate any mom who can find the time to finish a craft, organize all her closets and design a command center. I can barely finish the dishes most days, so I consider all of those projects to be extracurricular. It’s really fun to see how creative my friends are without it being a competition. And since we are friends why would I want to spend my time showing them up, or complaining about their hard work. You go mamas! I’ll give your pic a like from the comfort of my couch. Oh and thanks for filling my news feed with your happy photos of smiling children.

Essentially, don’t go judging other moms for making a day bigger than you are willing to. Everyone is different and expresses their excitement in different ways. If you are a low key mama embrace it! Celebrate your minimal ways by not posting about it on Facebook. Or post your efforts on Facebook anyway without stacking them up against someone else’s. Our kids are watching how we do things and if they hear us tearing down the way others live in their homes we can expect that will be their views when they become parents too. If you are like me and just want the holidays to hurry up and be over with so you can pack everything away, your kids’ lives will not be ruined. I assure you there are a million other things you can do to land them in therapy.

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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There’s No Crying in Christmas

It is no secret I struggle with perfection all the time.  Perfection sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Like when my family wants to decorate the Christmas tree. Anyone else out there ever have a melt down over a Christmas tree? It seems we all have our own idea on what the tree should look like, but we all want the same thing- to enjoy sitting in front of the twinkling lights. This year I am giving myself a pat on the back and celebrating the first time in a long time I did NOT absolutely lose it over a tree.

CHRISTMAS PAST

I typically drag the giant fake tree up the stairs from the basement by myself, set it up in the corner and spend an hour defending it from my kids while I hastily spiral the lights around the tree. I tend to skip the garland because I am so annoyed and go right into freaking out about the cluster of 20 ornaments my kids place on the same branch. Then I have to wait for hubby to come home and put the star on top because, even with a ladder, I am too short. Then we take turns arguing fussing over the placement of ornaments.

It isn’t hard to understand why hubby and I end up battling over the way the tree goes up. As a perfectionist I have a vision and I want to recreate it in exact detail and with precision. My husband, being methodical and highly logical will have a completely separate (convoluted) idea of how the tree should look.

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

This year I witnessed a small miracle when hubby put the tree up without being asked ten times. The kids kept a reasonable distance from the tree so there was no one to step on (or cry about being stepped on). And I didn’t offer “suggestions” about fluffing the artificial branches to look real, nor did I follow behind him reworking every strand of lights he put up. [Insert choir of angels] Everything felt pretty sensational until my husband mentioned stringing the beaded garlands on the tree. I froze. “That’s OK we don’t need them this year,” I offered nervously.

You have to understand that I brought these beaded garlands into our marriage from my childhood home. My family and I hung them a specific way, the same way, year after year. Now he is about to ruin my tradition of perfectly balanced symmetry by hanging them haphazardly in non-conforming variations.

“I know let’s alternate the silver AND the gold strands!” he replied with enthusiasm. I felt my right eye twitching as I visualized both silver AND gold decorations on the tree. This goes completely against tradition and good taste.

I might have had a small aneurysm.

He must have sensed my spiraling panic when he suggested, “why don’t you sit down and relax”  and handed me a rum and eggnog. That helped.

I sat down and watched (painfully) as he and the children worked to get the decorations on the tree. It took a lot of work inside my soul to not straighten out every crooked line of garland, or to recalibrate every mismeasured strand. I had to dig really deep to keep my cool when he got to the very top of the tree and had 4 ft. of left over garland. Note: This is why you start at the top of the tree so you can ditch the extra strands on a bottom branch in the back of the tree! But I didn’t say that. I put my head between my knees and took more deep breaths because I couldn’t watch him wrap the excess around the tippy top of the tree at the base of our star. When he was through I sat upright to catch my barrings and I waited for the branches to give way under the weight. Thankfully, I was wrong. It even looked OK.

It was time to hang the ornaments. Per our history together, this is where the magic dies. I hate all the ugly handmade ornaments my husband has had since Kindergarten that he insists on hanging up every year. He is a grown man hanging mangled glitter on my tree. As much as I try to hide them every year he finds them. Now I have actual Kindergartners hanging their mangled glitter on my tree and they can tell if one is missing! So there is no hiding of ornaments, or throwing them away. I am completely out numbered. But I tell myself to let it go. (I’d say this rum is really working).

This year, I turned a blind eye to the mishmosh and let the ornaments fall where they may. Yoga breaths helped ease the escalating hysteria in my mind as the children began hanging several decorations on the same branch. [Inhale] “In with the joy!” [Exhale] “Out with the control!” Just as I was patting myself on the back for not taking over the decorating, my daughter said, “this feels like good times.”

CHRISTMAS FUTURE

As we took a step back to admire the tree I realized that by letting go of my idea of perfect decorations, our tree turned out pretty perfect after all. There was no yelling, no crying and no trauma for my children to share with future therapists.  The tree has an eclectic vibe, but everyone has their favorite ornament on the tree where they can see it. I actually love our tree this year because watching my family experience this tradition with joy makes me happy. Who knew all it takes is me giving up my need to control things (and a little rum) to make lasting family memories.

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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3 Simple Christmas Traditions for Young Families

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year for most folks. But add to that sleepless nights, colds, teething, temper tantrums and just trying to keep your kid from knocking over the Christmas tree you worked so hard to put up, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a holiday that isn’t any fun.  Well, since I started reading The Whatever Mom (Roxanne is my mama spirit animal), I’ve come to the conclusion that often less is more. My main goal with motherhood is to keep my sanity and have kids who are happy and healthy.  Here are 3 things we do at our house to simplify Christmas with our 17 month old, while still making it memorable and fun for our family, and something we can look back on fondly.

Holiday Traditions

For our family, the easiest way to guarantee fun each year and make the holiday special is to start a family tradition (or two). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  We use a fun little Christmas plate for meals starting the day after Thanksgiving and we break out the advent calendar.  Not a lot of work to grab these two out of our attic and they’re so cute in pictures each day.  Here’s one of our banana and pancake breakfast this morning!  

lukes-breakfast

You can find similar plates just about anywhere.  I believe we got this one from the dollar section at Target, but if you shop online you can have it shipped directly to you and you don’t even have to leave your house. (See shopping links below).

We also like to use an advent calendar to count down until Christmas.  It makes for a fun little daily tradition and cute pictures too! Here’s one from Pottery Barn, which holds up great, but if that’s not in your budget this year, you can make a paper chain or coloring chart, or look for one that’s half off at the end of the season!

advent-calendar-pottery-barn-kids

No Fuss Decorations

When you have young kids, they want to touch and hold and play with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So put away the $100 crystal ornament you inherited from your great grandmother; and the sentimental (breakable) ornaments you got the first year you were married. Instead, fill in those spaces with some fun ornaments your kids help you make.  It will give them hours (or at least several minutes) of fun and they will have keepsakes they can take with them some day.  Most craft stores have little wooden ones for a dollar or two that can be colored-in with markers.  If you’re really brave, you can even get out the paint!

wood-ornaments

Plan Ahead

Making a plan may sound like work, but it can actually give you peace and sanity this time of year.  Talk with your husband (or co-parent) and your kids (if they’re old enough) about what activities are most important to them.  Then, make a list of 3-4 activities that you know are doable, and make a plan to do just those activities.  You might be surprised what means the most to you and your family.   

Our list typically looks something like this:

  1. Set up Christmas Decoration
  2. Take Family Photos for Christmas Cards
  3. Visit the trains at the mall (They have an Amazing electric train display at our mall, that our little guy LOVE to go see).
  4. Make cookies
  5. Go look at Christmas lights

The great thing about planning ahead, is now we don’t have to think about what we want to do and no one is left feeling like they didn’t get to do what they wanted.  As an added bonus, if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s OK!  Didn’t get a chance to make cookies? That’s OK! We’ll buy some festive ones from the store or local bakery.  Our little guy got sick last year during the week of Christmas and we opted not to take him out to look at Christmas lights, but we’re hoping to this year!

Spending time with each other is the most important thing this time of year so make sure to carve out a little time to relax, drink some cocoa, enjoy some wrestle snuggle time and watch a Christmas movie or two.  You’ll be glad you didn’t overwhelm yourself with a huge to-do list this year!

peter-and-rosieRosie Bynum is a boy mom and owner of The Dinosaur Clothing Boutique. Her son Luke and husband Peter help her run the family business. Check out all the adorable creations on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


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Friday Favorites- Kid’s Back Packs

Kid Back Packs

Last week I shared with you the mini travel activity pouches we use to keep the kids entertained while out and about. Well, I don’t carry them along in my own bag. In fact, I haven’t carried a diaper bag, or back pack, since my kids were able to walk on their own. Nope. I gave them their own little back packs to carry their own things in. 

My mom gifted my girls with adorable little fuzzy animal back packs. There wasn’t much room, just enough for 2 diapers and a travel pack of wipes and a small snack. I kept a well-stocked diaper bag in my car for back up. My kids carried their own things where ever we were going; play dates, or church, or a restaurant, they carried their own supplies. Once they outgrew the little animal packs we picked up two toddler sized back packs. 

Kids Back Packs What to Carry

Having twins makes it hard to carry a bag (any bag) and carry two kids at the same time. I used a back pack to carry everything in, in the early years but always overloaded the pack and it was such a pain to wear. My kids seemed to enjoy carrying their packs so this worked for us!

Now that we are passed the potty training stage I keep the loaded back packs in the car as back up. I keep a full outfit for each kid (including extra undies- because accidents happen), a package of travel wipes for sticky situations, and their mini activity pouch. They no longer need to carry their packs all the time, but having them close by when we need them is great! 

Kid Back Packs What to Carry

Just thought I’d share this quick tip with you! Maybe your kids are growing up quick, or maybe your tired of carrying all of the stuff. The way I see it, my kids are capable little pack mules that can take care of their own things! Mama has enough to do already! If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, or just to the grocery store giving your kids their own packs to carry helps!

What would you pack for your kids to carry?

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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Holiday Shopping with Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All honest opinions and experiences are 100% my own. 

the-season-for-saving

A couple of weeks ago I shared my love for saving money by shopping for Groupon Goods. I don’t shop or travel without checking with Groupon first! Now I am ready to try out Groupon Coupons to save even more!

If you are like me, maybe you just started your holiday shopping. I’ll just share my gift giving plan this year. I am planning on buying gifts from local crafty moms because I’ve got zero talent, or time. Also, I am only buying maintenance free gifts because I am tired of picking things up off the floor. How many parents can relate to that?!

I signed an oath upon entering motherhood that makes me obligated to put socks and underwear under the tree. There’s no getting around it! Every mom MUST buy these staple gifts at Christmas! So, I checked out what Groupon Coupons has to offer and of course they have some codes from Hanes! I clicked on the Black Friday deals first to find the most savings. Am I the only mom that gets excited to see mix and match sweats starting at $5.00?

Groupon Coupons

Last year we gave our kids a ridiculous amount of art supplies. We have an entire art cart that is cleaned out by yours truly. So I’m thinking a once a month subscription box from Kiwi Crate will be more manageable! All the art supplies I need for one project!? No storage needed? Easy! Plus, living in the North East we get some crazy cold weather, so having a fun indoor project on hand is a must! Otherwise I have to listen to arguing, or worse…. the theme song to Peg & Cat on continuous loop! Agh!! Thankfully there are 15 coupons for Kiwi Crate alone!

Groupon Coupons

All coupons are verified and you can use them online, or in-store where specified.

Thank you Groupon Coupons for helping me check off two easy (low maintenance) holiday gifts for my kids. You helped me save money and saved me from shopping in stores during the holiday rush! That’s what I like to call more time for wine!!

Have you used Groupon Coupons yet?

 

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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#GrouponCoupons #Ad #Spon

 

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