Friday Favorites – Cool Cats GIVEAWAY!

Cool Cats Lead has generously offered promotional product to give away to one lucky The Whatever Mom reader!  I did not receive compensation for this post, but it does contain affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I may receive a small commission if you use those links to make a purchase. All honest opinions posted are my own.

At the beginning of the new school year I introduced my girls to the Cool Cats Leader Deck. We use the cards before school to review the important characteristics of a leader. It has been a great conversation starter for us, and I love that it is another tool for me to use as a parent. Teaching my girls to be leaders and independent thinkers is one of my top priorities.

So when my daughter came home with an award for being the most respectful in her class, I was one proud mama. The very next day my other daughter came home with a note from her teacher stating she was very kind to another student in her class. One of her friends was having a bad day and she offered her own teddy bear as comfort. The teacher was most impressed by her empathy and understanding of her classmates feelings (another proud parenting moment). This is not an exact result of using the card deck, because I know I have worked hard to teach my kids these characteristics. I think using the cards routinely keeps these traits front of mind for my kids. The cards make it easy to review!

Today, you can all enter for a chance to win a Cool Cats Leader 3-Pack! This amazing set includes a copy of the Growing the Leader in You book, 22 Easy Ways 2 Lead Card Deck and a Top 10 Tips for Leadership poster. All of it will soon belong to ONE LUCKY READER! (Look for my future review about some of those products)!

If you aren’t the one lucky winner don’t worry! Cool Cats is offering a FREE poster to the first 25 moms to place an order! For your convenience here are my affiliate links to take you right to their products on Amazon (links are free to use).


To enter simply click on the entry form below for directions! Get a bonus entry by visiting the Cool Cats website and clicking on the special enter button! Winner announced on Monday November 6th on The Whatever Mom Facebook page!!

 

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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 

 

Tips on Installing Your Car Seat

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I am excited to announce that I am officially a great aunt! It’s crazy that I am going to be a parent at the same time as my niece and nephew. I watched them grow up and feel like they are my first babies. Now they are having babies of their own. A lot has changed in the parenting world since they were little and learning to navigate life as a modern parent can be confusing. In the beginning nothing feels more confusing than trying to figure out those car seats!

So here are some tips on installing your car seat:

BEFORE YOU INSTALL

  • Read the manual as soon as you take it out of the box. Be sure you are familiar with the directions on how to properly install the make and model car seat you are using.
  • Save the receipt! Just in case the car seat does not work with your make of vehicle.
  • Register your car seat with the manufacturer so you can get alerts about any recalls.
  • Find out if there are car seat check events available in your area. Learn more about the importance of car seat checks at Cars.com.
  • Research the car seat safety laws in your state. Familiarize yourself with ages for rear and forward facing travel.

AFTER YOU INSTALL

  • Keep an eye on the expiration date of your car seat. It is not safe to use it passed that point.
  • If you are ever in an accident be sure to replace the car seat in your car.
  • If you can, limit the number of times you remove the car seats and swap between vehicles. This will ensure effective use each time your kid gets in the car.
  • Review the weight and height requirements for your car seat often and compare to your child. Kids grow out of things so fast and you don’t want to be caught off guard with an ineffective car seat.

Every parent wants the best for their baby from the very beginning. If you are unsure at any time about your car seat safety ask for help, or look for a scheduled car seat check in your area.

 

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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6 Simple Tips to Finishing Your Holiday Cards Early

Contains Affiliate links for your shopping convenience, I will receive a small commission if you use the links in this post to shop for your holiday cards.

I know Halloween isn’t even here yet and I’m about to talk to you about Christmas cards. That’s only because I am a little ahead of the game this year. Which is completely unusual believe me! We had our family photos taken about two weeks ago. Our amazing photographer is going to give us all our images on a CD so we can do whatever we want with them- like making Christmas cards!

Gone are the days I try to get our perfect cards in the mail to arrive in a timely fashion. But if I start early enough I might just get our cards to arrive some time before the New Year (or shortly after). Today I am going to share with you my tips for getting through the chore of sending Christmas cards.

The Whatever Mom tips for creating easy breezy Christmas cards:

  

Start with a design. There is no rule that you have to use professional photos. Getting everyone to match and stand still can be an extra chore. Instead, make a collage style card using favorite family photos taken throughout the year. Or, just select one favorite family photo from a really fun vacation. The best cards don’t show off a perfect family, but a family having fun!

Look for a discount. Watch your favorite photo sites for discounts on Holiday cards. Minted is currently offering 15% off and free shipping through 10/30. When you get a good deal you can afford to include relatives you excluded to keep costs low.

No signature required. Instead of hand writing a signature for each card, simply have family names printed on the cards. Then you can pop the cards directly into the envelopes and spend zero time writing on individual cards.

Limit your mailing list. You don’t need to send a card to every one you’ve ever known in your lifetime. Keep it simple and send only to those friends and family you keep in touch with the most. Trust me your kids bus driver does not want a personalized family photo card to carry around.

Skip the hand cramp. Minted allows you to save time and energy by uploading your mailing addresses to have printed on your matching envelopes for free! When your cards arrive you literally have to stuff the envelope and add a stamp.

Don’t forget the postage. You can order stamps with your card order. How is that for convenience? Or order online to have them delivered from your post office to your mailbox!

Boom! Finished! Well, that is if you don’t forget the cards on the counter for 3 weeks before remembering you were supposed to send them out.  Whatever, it’s the thought that counts right? Don’t forget to order now and save 15%!

Do you still send out Holiday cards?

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 – A Blog Hop through Motherhood

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is the connections I have made over the years; not just with other bloggers, but with other moms. I have relied on other mom perspectives to get me through every age and stage with my own kids.  Moms with kids older than my own have really helped me understand that perfection is not key to a happy childhood, and moms with younger children remind me just how far I have come since those early days as a brand new twin mom.

I really feel like my blog also gives me the opportunity to lift up other moms and share their struggles, successes and stories. This week for my Friday Favorites segment I am sharing some other mom blogs that help me illustrate the first 7 stages we go through as moms. Maybe one of my readers will connect with the information being shared and find some confidence or inspiration. And I like sharing!

THE FIRST SEVEN STAGES OF MOTHERHOOD

Oh my God I’m having a baby!

If your are expecting your first baby you are probably freaking out about delivery and what to bring to the hospital. Will they have good snacks? Will I sleep comfortably? What should I wear? Check out the ultimate checklist for What to take to the Hospital from This Mom Blogs. 

Oh my God I just had a baby!

You just had a baby and the first thing you can think about is how to get rid of the “baby weight.” You might be obsessing a bit with finding just the right system to help you get back into shape. Check out how Jenna The Calm Mom changed her Postpartum mindset. 

Will I ever sleep again?

It is an urban legend that babies automatically sleep through the night. Every parent must run the gauntlet of sleepless nights and learn to function for months on very little sleep. Ryan at The Blessed Mess shares her experience with Sleep Training her son Liam.

How is my baby turning a year old already?

We all get through that first year in a blur. We don’t know how we did it and it feels like over night our little wiggly baby became a toddler. Read Chelsea’s Year in Review at UR Basic mom.

Help! I am outnumbered and they have me surrounded!

Babies do not come with instruction manuals. Nothing can prepare you for the trials of parenting, but there are some resources out there to help. See how Aryn at Cream and sugar is getting parenting help from Boys Town USA.

The mom community is great at sharing tips and tricks for connecting with your kids. Experts have written books about what moms already know. Sara at A Mom and her Momtourage shares Little Things We Can Do to Help Our Littles Feel More Loved.

Throwing in the towel on making it all perfect. 

Total shameless plug for my own blog! I am giving you 4 Reasons You Can and You Will Get a Cleaning Lady!

How do I make extra money to afford these little people?

Even with the best laid financial plans, kids will completely mess up your budget. They are expensive and demand large amounts of snacks! So what can you do on the side to earn some extra cash flow? Erin at Debt and Sweat shares her secrets for Flipping Furniture on Craigslist for Profit. 

All seven stages all happen in the first 6 months to 072 years as a mom. Motherhood is filled with learning moments that come at you fast and furious. There is no training for this and no two moms will face the same exact challenges. The good news is we are all in this together. So, hang in there mamas! We got this!

 

Disclosure notice: clicking on any of the links above will redirect you away from The Whatever Mom website. It is the responsibility of each blogger participating in this hop to include their own disclosure policies, business relationships and how they use affiliate links.

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 – 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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