How I Finally Got Off The Hamster Wheel Of Perfection

There’s nothing wrong with perfection. Really, there isn’t. I mean, who doesn’t love the look of the houses on “Fixer Upper” after they’ve been redone by Joanna Gaines? That’s the best part of the show — when we get a tour of the shiny new fixtures, expertly placed frames, lamps, and rugs. Perfection is what turned a one-time small town caterer into a lifestyle mogul, a media magnate, and multi-millionaire. Does the name Martha Stewart ring a bell?

As mothers and consumers, we are target number one when it comes to selling perfection, and we’re constantly being told that having our homes, the food on our dinner tables, our kids’ birthday parties, date nights, parenting methods, and a thousand other things be and remain perfect is the only gateway to happiness.

But what all those shiny magazine spreads and scrolling Pinterest feeds fail to tell you is even one day spent in pursuit of the irrational and unattainable perfect way of parenting will slowly kill your soul.

I know this because it did mine.

I made everything perfect for years and years. And I mean EVERYTHING. I lived on a perpetual hamster wheel of believing the lie that everything in my family’s environment had to be perfect — just like on TV, in catalogs, or the way that other mother did it, or the way I thought would be the best for my children.

I spent years walking around my house and looking at things and thinking, “What if someone walked in right this very minute?” or “If I don’t bake the cake from scratch for my son’s birthday, and spend three weeks hand-making loot bags, party games, and an organic ice cream sundae bar, will anyone even remember it?”

Guess what? They don’t remember it. Not your friends, not your kids, not your spouse, nobody remembers perfect shit. However, what they do remember is what a miserable and exhausted bitch you were for weeks before the party. And the one thing that you’re going to remember is not how great the cake came out, but how much time you wasted trying to be something and someone you’re not, and never will be.

I quit making everything perfect years ago, and I never looked back. I kicked that perfection-seeking bitch right off my back, out of my subconscious, and straight out my paint chipped, scratched up, filthy door and I haven’t regretted it one single bit. I made it clear to my spouse and kids that I was done making everything perfect for them as well, and it was time to come face to face with average, and learn to embrace the suck because I was full throttle going down the lazy mother highway without looking back.

An amazing thing happens when you declare to the world (and yourself), that you’re done making everything perfect.  A gradual shift in your perspective changes, and what you once thought was unacceptable, becomes desirable. As soon as below average becomes the goal, you gain an above average attitude about your life, and your parenting. Heck, even your children become less annoying because their imperfections don’t seem like failings on your part, but just the normal behavior of kids.

When average and normal become your new normal, the relief can be borderline euphoric. It’s like a giant fuck you to all the perfect shit that has been shoved into your psyche for years and years. I like to call it “pissing off perfection, one IDGAF at a time.”

There have been entire books written on how to not give a fuck anymore about things, and I can only imagine the fucks we’re supposed to give as mothers could fill up an entire bookcase of their own. But they don’t have to, because you don’t have to wait another minute (or bake another from-scratch birthday cake) to be done with perfect. Be done with it NOW. Today. DONE. Tell your family that shit just got real. Like REAL NORMAL, and then start living your average yet significantly happier life.

And no, nobody ever did come to my door all those days I made my home perfect. Dammit. 

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This Is Why ‘Rage Cleaning’ Feels So Good

The “rage clean” — also known as having a normal day where everything is going swimmingly, and then you decide to vacuum, and as you are vacuuming, you have to kneel down to pick up a rock your child brought inside and placed on the floor, where it has stayed for a few days. At the time, it didn’t really faze you, but now you have to suck up the debris that has been floating around your house. You have ignored it for the past few days, but you can no longer stand it. Ignoring this rock would mean sucking it up in the vacuum, and you can imagine how delightful that would be. And as you are kneeling, you notice something, or should I say, you notice everything.

And with that, you have arrived: a woman who is about to freak the fuck out.

The fingerprints on the wall, the dust on all the picture frames, the contents of the entire toy box under the sofa, the crackers in the cracks of the cushions, the scuff marks on the stairs, the pile of dirty laundry (or is it clean laundry?), and dammit all, there is fucking strawberry jam smeared on the windowsill. Is that an ant? It better not be a fucking ant.

It’s time to get down and dirty on your knees. No, not that kind of down and dirty, folks. Get your mind out of the gutter. Nobody is going to enjoy this shitshow.

Before you can say “Please pass the Mrs. Meyers,” you are spewing fancy profanities. Suddenly everyone in the family is hiding in the corners, afraid to breathe because they know what’s coming. They have seen you in the midst of a rage clean before.

I bet you can rip up Magic Erasers while wiping down the baseboards like you own the place, because you do fucking own the place and are the only one living here who acts like you appreciate these four walls that keep you warm, safe, and dry.

And if anyone even thinks about standing in your way as you blast through the countertops in vigorous circular scrubbing motions, you will plow right over them.

Every cleaning rag gets mistreated, and the special steamers you had to have (but that only make an appearance during the rage clean) get all steamy and shit as you try to get a spot out of the carpet that has been there for 10 years, but this time it’s coming out because you are going to scrub it within an inch of its life with your fancy gadget until your shoulder burns.

Who cares if it’s a “scrub-free” device? This fucker is going to scrub today.

With each room your temper gets hotter, your voice gets louder, and your grip on the Swiffer tightens so much that you could break that handle in half with one hand.

You decide you must move the fridge and clean behind it this very instant, or you will lose your goddamn mind, and no, you don’t need any help thankyouverymuch.

You have superpowers during the rage clean equal to the brawn of 10 men who have trained for the Iron Man. And when you get to the bathroom, watch the fuck out! Shit gets real when a mom cleans a toilet during the rage clean.

Just go with it. Let it all out. No need to hold back when you are cleaning and pissed off. What better way to deal with your anger than by scrubbing the shit out of the stove, all the while thinking, This is going to be the cleanest fucker that has ever roasted a chicken.

When you grab a garbage bag and start throwing crap away because you feel like you can’t breathe in the fresh hell known as a kid’s bedroom, you start plotting how you will lie your way out of why you got rid of some of their prized possessions.

There is no discretion during a rage clean.

You have no idea how you got to this point, and you really don’t care. You are in too deep, but it feels good. So damn good. You like it: the reckless feeling, the “I don’t give a shit if I scrub paint off the wall” attitude.

You need to scrub. You long to see your reflection in the kitchen sink. You are determined to make the doorknobs shine.

You are unstoppable. Your mind is racing, thinking about what you will tackle next. You will keep going until you can’t stand up straight, have broken all your fingernails, and have to reach for your husband’s favorite T-shirt because you’ve used every rag, sponge, and towel in your home.

There was screaming, and there was crying. You used all the bad words, and you went to a bad place, I’m sure of it. But from one rage cleaner to another: You feel better now, don’t you?

And hey! Look at your fucking house! You could eat caviar off the toilet seat.

Well done, mama.

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This Is What ‘Normal’ Really Looks Like

“Oh, I can’t have you over,” other moms say. “My house is a mess.” As soon as I arrive for a playdate, before hello, they say, “Don’t judge me, the house is a wreck. No, seriously, it’s destroyed. Please don’t look. I’m so embarrassed.”

Lies. Lies, lies, lies.

Because when I go into that house, the house of the mom who is so apologetic about the condition of her kitchen, or the toys in her living room, or the invisible dirt in her bathroom, I can’t decide if I want to laugh in her face or deck her.

Girl, please. Not only is your house not messy, your house is immaculate. You have guest towels laid out. Your children’s spilled toys remain confined to a rug — which, by the way, is not sprinkled with crumbs. Sippy cups stay in the kitchen. Play-Doh dare not enter here, and the dog doesn’t shed. Insisting your house is dirty speaks to clinical delusion, your misunderstanding of small children, your secret desire to make me feel guilty, or maybe your desperate need for reassurance. Probably all of the above. Seriously, stop it. You can either have a sense of shame or small children, and I’ve got three boys under 5.

So for all of you mamas insisting your immaculate house is messy, and all of you normal mamas therefore afraid to have anyone come into your house ever because that level of clean is just not achievable due to kids/time/dogs/life/constant art projects, let’s set some guidelines.

Normal: There is a room in your house that always stays cluttered and messy, and much like Lady MacBeth’s hands, will never be clean.

In my house, it’s the dining room, furnished with my great-grandmother’s cherry dining suite, including buffet and china cabinet. I sew on the table, store art supplies in and around and between the hunt board and the wine rack — remember when the A.C. Moore went out of business? Yeah, it relocated to my dining room — stash file cabinets in available floor space, dry glitter art next to the sewing machine, and sometimes train tracks under the table. None of that gorgeous cherry is currently visible. I neaten this room for birthdays and holidays requiring fine china. Otherwise, you aren’t allowed to see it, Judgy McJudgerson.

As long as they’re clean, you’re home free.

Normal: Your laundry is everywhere.

Current house tally: five clean baskets in the laundry room (blocking the auxiliary fridge and probably creating a certifiable fire hazard). One clean basket in the master bedroom. A clean load in the dryer and one in the washer. There is no basket of dirty clothes anywhere. We’re this week’s laundry heroes! Will those clean baskets make it to folding, or even more daunting, into drawers? Maybe. I’m feeling it lately. But a relative of mine, who shall not be named, once had to hide her kids’ Christmas present — a pet snake — from all the kids and her husband for two weeks. She stashed it under the laundry baskets in her bedroom. The secret kept. She’s the all-time laundry hero, ladies.

Normal: Your sink is full of dishes, your dishwasher is full of dishes, your table and counter are full of dishes, and you can’t find a clean spoon.

So you use a teaspoon for your cereal. When you get to the giant soup spoon or worse, start to contemplate that spikey grapefruit spoon at the bottom of the silverware drawer, then you need to do a load. Only so the kids have plates for lunch.

Normal: Your kids’ bath toys are right where they left them after the bathwater drained.

Don’t pull that shower curtain shut. We know what’s behind it.

Normal: Some type or types of toys are scattered all over the house, and no matter how hard you try, or what bribes you offer, or what god you pray to, you never get every piece picked up.

True story: I have found those stupid ball-pit balls in my washer, my front yard, and stuffed between car seats. We have the same problem with Duplos, which I confiscated on seriously tenuous grounds, and Star Wars figures. If I come over to your house and notice plastic army men in the space behind your toilet, I’m not judging.

Normal: Cups and cups and cups. Everywhere. All the time.

Somehow, we didn’t perish of dehydration in the ’80s when my mother wouldn’t let us out of the kitchen with a Tupperware sippy of Kool-Aid. But we’re well into the 21st century, and my kids will shrivel into complaining oblivion without a cup of juice at all times — except they leave them everywhere and then get a new one. They now hold up drinks and ask, “Is this good, Mama?” before taking a swig. So do yours. Don’t lie.

Normal: Art Damage.

My bath tub has some hopefully/maybe/eventually will fade tie-dye stains. I need to repaint part of the kitchen wall, because who let her toddlers use her acrylics? This mama! At the very least, your toddler took a pen to the wall and you haven’t had time to magic erase it yet.

Normal: You can’t see the floor of your car.

Where else are you supposed to toss all those fast-food cups? Or the spare diapers? Or the dirty sippy cups? Seriously. Your husband probably complains about it.

Normal: You forgot trash day again.

So your garbage can is overflowing and your recycling bin looks like you hosted a frat party, but really you just forgot garbage day two weeks in a row. It’s cool. As long as you got the trash out of the house, you’re a garbage day winner! High-five!

Normal: You have not dusted — perhaps ever, or at least since your parents last visited.

I think I maybe own Pledge? Somewhere? Don’t look at the upper bookshelves, especially if you suffer from allergies.

Normal: Some part of your house is in do-not-use disrepair and has been for longer than you would publicly admit.

My oldest son has never seen us use the shower in our master bath. He’s 4. We need to replace the tile and just haven’t managed somehow. I thought this was a horrible, abnormal, horrific shame until, in flagrant disregard for social mores, I mentioned this to other mothers. Two of them copped to unusable bathrooms. One mentioned a deck with holes. Another has to warn visitors not to attempt the front stairs. I salute you, my sisters in disorder.

So there you have it. Either your house is really, really clean, and you should stop apologizing, or at the very least you can stop your shame and host playdates for once.

We’re all in the same boat. I won’t look in your dining room if you don’t look in mine.

A version of this post first ran on Columbia SC Moms Blog.

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Science Says: Dads Think It’s What’s On the Outside That Counts

You know how it’s your very favorite when someone tells you your kid looks exactly like their dad? Obviously implying to your new-mother brain, which is coursing with unchartered hormonal rage, that maybe, even though you just carried that child for nearly 10 months and gave excruciating birth to him after 28 hours of back labor, just maybe…you should get a maternity test?

Okay, slight exaggeration, but still, I get it. My son is his father’s mini-me and sometimes hearing about it gets to me.

But it turns out, children who look like their fathers may actually have a healthier early childhood. A new study, published in the Journal of Health Economics, revealed that fathers who see a strong physical resemblance in their newborn infants tend to feel a stronger paternal bond and consequently remain more positively involved in the child’s life. According to this study and several previous ones, a father’s investment is especially beneficial for young children. It has been shown to increase social, academic, emotional, and economic well-being, and that’s major.

To make the picture a little clearer, this research showed that “the average nonresident father spends about 2.5 days (per month) longer in parenting activities when the child resembles him.”

The shocking part? Those 2.5 days of investment could mean a 25% overall health improvement for the child. That should make every dad jump in with both feet.

And while this particular study focused on single-mother households, the fact remains that when both parents are highly involved, every type of family is stronger for it.

 

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Cleaning Is Awful — But Here’s How To Make It Suck A Little Less

I love a clean house, but it sucks getting it that way. Especially since most days it seems like everyone else who lives here is actively combating any effort I make. It kind of feels like I’m building a sandcastle at the edge of the water, just for a wave to come and wash it away. I look around at the dirty dishes in places where dirty dishes don’t belong, socks and shoes strewn all over the floor, pet-hair tumbleweeds gathering in corners that I swear I just swept, junk mail in a precariously high stack on the kitchen counter, and I feel defeated. Like maybe I should just give up and try not to let it bother me when it starts to look like an episode of Hoarders.

But being in grimy, cluttered surroundings sends my anxiety into overdrive, and ultimately that sucks even more than cleaning. So no matter how much I feel like doing other things (like just about anything else), I always end up tidying a few things. When I’m especially unmotivated, I rely on a few tricks to get up and moving. Like …

Brightening things up.

I know some people like their shades drawn at all times, but I’m not one of them. There’s just something about bright, fresh sunlight streaming in through the windows that inspires me to make the rest of my house sparkly (maybe it’s the way the sunbeams illuminate all the dust motes in the air?). If it’s cloudy, I just turn on all the lights. Instant energizer.

Turning on some tunes.

Everything is better when it’s accompanied by a sweet soundtrack – I mean, Marvin Gaye didn’t write “Let’s Get It On” for nothing. Pushing a mop is somehow more bearable when I can do it to a beat.

Getting some Pin-spo.

Pinterest has so many tips and tricks that almost – almost – make cleaning seem fun and effortless. I just type “cleaning hacks” into the search bar and spend a few minutes reading all the ingenious advice, then choose a few that I can try out myself (and pinning some for later that, let’s face it, I’ll never try).

Setting a time limit.

This is one of those psychological tricks, and even though I know it’s a trick, my brain falls for it every time. When I start cleaning, I tell myself I’ll just do it for ten minutes. That’s all – just ten minutes – and then I can do something more fun. But inevitably, once I’ve spent ten minutes cleaning, I’ve gotten into a groove and don’t stop there. Movement begets movement, and it’s no different with housework. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you do, it’s easy to keep going. Of course, if the time limit passes and I still want to stop, I do. At least my house is ten minutes’ worth of work cleaner.

Tackling the tough stuff first.

Part of the reason I hate to clean is that there’ll be a certain extra-dirty chore that I dread. But if I take care of it right off the bat, I feel accomplished, and like everything else is simple compared to that one horrible thing. However, this only works sometimes, depending on how I feel that day. Other times, I do the exact opposite, which is …

Practicing avoidance.

Sometimes, when there’s a specific thing I hate to do, I’ll drag my feet – doing absolutely anything else first. For example, I hate deep-cleaning my cats’ litter box (ick). So on the way to the box, I’ll accidentally-on-purpose get “sidetracked” by other things. Oh, I can’t leave this laundry here; I’d better put it in the washer. Well, now that I’m passing by these dishes, I may as well do them. By the time I (grudgingly) get around to cleaning the cat box, I’ve done a whole bunch of other stuff.

Using a new cleaning product.

You know how exciting it is when you’ve got a new conditioner or makeup you’re dying to try? (Please say it isn’t just me.) It’s kind of the same – okay, maybe to a slightly lesser degree – with cleaning products. So I fork over $3.50 for a new scent of Pledge or a fancy scrubby sponge or something. If it ups my motivation even one iota, which it almost always does, it’s worth the investment.

Dangling a carrot.

I don’t mean this literally – I’m not motivated by actual carrots, unless they happen to be baked into a cake. I mean enticing myself with a reward that I’m only allowed to have once the cleaning is done. Like catching up on my DVR’ed episodes of This Is Us or buying a new candle.

Hosting a get-together.

Almost every time I embark on a cleaning frenzy, my kids are like, “Who’s coming over?” This is because even they know there’s no better motivator than the prospect of someone seeing (all right, judging) my dirty-ass house. If I extend an invitation, and commit to having people over, then I also commit myself to cleaning up beforehand.

Keeping photographic evidence.

Once I’ve finished the job, I snap a photo of my gleaming hardwood floor or my spic-and-span sink and keep it in my phone to remind myself of just how good it looked, and how awesome it felt to have it clean.

Let’s face it: cleaning is never going to be anybody’s favorite thing to do (if it was, you probably wouldn’t have read past the first paragraph). But it’s a necessary evil, so we may as well make it easier on ourselves.

Anybody wanna come over? Just give me a couple hours’ notice.

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‘Family Cloth’ (AKA Reusable Toilet Paper) Is A Thing And I Tried It

Other than food, there are some necessities we think we can’t live without and still maintain our thin veneer of civilization. That most definitely includes toilet paper.

The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia tells us that 69% of people think that TP is the modern convenience most likely to be taken for granted. In fact, if they were stranded on a desert island, the encyclopedia says, 49% of people actually chose toilet paper over food.

We can’t live without the stuff.

The 9 Billion breaks it down like this: each tree can only make about 1,000 rolls of TP. Americans use 7 billion rolls a year, which means that we’re killing 7 million trees a year to wipe our asses.

This is why I decided to use family cloth.

Family cloth, for those of you who are not totally fucking irredeemable hippies, is a polite euphemism for “reusable toilet paper.” Basically, you use cloth wipes, which you drop in a bucket instead of the toilet. Then you launder them. Then you repeat the cycle. This requires you to do several things:

  1. Wipe your ass with a rag
  2. Leave that pee-or-poop-covered rag in the bathroom
  3. Stick it in your washer

I had no problem with any of these things, which speaks to how far I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of hippie parenting. This is mostly because I cloth diapered, and in my mind, it was only a hop, skip, and (actually a really, really fucking far) jump from cloth diapering to family cloth. I mean, I wiped my son’s butt with a wipe, which I dropped into a pail. Where it sat for a day or two. Which I threw into my washing machine on the sanitary setting. My washer had seen some shit, literally. So, why not add my own?

Plus, I had the wipes. I had made a punful shit ton of them when I was pregnant. So I stationed a pile of them in each bathroom, plus a small plastic trashcan. And you know what? Those cloth wipes felt fucking awesome. They wiped like butta (heh). For poo cleanup, a spritz with a nearby spray bottle, made of the same diaper spray potion I used for my son? Heaven. This family cloth thing rocked. I loved it.

My husband? He totally fucking refused to have anything to do with it.

“I only use TP for one thing,” he said, “and I’m not having it stick around the bathroom.”

The kids, on the other hand, knew no better, so with me wielding the spray bottle, lest they begin spritzing down the walls, they happily family cloth’ed it. Every night, I just dumped the reusable TP into the diaper pail. Easy-peasy, right?

Until the pee smell caught up with me. I don’t know if the PH-balance of adult pee is different than baby pee, or if the pee smell seeped into the plastic trash can, or what happened, but suddenly, our master bathroom smelled horribly, fatally, of piss. Think eu de men’s restroom of a subway station. It wouldn’t smell this bad again until my sons started peeing on their own and wielding their wieners like octopus sprinklers.

My husband put his foot down. There would be no more reusing toilet paper. Not now, not in the future, not ever again, because we were redblooded Americans and we could afford to purchase TP and dammit when the apocalypse came we had an entire library of books to wipe our asses with, so we wouldn’t be using cloth then either. 

I collected my wipes (rags), rinsed out my (pee) buckets, and washed that last load of (diaper and toilet paper) laundry. I probably saved two rolls of toilet paper during my great Family Cloth experiment. That translates to one twig or something. I also lost a massive amount of hippie cred. But my bathroom no longer smelled like a urinal, and there was far less laundry. These were both positive developments.

But man, when I poop, I still miss my spritzer and my rag. 

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I Need To Declutter, But The Thought Alone Is Triggering My Anxiety

Sometimes it feels as if I need to declutter my entire life. I will look around and immediately feel overwhelmed by the mess:

Why are there so many clothes on the floor? How can kids so small make a mess this big? Do we really need this many toys? Who keeps buying these microscopic lego sets, anyway?

It’s been proven that clutter can trigger anxiety. This probably isn’t surprising information for anyone who has anxiety, as we know that feeling overwhelmed is kind of our thing. We’re especially triggered by things we cannot control, or that seem insurmountable. Like mountains of toys that seem to breed over night.

It has become a vicious cycle for me: Anxiety allows the clutter to get out of control, then I get more anxiety and it becomes even harder to face the mess. Then I get ragey.

So what can you do when you have anxiety, but your house is pretty much always a disaster?

Try to keep your mind and body calm.

Yes, it sounds easier than it is, but taking deep breaths and using positive mantras can be helpful. Sometimes I will go to a yoga class before trying to clean, because it’s easier if I start from a place of calm than when I stress-clean. And I tend to yell at my family a lot less in the process too. Win-win.

Think positive thoughts.

I know, I know, it’s a little Peter Pan, even for me. But I know from experience that it makes a difference when you go through your house saying, “This place is going to look so much better!” Rather than, “What did I do in a past life to deserve living with these slobs?”

Make it as enjoyable as you can.

I like to blast music that I love. I’ve been known to pour myself a drink before I even attempt to declutter a closet. To each their own.

Find a balance.

Yes, stress-cleaning can get some great results, too. But it’s important to give yourself breaks. Get out of the house and clear your mind for a little while.

Get some support if needed.

A friend, a family member, or maybe a professional organizer. Find someone who will help motivate you and keep you company if that’s helpful.

Recruit help from your spouse.

If they don’t want to help clean (or your definitions of “clean” are very, very different), then maybe they can take the kids to the park for a few hours while you get things done around the house. Find a way for them to support you that works well for both of you. Because, hello, they live there too and should share in the responsibility.

Have a plan.

Set realistic expectations about how much you’ll be able to get done. Short-term goals can be a great motivator when the long-term goals seem too overwhelming. Clean house? Maybe someday soon. A clean countertop? Now that you can do.

Incorporate cleaning into your daily routine.

Sometimes the pile of dirty dishes in my sink gets so huge, it’s intimidating. But I’ve found if I make it a point to do them (or ask my husband to do them) before I go to bed, I feel less overwhelmed the next morning. Since that’s done, I can make my coffee with a clean sink and move onto other things that need to be done.

Take baby steps.

Maybe just start with cleaning in 30-minute intervals. Or pick one spot to make a peaceful retreat for yourself. If you’ve got small kids, start somewhere you can escape behind a locked door, like your room or your bathroom.Think of it as your mental health retreat space when you feel your anxiety creeping up on you.

Skip the hard parts if you need to.

If you’re like me, you might get anxiety and guilt about giving/throwing things away. Sometimes, if I’m unsure what I’m willing to purge, I’ll put things in a big box. If I don’t go back into that box for anything within a month, I give myself permission to give it away. #ProcrastinationForTheWin

Find a mix of steps that works best for you and do a little bit at a time. You deserve a clean house that won’t trigger your anxiety. And with a little help, you can break the cycle.

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Why Dyson is the Best Vacuum Ever

This article is a sponsored post on behalf of Dyson.  All opinions are my own.

Your suspicions were correct, Dyson really is the best vacuum ever.  Not only do Dyson Vacuum’s look cool, they get the job done.  Dyson was kind enough to send me one of their V7’s one year ago and I am still in love.  It is truly the nicest vacuum I’ve ever owned and I’m going to tell you why.

1. It’s Lightweight

My husbands first reaction to our new Dyson was that it was definitely too small to actually clean anything.  It looks like it would only work on tile or wood floors, but for the first time living in our house, we had vacuum lines in our carpet after I vacuumed!  I have been continually surprised at how well this little vacuum has cleaned my floors-and continues to 1 year later!

He also had some complaints about the size of the dust chamber.  I did too until I realized how easy it was to empty it.  It doesn’t require going out to our dumpster like a normal size vacuum would because it’s small enough to just empty into a kitchen trash.  The way it’s set up I don’t even get my hands dirty!

2. It’s cordless

I have always refused to be a daily vacuumer and cords have been a big reason why.  It is such a pain to drag a heavy vacuum out of the closet, plug it in, vacuum one floor, unplug and take the cord with you, plug back in and do this over and over.  I am inherently clumsy and amazed at just how many times I can trip over a cord and also accidentally unplug my vacuum while using it.  It’s embarrassing how much of a hassle this is for me.  Dyson has saved my bacon and made my life 10 times easier by just removing the entire ordeal.  Their vacuum hangs on a charging dock and has a battery life long enough to easily vacuum one floor of a house (up to 30 minutes of fade-free suction).  

3. It’s Convenient

Until now, I would rarely bother to vacuum my car.  Once again, it was such a hassle.  I had to find an extension cord, haul my heavy vac out to the garage, plug it in and try not to get to tangled up in the cords.  I find myself using my Dyson to vacuum my car all the time!  The Dyson easily trasitions to a hand-held vacuuming, making vacuuming really easy so I don’t mind doing it!  It has lowered my stress level when my kids want to munch in the car or when my adult friends want to ride with us knowing I can quickly and easily clean up!

4. It’s Kid-Friendly

Because this vacuum is so light, cordless and easy to use I haven’t felt bad about giving my children more vacuuming chores!  They love it because it’s pink and I love it because now I can assign them tasks that involve vacuuming (including cleaning up their own messes in the car!).  

After using this vacuum in my home of 3 kids, a cat, a dog and all of the neighborhood children for a year now I can absolutely testify that it keeps going and going and has lasted through the test of time!  I just hope you love it as much as I have!  They have a 90 day money back guarantee and warranty the vacuum for 2 full years so it’s definitely worth a try!

This article is a sponsored post on behalf of Dyson.  All opinions are my own.

Get Ready for Grocery Delivery to Change Your Life

If I told you I could save you…

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Tremendous Mental Anguish

Would you be interested in having a chat? Okay, well pull up a chair because I have SOME KNOWLEDGE TO DROP ON YOU.

I’m sorry for the shouty caps, but this was pretty big for me. Because I pride myself on efficiency and planning. I’m a meal planner, a to-do list maker, and when the occasion calls for it, I can bust out a color-coded spreadsheet to take the planning/list making to the next level. So when something comes along that makes my life SO MUCH EASIER, I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Walmart Online Grocery Pickup. 

I know. I know. You’ve probably heard of it. You’ve probably seen the signs at your friendly neighborhood Walmart. I had too. But I’d never tried it.

But then it occurred to me…I could be doing things with my time that are FAR more useful…working, working out, shuttling kids around….the idea that I could pick up my groceries on the way home from any number of activities was a big AH-HA moment for me.

And that revelation was BURNED INTO MY BRAIN when I picked up my groceries with Walmart Online Grocery Pickup and realized that my weekly grocery shopping just took 3 minutes.

THREE MINUTES.

That’s how long, from the moment I pulled up in the pickup area to exiting the parking lot, it took to get my groceries.

Let that sink in.

Everything else was the same. I planned my meals, made my list (more on that in a minute), made the drive to and from Walmart—but I didn’t even need to get out of my car. Or shop with kids.

Look. I love my kids. So much. SO MUCH.

But grocery shopping with them…not so much. I mean, I’ve seen parents cruising through the store with several mild-mannered kids in tow. Everyone shuffling along, quietly and calmly.

Parents of these children please teach me your ways, because my kids are under the impression that grocery store aisles are long corridors that are begging for their interpretive dance performances. That the produce section is where they should wrestle. That the checkout line is the spot for asking for candy. (The answer is always no…and yet…they still ask.)

Don’t even get me started on taking kids to the grocery store when potty training…I didn’t even know I could run that fast while carrying a kid. Or that I could abandon a cart and come back to it later.

Think how nice it would be to pick up your groceries after the gym, or on the way home from work, or to be able to load up on supplies when you’ve got a houseful of sick kiddos without needing to get out of the car.

THE APP IS MY FAVORITE.

Imagine my delight when, upon feeding my dog, I realized I was running low on dog food and that I could simply add it to my Walmart Grocery app cart, and then some wonderful person would deliver it to the back of my car!

Have you ever tried to shimmy a 36lb bag of dog food onto the bottom of a grocery cart? The cart wants to roll away. It does. It’s science. And your kids will be no help during this bent-over-deadlift saga.

Here’s how to get started!

And if you get started now, use the promo code WOWFRESH for $10 off your first order.

  1. Go to Walmart.com 
  2. Pick your store.
  3. Set up your profile. (Easy.)
  4. Download the app at the same time.
  5. Start shopping.

Use the app for when you’re on the go and need to add something to your cart. Not that asking my kid to write it down on a napkin while I’m driving hasn’t been SUPER effective. (It’s hasn’t.)

You can add things to your cart over several days if you want and then select your delivery date and time frame.

You will get a message letting you know what your deadline is for making changes.

After I had placed my order, I had shifted gears and began working on some plans for my son’s upcoming birthday—he’d been very specific about wanting a Minecraft Lego set, so I clicked over to Amazon, to order a set…but then it occurred to me. Maybe Walmart had the same set? At the same great price? OF COURSE THEY DID.

Since I was still within my ample “edit” window on my order, I was able to easily update the order and include this Lego set.

I selected “9:00 AM-10:00 AM” for my pick up time and received and email and notification on my phone that my order was ready for pick up at 8:53 AM.

I was prompted to “Check In” and let them know when I was coming so they would be ready when I arrived.

When I pulled up, a lovely young lady came to my car, confirmed my name and loaded my car.

It was literally the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

The service and app will learn your favorite and you can manually “heart” certain items so you can create your own favorites list…VERY HANDY, in my opinion. Because I’m a creature of habit and once I find the best gluten free pancake mix, there is no more experimenting.

And of course the prices were amazing—especially on the gluten free and organic items that I’m accustomed to paying more for at other retailers.

Hashtag: WINNING.

Try it for yourself and get $10 off with the promo code WOWFRESH (for first time users only.) You’ll be SO HAPPY you did!

Now start thinking how you’re going to spend that time you’re going to save…

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Help! Fashion Trends And Beauty Products Confuse The Hell Out Of Me

Oh, great. Another evite to a “Girls Night Out!” Come try our new products! Hair treatments! Nail wraps! Body wraps! Foot wraps! Candles! Oils! Natural chemical free cleaners! Shabby chic Bohemian antique-looking (but not really antique) home decor! AAAAAAH. This is when I just want to crawl under a blanket with a book and hide. Because, honestly, all of this girly stuff overwhelms me.

I’m the girl who walks into these events, at 37 years old, and says, Hi. I’m Karen. I don’t really wear makeup. I’ve never been inside a Sephora. I don’t color my hair. I don’t like shoe shopping. And the other day I had to google “Joanna Gaines” just so I could join conversations at school pick-up. Wanna be friends?

It’s awkward.

How did I get this way? I’m actually pretty girly in lots of ways. I like pink. And sparkle. I just tend to buy pink sparkle on clearance at Old Navy. Maybe I’m just annoyingly practical. And also incredibly lazy.

Anything I buy needs 800 justifications in my mind. Will I actually wear this shirt with at least three pairs of pants? And trying new stuff takes work. When I hear I need to give a “product” 30 days to see results, I’m like, are you serious? That’s like eight infinities. I’ll just stick with my knock-off Target brand Aveeno, thanks.

And the years go by. The crows feet around my eyes branch out. Gray hairs pop up now and then, and I pretend it’s just the lighting. Moms at school talk about Botox and I’m over here like, ummm, I think I put on mascara one day last week.

Soon it will be May and we will finally put the boots away and the flip-flops will re-emerge. Moms will be like ugggghhh I need a pedicure. Well, I get pedicures too. They’re called “painting my own toenails in my bathroom” on Saturday nights. There’s no sweet lady massaging my heels. Just me, myself, and some Wet ‘n Wild hot pink I stole from my daughter’s dresser. I mean, have I had a pedicure? Well, yeah. But only if it’s one of those “girls night out bring your own wine events”—THAT I’m all over.

So when I receive evites like these, I imagine someone’s going to try to peddle some $85 foot product. Hmmm… Sorry, lady. These crusty old heels are just going to have to pass. On the list of what I’ll spend $85 on, your coconut butter eucalyptus massaging foot rub is somewhere around #456.

And then there’s plastic wraps—the kind that go on your body. Plastic. To wrap around yourself. A good friend of mine sells these and she is one of my favorite people, so I thought, Okay. I’ll bite. I’ll support her business and try this out. What do I have to lose? She told me to leave it on for 45 minutes and afterwards, I’d have nice tight tummy skin that would mask the fact that I’ve had three 9 lb. babies. What?! That was going to be some miracle. But hey, let’s do it. What’s 45 minutes?

Well, I lasted 42 before ripping that shit off and tossing it in the trash. It was the longest, itchiest 42 minutes of my life, and it did not remove all traces of the giant babies I’d housed (and no, eating Doritos on the couch the whole time was NOT the reason.)

Fancy accessories absolutely baffle me. Every few years my MIL gets me a fancy new purse from the outlet store that I wear until it falls apart and drop on waaaaay too many public bathroom floors. I had a girlfriend once show me her new purse, and when she told me how much it cost, I had heart palpitations. Literally. In fact, I was nervous to be in the same room as this thing. I was certain I’d somehow trip and spill wine on it from across the room.

I. Don’t. Understand.

And as much as my late-30s plus 3 kids face suffers from my laziness and confusion about beauty products, my house doesn’t fare much better. We moved recently, so I decided now’s the time! I have spent years visiting friends’ houses with trendy barn wood picture frames and hand-blown glass vases, while I still rocked garage sale finds circa 2002. A new house means a new style.

But after finding myself wandering HomeGoods in dismay and mumbling incoherent sentences to myself like an old cat lady, I realized I needed help. I learned all sorts of new words and phrases like “texture” and “pattern” and “pop of color.” And, I have to say, after selling a kidney to pay for home decor designed to look “aged,” exactly one room in my house looks like a real live grownup lives here. Yay. I think?

I suppose it’s a step in the right direction as I finally move toward adulthood. I’ve spent my grownup years being so annoyingly practical. Three babies in five years meant cute wedge sandals were a dumb idea. Flip-flops ruled my feet. Pregnancy boobs + nursing boobs + post-nursing boobs led to sensible shirts that hid my sensible bras. SAHM life = sweats and a top-knot (and not because top-knots are trendy. Just because I have a lot of hair that’s unwashed.)

But now, I’m almost 38. I have no more babies (or even toddlers). Hours will pass during which no one climbs on me, asks me to wipe him or her, or spills juice on the rug. They are growing up. So maybe I will too? Maybe I will finally take the time to learn what the fuck shiplap is and whether I want it in my house? Or expand my makeup repertoire past Revlon eyeliner and mascara I bought with a CVS coupon?

We’ll see. For now, I am going to enjoy a hot coffee and put my feet up on my ottoman (I have an ottoman, guys!) and feel like a grownup. Wearing the slippers my kids gave me for Mothers Day in 2011. One step at a time, folks.

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Help! Fashion Trends And Beauty Products Confuse The Hell Out Of Me

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