6 Signs You Might Be Bougie AF

Finding a good deal has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. But life has taught me not everyone feels that way. Most people like nice things — some just like them a little more than others. 

Chances are your circle has a mix of deal-chasers, dollar-spenders, and flex-spenders — folks who go back and forth. And then there are those who are bougie AF — you know, the ones who want to be fancy and would be fancy if it weren’t for that little problem called money that often gets in the way.

And if you don’t know anyone who strives for a life of luxury and style, who’ll spare no expense for the latest clothes/purse/gadget, well…then, it might just be you.

I’m not here to judge; it’s yo’ world. Spend your time and money however you like. But here are 6 signs you might bougie and/or high maintenance AF:

1. You would rather pay eight installments for layaway than buy a single non-name brand item.

So, you’re going to take eight months to own a $300 toaster when you would’ve been fine with the $20 model? What the heck do you need a $300 toaster for? Does it harvest grain and make bread from scratch? Perhaps it converts into a donut maker and shops for its own ingredients off Amazon. Now that would be worth any price.

2. The sound of the word “thrift store” burns your ears.

I might live in Goodwill, but I get it — second-hand isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But why would you borrow the money from a friend to get that $169 cardigan sweater out of that fancy catalog when you could get a cardigan from Goodwill in excellent condition? It literally still has the tag on it and costs only $6. #winning 

3. It takes you longer to get ready to go out to dinner than you actually spend at dinner.

It doesn’t matter how far in advance your friends tell you, you’re never on time because your preparation process is so detailed. I know you wanna look your best, but do you have to rewax/ shave every single time you leave the house? You’re among friends here. No one is looking at your mustache, girl. It’d be nice to make it to dinner before all of our other friends are ready to go home.

4. Family reunions and high school reunions…with those people!? Ha!

Once you left your home town, you didn’t look back. You don’t have time for shenanigans and Friday nights spent drinking off-brand soda and playing neighborhood games. Your relatives and high school friends might say, “You’ve forgotten where you came from” — and you don’t necessarily disagree with them. 

5. You prefer cabs and Uber to buses and subways.

Ok, I’m gonna be honest here. I’m not a huge fan of public transportation, either. But I do what I gotta do. Besides, just think of all the interesting people you meet on public transportation.

6. You told your spouse to try again on his date night plans.

This guy loves the hell out of you. He makes date night a priority. He makes you a priority. And you still chided him for taking you to a restaurant without cloth napkins.

Obviously, this list is a joke, but we all know that person for whom it rings like a little too true. No shame in that. Own it, girl. Go on with your bougie self. Just try not to be late to dinner next time.

Beware The Wrath Of An Overzealous Homeowner’s Association Rep

You know how it goes. Someone decides that your grass is a little too long, or that the weeds are too plentiful. It’s spring — that shit grows growing faster than sass on a twelve-year-old, and before you know it, they’re after you. They’re the Homeowner’s Association Enforcers, and they are relentless. Like they literally have nothing else to do except obsess about the three dandelions in your front yard.

You are ruining the neighborhood with your filth! 

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. So-And-So,” they write. “You’ve been found in violation of HOA code blah-blah-blah…” Which is when your eyes roll so far back in your head that you miss the rest of the letter. Well, except for the part that says you’ll be fined $50 per day that said weeds remain. Payment can be made to blah-blah-blah, it says. More eye rolls. Lots of cussing. And then the letter gets tossed into the recycling. 

You might even try to stem the tide of the HOA’s wrath, by telling your husband to get his ass out there, and tend to the wilderness growing in your backyard. Or maybe you’ll dig out the damn shears yourself. Or maybe you say fuck it, and pay the neighbor kid a few bucks to do it after school. You do whatever it takes to keep the HOA out of your backyard with their prying eyes.

This probably isn’t your first run-in with the HOA, of course, yet it still shocks you that when the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, some people are still concerned about things like “excessive weeds” and “lawn care protocol.” Though it probably shouldn’t surprise you. When you first moved in, you had to sign a lot of paperwork. You knew there was an HOA, and that HOAs have rules, but you assumed those rules meant “no rusty cars decomposing in your driveway.” 

But you were still a neighborhood newbie — happy-as-pie new, humming in the summer breeze and painting your brand-new mailbox — when you realized how wrong you were.

“Um, excuse me,” said a woman who looked like she stepped straight out of Stepord Wives. “I’m Lady Who Runs the Whitehaven Homeowners Association. You must be Mrs. So-and-So.” No first names, this was all business.

“Are you sure that black is on the approved list of colors?” she asked.

“Huh?” 

“The list of colors. For mailboxes. Is that on the list of approved colors?”

It was, of course, not on the list of approved colors. So, you had to repaint. Or risk getting fined.

Then you had to redo your name and house number, because while you got the font right, you didn’t manage the right size. All this cost you fines, fines, and more fines.

Then you decided to plant flowers. But they weren’t the right color, or maybe they weren’t the right variety of tulip. Or they weren’t in the right place in the yard. So you had to dig them up, which left bare patches you had to cover with using the approved combination of sod, regulation-colored mulch, and alternate flowers in the proper colors and configurations. Purple, by the way, was not allowed. And you better be quick about it, because each day you’re in non-compliance with the HOA requirements means fines, fines, fines. And who can afford that shit, with kids and a mortgage?

You already pay their exorbitant monthly fee. You refuse to give their annoying asses another dime.

Oh, and let’s talk about signs. Maybe you tried to put up an “I’m With Her” sign or a “Yes, We Can” sign during election season. NOPE. Don’t even think about it. And you better tell your kids to get that idea of a lemonade stand right outta their heads, because God forbid children be seen or heard. Especially if they are going to be peddling something as unrefined as powdered lemonade. 

Good Lord, enough already. Enough with the “do not”s and “can’t”s. You can’t keep curtains open past a certain time. You can’t have blackout curtains. You can’t have signs on your door.  You can’t have a clothesline. You can’t have shutters that aren’t on the list of the predetermined colors. Your house can’t be painted without approval from the HOA. Can’t, can’t, can’t, can’t.

And if you think that, surely, no one would care about stuff this petty, then bless you because you’ve never lived under the tyranny of an HOA. These folks tend to revel in the glory of slapping you with a fine for something asinine.

We’ve all got our stories. Hell hath no fury like an overzealous homeowners’ association rep.

13 Ways I Cut Corners Around The House

There has been a lot of talk about hot mess moms lately and I’m starting to have to admit to myself that I might just be one of them. While my house does get a once-over cleaning every Saturday when the whole family pitches in, I have trouble maintaining the stamina to see it through to completion. After I’ve been at it for a few hours, I’m the first to admit that I might cut a corner or two in order to be done before the next millennium. It’s survival.  And weekdays are a total write-off with work and extracurricular activities so spreading out the workload isn’t really an option.

Here are some corners that I have been cutting in order to survive. It’s time to stand up and embrace our jagged corners fellow hot mess moms.

1.  The pots and pans.

I hate to even admit it, but there are some nights when after I get the dishes loaded in the dishwasher and the food all put away, I’m wiped. Totally wiped. So the pots and pans go into the sink to soak. And they may or may not still be there tomorrow. Just sayin’.

2.  The crockpot.

Whoever invented the crockpot was a genius, but whoever invents a self-cleaning one, will be a billionaire. Those things are a pain to clean. So it might just be soaking too.

3.  The laundry.

Gets washed, dried, folded and …. Not put away. It sits in the basket until I am forced to empty it to make way for another clean load. It’s a vicious cycle.  And hey, 3 steps out of 4 ain’t bad.

4. I vacuum around stuff.

Yup, I don’t always move everything and vacuum underneath. I’m sure that the object on top is affording some level of protection against dirt to the bit of floor under it. I’ll move it all once in a while for a deep clean, but not even close to every time. Sorry. (Not really that sorry).

5.  My car.

The entire thing. I have no excuses. It’s not pretty. I’m sure the kids have spilled some milk at some point that they didn’t tell me about too.

6. The steps.

So when we tidy up the main floor, sometimes stuff that belongs on the 2nd floor makes it to the steps and no further. Oops. Maybe time to move into a bungalow?

7.  Not making the bed.

Sometimes — okay, lots of times — I’m in a rush in the morning and make my bed at night before I get in. Does that still count?

8. I don’t always follow through when my kids leave crap lying around.

Sure, sometimes I do. But not always. Am I creating a new generation of hot mess moms? It’s possible, but right now I’m too tired to care. They are nice people so far so that’s what I’m hanging on to. Hot mess? I’m not that fussed about it.

9. I don’t put the toaster away.

Or the straightening iron. Or the hair dryer. Anything that gets hot really. I feel uncomfortable putting hot things in a drawer so I leave them overnight to cool. If things don’t get done right away, unfortunately, they go back to the bottom of the list. So if you come over and you see my straightener out but my hair is super curly?  I apologize. It’s finally cooled down now.

10. We have two nearly empty bottles of almost every condiment in the fridge.

Ugh, cleaning out the expired and half-empty condiment bottles is a monumental task in a very busy world. I will get to it, I promise. Eventually.

11.  Shoes.

I don’t understand shoes. I’m pretty sure they multiply like rabbits while we are sleeping. And no one seems to put them away without excessive nagging. By the front door? By the back door? There are shoes. So many shoes. And sometimes they stay where they land.

12. The vacuum (or in the case of central vac, the vacuum hose).

On the weekends, I’m pretty great at finally cracking out the vacuum. Giving everywhere a once over (behind careful not to move any furniture of course unless it’s deep clean day) and then for some reason, leave the hose out for the rest of the weekend. Is this my way of proving that I vacuumed? Am I subconsciously bragging? Hmmm… I’ll have to ponder that one — when I finally put the hose away.

13.  The mail.

The mail may just live on my kitchen counter until recycling day. Then I can go through it all at once and get rid of it. If you need a timely answer and it’s before recycling day, then best just call.
So there are lots of household chores that I just can’t seem to get all the way done. A lack of time and energy have forced me to learn the art of corner cutting. In the name of survival.

So if you come over to my house and happen to see a basket of crap on the steps waiting to go up, just quietly take it upstairs for me and no one gets hurt. And I’ll do the same for you. What corners do you cut in order to survive?

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I Stopped Cleaning Up My Family’s Stuff, And Here’s What Happened

Last weekend I took some time off. I know, I know. What does that mean? You ask. You’re a mom, right? How the hell did you get a “day off,” you might wonder. It sounds ludicrous, right? Impossible even? Well, I did. And it was glorious. Let me explain.

I had been fighting a virus for a few days and was absolutely spent, mentally and physically. I still did the 961 daily things required of motherhood. I mean, you didn’t really think all the responsibilities went away, did you? I still prepared food for the children, ensured their basic safety, asked them to brush their teeth, mediated arguments over Nerf guns and Minecraft worlds and whose turn it was to get the Dory fork at dinner. I wiped at least one butt that wasn’t my own, and ensured they washed their hands.

But here’s what I didn’t do: Pick up anyone’s shit.

Because frankly, I’m tired of it. On any given day my house is a mess because everything is everywhere, and I needed a damn day off. My counters are forever covered with homework papers and halfway completed craft projects and tax documents and bills to be paid and reminders and lists and one random sock and a broken toy that someone thinks is salvageable and permission slips and a granola bar that a child swears she’ll finish later and dishes to be washed and clean dishes that are drying…

And that’s just my counters.

The couch is still there, I think. I haven’t seen it in a while. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away it was a place for humans to sit on, not a catch-all for laundry and pillows and blankets and books and toys and snacks and dolls and stuffed animals and more half-way completed craft projects…

So you can imagine the condition of the floors.

I feel like all I do is nag. All I do is say “pick this up” and “put this away” and “this doesn’t belong here” and “what the hell even is this” 8,000 times a day. All I do is bitch and grumble as I trip over shoes and find lost library books and discover Nerf darts stuck to the bathroom mirror.

Well, I was just too tired last weekend. I let my house be a disaster. And if anyone stopped by, I couldn’t say it was trashed because we were doing an epic science project. Or starting a garden. Or cleaning out closets. It was a mess because I was tired of picking up everyone’s shit, only to see a new pile of shit re-appear in that exact same spot 11 seconds later. And more than picking it all up, I was tired of lecturing everyone else to pick it all up.

I’m out, I said. Peace!

My kids were confused at first. Who is this woman? they asked. I mean, she looks like Mommy, but she’s not spitting fire at us or threatening to throw away our epic Lego creations that we left all over the kitchen table. This is weird, they said.

And then they promptly forgot and went back to trashing my house in a blaze of glory.

So, for the whole weekend, I didn’t bug them to clean up. I gave zero shits. I knew we’d suffer the consequences in the end, but I needed a damn break from being the only person who cares that there’s a tent in my living room.

Oh, you want to set up a Nerf fun fortress? Sure, I said. Build Legos in the kitchen? Whatever. I checked out and let it all go. At the tail-end of a week-long sickness, I set up camp on my couch with a hot cup of tea and watched a “Fixer Upper” marathon. And I let them have at it.

Over the course of those two days, I heard lots of screaming and throwing of things. I saw the occasional child tear by me with food and drink in hand. And I just closed my eyes and let it be.

And you know what’s weird? It was kind of amazing.

I think they needed the break from fire-breathing Mommy as much as I did. They had fun playing together, creating forts, having marathon nerf battles, riding their bikes, and building Lego castles, without the ghost of nagging Mommy saying “Don’t make a mess!”

So I know you’re wondering: just how trashed was my house at the end of it all? Well, here’s the kicker: it was not much different than any other day. Seriously. By Sunday night after I’d had some rest, I was ready to get after it and have it all cleaned up before the week started. We all worked together—Legos were swept back into a bucket, their Nerf gun arsenal was stored back into the giant box in the corner of the basement, and all cups, bowls, and snack bags were washed or tossed in the trash.

Nothing was permanently broken or destroyed. And for two whole days, no one heard me nag  (well, about that anyway. I mean, I am still me). By Monday morning we had returned to regularly scheduled programming (i.e. me barking about backpacks in the kitchen and glue sticks without caps).

But honestly, I think I’ll take another day (or whole weekend) off again real soon.

Take a break if you think you need it, girlfriends. It’s good for the soul.

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I Don’t Save My Kids’ Stuff Because It Gives Me Anxiety

Walking into my daughter’s room this morning, I caught glimpse of her school project lying on the floor — there were colored pencils, scissors, and glue stick strewn about.

Half-empty bottles of perfume and body lotion were scattered on her desk next to Tupperware containers bubbling over with glittery slime. There was a Barbie she hasn’t played with in years with its hair cut off and said hair was sitting right next to a few mismatched socks.

Instead of walking by, pausing at the door to notice the sunshine streaming in the windows (which reminds just how fucking dusty her room is) and marvel at her project and the homemade slime, these are the thoughts that went through my head:

For fuck’s sake I can not deal with this. We just purged this place. We just carried out a truck load of crap. Where did this come from? I swear kids’ shit multiplies. Are broken toys capable of reproducing? What the hell smells in here? If she gets any more slime stuck in this carpet, she’s going to see 50 shades of me going to the bad place.

Then I realized that was the same Tupperware collection I couldn’t find this morning as I was on my knees on the hard kitchen floor looking for something to store the cooked bacon in while yelling to my kids, “Where the hell did all the damn Tupperware go?” In return, all I got was silence.

Yet, here they were strewn about my daughter’s bedroom floor.

Nothing gets me in the mood for a good purge party like a few lies and denial. You fill my new Tupperwear with sticky slime that dries like cement in the kitchen sink and on the countertops and it’s going to find it’s way to the trash with a slam dunk.

Then I’ll probably do a dance because purging the hell out a room brings me the kind of joy money can’t buy.

I know I should keep more school projects and papers. There was a time when every drawing my kids made me was filed away in an big Rubbermaid tub along with their report cards and every leaf and stone they brought home.

OK, that’s a huge lie — I’m a purger at heart, but having kids makes you feel guilty about tossing all that crap in the garbage. But I was born this way, and you can’t take the purging instinct out of a woman.

All this stuff taking up space in my house is a trigger for me. I’m not my best self when surrounded paper, toys, and random shit. I’m not an organizer either; I’m a tosser. Clutter makes me go from calm to “pass me another fucking trash bag and let’s get this party started,” in under 2 seconds.

I realize some things I’ve thrown away are sentimental, and there’s a chance I done damage to my kids by getting rid of their stick and feather collections. But in my defense, those feathers were from a germ-laden seagull and whether those long brown things were actually sticks is still in question.

Am I going to regret one day that I didn’t save every toy, every picture, or every piece of moss from every flipping walk in the woods we’ve taken?

No. Not bloody likely.

But you know what I would regret? The way I would act if I just let all the stuff that’s peppered around my house accumulate. No can do.

My house is a happy house after I purge. And somehow my kids have adjusted. They’ve learned to hide their valuables and keep that shit hidden away. And they know that if they have so much shit that it starts seeping out of the closets and drawers, it’s gonna go bye-bye.

And since this saves us all a shit-ton of stress, I’ll just keep on purging.

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Spring Cleaning Is Impossible When You Live With Slobs

Spring is upon us, friends, and you know what that means—we are all supposed to don our latex gloves, scrub dem base boards, and purge all the unneeded items from our lives. Spring cleaning sounds amazing — in theory.

I mean, who wouldn’t love a spotless, clutter-free home? Purging unwanted items? Hell yeah! Let’s start with all these damn toys. You had me at purge. But, here’s the truth of the matter: it ain’t gonna happen, because I live with slobs. Tiny, unhelpful, destructive slobs.

Alright, to be fair, my kids are four and six years old, so they are still learning to not be slobs. I’m married to a man who is not a total slob, but our ideas of clean differ in that I can’t live for endless days with a sticky patch of jelly on the kitchen counter, and he can.

As life stands, I clean on the weekends. I try to keep up on the dishes throughout the week, but I work outside the home, and I can’t spend my evenings straightening throw pillows, picking up building blocks, and folding laundry. I’ve tried, but it makes me ragey, and nobody wants to live with a ragey women. So, I limit my rage-cleaning to the weekends. I say rage-cleaning, because it’s nearly impossible to not be ragey when you find an empty juice box behind the sofa for the third week in a row. Or countless pairs of dirty underwear on the hall floor, three feet from the laundry basket. This is just pure laziness.

Damage control happens every Saturday morning, and the whole family is involved, because I’m not picking up your dirty underwear, when you know better than to leave it on the floor in the first place. I provide them with a list of chores, and they groan and complain while they poorly execute them. It’s exhausting to do this every weekend, but I’m nobody’s maid, and they need to learn to live like civilized people.

OK, so back to spring cleaning—it needs to happen, at least in my house. Who even knows the last time I mopped the floors, or cleaned under the furniture. Toys and clothes have been outgrown over the winter, and clutter in general is at an all-time high. I can handle a lot of things, but clutter gives me anxiety, so purging seemed like the right place to start.

I was feeling good about my spring cleaning efforts when I finished purging the first closet, but then I walked into my living room and realized my kids had taken full advantage of my preoccupation. In the 20 minutes it took me to clean out one closet, they had completely destroyed the living room. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill kid mess either; it was a full-blown, category-five shit-storm. Every sheet and blanket from the linen closet had been piled on the floor, along with every stuffed animal in the house. A large toy basket had been overturned at the base of Blanket Mountain, and both kids were perched at the top of the massive plush heap, eating Cheetos, straight out of the bag.

I had to step outside and take a minute, because WTAF?

This is why it’s impossible to spring clean when you live with slobs. While you are busy cleaning up one mess, three more are being created in another room. It wasn’t an impossible mess to clean up, but it took time, which is rare commodity in my life as a mom who works outside the home five days a week. My kids can’t fold the blankets they unfolded without my help, or run the vacuum to clean up Cheetos crumbs.

My husband and I are doing our best to teach our kids to respect our home and their belongings. We ask them to pick up their toys when they are done playing with them, and to eat at the table so our furniture doesn’t become one giant Cheetos stain. But if I’m honest, if feels like they are never going to get it. It feels like they are never going to learn to pick up after themselves.

How many times does a person need to be reminded to put their laundry in the hamper, or throw their trash in the trash can before it sticks? I’m here to tell you, the answer is far beyond what I would have guessed before I became a mother.

So, if you visit me this spring, and my baseboards are dusty, my floors are sticky, and the clutter makes you want to run from my home the minute you come through the door, I apologize. I’m planning to spring clean, but it will probably be a spring season several years from now, when my kids are grown, and no-longer slobs.

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Calm Down, Everyone. It’s Okay To Sleep With Your Dog.

When my ex and I got our dog, I remember my mom distinctly telling me, “Do not let the dog sleep in the bed with you.” So we went out and got a squishy little bed all ready for our pup’s arrival. She wasn’t interested in the dog bed, so we decided to let her sleep on the couch instead. She’d wake us up with her howling. “Let’s try bringing the dog bed into the bedroom,” I suggested.

Well, she wanted no part of it. Exhausted, we just said “fuck it,” and let her get in bed with us. She snuggled right in and passed out. She’s six, and she still sleeps in bed with her people.

But contrary to what some may believe, having your dog sleep in bed with you isn’t a bad thing. It actually doesn’t affect your sleep in a negative way at all.

In a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, the myth that dogs sleeping in their human’s bed has a negative effect on sleep has been debunked. This surely is a relief to those of us who let our furry companions in for a cuddle. For the study, 40 dogs (none of whom were under six months old) were observed for seven days. They were outfitted with a Fitbark (basically a Fitbit for dogs that tracks them at rest and at play) and people wore an Actiwatch 2, which records whether or not they are having a restful sleep. In addition to the trackers recording everyone’s movement every minute, the humans in the study kept a sleep diary.

All of the participants in the study were adults with no sleep disorders, and 88 percent of them were women with an average age of 44. The dogs had an average age of five. If the dog slept in the bed with their human, the average sleep efficiency (amount of time asleep in bed) for the person was 81 percent, which is considered satisfactory. People slept slightly better when the dog wasn’t in the bed, but still in the room. The dogs had an average sleep efficiency of 85 percent no matter where they slept, as long as they were in the bedroom. The study only focused on having one dog in the bed, but Dr. Krahn told the New York Times that she’d like to expand the study further in the future.

See? Having your dog sleep in your bed with you isn’t going to disrupt your sleep in any truly meaningful way.

Dr. Lois E. Krahn, psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, and senior advisor of this study told The New York Times that her 6-year-old golden retriever Phoebe sleeps on her bedroom floor regularly. During colder months, she gets in bed with Dr. Krahn and her husband, and they all sleep “fine.”

I actually prefer sleeping with my dog to sleeping with a human. She is the perfect bed companion; she likes to be close, but she will give me space to at least be able to roll over (something my kid does not do). When I was pregnant, she loved to curl up in the space behind my knees.

With a dog, you don’t usually have to worry about fighting over the blankets, and even though I do know some dogs who like to get cuddly, they usually have their own blanket. My dog does have a thing for sleeping on my pillow, and she is definitely a spot stealer — if I get out of bed, she’ll go right to the warm spot and curl up. But it’s actually kind of endearing.

Sa’iyda Shabazz

Of course, there are some dogs who may not be the best at bed sharing. Veterinarian and director of animal behavioral science at Penn Vet in Philadelphia, Dr. Carlo Siracusa explains, “There are dogs that tend to be more reactive to stimuli. So, for example, if the dog is on the bed and the owner turns and inadvertently hits the dog with the leg, some dogs will get startled and react out of fear,” in a conversation with the Times. He adds, “If there are no problems and the owner is happy with letting the pet in the bedroom, or on the bed, it’s fine with me.”

But if you as the owner are not happy with having your pupper in bed with you, you can rectify the situation. Dr. Siracusa explains that the transition must be gradual, just like if you’re trying to get your kid out of your bed (which we all know is no easy feat). Comfort is key, so figuring out what your dog likes about your bed, whether it’s pillows or blankets, or the warmth of another body is the first step.

Then you can replicate that comfortable space in an area that is more beneficial to you. Maybe they don’t like sleeping on the floor. Elevating them off the ground may be tricky, but it might be worth it not to wake up to dog breath in your face. And who knows? Maybe your dog doesn’t want to sleep in your bed because you’re an annoying sleeper. Nothing clears my dog out of bed faster than a fart.

So, if you love having your pup in your room, fear not. You’re not creating any sort of bad habits for them — or making the night less restful for you. “Dogs can distinguish between the relationship with its human fellows and other dogs, and the way in which they regulate their interactions with humans in the house is not trying to establish a hierarchy,” explains Dr. Siracusa.

You just have to do what’s best for you, your family, and your dog. At least when they drool, they’re cute.

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I Was On ‘Trading Spaces’ (And My Friends Still Talk To Me)

My friends saw this coming. Hell yeah, they did.

They all knew without a doubt there was no way I was ever getting to the premiere of the Trading Spaces reboot without shouting “I DID THAT!” from as many soapboxes that’d hold me.

Tina Drakakis

The truth is, with the exception of tearing up Nashville on my milestone birthday, getting on that ubiquitous show (gulp) fifteen years ago was THE most significant fun I’ve ever had. That it threw me into the pop culture spotlight was more than this publicity-whore could ever fathom.

We had the great fortune of coming in at Season 4, at the height of the show’s popularity. Ratings were soaring so they’d decided to blow out all the stops to keep the momentum steamrolling: with cameras rolling to catch our genuine reactions, we four unsuspecting friends were told our decorating budgets had been increased from $1000 …. to $50,000  (Insert string of disbelieving emojis, which weren’t even a thing back in 2003). We had been selected for their Trading Spaces:  100 Grand! 2-hour special and like Ed McMahon showing up with a cardboard check the size of a canoe, we hit the jackpot.

We spent the weekend listening to Ty Pennington strumming his guitar at night. We saw just how scripted unscripted television really is.  And we formed favorites in the cast (who was our least favorite?  I’d tell you in person only – winking emoji).

Tina Drakakis

It was quite spectacular.

The episode had been pre-planned with nary a nod in our direction.  To them, we were more props than people, but we happily went along for the ride.  Sponsors had been lined up for months and we sat back and watched as trucks of furnishings, appliances, electronics, and plasma TVs (again, the year is 2003 so this was a very Jetsons-like moment) just appeared.

Tina Drakakis

I cried into my lapel mic that unless someone in my graduating class had scaled Mt. Everest that summer I was definitely going to be the hottest sh*t at my upcoming high school reunion. I was.

For a full two weeks following the reveal, after we’d moved back in, given away our old furniture to stunned friends and neighbors and tried to resume a normal life (no easy feat since we were expected to keep things under wraps until our episode aired at the height of sweeps week eight weeks later). I would still come downstairs in the mornings and become overwhelmed with emotion.  I’d look around in disbelief, feeling the adrenaline and exhaustion of the experience come flooding back and sob. Every morning.

Tina Drakakis

I’d dry my tears before the kids came bounding down and did my best to keep them – ages 2 through 10 —  off of $800 white chairs and a $4,500 silk rug and far, far away from a $1,600 table lamp. Side note:  15 years later those chairs, though no longer white (fabric spray paint!) are still holding up and the lamp has survived multiple close calls (because, boys). Not so lucky for the $5,000 plasma tv. Hey. There’s only so much four kids can control (and rumor has it they’re blaming me for that one), but it’s all good.

The publicity for the show’s premiere was behemoth. We were a segment on the Today show, appeared in USA Today and dominated our own local newspapers for weeks. After the show aired, I was stopped in parking lots. Yes, that was me; yes, I’m still using coupons (laughing emoji). Whatever they did was lightning in a bottle: our 2-hours on basic cable garnered the highest ratings a non-network show had ever seen.  And they did it without Twitter.  Imagine that.

Tina Drakakis

To promote the upcoming reboot they’ve been showing lots of old episodes to drum up hype, but I know mine won’t be aired.  My episode aired at the height of the show’s popularity and it was the first of many gimmicks they employed to breathe new life into a show that inevitably saw a revolving door of cast changes. I get it. It happens to the best of shows (we got over it, Mr. Clooney, but we certainly missed our Dr. Ross when you bailed). I know they’ve gone back to basics to give the people what they enjoyed the first go-round (you know, like the simple, original format Roseanne’s currently mining) but that’s okay, I concur with the smart move (and really, I have a VHS.  Again, all good).

We’ve since moved out of our Trading Spaces house and have downgraded to rugs from Home Goods but we keep some framed pictures around the place to remember our good fortune.  Plus, I’ve got a killer scrap book from that time.

I’ll likely talk about it forever, but I guess a once in a lifetime experience like that gets a permanent hall pass. My friends know I still find ways to sneak it into random (cough, deliberate) conversations and they tolerate me all the same.  True story:  I was recently sitting at a restaurant bar chatting with a feisty senior next to me, a fellow Friday-happy-hour-early-bird-special-enthusiast.  She was describing where she lived and — not even kidding — OUT OF THE BLUE said her house was “right near where that TV show came to town.” I think I may have slapped her shoulder. My eyes lit up and I stage whispered “That was us.” My husband actually kicked me but it was for naught; she didn’t even hear me so I let that one go.

Tina Drakakis

I wrote about it all those years ago (check it out here) and due to the statute of limitations that my kids have imposed I probably have to move along from writing about it ever again and simply be content with my memories. I think I can do that.

But I would tell you anything you want to know. Go ahead. Just ask.

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I Was On 'Trading Spaces' (And My Friends Still Talk To Me)

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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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