I’m In The Sweet Spot Of Parenting, And I Don’t Want It To End

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a writing colleague and we got to talking about our children. I mentioned something about my kids cleaning their own bathroom, and that I loved how independent they’ve gotten even though in a lot of ways they still feel little to me. “Ah, yeah,” she said knowingly. “You’re in the sweet spot.”

The sweet spot, she told me, is the enchanted period of a child’s growing up when they are past needing you to wipe their asses and tie their shoes and pack their lunches, but haven’t yet become so independent that they’ve decided they don’t need you at all. Sandwiched between diaper bags and poopy blowouts and unfathomable exhaustion on one side and attitude and sneaking around and pulling away on the other, the sweet spot is the golden age of parenthood.

My sister gave birth to her third child a couple of years ago after an extended gap. There are nine years between her second and third kid. That little boy is the most precious angel to ever grace the surface of the earth, but he’s still a baby, and babies are a shit ton of work. My sister had to regress her lifestyle back to scheduling her days around naps, always having extra diapers and a snack everywhere she goes, and planning vacation sleeping arrangements around a baby who goes to bed four hours earlier than the rest of the family. And someone always has to wake up early, because babies wake up freaking early.

I have friends on the other side of the sweet spot too, friends whose kids are firmly entrenched in their teenage years. My blood pressure rises when they relay their stories of explicit social media exchanges, drugs and alcohol and sneaking around, anxiety over grades and getting into college. I still have total control over what my kids see on the Internet, whether their homework gets done, who they talk too, where they go and for how long and what time they come home… How am I going to relinquish this control?

Seriously, I’m asking. How do you do it?? I think the teen years might actually kill me.

My kids are right in the beautiful, comparatively calm middle of these two extremes. They are capable of impressive levels of critical thinking, and yet still assume I know way more than they do. Just today my son and I had a conversation about terminal velocity. He had no idea he went over my head with his talk of how atmosphere and gravity limits the maximum speed of a falling object. He still thinks I know everything, and far be it for me to correct him just yet.

My 8-year-old daughter is independent, preparing her own breakfast, cleaning her own room, riding her bike by herself to the neighbor’s house down the street. But she still needs me to do a few small things, like brush her hair in the morning before school or read that special picture book just because. When she cries, I am still the first person she runs to. I love that she still needs me like this. She is still my baby, but minus the work of an actual baby.

It’s the same with my 12-year-old. He’s gotten to where he can cook with a fair amount of confidence (and without catching the house on fire), and when he does chores, it’s a genuine help. He cleans the bathroom as thoroughly as I do and even mows the lawn. And yet he still often climbs into my lap for a snuggle. He still likes me to lie beside him at bedtime while he reads his book. He’s not a baby anymore, but he still likes hanging out with me.

Here in the sweet spot, we get to stay out late but can still keep tabs on our kids. I no longer dread the nuclear meltdown that will happen at 8:01 because my baby is not in bed at exactly the appointed time. This past New Year’s Eve we stayed at a friends’ party until 3:00 a.m. My daughter crashed on the couch with a few other kids around 1:00, and my son stayed up partying with the other big kids until 3:00.

And yet my kids aren’t old enough to go out by themselves and get into trouble. I cannot imagine the fear and frustration of waiting up for a kid who is breaking curfew. What if they’re not responding to texts? What if they’re hurt? Or worse? How do parents get through this stage??

I’m going to cherish every moment of this sweet spot. The teenage years are fast approaching, and based on the stories my friends tell, I’ve got a serious roller coaster ride ahead of me. For now though, I’ll put on my blinders and enjoy what time I have left with these sweet babies who, thank goodness, aren’t actual babies.

The post I’m In The Sweet Spot Of Parenting, And I Don’t Want It To End appeared first on Scary Mommy.

One Of My Closest Friendships Ended, And It Still Hurts Like Hell

Around this time two years ago, I was facing an emotional crisis. I started to drift from one of the greatest loves of my life. And it hurt more than anything I’d ever experienced with any boyfriend in the past.

The falling out was spontaneous and I was accused of being neglectful and irritable during pregnancy. There was a time when I saw my moodiness as the cause of the falling out but, truthfully, it was just an excuse. We’d started drifting apart long before, and I didn’t have the heart to let go.

That lost love was the end of my relationship with my best friend. As a result, I began sulking and having nightmares a few times a year. But even though the relationship was over, that wasn’t the end of this person in my life. Whenever she needed someone to increase her confidence or reassure her that [insert name of current boyfriend] was the problem and not her, she’d reappear — only to vanish from my life when I’d seek closure or grow accustomed to her presence.

Each disappearance hurt a thousand times worse than the last. It didn’t take long to see that I was being used. I started catching her telling me pointless lies. And it was clear she didn’t want to commit to my friendship as much as she did her other relationships.

Then one day, she just stopped responding to my messages altogether. And it hurt like hell. 

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever completely heal from that pain. But I know I have to learn to move on if I ever hope to be okay. I know I’m one of many girls who was left high and dry by their best friends after some huge life event. If I had the chance, here’s what I’d like to say to my former friend:

How are you? I hope all is well.

I spend a lot of time thinking about you. A lot more than I should. Especially for someone who decided they didn’t want to be a part of my life anymore.

Sometimes you’re in my dreams. Often it’s me sitting there. You appear and we’re in conflict, but it always gets better. We always reconcile and start the process of rebuilding what we had.

In the world in my head, it doesn’t take long for things to return to normal. We laugh like we used to. We smile like we used to. And we stay out until the wee hours of the morning, laughing at dumb shit like we used to.

The seven to eight hours in dreamland feel like months or years. It’s so convincing that I return to the times you were the first person I would call when anything happened. Certainly long enough for me to expect to see your name attached to the notification on my phone when I wake up.

But a return to consciousness means a return on pain. Each blink of my eyes erodes the world of hope for reconciliation and returns me to a contemporary land of abandonment and lies. More often than not, I cry.

I miss the way we could find something funny about a blank sheet of paper.

We’ve seen each other naked, without awkwardness, more times than I could count. We had a level of intimacy that knew no bounds. I would sit in the bathroom and talk with you while you showered or talk with you through the door while you used the toilet. 

You were more than my friend. You were my sister. We were Thema and Lousie.

I’ve wiped the tears from your eyes with my hand. In the past, you have given me the literal shirt off your back.

Our book of history had more stories than one could imagine. But now all I have are the pictures.

The pictures of my biggest successes that all have one thing in common — you are there. Until one day, you weren’t anymore.

Now I’m left with these pictures that I am afraid to delete because I would hate for you to come back one day and I’d have not saved them.  

We’ve fought before, but never for this long. We’re different people now.

I don’t know why, but I can feel it. I have little faith we will be together again, and it’s been painful.  

But then something changed. You found something that you always wanted, and we didn’t fit anymore.

It hurts that you went from self-proclaimed godmother to not acknowledging the birth of my first child.

But there’s something that I want you to know. Hearing your name might be like a punch to the gut, but I wish still you success in life. I check on you through social media to be sure you’re okay. I ask mutual friends how you’re doing. And I always will.

I do not regret a single late night rush to be at your side. I would not take back a single dollar spent to see you smile. I will never try to replace the hole that you left in my heart when you decided you didn’t want to be my friend anymore.

But I cannot hold on and obsess any longer. You have made it very clear where you stand. And I am now letting go.

Making Friends As A Mom Is Really Hard, But Here’s What I’ve Learned

I’d just moved 800 miles away from my family when I found out I was expecting a child. My husband’s job required that he work unpredictable hours and travel for extended periods of time. Like many expecting moms, I was lonely. To make things worse, I’m an ambivert — there are times when I crave and enjoy social interaction, but there are often times when I want to be left alone, only emerging to make sure that my son has food and someone to dump his potty.

In a perfect world, moms like me could type in their interests into an app and be connected to a compatible mommy buddy. Just think about it, a Tinder for mom friends — swipes and all. Imagine how much benefit we could get from that. So many of us have tried to use Facebook as a friend finder, but let’s be real, those relationships hardly ever turn into anything aside from broken playdate promises.

Bottom line: It’s really hard to find friends as a new mom.

And for people like me who battle anxiety and depression, making friends can be exceptionally hard. Thankfully, I’ve learned a little bit about some of the best ways to establish and cultivate new friendships. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:

Be upfront.

I’ve noticed that things go better for me when I let others know exactly what to expect from me when I feel an interest in the relationship. I also understand that some people think that might be revealing too much too soon. But as I said before, there are periods of time when my friends won’t hear from me for weeks, if not months, at a time. There’s nothing wrong with taking the space you need as long as you are transparent about it within your relationships. No one deserves to be strung along and discarded suddenly.

If you are the type of person who needs space from time to time, let your friends know that. Any good friend will understand.

Don’t pretend.

It’s never good to pretend to be someone you’re not. This is especially important when trying to establish new friendships. When I first moved to the place I live now, I was in dire need of friends. So I started meeting up with mothers who shared some of my secondary interests — things that I thought were cool, but did not have a deep understanding of or desire to learn, like knitting and sewing.

At the time, I was excited to have moms to interact with and feel like I had a circle of friends. Fast forward years later and I don’t interact with any of those women. We had very different political beliefs, including ideas about religion, oppression, and gender equality. At the time, though, I saw those minor interests as a gateway to a long-term relationship. They weren’t.

There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, but it’s also okay if you don’t get along with everyone. It’s perfectly fine to miss out on a few friendship meet-ups if it saves you the few weeks or years of heartbreak.

Don’t take it personally.

There will be plenty of people who you think you hit it off with, but they feel completely different about the relationship. It’s normal to get a friend request, but they never respond to your messages again. It just means that you two were not compatible. I know it’s difficult, but don’t take it personally. You deserve to have friends who have mutual investment in the relationship. Don’t try to force any type of relationship that comes off as one-sided. You’ll feel better in the long run.

Keep searching.

I cannot overstate the importance of not giving up on the journey for finding compatible friends. I know, you’re tired of meeting duds and going on friendship dates with nothing to show for it. But I promise someone is out there for you. You can believe someone is out there based off of some kind of divine inspiration of the universe looking out for you. Or you can look at it through the lens of social science like I do.

As much as we like to believe we are extremely diverse as humans, we’re not. There is less than 0.1% difference in each of us regardless of race, religion, or gender orientation. That said, I can statistically guarantee you that there is someone out there who shares your feelings and will be compatible with your friendship style. All you have to do is find them.

Moving forced me to do a lot of thinking about the work involved in establishing friendships. I was surprised to discover that old cliche “I was looking for something that was right in front of me” was true. The people that you met earlier on in your life could be exactly what you need when you’re feeling lonely. I’ve gotten much closer to my hometown friends in the last few years. The distance may be great, but the love feels greater.

Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List

I love a good list. LOVE. THEM. A few years ago, I covered our kitchen chalkboard in this epic Summer Bucket List.

That was two years ago and it was perfect for the sort of summer I wanted for my kids. They were the perfect age to go DO ALL THE THINGS! No more diaper bags. Everyone could make it through the day without a nap. I had just left a job where I had been working full-time, outside of my house and I felt like I was missing out.

It was time to pack in the fun!

 

And we did. It was so great and I’m so glad we did it.

But as my kids have gotten just a bit older, I’m ready to shift gears a little bit.

To shift from “Entertainment Director” to “Life Coach.”

It sounds so boring, right?

As if I’ll be asking my kids to spend the summer grinding their own wheat and beating their clothes on rocks to clean them.

Here me out.

For the last few years, the “Summer Bucket List” or “Holiday Fun List” has been a study in my ability to conduct expert Google searches for entertainment and activities and “must see” events.

But I’ve noticed that we’re tip-toeing into a world where my kids arise from bed every morning wondering what wonderful thing we’ve prepared for them today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of wonderful things. BIG. FAN. (Just went to Disneyland, so I’m not trying to pretend I’m not all about the magic.) But I’m also a big believer in boredom as a creativity booster.

Also; there are no Entertainment Directors when you’re a grown up. Life is not always a non-stop party and I want my kids to learn these critical skills:

  1. Connecting with people.
  2. Finding the joy in everyday things.

 

I decided to rethink our Summer Bucket List.

Instead of “what should we do?” I asked “what do I want to get out of this summer?”

  • Quality time and connection.
  • Practice skills for a happy life.
  • Practice being a big kid.

This shift means that instead of a long list of ticketed activities, I’ve got a summer bucket list that looks something like this:

Teach the kids “slow fun.”

Screen-free old school fun; puzzles, board games, cards, reading in the shade. If you don’t bust out the board games, how are your kids going to learn the art of trash-talking, or how darn smart their Grandpa is, or how sneaky their Grandma can be. My kids come from a long-line of card players—they need to be properly trained. Those are the moments that connect you to your family and reinforce how to have fun, without a screen.

Spend time with our extended family.

Sunday BBQ’s, cook with Grandma, camping and visits with our extended family. Traditions are built one Sunday, and one summer at a time. More people knowing, loving, and enriching the lives of my kids is a good thing.

Connection to the neighborhood.

Knock on doors, use up all the sidewalk chalk, share our popsicles. Those are the things that really belong on a summer bucket list. I’m not setting up “playdates” or texting to make arrangements to play. They need to figure this stuff out.

Appreciation and exposure to the outdoors.

Hike, go to the lake, hit the bike trail, post-dinner walks to the park, dinner picnics in the mountains. We are lucky to live 25 minutes away from straight-up wilderness, we should be taking advantage of it more.

Room to be creative with their time!

Protect downtime and provide open access to craft supplies and the blanket fort box. “Boredom” breeds some of the most entertaining creative play I’ve ever had the privilege to eavesdrop on. 

Learn a few routines and responsibilities.

Standard chores, help with big projects, work for hire. I’ve not been consistent with chores and now sometimes my kids simply walk away from their dinner plate and, OH HECK NO, that’s not going to work for me. Or for them in the long term.

Skills for a happy life.

Cooking nutritious meals, eating outside, watching sunsets, sitting on the porch and enjoying a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Yes, I realize most of those revolve around food. But food is an absolutely GLORIOUS part of life and I want my kids to be able to cook delicious food for themselves one day.

To try new things and challenge ourselves.

Try the climbing gym. Try a slack line. Train for the next Taekwondo tournament. My kids are well out of that window where everything is new and hard and takes so much work to master—remember when we were pumped when our kids learned to walk? I want them to have a chance to be a beginner again. Brave is a muscle. You have to use it to keep it.

Do FUN Things with our tribe.

Meet our friends at the food truck park. Take a small army of moms and kids to the lake. Driveway fireworks party with the neighbors. Family is wonderful, but the family you pick? Those people are magic.

Serve others.

Think of ways to help, surprise, and dish up joy to the friends, family, and even strangers in our lives. Learn how good it feels to do something because you know that someone is going to feel special because of your efforts.

So, maybe this isn’t the big dazzling summer bucket list you were hoping for when you clicked on this post, but I’m looking forward to a summer of spending less; less money, less time on screens, and less time hustling.

And getting more;

More quality time together.
More feeling like I’m helping raise my kids into wonderful adults.
More memories with the people we love.

There is such a huge benefit for kids when families can focus their energy and finances on experiences over things. (Kalli wrote a fantastic post about this around Christmas time. Go read it.)

Other posts you might enjoy…

Planning a Family Vacation? When Should You Begin?

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

On the Ugly Business of Comparison: A Letter to Us Moms

The post Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List appeared first on TodaysMama.

Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List

I love a good list. LOVE. THEM. A few years ago, I covered our kitchen chalkboard in this epic Summer Bucket List.

That was two years ago and it was perfect for the sort of summer I wanted for my kids. They were the perfect age to go DO ALL THE THINGS! No more diaper bags. Everyone could make it through the day without a nap. I had just left a job where I had been working full-time, outside of my house and I felt like I was missing out.

It was time to pack in the fun!

 

And we did. It was so great and I’m so glad we did it.

But as my kids have gotten just a bit older, I’m ready to shift gears a little bit.

To shift from “Entertainment Director” to “Life Coach.”

It sounds so boring, right?

As if I’ll be asking my kids to spend the summer grinding their own wheat and beating their clothes on rocks to clean them.

Here me out.

For the last few years, the “Summer Bucket List” or “Holiday Fun List” has been a study in my ability to conduct expert Google searches for entertainment and activities and “must see” events.

But I’ve noticed that we’re tip-toeing into a world where my kids arise from bed every morning wondering what wonderful thing we’ve prepared for them today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of wonderful things. BIG. FAN. (Just went to Disneyland, so I’m not trying to pretend I’m not all about the magic.) But I’m also a big believer in boredom as a creativity booster.

Also; there are no Entertainment Directors when you’re a grown up. Life is not always a non-stop party and I want my kids to learn these critical skills:

  1. Connecting with people.
  2. Finding the joy in everyday things.

 

I decided to rethink our Summer Bucket List.

Instead of “what should we do?” I asked “what do I want to get out of this summer?”

  • Quality time and connection.
  • Practice skills for a happy life.
  • Practice being a big kid.

This shift means that instead of a long list of ticketed activities, I’ve got a summer bucket list that looks something like this:

Teach the kids “slow fun.”

Screen-free old school fun; puzzles, board games, cards, reading in the shade. If you don’t bust out the board games, how are your kids going to learn the art of trash-talking, or how darn smart their Grandpa is, or how sneaky their Grandma can be. My kids come from a long-line of card players—they need to be properly trained. Those are the moments that connect you to your family and reinforce how to have fun, without a screen.

Spend time with our extended family.

Sunday BBQ’s, cook with Grandma, camping and visits with our extended family. Traditions are built one Sunday, and one summer at a time. More people knowing, loving, and enriching the lives of my kids is a good thing.

Connection to the neighborhood.

Knock on doors, use up all the sidewalk chalk, share our popsicles. Those are the things that really belong on a summer bucket list. I’m not setting up “playdates” or texting to make arrangements to play. They need to figure this stuff out.

Appreciation and exposure to the outdoors.

Hike, go to the lake, hit the bike trail, post-dinner walks to the park, dinner picnics in the mountains. We are lucky to live 25 minutes away from straight-up wilderness, we should be taking advantage of it more.

Room to be creative with their time!

Protect downtime and provide open access to craft supplies and the blanket fort box. “Boredom” breeds some of the most entertaining creative play I’ve ever had the privilege to eavesdrop on. 

Learn a few routines and responsibilities.

Standard chores, help with big projects, work for hire. I’ve not been consistent with chores and now sometimes my kids simply walk away from their dinner plate and, OH HECK NO, that’s not going to work for me. Or for them in the long term.

Skills for a happy life.

Cooking nutritious meals, eating outside, watching sunsets, sitting on the porch and enjoying a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Yes, I realize most of those revolve around food. But food is an absolutely GLORIOUS part of life and I want my kids to be able to cook delicious food for themselves one day.

To try new things and challenge ourselves.

Try the climbing gym. Try a slack line. Train for the next Taekwondo tournament. My kids are well out of that window where everything is new and hard and takes so much work to master—remember when we were pumped when our kids learned to walk? I want them to have a chance to be a beginner again. Brave is a muscle. You have to use it to keep it.

Do FUN Things with our tribe.

Meet our friends at the food truck park. Take a small army of moms and kids to the lake. Driveway fireworks party with the neighbors. Family is wonderful, but the family you pick? Those people are magic.

Serve others.

Think of ways to help, surprise, and dish up joy to the friends, family, and even strangers in our lives. Learn how good it feels to do something because you know that someone is going to feel special because of your efforts.

So, maybe this isn’t the big dazzling summer bucket list you were hoping for when you clicked on this post, but I’m looking forward to a summer of spending less; less money, less time on screens, and less time hustling.

And getting more;

More quality time together.
More feeling like I’m helping raise my kids into wonderful adults.
More memories with the people we love.

There is such a huge benefit for kids when families can focus their energy and finances on experiences over things. (Kalli wrote a fantastic post about this around Christmas time. Go read it.)

Other posts you might enjoy…

Planning a Family Vacation? When Should You Begin?

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

On the Ugly Business of Comparison: A Letter to Us Moms

The post Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List appeared first on TodaysMama.

Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List

I love a good list. LOVE. THEM. A few years ago, I covered our kitchen chalkboard in this epic Summer Bucket List.

That was two years ago and it was perfect for the sort of summer I wanted for my kids. They were the perfect age to go DO ALL THE THINGS! No more diaper bags. Everyone could make it through the day without a nap. I had just left a job where I had been working full-time, outside of my house and I felt like I was missing out.

It was time to pack in the fun!

 

And we did. It was so great and I’m so glad we did it.

But as my kids have gotten just a bit older, I’m ready to shift gears a little bit.

To shift from “Entertainment Director” to “Life Coach.”

It sounds so boring, right?

As if I’ll be asking my kids to spend the summer grinding their own wheat and beating their clothes on rocks to clean them.

Here me out.

For the last few years, the “Summer Bucket List” or “Holiday Fun List” has been a study in my ability to conduct expert Google searches for entertainment and activities and “must see” events.

But I’ve noticed that we’re tip-toeing into a world where my kids arise from bed every morning wondering what wonderful thing we’ve prepared for them today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of wonderful things. BIG. FAN. (Just went to Disneyland, so I’m not trying to pretend I’m not all about the magic.) But I’m also a big believer in boredom as a creativity booster.

Also; there are no Entertainment Directors when you’re a grown up. Life is not always a non-stop party and I want my kids to learn these critical skills:

  1. Connecting with people.
  2. Finding the joy in everyday things.

 

I decided to rethink our Summer Bucket List.

Instead of “what should we do?” I asked “what do I want to get out of this summer?”

  • Quality time and connection.
  • Practice skills for a happy life.
  • Practice being a big kid.

This shift means that instead of a long list of ticketed activities, I’ve got a summer bucket list that looks something like this:

Teach the kids “slow fun.”

Screen-free old school fun; puzzles, board games, cards, reading in the shade. If you don’t bust out the board games, how are your kids going to learn the art of trash-talking, or how darn smart their Grandpa is, or how sneaky their Grandma can be. My kids come from a long-line of card players—they need to be properly trained. Those are the moments that connect you to your family and reinforce how to have fun, without a screen.

Spend time with our extended family.

Sunday BBQ’s, cook with Grandma, camping and visits with our extended family. Traditions are built one Sunday, and one summer at a time. More people knowing, loving, and enriching the lives of my kids is a good thing.

Connection to the neighborhood.

Knock on doors, use up all the sidewalk chalk, share our popsicles. Those are the things that really belong on a summer bucket list. I’m not setting up “playdates” or texting to make arrangements to play. They need to figure this stuff out.

Appreciation and exposure to the outdoors.

Hike, go to the lake, hit the bike trail, post-dinner walks to the park, dinner picnics in the mountains. We are lucky to live 25 minutes away from straight-up wilderness, we should be taking advantage of it more.

Room to be creative with their time!

Protect downtime and provide open access to craft supplies and the blanket fort box. “Boredom” breeds some of the most entertaining creative play I’ve ever had the privilege to eavesdrop on. 

Learn a few routines and responsibilities.

Standard chores, help with big projects, work for hire. I’ve not been consistent with chores and now sometimes my kids simply walk away from their dinner plate and, OH HECK NO, that’s not going to work for me. Or for them in the long term.

Skills for a happy life.

Cooking nutritious meals, eating outside, watching sunsets, sitting on the porch and enjoying a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Yes, I realize most of those revolve around food. But food is an absolutely GLORIOUS part of life and I want my kids to be able to cook delicious food for themselves one day.

To try new things and challenge ourselves.

Try the climbing gym. Try a slack line. Train for the next Taekwondo tournament. My kids are well out of that window where everything is new and hard and takes so much work to master—remember when we were pumped when our kids learned to walk? I want them to have a chance to be a beginner again. Brave is a muscle. You have to use it to keep it.

Do FUN Things with our tribe.

Meet our friends at the food truck park. Take a small army of moms and kids to the lake. Driveway fireworks party with the neighbors. Family is wonderful, but the family you pick? Those people are magic.

Serve others.

Think of ways to help, surprise, and dish up joy to the friends, family, and even strangers in our lives. Learn how good it feels to do something because you know that someone is going to feel special because of your efforts.

So, maybe this isn’t the big dazzling summer bucket list you were hoping for when you clicked on this post, but I’m looking forward to a summer of spending less; less money, less time on screens, and less time hustling.

And getting more;

More quality time together.
More feeling like I’m helping raise my kids into wonderful adults.
More memories with the people we love.

There is such a huge benefit for kids when families can focus their energy and finances on experiences over things. (Kalli wrote a fantastic post about this around Christmas time. Go read it.)

Other posts you might enjoy…

Planning a Family Vacation? When Should You Begin?

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

On the Ugly Business of Comparison: A Letter to Us Moms

The post Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List appeared first on TodaysMama.

10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips)

It was 1996. School was out for the summer. And there we were, red Squeez-Its in hand, taking a much-deserved break from our latest MC Hammer trampoline choreography. I’d seen a million days like this—though we did throw some No Doubt, Will Smith, and Aqua into the dance mix for good measure—and I’d see what felt like a million more.

But then the 90s ended and things changed. Frosted tips were out, and so were my perfect childhood summers. But if I could bring just 10 things back from those beautiful days, you bet it’d be these.

90s summer fun

1. Rollerblading—Duh. The quintessential form of exercise, mode of transportation, and reason for road rash of the 90s.

2. Trampoline sleepovers—Waking up sweating in your sleeping bag, smashed on every side because the eeny-meeny-miny-mo gods condemned you to the middle spot…again. And—bonus—there were no concerns about four young girls being snatched from the un-fenced side yard.

3. Boy Meets World—Because let’s face it, Girl Meets World just isn’t cutting it and nothing could ever represent the definitively 90s neighborhood vibes better than Eric yelling Feeeeeeeeeney out the back door.

4. Land lines—Yes, the prank calling was best done with the provocative risk of a parent answering, but what I really want back is the idea of not being at everyone else’s beck and call 1440 minutes a day (that’s all of them, by the way) because of the blessed/cursed mass propagation of the cell phone.

5. All-day play dates—That were never called that. It was called life. You left in the morning and, so long as you came home at night, what you did in between was a time warp left to your imagination. So many adventures that could never happen with today’s structured “play” regimen.

6. The community pool—Do these still exist? I mean, the way they used to? With the entire family there, picnicking between high dives and underwater somersaulting contests?

7. The Skip-It—Obviously the ankle cuts were worth it, but “the very best part of aaaaaaall, there’s a <pause> counter on this ball!!” I’ll never forget that jam. And was there a greater accomplishment than outskipping your BFFs? I think not.

90s summer skipit

8. Reasonable pay for family chores—There was over half an acre of grass on our property and if I mowed the entire thing, I earned $9. That would now be a job for professionals with a trailer full of equipment and they’d charge $100. Ugh. What has happened to slave child labor?

9. Caboodles—How else would you carry your Polly Pocket collection, LipSmackers, and Pogs all at the same time??

10. Innocence—And not just mine. But the world’s. Sure, there was OJ. And the Lewinsky stuff. And… Well, maybe it wasn’t all the best, but as a kid, it wasn’t shoved in our faces like today. We were ignorantly blissful for the most part, like kids should get to be.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

Scientific Proof That a Beyoncé Concert Could Literally Change Your Life

Cake Mix Cookies The Monster List of Recipes

Planning a Family Vacation – When Should You Begin?

The post 10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips) appeared first on TodaysMama.

10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips)

It was 1996. School was out for the summer. And there we were, red Squeez-Its in hand, taking a much-deserved break from our latest MC Hammer trampoline choreography. I’d seen a million days like this—though we did throw some No Doubt, Will Smith, and Aqua into the dance mix for good measure—and I’d see what felt like a million more.

But then the 90s ended and things changed. Frosted tips were out, and so were my perfect childhood summers. But if I could bring just 10 things back from those beautiful days, you bet it’d be these.

90s summer fun

1. Rollerblading—Duh. The quintessential form of exercise, mode of transportation, and reason for road rash of the 90s.

2. Trampoline sleepovers—Waking up sweating in your sleeping bag, smashed on every side because the eeny-meeny-miny-mo gods condemned you to the middle spot…again. And—bonus—there were no concerns about four young girls being snatched from the un-fenced side yard.

3. Boy Meets World—Because let’s face it, Girl Meets World just isn’t cutting it and nothing could ever represent the definitively 90s neighborhood vibes better than Eric yelling Feeeeeeeeeney out the back door.

4. Land lines—Yes, the prank calling was best done with the provocative risk of a parent answering, but what I really want back is the idea of not being at everyone else’s beck and call 1440 minutes a day (that’s all of them, by the way) because of the blessed/cursed mass propagation of the cell phone.

5. All-day play dates—That were never called that. It was called life. You left in the morning and, so long as you came home at night, what you did in between was a time warp left to your imagination. So many adventures that could never happen with today’s structured “play” regimen.

6. The community pool—Do these still exist? I mean, the way they used to? With the entire family there, picnicking between high dives and underwater somersaulting contests?

7. The Skip-It—Obviously the ankle cuts were worth it, but “the very best part of aaaaaaall, there’s a <pause> counter on this ball!!” I’ll never forget that jam. And was there a greater accomplishment than outskipping your BFFs? I think not.

90s summer skipit

8. Reasonable pay for family chores—There was over half an acre of grass on our property and if I mowed the entire thing, I earned $9. That would now be a job for professionals with a trailer full of equipment and they’d charge $100. Ugh. What has happened to slave child labor?

9. Caboodles—How else would you carry your Polly Pocket collection, LipSmackers, and Pogs all at the same time??

10. Innocence—And not just mine. But the world’s. Sure, there was OJ. And the Lewinsky stuff. And… Well, maybe it wasn’t all the best, but as a kid, it wasn’t shoved in our faces like today. We were ignorantly blissful for the most part, like kids should get to be.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

Scientific Proof That a Beyoncé Concert Could Literally Change Your Life

Cake Mix Cookies The Monster List of Recipes

Planning a Family Vacation – When Should You Begin?

The post 10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips) appeared first on TodaysMama.

10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips)

It was 1996. School was out for the summer. And there we were, red Squeez-Its in hand, taking a much-deserved break from our latest MC Hammer trampoline choreography. I’d seen a million days like this—though we did throw some No Doubt, Will Smith, and Aqua into the dance mix for good measure—and I’d see what felt like a million more.

But then the 90s ended and things changed. Frosted tips were out, and so were my perfect childhood summers. But if I could bring just 10 things back from those beautiful days, you bet it’d be these.

90s summer fun

1. Rollerblading—Duh. The quintessential form of exercise, mode of transportation, and reason for road rash of the 90s.

2. Trampoline sleepovers—Waking up sweating in your sleeping bag, smashed on every side because the eeny-meeny-miny-mo gods condemned you to the middle spot…again. And—bonus—there were no concerns about four young girls being snatched from the un-fenced side yard.

3. Boy Meets World—Because let’s face it, Girl Meets World just isn’t cutting it and nothing could ever represent the definitively 90s neighborhood vibes better than Eric yelling Feeeeeeeeeney out the back door.

4. Land lines—Yes, the prank calling was best done with the provocative risk of a parent answering, but what I really want back is the idea of not being at everyone else’s beck and call 1440 minutes a day (that’s all of them, by the way) because of the blessed/cursed mass propagation of the cell phone.

5. All-day play dates—That were never called that. It was called life. You left in the morning and, so long as you came home at night, what you did in between was a time warp left to your imagination. So many adventures that could never happen with today’s structured “play” regimen.

6. The community pool—Do these still exist? I mean, the way they used to? With the entire family there, picnicking between high dives and underwater somersaulting contests?

7. The Skip-It—Obviously the ankle cuts were worth it, but “the very best part of aaaaaaall, there’s a <pause> counter on this ball!!” I’ll never forget that jam. And was there a greater accomplishment than outskipping your BFFs? I think not.

90s summer skipit

8. Reasonable pay for family chores—There was over half an acre of grass on our property and if I mowed the entire thing, I earned $9. That would now be a job for professionals with a trailer full of equipment and they’d charge $100. Ugh. What has happened to slave child labor?

9. Caboodles—How else would you carry your Polly Pocket collection, LipSmackers, and Pogs all at the same time??

10. Innocence—And not just mine. But the world’s. Sure, there was OJ. And the Lewinsky stuff. And… Well, maybe it wasn’t all the best, but as a kid, it wasn’t shoved in our faces like today. We were ignorantly blissful for the most part, like kids should get to be.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

Scientific Proof That a Beyoncé Concert Could Literally Change Your Life

Cake Mix Cookies The Monster List of Recipes

Planning a Family Vacation – When Should You Begin?

The post 10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips) appeared first on TodaysMama.

5 Rules I Don’t Enforce In The Summer

It’s time to start thinking about summer rules. Before you know it, school will be out for the summer and it’s important to keep some structure for your kids. But before you start crafting your summer rules, think first about what rules you are willing to throw out the window during the summer break. More and more, our kids are tied to electronics and the indoors. Remember those days of playing in the neighborhood with friends until dark? That doesn’t really happen in American society today, at least not as much. And then there is the summer bucket list (which I think is great). But it’s still a list of things to be checked off. Can you see where I’m going here? I’m all for structure and summer rules but I also think it’s the perfect time for me to lay off a little and see where summer takes us.

 

1. Time for bed

All year long we struggle at bedtime. Get your teeth brushed! Floss your teeth! Get your jammies on! GO TO SLEEP! And it is all in the name of getting your children in bed at a certain hour, sometimes to the minute. If they don’t get enough sleep, they’re going to be cranky. If they don’t fall asleep soon, I’ll go nuts. If I have to get one more thing for them before bed (a snack, a drink, a stuffed animal), I’m going to lose it. Whatever the reason, I take a well-deserved break from the tension-filled bed time routine. I don’t do it every night and I recognize that they still need their sleep but I’m far less tied to a certain time. If we are having fun playing a game, I won’t shut it down all in the name of 8:00 pm. I’m willing to go out somewhere with the kids after dinner and stay out until dark in the quest to enjoy summer.  My kids tire out on their own, are able to wind down and are way more reasonable when we offer flexibility. Many times, if we’ve had a really full day out in the sun, they’re ready for bed at a reasonable time anyway. Somehow getting rid of that specific “bedtime”, we all take it a little easier.

Stay out until dark - Summer Rules

 

2. No treats before dinner

I’m not saying that I completely throw my kids’ nutrition out of the window but I am certainly more willing to allow them to have a treat without worrying that it will ruin a meal. We make frozen treats all summer long. I also stock up on ice cream treats so that when the ice cream truck comes through our neighborhood, they can run to my freezer instead of over-spending on that same treat from the truck. When the kids have been at the pool or have been playing in the sprinklers, it is just a perfect time for a cold treat and if it’s an hour before dinner, I don’t sweat it.

Summer Rules - Frozen Treats

 

3. Homework packets

My kids get an optional homework packet every summer which we promptly discard. Of course I recognize that the summer brain drain is real but summer is a time for my kids to explore learning and reading on their own terms. We visit the library almost weekly and I encourage them to check out non-fiction books along with what they are currently reading. We will often check out books about arts, crafts or science and try a new project or experiment. There isn’t an end to their learning during the summer, I just try to let the kids direct it themselves.

 

4. It’s breakfast/lunch/dinner time

We are so scheduled in our meals during the school year. My son hates breakfast. He has an especially hard time because he has to eat it quickly before school. My daughters had lunch last year at school at 10:50 am. That’s not even close to lunch time. Summer affords us flexibility. My son loves to sleep in and it’s not uncommon for him to have his own little brunch in the summer. The un-rule with meals in summer is to eat when you’re hungry, not when you are scheduled to eat a meal.

 

5. Don’t make a mess

I take a page from my husband and let a mess happen every once in a while with my kids. It seems to make my head explode during the school year to get out the paint or to let them play in the dirt but during the summer, I’m willing to let them get messy, wet, dirty, etc. I keep old towels in my car all summer long just for this reason. When they start wading in the creek, I know that even if I tell them not to get wet, they’re going to end up completely wet and muddy. By preparing ahead of time, I may pretend to put up a little fight but really, I’m just watching them have the time of their lives.

Summer Rules - Get Dirty

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

6 Vacation Supplies You Shouldn’t Pack

Science Says: Stay Bare Down There

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

The post 5 Rules I Don’t Enforce In The Summer appeared first on TodaysMama.