Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Featured Inspiration, Kids Activity Ideas, minimalism, painting, Ponderings about life, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder

Is Boredom why Your Kids are Squabbling this Summer?

How’s your summer going, parents?  Staying sane and happy? It’s been a bit over a week since we got back from vacation, and I am still trying to get the laundry under control…But at least it’s off the couch today! When a mom’s got work to do, there’s nothing so irksome as squabbling kiddos, eh?!

As I try to be productive and get the house back in order, I’ve noticed that to minimize interruptions due to my kids’ arguments, I’ve got to nip their boredom in the bud! I’ll clarify that I believe there is a positive state similar to boredom, which is space for the mind to wander, get lost in imagination, and enjoy not having to do anything at all.  Having opportunity for that can be a very good thing because it leaves space for contentment without busyness.

The problem comes when you get restless and brooding boredom, that tension between pent-up energy and no appealing outlet for it, that often leads to inappropriate expressions.  So, your kids are home from school with you and you want to harness that energy constructively, without resorting to mesmerizing them with screens all day, right? What can you do to banish boredom?

My best boredom-busting tip and survival secret as a mom has been planning OUTSIDE TIME! Maybe it’s that the sensory diet is so rich–ambient noises of birds, the feel of the breeze, the colors and smells of flowers, etc., that seems to soothe tempestuous little people.  In fact, when my kids are in an emotional storm, I often give them an option to head out back to calm down…and it has yet to stop working.

Here’s a list of 4 easy ways you can beat boredom and add some outdoor magic to your summer days:

1.  Paint outside like a master (this is especially ideal for mommas who cringe at the idea of the mess that craft/paint projects can bring with them).  Have the kiddos wear old clothes and head outside with some finger paints and put up some big blank art pages (or recycle by using some newspaper or cardboard) on your fence or shed. (Make sure it’s washable of course.) 

 

 
2.  Picnic on your porch or in your backyard. Simple smoothies, watermelon or popsicle/ other snacks count, too. We do this frequently and my kids suggest it themselves often.  I love my covered patio swing because even when I’m worn out, my kids and I can go enjoy some shade and sit together as I rest with a cup of tea in my hands! They usually finish their snack up and scamper off to play nearby while I recharge.

3.  Schedule some Park time We keep revisiting a peaceful sandy spot near a river. It has a swing which appeals to my daughter, and my son loves digging in the sand or catching minnows with his über fun telescopic net!  You could combine #1 and park time for even more cool-mom points! It’s pretty easy to throw together sandwiches and carrot sticks plus yogurt tubes for al fresco fare. 

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4.  People, learn about your local historic landmarks! It’s fun!! My family loves history and actually going to historic spots really makes the books about long-past time periods come alive.  (BTW, no need for a gym membership in 1735.  Those buckets are HEAVY!)

 

Yesterday we found a free event called the Lavender Festival at Hancock’s Resolution, a farm established in 1733 that even included beekeeping education with a working apiary.  (Did you know a queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs if needed, and that the workers determine the sex of new bees by what they feed the queen?!)

 


But, if it’s a rainy day, remember you have indoor options too!  You got this! Go forth and carpe diem!

*I’ve used affiliate links for your convenience should you be interested in obtaining something I mentioned.  Commissions as an Amazon Affiliate member help me out as I provide free content for your enjoyment!  Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, sensory processing disorder

My Favorite SPD Books and Resources for Families

When my son began having disproportionately large meltdowns around the age of two over how things felt and big emotions, and in turn I was struggling to parent him well, figuring out how his mind works really helped me.  I read all these books and they helped me piece together the puzzle of my precious, smart, but inflexible and easily frustrated child.  I hope you can find encouragement and enlightenment in them as well! But first, check out this helpful checklist of common symptoms of SPD in age-specific groupings: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/sensory-processing-issues-what-youre-seeing

( These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associates member, I hope to save you time searching for something I mention that you may find helpful, too.  If you make a purchase there is no extra cost to you, but it provides me with a small commission that helps me as I continue providing content for you! Thanks for your support!)

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Featured Inspiration, minimalism, Ponderings about life

Still Learning

While I enjoy being creative with the video editing itself as I attempt this Youtube channel endeavor, it has been a struggle learning the right way to store the videos (and not lose all my many hours of edited videos.  *sigh*).  My phone quickly runs out of storage, so my husband showed me how to use the network storage.  However, if a video I’ve used in Shotcut is no longer where it was originally accessed when editing, the edited video shows up as missing, and the Shotcut file won’t play.  Heartbreak, truly.  Oh well, live and learn.  The beat goes on!

Here’s the channel intro I did, and a few other videos are in the editing/planning process.

My favorite part, as always, is my dog Kody (he’s a 4-yr.-old chihuahua-shitzhu mix) wanting to be in the spotlight on my lap or racing around at the end of the video.   But the Fabric Magic embroidery project/Instant Pot part was also a lot of fun.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

From Survival Mode to Creative Zone Again

When life was just about day-to-day survival and I wasn’t feeling very creative, I knew I needed to do something to get un-stuck. Four years of deeply wading through the weight of everything that was keeping me in survival mode, praying for hope and joy despite my circumstances, and trying to discover what my unique purpose was, and something finally started to grow in me.  It started with me determining to let go of anything that was weighing me down.

First, I got some counseling to uncover the root of my anxiety and start working on better ways to cope with stress.  Soapbox moment: I wish everyone thought of counseling as normal and ok, like a tuneup on your car, instead of viewing it as a stigma. (BTW, if you think you just can’t afford a counselor, there are sometimes scholarship programs available.  You might have to do some digging, but you’re worth the effort! There are also low-fee options like TalkSpace, $25 for a month and be able to text a counselor when you need.  Michael Phelps shares his experience with therapy here: at Talkspace ).

We all have issues (like the pressurizing problem of perfectionism) and limiting beliefs. It’s not a mark of failure, but of wisdom to ask for help to get you optimized.
and having an unbiased individual to help sort them out is kind of like hiring a professional organizer who helps you declutter and put things in a more ideal setup.  

Speaking of which, back before I ever heard of Konmari, I thought I needed to get my house organized, because my mess was overwhelming me.  That ushered me into the idea of decluttering, which ushered me into the realm of minimalism (which, for me, isn’t a strict set of rules, but rather the idea of not keeping more than I can deal with without overwhelm, and only what adds value and beauty to our lives.)  Which is where I am now, trying my utmost to live intentionally.

Intentionality changed me from somebody who could barely peel herself out of bed in the morning at 8 a.m., who dreaded the sound of busy little bodies awake before me (although I love them dearly), and had little to no structure in my day to someone who is awake closer to 5 a.m., who has goals for the day and longer term, and a plan to achieve them.  It changed me from someone who thought it would be a good idea to exercise to someone who regularly walks a mile (and sometimes my kids do it with me).  It changed me from someone who thought I’d like to paint more to someone who gets out the paints and creates.

Intentionality starts with better habits, which create momentum.

As a SAHM, recognizing I’m the CEO and in charge of the way my life and home works has been key to changing what I didn’t like and what wasn’t working.  We all have the same amount of hours in our days, so learning better time management (essentially self-management) has been essential for awakening a dream in me.  Putting plans  into place for better health and productivity has reduced overwhelm and given me the space to be creative.  I feel less like I’m surviving and more like I’m on my way to truly thriving creatively again.  My dream is being able to encourage others to do the same, because it’s powerfully and literally life-changing.

Leave a comment (scroll allll the way down on this post) sharing your dream and one thing you could do to get started on it!  If you don’t have one yet, share what’s weighing you down from getting there, and if you have a step to take to overcome it today!     

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

When Creativity gets Squashed by Survival Mode

When dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression and then adrenal fatigue and chronic exhaustion, I was stuck in survival mode.  Survival mode is not a great place for creativity to thrive in, or even show up.  A handful of days are that way now, occasionally, when I get insomnia or something else incredibly stressful comes up.  But for the most part, things have improved so much that I marvel at the contrast.  Maybe the following sound familiar to you, and I just want to give you hope that it doesn’t have to stay that way!

Some people have lofty aspirations, but at my lowest point, I just wanted to be at a place where I could be able to wake up easily not feeling exhausted and look forward to what lay ahead.  Where I wasn’t wishing each day was over because I barely felt like I could make it through.   I longed to know what being motivated and enthusiastic felt like again.  I didn’t want to be so overwhelmed that I might have a panic attack, and look like a fool when asking somebody to come just be with me and my kids because I couldn’t deal with life.  I wanted to enjoy food and not feel awful no matter what healthy thing I tried to eat.  I ached to see a light at the end of the dark tunnel within my health journey.

(I am going to pause a moment and acknowledge that some health journeys are a continuous tunnel without much light.  Although keeping hope alive is important, I know some issues are chronic, unrelenting, and desperately painful without any probability of reversal.

If you’re in that place, know your pain and your story matter.  I truly believe many of life’s most valuable lessons come from the most painful things, and you may unknowingly be the one teaching others what perseverance looks like and giving others in a hard situation the courage to go on, too.  Reach out if you feel like you need someone to help hold you up, pray for, and encourage you–you don’t have to go it alone! We were made to connect!)

I grieved for the vibrant, creative and energetic girl and woman I had once been.  I was LOW.  So I did what I normally do to cope with challenges: I read (which is hard to find time to do as a mom, right?! But I made it happen).  I was reading some inspirational mom book and it said something about having a passion or dream apart from the daily grind of parenting.

I had this numb sort of reaction, like, “That’s nice for some moms, but I can’t even imagine being in a place where my mind be able to fathom having a dream.  And besides, I don’t know what my dream would be.”  (But I do now.  More on that later.)  Have you been there?  Don’t be there alone.  Feel free to comment and share if you are in survival mode, or if you’ve discovered your dream.  What got you from survival mode to creativity again?

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

Stay-at-home-mom Productivity and Progress

DSC06032Last year I got into a rut a bit more deeply than years previous.  As a SAHM, one thing that often has discouraged me is knowing my work is never really done, and doesn’t look more done because piles of laundry and cooking and dishes (etc. etc.) need to be re-done each day/weekly.  I have felt so unproductive each day even though I’m working around the house all day long.  Yet this SAHM gig is what I want to do, and I don’t have a desire for a financial career.  Something had to change.

I was kind of depressed over it and was cranky all the time, so I talked to a counselor about it.  She was encouraging, saying that as a parent (of only one kid) who worked, she felt like it would possibly be harder to manage kids and a house all day long, and recommended I lower my expectations for myself, and expect to do only about an hour a week “side-projects” (like organizing the basement) beyond main household responsibilities–cooking, cleaning, and childcare.  Thanks…I appreciate the idea, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that, because that didn’t seem like it would improve my situation any.  I was still surrounded by disorder.

 So when school started, I began listening to Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever podcast, which I recommend.  A main takeaway for me that I’m going to continue, hopefully with more regularity, was his productivity journal idea.  He quoted a study that saying productivity is increased 40% by writing goals down because it gives clarity, overcomes resistance/analysis of desires, provides motivation, filters other opportunities (prioritizes), enables clarity and allows you to see progress.  

 Since I started doing my own productivity journal, I definitely notice when I nightly make a page of the top 3 goals and subset goals for the next day, that I have more focus and get more done, then feel better about my day in general (and that makes me a better mom). 

 It’s somehow not the same as a to-do list, which to me feels like a drag on my energy.  It’s just clearer intentionality, instead of drudgery, I guess.  Not necessarily doing more, but doing what matters more efficiently, to feel like I have time for margin and reduce feelings of overwhelm. 

Beyond daily goals, he encourages setting achievable yet challenging yearly goals to promote growth and feed a dream.  Looking at those monthly or whenever helps me have vision for my future.  Looking back on the goals I set for the beginning of the school year (because when my kids are in school is when I feel I have some time —even if it’s just 3 days a week for 3 hours at a time—to accomplish things without being distracted), I can see some things weren’t as important to me as I thought they should be, but I hit my main 3: exercising regularly for health, reading 7 books, and improve time management. (I set alarms/timers to be more punctual most of the time.  As Noni from A Slob Comes Clean podcast says, there’s such a thing as Time Passage Awareness Disorder, and I have it. The last one I’m still working on…but it definitely improved.)  

So essentially, since starting that last summer, I feel like I’ve had a trial run for improvement this new year. Consequently, I have done a tune-up on my goals and areas of learning and growth, rather than coming up with an official New Years’ Resolution.  It may not be my best year ever (I am still dealing with many health challenges), but if it’s progress, I’m pleased with that. What kinds of things helped you make progress last year?    

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, minimalism, saving money, sensory processing disorder

What everyday SPD looks like for my 3 and 5 yr olds…

My 5 yr. old son asked for another piece of pizza, a rare treat at our place since I am gluten-free and don’t usually have the energy to make it myself and avoid certain ingredients for my healthy eating standards.  He was so happy when I said sure…but when I gave it to him, he kind of stared at the piece and started to zone out as his face fell a little.

I asked him, “What’s wrong, hon?”  But I could have guessed.  You see, the pizza crust was not big enough for him to hold without getting sauce on his fingers.  The sauce went too far up.  And as much as he loves pizza, his desire to avoid that messy feeling is greater.  He knows he can wipe his hands on a napkin or wash his hands later, but he can’t do it.

I found myself thinking, Wow. He didn’t throw a fit!  He didn’t meltdown over it today! He didn’t cry or get angry!  That looks like progress to me!  And it is.  We’ve been working with him a lot about his responses.  To be frank, a lot has to do with me not getting upset with his particularities, which was hard at first because I grew up in a family where you weren’t allowed to be “picky.”  Then I married a “picky” person…but I see it’s not always about pickiness.  It can be about texture.  It can be about how tastes hit a person’s brain.  My son got a lot of the way his brain works from his dad.  They can’t deal with some fabrics (my husband won’t wear “scratchy” wool sweaters, or cotton sweaters that aren’t soft enough).  Not only are some things like that a turn-off or irritating, it can just plain overwhelm them, because of how their brains magnify, misinterpret, or translate a sensation.  I can see now they’re not “spoiled” or “bratty” because they choose not to flood their brains with highly unpleasant feedback.

The fact that my son got a little sad about not feeling like he could enjoy the pizza he was anticipating so much makes me want to figure out ways to help him cope with his SPD more.  Because sometimes, you can’t change the way things are.  But in this case, it was an easy fix because the pizza was thin crust, and I just folded it over onto itself so the back of the pizza could be more of a crust, and that worked for him.  No messy fingers.  I guess another solution could have been cutting it up and eating it with a fork, which he has done in the past, but whatever the issue, the triumph was that he remained calm and went on to enjoy his pizza.

Another instance of SPD showing occurred when he needed new shoes.  I got him some cute ones that only needed to be zipped (because he is also kind of OCD and if the shoes have velcro, he takes forever aligning the velcro just right…more than one strap? You’ll be waiting a while) and was thrilled when he put them on, ran and hopped around, and wore them to school the next day.

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After a day of school, however, with all the movements an active 5 yr. old does, he informed me they felt bumpy at the top when he knelt.  So brand new shoes that I can’t return now?  Tah-tah.  And today, I can be okay with that.  (And also thankful I mostly only buy things on sale or second-hand).  Previously, I would have gotten mad that I went through the trouble to find the shoes, spent the money, and he didn’t like them after all.  Life is better when I accept his issues and treat him with dignity instead of trying to fit him into my idea of the way things should be.  I would want somebody to do the same for me.  My husband does not get mad or rant or resent me (though it may exhaust him) when I get stuck in anxious mode and he has to hear all about my fears knowing he can’t fix me.  He makes life better for me by hearing me, understanding it’s hard for me, and loving me unconditionally.  I want to do that for my son.  

I sometimes see my son trying to mask his SPD reactions.  When we were looking for shoes another occasion, he tried to use logic to reason his way into a new pair of Paw Patrol light-up shoes.  They looked perfect!  But the first thing he said when he tried them on before I asked or anything was, “hmm, I feel a bump on the bottom.” Then seeing my face, and knowing I would not get them if he had a complaint, he immediately tried to reason it away, saying, “BUT I think they’ll be fine after I wear them a little while and get used to them!”  Experience has taught me that if it’s annoying initially, that’ll always be the case.  There were tears shed over those Paw Patrol shoes, but I wouldn’t budge.

Similarly, his little sister got some brand new PINK tennis shoes after searching many stores.   They were NIKE!  (We were given a gift card to the store).  She LOVES pink!  She tried them on.  She danced around!  She was so happy.  She WANTED them to work! But when it came down to it, she couldn’t stand them for longer than a minute every time we tried them on after that.  She’d put them on, then get stuck like glue with her bottom on the floor, not being able to get up and walk in them. It’s like her brain just shut down with them on her feet.

I am not very patient when we’re getting ready to go and people don’t have their shoes on when I asked 15 minutes earlier.  A 20 minute delay really irks me.  One day she tried on 3 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of shoes, and we were so late.  I definitely returned the pink shoes.  I was disappointed because of the amount of effort searching, and feeling exhausted and dreading that now another kid is manifesting some real SPD stuff.  (It’s SO draining for me to figure out how to do life with SPD!  And not just one kid’s particularities!  But two…If you add in their dad’s preferences, three sensory processing packages! I guess it is draining to HAVE the SPD oneself, though, eh?!)  But I was SO GLAD I know it’s just not worth it to try to MAKE something work that just isn’t going to work.  

Like the pretty dress I’d bought when she was a baby, waiting for her to fit into it.  It was a perfect Easter dress!

scratchy
too “scratchy” for threenager

She would not wear it.  She wanted to!  She put it on, excited to dance and spin in it…But it was “too scratchy,” and she freaked out and cried until she got it off.   Just like when she put on the brand new shirt with a seam across the chest (which I also had bought in advance.  I think I have learned my lesson. “Saving money” buying things when they’re a good deal doesn’t always save money.  I am also glad I can let things go by embracing minimalism and saying if it doesn’t work for me, we can pass it on, no problem.  Why waste my emotional energy on it, looking at it and feeling bothered it was supposed to work but didn’t?!)

Anyhow, that’s just a glimpse of some examples of everyday issues that crop up with family members with SPD.  There are more, believe me…there are more.  But I can say that with a smile.  Life is not over; it is just more interesting.

 

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

How Being Intentionally Involved Moms Invites Joy Into our Lives

Finding joy as a mother has been a long journey for me.  Yes, there was the instant joy and love during the bonding phase with each of my children as newborns.  After that, however, I really struggled with the realities of life as a mother…

Mainly, the lack of sleep.  Lots of anxiety.  The postpartum depression.  The moving (we lived in 5 different homes since my now-preK aged son was born).  Probably a lot of hormonal stuff after the first that I didn’t catch onto, but definitely after my second child to a degree we couldn’t ignore anymore.

I was surviving, fueled by love and God’s mercies, but I was hanging on by a thread.  I am honestly amazed my marriage survived the past 4 years, because it was so tough on not only me but also my husband.  Looking back, I see there were the many, many heartwarming, good times.  But the overall feeling of the last 4 years for me has often been sheer exhaustion.  I say this a little hesitantly because I don’t want people considering having kids to have fear, or to avoid it because of the possibility of struggles.  I do, however, think it’s important for those who are willing to share to be open about that sort of thing, because awareness is key to navigating issues.  I would not have realized what postpartum depression looked like (and how it can look so different for so many people) if women did not publicly share their stories, and it could have turned out much more seriously than it did, because I finally realized what was going on when my youngest was over a year old through random articles about PPD online.

I really had to fight through daily and weekly struggles, mainly my health struggles (mental/emotional, chronic fatigue, hormone/cycle related PMDD) and then my son’s sensory-processing issues (now my daughter as well), which made for intense times almost nonstop throughout the day.  One of the light spots I remember during the darkest parts of this time was that I took a ton of photos and videos of the cutest moments whenever I was able that, later on at the end of each week, I’d review late at night after the kids finally went to bed, that made me smile.

(I am so thankful for how our neurochemistry works.  That activity may be one of the key positive habits helping me make it through the darker periods of postpartum. If you like neurochemistry/psychology type stuff, check out http://www.pnas.org/content/114/9/2361.abstract .  Basically, the amygdala, or the part of the brain responsible for social behavior, motivation and emotions, of mothers produces dopamine, which creates pleasure or rewarding sensations, when they view images of their children.  Although they wore me out, my kids existence also motivated me to keep going.)

All that to say, my youngest is almost 4 now, and it’s only really been in the past year that life has been on the sunny side most of the time.  My husband and I have grown in so many ways and changed how we do things, finding healthier ways to cope with stress.  We’ve in general altered our lifestyle, especially food-wise, to promote our familial well-being.

So, to get to the main theme I was aiming at when I began typing…Finding joy in motherhood has been a long journey for me.  On the days when I did not, or occasionally still, do not have the natural energetic enthusiasm to actively engage positively with my kids, sometimes choosing to do so regardless of how I feel is the best thing to create an environment of contentment and delight.  Not just for them, either.  Intentionally involving myself in my busy little people’s worlds can be difficult when my mind is preoccupied by you-name-it…But it’s the BEST way to spark joy.  Because I was MADE for this.

(Let me clarify:  I have a ton of potential I could invest anywhere I want.  Got the degrees, got a lot of interests, talents and dreams.  I am not limited to my home.  [Hello, women’s rights movement?  All things are permissible for me…But I don’t personally find them all beneficial.]  Yet right now, I am mainly focused at home.  This is the work I want to do, building my kids’ safe haven and our family’s HQ.  I am choosing my family to invest into during this season of my life, when the foundations of my kids’ lives are being laid.  And I find I am most fulfilled and healthy when I am whole-heartedly committed to my calling.  I’ve known what I want to do since I was little, pretending to be a wife and mommy as early as I can remember, putting on my mom’s high heels, and directing the neighborhood kids in activities.  [Some may call me bossy…I like to say I just have the skills of an administrator.])

Joy shows up when I am an active, caring participant in the lives of my family members.  You know what I despise?  Frigid temperatures.  A cold nose and fingers and toes.  (Also, being hot makes me feel grumpy, but that’s a bunny trail…).  Know what else stresses me out like mad?  The fact that getting winter gear on my daughter is a long battle filled with howling in pain (at least, her senses are telling her that she’s in pain) over “bumpy stuff” in her gloves, endless pairs of socks and boots. (We turn the socks inside out and have some other coping strategies, but I’m so emotionally exhausted after each session).

But you know what my son in particular loves?  Playing in the snow.  So I had to ask, what was more important?  Me feeling comfortable, inside and warm folding laundry?  Lack of stress interacting with my daughter (who, generally speaking, is the more cuddly, happy child)?  Or my son’s heart?  Him feeling valued, too, even though his temperament is often intense, needing lots of direction and correction to keep him calm rather than reacting with eruptions of anger or other meltdowns.

So I had a choice.  I could base my success as a homemaker on my productivity–getting the laundry done (finally off the couch!).  Or I could find meaning in my calling, using my gifts of creativity and sensitivity to care for and encourage those in my life as I am strengthened by the unconditional love of my Creator. 

It’s not easy to choose what doesn’t always feel easy.  I’m thankful for snowboarding pants to keep me from turning into a popsicle, and a seriously poofy winter coat and sturdy boots to hold me over for a good 45 minutes of outdoor winter playtime.  I steeled my jaw to face the cold, hopped into the car with a couple of ladles, and we went on a mission for fun.

“Mom!  What are you doing with the soup thingies?” My three year old asked me.  I chuckled mischievously and said mysteriously, “You’ll see, babe…Wait and see.”  And in a few minutes, my kids’ eyes sparkled.  You see, intentional moms are magical creatures in the eyes of their children.  You know what really makes us magical, though?  Seeing that sparkle in their eyes and knowing we put it there.

Turns out ladles make some pretty spectacular snowball-scoopers and are just right for carving out snow-caves in snow mounds the plows made out of a parking lot of a mere 1.5″ snowfall.

#winningatmomlife #choosingjoy

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Ponderings about life

Representin’…the SAHM life.

This week while grabbing more veggies and milk at Target (which doesn’t have the best deals–I prefer Aldi– but that’s where we had a gift card to, and Ibotta* gives back a little) I conversed a bit with the cashier.  She thought my little girl was cute, and thankfully Threenager didn’t give her a stinkface and prove her wrong (this time).

The cashier mentioned she was new there.  I said I hope she enjoys her job, and as she lifted the heavy milk jug up to hand me, I noted aloud that it included the perk of a workout.  She said yeah, it’s nice, and she needs it because before that she was a stay-at-home-mom for 8 years.  I interjected, “Oh, that’s what I do.” To which she replied, “It really sucks!”  I paused, not sure if she meant not working out when she stayed at home, or if she was saying my profession sucks, so I asked, “Oh? What does?”  “Staying at home!” She exclaimed, giving me knowing eyes and nodding her head. “It’s so boring! I didn’t get to see my friends or get out and do things!”  And she had a bit more to say before I paid and left.

It seemed like she just needed to talk.  So I didn’t say what I was thinking, that being a Stay-At-Home-Mom can be hard.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I have never struggled so much as I have as a mother trying to balance house duties and keeping little people alive 24-7, with hardly a moment off.  I’ve been a “Messy” the first 30 years of my life, totally disorganized, and I’m not really a great cook.  I was confident with caring for other people’s kids, but mine have been harder to figure out.  Yet, things are improving, and this is the most meaningful thing I have invested into.  I wouldn’t trade my job for any other.

And, because it would have been totally rude, I also didn’t say the saying that popped into my mind that my momma would say about the word “boring.”  It goes, Only boring people get bored.  I’d personally modify it to say that being bored is simply the result of a sleeping imagination.

So my heart went away sad.  Sad that she was utterly discontent during those 8 years.  Sad that perhaps her children hear her saying it was torture to stay at home with them.  Sad that this was how my profession was being represented to a public that, generally speaking, also looks down on staying at home.

I wish that she had known how to thrive in it.  Admittedly, I am still learning more about that.  But I know that I do NOT think my job sucks.  As for her complaints, I think there were solutions to them.  The thing is, as SAHMs, complaining to the manager is…complaining to ourselves.  And a wise manager can fix the issues rather than let them pile up into a big mess of get-me-outta-here.

News flash.  SAHMs can have an exercise routine.  A lot of gyms have childcare available.  I personally use youtube videos as my workout routine since I don’t have gym membership (and don’t want one). I like Cocolime Fitness, Lucy Wyndham-Read, and Jessica Smith TV channels and videos because they are good for chronic fatigue and don’t wipe me out like the higher intensity ones would.

Being a homemaker doesn’t have to be lonely, because you can find your tribe and make your own schedule, which can and should include socializing with others who share your interests.  Play dates can start by exchanging contact info with a mom and meeting up the next week at Chick-fil-a on a rainy day, and progress to the home atmosphere later on.  It may not be the drinks-after-work some career women are used to, but it’s socializing.  You find time for what is important to you, and if working out and friend time is important, you make it happen.

I recently read or heard that people who had life-altering injuries were followed-up with a year after their injuries to find they had returned to their former baseline happiness levels.  (Which also made me think of how people who win the lottery are often much more miserable afterwards, and wish they had not won the lottery.  Maybe an unmet expectations issue?)  Basically, the point is that eventually, after life changes we return (or decline) to whatever level of contentment we maintain now.  So my mind questions whether this new cashier job will fix the lonely cashier’s happy-o-meter.

Next time, I might be grocery shopping with a fussy kid.  I might be a frustrated momma, even.  But I hope even in the least ideal of circumstances, I aim to represent my profession well.  I can remind myself what matters–caring for these little people, creating a loving home, and being fulfilled in a life I am choosing.

(*If you are unfamiliar with Ibotta, it’s an easier way to coupon, in a smart phone app, by simply selecting items you are going to buy from whatever store you’re going to get in advance, then scanning or photographing the receipt after you’ve purchased the items of your selection.  There’s even a way to link store loyalty cards.  I forget to use physical paper coupons usually, but taking a minute to scan a receipt after the hubub of the store checkout line is much easier and doable for me!  Here’s a link for you to get started saving if you’re interested, and you should get a bonus for joining, maybe $10 or so. It also helps me out!  After you have saved $20 you can cash out. I usually cash out with Amazon or Walmart gift cards. https://ibotta.com/r/tiasrax)

 

 

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, minimalism, saving money, Uncategorized

After a Week of the No-Credit Challenge

After a search for podcasts online about ways to successfully save money to “get in the zone” and distract/motivate me as I folded laundry, I discovered a lot of people do a no-spend challenge.  (Which, in actuality, really means no impulse buys, because people still need to buy food to eat, in most cases, for those of us who are not farmers with a food cellar stocked up.) Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by a financial advisor, Amanda Abella,* in which she mentions that after noticing some larger spending, she wanted to practice going without just to start building into savings more again.  One thing she pointed out that is so true is how shopping venues have really made it easy for you to spend mindlessly, for example, the Amazon One-Click order button.  Your credit info is already in there, and you “need” something?  Want it?  Get it!  To delay gratification isn’t really something happening in this day and age.  (So her advice was getting rid of the Amazon One-Click, unsubscribe to seller adverts in your inbox, and lose the store cards.)

Well, as Amazon Prime members ourselves, with “free shipping!” so enticingly easy, we had been in the habit of ordering something as we thought we needed it; for me, this was because I was so forgetful when I went shopping, and usually distracted by two kids.  It was easy to just remember while near a computer, and click away until we had acquired whatever we had forgotten at the store.  And why delay when you can get it in two days? So, a week into our no-credit month, my husband and I found ourselves having several conversations about “needs” and “wants”.  And I had a couple of chuckles at the fact that my husband, who generally looks at me as the “spender” in the family, and himself as the “saver” with few wants, was the one mentioning stuff to buy more frequently than I was! I had to remind him that he’ll have to wait for next month.  So he has a growing wish list for February.  Thank you, no-credit-month challenge, for building my credibility again in his eyes as someone not ruled by impulse.  *smug smirk*

Somewhat irksome to him, but not regrettable to me, is that I recently gave to a homeless drive the long johns he used to wear snowboarding, but didn’t plan to use again anytime soon, and hadn’t used in several years.  Although a cold snap arrived making him want them again, I do not feel badly for having gotten rid of them because of the fact that arriving at the point where I can part with stuff was a big milestone for me.  (And another chuckle might have slipped out because he’s the one saying we have too much stuff, and wanted us to be minimalists.  We had a conversation and he agreed the thermal unders could go.)  But now that he found himself wanting them again, well…Guess we’ll put them on the wish list.

The cool thing about grocery shopping without credit has been that money has turned up…change in the car amounting to enough with the money a friend paid me for something to get just what we need, within 25 cents of what I had in total going through the checkout.  Then, I found a bag of flour sack towels that I needed to return to Walmart because they weren’t nice enough to embroider as gifts as I’d intended (with unsightly fiber runs in them), which provided another $8.50 that I’ll be able to use for veggies or whatnot next time we need them.  Which is probably today.  There’s another something I can return to a store to get about $12, which makes me feel pretty confident that although we need sour cream (to go in the potato soup I plan to make with the pocket change potatoes I got at Aldi), eggs, carrots, cheddar, and greens, we’ll be able to get all that without feeling majorly deprived this month.

I’ve been using what’s in my freezer, which is awesome, instead of just refilling it atop what’s already in there.  So for fruit, after our apples run out, we’ll be using up the pear slices and pear sauce my mom gave me from their trees.  I “roasted” the two organic super-sale chickens in my big crock pot to debone, make broth, and use the meat this month.  That turned out really tasty and I will be looking for more sale chickens next month to restock the freezer with.  Then we’ve been having a variety of dried bean dishes (thanks, instant pot, for making those not seem intimidating!) like white chicken chili and beefy chili.  Perfect for extra-chilly weather.  I made fried rice with frozen veggies and some uncured bacon we had in our freezer (because I bought a few on sale b1g1 last month).  That was a hit, for sure.  We love bacon!  I’d already had some ham cubed and frozen from Thanksgiving as well a turkey meat, for a variety of other dishes with those.  I am finding I’m actually a better meal planner and cook when there is less in my fridge and freezer to work with, ironically.

So that’s recap of week one.  I don’t think we’ll feel deprived this week either, because on my husband’s day off we’ll be using a gift card we got for our anniversary to go to a restaurant with the kids.  We’ll definitely have to make sure we stay under the amount on the card enough to include tip, because we’re out of cash!  So I’m guessing we’ll skip drinks and go with water, no real biggie.

Have you ever had to or wanted to pinch pennies? What were some tips that worked well for you?

*P.S.  This podcaster had some good insights, but I should mention that earbuds are necessary if you look her up as some words she uses are not for little ears, IMO.  In our home we try to limit screen time, so when my kids watch their Octonauts or Little Einsteins show, I do a podcast or youtube with my earbuds in.  Nobody’s being ignored or needing attention that way.