The Cautionary Tale Mom

Before everyone comes after me with torches and pitchforks….let me be really clear. I. Am. Not. Perfect. Frankly, nobody is. My house is never completely clean, I like to get junk food from time to time, and my life is not all rainbows and unicorns. But I can genuinely say I’m happy with myself, content in life, and have things in order because no matter what, I keep doing the best I can every day. You’ll see why this is important by the end.

Here I am, nursing the baby, drinking my coffee, listening to the VSQ cover of American Idiot (irony), when all of a sudden I open Instagram and there it is. #HoTMeSsMomS!!! My eyes rolled back in my head so far I thought they were stuck for a minute. I’m not a prude…but come on. I fully understand that being a mom is hard, honestly I haven’t met anyone that said it was easy. But that doesn’t mean you can be a train wreck every day and be proud of it. Let me explain.

There have been many days where I think that “if I wash one more load of laundry, I’ll burn the house down”. Or I get so annoyed by the kids, that I have to take a “time out” in the pantry with the jar of chocolate chips. Then the occasional day comes along that requires a whiskey on the rocks and a date with my Amazon shopping cart.

I honestly believe that these are normal feelings that all mothers go through….but we don’t advertise them (often), glorify them, and let ourselves be defined by these moments….except for the growing movement of Hot Mess Moms. These women seem to love to advertise their inability to function as a typical adult, constant annoyance at their child’s existence, and their love of living in pajamas.

Stop screaming at the screen….I know I’m sounding judgmental and like a toxic mom. But keep going, this is only the beginning.

So, if these feelings are normal in small doses, why are these women causing a growing issue? Let me give you the three biggest reasons this trend needs to stop.

1. Everything stays on the internet! When those kids grow up and see how mom used to talk about them and hate everything that they did, do you think they’ll be okay with that? I don’t. I see a growing wedge being driven into a family with every post….and a rapidly approaching fallout. Not to mention, the constant negative atmosphere takes a toll on everyone’s mental health.

2. Parenting is all or nothing…stop half-assing it. You had children, so step up and be a mom. Harsh, I know…and I’m sorry that things are hard, you have a lot of responsibility, and you’re getting burnt out. It happens to all of us, but you need to find a system that works for you, so you can both function and be present. Even going as far as talking to a therapist if you’re having that hard of a time is okay.

3. You’re supposed to be a positive example, not a cautionary tale. Your children look to you for guidance…so when you put in minimal effort, your kids will also put in minimal effort. Unfortunately, I see adults my own age whose parents didn’t put in any effort, and now these adults struggle with everyday life. (Cough, cough, the hot mess moms who didn’t break the cycle)

Bring on the hate mail and the keyboard warriors, but I’m giving you a hard pill for many to swallow. You need to start the day by understanding that YOU are raising the next generation, and that is the most important task one can have. Take pride in it. Give it your heart and soul. Crush those tough days, only to get up the next morning and do it again. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but for the strong willed. You’ve got this, but you’ve also got to want it.

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Toxic Women

Have you ever been in a mom or wife group and asked a simple question only to be blasted by everyone and their brother? Yes, no? Let me tell you a story…

I’m frustrated, and tired. My husband, bless his heart, has been working nights and it’s been hell on all of us. Being a homemaker is definitely my calling, but being mom and dad, because dad is nocturnal, is not easy. It definitely gives me a whole new appreciation for single mother’s.

But I digress….the day was brutal, a few things decided to break down, and the kids were fighting all day long. To top it off, Hubby had to go in for a mandatory overtime day. I made our dinner, made a to-go dinner for the Hubby, and in the process of making two dinners, someone let the half stray cat in the house and he ate MY dinner. Any fan of Samuel L Jackson, will know exactly what I sounded like.

This is where I made my mistake. I went onto a, sort of trad-wife-esque page and voiced my frustration looking for ways I could bring my stress and displeasure up to my husband without sounding like Mr. Jackson. As a side note, I had left this group previously because there are some pretty nasty women on there….apparently I didn’t learn the first time, so let’s keep going.

Anyway…I posted my comment and I get a good response. Awesome! But then I get several terrible (and mostly irrelevant) responses that went something like this;

“How dare you feed your husband something he might not like.” Like….what?

“Just batch cook everything.” Yes, I have so much free time and storage space for this (Insert sarcasm here).

“Well, I’m single with no children, but you should do XYZ” and you shouldn’t even be commenting.

“Don’t insult your husband by expressing anger, be grateful you can stay home all day.” Get real, lady!

As I’m reading the comments, now flooding in, I call my husband. I told him I’m burnt out and pissed off. I wasn’t doing very good and needed some backup that I knew he couldn’t give me until he was back to day shift and I understand. He also understands, but also knows our hands are tied until the schedule shifts. So we both agreed this is terrible for both of us, but we will get through it as usual. You know, misery loves company, especially when the company has a slightly dark sense of humour.

I’d like to think we have a healthy relationship, since talking things out is usually how we resolve issues (like normal people)…but the responses from those women were so toxic, I can’t imagine any of them being in a healthy relationship. Bitter, stupid, and angry is all I could think of as I left the group (again) and closed my laptop.

Why are so many women like this? It’s everywhere…you have these mean hags pushing around others who just want a bit of guidance or comfort. What happened to support? Kindness? Compassion? You can guide and help others without being crazy. The worse part, is that those of us who are in a healthy relationship with our lives together-ish, get annoyed and leave. Then those innocent ones are left to be driven in the wrong direction. This is a trend that needs to be stopped, because we all know the divorce rates, and these toxic women giving out terrible advice isn’t helping. Even this blog needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The advice I give is based off of my own life and relationship, so it isn’t going to be relevant or beneficial to everyone who reads it. For reference I’ve personally been ostracized from several “communities” for the following reasons;

Crunchy Moms: I said it is not safe to drink essential oils. (It’s not, by the way)

Waldorf Moms: We own a television.

Millennial Moms: We follow “traditional” marriage roles. AKA a stay at home mom and homemaker with a husband who is the sole provider. (Ohhh…scary!)

Large Family Moms: We ‘only’ have four kids.

Trad-Wives: I deal with finances and can do house maintenance….and sometimes wear pants.

“Hot Mess” Moms: I have my shit together. Sorry, but true.

“Breast”feeding Moms: I said “it’s chicken breast, not chicken chest”…and I was immediately kicked out. If you know, you know.

…and many more.

So what’s a gal to do? Suffer in silence? Where’s my tribe? Do I need to make my own or am I just a circle in world full of squares? You might be reading this thinking, “yea, she’s lost it” but I don’t think I have. I think there’s a lot of us floating around that don’t seem to fit in anywhere and that’s okay, because we’re resourceful and strong. We conquer obstacles head on. We’re stubborn. We’re socially confused. But at least we’re trying to make ourselves better, every day and always show up for our loved ones. Besides…cliques are so last season, anyway.

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How Do I Do Everything?!?

Question: How do you do everything?

Answer: I don’t.

….okay, blog over. Thanks for coming!

Just kidding y’all, I’ll fill you in on my (secrets). Or lack of secrets to be honest. I know mothers have it tough, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a stay at home mom, work at home mom, work away from home mom…or any combination. Motherhood is hard! But it is also incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately it is very defeating at times and social media is largely to blame. I know everyone sees Pinterest and Instagram and whatever else there is where moms look so put together, perpetually happy, with spotless houses, and gourmet dinners served on handmade ceramic plates. But I hate to break it to you, those pictures take a moment to snap and even less time to edit. I’m not saying they’re fake…but they don’t show the whole picture. Let me elaborate.

Check this picture out…

Our Homeschool reading area.

Isn’t it pretty? And clean? And look at those sparkly fairy lights! It’s so festive and inspiring….but this was taken after we wrapped up our school day, the kids were asleep and I already picked up. Now look at the next photo…

Yep, same area…just taken during a very average day with three little ones trying to function. It’s a mess and you can’t even see the sand spilled on the floor or the lunch crumbs. This is normal, and there is nothing wrong with having days where your house looks like this. Just because you see the first picture on Instagram, doesn’t mean that the second photo doesn’t exist.

The point is, I don’t do it all…I just keep going. The house gets messy, the laundry doesn’t get folded, there’s a screaming naked child running through the house. Sh*t happens…but I don’t give up and give in. I grab a cup of coffee, a peanut butter cup, and start Rosie (the Roomba) while I begin to tidy up. I am consistent and I’ve set up solid routines that don’t allow me to get overwhelmed. But when those times of dread hit, I think of my two favorite phrases;

“Start where you are”

“Progress is progress, no matter how small.”

Saying these things to myself helps a great deal in working through a seemingly endless task, and frankly those tasks are usually done in about thirty minutes or less. For someone just starting out with setting up a routine, I highly suggest reading up on The Flylady. That is where I got my start, and from her words of wisdom I was able to set up a system that works for our own family. I’ll pop some examples of our own routines at the end of this post if you’re in need of a printable to get you started.

Now, a routine isn’t a cure all or a guarantee of a perfectly Pinterest worthy house….but It is a cure for mom guilt, stress, and frustration. It is a way to keep your sanity, to be thankful for what you have, and appreciate those moments that caused a ‘messy house’. Those toys were from a fun play date, the crayon marks on the floor are from a toddler’s attempt at a self portrait, the spilled milk is a baby learning to eat on his own….there are many people who would love to have a ‘messy house’ from time to time.

I know that sometimes it is hard to see past the perfect picture on your news feed, but remember that it is only a fleeting moment and a tiny snapshot of a much larger picture that we cannot see. I guess the whole point of this post is to let anyone who has mom-guilt to know that it’s okay and you’re not alone. We all have those moments…even those of us that seem “perfect” and can “do it all”. If you’re truly overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, a routine will help you break out of a depression rut, and never be afraid to ask for help. It really takes a village, and nobody has to be alone.

So there it is….the secret is I don’t do it all…..hell some days I can barely get the laundry taken care of. But I just keep plucking away and enjoy the little moments as much as possible. Frankly I’ve never met a mom that can do it all, we just do the best we can and that’s all we really need to do.

What is a Snackin’ Tray?

“Mama……I’m HUNGRY!” I hear as I roll my eyes. It’s been two hours since breakfast, how are they hungry again? Oh yea…they picked at some food but decided to go play instead. This was such an issue in our home. The kids, being at different stages didn’t necessarily understand to eat enough…or sit still…or be hungry at “meal time”. I can’t blame them though, I had an active second grader, a teething toddler who still breastfeeds, and a baby that only just started some baby-led weaning. So I had to come up with a savior for my sanity, the mounting dirty dishes, the picking, and the constant cooking. To fix the problem I took to Pinterest. Bad IDEA! Talk about overwhelming…then I asked the kids what they thought. Guess what? That solved the issue! To summarize, here’s what they had to say (the two older of course).

  1. I was really having fun and didn’t want to stop to eat.
  2. I was only a little hungry, but then I ran around and got really hungry.
  3. I didn’t really want ‘that’ but didn’t know what I wanted.

Honestly, it all made perfect sense. Putting myself in their shoes and thinking back to my own childhood, I could relate…and then I set out to come up with a plan to change our mealtime routine. After searching the internet I was inspired by a charcuterie board and thought that might be our answer.

Day one! I took out my cute serving tray and started cutting up fruit, veggies, cheese, meat, and little tea sandwiches. It took me about 3 minutes to load up the tray. Once I was finished, I called the kids into the living room (a shocker…not being at the dining room table). After I placed the tray on our low coffee table, the kids dug in as I turned on some relaxing music and grabbed our read aloud book. They came and went, played, nibbled, and then we continued on with our daily lessons….still having some food left on the tray. As the day lingered on, the tray continued to be picked at until it was empty by 2 o’clock…just in time for a cup of tea!

We continued using our little tray for the remainder of the week…then I got crazy and did a tray for breakfast foods. Since nobody in our home is really into breakfast, this allowed for some simple items to be put out on the table for those early risers. It definitely made my mornings much less stressful since I can prep once a week and even freeze items to be used, like pancakes and muffins. More importantly, the kids got to decide what they wanted and how much they needed. It solved the picky-ness, over or under eating, and hangry kids….and it even made meal times easier on this mama!

After my chatty post, I’m sure y’all are wondering how long I’ve been doing these Snackin’ Trays (the kids named it that since charcuterie didn’t go over too well). Well….it’s been over a year and it’s been wonderful! Of course I’ve added foods and mixed things up to keep the trays interesting, but it’s still a very simple and quick way to get meals on the table in no time with little effort. Check out the list below for some inspiration to make your own Snackin’ Tray.

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Egg Burritos
  2. Muffins
  3. Sausages
  4. Pancakes
  5. Pig in a Puddle
  6. Fruit
  7. Hash Browns
  8. Quiche Cups
  9. Overnight Oats
  10. Granola Bars

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Cut Meat
  2. Cheese
  3. Fruit
  4. Veggies
  5. Bread or Crackers
  6. Pickles, Olives, Dilly Beans
  7. Quesadillas
  8. Hot Dogs
  9. Mini Pizza’s
  10. Popcorn
  11. Tea Sandwiches
  12. Pinwheels
  13. Savory Croissants
  14. Mini Pot Pies
  15. Sliders