Getting YOU Fed After You’ve had the Babies

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Categories Feeding, Infants, Making Time for Me, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

A mother expecting twins recently asked on the San Antonio Mother’s of Multiples FB page how the adults fed themselves after the babies were born. What a great question because we are often, before the babies arrive, more concerned with how they will be fed and we forget that we need to eat, too.

When my first set of twins, Marc and Maddie, were born, we were living far away from our families and we didn’t know our neighbors every well. I think we had two meals brought over by acquaintances from our church. My babies were preemies and because of their small size and the need to work on putting weight on them, I was feeding them (and pumping) every two hours. Put on top of that a recovery from a C-section, and I remember being tired, cranky and hungry.

But, leave it to the mothers of multiples to have some ideas to help new moms and moms-to-be feed themselves AND their families.

Here are five thoughts on getting YOU fed after you’ve had the babies:

  1. If you are nursing and/or pumping you’ll be HUNGRY. I remember making myself a fried egg almost every night sometime after the midnight feed. You’re burning an extra 600 calories (which is great for losing the baby weight) but you’ll get HUNGRY. Don’t try to diet during this time to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. EAT MAMA EAT. But, eat the right things: lots of protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
  2. Make freezer meals. Better yet, when someone wants to give you a shower, suggest a freezer meal shower. When someome asks what they can do to help you, tell them you’d love a couple of freezer meals. Babies don’t need as much stuff as stores want you to think they need but YOU NEED TO EAT! Finding a container of frozen soup or casserole in your freezer after being up all night with babies is often like finding the proverbial gold at the end of a rainbow.
  3. Buy fruit and veggies trays. These have the fruits and veggies already cut up—saving you precious time—and you can munch on them throughout the day/week. Having these items easily accessible means you won’t be as easily tempted to go for the unhealthy items beckoning from the pantry.
  4. When you can find time to cook, make double batches of everything and freeze the extra servings. If you are making spaghetti sauce, stew, soup. . .make double the amount. My advice is to forget painting the babies’ room and start cooking meals to freeze while you are pregnant.
  5. Buy an electric pressure cooker. Meals can go from frozen to DONE in about 30 minutes. Soups take about 15 minutes. Really this is my go-to appliance when I need dinner on the table FAST. (And you can make extras and freeze another meal for later on.) Here’s a recipe for Beef Green Chili Stew that literally went from freezer to table in 12 minutes.

A mom who honors and takes cares of her needs, even to a minimal amount during those first few months, will be a better mom. And, take a lesson from your babies, one of the most important needs (besides sleep) is feeding your body. Like your newborns, you’ll be much happier with a fully tummy!


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Mommy Goes to School, Too!

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Categories Balance, Education, Guilt, How Do The Moms Do It, Making Time for Me, Parenting, WorkingTags Leave a comment

Last fall, when my kids were only 13 months old, I won the lottery by learning my work was going to support me in becoming a certified yoga teacher. I work as a therapist at an adolescent and family therapy program, and we wanted to begin incorporating yoga into our programming. (Think, “Yoga for anxiety,” and the like.)

On the one hand, I was completely thrilled. I’d practiced yoga regularly for over a decade and always played with the idea of becoming a certified yoga teacher. Now my work was in support of it. But, on the other hand, I felt stretched so thin already, as a working mother of 13 month old twins. How would I balance this, too? Yoga classes have long been my place for a little “me time,” a place to feel strong and connected to my body.  Would it still feel like sacred time once it was incorporated into my work?

Mommy guilt is ubiquitous, but especially present when we spend time on things other than our children.I quickly learned that this four month long training was no joke! Requirements included quite a bit of reading, two classes at our studio each week, a half hour of daily meditation, an hour of practice at home, and a full day at the studio each week. Right off the bat, I felt conflicted. I already had some mommy guilt over the time I spent away from my kids at work each week. But, this was a significant amount of additional time away from them… not to mention the added responsibilities this put onto my husband.

I found myself wishing this opportunity came a little later, when my kids were older, and I could focus on it a bit more. I was so incredibly jealous of those for whom this training was their sole focus: no kids to take care of, no job to juggle, and all the time in the world (it seemed to me on the outside) to devote to their yoga practice. In fact, I still feel a bit this way. Thankfully, I was provided the space to process these feelings with the other people in my training. The experience made me think a lot about mommy guilt: something I never really understood pre-kids. I would never give a friend grief about taking this time away from her kids, so why was I giving myself such a hard time?

When I think of other moms taking “me time”, I think, “Good for them!  They’re setting a great example for their kids. They’re showing their kids they’re more than just ‘Mom.’” Of course, my kids were too young to really understand why mommy was going to yoga school, or for me to set an example for them about taking care of myself.

Even though I still wish I could have gone through my training when I was stretched a little less thin, I know that there probably is not a time like this in the foreseeable future.

The yoga teacher training gave me one very incredible gift: it enriched my time at work.  Now that I am able to incorporate something that I love into my job (which I also love), it does make my time away from my kids feel more like “me time” and a little less like making a living. And when I do have the time to sneak away to a yoga class or practice at home when my kids are napping, my practice is also much deeper, leaving me a more relaxed mommy when they wake up.  Everyone wins.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Me Time in the Morning

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Categories Balance, Divorce, Feeling Overwhelmed, Making Time for Me, Mental Health, Perspective, Preschoolers, Routines, Single Parenting, Theme Week, Time ManagementLeave a comment

Yep, I’m one of those people. I love mornings. I love the calm anticipation that it often holds, and I love the feeling of getting a head start on my day before everyone else. I know that mornings have fallen out of favor with a lot of people recently, but I’m here to tell you about some of the reasons I get up early to have some time to myself every day.

Waking before your kids may be the way to find time for yourself.

First a little background: I’m a single mother with twin girls who are currently 3.5 years old. I am a full time music teacher in a public school and also run my own online business. I am also an introvert and a homebody. Because of all of these factors, having some quiet time for myself is essential to my ability to function with a positive attitude each day. There are 3 reasons why I think having some “me time” each morning makes a huge difference for me: 1) my brain has time to process everything from the previous day, 2) I can think through and prepare for the upcoming day’s responsibilities, and 3) I can start the day feeling more in control.

1. My brain has time to process

I have a lot of stress in my life. I work in a Title I school with a lot of behavior problems. Communication with the girls’ father is full of conflict. My girls are both 3 years old. Did I mention I have two 3 year old’s? Often when I try to deal with problems that come up during the day before going to sleep, I don’t respond well. When I give my body rest and my brain a chance to process everything, I usually find a much better perspective or solution the next morning. Getting up early for some time to myself, rather than staying up after the girls go to bed, allows me to deal with life’s ups and downs in a healthier way.

2. I can prepare for the day ahead

I know that, in theory, this can be done at night. And if you are a night owl rather than an early bird, it is probably completely effective for you to get ready for the next day the night before. But if I try to get ready the night before, I always miss something. My brain and body are shut down by the time I get the girls in bed- there is no organized or logical thinking happening! By getting up early enough, I have time to think through my responsibilities for the day and make sure I am ready before the girls wake up. For me at least, even when I am able to effectively prepare the night before, I find that I don’t remember everything I had set up by the next morning. Doing everything that morning gives me a better chance of remembering what I had planned the rest of the day.

3. I feel more in control

There’s something about setting an alarm, and waking up when it goes off, that makes me feel more successful. Maybe just that small success of getting out of bed while others are still sleeping is enough to make me feel like I am capable of following through on my decisions. Having time to sit with a cup of coffee, reflect on the previous day and the day ahead, and calmly prepare for the day helps me to feel like I am in control of my life and that I am equipped to deal with whatever challenges may come my way.

Are you a night owl or an early bird? Do you take time for yourself in the mornings? I really believe that taking that time, even when I would rather sleep in sometimes, makes a big difference in my ability to handle everything life throws my way. What do your mornings look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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A Gift of Mommy Time

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I don’t think any first time mother quite knows what she’s in for, regardless of how much childcare or research she has done before her children come along. All mothers are thrown in the deep end of motherhood. The pool into which I was thrown was a little colder and deeper than some others.

Like most of our readers, I had the twin thing to contend with. Two babies are no small challenge. I worked full time. I exhausted my maternity leave and returned to work when the babies were 11 weeks old. I worked forty hours a week. Add in a required lunch break and an hour or more of commuting in each direction. I was committed to spending the remaining 113 hours of my week with my babies and maximizing our chances of breastfeeding success. The Iraq War didn’t help. My husband deployed when the babies were 5 months old. We didn’t have any family nearby, although our neighbours became practically family.

My husband knew me well enough to realize that I would never willingly take any time for myself outside work. He came up with a truly inspired gift. The perfect gift. My husband bought me a pair of premium season tickets to Broadway in Austin, the local series of touring musicals.

I’m something of a musical theatre geek. Name a song in Rent, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Singin’ in the Rain, or Mary Poppins, and I can sing it for you, likely the melody line and a few harmony parts for good measure. By giving me pairs of tickets, my (now ex) husband ensured that about once a month, I would have to hire a babysitter and schedule a night out with a girlfriend.

I came back from these evenings out re-energized and feeling loved. I went to each show with a different friend, ranging from choir buddies to coworkers, and once even my mother-in-law. My daughters were no worse for wear after an evening with a babysitter, an evening I wouldn’t have taken were it not for the tickets burning a hold in my pocket.

I recently gave a dear friend two gifts at her baby shower: a Boppy pillow and an offer of 12 date nights worth of babysitting, one night a month for Baby’s first year. Her son is now 5 months old and she cashed in her first couple time this past weekend. I’m hoping that my attempt to give her the gift of me-time is as effective as my husband’s.

Have you ever received a gift of me-time?


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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How I Get My Me Time

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When I first thought about writing this post, I was steeped in that all too familiar Mama guilt. I know you know what I’m talking about. This particular day, the guilt caught me off guard as I noticed my son, nearly three years old, singing to himself.

“Let it go,” he sang.

My heart sank a little. I know I am not the only one on the planet who doesn’t love the movie Frozen. (Mayim Bialik has a good piece on her issues with it.) But I was genuinely surprised to hear him singing this, because I’ve never shown my twins the movie. I’ve never even seen it myself, but have had enough exposure to know that song when I hear it.

To be clear, my problem is not with the movie itself, or with any movie, really. It’s the fact that I am slowly losing “control” over my twins and their experience of the world. They are growing up, and I have started to reclaim the elusive ‘me time.’

To get this me time, I have had to make some compromises. I joined a gym with childcare. Most of the time, the TV is on (hence the Frozen homage). I wrestled with this–we are a very limited screen time family. But I knew this was the only way I would be able to do something for myself. Heck, I would even take grocery shopping by myself, but the gym has the childcare and so that’s how I take my me time.

Crying Yoga
Somehow, exercise at home is just not as fun…

I started off with kickboxing and Zumba. Over the summer, my husband was traveling in and out of state for work, I transitioned the twins from cribs to toddler beds, and they abruptly dropped nap time. Kickboxing was a blessing during this time!

Out of curiosity, I dropped in on a yoga class one day. I didn’t expect much from it–I’d tried yoga at other times in my life and had never really ‘gotten’ it. But this time was different. This time, yoga was for me. Little by little, I left the kickboxing and booty-shaking behind and started a daily yoga practice. I have seen so many positive changes in my body and in my outlook on life (although, this may be partly contributed to the fact that my kids have started napping again!)

I can’t imagine now what my life would be like without this little treat for myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how much the positives outweigh the negatives of leaving my children in the gym daycare for a mere hour a day. I feel restored and the ‘attitude of gratitude’ cultivated through regular yoga practice helps me be a better mom and person. I guess you could say I have taken a page from the book of my omnipresent animated friends; I “let it go.”

MJ Yoga Collage


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Inexpensive Ways to Make Time with Your Partner

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Whether you’re a two income family, or a one income family, money is a concern. As a one income family of six, creativity is the name of the game when it comes to entertainment, date nights, and me time. For me, being with my husband—alone—often translates to me time. As I mentioned in a previous Me Time post, nurturing my marriage is crucial to both myself and my husband.

Recently, we moved from the city to the country to be closer to my husband’s family. It has been quite an adjustment for everyone, but a wonderful one overall. Because of this, we have free babysitting, BUT we do not abuse them, we always plan ahead with them, and our children pay them in slobbery kisses.

I asked my husband for input on this, and his immediate response was sex. Well yes, he’s right, sex is free and you don’t have to leave the house or hire a sitter. Can I actually talk about such things on a parenting blog? I suppose so, since we became parents this way! All joking aside, finding ways to be intimate in any way with your partner is a fantastic use of Me Time and can truly enrich your marriage/partnership.

Other ways my husband and I make time for one another, AND that will not get me in trouble in the blogosphere, include:

Date night in. We have Netflix and Hulu streaming subscriptions, so our options for movies are vast. We also have a large DVD collection to choose from. I’m also a fan of the free Redbox codes that come out occasionally. If it isn’t free, it is still way cheaper than a movie ticket! Pick a movie, grab a snack, and cuddle up together.

We are also huge game night fans and really enjoy playing cards together. This is a great way to initiate conversation fairly easily and it rarely revolves around the children. ~Cough, ahem, cough~ We also enjoy playing video games, like Zelda and Final Fantasy. And this mama has been known to pull out her NES for a good game of Super Mario Bros. Just sayin’.

Take people up on their offers. If you have friends or family members that have offered to help you with meals or childcare (and you trust them), take them up on it. As one who has been on both the giving and receiving ends of this offer, they really do mean it and are truly happy to help.

Go for a walk. This requires some outside help (see above or hire someone), but aside from finding someone responsible to watch your child(ren) for a bit, a walk is free. My husband and I walk every evening together when he is not traveling for work. Typically this is after the children have gone to bed so that my in-laws only have to be there for nightmares and ensure that a fire doesn’t break out. We don’t go for more than 20-30 minutes, but it is a great way to clear our heads after a long day and reconnect as a couple.

Go shopping. Oh yeah, now we’re getting sexy. Wait, buying groceries and clothes for the kids who insist on eating and growing isn’t sexy. But finding a way to do it with one another—without said kids—that’s special. I always enjoy those shopping trips more because we always ALWAYS end up giggling and really enjoying that time. This too, requires some outside help. Currently, we do this after the children are in bed as well. This way, we aren’t abusing grandma and grandpa.

What if I don’t have free help like you? Before we moved here, we used friends and occasional family members. I also called up our local college and found out that they have a website for their students who are looking for part time work. I went on, posted a babysitting job at the hourly rate I was willing to pay, interviewed applicants and ended up hiring a wonderful sophomore who became very close with our children for a year. Perhaps your local church would know someone reliable and reasonably priced. Or your local MOPS or multiples group might have some references (or older children of their own looking for a job).

Get creative! While it isn’t always easy, we make time for our marriage. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it costs a little bit, but the investment into our relationship is priceless. (Did I go a little MasterCard advertisement there?) There are no limits on your creativity. If you’re out of ideas and don’t like mine, ask your partner. Just be ready for an answer like my guy’s. Yeah, I’m keeping this one!

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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4 Ways to Make Me Time Every Day

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As a stay at home mother of four children, three of whom are still in diapers, “me time” is a luxury. Me time is hard to get most days—impossible on some—but I always make an effort to get some. How we make time for ourselves as mothers is as different as we are, but it is important nonetheless. I hope that in sharing what I do, it might stir up some ideas for you as well.

We’ve all seen this photo around on social media…

8b43346a4f730e0710494599d5c432c8

… so don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest hiding here! However, I have tried it… and failed.

Kidding aside, there are four things that I do (to try) to get me time every day.

I get up before my children do. I know I know I KNOW what you’re going to say, “Every mom blogger says this! It’s too hard and I need my sleep!” Know how I know this? I’ve said it for years. I didn’t actually attempt this until I had my Twinkies, kiddos 3 and 4, and was in the most sleep deprived period of my life.

For me, it started by accident. My husband had gotten a new job that allowed him to work from home about 50-75% of the time, but traveling the rest of that time. During his first trip away, I figured out that I had to get up 15-30 minutes before the girls did so that I was ready to feed two hungry babies alone. The house was dark and quiet; there was no one crying or asking for anything. It was just me, the gigantic nursing pillow, bottles, and the coffee maker. In my first solo week, I learned that in giving up 15 minutes of sleep, I gained more peace and patience, and my children gained a happier, more put together mama.

Fast forward to nearly a year later and my husband still travels, but I typically get up 30 minutes before my kids do even when he is home. It gives me time to wake up, drink my coffee, plan my day, prep dinner, and generally be ready for whatever my four little monkeys might throw at me.

I take a walk. This happens every day that my husband isn’t travelling. When he has some downtime (or when I must have a break ASAP because I just can’t take it anymore), he will emerge from the office and take over, allowing me to get outside, get some air and most days, some clarity.

Okay, so your spouse/partner doesn’t work from home? No problem! After dinner, or bedtime, or whatever works for you, GO! Commit to 10 minutes a day. That ends up being 70 minutes a week! (See how I just snuck in exercise and self care into this?)

I rotate toys. What? Huh? How does that get you “me time”? We all know that kids can turn a beautiful living room or play room into a post apocalyptic scene in the time it takes you to pee. That being said, I only have a large tote worth of toys that are easily accessible to my children at any given time. If they want a special tote, then they have to pick up every other toy before I pull it out. Currently, the Lego tote is the special tote in our house. Lego time is one of my favorite times of the day! It is guaranteed to keep them busy for 30-90 minutes (depending on the kiddo). I usually don’t have to referee for the first 10-15 minutes. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is!

I clean as I go, and my kids help. Once the kids are in bed, I want to relax, hang out with Special K, read a book, watch TV or blog. I don’t want to be filling the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or picking up toys.

My children are old enough to help with small tasks. Each child is expected to help clear the table after each meal (as much as they can, age appropriately), toys must be picked up before meals and bed, and everyone has to help tidy up at the end of the day. My oldest has a chore chart and is getting ready to start moving from stickers to an allowance. My three littles are still at the age where they really love to be “helpers”, so I figure, why not teach them how to really help now? Stickers, new crayons, and lots of praise are rewards that work in our house.

Ultimately, I rarely have much cleaning to do after my kids are in bed, which frees up the evening for me to unwind and relax.

What about you? How do you find me time every day? Do you trip and fall into it or do you ensure that you make time for you every day? Get creative!

Sara is a mama of four children, two of them being surprise identical twin girls. She is happily married to the love of her life, stays home with her children and is currently homeschooling her oldest child. Most of her writing is centered around raising awareness about Crouzon Syndrome and cleft palates, advocating for your child, homeschooling and raising multiples. Find her blog at Confessions of an Outnumbered Mom.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Working from Home Full Time

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Categories Balance, Childcare, Divorce, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Making Time for Me, Routines, SAHM, Time Management, WorkingLeave a comment

Four years ago, we were preparing to send our children to kindergarten when my soldier husband received orders to move over 500 miles away. We had about 2 weeks to uproot and move, departing the day before the children were to have started school with the children in the neighbourhood. We even knew their assigned teachers’ names. This is fairly typical for military families, but not for us. In my 9 years as a US Army fiancée and wife, this was the only PCS (permanent change of station) I moved for. While my husband went on overseas tours (two to Iraq, one to Afghanistan, and one to Korea), I had stayed put.

I figured that my run as an enlisted wife with a career was over. I prepared to hand in my two week notice. Instead, my employer offered to keep me on as a full-time telecommuter indefinitely. I jumped at the chance to keep a job I loved while keeping my family intact. Instead of spending 45 hours a week in and around the office, I would be working from home, making myself available through email, join.me, Google Chat, instant messenger, and telephone. I took a couple of weeks of leave to pack and rent out our house, find a place to live, make the move, deal with an unrelated family crisis, and unpack.

I initially intended to put my daughters in an after-school care program so that I could work from as I had from the office, knowing that my children were well cared for. However, it turned out that El Paso childcare culture wasn’t one I could get on board with. The one after-school program I could find that met my hygiene requirements was untenable. The children ran mostly unsupervised and were fed candy and soda. I couldn’t bear to allow my children to continue there after the first few weeks brought no improvement. I made the previously unthinkable decision to work full time without childcare.

I know that many parents work full time from home with children underfoot. For me, the nature of my work, my parenting priorities, and my own nature wouldn’t have been able to make it successful if the children weren’t in school for a good part of the day. However, with kindergarten in the mix, the schedule worked out.

6:45 am: Put the children on the school bus for an unnecessarily circuitous but serendipitously long bus ride.
7:00 am: Get online and start work. Thanks to being just over the time zone boundary, this is 8 am at work.
1:45 or 2:30 pm: Take a late “lunch” to drive to school and retrieve the children. This got a little squirrely while the kids were in different grades and got out of school at different times, but we made it work.
3:15 pm: Get the children set up with a snack and craft.
3:20 pm: Get back to work.
4:00 pm or 4:45 pm: Sign off for the day. Snuggle with the girls and thank them for being so mature.
5:30 pm: Prepare dinner.
6:00 pm: Family time.
8:00 pm: Send the children to bed and prep a crafting project for the following day. Take care of housework and try to prop up my failing marriage.

I lucked out, between my incredibly supportive coworkers, the time difference, public kindergarten, the long bus ride, and my daughters’ maturity. I was especially grateful to have kept my job when, 7 months after our move, my husband left me. Thanks to working from home, I had a career, salary, and community to fall back on. I will be ever grateful to my team’s faith in my creative scheduling and commitment to my job.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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TV is a Tool

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Categories Balance, Feeling Overwhelmed, How Do The Moms Do It, It Gets Different, Making Time for Me, Parenting, Perspective, Preschoolers, SAHM, School-Age, ToddlersTags Leave a comment

I learned a long time ago that I was a much better parent before I actually had kids. I thought picky eaters were the result of indulgent parents. (Guess what! I introduced my duo to the same foods at the same time off the same spoon and one only eats things that are beige and crunchy. He came like that, I didn’t do that to him.) I also thought my kids wouldn’t watch a lot of TV. That one makes me laugh now!

While we are at it, I also sort of thought I would have ONE baby at a time and well, that didn’t happen either.

I am not ashamed to admit thatI use TV as a tool to give myself a break and distract my kids from mayhem. I have been home with them since they were one, and with no family nearby and no babysitters to speak of, I rarely had any time for a break. Not long before my boys turned three I started trying to work from home. I had a small Etsy shop and did custom sewing. I enjoyed the quiet time while they slept and the creative outlet helped me refresh. I was able to use the 2-3 hours they would nap to work on projects and promote my business online.

In contrast, while these two were awake, there was rarely a quiet moment. Here’s a small snapshot of the chaos my duo managed from a very young age. I didn’t include any of the photos where there was blood — and there was blood, more than once. Nor did I include any naked shenanigans, which was also incredibly common. You’re welcome.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
HDYDI.com Making Time for Me Teamwork: Trying to remove outlet covers with a pretend screwdriver, escaping through the dog door onto the concrete patio, trashing a closet, using an entire box of tissues to decorate their room, working together to escape their play area and unrolling all the toilet paper.

Remember when I said my kids weren’t going to watch a lot of TV? That didn’t last. They were nearly two before we ever turned on the TV for one single half-hour of something with educational merit each day. But then guess what? They turned 3 and all bets were off. Three, in our house at least, was the worst. Ever.

But before that, when my boys were not even two, they figured out and verbalized to me, “There is one of you and two of us and we want to do this!” when I was home alone with them. Most of every day they worked together to outsmart and out-maneuver anything I did. They overcome any childproofing efforts we made and they were giving up naps.

They gave up their nap long before I gave up their nap.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
HDYDI.com Making Time for Me The dresser was moved into the closet, which also had a lock, which did not dissuade them from pulling every stitch of clothing out. They also raided the fridge and the pantry, took a Sharpie to the carpet, and flushed things that should not be flushed.

When they were awake, which quickly became all the time, they were in constant seek-and-destroy mode. BUT, when the TV was on they sat, quietly and slack-jawed and provided me a brief respite. They weren’t trashing toy bins or flooding the bathroom. They weren’t trying to escape baby gates or scale cabinets. They just sat. And it was quiet.

In the beginning, we stuck mostly to educational stuff. They were picking up songs and letters, colors and numbers. And more importantly, they were giving me the break I needed to do crazy indulgent things like shower and cook meals.

At age 5, they still watch mostly stuff with educational merit, but there are more and more mindless shows thrown in there too. By age 4 they could each name 100 superheroes (give or take) and they knew all sorts of crazy phrases and giant words they probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They have picked up all sorts of cultural references and they incorporate storylines and theme music into their play.

So there’s the truth: My kids watch too much TV. Way more than they should, for sure. But it helps me get things done and it keeps them from clobbering one another or trashing our house. Judge if you want, but TV in our house keeps the peace. Now that they know how to turn on the TV and navigate around, my work is done and I can retire from Mommyhood.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
Look how sweet and well-behaved!

Allow me to share some things I have learned since becoming a Mom who uses TV for distraction to get a little time to myself. (It’s OK, I give you permission* to use TV as a tool to entertain your kids.)

  • Streaming is awesome. Get yourself Netflix or Amazon Prime or something on-demand. My kids have only ever watched on-demand shows either from Netflix or from our own personal video library, which we stream to our TV via AppleTV. They also have channels on the AppleTV you can stream if you do have cable. (We don’t. We canceled it when I was pregnant to cut our monthly bills.) Plus there is a PBS channel my kids love too.
  • Paying for a streaming service means my kids don’t watch commercials, ever. They never have to flip through channels, hoping there is something decent on. They just pick something and watch it. We stayed in a hotel recently and they were so flummoxed not being able to control what was on, but subsequently asked for every single thing each commercial endorsed. That was only about an hour’s worth. I can’t imagine living with that every day. Netflix is less than $10 a month, a fraction of the cost of cable and without the commercials.
  • Making them agree on a show and take turns picking has helped them understand sometimes you do what someone else wants. Is it always peaceful? Nope. But then, neither are kids sometimes.
  • Netflix streaming truly is unlimited. Believe me, we’ve tested it. More than once I have thought, “Gee I am glad we don’t get a monthly usage report showing we watched the same episode of Octonauts 437 times so far.”
  • Use parental controls. I mean, if you are going to plop your kids in front of a neglect-o-magic, at least be a little parental. My kids have their own profile and they are locked into ratings for 8 and under. They can’t accidentally watch Orange is the New Black.
  • Be careful trying to replace paid streaming content with YouTube. It’s crazy easy for kids to click on the next thing YouTube thinks is related and find something you’d really rather not have them seeing.
  • Not everything on TV is terrible. My kids are actually pretty smart and know a lot of things because of TV than they would be otherwise. Sometimes they will start talking about some creature they learned about and will tell me 32 facts about it and I am blown away they retained so much. They also smash things like Hulk so there’s that.
  • Try to quiz them after they’ve watching something to make sure they are actually learning. Tell me something about [whatever] that you didn’t know. It makes them recall what they learned and it creates a dialogue. Even the mindless stuff has morals sometimes. How do you think he felt when that happened? What would you do if that happened? Especially great for kids who might struggle with emotions.
  • When they were in preschool in the afternoons, we had a no-TV-before-school rule, because sometimes it is hard to turn off without a fit. We made the rule and stuck to it. It was disputed the first week or so then they accepted it. Now with them starting Kindergarten we’ve made a no-TV-on-school-days rule so they can stay focused on their schoolwork and activities. They know it’s the rule and it’s non-negotiable. (Exceptions made for sick days.)
  • We do a LOT of stuff that isn’t watching TV, I promise. They are exposed to lots of things in real life too. We try to get out of the house every day and we’ve filled the past 5 years with tons of educational and mind-broadening activities. And a lot of TV.

I know the recommendations of nearly everyone who recommends such things say kids should limit screen time, and TV is not a babysitter and it’s bad for developing brains. All of which is probably true. But in our house, my kids watching TV is essential to MY mental health.

* Permission granted in this instance has zero actual authority and is offered without guarantee or responsibility.

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Can Chores and Work Be “Me Time”?!

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Categories Making Time for Me, Parenting, ToddlersTags , 2 Comments

As a part-time working mom of triplet toddlers my most consistent version of “me time” typically consists of doing things I have to do anyway, but doing them by myself! I am an early intervention physical therapist and drive around quite a bit to do home visits. Some of my coworkers complain about all the drive time, but sometimes that is one of my only moments of solitude and I cherish it! Sometimes I listen to music or NPR, but most of the time I am listening to podcasts that I downloaded on my phone. It’s really kind of lovely sometimes to just drive in silence as opposed to driving while singing “ABCs” or “Happy Birthday” 500 times in a row! I think the lives of MoMs generally tend to be pretty overstimulating so embracing a bit of quiet time, wherever you can find it, can be so refreshing!

On my days home with our triplet toddlers, naptime is as close as I get to me time. The naptime “to do” list is always long and sometimes I get so caught up in the business that I forget to enjoy the solitude! I am working on this and when I am mindful of it I find that I appreciate and enjoy naptime even more. I love to cook, so I try to make that a naptime job (at least the prep work) because cooking is actually fun for me when I don’t get pulled away to referee a toddler spat every couple of minutes! Sometimes I’ll even sit down (gasp!) and watch a show on Netflix while I fold a couple loads of laundry.

Some days I remember partway through the nap that I should be appreciating this time. On those days when I’ve been in go-go-go mode I try to take 5, maybe even 10 minutes, to just sit and take a few deep breaths and do something relaxing. Sometimes that means scrolling through my Facebook feed; other times it means sitting on our deck with an iced coffee and just being. The trick I have learned is that I have to stop and do this in the middle of naptime and not be under some illusion that I can get three more things done and then sit because inevitably when I do that the moment I sit down is the moment I hear one or more toddlers waking up!

My other “go to” me time that I only manage to do a couple times a week is to get up early before the kiddos wake up. For a while one of our trio was consistently waking at 5:30 or 6 but then going back to sleep; that was a great time for me to get up and have a little time alone. But that only works for me if I actually went to bed early and got a decent night’s sleep so it definitely doesn’t happen every day. When it does, though, it is often one of my favorite times of day. I can make a pot of coffee, cook a delicious breakfast, and maybe even sit in the hammock and drink my coffee without reheating it five times! That is often my best time to write too. Sometimes I only get five minutes and then this

IMG_20150811_072229

turns into this…

IMG_20150813_195342or this…20150809_082030but, I love this time too and I know it’s going to be gone way too fast!  So I’m also going to embrace this mommy time!

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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