Put on your laughing hats

*Warning: my true, silly self comes out below. 

When I was little my older sister used to describe her mood in relation to pants. Yes, you read that right. When she was having a no-good day and wanted to warn the world she would say “I have my cranky pants on today.”

Lately, our family has been wearing our “silly, laughing hats” a lot.

Our little boy, Parker, has become quite obsessed with hats. Anything that looks like it could remotely stay on your head for a split second is dubbed a hat, tried on, and then offered to me or Sam to try on.

His favorite of all the prospective hats are buckets.

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Doesn’t he have a great taste for hats??!

This last Monday evening, which we usually devote solely to family time, the hats came out in all their glory. It started simple; my husband and I just trying to cooperate with what our boy loves and going along for the hat ride. But then our silly side broke loose and there was no turning back. Soon we were sporting wacky faces, speaking in crazy voices, and trying on more “hats.” We had to take pictures, of course.

Put on your laughing hatFor me, sometimes parenting seems to morph into a small, at-home business. I will go about the day attending to meals, changing diapers, scheduling play dates, folding the laundry, disciplining, and then follow the bedtime routine.  According to the check list, I’ve accomplished all that needs to be done, but in reality, I’ve taken the joy and untamed silliness out of parenting–I’ve made my home a working machine.

“There is little success where there is little laughter.” -Andrew Carnegie

But lately I’ve been enjoying the sheer laughter that bubbles out of our little home. The times when my husband and I throw off our adult facade and surprise my son with how silly we really are. Not only is it enjoyable for us as a family, but it is one of the most relaxing things for me. I can revert back to my inner child that is still alive and kickin’ and just have fun. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of motherhood, simply being allowed to relive some of the most magical and carefree years of my life.

“There is a certain happiness in being silly and ridiculous.”

How do you throw off your serious pants and just have fun with your spouse and kids? I would love to hear about it!

Limits brings happiness

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your real and genuine responses to my recent post What you do speaks so loud. It was reassuring to know I am not the only one who struggles with balancing social media, blogging, or hobbies with my absolute love for my boy. And honestly, your comments and ideas have been so instrumental in helping me–THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts with me.

Your feedback

As per a suggestion, I decided to do a follow-up post, with feedback from other readers, YOU, on how to balance our passion for writing and media, with our passion for our youngsters.

The number one thing happens to be balance, moderation, and strategy. Many referenced setting aside a specific time each day to blog or interact through social media. Others explained they set a certain time and amount of time for them to blog. There were also certain times they simply put their phone away–silenced, no notifications, out of sight.  I loved what Abbie from Abbie’s Babble said in her comment:

“I am being very intentional at the moment about setting myself timed sessions online (my kids are only allowed max 45min screen sessions after all).”

That thought had honestly never occurred to me. Having been out of my parents home for quite a few years without rules and then not having kids using media, I forgot entirely that I should make limits for myself. Media isn’t bad, but too much can be. We want our life to be balanced and full of other wonderful, fulfilling things. Yes?

Another idea came from Chelsi at Catching Crawfish. She explained that she is working on only using media when her kids are napping or in bed. But, we all know we have ideas for our blog all throughout the day. Her solution was wonderful:

“I would write posts on paper first as they came to my mind, then type later.”

I loved this suggestion. I want my son to see me using a good ‘ole pen and paper. The more time he see’s me “off screen” is valuable to me. Also, the added benefit to this idea, is that we don’t even have to touch our phones to jot down an idea. If you are anything like me, if I pick up my phone to quickly jot down an idea, I get distracted and soon I’m somehow reading about my friends new pregnancy or looking at a cute picture of so and so’s child. This idea makes it easier to put the phone and computer really away.

But let’s be honest, we WILL slip up. We will have days when we spend far too much time online. What Hannah at Pocketful of Motherhood said helped me realize it is okay to make the mistake, as long as we keep trying.

“Finding the balance has been tricky. So, I guess I’m learning and trying to show myself some grace along the way.”

We should all try to show ourselves kindness, even amidst the days when we feel horrible and guilty that we didn’t give our child enough attention. After all, we really are works in progress.

But if I could send you away with one thought, it would be this from The Happiness Trick:

“My writing is so much better when I spend uninterrupted time with my kids! I find that being unplugged when spending time with my kids fuels my inspiration – and it also removes the guilt of ‘disconnecting’ from them when I do decide to sit down and write. Of course, easier said than done and it took me a long time to find the right balance. I try to remember that giving my kids my undivided attention is just as important to their happiness and well-being as having time to myself to enjoy a little alone time …. when Mom is happy, everyone is happy 🙂

Sometimes I feel my son is getting in the way of my writing. But, really since I do blog about my son, what better than to spend time with him while unplugged? I’ve come to realize that giving myself limits will actually increase my happiness. I’ll be able to get rid of that gnawing guilt, when I see my son vying for my attention.

Sometimes limits really do bring happiness.

“When we have clear boundaries, we permit ourselves respect.” –Anonymous

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What you do speaks so loud

This is a post I really hope for some feedback on from all you mommas. You who are striving to balance your social media or blogging addiction (at least that is an accurate description for me) with your sheer love and addiction for your kiddos.

I share pictures and blog mostly about my boy Parker, and the lessons I learn as a mother. But lately I’ve realized that sometimes my interest in sharing through social media or blogging itself, gets in the way of the quality moments and daily experiences I have with him.

This seems painfully crazy and ironic to me.

Of course, I need an outlet for myself. For me, this is a fact. But, I also deeply desire to support my son in his emotional need of true, genuine interaction; not just merely being a body in the same room.

BathboyI want to be there. I want him to see the excitement in my eyes as we toss the ball back and forth. I want my touch to feel authentic, real, and fully meant for him. I wish for him to know he is the most important thing; not the phone I sometimes reach for every 10 minutes, or less, unfortunately.

“What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Add text(1)Honestly, many times I am there. I’m fully invested. That truck book, that basketball, and my boy’s zeal for sports are all that’s on my brain. But flip the coin, and there are also many times when I’m not. I’m engaged, but in the back of my mind I’m actually interested in something else, besides what I’m doing with my boy.

So this post is me really putting it out there and saying I’m going to work on making my actions say: “I love you, son. I love you more than the thrill of blogging; more than the comments from friends on the photos of you. The photo of you is cute, and the fact that my friends notice is great, but YOU are what I’m really crazy about.”

I hope I’m not the only one who struggles with this! How do you balance your hobbies or your “addictions” with really engaging with your kids? How do your actions show your kids that you love them like crazy?

[For a superb article on focusing on our children read How to Miss a Childhood at Hand Free Mama.]

Stopping the comparisons: Just more experienced

The other day my boy, Parker, helped me bake in the kitchen for the first time. I’ve tried to get him involved before, but until yesterday he just didn’t understand. Having him help yesterday was fulfilling; one of those mommy moments I have quietly day dreamed about for quite a while. Son helping make cookies, stirring, tasting the dough

As I watched his small, chubby hands latch onto the spoon and start to slowly mix, my mind was flooded with memories of baking with my own mom. I would frequently step up onto a stool, put on my flowery apron, and be her right hand girl.

However just as frequently as I tried to help, I undoubtedly became discouraged. I remember looking at my finished product, then to hers, and back to mine. The disappointment was poignant. Why was Mom always so much better than me? As soon as I expressed my frustration, she would reply without missing a beat:

“I’m not better than you; I’m just more experienced.”

Me as a little girl learning to bake.

Me as a little girl learning to bake.

It made sense; it made me feel better. She had been baking for years and I was just a girl. It was silly for me to believe I could be perfect at something I’d practiced very little at. Her comment gave me hope.

Now as I’m a bigger girl, how often do I look at others, especially moms, and think–“She has it all together; she is so much better at being a mom.” A LOT. I do that a lot. But, is that accurate? Instead, I should think to myself, “She has three kids, she’s changed hundreds more diapers, she’s balanced housework with utter exhaustion way more than me. She may not be better; just more experienced.

Simple as that. No comparisons, no guilt, no discouragement.

In the end, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. All those people we may be comparing ourselves to each day may just have more experience.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” – Jon Acuff

How have you learned to stop yourself from comparing yourself to others? What is a saying that has helped you throughout your life?

Don’t measure YOU

Title "Don't measure YOU" next to wooden ruler.We are in the midst of trying to buy a house and move…again. It is such a long story but we may in fact be moving again in November. {Whew.} Through this time of moving limbo we have been trying to arrange financing. Last night as I was feeling emotionally empty and overwhelmed by all the numbers swirling in my head, I lost it. I lost my composure with my family and was NOT the person I wished I would have been. Sadly.

Waking up this morning after a good nights sleep, I realized I don’t want to let this slip-up define me. I definitely want to makes things better, but in the end, I’m not worth less because of my mistake. In fact, I can’t even measure my worth.

Things I can measure are endless–three cups of flour for the cookies, how many cookies I ate after they came out of the oven, an hour play date, the shoe size I wear,  or how much a gallon of gas costs. But one thing I have realized I should not even attempt to measure?

Myself.

My worth does not fluctuate daily. In fact, the day I was born I was worth an innumerable amount and to this day–it hasn’t changed. Nor will it ever change. It won’t change for you either. No matter if I feel like I botched motherhood yesterday, wasn’t the kind of friend I hoped, forgot about a meeting and left someone hanging, or even if I feel I acted in a way that could never be forgiven…

I am still worth the same amount.

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Our worth never changes. Even when I botch motherhood some days, I’m still worth my full 20 dollars.

“One woman who had been through years of trial and sorrow said through her tears, “I have come to realize that I am like an old 20-dollar bill—crumpled, torn, dirty, abused, and scarred. But I am still a 20-dollar bill. I am worth something. Even though I may not look like much and even though I have been battered and used, I am still worth the full 20 dollars.”’
Dieter Uchtdorf

No matter how down we may feel about ourselves, no matter how vulnerable or small we may feel in comparison to others. We are all still worth our full 20-dollars.

“There is nothing so rewarding as to make people realize that they are worthwhile in this world.”- Bob Anderson

How do you remind yourself of your innate worth? How have you learned self-love that transcends the daily slip-ups you make? I would be so interested to hear what helps you!