Take Time for You. Ish.

This evening was a monumental event in my life, marking another finger on the one hand that can count how many times I’ve left the house and gone to something without ALL THE KIDS.

Between cost, cost, cost, and cost; I just haven’t been able to justify a lot of me time. Like, ever.

And, despite what I said about going without kids, I actually went with two of them. They’re older now, so it’s almost like a date. -Though not in a weird way.

But see? That’s the problem. I have a lot of Mom Guilt about anything I do. If I do something, it needs to not cost a lot. It needs to not traumatize the kids. It needs to be with my husband. It needs to, in short, be worth more than the anxiety of all those worries.

So, when I finally get out, I most often choose an event that is free and/or one to which the offspring may also come. I pat myself on the back for culturally enlightening them, even though I had to hiss at them to Get back in your seat and Stop poking each other and For the love of everything holy will you please stop making noise??

Today, then, is the advice that I am not so great at following:

Seriously, go to something with just you.

Seriously.

At least once a year, okay?

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Photo Credit:
chuttersnap

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Food Tip 2

My children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s their standard fare for school lunches and snacks.

They are also in charge of making said lunches each morning. In order to help the process run smoothly, I keep all the materials they need within easy reach. In order to help me not have a lot of mess to clean up afterwards, I opt for plastics.

Use plastics!

I’m not referring to BPA-free, recycled, overpriced sandwich and snack containers, either -though we do happen to have those. I refer to the jars of jam and peanut butter.

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I recall a time in my childhood when my mother was bringing the groceries in from the car. I wanted to help. I grabbed a brown paper sack and began the long walk across our cement garage… only to have the edge of the bag rip in my hands. *CRASH!* It turned out that my bag had our newly-purchased jar of peanut butter in the bottom. Yes, it was good that the mess was contained. Yes, it was a waste of money and groceries because glass permeated the contents of the bag.

So stick with plastics! Save the world and your sanity and enjoy delicious sandwiches in the process.

Dinner Tip 2

Cooking does not have to be that complicated, especially with the prevalence of so many frozen and pre-made options.

My tip today, however, is to not be afraid of making basic meals.

Don’t fear cooking!

There are a ton of easy meals that don’t take a lot of time, ingredients, or money to make. From the Poor Man’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich to French Bread Pizza to all the quick meals I listed on this very site, you have more than the drive thru to choose from come dinnertime.

You can do it. I promise.

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Photo Credit:
Pixzolo Photography

So You Wanna Help a Mother, Do Ya?

-Mothers have a tough job.

-I have never worked so hard in my life as I did as a stay-at-home-mother.

-Motherhood is underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated.

-If you added up the salaries of every job a mother does, you still wouldn’t compensate her for a day’s work.

-I know I couldn’t do it.

I’ve heard a few commiserating comments about motherhood in my day. They’re scattered here and there amongst the glares when my children scream, or the *tsk* *tsk* looks when I reprimand the screaming, or the slight lift of nose-in-air as they walk by with their dressed and not-brawling children.

When I’ve had brain and time to think, however, I can’t help but wonder: if motherhood is so great, why don’t you do it? You could all support it, at least.

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Instead, I feel abandoned. I feel I sit in the muddy gutter of life with my little, half-me guttersnipes and get shown exactly what the negative voice inside says:

-Your children are monsters, and it’s because of you.

-The house is a mess; guess who gets to clean it forevermore?

-Don’t raise your kids this waythat way, or -for heaven’s sake!- that other way or you will screw up their entire future.

-Besides raising decent humans, keeping floors spotless, maintaining bills, finding everyone’s lost pants, and feeding the local inhabitants; you must also be cheerful, inspirational, encouraging, loving, and a whole person.

-If you are sad and depressed, it’s because you simply don’t believe in you.

Some parents (again, with brain and time to think) lobby for government support to fill the gaps. They ask for extended maternity leaves, an in-home nanny, free preschool, and childcare centers at workplaces. That’s all well and good and job-saving, but is not the real answer.

The real answer is always more difficult. It’s not a bill to pass nor a wad of money to throw. I believe the answer is a need for actual, hands-on, real-life support.

Think about my idea in relation to other problems that don’t go away with a friendly comment; like needing help with moving house, requiring an organ donation, or being trapped beneath a fallen timber at a logging camp. Does it help that poor lumberjack for his workmates to pass by, smile in commiseration, and say, “Been there, mate. Bit of a rough spot, eh?,” and keep walking?

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In the same way, it does little to tell a mother who is struggling to restrain her toddler at the grocery store that, “Mothers have a tough job.” I think she’s aware of it at that point.

I don’t mean to make anyone feel too shy to speak up at all. Instead, I suggest alternate reactions based on what a few, kind souls have actually done for me:

If commenting is your thing; try what an older couple did. A grandmotherly woman and her husband approached me in the grocery store and said, “You are a wonderful mother. You may not feel like it some days, but I know it and I know your boys know it.”

Another time, a fellow mom came up to me in the parking lot while I was putting children and groceries into the car. “Can I take your shopping cart for you?” she asked. Receiving a nod since I couldn’t manage much else, she smiled and pushed hers and mine over to the return.

Twice now when we were on vacation, an older man at the breakfast table near ours said something like, “What fine boys you are! I’ll bet you help your mom out, don’t you?” Then, he dug into his wallet and handed each of my boys a silver dollar.

Not only have these behaviors actually improved my spirits and helped me to feel supported, they have been examples to my children. There’s an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; one that many people look over in these technological times. Thing is, that adage is still true. As much as I try to micromanage my children’s behavior, they simply do not listen to only me. Sometimes they do not listen to me at all.

Occasionally a boy will come home, bursting with a lesson taught at school, on fire with how it’s changed his thinking. It’s a lesson I’ve tried to hammer into his head before -but do I resent the teacher for it? A bit. Still, it’s more than worth biting my tongue because my son learned it.

If you want to support a mother, do so. Oftentimes we parents are hesitant to receive help because of child-molester fears or judging-my-parenting fears. Don’t worry; start small. Work on turning the judgy face into a sincere smile. Think about offering a hand or an honest compliment. Remember your own childhood or your own children.

And, if you’re feeling really generous, I’m open for that in-home nanny or wad of cash as well.

 

Photo Credits:
Sharon McCutcheon
Luz Fuertes
Markus Spiske

Quick Dinner Tip 1

Fast food is not as ‘fast’ or as ‘food’ as they claim. If you’re in a real rush that cannot possibly wait for a trip back to the house, I recommend foresight.

FORESIGHT!

I usually know when the evening is going to be busy, but somehow assume that dinner will appear on its own. I say things like, “We’ll think about what to have when dinner gets closer.” I always forget that I am a human being whose logic abilities go down when I do not have nourishment.

Translation: I get dumb when I get hungry.

My first dinner tip is to plan ahead. If I know the evening will be rushed then I pack us food like we’re going on a picnic. In the car. While wearing karate, soccer, or choir uniforms.

Trust me; they’re the new way to dress for dinner.

You’ll save more money, eat healthier, and not fund a franchise trying to take over the world with golden arches. You will also model good behavior for the kiddos, save the environment from more leftover fry oil and hamburger wrappers, and make the world a better place.

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Photo credit:
Grahame Jenkins