My wallet and I vow to do better every year, and most years we fail.Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. But for me, it is a time of empty wallets and “unique budgeting.” You know the kind of budgeting I’m talking about…..robbing Peter to pay Paul. Yea, these aren’t my proudest moments, but it’s the truth. I definitely wasn’t using the “B-Word“. Here’s another truth I have to admit: when we had kids, Christmas slowly became an obsession of what toys we could get the kids and what gifts could we give to show someone we loved them.
Yes, we were giving, but for all the wrong reasons.There was a lot of self-gratification in our spending. And our wallet was angry. We have 4 kids, 3 grandparents, 5 uncles, and who knows how many cousins! Christmas for us was an EXPENSE!
Our Christmas Spending had gone wild in all the wrong ways.
After robbing Peter to pay Paul, and watching our wallets “Make it Rain” in Wal-Mart in order to get our kids everything they wanted for Christmas, our kids would only play with the toys for a month. In some cases, the kids would play with the BOXES the toys came in instead of the actual toy! They would create rockets ship, train cars, and medieval weaponry. So I decided to wise up and sought advice from my mom tribe in order to get my Christmas spending under control.
My sister has automatic deposits that go into a “Christmas Account.” They use that money to buy whatever Christmas gifts they need. It works for her, but for me, I need all my money during the year to create a nice “nest egg.” (Which hatches whenever I catch the travel bug.)
I have another friend who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all. Instead her family celebrates Kwanza. The few gifts she gives are more of the meaningful variety, rather than materialistic toys from commercials. She also spends considerably less during this giving season than I do. I mentioned that idea to the Grandparents, and they replied verbatim: “I don’t care what you do, I’m gonna buy my grand babies whatever I want to buy them!”
So with that logic, I decided to skip that plan. Well, I still want to teach them about Kwanza, but I will also keep the Christmas traditions.
One day I came across a Facebook post. It went something like this, “Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. And something to read.”
In other words, our kids would ultimately receive 4 gifts each. Not just any 4 gifts, but 4 USEFUL gifts. I decided to give it a try. (What’s the worst that could happen? I spend less during Christmas?! LOL) If 4 gifts is too many, read “Our 3 Gift Christmas.”
Each of my kids received a toy from their list to Santa for the “Something they want”. We would limit this cost to $25 per kid, unless the gift was something that could be shared by all of the kids. (Like a gaming system, board games, or team play gear.)
In the “Something they need” category, I bought shoes. We all know how quickly kids grow out of shoes. The shoes we bought at the beginning of the school year are either too small now, looking like “buddies,” or are talking. (Talking is when the sole of the shoe is coming apart from the rest of the shoe.) We would spend about $45 or less per kid in this category. There are always shoe sales going on. Shoe Carnival always has the BOGO 1/2 Off deals.
For the “Something to Wear” spot, we would always get pajamas. And yes, I mean always. Again, kids grow like weeds. We would buy them their favorite PJs and put it in their Christmas Eve Box. The Christmas Eve Box would consist of their favorite movie snack, a mini-mason jar of Hot Cocoa Mix, a pack of popcorn, and of course, their new PJs.
The “Something to Read” was super easy. I would get the latest Dogman Book or fantasy novel or anything Pinkalicious. If I had trouble selecting inexpensive books, the staff at Novel are always helpful.
Our Christmas Spending usually is as follows: $100 for the “Something You Want”, $180 for the shoes under the “Something You Need”, $50 for PJs and maybe $40 for book with “Something to Read.” (I’m a librarian, so free books kinda just fall in my lap.) That’s a whopping $370 we spend for our kiddos during Christmas. At first, we were spending about…wince…$800-$1000. Yea, again, not my proudest moment.
To satisfy the adults in our family, we play Dirty Santa.
Each adults agrees to purchase 10 small gifts. These gifts range from a set of washcloths from Wal-Mart or holiday-themed lotion from Bath and Body Works to a tin of homemade cookies or a $20 Amazon card. (Seriously, it’s so random and so fun.) We play Christmas Trivia games using a Jeopardy Game that I create myself using PowerPoint. (You can also use KaHoots too.) If you answer the trivia question correctly, you get to retrieve a gift from under the tree or steal from someone else. Everyone LOVES this! We usually contribute about $50-75 worth of “gifts” for Dirty Santa.
If you have any more Christmas Spending Tips, share below! Help a Sista OUT!
Thanksgiving is usually a time where people remember the things they are thankful for. It’s a time for families to get together over a grand meal and fellowship together. For some families, it’s about the deals and steals they can get on Black Friday. For other families, it’s a time to work off those Halloween candy calories by trotting like a turkey. But whatever your family does, Thanksgiving is definitely a MOOD by itself. Even the ballons from the Macy’s Day Parade agree that Thanksgiving has moods.
I don’t know about your family, but sometimes it’s difficult to determine WHERE to have Thanksgiving. Do I go to my in-laws home? Should we go to my mom’s house? Should there be an alternating schedule? As my life changed from single college student, to married youngster, then wife with kids and stuff, Thanksgiving has always been a Mood.
At first, we would always go to Aunt’s house. She loved hosting Thanksgiving each year. My mom, brothers, cousins, grandparents, nephews, nieces, second cousins, and family friends would all be there. We would eat, laugh, and play until the wee hours of the morning.
But as I got older and had all the kids, I preferred something a bit low key. Celebrating Thanksgiving with over 50 people became too much. There were never enough seats. Someone always wanted you to run to the store for something! The loud old uncles got louder while the rude, old aunties got just a bit sassier. And the noise! Whether you were in the living room, den, or the backyard, it was always loud. After the twins kid came along, I was done with “extra-large” family gatherings. I was ready for a mood change.
I’m smiling, but it’s scary.So I opted for a smaller, family Thanksgiving. But then the ugly question rose its head again: Whose house do we go to? My mother-in-law didn’t do the full spread I was used to, but she was a great host and welcomed everyone. My mother can cook like Gordon Ramsey and she was also very welcoming. So, where to go? Eventually, we ended up alternating. If we did Thanksgiving at one in-law’s home, we would do Christmas at the other in-law’s home. That worked for a few years, but then my Thanksgiving Mood changed again.
My husband and I now had 4 small kids. Packing to spend the whole day with relatives required a minor U-Haul. (Just kidding, but definitely a full SUV.) It was a major production and it always felt like I was working on Thanksgiving versus just enjoying myself. Feeding toddlers, changing diapers, pretending to listen to adult conversations, all while what I really wanted to be doing was sleeping in the guest bedroom. My hubby and I would literally communicate through “silent looks of exhaustion.” I was so over Thanksgiving, yet again. I was ready for a new mood.
Because my husband and I are the only ones who have kids between our other 4 siblings, we decided that it would be easier if we were to host Thanksgiving. I love to cook, I love to have people over, and I wouldn’t have to lug a TON of baby crap to another place; sounds like a win-win situation.
So for the next 4-5 years, I hosted Thanksgiving. I cooked delicious meals and mouthwatering desserts. My mom also pitched in so I wouldn’t have to do all of the cooking myself. My mother-in-law and hubby would take over cleanup duty! Everything was great, except the leftovers. THE LEFTOVERS! Have you ever seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Remember how food was everywhere? That was my refrigerator. We were up to our ears in leftovers. I tried to do some “creative” leftover meals, but that would only entertain my palate for a couple of days. I bet you’re wondering why wouldn’t I just cook less food? I did that for one Thanksgiving.
The complaints about the lack of food rained like $1 bills on a stripper.
We bought the “good” tupperware in the hopes that people would want to take leftovers home in them. But there’s only so much turkey, ham, dressing, and pies a person’s waistline can take.One Thanksgiving, we flipped the script completely. We went out to eat Thanksgiving dinner. We searched for restaurants serving traditional Thanksgiving meals and our family of 6 went to dinner! We tipped our server 100%, because it’s terrible to work on Thanksgiving, but at least the tip would help. The cost of our dinner and the 100% tip was nearly equal to what we would have paid in groceries. This is my favorite Thanksgiving mood. No cooking, no clean-up, no leftovers, no fighting for seats, and no all day festivities. We would watch the parade, eat a delicious dinner out, go home, and watch some football. But due to the traditionalist in my family..ahem…my mom, this Thanksgiving Mood is barely tolerated.
But whatever your Thanksgiving Mood is, let it be a happy one. It has taken my family several different Thanksgiving moods to find what works for us. So my advice to you is to just make it meaningful. And by meaningful, I really mean less stressful.
I don’t need a lot of food to remember what I’m thankful for. I don’t really need a special day to sit around and commune with family or friends. In short, I don’t really need a Thanksgiving Day. So this year, I have decided to let my kids take over Thanksgiving. Here’s the menu they decided:
Turkey w/ Cranberry Sauce
The kids would also like to invite their friends to break a piñata and play board games and video games. I’m not 100% sure this is possible, but we’re going to try.
I wonder how long this Thanksgiving mood will last.
Most mothers, and probably parents in general, would consider cussing in front of their children a bad habit. The fear of children picking up the bad language causes some parents to curtail their use of profanity. But what if you purposefully taught your kid to cuss in order to save their life?
I know you’re probably giving me crazy looks right now, but just hear me out.I was in the Wolfchase Galleria when I heard a piercing scream. I witnessed a woman pick a child up and walk hurriedly out of a store. In that moment I froze. A million statements ran thru my mind. What happened? Wow, that kid is loud. I bet she’s embarrassed. We’ve all been there. That kid’s day is definitely about to get worse in the car. But as she passed me, a sneaky question popped in my head…Is that her child?
We’ve all heard of stranger-danger. It’s basically what to do when approached by a stranger. Safety4Kids offers a lot of advice and resources for keeping your kids safe. Some methods ask the children to yell to draw attention to themselves, then run and tell someone. Safety4kids gives you scenarios about strangers on the computer, in cars, and even while playing outside in your yard. It’s a really cool resource, but I have some reservations. By the way, none of the strategies from Safety4Kids recommended teaching children to cuss.
I’ve never seen a real child abduction and pray that I never will. Sometimes crimes on TV don’t happen like crime in real life. If you don’t believe me, you should read “True Life: I witnessed a crime and didn’t even know it.” This blog was written anonymously. In it, she tells the story of how she witnessed a crime being committed in her neighborhood, in broad daylight, and didn’t know it at the time.
When I wondered if that screaming child the woman was carrying was truly her child, it stopped my heart cold. How can I tell the difference between a child that has been abducted from a child who this throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to leave their favorite place? (Hmmm….do you see how cussing could fit into this scenario?)
I have seen some kids throw some serious fits. Once, this dad had to physical pick up his daughter to remove her from Imagination Playcenter. This girl was little, but she was strong.
As the dad was walking away, she was reaching back for Imagination Playcenter like Rose should have been reaching for Jack in Titantic!As the dad got closer to the exit doors of the mall (which are visible from Imagination Playcenter), the stares he received became darker and darker. It was obvious that these people thought, “Is that his child he’s taking away? Is that why she’s screaming so loudly?” I knew that he was her father because I had been sitting next to him for two solid hours.
I asked myself, “What can I teach my kids to do if a stranger tries to force them to leave with them? What can they do to alert other people around that they aren’t just fussy children?” I have seen surveillance videos of children being abducted while their parents are just feet away. It is beyond frightening. The one thing that causes EVERYONE to turn their heads in any public situation is a cussing child. I know you have probably heard some kid cuss before. Whether it’s online or in public, it always makes you stop and look. And that’s what I want my kids to do. I want them to make people stop and look if someone is trying to abduct them. Therefore, along with the basic “stranger-danger” protocol, I am also tempted to teach my kids to cuss out any stranger who tries to take them anywhere. (I stress “tempted to teach my kids” because my husband is opposed to this idea.)
Just imagine, a stranger comes along and picks up my little child. She yells, but people only stare.
But what if she was fighting and cussing and yelling, “You’re not my #$^&* mom/dad. Help! Help! Help!” I guarantee that will turn heads.I admit, this is not a traditional approach to “stranger-Danger,” but as Dave Chappelle say, “Modern Problem Require Modern Solutions.”
It’s summer time and my kids and I are ready to relax and enjoy some good books. Well, honestly, I’m ready to relax and enjoy some good books. They are ready to complete their 20 minutes of daily reading so that they can do other things, like play with Legos or Super Mario Smash Brothers. Nevertheless, in order to get some reading done, we needed to go to our community library. The library is just one of the many places in Memphis that reward kids for reading in the summer. Piccadilly Restaurant also rewards kids for Summer Reading. Nevertheless, parents often walk into the library and tell the kids to “just get a book.” Or maybe they select a book for them that “looks” like it will be good. Navigating the library like a pro can be very difficult.
At the library, Elijah was having a hard time finding a a funny book. (Elijah will be entering the 2nd grade this school year.) So I instructed him to ask the Librarian at the Information Desk for help. Moments later, the librarian strolls over with Elijah and states, “So he wants a book that’s funny?” I reply, “Yea. He’ll be going into the 2nd grade so I would like something that’s on his reading level.” She nods and shows us to the ever-famous Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Librarian: Here is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The kids say that’s really funny.
Me: It is, but it’s not on his grade level. He’s in 2nd grade, but he can read on a 3rd grade level.
Librarian: Well that’s fine. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a 3rd grade book.
Me: No, it’s not. The entire series is on a 5th grade level. (The Grade Level Equivalent, or GLE, is 5.2 and higher.)
Librarian: (Proceeds to flip through the book.) No, I’m sure that it’s around a 3rd grade level. I see little kids coming to check out the books all the time.
Me: Just because they check them out, doesn’t mean they actually read them.
Elijah: My Mom knows what she’s talking about. She’s a Librarian too.
Librarian: Oh…okay…so what kids of books are you looking for?
Me: Some funny books on his reading level. What does your collection have?
Elijah ends up selecting Dog Man by Dave Pilkey. (Its GLE is 2.6.)
1 kid down, 3 to go.
While the other 2 kids are getting help from other librarians, I decide to tackle my youngest, Eve. She will be entering 1st grade, but she is not the best reader. I need to select a book that is on her level, something she can experience success while reading. (Who wants to continue reading when you feel like you suck at it???)The Children’s section in the library is filled with hundreds of picture books. Being a librarian, I know that many picture books are written on a 2nd or 3rd grade level. I am looking for a book that is on a 1st grade level. (A needle in a haystack). So I decided to whip out my favorite tool to make this “needle in a haystack search” a little quicker.
It’s an app called Points Scan Free. It’s my “go-to” tool as a librarian.
Point Scan Free AppThis app allows you to navigate any library like a pro by providing you with the reading levels of any book. All you have to do after downloading the app is select whether you want to search by title or author or if you want to scan the book. I strongly advise just scanning the book. You will click the barcode image and scan the barcode on the back of the book. The app will immediately tell you the title, author, and reading level of the book. It will also give you Accelerated Reader information, such as the amount of Accelerated Reader points and the quiz number. There have been a few occasions, like 1 in every 50 books I scan, in which I have had to type the title of the book in.
To find a book that was appropriate for Eve, I simply pulled a few titles off the shelf and scanned their barcode using the app. In less than 2 seconds, I knew the reading level of the book. Eve finally selects “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry, GLE: 1.2.
FYI: A book that has a GLE of 3.2 is appropriate for a student reading at the 3rd grade level, 2nd month. A book that has a GLE of 7.9 is for a 7th grader, ninth month.
So maybe you aren’t a librarian, but you want your child to select books that they love and can read successfully. This app can help you be like the professionals. Parenting Chaos also offer more tips on selecting age appropriate books for kids.
It was at the end of the school day in which I noticed my kids were a little quiet. A little too quiet. When I asked the kids about their day, I was met with one-worded statements. I quick glance in the rearview mirror showed a dismal sight: the kids were tired; not just physically tired, but mentally taxed. We drove in silence all the way home. No questions about dinner. No retells of playground escapades. The kids didn’t even argue about what they would do once we got home. They were just silent.
When we arrived home, they dragged themselves into the house, sat on the couch, and silently watched PBSKids. I knew something was seriously amiss when the kids didn’t ask for their pre-dinner snack.
Photography by Allen Register
@allenshotitAs we sat down for dinner, I truly looked around the table at my four kids. I took in their tiredness, the lackluster glaze that seemed to dim the light in their eyes. It was then I realized something: my kids are humans. I know that sounds like a silly statement, but think about it for a moment. A lot of time we think that children are impervious to the trials and tribulations of life simply because they are kids. I have heard many adults say things like:
So it was around that table that I look at my tiny humans through a new lens. Seeing them as tiny humans, I asked them, “What stressed you out today?” In turn, each child replied.“I forgot my first lunch at home.”
“Sara kept skipping me in line and it was my time to be the line leader.”
“I couldn’t find my assignment in my desk and my teacher got really mad.”
“I thought I did really good on my test, but when I got it back, I had made a C on it.”
“Evan said he didn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
“We didn’t go outside for recess today.”
I listened to every complaint. I didn’t try to offer advice or a solution. (Trying to offer a solution after the problem has already occurred and vanished is pointless.) I didn’t ask a single clarifying-question. I just listened. Afterwards, I told the kids, “I think you guys need a mental health day.” They each looked at each other quizzically and finally asked, “What’s that?” I explained, “A mental health day is a day in which you take time to care for yourself mentally. You know how you eat healthy and exercise to take care of your body? Well it just like that, but for your mind. Sometimes you need to stop and give your mind a break.”Elijah wondered, “Is it like when we take brain breaks between tests at school?” I retorted, “Well, sorta. But this brain break doesn’t last for a few minutes. It could lasts for hours or even days. We’re all gonna stay home tomorrow and take a mental health day.” At the sound of those words, the invisible weight that pressed their tiny shoulders was lifted. The glow under their cheeks started to brighten and a smile broke across their tiny human faces. “Really, Mom? Really? We get to stay home tomorrow?” I could practically hear the hope in their voice. I told them yes. And if they wanted to stay up late tonight and play games, they could. I went on to tell them homework could wait and I’ll ask their teacher for an extension. After that, dinner conversation picked up, and I got my kids back!
Just like mothers need a day off from parenting, just like dads find solace in their men caves, children also need an opportunity to take a break from life’s mishaps and missions. Children need Mental Health Days too.
If you think I’m alone in this, you should also read this online article by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist.
“But when they’re feeling so bad that they’re struggling to function, and going to school is likely to make it worse, a mental health day might be just what the doctor ordered. Letting kids take the occasional mental health day — maybe once or twice a year — could reinforce to them that it’s vital to take care of their minds as well as their bodies. It can also be a great opportunity to help them sharpen their emotional skills and build the mental muscle they need to stay strong.” -Amy MorinYou can even incorporate “Quiet Corners” for your kids. But however and whenever you decide to give your children a mental health day, their activities are completely up to you. But if your kids are involved in multiple activities during the school year outside of school, give them opportunities to take care of their mental-selves too.
Photography by Allen Register @allenshotit
We were at Whole Foods, buying what our meager budget could afford, when my 5 year old asked, “Mom, can I see my phone so I can check my account? I want to buy some candy.”
It was there, in the middle of Whole Foods, that timed stopped. People did the slow turn and soon all eyes were on the Lockhart Family. Then one brave soul approached me and asked, “Do they ALL have phones?” I replied with a hearty, “YES.” And of course, Elliott chimed in, “We all have debit cards too. But I’m saving my money right now.”
The brave soul slowly rose her nose in the air as high as it would go and turned her back to us in the rudest way possible. Other patrons at Whole Foods just looked on before quietly going back to minding their own business.
#realworkifeWhy do people look at me strange whenever I tell them that my kids, ages 5, 7, 7, and 10, all have cell phones and debit cards? I understand that’s it’s unorthodox and there’re a host of articles that state that cell phones are bad for kids. And from my minimal research, because I could care less, here are a list of reasons why “people” say kids shouldn’t have phones:
As for awkward social skills….puey! Anyone can be socially awkward given the right situation. As for overall social skills, I thing that anyone who has met my kids know that they do not lack ANY social skills. All of my kids have great grades in school and half of them have good conduct as well.
As for their debit cards, I looked online for 3.25 minutes and couldn’t find an article that disagreed with kids having debit cards. So I guess the public can agree that teaching kids financial responsibility at a young age is a good thing. My kids understand how to earn, save, and donate money. Being financially independent is a small joy that I always want them to feel. Plus, the tooth fairy also sends her payments as direct deposits.
I don’t think that parents should shy away from allowing their children to use technology. Children must be taught how to appropriately use cell phones. We, Hubby and I, teach them that neither tech nor money should consume their life. We have a saying, “When company is around, phones down.” Therefore the kids know that cell phones are a “no-go” during meal times and social gatherings. They understand that when you are around people you love and appreciate, you should choose to share that moment with them. Because your loved ones will not always be around.
I love to cook and prefer to cook at home rather than go out. But my kids LOVE to explore Memphis. And sometimes they rally and decide they would prefer to eat dinner out. One day, the kids wanted to go eat at O’Charley’s rather than eat dinner at home. I told them they had to use their debit cards pay for their own meals. They said okay. Sooooo……..
Kids with their debit cards and receipts. #realworkwife
And if you would like to know how my kids have cells phones that cost $0.00 a month, just ask.
As a librarian, mother of 4, and avid reader, I am often asked, “How do I get my child to want to read a book?” Most educators will give you flash cards, fancy websites with flashy pictures, tutoring programs that cost money, or a ton of reading worksheets/study booklets. And to be honest, those things do work.
Flash cards are a tried and true method to aid in memorization. They are actually useful when it comes to a child learning sight words. I have used flashcards that were sent home by the teacher for my kids. But let’s be honest! Have you ever tried to practice sight words with your child? Especially a kindergartener or a first grader. It’s brutal. I promise you that half of the time mine weren’t even trying. They were just saying random words. Plus, I can’t possibly do flashcards, laundry, dinner, and listen intensively to them all at the same time. Furthermore, the cards slowly start to disappear. One by one…..slowly….until there are no more flashcards to be found. So…yeah…that’s a no.
Kids reading….sortaAnd yes, websites are really good. Sometimes. My kids did ABC Mouse through their preschool and it was great. Well, it would have been great if my kids knew how to utilize the program. They didn’t know what to click on or when to click to answer questions. But they loved the coloring pages and puzzles. I would have to sit down with them 20-45 mins at a time to walk them though the program in order for it to be effective. Keep in mind I have 4 little ones, so that’s a minimum of 1 hour and 20 minutes working on an online, educational website. I tried it once. I almost died from 70% Frustration and 30% I wasn’t made to do this. So…yeah….that’s also a no.
We personally have never tried tutoring programs. That’s just more money that we don’t have. And with my kids minimal attention span, I wouldn’t be sure that we would get our money’s worth. But seriously, as an adult I don’t want to leave work to go to another form of work that is “advertised” as fun. What kids wants to leave school just to go to school again in the same day?
Oh and don’t get me started on study booklets. I still have some sitting on my shelf. They are now used as fun doodling and coloring pages.
So how did I get my 4 kids to enjoy reading? Closed Captions, Building, and Comics:
Closed Captions: Sometimes when my kids watch tv, I put on the Closed Captions and turn the volume down. At first, my kids would get so angry. Honestly, to say they were angry is the Rated-G version, but you get the gist. They were not happy. “I can’t hear the TV!!!” “The words are moving too fast!!!!” “Geezz Mom, are you SERIOUS?” Trust me, I’ve heard all of the complaints. But it got to a point, and quite quickly, that they were reading fluently. They were reading the caption and comprehended the show with ease. Their favorite TV shows turned into interactive books that are now being read to them when the volume is on. Now they have decided to watch their favorite Netflix shows in French with English Closed Captions to help them learn French better. (Proud Mommy Moment!)
Building: Another way to get your child to read to is allow him/her to build things. Seriously, buy them a shelf, Lego sets, or anything that requires construction with instructions (so nothing from Ikea). Your child will have to read and comprehend a complex informational text in order to create a viable product. When a child reads and creates something tangible, because they comprehended what they read, it brings about a sense of pride.
Comics: Lastly, the good ol’ comics, or graphic novels, as they are now called. I would get the Sunday paper for the coupons and pass the comics to the kids after I finished reading them. Comics and graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant readers to read, without the hassle. They’re colorful, creative, and funny. Now there are graphic novels for all lexile levels. Whether you have an 11th grader or a 2nd grader, there are graphic novels out there for them to enjoy.
Most important, allow your child to read whatever they want to read. Whether it’s movie or game reviews, secrets to being Jojo, building something new, or even the back of a cereal box, allow your child to enjoy what they read, and they will enjoy reading.
How much do you love yourself? Do you love yourself enough to ignore your kids and your husband for hours at a time just to spend some time with yourself? Do you love yourself to have your own “Mommy Money” separate from house funds? Do you love yourself enough to ask for help or even…..hire help? Do you love yourself enough to NOT feel guilty about spoiling yourself?
This is one way I practice self-care.Mothers are by nature sacrificial. We sacrifice our time for our family. We sacrifice our bodies for motherhood. We sacrifice our sleep. We sacrifice hours of doing absolutely whatever WE want so that the “house” can run smoothly. I know moms whose entire day revolves around the kids and spouse. They wake up to feed the house and to get everyone on their way. They complete school projects, budget the finances, cook and clean, be professional wives, all the while losing themselves. Everything in their life is running like a nicely oiled machine, but they can’t even answer the age old question, “What do you want for dinner?” Mothers are so programmed to caring about others that they sometimes forget how to care or themselves.
I love my family with all my heart. I have literally given them my blanket when it’s cold and my last Starbucks Bacon and Gruyere Egg Bite when they just want to repeatedly “taste” my food! I’ve bought snacks for the kids to enjoy. I’ve cooked dinners that the family liked. I saw movies that only the kids liked. I have put down a really good book to answer questions like, “Do you know what’s Zelda’s favorite sword is?”
But now, I’m all about practicing self-care. Think about safety instructions you are given when flying in an airplane. The flight attendants advise that you put on your breathing mask before you help anyone else, even your own children. Yes, in an emergency, they ask that you help yourself first. Why? Because you can’t help anyone if you’re helpless. I can’t be the best wife and the best mother I can possibly be if I’m not in the best shape, mentally and physically. I need to take care of myself before I can truly and thoroughly take care of anyone else. This is the basis of self-care.I love myself enough to wake up before anyone else in the house to quietly enjoy a cup of coffee and scroll on Facebook. (Yea, no productivity.) I love myself enough to take myself out on a date. I love myself enough invest and manage “Mommy Money” so that I can always afford the things I want, or sometimes don’t need, without using “family” funds. I love myself enough to hire help when I just don’t feel like cooking or cleaning or even adulting. I love myself enough to go to events that I enjoy. I love myself enough to carve out time each and every day to do something that makes me unequivocally happy. I love myself enough to not feel guilty about taking time out for myself.
I used to feel like if I did something for myself, I HAD to do something equally fun for my family. For example, if I had plans to hang out with the “gals” on Friday night, I had to plan something equally fun on Saturday with the family. If I bought myself a new dress, I had to buy the kids some new clothes too.
But now I realize that is not the case. Just because I care for myself and show love to myself doesn’t mean that I love or care for my family less. My kids and husband will always have a special place in my heart. But before them, there was me. And it is this “me” that I must also remember to nurture.
Sometime ask yourself, “Who were you before kids and hubby? What did you enjoy? What places did you frequent?” Be bold and be that person again. Take care of yourself!
HEY, BABY GIRL! SO LET ME HEAR YOUR PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS. ARE WE GOING TO PLAY THAT DIRTY SANTA GAME AGAIN? THAT WAS SO FUN. I CAN’T WAIT.
I can literally hear his voice saying this to me. I can mimic every inflection, every held syllable, his Southern drawl, and even his joyful tone. I can still hear his voice in my head, yet it still seems so surreal that I can’t hear his voice with my own ears again. I lost my father suddenly on August 28, 2018. Not even a full 3 months ago. And the tears won’t stop. The. Tears. Will. Not. Stop.
I struggled during the Thanksgiving holiday. I really struggled. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want a lot of family over. I didn’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving…period. I was moody in the days that led to Thanksgiving, and I knew why: what was there to celebrate when I didn’t have my Dad? I just wanted to do the bare minimum. But I still had kids, a husband, and other family members that were happy to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was just sad and disappointed; the holiday was just another reminder that my Dad was gone. So I ran in the Turkey Trot Race that morning, then relaxed with my mom, brothers, uncle, husband, and kids. And I cried. I cried a lot.
Even after Thanksgiving passed, there was still a void. Usually, immediately after Thanksgiving, he would pepper me with a stream of questions about Christmas. It was his favorite holiday. (Minus the cold weather. The cold weather always caused his knees and hands to ache.) “Do you want me to fry a turkey again? What should I buy the grandkids for Christmas? What is your mother buying the grandkids for Christmas? What are you getting the King (his nickname for my husband) for Christmas? Have you decided what you want for Christmas? Let’s do trivia again this year. Who else will be joining us this year? What traditional desserts will you make this year? Just make sure you make a sweet potato pie, okay Baby Girl?” Those are just a few of the questions that I will never have the opportunity to answer.
I’m going to approach Christmas a little differently than I approached Thanksgiving. This Christmas, I’m going to cherish all things Dad. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t miss him. If I cry, I will cry with family. I will continue to remember, and use, the many life lesson he taught me. I will pass these lessons down to my children. I will tell stories about his life. He will forever live on through the words we share.
But there are some things that other people can do to make these “Grieving Holidays” a little less blue. First, don’t ever tell someone who is grieving that, “He’s in a better place now,” or “God must have needed a new angel.” That implies that one should be happy their loved one is gone. Which, in my opinion, is extremely insensitive and ridiculous.
Be sure to be understanding. If a grieving loved one is feeling and looking blue, don’t tell them, “Cheer up, it’s Christmas!” I’m sure they know what holiday it is, but unfortunately, one cannot schedule when they will or won’t grieve. Just listen and be present for them.
And lastly, allow the grieving person to grieve. However long it takes, whatever their grieving process may look like, give them the time and the space to work through their sorrow.