Tag Archives: mom

The fine art of being selfish (excerpt)

I’m currently in the process of taking old posts of mine and putting them together in a book.  Right now I’m working on posts I wrote in 2009 – the days when I was a single mom with two kids and had just met my Mr. Wonderful.  Today I edited one of my favorite inspirational posts, one with advice I have given many times over to lots of moms – whether single or not.

How to regain your sense of self instead of placing your whole identity in your kids.

(P.S. I just wrote an article for the newspaper on a mom, on a journey through fashion, who emphasized this truth as well.  Check it out HERE)

Look for this chapter in my upcoming book on single parenting!

THE FINE ART OF BEING SELFISH (excerpt)

When kids are young, we as moms become totally immersed in motherhood. Suddenly everything is about the kids. It’s our tendency to go from being totally involved in ourselves, our work, our marriage, and our friendships – to being involved solely in our kids. Upon the arrival of these little beings, our whole world suddenly revolves around them.

It’s hard to break away from that.

I was no exception. For most of my married life, I was a stay at home mom. I volunteered at my daughter’s preschool. I carted the kids every single place I needed to go. I gave up going out at night in favor of staying with the kids. I sacrificed my personal interests and dreams one by one as interests and dreams wrapping around them took their place.

I was a mom. That was my name, my identity, and my world.

Most days the kids were the only beings on earth that heard my voice. I’m not saying that this is how it is supposed to be in motherhood, or even that most moms suddenly mutate into this being that resembles more gray than any other color. But that’s what happened to me.

For me, it took a divorce to shake me out of the clutches of “hermitting” into motherhood. It was jarring when my kids spent their first weekend away from me with their dad. I knew that I was aching to have a break, to not have anyone to worry about other than myself. But once that happened, I had no idea what to do with myself. How did I survive before the kids came along? What did I do with myself and my time? Suddenly there were too many hours in the day, and the world was much too quiet. I knew I needed to do something with this gifted time, but what? I didn’t have a lot of friends, having let a lot of friendships go to the wayside as my focus changed. And I really hadn’t done much else but kids’ activities in the past several years.

I needed a plan.

End of excerpt. Read the rest in the eBook “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows“.

 

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Seven ways to escape the SAHM rut


When you’re a stay-at-home mom, there’s a tendency to feel like every day is the same. Unlike 9-5ers, your job is never quite finished. You don’t get to leave at the end of the day. And let’s face it – some days are just BORING. To beat the rut, here are SEVEN tips to change things up and add a bit more excitement to your week.

1. Schedule in your fun
If you save all your fun for the weekend, there really isn’t much to look forward to during the week. Instead, schedule something you’d normally reserve for Saturday and Sunday for a mid-week day. Attend Museum Mondays for little ones at the Charles Schulz museum. Pack a picnic and visit Spring Lake. Grab your coats and head out to the coast. You can even plan a late night watching movies or playing board games with the kids. It will give everyone something to look forward to during the week instead of waiting till the weekend to have fun.

2. Leave the house
When the kids are small, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to take them out of the house. Trust me, it’s vital for your sanity! Whether your little one is only a few weeks old or in his final months before kindergarten, leaving the house is an absolute must. Put the baby in the stroller and take a walk around the block. Bundle up your toddler and race to the park. Schedule a play date with a friend or join a gym with free daycare. Just do something so that you’re not imprisoned within the same four walls 24/7.

3. Split the chores
We all have chores we don’t love. At the same time, we have partners and/or kids who don’t seem to mind the tasks we hate. For me, I’m not especially keen on putting dishes away. But washing them? I’ll gladly do it. For Mr. W, he hates folding laundry but has no problem putting them in the washer and putting them away once I’m done folding them. Together we divide and conquer the things that must be done to keep the house running smoothly. If you’re overwhelmed by a certain task, consider asking your spouse to take it over.

4. Limit unnecessary timesucks
That iPhone that’s constantly under your thumbs? The computer with Facebook as its home page? The TV with shows incessantly screaming at you? It’s all distracting you from what you’re really supposed to be doing. And because of that, it’s adding stress, restlessness, boredom, and guilt to your already hectic schedule. But you don’t need to give it up completely. Instead of spending unlimited amounts of time on the computer or playing on your phone, consider scheduling your tech time. Tell yourself you can use your favored device for 15 minutes after you finish folding all the laundry. Or schedule a limited amount of time once the kids go down for a nap.

5. Don’t procrastinate
If you’re waking up each morning already dreading the day, I’m willing to bet there are some pretty big tasks on your plate you’re just not looking forward to. My advice? Get it all done right away. By procrastinating, you’re allowing that heavy burden to take up space in your mind much longer than it needs to. By tackling it first thing in the morning you leave the rest of the day free for something more fun. On that note, don’t make it impossible to get it all done. Schedule just enough so that you can cross that final errand off the list and be done for the day.

6. Find a hobby
Show of hands – who here introduces themselves as their child’s mom? “Hi, I’m Taz’ mom.” That’s what I thought. You might be getting burnt out because you’ve placed your whole identity into being your child’s mother, and have lost yourself in the interim. Break free from the one-title introduction and rediscover something you love. Take an art class. Break out that SLR camera and click away. Resurrect your inner novelist. Enjoy something you used to love pre-kids, and schedule the time to do it.

7. Take a break
9-5ers are entitled to vacation days, a lunch break, even 20 minutes to twiddle their thumbs before getting back to their job. You deserve a break too. In fact, it’s required if you want to be the best mom you can be. Swap childcare with another SAHM to have a day of alone time, catch a movie, or treat yourself to a massage. Allow the grandparents an overnight to spoil their grandkids while you and the hubby enjoy a mini staycation honeymoon. Just make sure that your free time does NOT include chores, errands, or any other “have-to-dos”.

What do you do to escape the SAHM rut?

Top 10 iPhone Apps for parents and kids

Not a day goes by that my son doesn’t ask me the age-old question

“Can I play your phone?”

Ok, maybe it’s not age-old. I certainly was not asking my mom to play with the corded rotary phone on her bedside table. But my iPhone has taken the place of video games, mainly because there are always new and fun things that my son can do on it. And thanks to iTunes offering lots of free apps, I almost always find new icons placed on my screen that my son has added to my collection.

Of course, I use the iPhone too – for entertainment and for practical reasons. My iPhone has become somewhat of a mini computer. And I have a few favorite Apps that have simplified my life. And while this post is particularly prejudiced against other Smart Phones (sorry Droid users and CrackBerry users, I have no problem with you, but I just don’t own one of your kind of phones) and the more simplistic cell phones that only make phone calls (dude, mom, please get a new phone), I want to share some of these Apps with you.

Jeremy Jacob “Checkbook” – This app has become my most vital of all apps. It makes balancing my checkbook super easy, allowing me to know how much the bank says I have in my bank account (so I know how much I can borrow against the balance…), and how much I have in reality. I budget my month by taking out bill payments before I even pay them, so knowing both balances is incredibly important. It also allows me to keep track of several accounts all at once. I have downloaded several finance apps, and this one is by far the best. Cost: $1.99

LiveStrong.com “Calorie Tracker” – This past year I shed some serious pounds. And this app was the reason why. It allowed me to track everything I was putting in my mouth, the calorie and nutrition facts right at my fingertips. It helped me to be aware of everything I was eating so that I was able to easily make the right choice. I incurred a bit of eye-rolling whenever I whipped out my phone when eating at a restaurant. But judging by the fact that I am sliding into sizes I haven’t seen since high school, it’s a small price to pay. Cost: $2.99

Ontomni LLC “Groceries Grocery List” – Forget the scribbled on piece of paper, I now have all the things I need at the store programmed into my phone. And as I buy them, I can program the price into my phone to make future grocery budgeting that much easier. It also makes it easier to remember the things I would normally forget had I been trying to write out a list from the top of my head – like toilet paper. Cost: 99 cents

Disney/Family Fun “Craft Finder” – Sort your choices by age, time allotted, and occasion, and you will wind a plethora of different crafts to occupy your family. I find this app especially useful during the winter months when the weather is dreary and the kids are stuck inside. Instead of being bored, we spend time creating gifts for friends and family for the holidays! Cost: Free

Pandora Media “Pandora Radio” – Of course the iPhone has space for a ton of music. But I don’t own every single song I love to hear. Pandora has become my addiction. Creating “stations” I not only can listen to the sounds of my favorite artists, but I’m introduced to new artists that Pandora suggests I listen to. For a certain amount of hours a month, Pandora is free. However it is also riddled with ads. Because I listen to Pandora pretty much every day, I actually subscribe (low annual fee of $35). I can listen continuously, and I’m able to escape commercials in between songs. Cost: Free

Netflix Inc “Netflix” – This is the app that Netflix members have been waiting for. Finally we are able to watch movies in our “Watch Instantly” Que. Granted, watching a movie on a 3×2” screen is not exactly like watching it on a big screen TV. But imagine the entertainment it provides when you are waiting in the airport for a delayed plane, or set to run errands in the car with several fidgety kids. Convenience value? Priceless. Cost: Free

MobilityWare “Free Word Warp” – Granted it has ads, but that’s a small price to pay for an app that is so addicting. I love it because it feeds the inner nerd in me that loves word challenges. And it’s great for the kids because it helps with spelling and learning new words. Cost: Free

Penguin Group USA “Mad Libs” – The free version only has a couple different choices, but so far that hasn’t posed a problem. Just the other day my kids were giggling together as they took turns creating a new Mad Lib. Of course, most of the words they come up with have to do with the bathroom. But hey, they’re having fun, and learning the QWERTY way to type on a tiny keyboard. That’s educational, right? Cost: Free

iVisit Mobile “iVisit Sonoma County” – With sections for local museums, events, wineries, and more, it’s become really hard to claim there is nothing to do or nowhere to go. There is even a map that shows local highlights according to where you are. This is the must-have app for everyone living in Sonoma County. Cost: Free

Howcast “How to Videos from Howcast.com” – Want to know avoid the flu? How about how to exercise when pregnant? Ever wonder how to make your butt look smaller? There’s a video for that. And it’s on Howcast – a collection of how-to videos telling you how to do just about everything. From the serious how-to videos like “How to Use Chopsticks” to the informative yet hilarious “How to Find Out if Your Toys Are Alive”. Cost: Free

What are some of your favorite apps?

Hanging the Mom Blogger

I need to confess something. Sometimes I am afraid to read my comments on this blog. Sometimes when my phone pings and alerts me to another email, I’m afraid to look. Sometimes when I write a new entry in this blog, I pray that it won’t inspire conversation. It’s not that I don’t love feedback. I do. I want each and every one of you to tell me how much you can empathize with what I’m going through, how you were just experiencing such and such in your own household. I want you to tell me that what I wrote made you laugh outloud, or shed a tear, or how you can’t wait for my next installation.

So what is it that has me shaking in my pumps every time I write something new and put it out there for the world to see? It’s those people that use my comment space to tell me how much I am screwing up my kids. Or it’s those people that email me personally to tell me that I am way off base. It’s those that tell me that my holiday stuffing is too fattening, and admonish me for even serving that to my kids. It’s the insinuations that I am a bad mother. It’s the things that are written to me or about me that I can assure you would never be said if we were face to face.  And it’s the most recent email I received from someone who told me they were sad for my children. Why were they sad?

Because I was writing about my kids for the world to see.

Let’s forget to mention that I am a MOM BLOGGER. Let’s also skip the fact that, because I’m a mom, 90% of the events worth writing about involve my kids. And we’ll also ignore the fact that I do not use my children’s real names in this blog, allowing them to still have some sense of anonymity.  We’ll just set those three very important factors to the side and move on.

I have been writing about my kids pretty much all their lives. Of course, the several blogs I have occupied were much less widely seen, and were much more anonymous. So when the Press Democrat came to me and offered me a blogging position followed by the role of Santa Rosa Mom moderator, I accepted enthusiastically. But I talked to my kids immediately after accepting about the new role I would be playing. After all, I write about them and now people they knew and didn’t know would be reading it. Both of them gave the ok, and were excited for this new development.

I can’t tell you how thrilled the Taz is when he sees another story about him printed in the newspaper when they occasionally run my blogs as articles. Because he lives his life outloud and loves the attention, I can safely write about him to my heart’s content – the good and the bad. He reads much of what I write, and gets a kick out of it. With my tween daughter, however, I am a lot more careful. While she has given her consent for me to write about her, I am very conscientious about the precarious age she is at. Being that even the smallest thing can embarrass a 12 year old, I write about her a lot less. And when I do, I run it by her before I even push “publish”.

I suppose I can write a blog and not include personal stories from my home. I can keep things general, using fake names and situations to get a point across. Or I could just stop talking about my kids altogether and just talk about me. Boy, that would be interesting… Seriously, how would other moms be able to relate if I didn’t talk about my kids? I use my blog to reach those moms who might think that they are the only ones going through issues with their children, or who might see themselves as less than perfect parents. As a less than perfect parent myself, I put myself out there so that other moms can empathize. Or I work out issues we are having in case another parent has a better answer than what I am coming up with. I don’t see how I can do that without including my kids.

At any rate, I have a favor to ask of you. Please leave a comment. Or email me something positive every now and then.  I know that there are times when I’m screwing up, or the issues I am experiencing with my kids could be dealt with so much better, or I am fattening up my kids with something horrendous that I made myself. We all worry that our parenting skills are less than stellar, and that other moms out there are doing it so much better. And I am no different at all, especially since it’s on display and open for discussion. But I’m sure there are at least a couple of you that might have something nice to say. And I’d love to hear it. Yes, this is a shameless plug for attention. But it is always nice to know that someone is reading this blog and doesn’t think I am completely off my rocker. Even if you just give a simple “hello”, it will surely get me over that fear of hearing my phone ping, alerting me that I have something pleasant in the form of feedback.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Automatic Pilot

I got up at 6 am this morning, just like usual. I started the coffee and cleared out the dishrack while it brewed. I got out my small pan and threw in a scrambled egg to make my goat cheese and avocado omelet. Then I sat with the newspaper and got caught up on the news. The kids’ alarm went off at 7 am, and we started the hustle and bustle of getting ready in 45 minutes. Quick shower, hair and make-up, the long process of figuring out what to wear – all while the kids got themselves dressed, made their breakfasts, and packed their lunches. A couple of the usual reminders that hair and teeth needed to be brushed and shoes needed to be put on, and we were out the door. We started down the road while I mused once again if I had remembered to turn off the coffeepot. I always did without thinking, a habitual flick of the switch when I set my coffee cup with its traditional third of a cup left unsipped. I thought about turning around again since we were on time, but decided against it, placing faith in my automatic pilot to have done it for me.

We merged into traffic on the 12, getting behind the same car that we have followed many times before. They must be on the same schedule as us. I dropped my son off first, signing all of his homework at the very last minute, as usual. Then I dropped my daughter off. We listened to the same radio morning show we always listen to and piped in to answer the questions to their latest contest in the privacy of our own car. And then, before I knew what was happening, I was at work.

Yesterday I was driving home from work to go pick the kids up from my parents’ house. A Pink song came on the radio and I hummed along. It made me think of her amazing performance at the Grammys. I thought about the feedback she must have heard after the show. She must have had friends and fans alike telling her how awesome it was, probably still to this day. And what about her family? Pink is notorious for her outbursts and wild nature. I remembered a story once of a Thanksgiving she attended at her in-laws house. She and her husband got into a full on fight at the dinner table and starting throwing food all around the dining room. Her in-laws must have been amazed that she was capable of something so raw and beautiful.

And that’s when I realized that the ground was moving below me, and my stomach actually jumped. I had been so engrossed in daydreaming that I had actually exited the car and was floating in oblivion while my body kept driving the car to my parents’ house.

The routine is never changing, always the same. A deviation in it would throw our whole schedule off. But because it is so routine, I find that I can do it half asleep and never remember what is going on in between Point A and Point D. It can be a little jarring when I get so caught up in doing the same thing every day that I am doing it without thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven somewhere and, once at my destination, I literally can’t remember what happened during the drive. I don’t even remember driving!

Are you the same? Is your schedule so intact that you can do it without thinking? Between kids activities, the school and work routine, and all else that takes up your time as a busy mom, do you find yourself most days on Automatic Pilot?