Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Guide for Summer Sanity

It's summer. The kids are out of school and are perpetually bored, whiny, and fighting with each other. Bedtime somehow comes later and later. It's a recipe for parental insanity.

Here's a few ideas to hopefully mellow out the negative aspects of summer and possibly create some great memories while you're at it.

  • Get out of the house. I can't say this one enough. When everyone is cooped up under one roof, it just begs for getting on each other's nerves. Whatever it is you want to do, go do it! Make sure it's fun and feasible. 
  • Find a schedule to keep consistency at home. My schedules are pretty lax, but I make sure everyone gets dressed every day--at the very least. Do whatever works for you and your kids. Keep chores regular. 
  • Encourage play dates!! Nothing changes the dynamics of the house quite like having an extra kid over to play (or one of your own gone playing elsewhere works great too). 
  • Schedule your own "me" time. This is really important. You can't take care of others if you don't have anything to give. You have to refill yourself. I go to the gym and read while I exercise. Also, talk to your spouse about taking a day to shop, eat with a friend, get a massage or pedicure. Having a break doesn't make you a bad mom; In fact, getting time to recharge probably makes you a great mom!
Some free or cheap ideas to do with your kids to keep them happy are:

  • Visit your local library. You can check out books, attend story time, and most libraries have children's sections where they can do puzzles or other activities.
  • Going along with the library, read to your kids. I have been amazed that my 2 and almost 4 year old will sit and listen to me read for 20, 30 or 40 minutes--or longer!
  • Get the wiggles out at the park. Get some sun, get out of the house, and have fun!
  • Have a picnic.
  • Invite some friends over for water fun in your backyard.
  • Make homemade popsicles or snow cones.
  • Play games or sports in the backyard.
  • Go to a local splash pad.
  • If available, visit zoos or museums in your area.
  • Take a day trip to the mountains, or lakes, or another city.
  • Make home videos.
  • Produce a puppet show.
  • Build forts.
  • Do small service projects for your neighbors (age appropriate). You may try washing windows, or lawn care or making treats to deliver.
  • Write letters (or draw pictures) to members of the military or missionaries from your area.
  • Have a lemonade stand or bake sale and plan something fun to do with their earnings.
  • Put on a play for the neighborhood.
Remember to enjoy this time with your kids. I know it's hard when they run you ragged and your sanity is on the brink of collapse, but, as everyone always says, you're going to miss this time when they're all grown up.

If you think you're about to lose it, call a friend. Get the kids together and take the opportunity to recharge each other.

One more piece of advice: Date Night. For real. Super important. Talk to your spouse and schedule date night, often. We try to go once a week--whether it's out to eat, a movie, a trip to the temple, or shopping (not our favorite). We also double date with some friends. It's important to find time to reconnect with your spouse, emotionally and physically. And, face it--the kids need a break from you, too!

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Don't Give In to Self Doubt

This post may be more for me than anyone else, but I need to put it out there--to say it "out-loud."

Lately, I have been stressing about my writing. I am working on a book, yet I feel so inadequate. I'm at a point where I can't read something without analyzing the writing--comparing it to mine. Every time I read another blog, another article, or a book I think, "Hey, this is good. But, I don't write like that." And then the panic sets in my mind and heart, "What if this isn't something I'm "good" at doing?"

I doubt myself. I doubt my ability to write. I doubt that anyone would even want to read what I write. I fear and I panic.

Maybe it's part of the process.

Then, I try to remember what brought me to this point--the point where I decided I wanted to write and how so many things just fell into place. I think about the people that do read what I write--and may even like what I have to say. I think of things that I have to share which just might help another person in some way.

I think of my "WHY" for writing.

I realize that it's not all going to be easy, but it is something I want to do, something I like doing. Do you have these thoughts about what you enjoy or are pursuing? I think it is important to not give up, or give in to these negative thoughts, but forge ahead, focusing on our goal, and keeping our thoughts positive. Work on and improve your skills. Take classes. Rely on God and, as I said in an earlier post, "Remember WHO would like to see you fail." I think that is the problem exactly...the adversary. We can probably do most anything we put our mind to, but Satan preys on our doubts, fears, insecurities and tells us we can't. But we CAN! We are children of God and probably have abilities beyond our knowledge that we can cultivate and improve and learn.

Go forward and do what you are supposed to do on this earth. Spread more positive in the world. Lift those who need it. Encourage others who are struggling to find their way. Don't doubt, fear, or give up. Be positive, learn, grow, improve and become who God knows we can become, and help others do the same.

© Wendy 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School's Out: Bittersweet.

This starts our third week of school being out. I feel like this is one double-edged sword. There's good and bad to having everyone home. Really, I could never home-school because I would be pulling my hair out.

The Bitter:
Six kids. Home all day. Every day. With me. Alone. The fighting, the whining, the laziness.

So who cares if they don't get dressed until noon--if at all? Bedtimes are unfortunately more lax (which makes for a crazier mom). You'd think they would sleep in if they go to bed later, but they don't.

And forget 3 meals a day... it's 3 meals and continual snacking!

Constant boredom. If they can't play on the computer or watch television...there is "nothing to do!"

The dishes, the laundry, the toys and the trash pile up, while my sanity dwindles into nothingness. And, I do work to get my kids to help clean up their mess, but there are lots of threats uttered.

Going grocery shopping has also become a big process. With spirited, curious children, I am constantly trying to stop them from touching everything in the store, running off, or adding extra items to the shopping cart. If I manage to purchase most of what I came for, I guess I'm doing pretty well. More often then not, I forget at least one item we needed.

My two youngest kids have been on a tantrum run...which is sometimes quite humorous. This is our latest that I recorded, instead of losing my cool:

The Sweet:
I don't have to prod my kids out of bed every morning, prod them to get dressed by a certain time, prod them to get their homework done...

The last month of school was agonizing. I think my "work-minded" self is completely done with homework by the time May rolls around. One of my kids had "parent partner" assignments which basically meant I had homework beyond just making sure it got done/checking it. And it was a hard assignment--research, reports, staying in a budget and making a brochure--in 4th grade! I have four kids currently in school, so to take the astronomical amount of time it takes to do that homework along with making sure everyone else got theirs done, and get to all of the end of the year programs, and still cook dinner... well... let's just say miracles are real.

I really don't mind having our days free to do what we want when we want to. It's a nice break from the normal schedules. I also like to spend time with my kiddos--especially when we're not in the middle of some sort of catastrophic meltdown. We love to do fun things together, and summer break allows for that freedom.

School is out for about 2 1/2 months. We will fill our days with going to the park, doing our local library summer reading program, taking trips--both day and overnight, and just trying to enjoy not having school and getting to spend time together.

And, of course, luckily I'll have some Dr. Pepper to help get me through it all. :) Hang in there, Moms!! I'm always glad to know that I am not the only one who does not love summer break 100%. I don't think it makes me a bad mom to need/want a break from my kids either. I think we just do what we need to do and only do what we can. I have learned to not become overly frustrated by all of the things that I think I should be doing, or by all of the amazing things I see other moms do that I do not do. I take care of my kids--feed them, clothe them and love them. It's the best I can do. Different days are packed with different battles, but we can make it through--one day at a time. If nothing else, there's always bedtime, and we can move it up an hour. ;)

© Wendy 2013