Happy Birthday Mama!

MamaToday is my Mama’s birthday.  She is the best.  The kindest, most generous lady I know with a heart of gold.  She has always been there for me and I know she always will.  She is hands down the best mother I have ever known and if my kids think about me in half as positive a light as I think of her I’ll consider myself lucky.

Today we celebrate the most amazing lady I know.

Sweet Bella…

My daughter fell asleep in my arms tonight and I fell in love with her all over. Mikey was “supposed” to be our last because we “got our boy” but she truly completes our family.

My middles were both Daddy’s kids when they were babies but she, like my first, is all mine. I was blessed so wholly when she came into my life.

I don’t know what it is about her but she has changed me and how I approach everything I do. I have had more success in achieving my goals in the past year than ever before and I credit her coming into the world for the shift.

I don’t play favorites, she’s just the one I’m thinking about right now.

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A Salute to Mom

Being a mom is the source of both my greatest frustrations and my greatest joy. Having kids is an enormous responsibility and I make mistakes every day.

Every. Single. Day.

I feel so blessed to have mom friends with whom I can share the ups and downs and who provide inspiration by doing “the mom thing” the way they see fit without apology. Those moms, the moms who are guided by their internal sense of right and wrong instead of falling victim to mommy peer pressure, are the moms I admire the most. This love letter is for you.

For the woman who puts her foot down over the entitlement mentality. I salute you.

For the mom who treasures the health and wellness of her kids and has incredible strength (mind, body and soul). I admire you.

For the mom who strives to keep the little in her girls and shield them from the tough things that life sometimes throws our way. I appreciate you.

To the writer who has taught me that I can do the things I want to do with my career right alongside my growing children. Thank you.

To the mom who does everything beautifully and with grace all the while being kind and generous. You amaze me.

To my own mom who taught me what unconditional love really feels like. I love you.

Shine on ladies.

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Taming the Laundry Monster: A System for Getting it Done

Laundry RoomIn the depths of your home lurks a scary beast that no parent wants to face: The Laundry Monster.  Some parents put off laundry for as long as possible.  One mom I know has even bought new clothes for her children in lieu of doing laundry.  The laundry monster creeps up on us all.  Alas, unless we want our children to go to school with spaghetti stained shirts and stinky socks, the Laundry Monster must be tamed.

Below is my system for taming the beast.

Organize

First, organize all of your laundry supplies into one place, preferably in the laundry room.  Gather your preferred detergent, any stain fighting product you may use, fabric softener, dryer sheets, hangers and any other miscellaneous supplies and put them in the designated space.  Shelving above the washer and dryer are the ideal space to store these supplies, but a nearby closet or a portable caddy will do in a pinch.

Segment

Next, divide up your laundry to make a big job easier.  Whether you have two people in your family or twelve, everyone should have a place for their dirty clothes.  Assign a laundry basket or hamper to each bedroom and one to each bathroom.  Label the bottom of each basket with the name of the room where it belongs.  Instruct the inhabitants of each bedroom, whether child or adult, to put their dirty laundry only in the basket in their own bedroom.  Towels should be placed in the basket or hamper in the bathroom where they came from, not the bedrooms.  From now on, schedule laundry based on the rooms it comes from.

Schedule

Pick a schedule that works for you, not someone else.  Whether you choose to do laundry daily or weekly is up to you just make certain you are consistent.  Assign each room a day so that the occupants of that room know when their dirty laundry absolutely must be in their hamper for it to get washed (if you are doing laundry once a week the day will be the same for everyone).

In an ideal world, clothes would always land in the hamper when they came off, but children (and spouses) need reminders from time to time.  Set a deadline for when clothes need to be in their designated spot.  My deadline is 8 AM on the appointed day, but if you are an early riser you may set the deadline as the night before so that you can get a jump on the laundry in the morning.  If your children (or even your husband) want you to wash something, it needs to be in the basket or hamper at the appointed time.  Otherwise, they will need to take care of it themselves or wait until next week.

When the day comes for a particular room, grab the basket from that day’s room (or the first one on the list for that day) and run it completely through the cycle.  Any item requiring delicate treatment or separate washing (think indigo jeans) can be set aside and dealt with in bulk at the end of the week, but with colorfast technology and the durability of today’s clothing many items that our grandmothers separated out can be washed together.  Treat the clothes for stains, wash them, dry them and fold them.  When you are done, put them back into the basket for that room.

If you washed any items that require hangers, hang the item and lay it across the top of the basket.  Deliver the clean, folded laundry back to the room it came from and put it away.  You now have an empty basket ready to be filled for next week.

Sheets and Other Misc Items

Sports jerseys and equipment, dry clean only items and sheets all must be dealt with.  In our house, they get their own day.  Every week, I wash half of the sheets.  On Saturdays, the occupant of the day’s assigned bed is responsible for pulling the sheets off of their bed and bringing them down to the laundry room before breakfast.  Having two sets of sheets for each bed in your house is nice, but processing laundry through and getting it finished is nicer.

If you want to use a different set of sheets so that the beds are made in the morning just make sure the dirty sheets don’t live in the corner of the laundry room for the next two weeks.

Delegate

You don’t and should not have to do all of the laundry by yourself.  Teach your children the laundry basics when they are young and by the time they are ten or eleven, they will be able to care for their clothes on their own. Take the time to show your children the laundry care instructions on the labels of their clothes.  Teach them how to fold and put away items and how to use the machines.  They won’t do it perfectly at first, but they will learn.

Follow through

Once you have your system in place, stick to it.  Post your schedule and let your family members know their assigned days.  Commit to following your schedule and laundry will become as routine as brushing your teeth in the morning.

Be mindful that every new routine will experience hiccups.  Know that even if you forget to run laundry one day, all is not lost.  Pick up where you left off and shift your schedule as needed.  The Laundry Monster is tamed by persistence, not perfection.

Taming Entitlement

Grace's "stormcloud" face.

My Gracie girl has tendency to pout when she doesn’t get her way. But she’s learning!

Today, an epidemic threatens American children.  Encouraged by parents who fret over their supposed delicateness more than they challenge their inherent strength, these children may be doomed to remain children forever.  Where sixty years ago, the greatest generation overcame the odds and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps after the Great Depression, kids today show signs of becoming generation “me.”

A few years ago as I sat folding laundry for four for the first time, I woke up to this stark reality.  I realized that I was not empowering my daughters to become the successful adults I know they can be.  Instead, I coddled them in a childlike state where, I realized, I kind of wanted them to remain.  That isn’t REALLY what I wanted for them, but in the moment, it was what felt good.  To care for them and protect them.  To do nice things for them.  To give of myself for the people I love.  These actions in and of themselves are not detrimental, but the day can easily come when, in doing these things, we deprive our children of their independence.

I realized that it was time for me to rethink how I approach parenting.  There are so many things that I want my children to be, do and have but I can’t do it for them.  They need the skills to do it themselves. It starts with being appreciative of what we have so that our children will be appreciative of what they have.  None of us is perfect, but we can all do better.

What is one way you are working to tame entitlement in your children?