The 7 Things I Do On Those Sleep Deprived Days That Could Be Hard

Motherhood is relatively easy for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have those sleep deprived days after endless nights of waking with my almost two year old every hour of the night (teething and rainy nights are tough for her).

Those days can be challenging. I recognize that my patience isn’t where it should be and all I want is some quiet. I silently beg my kids to be fine playing on their own. I countdown to naptime and bedtime. Everything that normally doesn’t bother me has the potential to be utterly frustrating.

But I’m resourceful and know myself well enough to know my shortcomings on those days. It’s easy to snap at my kids, but it’s not fair to them. Remembering that helps me hold my tongue.

I used to be a behavioral interventionist. I used to go to work with a literal and figurative toolkit. I carried toys, games, and activities in my bag and, on those days where I wasn’t feeling 100%, I brought in the good stuff, the things the kids loved and new surprises. I also carried in my training: how to form a relationship where the child wanted to engage with me, how to handle tantrums and non-compliance, how to enlist the parents for help, and the routines and schedules that were already established.

As a stay at home mom, I wake up at my workplace. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my toolkits.

Here are the 7 things I do on those sleep deprived days that could be hard:

  1. Get dressed. I do this every day, but, on those days following the rough nights, I tend to be a little neater in my attire. I wear the clothes I used to wear to work. It reminds me I’m here to do a job. My bosses are little and demanding, but I’m the big boss, and I should act that way.
  2. Routines and schedules. My son has his schedule and my daughter has her routines. Luckily, they mesh well with each other. Sometimes I change it up, but not on those sleep deprived days. Oh, no. Those routines and schedules are key to a productive day, happy kids, and less stressed out mommy.
  3. Let the kids lead. I’m too tired to think up new activities and games, so I let my kids guide us. This isn’t too hard since my almost 5 year old has a million ideas rattling around his head. The hard part is all of it rushes out of his mouth and I have to figure out what he’s trying to say. But I let them tell me what they would like and not like to do.
  4. Bring out old or new toys. These kids practically live in a toy store. They have very generous grandparents and a dad who loves toys as much as they do. Inevitably, toys get shuffled to the side and it’s those that I drag out. They’re always delighted because they usually don’t remember these one-time favorites. Sometimes I also have brand new toys squirreled away, and these sleep deprived days are when the kids get them.
  5. Long baths. My kids love water. They’ll easily spend an hour turning into fish if I let them. That’s one less hour I spend chasing after them. They’re not always great at playing together, but they also don’t rely on me to play with them. Morning baths are a great treat and afternoon baths take up the space between naptime and dinner (and dad coming home). It makes bedtime more relaxed because all they have to do is get dressed and brush their teeth.
  6. Bake. I love to bake. Baking is easy for me and I’ve mastered baking with small children. They also love baking with me, and the little treats I give them to keep them away from the eggs. All I have to do is ask if they want to make cake or cookies and they’ll go running to the kitchen. Come to think of it, I think they enjoy sitting on the counter more than anything else…
  7. Have patience. It’s hard. I’m tired and possibly holding the last of my rope, but they still need me to be their mom. I can’t snap at them just because I’m tired. I just have to remember I am exhausted, probably fighting headaches, trying desperately to keep my eyes open, and definitely not at my best, so I make more of an effort to be overly patient and kind to my kids.

It’s not easy being at home with small children when you’re tired, sick, or otherwise not feeling 100%. Those days happen, but I don’t let myself use that as an excuse to be anything but the kind of mom my kids need and deserve. I don’t give myself the space to be okay with having mom fails left and right.

Is it hard? Yes. But seeing them cry because I needlessly snapped at them is harder.

I’m not the of kind of mom who is okay with failing or being an okay mom. I knew motherhood was going to be tough and I’m determined to rise to the challenges it presents. Just because I’m tired doesn’t mean my kids aren’t expecting me to be the same old mom as yesterday. It just means I have to have plans in place and practice kindness and patience a lot more than usual.

And, if all else fails, being authentic with my kids and telling them mommy is tired or not feeling well goes a long way.

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I Give My Kids Reasons Instead of Saying “Because I Said So”

“Because I said so” has no place in my home.

As soon as my kids were no longer newborns, I started giving them reasons for why they couldn’t do something.

“No, you can’t eat paper because it’s not food.”

“No, you can’t have the scissors because they’re sharp and you might hurt yourself.”

“No, you can’t pull the cat’s tail because she might scratch you.”

“No, you can’t have Mommy’s glasses because then she can’t see you.”

Of course I knew they couldn’t understand me at 3 months old. They just smiled at giggled at me. But I didn’t want to be the stereotypical parent who yells “because I said so” at a retreating child’s back. Of course, that might still happen. They are, after all, only human.

Having been told “because I said so” as a kid, I know the anger, frustration, and overall feeling of being completely ignored the phrase generated in me. Not being told why I couldn’t do something made me angry and frustrated, and probably contributed to the hostile retreating back and door slams of my early adolescence. But it also made me, my feelings, and my wants and needs feel ignored.

Why can’t I do xyz?

Because I said so.

But why?

Because I said so! You live under my roof, so must obey my rules!

True words, but they still left me feeling ignored and unable to express myself. I know I wasn’t an adult, but didn’t I still deserve some respect? After all, adulthood isn’t very far away for a 13 year old (according to U.S. law, of course).

As a mom, I recognize kids need boundaries and rules. They need to understand what they can and cannot do. Of course I impose rules and restrictions. But I will never do so if it makes no sense. I don’t make rules to be controlling or just to make rules. I have rules to keep everyone safe, keep the household running with everyone having the opportunity to contribute, and to introduce and enforce the greater laws of the land my kids will be subjected to as they get older and venture away from my grasp.

In my mind, “because I said so” does not engender understanding or learning. It’s a strict “that’s just how it is” and leaves a lot of questions. Of course I expect my kids to respect me, do as I ask, and listen to me, but I will never ask for blind obedience or acceptance.

By giving my kids reasons, I’m telling them why they can’t do something so they understand, can incorporate it into their personal histories and schemas about themselves and life, and know I hear them and respect them. They know what and why they’ve done something wrong. My almost 5 year old is a champ at not repeating mistakes and we hardly ever have to repeat why he can’t do something. Sometimes we slid and just say no. He’s more likely to repeat what he did wrong. When we tell him why in a way he understands, he gets it and doesn’t do it again.

But my favorite part is that, by not saying “because I said so,” I’m opening up a world of possibilities, creativity, and exploration.

My son knows, and my not quite 2 year old daughter is learning, that I always have a good reason for why they can’t do something and, when I don’t, they’re free to do what they want. If it doesn’t hurt or impede someone, go for it!

You want to have your snack and draw? Go for it!

You want to turn the coffee table over and use it as a boat? Sure!

You want to sweep? It’ll take longer, but I have to do it anyways and it’ll be good practice and good helping, so why not?

My son is constantly testing what he can and cannot do. But he doesn’t throw tantrums when I say he can’t. He expects a reason. Sometimes I say no, but don’t have a good reason, so it turns into a yes. He gets so excited when he discovers something he can do.

I hope this understanding carries over into adolescence, but I’m not holding my breath.

But I am grateful that it has averted tantrums. Even my daughter does this cute little bent over posture with arms dangling and pouty face when I say no, but she is getting the hang of it and understanding I have good reasons.

Instead of tantruming, they’re off looking for the next great adventure that has a good chance of being a yes. But they’re also learning what isn’t okay and why.

My Mom Truths

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking about the direction I want my blog to take. I loved doing what I was doing last year, but not when it comes to my motherhood posts. Sometimes I would write a post and then worry so much about it that it would never get posted. I was so afraid of offending, of being accused of mom shaming, of finding no one else quite like me who could relate.

This year, I’ve decided to kiss that fear good-bye. This is my blog. This is my space. I make absolutely zero dollars from anything I do here. All I get is the occasional free book, but that has nothing to do with how I mom. So, I’m going to write whatever the heck I want in whatever way I want. I want to live my life, write my truth, and see if there’s anyone else like me out there.

I’m not going to give advice, provide how-to guides, or otherwise suggest how other parents should do things. I’m going to write about what I do, what works for me, and what I think as a mother. If any of it is construed as shaming or otherwise mean, it isn’t my intention. I simply want to be me and talk about how mom and not how other moms should do it. I don’t know you or your kids. I can’t tell you what works for you. I only know me and my kids. I’ll tell you what I do.

So, here’s my mom truth: I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing.

There. I said it. Motherhood isn’t mysterious to me. I don’t long for guides. I don’t read parenting books. I don’t think being a mom is hard. I think life will be hard when I start working full-time, but I don’t think motherhood is hard. As a matter of fact, I have a boatload of fun. It’s exhausting, but I’m not crying into my coffee or wine (I drink neither, anyways).

That’s the direction I’m choosing for this year. I’m going to speak my truth and my mind. If it angers you or you feel shamed, it’s not my intention, but I would like to engage in conversation with you about it. I only know me and the kind of mom my kids need me to be. I can understand other perspectives and methods, but I’ll never fully know where you are coming from, so I’d like to hear from you. Feel free to share with me as I share with you (anyone interested in doing a guest post?).

I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me, but totally understand if you’d rather jump ship. I’m going to be honest this year, but I think my voice will still shine through. I just want to be me.

Blog and Life Updates

Blog updates

A month ago my plan was to spend November almost exclusively posting my NaNo story and then return to my regular 3 times a week schedule of mom, books, and writing posts in December until the holidays.

Well, I’m going to do Allison proud and burn that plan.

Why?

Because she’s a loud voice in my head and life is just too busy for me to contemplate non-writing posts.

Life updates

About a month ago we learned we needed to move by the end of November. My husband’s new job nowhere near where we currently live means we must move. Fortunately, we’re staying in Southern California, but…have you seen the traffic here, not to mention the Woolsey Fire? Returning from apartment hunting once took us 3.5 hours.

So, all month, while I’ve been diligently working on my novel, we’ve been looking for a new home (check) and packing (I feel like dumping everything and starting over at this point). My husband and I have moved many times during our decade together, so we’re kind of pros by now, but 2 toddlers definitely make it harder. And then there’s the unpacking… Not to mention pulling my son out of playschool and trying to find another good program and getting him registered for Kindergarten. Seriously, Kindergarten is going to be the bane of my existence, but that’s for another post.

But life isn’t the only reason why I’m burning my blog plan.

So, what’s the real blog update?

November is half over, which means NaNo is half over, which means I should be about half done. And I am really close to 25,000 words, but nowhere close to the halfway point in my story.

I’ve been writing it exclusively on WordPress and have found that doing it this way has me spending more time developing each scene as I can’t see the whole sequence in a Word document, so don’t know how long it actually is. I just keep adding until there’s no more to add. I’ll probably have to do extensive edits later, or not. I’m enjoying this slow unfolding of the story and world. But it means I’m not even close to finishing this story. But I really want to.

Initially, I started this blog in 2010 so I could have an online place to store my writings. For this month, I have returned to the roots of The Lily Cafe and it has felt wonderful!

For the rest of this year, this will be my writing blog and I will continue to post The Runaway Queen until it’s finished or I get bored of it. I do have one or two motherhood posts and a few book reviews planned (must start writing those, actually) before the end of the year, but I won’t return to my usual schedule until January.

Oh, how I love the freedom of doing whatever I want with my own little space…

Happy Halloween!

I’m not a fan of autumn. Halloween is not a favorite holiday. But over 10 years ago I wrote this poem on a pumpkin.

A Halloween Nightmare

You’re one step away from the doorstep.
You take that step and suddenly—
You’re in a dark, forbidding forest.
Branches wave in the frigid wind.
They look like fingers reaching—
Reaching to tear life from you.
It grows darker and colder.
The forest is lit by only the white moon.
A high, sharp cackle fills the air.
You shiver and turn about.
Nothing.
Where am I, you wonder.
An eerie silence falls.
Then a howl breaks that silence.
A shriek fills the air to your right.
You turn and see bats flying up.
A drop like rain hits your face.
You wipe it off.
A drop of scarlet blood.
You scream…
And awaken from the nightmare.
Please proceed to…
Halloween.
Welcome, human.
Kindly Enter.

Over 10 years ago, I didn’t care for Halloween. Reading this poem now, I’m not sure I actually understand it. But this year I’m dressing up 2 toddlers as Link and Rapunzel and taking them to their third Halloween event. What about you?

Help…drowning in candy and cavities…

Happy Halloween, everyone!

To My Kids, As You Grow Up in the Wake of the Metoo Movement

I’m not a boy mom or a girl mom. I’m just a mom. I have a boy and a girl and just see children. I see children who are growing up in a rapidly changing world, a world where it’s not always safe to be male or female.

I spend a lot of time worrying about the future my children will come of age in. I worry about what adolescence and adulthood will be like for them.

And, in the wake of the Metoo movement, I worry about whether they will become sexual assault victims or accused perpetrators.

I can only hope that, as their mother, I’ll have given them the strength and tools they’ll need to navigate those waters and I hope they will care enough about each other to look out for each other.

Regardless, I have a few wishes for them.

For My Son

When I was a child, I remember seeing accusations of rape in the news. It was always men who were accused and I remember thinking how glad I was to be female because it meant I wouldn’t face those accusations (we’ll get to how childish and misguided that notion was later). But now that I have you, my sweet boy, I worry about you and whether you might ever be accused.

I certainly hope I’ll have raised you well enough that you’ll always be innocent.

Respect

My dearest boy, my greatest wish is for you to be respectful. You are part Chinese. Respect is very important in our culture and I will teach it to you in any and every way I can. And not just respect for your elders, but respect for everyone. Respect your fellow men and respect all women.

Treat peoole with kindness and decency, even when you don’t want to. Never gloat with your friends just to raise your ego and social standing. Never lead a woman on and always remember she deserves your utmost respect. Likewise, if you prefer men, he deserves your utmost respect.

But you know that if you ever hurt a woman or man, your sisyer will beat you up. And you’ll be in huge trouble with mommy and daddy.

My son, show respect.

Restraint

You meet the person of your dreams. You want all of them, you’re so in love or lust. But use restraint! Do not hurry! If you are meant to be with them, time is meaningless. Do not force yourself on them. Respect them and yourself.

There may be those who seek to lure you, who would use you for their own selfish gain. Be cautious! This is when you need restraint. Do not blindly follow. Keep your head. Show respect. Have restraint.

You’ll be tempted, but don’t go where you get a whiff of danger.

Be a Protector

First and foremost, protect your sister and any other loved ones who come into your life. Be a gentleman and take care of them. Watch over them.

But also protect yourself. Be smart, my little boy.

You’ll do stupid things as you get older, but I hope I will have taught you well enough to be thoughtful. Out on your own, you’ll have to think for yourself and will need to protect yourself. Don’t stupidly follow others. Don’t follow all of your stupid ideas, especially if someone else gets hurt.

No Means No and Yes Means No

Yes, I know I’ve spent the past 4 years teaching you no means no and yes means yes, but there are times you will want to remember yes can also mean no. Even  though a potential partner, whether willing or not, says yes, take it to mean no unless there’s a solid history of tryst, respect, honesty, and love. But always remember shaky ground is possible in any relationship.

Even if you get a yes, be honest and respectful and say no. If this is a worthwhile relationship, there will be plenty of time for intimacy later on. Show respect, decency, honor, and honesty. Never assume a yes is really a yes.

For My Daughter

I am lucky to never have been victimized and it is my greatest wish that you will follow in my footsteps. However, never think that women can never be perpetrators. We certainly can be! Some women use force. Some women lure. Some women play games and then cry foul.

Do not be any of those. I will raise you to be better than that.

Much of my advice to you follows that of what I’ve said to your brother. Be respectful. Show restraint. Be protective.

People are not your playthings, my sweet girl. Take care of them. Be vulnerable, but protect yourself.

Be Vigilant

Yes, my princess, you must be watchful! Be careful when you go out. Be watchful. Keep your head. Be safe. Don’t count on others to look out for you. Look out for yourself.

When you feel unsafe, retreat and voice your opinions. Don’t let anyone force you. Keep a watchful eye and a constantly churning mind. Don’t let your guard down until you feel safe, but still remain vigilant.

Be Kind and Honest

Don’t play games, daughter. Treat potential mates and friends with respect and honesty. They deserve that as much as you do. Be kind and caring and considerate.

Be upfront with people. Don’t lead on boyfriends or girlfriends. You wouldn’t want that, so don’t you go doing it.

If you’re out with someone and your words or behavuor lead them on, take a step back if intimacy is not your goal. Be honest, little princess! Don’t lead anyone on unless you’re prepared to follow through and commit. Whether or not you meant for something to happen, you must be mindful of what you do and say, and be honest! They’ll be using your cues as much as they are their own drives. Don’t add fuel to a fire you don’t want.

Respect

Yes, you probably already read my words to your brother, but this is a big one. Respect yourself and others. You know your own self-worth; don’t let anyone else dictate it for you. I hope I will have raised you to be a strong woman who can hold her own anywhere and everywhere you go.

But remember to show respect. Respect the people around you. Look at things through their eyes and see you as they see you. Reevaluate your words and behavior accordingly. Respect their perspective, even if you think it’s false. Respect that they are people, too. Take care of them and their feelings.

You’ll be in big trouble with mommy and daddy if you lead anyone on.

Final Words to my Son and Daughter

It is my greatest hope that neither of you become a victim or victimizer. But it is up to you to make that happen.

Be respectful. Know you are immensely worthy. Don’t let others boss you around. Protect yourselves and each other. Be honest and kind. Take care of your fellow humankind.

Most of all, if something happens, whether or not you are victim or perpetrator, your duty is to speak up! Your father and I will always listen to you and believe you even if no one else will. But it is your duty to be honest.

Take care of each other and yourselves, my babies.

It's not because I can't have nice things because I have kids. I choose to not have nice things because I have kids.

I Don’t Have Nice Things Because I Have Kids

It's not because I can't have nice things because I have kids. I choose to not have nice things because I have kids.

It’s not a I can’t have nice things because I have kids. It’s a I don’t choose to have nice things because I have kids. I have plenty of nice things. They’re safely stored in boxes in the closet. I don’t display them because I have kids. I choose to not pretty up spaces for Instagram-worthy photos and put out my breakables because I have kids.

This is my home. I can display whatever I want. I can create any kind of environment I want. If I want to have pretty little corners with beautiful vases of flowers or little nooks where I can do some great photo shoots for my food dishes, I can. I can always teach my kids to be careful and not touch anything. I can totally have nice things even though I have toddlers running around.

But I choose to not have nice things because I have kids. Because this is their home, too.

This is my children’s home. This is their place to learn and explore and experiment. This is their safe place. This is where they are loved and where they have the space to explore themselves and the world. If things get messy, they get messy.

My children are toddlers. They don’t have full control of themselves yet. My oldest is old enough to be responsible to help clean up his toys. My youngest is old enough to know that when I say it’s time to get dressed, it’s time to play chase. They are at ages where fun is more important than being loaded down with chores and responsibilities. Besides, things have a tendency to go flying when they become overly excited. Only getting to help sort laundry can be fun to a child. Now excuse me while I go fish a sock from under the bed.

My mom always told me to stay a child as long as I could because adulthood is so much longer.

There are plenty of experts and many articles that say giving children chores and responsibilities is good and healthy for them. I’ve seen countless Pinterest pins and articles that list chores by age.

But other than helping to clean up his toys, I give my 4 year old no real chores or responsibilities.

At these young ages, my children’s only jobs are to have fun, explore, and learn about themselves. They are learning it’s okay to be them, that they deserve to be loved, that they are good. They don’t need the pressure of having to be careful so they don’t break a vase. And, if they do, it’ll be more important that they learn we still love them and not that they are bad because they misbehaved and broke something.

But I don’t see the lack of chores as backfiring. Instead of giving them set responsibilities, we encourage them to help us. My husband and I work as a team to get everything done. We help each other. Similarly, we encourage our kids to get involved with us. We invite them to help us. They help us clean. They help us cook and bake. They help with the laundry. They help us find things (that they originally ran off with, but oh well. It’s a good way to test their memory). My oldest helps take care of our youngest.

Our home aesthetics are a group effort. It looks lived in from the efforts of four people. It doesn’t look magazine-worthy, but it’s a place where my kids can be secure and comfortable. At 1 and 4, they don’t need to be taught to not break things. They need to be encouraged to explore and learn caution.

One day they will be teenagers with school, responsibilities, and friends to juggle. One day we will put out the fragiles and expect them to learn to be careful. But not today. Not when they are 1 and 4.

I don’t have nice things because I have kids. I choose not to display nice things and be a clean freak because I have kids.

I choose to make their home a safe place for them to explore. If I’m lucky, I’ll get at least 18 years of them being home from both of them. Considering wherever I live will be my home for likely much longer than that, it’s not even a price to be paid.

It’s not because I can’t have nice things. It’s because I don’t want to.

Not a Social Media Mom

Some days I have a hard enough time just blogging. Finding time to jump onto Facebook-Twitter-Instagram-Pinterest-etc just doesn’t happen. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

I didn’t grow up on social media. I grew up in a backyard and a home that had no Internet until I was in 6th-7th grade and zero cable until I was in high school. And I don’t find I have in any way, shape, or form been deprived. I knew MySpace existed, but had no interest. Then there was something called LiveJournal some college friends were on. I ended up on Facebook by accident as a college freshman and got mild amusement from it.

As a happy introvert, I declined face-to-face socialization when it wasn’t rude and found the increasing number of social media sites to be more annoying than useful. I fully embrace my introvertedness, see no reason to be more social than I have to be, and see no point to comparing myself to anyone or have anyone compare themselves to me.

Needless to say, I am not and have never been a social media mom.

When my oldest was born 4 years ago, I was only on Facebook, and just to keep up with grad school classmates and the odd relative. Which actually remains true 4 years later. I didn’t have a tablet or smartphone (still use a flip phone to this day!). My computer saw more dust than use. I was busy with my little baby and just soaking him up. See, I thought I would be a working mom by the time my second baby came, so really just focused on my little boy for 18 months. Even checking my email took a backseat. It was easy to forget about it and not check it for a week or two at a time.

Today, I blog with two toddlers, 1 and 4, running around. I still have a private Facebook account, but this blog has a Facebook page and accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Honestly, I’m hardly ever on social media, even as The Lily Cafe. Whoops, haven’t actually posted on any of them, outside of the automatic posts WordPress sends, since July.

I’ve read so many posts about the positive and negative effects of social media on parenting. So many parents talk about comparing themselves to what their feeds tell them and so many others talk about how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone. Other bloggers write about getting off of social media because it can become negative with shaming and mean comments and the constant comparison game that people naturally just can’t stop playing.

It makes me glad I’m not a social media mom, and never have been.

It turns out to have been a saving grace when I had my first. If I was relying on social media to tell me how I should mom, I probably would have been a basket case despite the fact I have a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and years of experience with children with and without autism. To say I was trained to work with children is a bit of an understatement.

But if I had been active on social media, I probably would have been questioning myself and everything I did instead of following my own intuition. I would not have been turning to the parenting expert that I did rely on for the first year: my mom, who raised 3 of us in a time when there was no social media and pretty much no Internet. I would have been playing the comparison game, too. I would have driven my husband crazy. I wouldn’t have learned to trust myself and my child. I would never have learned to trust my instincts and what my child was trying to tell me. I would have been convinced I was doing everything wrong and tried pushing things that would have ended in disaster. Seeing numerous 2 year olds be successfully potty trained would have put me in knots. My son was almost 3.5 before he was potty trained (when he and I were both ready, and it was easily the best decision I ever made).

I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. I was taught to look at people as individuals. Being a social media mom would have ruined that. So, I’m glad I wasn’t a social media mom. I’m still glad I’m still not a social media mom. Even though this blog has its own social media accounts, I’m not on them much.

I have 4 solid years of parenting behind me. I’ve been a mom of two for 16 months. My kids are happy and healthy. I trust myself and I focus on what they need rather than on what other parents’ kids are doing at the same ages. Today, I can look through the social media feeds and think “oh, good for them!” I don’t have any desire to be like them or do things like them even though they have thousands of followers and millions of likes and are overall successful social media parents/influencers.

I’m happiest not being a social media mom. It’s shaped me into the mom I am today. I don’t care what other people think of my kids. I only care that they are happy and healthy and loving life. I care that they are receiving what they need to flourish in the world.

I don’t mean to say being a social media parent is a bad thing. I’m sure it works for many people and is actually very helpful. I just happen to not enjoy it. I have a solid background in psychology and child development. I know what I’m doing and trust myself. If you’re a social media parent, I hope you’re rocking it. If you’re not a social media parent like me, I hope you’re rocking that, too. There’s no one right way to parent or one right place to look for help and answers.

I’m not a social media mom and never will be. What about you? Has it helped you, or does it just get you down?

Milkshake in a Jar

My husband looked at me like I was crazy. I prefer to think I was being creative. As a mom of two toddlers, every day is an exercise in creativity.

My 4 year old has a strange problem with sounds. Alarms scare him. He refuses to flush the toilet because the sound scares him, but is fine under certain circumstances. He locks himself in his room when we use the blender.

The blender. That magical piece of kitchen equipment that gives us milkshakes.

We live in Southern California. It’s hot most of the year. Ice cream is kind of a way of life for my family. I grew up with big tubs of ice cream and milkshakes. My kids enjoy ice cream now, especially this past summer when we seemed to go from one heat wave to another.

Milkshakes are kind of another story. My husband and I love them. My daughter thinks they’re intriguing. Then again, she’s only 16 months so everything is new to her. My son enjoys one particular milkshake. From a restaurant. Because he screams every time we use the blender.

My husband kept giving me strange looks whenever I wondered if I could make a milkshake in a jar. Really, it sounded reasonable to me. I make single serve cakes in mugs and bowls. I shake up whipped cream and butter in jars. I’m sure I could make a milkshake in a jar.

And that would be fabulous, wouldn’t it? A nice cold chocolate milkshake (for the chocoholic I proudly am) on a hot not always summer day without any noise. My son wouldn’t go screaming and I would get my milkshake.

Perhaps I should get him used to noise. But that also sounds cruel to me. I don’t like spiders and will run from anyone who has one. I’ll struggle if someone makes me get used to one. A blender isn’t a necessity for us. We don’t have to use one for anything. Actually, outside of milkshakes, we almost never use one. By the time he’s old enough to cook for himself or live with others, he’ll be old enough to decide what noise he wants in his life. He’s been exposed. Good enough.

Back to the milkshake. I got some ice cream and put some in a jar. Then I added the milk and screwed the lid on. And I shook it, getting a nice workout for my arms. And I let my son shake it. And I let my daughter try to shake it.

And, voila, milkshake in a jar! No noise, no need to clean a blender. No need for a blender. I got my milkshake and didn’t send my son running screaming for his room.

All you need is a jar, something to scoop out the ice cream, the ice cream, and milk. No need for a blender and a cup. So, less clean up, too.

This works best with softened ice cream. If it’s not, you’ll get lumps, or one big lump. So leave the ice cream out for a few minutes, but get to it before it melts. Add as much as you’d like into the jar and do the same with the milk.

I grew up with thin milkshakes. My mom wanted us to have more milk, so they were milkier. Actually, we were so used to them that the thick milkshakes we got when we went out were just too thick and we needed a spoon. We didn’t actually ask for them very often, but, every summer that blender was blending away.

Ice cream and milk in a jar for a nice cold milkshake

Now that your jar is full, make sure you screw the lid on tight, and shake. Check periodically for the texture you want, but you can always put the lid back on and shake some more.

It’s just like any other milkshake. But no noise and less clean up. With two toddlers, I’ll take that any day.

See, I’m not crazy. I’m just a mom of particular kids who embraces their little idiosyncrasies and just let’s them be kids.

Because what kid wouldn’t love to shake a jar and get a sweet treat?

Milkshake in a jar

How to Survive a Cold When You’re a Mom

That dreaded cough-sneeze-“I’m going to throw up!” Not pleasant and not fun.

Some moms get sick first. Some get sick last. A lucky few escape unscathed. Me? I get sick alongside my kids.

August has been unkind to my family. It started badly and is now ending with us falling one by one to a dreaded cold. It’s been an interesting week as we now have to decide whether to keep our 4 year old at home or go ahead and send him to his playschool program. All I can say is, I’m not looking forward to having to make that decision when he starts Kindergarten next year!

Now, I don’t want anyone thinking he caught something from his classmates, which is possible, but not the only possibility. All month, he went to hospitals, funeral homes, cemetaries, his cousins’ house, his grandparents’ house, and restaurants. The fact is, whenever kids are around other people, it’s always possible for them to get sick.

Then, of course, I fall a couple of days later.

One thing I wish I had done during my pre-mom days is spend more time on the couch while sick instead of pushing through school, studying, and working. Oh, how I’d love to be lying down with a book, a nice cup of tea, and snuggly blankets and pillows! Instead, I have sick kids sleeping on me and a rapidly dwindling supply of tissues. There are toys underfoot because my kids have yet to discover the joys of lying down and resting while under the weather.

So, how do I survive being sick when I’m a toddler mom?

Really, by taking it slowly!

  1. Tylenol. But not too much. Some does get into breast milk, if you’re a breastfeeding mom, so this  is more of a last resort, when I am so miserable I have to take something just so I can continue to care for my kids. It’ll at least give me a few hours of relief so I can spend time caring for and playing with my kids, while trying to get them to rest.
  2. Getting help when possible. My husband works a lot, but he tries to help when he can. Whether it’s doing the dishes or bringing home dinner, it’s always helpful to have someone else doing something. That way you get a little more time to rest.
  3. Tissue. I don’t know what I would do without a permanent stash of tissue boxes. I never know when someone will get sick, so I buy in bulk when it’s on sale, otherwise I get a box a week. When people are sick, stuff comes out of noses and tissue is my lifesaver. When I’m sick, I like to try to wear something with pockets so I can stash some in them and have them close by when necessary.
  4. Rest, whenever there is a second. Literally every time the kids nap, my eyes close as well. I need rest and sleep. It’s okay to set them up with some screen time or box of favorite toys. Sometimes I just have my son bring some toys to the couch so I can play with him and still lie down. But whenever both kids are fully occupied, I take a moment to just lie down.
  5. Plenty of fluids. I’m a water fiend. When I’m sick it’s kind of nice to challenge myself and see just how many times I can fill my cup in a day. A high score is a good score, and I try to outdo myself the next day. Hydration is important, especially when you’re sick!

Being sick is no fun, but this has helped me survive over the past 4 years, from the colds that last a day or two to the ones that never seem to go away.