Our Truth about Screen Time

I’m a full time working mom who is away from my kids 8+ hours a day, five days a week. I want nothing more than to come home and be 100% invested in doing all the fun things but that’s just not our reality. Dinner needs made, served then cleaned up. Laundry needs folded. The dogs need walked and fed. The list goes on and on. So what are my kids doing while I get all of my tasks done? Most likely, you can find them watching TV.

When the weekend finally arrives, I want nothing more than to sleep in past 7am but for my kids, it’s just another day so it’s up by 6am all weekend long for us. When I stumble out of bed on Saturday or Sunday morning, I get the kids settled with a breakfast bar and water, feed the baby his bottle and we all plop down in the living room… In front of the TV… For at least an hour or two if I’m being honest.

When my husband and I have had an exhausting workday and we’re ready to pass out at 8pm, what do we do? Have a movie night! An opportunity for us to still be with our kids but not be up chasing them around. But are we REALLY with them?

No. The movie of choice is usually Moana for the 100th time or whatever new cartoon is on Netflix. We’re not overly into to it so we sit close to each other and the kids on the couch but we’re completely disconnected surfing Facebook on our phones. And on top of that, even with a movie on in the background, our 3yr old has a new interest in her tablet so she’s most likely playing a game on that as well.

How did we get here? How did I start depending on screen time like this? Does this make me a lazy parent? Does it seem like I don’t care about my children and what they’re doing? Before kids, I would never have thought this would be me. I planned to always be active with my kids. I planned to make all nutritious and homemade meals and snacks while maintaining a clean house and still doing all the fun things. And screen time? My kids won’t even like TV because we’ll be too busy having FUN!

(Insert eye roll) Oh, how naive.

I feel like you’re either reading this judging me (and judging hard) or saying ‘Yes, Girl!’ because they’re caught up in this vicious cycle too. So if you’re being a Judgy McJudgerson, move along. I’m judging myself hard enough. I KNOW too much screen time isn’t good for my children and can have long term effects. It can change their mood and behavior. It really is a form of addiction that’s just as unhealthy as the next. I know!

But if you’re saying ‘Yes, Girl!’ then take this vow with me. Vow to leave the TV off when you get home from work. Let the kids be in the kitchen with you while preparing dinner. Have a conversation or let them help with dinner. Make sure the TV is off during dinnertime and eat at the kitchen table as a family. Let the laundry go unfolded. Even the dishes can wait. On the weekends, get up, get ready and play outside before it gets hot out.

I’m willing to bet our children won’t even miss TV because time and attention from us is far more valuable. Our influence and love will take them further than whatever educational show we tell ourselves is good for them will that they’re watching on TV.

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How to Make Mom Friends

Growing up friendships are fairly easy to come by.  You have classes and activities with the same kids and eventually find ‘your people’ to become friends with. If you lived in a neighborhood, it was common for all of the kids to meet up at one house (usually the one with the cool swing set or trampoline) to play. Cousins were also some of the best of friends. But, as we all grew older, friendships changed.  Friends moved away, interests changed and before you know it your friend circle is a forth the size it used to be.

I am all about quality over quantity when it comes to friendship. My expectations in a friend are that they have similar morals and lifestyle, trustworthy, accepting of me as I am them and can have fun, lots of fun! So how do you find that when your working full-time and juggling being a wife and mom? Well, here are a few things I have done lately to make new mom connections:

  1. OLD FRIENDS: This is a big one to me. You know the girls you used to be so close with in high school or college? That now have kids similar in age to yours and really don’t live that far away from you? Yea? So reach out! Putting yourself out there is the hardest part but I can attest that once you do, you’ll have no regrets. A few women I know have followed very similar paths of life as me so I reached out and reconnected.  We now have coffee and play dates monthly. Our kids have a blast and it gives us a chance to catch up and feel like adults!
  2. IN-LAWS: My husband’s family has one big family reunion in the fall each year. It’s extended family so upwards of 75 people if not more. We see majority of these family members once a year. In the 4 years I have gone, there has been one distant cousin who I seem to gravitate towards every year. We have a lot in common – kids similar in age, live in the same area, sense of humor, TV shows, choice of drink… So, I wanted to be her friend. How did I do that? I scheduled a hair appointment with her.  She is a stylist and I needed a hair cut and color so what better way to get one on one with her to see if a friendship could blossom. Hair color can be quite a process so it allowed us time to chat and get to know each other a little better. We now have plans to go to the Zoo soon. Right, Kelly? 😉
  3. COWORKERS: I’ve always been one to kind of stay quiet and separate work from personal. There usually aren’t very many coworkers I get too close to but having kids and lack of adult interaction outside of work, well, I’ve become a bit more outgoing. I have met a few, but 2 in particular, moms at work that I have connected with. We share outrageous stories, listen when things are tough, give and receive advice and talk about poop WAY too much. It is SO nice! Whether we end up hanging out outside of work or not, it’s nice to have someone who understands that you’ve put in an entire days work before even getting to the office in your corner.
  4. DAYCARE MOMS: Being a full time working mom means my kids attend daycare. My daughter is 3 and most of her classroom friends have siblings around the same age as her baby brother. That means instant things in common! It’s so hard to reach out put I’ve put myself out there to at least small talk with the other moms and connect on a deeper level.  3 other moms and I are now signing up our girls to join dance class together which only means more time spent with these ladies. (I’ll have to update soon on how the ‘Dance Mom’ friendship builds, its early stages.)

So really if there is anyone out there that you are eyeing as a potential friend, don’t be afraid to make the first move. Break the ice, share a few laughs and ask for their contact information. Then, reach out and plan the first play date. BAM! The hard part is done. Making mom friends is all about trial and error, but if you don’t try you won’t get anywhere. Not everyone has to be your new best friend, but I hope that you can like and respect another mom enough to spend time trying to get to know her; especially if your kids are budding a new friendship. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet through a new friendship.

Don’t Panic!

The other day my daughter got her arm stuck in our kitchen chair. It wasn’t stuck, stuck but she could feel the pressure of the chair rails around her elbow. Her initial reaction was to panic. She screamed and cried and her eyes got really big in fear. Once I helped her get her arm out of the chair, we had a little talk. I explained to her that her arm was not that stuck and that she didn’t need to panic. Had she not panicked she would have realized she could have pulled her arm out  herself. ‘What does panic mean?’ she asked. So I told her what it meant and explained how important it is to remain calm and THINK about how to get out of a sticky situation. Kind of a big lesson for a young child to grasp, right? So how do I know that my three-year-old soaked up everything that was taught in this little lesson?

Well, today we ventured out on our first trip outside of the house in big girl underwear! She was so excited! I told her all about the importance of telling me when she had to go pee pee so that we could make sure we made it to a bathroom in time. Mid Costco trip she tells me she has to use the potty. So what do I do? Go into instant panic mode. OMG, she is going to pee all over the floor in the middle of Costco! Not only will I have to clean her up and have the pee cleaned up, but I have to juggle my crying 5 month old through it all. I immediately threw her back in the cart and headed to the bathroom which of course is at the complete opposite end of the store. Pushing the cart as fast as I could without looking like a crazy lady, we made it to the bathroom. Still a little panicky, I quickly grabbed the pumpkin seat, my purse and my toddler, leaving the cart full of groceries we just spent 30 minutes gathering close by. Juggling it all, not wanting ANYTHING to hit the floor, she makes it to the potty. She then looked at me and said, “Mommy, don’t panic! Calm down, it’s OK. I made it!” with the biggest smile on her face.

Sometimes our children can teach us the very same lessons we are trying to teach them. This here is just a small example but I will admit she has taught me very big lessons as well. She has taught me to find patience numerous times (her brother has too!) and how to hold on to innocence (not everything has to be big and complicated). Another big one is how to let go and have fun. She is so carefree and adventurous at times that I can’t help but follow suit… and it feels good. The stress of whatever is going on just washes away! I’m sure I will learn just as many lessons alongside her brother as he grows too.

Rather than grasping at the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality  that is all too tempting at times, I will continue to travel this road along with her and learn from my own lessons right along side her.

Dad Game Too Strong

I don’t know how single moms do it. I can’t imagine working full time, maintaining a household and taking care of the kids round the clock 24/7, 365 days a year. I mean really, I rely on my husband to co-parent with me so much. When he is working a lot or out of town, I MISS HIM. Like really miss him! Not for the sappy, lovey, happy couple reasons but because I’m tired and I want help.

By the time I leave work, pick up the kids, get home, make dinner and give baths I just want to relax for a minute. Thankfully having a 5 month old allows me to sit and soak up his cuddles but a rambunctious 3 year old could care less about relaxing. How will I find the energy to entertain her tonight? Swoosh! In sweeps Dad! Even after working 8-12 hour days at a physically demanding job he somehow finds the energy to chase, tickle, play soccer, build forts… whatever our daughters imagination drags him into. And he does it without being asked; with a smile on his face, genuinely having FUN. He is the fun in our house. I can be fun too but no matter how fun I think I’m being he can top it. We’re talking belly laugh until you cry, fall over in bed at the end of an adventure fun.

When all of the fun stops though, I can count on him to discipline too. He is patient and understanding when I just need a minute to breathe as I am for him. We tag team the tantrums and the lessons that follow. We help each other through the sleepless nights, the potty training accidents and the screaming fits in the grocery aisle. I am Mom and he is Dad yet we are a team. Not only does he co-parent so well with me but he does it because he truly loves his kids. He doesn’t want to miss out on watching them grow and wants them to know he is present in their lives.

Now I’m not saying most Dads don’t want this too because I’m sure they do. But I believe my husband takes being a Dad to an entirely new level. You know those ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ type shirts that always end up on clearance racks? Well, when I mentioned to my husband that he needed a few more ‘nice t-shirts’ for when we go out, he bought these kind of t-shirts.

If your husband hasn’t discovered Woot yet, I highly suggest NOT telling him about it. Unfortunately, my husband found this app long before I even knew what it was. Boy do I know now though. A Woot package ended up on our doorstep which is nothing short of the usual around here. I picked it up and brought it inside but noticed the package felt very light and flimsy like clothing. “My husband bought clothes? Let alone from Woot?” I thought. When he got home I told him his package arrived and he jumped with glee (literally, he does). As he opened the package, I saw that they were t-shirts. Oh good, he took my advice and bought some new shirts. He bought some new shirts alright; Dad shirts that is! Ever since, he has been wearing them all weekend, every weekend… with PRIDE.

I’m glad he is so proud to be a Dad. I’m glad I get to be a part of this phase of life with him. I’m thankful neither of us have to do it alone. Our kids are so fortunate to have a Dad like him whether they realize it yet or not. One day they’ll look back on all of the amazing memories, even lessons learned, with Dad and I hope they are thankful. After watching him with our kids thus far, I think it’s safe to say there’s ‘no Dad game too strong’ but we’ll see… we still have the teen years ahead of us.

My Toddler Won’t POOP!

I know each parent has their own struggles. What each of us find to be easier or harder along this parenting journey differs from parent to parent but in my case… potty training is the devil itself! I remember being in the thick of diapering days hoping and wishing for when she would be potty trained!!! Now that the day is here, I’m wanting to scream from rooftops to give me diapers back and let this potty training madness end once and for all! Now, my daughter is 3 years old… she has peeing down but poop? NO WAY! She will do everything in her power to avoid pooping at all let alone on a potty!

Just to be clear, we have spent the past 6 months working closely with our amazing pediatrician to make sure she is on the right track and to be sure nothing medically is preventing her from pooping. I couldn’t help but feel like this was my fault and that I was doing something wrong. Nope, all checks out good so we are basically just waiting for her to overcome her mental setbacks she has created for herself.  I never in a million years thought I would own so many books about poop! We read about it, talk about it, sing about it… we do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to encourage her and let her know that pooping is normal, we all have to do it and that well, it’s fun! Because toddlers are all about fun, right? So let’s make poop fun!

My bribes have taken me to an embarrassing level as well. It started out with stickers then 1 M&M for trying, 2 for peeing, 3 for pooping… At first she was the master of trying! Now, trying and peeing are down pact so we focus in on pooping. 3 M&M’s for THAT? No way she says… so we eventually moved to ice cream (which she now says she HATES just to avoid being asked to try to use the potty) then trips to 6 flags and now I’m getting so desperate for her to poop on her own that I’m about to offer her a trip to Disney! DISNEY! My husband will be so thrilled by this… I have even told her some made up story about poop eating fish (which was not originally my idea, my future sister in law gets all credit here). The story goes that there are certain fish in the sea that only eat poop to survive.  We all must poop in order to feed the fish and keep them alive. It worked for my sister in law and her son so why can’t it work for me? So I told my daughter this story and this is how our conversation went:

*Told the story*

Me: So don’t you want to feed the fishies?

J: No, not really

Me: But if we don’t poop for the fishies, they won’t have food and could die. You don’t want the fish to die, do you?

J: Yea… they can die…

UGH.

Yes, I know this whole thing sounds sooo ridiculous. It’s desperation in its finest guys. She is so headstrong about this that she would let these make believe little sea fishies DIE rather than simply poop…

BUT, yes there is a BUT! We did make some serious progress last week; she went on the potty twice! TWICE in one week! And you know what the first 3 things that came out of her mouth after was?!

  1. My tummy feels so much better! (thank you for realizing this, sweetie!)
  2. Let’s go get Daddy so I can show him my big poopy (hey, she’s proud!)
  3. I fed the fishies! (So she does care!)

While we have made some serious progress over the past 6 months, we have a long way to go… so the life of daily poop talks, songs and hours spent sitting on the bathroom floor will continue. But hey, this too shall pass… right? RIGHT? I’m just looking forward to the day I can laugh about all of this…

Monster in-Laws

You know all of the horrid stories and expectations of monster-in-laws? Like where they pry into your relationship, nosey in on how you’re raising your kids and show up at your house all of the time with their judgmental looks and remarks of your housekeeping (or lack there of)… Yeaaa, see, I didn’t get those kind of in-laws.

I got something much… WORSE! I got the in-laws that bend over backwards to help, make sure we never go without, and help us raise the best tiny humans possible. They are never more than a phone call away and are always willing to rearrange a schedule to help us pick up the kids or whatever else might come up. Currently they are demoing our entire kitchen for a remodel. A few mishaps have came up and they have offered even more of their time to get us through them!

Wait, so why did I say that I have WORSE? Because I am so thankful, blessed, and fortunate to have them that I just don’t even know how to level the playing field here. How do I reach such a high standard; how do I ever thank them for all of their love and support that is never ending and ever so unwavering? HOW? I find myself pondering on how to show them my gratitude at least a handful of times a month… and here is what I have come up with:

I will show them by always loving their son. By always putting my family first. By instilling the qualities they have shown me into my children. By guiding my family with the same moral compass that they instilled in my husband to create such an amazing human being. By never losing focus on what’s important in life. By always offering a helping hand when someone is in need and not expect a single thing in return. By always striving to be my best self. By setting goals and achieving them. By chasing dreams and never giving up on them.

I hope this is enough because it’s the best I can come up with to show how thankful, blessed, and fortunate I am to have them in my life. If only everyone was as lucky as I am with their in-laws.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

Let’s not dive too deep into the crazy, hectic, yet beautiful life of ME too strongly here but balancing work, motherhood, marriage, family… it can all get a little chaotic. But that’s where friends come in… to distract, de-stress and support one another on an entirely different level than any other relationship in life.

Confidential; that’s the name of a group chat with my two best friends.  What do we talk about in this group chat? Well, that’s confidential 😉 but I’ll spill the beans on why this group chat means so much to me:

My good days: They lift me up and celebrate with me. We rally for and congratulate each other for our success – be it as small as getting everyone up and ready to leave the house on time for once or as big as a fancy promotion.

My bad days: They offer support, advice, kind words or even say nothing if the moment calls for it.  We remind each other what we are fortunate enough to have in life and that ‘this too shall pass’ because we have each other to get us through it. There hasn’t been a challenge yet that any of us haven’t gotten through and I credit that to us supporting each other NON-STOP… so cheers to us!

My hard parenting days: We can struggle through the days of tantrums, potty training, co parenting and whatever else comes our way… then laugh about it later! Because let’s face it, most of what we think is hard in the moment is sooo normal and every parent can most likely relate.

My harder parenting days: They remind me to stay strong and know that I am enough, that I am doing my best to provide for my family, that I am a good mother. A reminder that I do need from time to time… doesn’t every mother?

We recently took a weekend get-a-way together that I had no idea was so overdue until it ended WAY. TOO. SOON! The three of us packed up and hit the road, leaving our kids and household duties to the Dads. Our 4 hour road trip adventure was filled with way too many potty breaks, snacks, and Red Bull but we did find a pretty spectacular waterfall in Kentucky to take a quick dip in. We turned down a long gravel road that seemed to lead to nothing; I’m pretty sure the girls were wondering where in the H E double hockey sticks I was taking them! Once we pulled off the road it was just a short hike down a bluff that led us to this view:

Our final destination was NASHVILLE… one of my favorite cities in all of the USA! Country music, BBQ and Honky Tonks; what’s not to love?! I know, I’m showing my small town girl roots right now. We spent the next 2 days lounging, exploring and just catching up on life.  We enjoyed some drinks poolside, stuffed our faces beyond belief and let’s not forget an unforgettable stop at Santa’s Pub (we just really wanted to run into someone famous for once like Justin Timberlake ;))

Once we returned home I felt rejuvenated! Like all the stress of life was lifted off of my shoulders and I felt better about some of my daily battles because they have them too. When I found myself feeling like I was falling behind in motherhood, not giving enough in my marriage and failing to meet the professional goals I have set for myself they assured me that it’s all normal because they have their own daily battles too. Image may contain: 13 people, including Amy Kiefer and Whitney Fox, people smiling, child

 

Sometimes we are just too hard on ourselves and a good friend to remind us that we are enough and are worth it is just what the doctor ordered! Hold on to friendships and always set aside time for the ones that bring you the most joy and support. I know I won’t be letting go of these two any time soon!