for the moms that try to do it all

rushing through life

Really, this post is a letter to myself. I am that mom that is trying to do it all–and this post is a necessary reminder to take a break. To step back, gain some perspective, reorganize my priorities, and spend more time with the kids.

There have been a lot of things lately that brought me to this post. Things I’ve noticed for awhile, but have denied or avoided. I love my blog… I love blogging… I love reviewing products… I love getting paid for doing what I love. It’s all win-win-win.

Except for the massive LOSE in how much time it eats up. How much time I spend away from my family and how much time I spend “plugged in.” The actual work doesn’t take too long–what kills me is the FOMO of the blogging world: the Fear Of Missing Out. I’m constantly checking my email and my blogging groups on facebook. I make decent money working from home… but not enough to justify being constantly plugged in. My computer is in our living room. I have a 37″ TV as my computer monitor. I walk past 48 times a day and nearly every time I have to stop and check… even if just for a second… to see if there’s anything “new.”

The problem? My kids. And when I try to work when they’re around, I end up spending 3 hours to write a blog post (spread out through the day–or even days) that should have taken me one hour. Then I get frustrated and stressed because I’m being too unproductive and inefficient. Then my kids are irritable because they don’t have my attention. Then I’m annoyed because they’re annoying me. It’s a terrible cycle and one I am determined to break.

What brought me here?

  • Perspective from Three Wise Women. My mom sent me this link. I love it. And one thing they said: “I couldn’t have ‘done it all’ like mothers try to do today. I’d have gone crazy.”

My mom often tells me that she cannot imagine raising us kids with the internet around… with how much time we all spend on it and how it can consume us. And that’s me–I’m that mom.

And trying to “do it all?” Absolutely. Thanks again to the internet. Pinterest showing me how to be super-wife with amazing recipes, super-mom with the best crafts, super-crunchy will all-natural EVERYTHING, and super-crazy with all the pins and none of the time. Keeping the house clean, cooking all the meals, raising my kids to be the best they can be, doing everything healthy, all-natural, and educational. Keeping up my blog, bringing in money for the family while being a stay-at-home-mom, working.

  • And then this one from the same article: “You only really have your kids until they’re about five. Make the most of those years. After that, life’s influences are largely beyond your control.”

Yikes. Ryan is 3.5 and starts preschool this fall. I think A LOT about how fast time flies these days and how I’m a stay-at-home-mom who will soon “lose” her kids to school and life. The thought breaks my heart… so why am I wasting time?

And I want to point out that no, I’m not saying you need to be with your kids ALL the time. I’m not saying that I need to start enjoying every minute. Because let’s face it, that’s impossible. Some days my kids will drive my crazy, some days I’ll want a break from it all, and some days I will take that break. All I mean is trying to spend more of life living for the moment, enjoying the good times, and not having it rush by. Basically, stop to smell roses (instead of the poopy diapers).

There’s more that brought me here:

  • The Orange Rhino Challenge: the mom that went 365 days without yelling. I don’t even know how I landed on this blog, but I was intrigued. A list of things to do instead of yell… the effects of yelling on your children… the amazing things that can happen when you don’t yell… But I don’t like the color orange, so I think I’ll go with the Blue Wolf instead. (Blue = calming like the ocean. Wolf = strength. Power comes with self-control.)
  • An amazing lady (co-owner of Applecheeks, actually) recently got a tattoo. It’s on her forearm, where she can always see it, and it says “be present.” A reminder to simply spend more time with the children and family, instead of the computer and phone. Okay, so I’m not alone in my problem! I don’t know that I’m brave enough for the tattoo, but I love the idea. Should I write Blue Wolf on my forearm? Probably across my forehead.
  • Ryan. Of course… my #1 reason. I know sometimes he does things specifically just to push my buttons and, let’s face it, he’s a three-year-old (or, a three-nager, as the phase is so lovingly called). Sometimes he wants to get me to yell–probably because I’m paying attention to Rebecca and he wants me to give my attention to him, even if that means yelling at him (sad, right? I know.) But I’m seeing more clearly now how he shuts down if I get upset. How he yells back. I don’t have ANY memories of that type of thing when I was little and I don’t want Ryan to have memories of it.

I found a quiz online that tells you if you have a highly sensitive child. I didn’t need to take the quiz to  have an answer about Ryan. I already knew, but I took the quiz anyway, curious what the questions were. Ryan, not surprisingly, qualified by their measurements as highly-sensitive. He’s extra cautious, he hates being in wet/dirty clothes and has to wear only “comfy” items, he uses big words, reads people extremely well, and is very aware of emotions and sensitive to other’s feelings. He’s a sweetheart. He also feels things more than other children might. This changes the way we need to approach him and it means that I have a lot to learn… and a lot to practice.

So Blue Wolf started today. [I actually wrote this post weeks ago and never published until now. So read below for an update.] Ohhhh, he tried me a few times… like when he pushed over the garbage can in the kitchen because his fingers were sticky (from helping me put jelly on his toast)… but I’m happy to say that the entire day went really well. I will admit, of course, that it was an effort. My blood pressure still went up, but situations calmed down faster. There was less whining/crying/yelling from Ryan. There was no yelling from me.

Ryan tells me he likes to see my happy face. And I like to see his.

highly sensitive toddler

[UPDATE]: I don’t know why I didn’t publish this right away. I guess I was nervous about putting it all out there. Who wants to admit they get too frustrated and their three-nager is getting the best of them? And I think I was nervous about possible reactions. But I’m thrilled with the response in our home so far as a result of all of this… as a result of “Blue Wolf” and focusing more on the kids instead of on the computer.

First, I’m AMAZED at how easy it really was to stop yelling and to use other methods. I’m amazed at how quickly Ryan responded. We were just in a terrible cycle where I’d get upset, he’d act out, I’d get more annoyed, he’d act out, and on and on and on. Clearly it was up to me to break that cycle and I am so happy to say that the effect was just about immediate.

Ryan seems to get less frustrated and upset. HE yells a lot less. He communicates his feelings more effectively, sharing with me when things make him feel bad or sad and talking instead of getting mad. I notice how much he really does mimic me and how he now takes a deep breath or walks away… methods I’ve switched to instead of yelling. We tell each other when we need more patience and we give a LOT of hugs.

The past few weeks have been a wonderful improvement on mood, behavior, attitude, and patience for myself and for Ryan. And it was so much easier than I thought it would be… it just took a commitment and some practice.

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