Epic Mom Guilt and Embracing A Little Selfishness

There’s no such thing as a perfect child and therefore the fairytale that is a perfect Mom does not exist either.  Motherhood is different for everyone and survival is the goal for everyday – not Pinterest perfect, gluten-free muffins for breakfast and not homemade outfits from recycled curtains – let’s just say that Babyzilla is known to have a bag of Cheetos puffs for breakfast.  As a mom, I try to set lofty goals for myself but not too high in order to avoid disappointment later.  After all, my everyday goal is to not lose my temper too badly and avoid causing permanent damage to the kids, and that I’ll make it home with all kids in tow so I can put those little dictators angels to bed and have a bottle glass of wine and possibly catch some Netflix with Michael.

In all Mommy honesty, we have all those days where we hide in the bathroom to get an extra 2 minutes of Facebook viewing while risking a toddler going out the front door.  Just kidding…the seven year-old was watching her.  Oh, I mean, my unicorn was….

Shame Lady GOT

I want to share with you my top not-so-perfect-Mommy practices in order to (hopefully) let you have the honest conversations with fellow mommies.  The point is, the idea that a mommy has to be everything and do everything is not realistic (even with a badass partner like my husband!) and I refuse to emotionally beat myself up based on what some Pinterest mommy board tells me.  If you drop by on any given day, you will find that my house is probably messy, we are eating sandwiches for dinner, and someone may be skipping bath night because I want to relax and maybe run to the gym.  Mommy tip…dry shampoo works on kids too!

I could try harder to “do it all” but that would mean that I would have to be more selfless, and I refuse to give up myself.  Yep, I would rather have an hour at the gym and live with a messy playroom.  I can walk away from that playroom and not look at it all day.  I have to look at myself in the mirror and it will be a constant reminder that I didn’t take care of myself and hit the gym.  As a mom, I have to constantly weigh decisions based on everyone’s needs and sometimes, I am more important.  And, that’s ok.

Behold, my top three shameful Mommy behaviors that I’d like to say I’m going to change but I probably won’t because I accept that I am allowed to be a little bit selfish:

#3.  Daycare Hair.  I’m not capable of mastering simple hair styles.

Isabella Hair copy

I was blessed with a full head of thick, wavy hair that I can straighten, curl, or do anything with.  Unfortunately, I only really learned to do my hair two ways…down, or up in a ponytail.  I used to think that having a daughter would motivate me to learn how to braid and do all of the cool, girly hair styles you see on Pinterest.  Um no.  That did not happen and I struggle with doing anything with Isabella’s long locks besides plopping a bow in it or pulling it up in a ponytail.  Her daycare must see my struggle too because ever since Babyzilla began going there, she comes home with beautiful braids and hairstyles that I could never learn to do on my own.  One morning, she even told me not to mess with her hair because she was going to get it done at school.  Oh my.

#2.  Co-sleeping.  Sometimes, it’s just easier to coral them in one room.

Clones sleeping

Babyzilla and Antonio are both lucky to have their own bedrooms with queen sized beds.  But, they usually end up together in Antonio’s room.  Bedtime is tricky because on a good day, it only takes twenty minutes for people to settle down while on a bad day, this could take hours.  We let the kids sleep in the same room because Antonio is obedient about turning off the lights and following the routine we ask him to do.  Then lately, it never fails that Babyzilla comes crawling into our master bedroom at 5 AM and snuggles in between us.  I’m not getting up at 5 AM to do anything much less fight a threenager on going back to her own room.  I value my precious sleep moments that early in the morning and so I often have a tiny person wrapped around my head like a cat.

#1.  Mommy Doesn’t Cook…My Daddy Only Cooks.  When my son was in Kindergarten, he proudly presented me with an “All About Mom” booklet that he had worked on for Mother’s Day.  The results of the first page sent me through a roller coaster of emotions and made me realize the way my child sees me through his eyes is so much more simpler than how I see myself.  The page read:

Antonio Kindergarten Mothers Day

So, my immediate reaction to the cooking comment was that it is true (kudos to Michael) and then I proceeded to laugh at the squash comment because i don’t even remember the last time I ate squash.  I am a chocolate and bacon type of girl.  Almost three years later and my son will now say that cooking is done 50% by Daddy and 50% by Mommy.  Yay for Blue Apron!

DSC_2007

Healthy eating and an active life style are important things I am trying to teach my kids, but I won’t ban McDonald’s from our diets…only the “chicken” nuggets.  I have slowly in the past couple of years embraced this whole cooking concept and we do cook for about half of the week.  Kitchen is closed on weekends unless someone wants to get fancy and make pancakes.

Guilt, shame and feelings of insecurity are things every mom struggles with on a daily basis.  Instead of focusing on the things I can’t do, I try to accept my faults and focus on the Wins of the Day as Kendra has so eloquently suggested to all of us.  Sometimes, those wins include reading bedtime stories and goodnight hugs and kisses.  Other times, it means celebrating that I squeezed in twenty minutes to workout.  A good litmus test on getting perspective is always hearing my son pray at night.  No matter how much I discipline him or nag him about everyday “stuff”, he always thanks God that I am his mother.  That and the fact that he says I’m sweet as pop tarts.

Antonio Mothers Day K

 

It’s THAT Time of Year: A Guest Blogger Helps Ease Parents into the School Year

I’m excited to introduce our readers to our friend, Teddi Fulenwider. I met Teddi through a local running group (many years ago when I still ran more than 10 seconds at a time). After over 30 years of teaching, Teddi decided to step away from the school environment and make a full-time dedication to educating other teachers. She also launched an iPad app that parents can use and customize to help with teaching kids to read, and getting them excited about reading. As an avid reader, I share her excitement about creating an environment that cultivates life-long readers, so I invited her to guest blog today on preparing kids for school. You can learn more about the Read with TedDee app, as well as connect with Teddi through her website at http://www.readwithteddee.com/

I know some of you are thinking what time of year?   Tax time?  Elf on the Shelf time? Diet time?  No, that time of year when parents feel they have not done enough to prepare their child for school – preschool, Kindergarten, doesn’t matter.  I want to tell you – you have!  I can say that.  I have the credentials to say that.  I have been in the education profession for over 30 years.  I have taught Kindergarten.  I have and continue to train teachers.  So again, I can say you have prepared your child for school.

Let me be clear, I am not bashing teachers or teaching at all.  In fact, the opposite, I have the utmost respect for teachers.   After all, I was one, came from a family of teachers and have a daughter and daughter in law who are teachers.  However, the line between the teacher’s job and the parent’s job has become blurred.

I visit with many parents who are upset and overwhelmed because they have been told or have heard from the BFF that their child needs to know all the letters and sounds before they enter school.  They need to know all the numbers and count to 100.  They are led to believe that the child should be able to write his or her name before entering school.  My response is always the same…Sooooooooo what will the teacher be doing once school starts?  Likewise, I have had teachers proudly share with me that they send home packets of ‘stuff’ for children to do over the summer so they are ‘prepared’ when they enter school.   Again, my response is…..Soooooooooo what exactly is YOUR job?

 For children in Texas, many of the skills teachers would like children to have are exactly the skills that are taught that year.   Would it be nice if every child entered school already able to do everything?  Absolutely!  That would be a teacher’s dream child.  You see, it wouldn’t matter what I did as a teacher, that child would be successful.  That leaves time for me, the teacher, to do ‘fun’ stuff that has nothing really to do with learning – enrichment yes.  Per the State of Texas children are not required to leave Kindergarten being able to read a book.  Many do because of what they are exposed to.  But it is NOT a reason to hold a child back or make a parent feel guilty because their child can’t.  Reading is a developmental thing as is most things we learn. (So a little side note – when your BFF shares with you that her child is reading at 9 months, just smile politely and realize that your child is doing something ahead of hers. It’s all developmental.)

kids

So what is YOUR job as the parent?  Your job is to provide experiences for your child, read and talk to your child.   Your job is to increase your child’s oral vocabulary, which in turn increases his or her background knowledge (schema) and in turn enables that child to make connections.

Your job is to use purposeful talk.  Instead of general talk, use specific language. It really is easy!  Here are some examples.

At the grocery store

  • Color words in the produce department
  • Describing words with fruit- rough, smooth, prickly
  • Specific Words – apple, pineapple, lettuce
  • Concept words – sit in the cart, walk beside the basket
  • Math – weight, size

Parking lots – Math concepts

  • How many steps from the car to the door?
  • Which one is farther away?
  • Which one is nearer?
  • Color words – Do you see the red car?
  • Specific words – Jeep, SUV, car, motorcycle, tires, bumper

Playgrounds – besides having fun

  • science words, insects, (everything isn’t a bug!) grass, dirt, soil
  • high, fast, swing
  • position words- on the swing, under the slide, beside the slide
  • Writing with chalk

In addition to reading to your child everyday, purposeful talk is the most important thing we can do as parents to make sure our child is ‘ready’ for school.

And truth be told, your ONLY job to do before sending your child to school is to love your child and hopefully raise a compassionate person.  The actual learnin’ stuff is the job of the teacher.  SO the next time a teacher tells you what all you need to be sure and have your child know before coming to school you have two options.  First, you can smile politely and just say okay, thanks.  Or two, you can say, So, if I teach him or her all of that before I send him or her to you, what exactly will YOU be teaching?  Most of you are probably nicer than I am so my guess is hopefully you will at least do number one.   Promise me you won’t feel guilty and teach it all to your child!

 

Kids on a Plane: Packing Travel Tips

DSC_0613 copy 2
I love traveling.  We probably pack up the kids and head to the beach a dozen times a year.  So, when we planned a trip to my home country of El Salvador that included six hours on a plane each way, I had to make adjustments.  After all, taking a six and two year old on an international flight can either be the greatest experience of their little lives, or a torture chamber in the clouds. Luckily for us, Antonio and Babyzilla had a *mostly* smooth flight from Dallas to El Salvador…Here are some packing travel tips for all of you brave souls who haul your kids around the world.

DSC_9819 copy

Tip #1:  Purchase seating with extra room.

The amount of preparation for this trip was key to avoiding a toddler meltdown. It all started with the purchasing of the tickets. We paid extra money to fly in the larger cabin where we would have slightly more room than regular Economy class which was well worth it.  This proved genius when Babyzilla refused to sit in her own seat and insisted on sitting on our laps.

DSC_9826 copy

Tip #2:  Personalized backpacks with goodies.

Next, I decided to make a special backpack for each child that would contain plenty of goodies, snacks and ways distract them during the long hours in the sky. Everything inside was labeled with each child’s name so there would be no crazy fighting over what was inside.  Here are the contents of each backpack and thanks to the magic of the Dollar Tree and Target, I spent less than $20 on everything!  And don’t be ashamed of carrying iPads, iPhones or other electronic devices.  These can be lifesavers when traveling with a child that can only be calmed down by watching the same movie over and over and over again…

DSC_9802 copy

DSC_9829 copy

Travel5

Travel6

Kid Backpack
– plastic containers
– ziploc bags in two sizes
– crayons
– pens
– coloring books
– sun glasses
– activity books
– stickers
– LED light
 Toddler Backpack
– plastic containers
– ziploc bags in two sizes
– crayons
– pens
– coloring books
– sun glasses
– Elsa magnet dress-up doll
– activity fun purse
– stickers
– LED light

Tip #3:  Headphones.

Tuning out the world can work wonders with toddlers.  Over-stimulation is likely to occur with little ones because a traveling environment is full of people and noises.  And for older kids, headphones provide a way to escape and tune out their younger sibling.  Hehe.

DSC_1171 copy

Tip #4:  Blankets.

Blankets not only help keep your child warm on those freezing airplanes, but also provide something soothing, familiar and comforting from home.  Whether you are riding on a plane or on a long car ride, blankets will make your child’s trip more comfortable on a bumpy ride.  You can use a blanket as a pillow, barrier between siblings, or shade to block out the sun.

Tip #5:  Dress in comfortable clothes.

Before I had kids, I used to think Crocs were the ugliest shoes in the world.  Now, I think they’re genius!  Comfortable, slip-on shoes that kids can take off easily is a must when traveling.  Next, dress kids in loose layers.  My kids get hot easily so they always have to have short sleeves on underneath.

DSC_0560 copy

So, there you have it.  Babyzilla refused to sleep one wink during the whole trip but thanks to our travel activity packs, she was entertained.  And no one pooped their pants during the airplane ride which may or may not have happened a couple of years ago on a trip to Cancun.

Do you travel with your kids?  What tips can you share?

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Back to School Clothes for Kids

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (1)

Happy Back to School Day!  Today, I want to share with you my favorite place to shop for kid’s clothes where you get the most return for your investment.  I head to Gap Kids for my back to school shopping needs.  As you moms out there know, it feels like you have to buy clothes for your kids every couple of months which means you have to be smart about where you spend your money.

Cost. Gap Kids always has clothes on sale or clearance and their selection is great for elementary school aged kids. My son started second grade today (Wow!) and nearly every piece of clothing I bought for him came from our local Gap Kids outlet store. Shirts, shorts, pants, underwear, socks and jeans all came with a discounted price.

Style. My son is not picky about what he wears and I pick out is clothes 99% of the time (Fridays are Minecraft t-shirt day).  I know this luxury won’t last much longer but for now, I keep it simple. Gap Kids boy’s clothes range from preppy, to laid back, to sporty so there is a wide selection for every kind of kid preference.

Comfort & Durability. Did you know that Gap Kids come in slim, regular or husky sizes?  Perfect for any size kid.  And, their clothes are really well made to stand up to rough play in the playground.  The t-shirts are 100% cotton and super soft.  I’ve been known to try and squeeze into one of my son’s shirts.

Here’s my very proud 2nd Grader sporting the latest sales and clearance items from Gap Kids sprinkled with other pieces from Carter’s and Polo Kids!

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (2)

DSC_2513 copy

DSC_2527 copy

DSC_2521 copy

3NBGreen

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (4)

DSC_2545 copy

DSC_2595 copy1

DSC_2613 copy

Here’s the Gap hiker shorts in a different color, worn three different ways…

3NB kid fashion

Where do you take your kids for Back to School shopping??  Share your shopping adventures with us below on our comments section!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig