Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stay At Home Mom: Identity loss?

Since the birth of our baby girl, we'll call her Joybird, my husband and I decided that I would be a Stay At Home Mom. I quickly learned the lingo, so we'll refer to me as a SAHM from this point on. My mom was a SAHM until I went to school, my husband's mom was a SAHM with her three children, and that's what I wanted and WANT to be as well. Before I was a SAHM I was a kindergarten teacher. What a fulfilling job. In fact, I'd been a teacher since 2006. I graduated with a bachelor's in Elementary Education in 2006 AND a master's in Reading Education in 2010. I love the kids, the work, the fulfillment of giving back and molding little brains and hearts into productive young members of society from an early age. I got a new batch every year and it was my job to impart wisdom, academics, and morals into these little sponges. Was it trying at times? Of course! But, overall, I felt I was pretty much born to be a teacher. I loved them, they loved me, and I loved my work. Then, our little Joybird came. I KNEW that I wanted to be a SAHM. I wanted to give her what my mom gave me. I want to be the one to teach her at an early age, I want to be the one to see every single milestone and not miss a single one, and I want to be the one that would never have to look back and regret missing something. It is my understanding that you can't get that time back with your child and, by golly, if I can't get it back, I don't want to lose it in the first place! With that said, I absolutely LOVE being home with our little Joybird. Naturally, she's the joy of my life. So many cheesy song lyrics and witty sayings come to mind when I think of her and how much I've fallen in love with her since before birth. My husband and I have had to make sacrifices for me to be a SAHM, I won't lie. We don't get to spend willy nilly on things like we used to. If I see that cute shirt at Target, I ask the dreaded question, "Do I NEED it?" I would say 99% of the time I responsibly reply, "No." But I don't mind. I don't mind because I know that I'm pushing my wants aside for what I want for our child. Back to the topic at hand...

Identity loss.

Little Joybird is 6 months old today. Happy half birthday! We've been taking half birthday pics off and on all day. When would I have time to do that if I were teaching? Just another little reminder that we made the right decision. Lately, though, I've experienced something that other SAHM may have experienced after being in the work force for so long and then taking the role of SAHM. Identity loss. If you love what you do in the workforce, I think you're naturally going to feel successful. I felt proud of my students and, therefore, proud of myself when I was a teacher. I felt successful. I felt like I was making a noticeable contribution to society as a whole. Now that I attend to one little person (2 really since I babysit a 1 year old full time), I don't feel that success. I don't feel like I'm giving back to society. I don't feel like I'm contributing as much as I should be or want to be. But that's crazy, right? I would not want to be anywhere else but taking care of my own child, so how can I simultaneously feel like I'm "nothing"? I KNOW I'm "something" to our little Joybird. I KNOW I'm "something" to my husband. I KNOW I'm "something" to my family. So how can I feel like I'm "nothing" when I KNOW I'm "something"? Somebody please back me up here.

Identity loss. I feel as if my identity was embedded in my career as a teacher. I've been calling myself a teacher for 7 years! When you're no longer something you've identified yourself with for so long, you feel a sense of loss. That's the best way to explain it. Althought I've GAINED the position of being a SAHM to my little Joybird, I've LOST my identity as a teacher. I've picked and pecked and prodded around different things, seeing if anything would spark my interest in the way of "work". I started this blog and was all gung-ho for about 2 weeks. That fizzled out because I couldn't get any "traffic". I started an Etsy shop because I love to be creative and make things. That fizzled out because I wasn't seeing results. I thought about writing a children's novel based on some of my own childhood experiences. That task seems daunting, but it's not completely off the table. I started a little Instragram shop. Still on that, but it's only been a couple weeks. I like that one because it's low maintenance and if it bombs, I didn't lose anything out of pocket. I haven't mentioned everything that I've looked into, started, and stopped. There's too many to list. With any and all of them, I'm just not feeling the spark of success. Not tooting my own horn, but I do a pretty outstanding job with our little Joybird and the 1 year old I babysit. I spend quality one on one time with both and I currently teach the 1 year old sign language. I feel pretty successful with that, but there's still something in me that says you can do more.

If you're struggling with something similar, you're not alone. Even though it seems like the internet is chock full of mommy blogs showing off DIY projects, new recipes they've somehow had the time to shop for, prepare, cook, and clean up after, insights into the latest trends of handstamped leggings paired with a slouchy crew sweat shirt and handmade metallic moccs (can't forget the accessories!), and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I promise you, not every SAHM is out there making it look like a walk in the park. There's a SAHM right here who is still trying to figure this whole thing out, who wants to be successful at something outside of being a wonderful momma, and who understands the feeling of wanting to do MORE but not knowing WHAT. If I DO end up figuring this whole business out and feeling like I've found a new identity, I'll be sure to post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Partner with another stay at home mom

I am turning a monthly expense for my family into a paycheck. If I told you that brushing your teeth, washing your hair, and doing the laundry could earn you a paycheck, wouldn’t you want to hear more? I am looking for people with an entrepreneurial spirit that I can partner up with and work together! We DON’T sell products We DON’T have home parties We DON’T pass out catalogs We DON’T take orders We DON’T bug our family and friends We DO run our own business using the Internet We DO have the flexibility we need as busy Moms and Dads We DO work for ourselves, but NOT by ourselves Partner with me, a stay at home mom of 3 and visit my website at and click on Get Free Info Now! I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Finding the balance as a stepmom

Being a stepmom is one of the toughest jobs in the family. Let me rephrase that. Being a WONDERFUL stepmom is one of the toughest, if not THE toughest jobs in the family. There are millions of articles and information about gaining the respect, love, and adoration of the child or children involved. But I can't seem to find one bit of information for the stepmom who has all of that already and just needs some advice or help with balancing things in the household when you don't have the title of "mom". I am a stepmom of two wonderful children. They are respectful, well mannered, easy to deal with as far as getting ready for school, getting to bed, etc. so what's the big deal? Sounds like I've got it made (you'll see that I really do, but I cause myself undue stress). Here's my boat (maybe you're in it with me): I am a teacher and I know that's where my "everything has a rule and we have schedules to follow in order to get everything accomplished and we have to eat this and don't touch that," comes from. The difference between being a stepmom and being the bio mom is huge. On one hand, you have this grand idea of how you want things ran in your house. You know you don't want the kids eating junk food and playing video games 24/7. You know you want them to wash their hands before and after they eat and use the restroom. You know you want them to keep their academics up and you know you want to teach them the importance of chores, helping out the family, and earning/saving/spending allowance. So the problem lies in that you want all of these things to be controlled so it all gets done, until everything is so controlled that you are not the fun stepmom anymore. You're the nitpicky, don't want to lose control, I didn't raise these children from birth but have to pack in all of my teachings I would have taught them from birth, kind of stepmom. They still love you, but despite trying your hardest to stay one step ahead and implementing everything you find on Pinterest to make your life easier, the reality is that it opens up an ocean of stress. So it's you, in your boat, in an ocean of stress. The ironic thing is that when you finally realize that all those things you thought kept you in control of your house are actually the very things that are stressing you out, you stress about putting it all aside and relaxing. I hope there is someone out there who can relate. I stress about not stressing. I stress about the fact that I may be able to relax. I think it is due to me not feeling comfortable loosening the reigns for fear of getting bucked off. So my husband, the children's father, gave me one rule to follow (he knows I live on rules). Just love them. What?!?!? I thought I had been doing that all along! Just love them. What could that mean? He explained it so eloquently, as he always does. It means that if your love them you're not going to let them play video games for 6 hours straight. You don't need e-tickets (yes, I've tried that). You just need to say, "listen, play for 45 minutes or so and then find something else to do." All of my efforts to make things easier and more structured for me and the kids, was more of a pain and a stressor than it was ever supposed to be. If you love them,you're not going to let them trash the house. You don't need an uh-oh box (yes, guilty again). You just need to say, "pick up your mess." These little things that were supposed to make my life easier and teach the kids lessons on cleaning up and moderation with electronics have certainly accomplished something. They have sucked the fun right out of their stepmom. So, because I've relied on these things and all of my other grand ideas to help run my house the way I thought it should be ran, I've developed this fear of just letting go. Let it go. Another one of my husbands brilliant mantras. Just let it go! Is it really imperative that our daughter cleans her room before watching a movie, before going for a bike ride, before having a snack, AND before getting in the shower??!! OR can I simply say, "If you pick up little by little throughout the day you won't have so much to clean up before bed." Then, if she doesn't and has a huge mess to clean up before bed, she might be able to learn something on her own and make a better choice tomorrow? I think yes. For those that need to be in control all the time for fear of losing control, these are the scariest three words: Let it go. I just had this conversation with my husband last night and have yet to give it a go, but I know when I do it will first stress me out beyond belief, as change is known to do. Then, hopefully, I will be able to relax after seeing that the house will not crumble around me. Fear of the unknown. It's a real thing even in the case of being a stepmom.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Morning Checklist

Picture this: the mom in sweatpants, hair pulled back in a pony, looking quite disheveled, the kids bickering back and forth, maybe they have their lunch box, backpacks mostly unzipped, shoes untied, mismatching socks, rushing through the car line at 7:59 when school starts at 8:00.  Sound familiar?

Believe it or not, this is NOT what our mornings look like!  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  How did we get these (mostly) perfect angel children that get ready (mostly) by themselves and are ready to walk out the door and get to school at 7:30? It's the magic of a "Morning Checklist".

The morning checklist consists of the following:

  1. Make bed and turn off all lights.
  2. Eat breakfast.
  3. Clean breakfast dishes and use wipe to clean breakfast area. (This prevents the familiar dried and crusted milk at the bar)
  4. Wash hands and brush teeth for two minutes.
  5. Clean bathroom mess.
  6. Get fully dressed.
  7. Brush hair and set out hair accessories if needed (for our 9 year old girl).
  8. Get lunchbox (which is packed by mom and I'll address tips and ideas for a healthy lunch in future posts).
  9. Make sure room is clean and PJ's are folded.
  10. If you have extra time, read a book.

It sounds like a lot, but believe me, this is a LIFESAVER for everyone.  Not only do they know what's expected of them each day, but the parents don't end up screaming and rushed out the door.  Everyone gets a calm start to the day, which can make all the difference in the world.  Now, I may have to remind them once or twice to follow the checklist, but for the most part I am able to get up and ready at the same time they are without having to stand over their shoulders making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  It's helpful to have it printed out for them to actually have a visual aid.  In the future, I plan on laminating each child's checklist, putting Velcro dots beside each number, laminating check marks and putting Velcro on the back of each, and letting them actually "check" each item they've completed on the list.  This will help to ensure they don't miss anything and start their day off with an excellent sense of accomplishment.  Besides, what child doesn't love to see a whole slew of check marks?!?!

The Unplugged Child

Before I became a Stay At Home Mom, I was a kindergarten teacher.  All my life I have heard the words, "Go do something productive." Productive included so many things, but mostly arts and crafts for me.  As a teacher, I see many children that are completely plugged in to everything electronic and they just can't seem to grasp the idea of creative and interactive play.  With that said, we set a 30 minute time limit each school day for electronics (which include tv/movies/iPod/Nook/video games).  On the weekends and school breaks, there are no electronics past 10 AM.  That's a pretty good chunk of time seeing as our kids get up between 7 and 8 on these days.  Our school-aged children, 7 and 9, have adjusted to the 30 minute time limit (with occasional sighs and pleas), but often need a jumpstart as to what to do once they've been "unplugged".  I've come up with a printable list of activities that are available in our home that the children can do.  I printed off the list and hung it in each child's room on brightly colored paper.  This way, they can't ever say they have nothing to do! Ingenius, huh?  Use this idea with what's available in your home and help your kids BE kids! 

What can I do when my electronics time is up?


Doodle book

Boogie Board Drawing Tablet

Legos and Lego Friends

Play restaurant

Play Ping Pong

Play Air Hockey

Read a book

Drive your remote controlled car

Listen to music

Make a craft

Play with Star Wars Figures

Write and make a book

Put a puzzle together

Play with Spy Gear

Draw a picture

Play a board game

Play Angry Birds Jenga

Play tic-tac-toe

The Crafty Momma: Birthday Calendar

So, I made an AMAZING project for my sister-in-law for Christmas.  I found the idea on Pinterest (like most of my ideas).  I looked for the perfect one, but tweaked it a little to make it my own.  The following is needed to make the Family Birthday Calendar:

7/8" Black Grosgrain Ribbon
Black Grosgrain Ribbon 7/8" at Hobby Lobby for $3.99

6" x 18"  Wood Plaque
Wood Plaque from Hobby Lobby ON SALE for $5.99
Wood Circles
Wood Circles from Hobby Lobby ON SALE for $2.24

2-ounce Liquid Stitch
 Liquid Stitch from Hobby Lobby for $4.99
Black and white scrapbook alphabet stickers, 2 sheets
Paint colors of your choice (usually $1 each or so from Hobby Lobby)
Small Paintbrush
A printout of the word "birthdays" as large as you want it (to use as a stencil)
So now you can begin:
  1. Get your wood plaque and paint it the base color.  My base color was tan.
  2. Then, get your wood circles (only the large ones) and paint them the same base color and one other color.  My other color was white.
  3. Paint the trim around the wood plaque to match your ribbon.  My trim and ribbon color was black.
  4. I used a font called Special Elite that I found online.  I enlarged it to about 200 pt. and printed out the word "birthdays".  It took two pieces of paper, which I cut and taped together. 
  5. I found this great technique for painting letters if you don't have a stencil.  Check out the tutorial over at That's My Letter.  You won't regret it and soon you'll be personalizing everything wooden in your house!
  6. After I painted the word "birthdays" in black and let everything dry, I began placing the alphabet stickers vertically from left to right in the order of the months.  Be careful with the spacing.  I did abbreviations for January, June, July, and December first so that I would know how to correctly space the other months.  To make it uniform I used the following abbreviations: jan, feb, mar, apr, may, jun, jul, aug, sep, oct, nov, dec.  I know some of these aren't the correct way, but it looked much better to have 3 letters for each month.
  7. After placing the stickers, I could start on the ribbon.  On the underside of the wood plaque, I hung 12 strands of ribbon (1 under each month).  Each ribbon was about 15 inches long to give room for more birthdays.
  8. Because I wasn't sure how many birthdays my sister-in-law would need for each month, I did not glue any wooden circles on the ribbons.  I gave her all the painted wooden circles and told her to add them to the ribbons as needed.  I gave her a fine tip Sharpie pen to write the names and dates on each wooden circle. 
This was such a wonderful (and rather inexpensive) gift, that I think I am going to make one for each family I know when their birthday comes around.  It's practical, functional, decorative, and an all around fun way to remember all those birthdays!
Post a comment and let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Crafty Momma

Before I was a Momma, I was crafty. This pretty much started as soon as I could use scissors, glue, and paper. This love for art and crafts has followed me through adulthood as I continue to make crafts (albeit a little better than the ones from childhood). Not only do I love making crafts, I love finding new crafts to create. I like to take on new projects, sometimes too many. However, I've surprised myself at times with how wonderful some of my projects have turned out.

Now that I am a Momma, crafting has taken on a whole new meaning. I want to create everything I can for our new baby girl. Thanks to Pinterest, I've been inspired to make headband holders out of oatmeal containers, wall decals out of scrapbook paper, and I've painted quotes on canvases embellished with fabric flowers.

Check this page frequently for photos of my own crafts, as well as links to creative ideas for the happy crafter in you!