I Can’t Breathe – How Do I A Black Mother Find the Words

I can’t breathe.

I’m sick to my stomach.

My heart hurts.

I can’t breathe because I get choked up every time I think about it. I can’t breathe because I’m suffocating under the weight of it all. Not again. How do I, a mother, a BLACK mother find the words, the breath? How do I find a way to tell my beautiful brown girl that another beautiful brown girl won’t be seeing her dad again. That the very same people who are sworn to protect us are the ones who took that little girl’s daddy’s breath away?

I find the breath, the words, I find the strength to share that yet another person of color has been subject to the hate that continues to take our breath away. 

I’m sick to my stomach over those who would turn a peaceful stand in solidarity with the Floyd family into a violent, angry display that further divides us. This divides us at a time when we are already so isolated. I’m sick of the racial divide that continues to threaten the open, judgment-free mindset in which I choose to raise my daughter.

My heart hurts for this loss, like a mama that lost her son too soon.

We are a sisterhood of mamas, and I think we collectively feel the pain. My heart hurts like there is a part of us missing that we can never get back.  My heart hurts for the girl who won’t get to say “Happy Father’s Day”  to her dad. My heart hurts for a society so frustrated that they feel that violence is their only recourse. 

The tragic death of George Floyd is outrageous and deplorable to many of us. Not only because of its heinously violent nature or because it came at the hands of the very people who are charged to protect us, but because it’s not the first time. Over and over again, I’ve had to look on in disgust at the senseless violence that has fallen on so many young people and raise my girl to feel confident when going out into the world, even if it’s cautious confidence. I’ve had to keep that confidence and faith myself. Unfortunately, I’ve also had to talk to my 16-year old nephew about the real and present danger that exists in the world simply because of his gender and the color of his skin.

I’ve had to teach them both that not everyone handles tragic situations in the most constructive way.

For those so frustrated by the events of May 25 that you feel the need to turn to violence, please remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

The only way to make this situation better, to effect change is to be the change ourselves. If you feel the need to cry, cry. If you feel the need to scream, scream. If you want to hold those you love close to you, give them the biggest hug possible. And if you want to see change, demand it from some members of our police departments and our governments and foster it in ourselves and our loved ones

Be the change you want to see in the world. 

And breathe.

It’s Time to Get Uncomfortable and Show Up for People of Color

It’s Time to Get Uncomfortable and Show Up for People of Color

Last month, I read an article by Tiphani Moorer, called, “Dear White People, Why now?

It made me uncomfortable. It made me realize that I am watching and sitting on the sidelines with what is socially unjust. Reducing people to hashtags and statistics. Using the language of “us” versus “them.” It distances me from the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I realize that it’s time to stand together in solidarity. It’s not a matter of using the rhetoric of “us versus them.” It’s “we.”

We see you. We support you. I see you. I support you. It’s time to be part of the solution. It’s time to show up for people of color. Let’s help end racism.

As Tiphani poses the question,

“Do you want to be a part of the problem or part of the solution? Because we are TIRED and YOU can help!”

It’s time to get uncomfortable

It’s time for us to stand up and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. As I sit here and write these words, I think about how my message will be received. I am uncomfortable. For me, one of the things that I’ve found myself experiencing the past several months is the desire to help, but being afraid to step in and offer that help.

It’s kind of like being in elementary school all over again and seeing kids fighting on the playground and watching from the distance. Knowing you have the power to stop it but being afraid of what others will think. Being a bystander.

To those who feel like they’ve been marginalized, I’m here for you. I want to support you. I’m holding myself accountable to taking action that will help end racism and violence against people of color.

Anyone else feeling uncomfortable reading these words right now? I’m scared to share these feelings and thoughts. But…I know if we don’t start talking about what scares us and makes us uncomfortable, there will be no change. Having open conversations and being vulnerable, is a place to start. We can be part of the solution and not the problem.

It’s time to show up for people of color.

Ways to Show Up for People of Color

From my research, I know that there are several things that we can do to support others, to help end racism, and end violence against people of color.

  • Vow to speak up and use my voice when I see someone saying something or doing something that harms others.
  • Advocate for and engage in discussions about race and privilege. My life has been impacted by white privilege. It feels dirty to say, white privilege, but it’s true. Because of the color of my skin, different opportunities have been afforded to me.
  • Teach and reinforce others who are bringing about change in the public arena.
  • Be proactive in our parenting approaches and model the inclusivity and diversity with our children.
  • Advocate for public policy that addresses these inequities that those have been marginalized.
  • Read books to our children about race and diversity. Here’s one of my go-to places for children’s books.
  • Choose to do one of the things listed here today to take a stand against racial injustice. 75 things white people can do for racial justice: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234

This is the Start of the Conversation

By no means is this the end of the conversation, I hope, this is a step in the right direction.

To my fellow moms who are reading this right now, especially the white moms, I hope this makes you uncomfortable. I hope this stirred some sort of emotion in you. I hope that we can join together in our support of others.

To those who have experienced racism, thank you for being brave enough to voice your feelings and not be silenced.

I’m not standing off in the corner on the playground anymore. Even if it makes me feel scared and uncomfortable, I’m coming to stand with you and support you.

We see you. It’s time for us all to be part of the solution and show up.

Tiphani, thank you for asking this question.

It’s Not That I Can’t Handle It, It’s Postnatal Depletion

I recently had a baby born during this COVID-19 crisis. While labor and delivery are challenging the real reality set in once we were home. At home, we are a family of five with a fur baby too. My husband and I have a five-year-old, three-year-old, and a newborn. Having children so little is challenging but parenting during a pandemic doesn’t have a handbook and sometimes it’s overwhelming. Little did I know that postnatal depletion would set in.

First, let me say that I’ve been incredibly blessed to have a spouse that is truly my partner in everything. He picks up the slack when “I just can’t”. He listens to me in my postpartum mood swings. But, the postpartum hormones, weight, breastfeeding, and so much more are all my own.

I started this blog post writing about parenting in a pandemic and how I was multitasking and failing at everything. That’s when I saw a Facebook friend post an article about Postnatal Depletion. It rang so true to me and made me change my perspective. It was an excerpt from a book, The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach.

I began reading about three factors of postnatal depletion

  1. Depletion of nutrients

Essentially, the toll pregnancy, then labor and delivery and followed by breastfeeding (if that’s your choice) take on you. Not to mention, making healthy nutritious food or even eating at all is difficult.

2. Exhaustion

You know the constant feedings, diaper changes, and an inconsistent sleep cycle of the newborn stage.

3. Social Isolation

No doubt so many people are experiencing social isolation due to the pandemic. But, for moms who rely on a village to help raise our children, this has only been exacerbated right now.

Different levels and severity

This isn’t a one size fits all, the author discusses how there are levels, a spectrum from mild to severe for this syndrome. These are the main contributing factors to that level of severity.

  1. Stress Factors

Modern motherhood is no joke. The expectation of mothers is that we can do it all. Working, motherhood, friendships, marriage or partnership, family, and maintaining all of that flawlessly. With the newborn stage, it’s a constant need 24/7 of changing diapers, feedings, and sleep deprivation. Then if you have other children besides your newborn, take that into account.

Physical stress factors, I mean obviously, your body has just undergone a miraculous event. Growing a Human! The physical toll that it takes on our bodies is enormous and we don’t take the time to truly let ourselves heal.

2. Social Factors

Everyone is excited asking how the new baby is, but we need to focus on mom too. At your follow-up doctor visits, you’ll be screened for postpartum depression but that’s very different from postnatal depletion. Postpartum depression is its own condition but a rather differentiating factor is the “inability to find joy or pleasure from something that previously gave joy or pleasure”. Postnatal depletion does not include this.

Others experience social judgment from those in their inner circle. If the baby isn’t gaining weight, you’re not breastfeeding right. Have you tried, “insert unsolicited advice here.” Some well-intentioned, others meant as judgment for how you should care for your newborn.

3. Predisposing Physical Factors, Primarily Inflammation

If you had a predisposing condition before, it can be exacerbated by pregnancy and childbirth. Whether that’s age, a thyroid condition, or something else. Inflammation begets inflammation. When it comes to postnatal health gut health is at the forefront because of inflammations that can happen.

When you add the stress of motherhood and the ability to only grab quick bites of food it can lead to physical sickness.

4. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors including pollution, food toxins, etc. We are very aware of these during pregnancy because we are prohibited from eating certain foods that could expose our growing child to these negative effects. Our bodies trying to eliminate certain toxins is tasking on our bodies and requires a lot of effort. The more toxins, the more inflammation, the longer the recovery time.

Ultimately, this brief synopsis of the book, made me realize that what I’m feeling is real. It’s not simply failing at motherhood, it’s being depleted from the resources that help me to function.

My hope is that learning to take time for true self-care and getting rid of the idea of balancing it all will help me to cope. I also realize that my village will return once we can get through this pandemic. But until then, I hope other moms know that you aren’t failing, you aren’t alone, your feelings and what you’re going through is what many of us are going through. It’s a beautiful and exhausting season of life.

 

The Day I Realized My Stranger Danger Message Hadn’t Hit Home

I always tell my children not to speak to strangers. I say it a lot and I say it loud. But apparently it’s like most of what I say—in one ear and out the other. I realized one quarantined day in May that my stranger danger message hadn’t hit home.

My girls, who are six and eight years old, have been riding their bikes and walking around the block quite a bit. It’s a big block, about half a mile, and usually, takes them about 10 minutes to walk around.

This one day, in May, it took the girls a bit longer. I wasn’t really worried, they probably stopped to pick flowers or pet a dog or something.

I’m at the dining room table working when the girls bust into the house.

My six-year-old, Lexi, is the first one to speak.

“Hey, Mom! Wanna know why it took us so long to get around the block?”

“Sure Lex,” I say, barely glancing up from my computer.

“Some guy in a big truck stopped and asked me and Audrey if we would help him find water for this snapping animal he found!”

I jumped up from the table…

“WHAT?!?”

Yes. It turns out some strange man in a large truck asked Lexi to hold onto a weird animal that snaps, while he asked Audrey where he could find a body of water to place it in.

AND MY GIRLS HELPED HIM!

I started screaming weird, bad words at my daughters.

I was stunned! But, I could not believe my daughters, my really intelligent daughters, would be stupid enough to help some strange man, IN A TRUCK, with a weird animal that SNAPS!

I didn’t know where to begin with the obscenities, questions, and accusations.

I’ll spare you the obscenities… But here are the stranger danger questions and accusations, in no particular order:

  • Did you know the man?
  • Had you seen him before?
  • Didn’t you think it was weird for a grown man to ask you to hold a strange animal?
  • Didn’t you think this grown man was capable of finding a body of water on his own?
  • Did he give you anything?
  • Did he ask your names or where you lived?
  • The weird snapping animal did it hurt you?
  • Did anyone see you talking with this man?

Then, I demonstrated how easy it would have been for some strange man to grab my tiny 43lb daughter and throw her in the back of his truck.

I sat the girls down, something I HAD done before, and explained to them exactly what they do if some stranger talks to them or asks them for help.

You RUN.

I told them it might seem rude to ignore an adult, but any GOOD adult would know it’s not appropriate to ask two little girls for help.

I think I scared them.

But, I don’t care.

I really pray I got the message across loud and clear this time. But, I guess I didn’t realize how often this message had to be reiterated and not just in a cavalier manner.

I will, from now on, at LEAST once a month, sit my girls down, and have a serious talk with them about stranger danger.

And, every time they go around the block I remind them not to talk to strangers…stranger danger. And not to hold weird snapping animals.

Every time.

15 Fun Summer Activities While Social Distancing During a Pandemic

School is almost out and I know parents are counting down the final days. It’s been a crazy time with virtual learning and lockdowns. Many parents are already searching for the best activities for their kids. Even though social distancing is still required, summer is not ruined. This is a great opportunity to create wonderful memories as a family. Here are 15 fun summer activities while social distancing during a pandemic. These ideas are simple but will keep the kids busy and entertained. 

Bike Rides. 

Go for a fun bike ride with the family this summer. Take advantage of the nice weather and explore your neighborhood or a bike trail. This is a great way to have fun while social distancing with the family. Don’t forget to bring water and wear your helmet!

Make Ice Cream. 

My family LOVES ice cream! We definitely had our freezer stocked with different flavors during the quarantine. Nothing screams summer like ice cream on a hot day, especially in Florida. Making your own frozen treat is a fun activity for everyone. Check out this guide on creating homemade vanilla ice cream. You can also make this vanilla ice cream in a bag. 

Backyard Camping. 

Set up a tent in the backyard and spend the night sharing scary stories or singing silly songs. Summer is the best time to enjoy the outdoors at night. Camping out in the backyard is the perfect way to enjoy social distancing while having fun. 

Science Experiments. 

Kids can continue learning throughout the summer by having fun with these awesome science experiments

Kids playing at the beachVisit the Beach. 

The beaches have finally opened back up in Florida. Pack a lunch and take the family on a nice day trip. Make sure to follow all the new guidelines while you’re at the beach. 

Blow Bubbles. 

Who doesn’t love bubbles?! This is a great summer activity. You can order a bubble machine or get bottles of bubbles. My boys love running through bubbles or trying to catch them. You can also purchase a fly swatter to make different size bubbles for the kids. Just pour a large bottle of bubbles in a shallow dish then use the fly swatter as a wand. 

Fly a Kite. 

Find a nice empty field or use your backyard to run and fly a kite. You can purchase a cheap one from the store or make one with the kids for this fun summer activity. 

Build a Backyard Obstacle Course.

Use cones, hula hoops, pool noodles, jump ropes, wood, and other materials from around the house to set up an obstacle course in your backyard. You can host a competition with fun prizes for the winners. Check out videos on Youtube for inspiration.

Learn how to Cook.

Spend this summer teaching your kids how to cook. Choose their favorite meal and make it at home. 

Have a Scavenger Hunt.

My oldest loves scavenger hunts. He enjoys searching for items especially if you give him a time limit. You can set up a scavenger hunt for the kids indoors or outdoors. Make it adventurous by going to the park or the beach. Check out these printables for inspiration. 

Water Balloon Fight.

One of the best ways to cool down during the summer is to have a water balloon fight. Fill some buckets with water balloons and have fun. 

Host a Fashion Show.

Grab some clothes out of the closet and have fun! Play some music as you walk down the runway. You can set up chairs with stuffed animals for the audience. 

Backyard Beach Party.

Not ready to visit the beach? No problem! Create one in your backyard. Get two inflatable swimming pools from the store and fill one with sand and other with water. Have a small cooler with drinks and snacks nearby. You can also have beach balls, frisbee or other items you normally carry to the beach. Set up a few beach chairs and relax while the kids splash around. 

Create Crafts.

We are definitely making fun crafts this summer. It doesn’t have to be structured. Set up a crafting station and let your kids use their imagination to create cool things. Many stores are offering curbside pickup if you want to avoid going inside. If you need some ideas, check out my Pinterest board. 

Have Food Challenges.

You can either have a food eating contest or have a blind taste test challenge. Have fun and get creative. Check out this guide for ideas.featured image for 15 summer activities while social distancing

What My Children Know About The Loss of a Loved One

My father passed away 11 years ago this month. I was with him and watched him take his very last breath. He was my hero, my rock, my biggest source of support and love, and losing him was devastating. To be with someone in the moment of time that they exit this life is as precious as it is to witness the birth and human beings entrance into life. I am not a religious person, but I am very spiritual, and I always wondered how I’d talk to my children about spiritual things, or God, or death and dying. My dad passed well before my children came to be, but in his loss and my openness of grief and what I believe, I think I’ve done a beautiful job shaping what my children know about the loss of a loved one.

We Talk About Grampa A Lot

My adorable Daddy.

My dad was a big guy, both physically and in his presence and impact on this earth. He was a two-tour Vietnam Vet, worked with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and was a police officer as well. I loved his heart for service. He also loved to cook and barbecue and was a foodie before I think that term even existed.

We have always talked about my dad in our family. My husband never knew him but being a military veteran as well, there’s an understanding of who my dad was just by virtue of that. My in-laws live nearby and we celebrate holidays with his recipes and stories, and his spirit is alive and well with us all. That’s how my children have come to know him, though never in person, they know who he was and most certainly how loved he was by me.

I Am an Open Book and I Grieve and Cry in Front of Them

There are times that I miss him so much it still hurts. I think it always will, though somehow you get to know what life is like without them, and the pain changes. That journey of grief and healing is nothing short of intense.

There are times that I just want to talk to him, ask him a question, have him be here for things with the kids, and it is HARD. I don’t hide my grief or my sadness, I cry and I share it with my kids. I tell them how much I miss their Grampa. They’re both so sweet, they’ll usually bring me one of their stuffed animals, or pat my arm or back. I let them into my sadness. And I think that has helped them see that it is normal; that we can miss our dear ones so much and that we can cry and move through it. Usually, we end up talking about him, but sometimes, it’s just the sadness that’s there.

I think this is such an important gift for them to see. It was hard at first to allow myself the space to be, thinking that maybe I’d “mess them up” by seeing me in such a mess of tears. But it’s been just the opposite; they’ve seen it as normal and ok. And hopefully, when they experience the loss of someone important to them, they’ll know that it’s ok to feel all those big feelings they’ve seen Mama have, and can make room for that in themselves. This is what my children know about the loss of a loved one.

My Sign From My Dad Is 444

I saw 4:44 yesterday, on Mother’s Day, and caught it.

Not long after my dad passed away, I had the most vivid dream of him. We were in what felt like a house, though its colors were sky blue and white like the clouds. There were four walls, and there were power outlets on each wall. My father was pointing to them and he was saying, “Dawn, there are 4 of them, see? Four.” And then he stomped his foot, and said “4 – 444!” as he pointed. I remember being like, ok, Dad, I got it; he was so emphatic about it!

I awoke feeling so connected to his presence and his message from the other side. And from that moment forward, I started to see messages of 444 in different ways; sometimes on the clock as 4:44, other times in phone numbers on a sign as I drive by, receipts with savings of $44.44. I do my best to stop or slow down in those moments and breathe it in. I ask him what he wants me to hear and I listen. Or sometimes, I cry, feeling his message from the other side, grateful.

As my children got older and I’d see this message, I’d share with the kids, “444! Grampa’s saying hi!” At first they asked “What do you mean?” I explained the dream, and that I believe our loved ones are still with us and sometimes they try and connect with us. And that if we’re open to it, we’ll see or feel it.

And now, they always say back, “Hi Grampa!!!” I can’t tell you how much this warms my heart and fills my soul. Sometimes, my daughter will say, out of the blue, “Mommy, 444.” And I swear it’s him speaking through her. There is no doubt in my mind that their souls knew each other before they arrived here on earth, but the fact that they’ll never be able to physically be with each other in this lifetime still makes my heart ache.

What This Has Taught My Children About Losing a Loved One

Author Unknown

What my children know about the loss of a loved one, is that it’s an inevitable part of life. And that being sad and grieving the loss of them is normal. I believe they know that even though they are gone from our physical lives, they are still with us. They believe with me, that their souls live on, in the sparkles of the sun on the water, in the magical twinkle of the trees blowing in the wind, in the signs we receive, and the love and memories in our hearts.

The Hardships of Mom Guilt

Hello Beautiful! Yes, I am talking about you!

The mom who struggles with the hardships of mom guilt. A mom who never takes time for herself, but when she does feels guilty. The mom who orders out way too much, because she is exhausted or is rushing home from work and then feels guilty. Sound familiar? I know all too much about mom guilt and I am here to help you overcome the hardships associated with it.

Balance & Mom Guilt

First and foremost, if you have followed me and my articles then you already know I have a toddler with Autism. My son is everything to me and the struggles affiliated with Autism are debilitating at times. Then add some sprinkles on top of toddler tantrums and stubbornness and you have our life.

I find myself more often than not, struggling with mom guilt as I work full time and have a nanny. I have to delegate a handful of things during the day and I try my best to catch up in the evening. However, I feel guilty because I am working and I haven’t won the lottery, so I need to work. I cry at night a lot because I wonder if I did enough that day with my son. Not only am I a working mom (No I am not on the TV series), but I am a wife as well.

Balancing it all is very tough and I have learned, I may be Superwoman but I can’t be in ten places at once. I try to find a balance of cooking dinner, playing with my son and I dedicate the weekends to spending time with my family. If I can prep meals ahead I do and I try to find things that make my life easier. Finding some balance, may help you not feel so bad when mom guilt strikes again!

Your Mindset

I am a naturally anxious person, so worrying is an all-time unchosen hobby of mine. There are times I have spent countless hours worrying about things I have no control over. I have learned to just be present in the moment. If you are anything like most moms, you already have your mental checklist of things that you are worried about or that are concerning you. If one of those things on your list is ” Am I a good mom”? then you need to check that off. Bad moms usually don’t care whether they are bad or not.

My advice to you is to be present about your feelings and validate them. If you feel guilty, because you didn’t spend enough time with your kids, or you lost your crap yelling today. Hey! It happens and the best thing we can do is to make the next day better. Motherhood is not easy and neither is the hardships of mom guilt. Do your checklist, but don’t be too hard on yourself.

We All Make Mistakes

The Hardships of Mom Guilt

Did you burn the pancakes again? Forgot to change the diaper an hour ago, because you got pulled in five different directions? Hey girl, it’s okay! Things happen and as long as your children are loved, healthy, safe, and cared for, nothing else matters.

As a first time mom, I was rather focused on not making a mistake (anxiety as I mentioned before). I was afraid one mistake would be a disaster or that I would accidentally do something wrong and my son would die. Yes, this is the life of an anxious person! I also suffered from postpartum depression, which made things worse.

After I was able to come out of the fog with PPD, I started learning that I had to be kinder to myself. I was doing everything right and I made sure that I educated myself or called the Pediatrician when I was worried (They probably wanted to block me from calling). I had mom guilt all the time!

Get Rid of the Fantasy of Perfection

As moms, we have this certain fantasy that we grew up with. It has this pretty picture painted of making cookies with your kids on a warm spring afternoon and everything is clean and tidy. The kids are laughing and smiling and telling you how much they adore you. THROW THAT PAINTING OUT! Your painting will most likely look something like your kids screaming, there is flour all over the place and the smoke alarm is going off because you forgot the previous batch of cookies that are now hockey pucks.

The hardships of mom guilt are for real! Try not to be too hard on yourself and don’t for one minute think that Susan who jogs with her baby stroller has it all together. NO ONE DOES! Some people are just very good at hiding it and others are quick to judge. Don’t compare yourself, just know everyone’s mom journey is different and that is okay! None of us are perfect and I try to remind myself of that daily.

Motivation

Being everything to everyone is nearly impossible. The hardships of mom guilt, leave us exhausted. So how do we motivate ourselves? Each day think of one thing that is bothering you and give it a realistic solution. Feeling mom guilt, because you didn’t spend a lot of time with the kiddos? Find 30-60 minutes the next day to do something with them that makes you all happy. Going for bike rides, walks, or even having them help you cook dinner are some ideas.

Try to be proactive in your hardships of mom guilt and once you start doing so, the hardships of mom guilt will dissipate. I want you to know that you GOT THIS! If things seem to be too much, then find an outlet to help you. Whether that is calling a family member or a friend or even a therapist. Try using some time to unwind and here are a few ideas on how to do that.

I know these are hard times with COVID19. Try to be kind to yourself and your family. We are all struggling more than usual. Here is a link you can check out on virtual schooling.

Dreading the Looming Summer Break in this New Normal

Call me crazy, but I don’t want home school to end. Yup, you read that correctly. Plenty has been written about working moms, quarantine, and home-schooling kids. While we’ve been thrown into an uncertain and unknown world, home school is one thing I wish wouldn’t go away. It may be an unpopular view, but here’s where I’m coming from and why I’m dreading the looming summer break in this new normal.

While homeschooling kids while trying to work isn’t easy, it’s better than the alternative. What do I mean? I am grateful for the assignments, projects, art, music, and PE. No I don’t love them all at once. No I don’t enjoy the deadlines. I dread having to “submit” my kid’s work on time and all of a sudden their work is mine. I’m not trying to be all Pollyanna here, but without all of that work (and yes, it is a lot) I would be going crazy trying to keep them entertained and off devices 24/7.

Let me be clear. My kids are on devices. Between the Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire, Ipad, and access to Netflix, Disney +, Disney Kids, Amazon Prime Video, and Youtube… well I could probably create an agenda right there. (And yes, they actually have access to all of that). But I refuse. It drives me nuts when the kids are on devices for more than a couple of hours.

hands on a video game controller in front of a tvAnd frankly, their actions and behaviors after too much screen time is a telltale sign that my inclinations are spot on. I’m often left with irritable and mean kids. For this tired, already stressed out mom that’s just not going to work.

We are blessed to live in a place where it’s warm and sunny most days. Get outside and play! Swim! Take the dog for a walk! There is plenty to do. But with small kids, there’s also more checking in, helping with snacks and lunch, and ultimately keeping a close eye so the devices don’t take over.

Summer outside

Not to mention, I’m dreading what a long and uneventful summer it’ll be. Despite camps trying to figure out how to “go virtual”, kids are tired of “e-everything” and “zoom”. So no, highly unlikely virtual camps will be an option. As of this publishing, sports and other activities haven’t resumed. So while e-learning isn’t the winning ticket, it is forcing some routine in an otherwise very unstructured world.

While many parents have been waving the red flag for weeks, I haven’t. From my seat (which is glued to my home office getting my own work done), I’m dreading the end of e-learning and the looming summer break in this new normal. What will fill the days without e-learning?

So the reality is, this e-learning journey IS coming to an end. And fast. So I’ve got a plan in place:

  • Wake / Breakfast
  • Free time (aka device or whatever makes you happy) til Lunch
  • Lunch
  • Pool (it’s been a lifesaver) 2-hour minimum – basically swim until you can’t swim and are in need of a nap (or a snack)
  • Snack (expected after all that physical activity – hello summer PE!)
  • Relax (movie or a nap till dinner)
  • Dinner
  • Family walk or bedtime (depending on behavior that day)

So there you have it. That’s my plan. Wish me luck! I know it’s lofty as kids are completely unpredictable. But this mama is going to have a rough summer without the regular routine of e-learning. I’d love to hear your ideas on keeping kids busy this not-so-normal summer we’re embarking on. Post in the comments below.

The Perks of Having a Sister That My Daughter’s Missing Out On

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I am the oldest of two girls. I’m exactly two years and one month older than my sister. Growing up we had a very typical sibling relationship. We played with each other a lot. Sometimes out of necessity and occasionally because we actually wanted to. When we fought, it was bad. In my mind, I was the only one with a license to hurt her or make fun of her in any way. When we’d have a bad fight, my mom would get really upset. I remember her telling us that we had to be kind to each other. She’d say we needed to stick by each other. I didn’t “get” it at the time. Now that we are grown and live 1,000 miles apart, I cannot imagine a life without her and I appreciate the perks of having a sister.

With my sister on Christmas morning.

I have one son and one daughter. I feel a little sad when I think about the fact that my daughter will never have the experience of having a sister. There are perks of having a sister that my daughter’s missing out on.

Borrowing clothes

Raiding my sister’s closet was one of the best perks of growing up with a sister. It was also the root of a lot of our worst fights. Many of you know my famous “black jeans” story. My sister had the audacity to wear my black jeans to her job at a coffee shop without asking me. I honestly thought it would be okay to go visit her there and demand she take them off. I don’t believe I even planned to bring her something suitable to change into after said demand. Today, she still sends me her reject clothes and I gladly accept. Most of the time.

Mom advice

My sister started having kids before I did, so two of her three are older than mine. She is the first person I go to when I’m in search of some solid advice. I can count on her any time I have to vent or need help.

Product advice

This is something that has changed over the years. Bonne Belle Lip Smackers and Bath and Body Works lotion have morphed into sunscreen, essential oils, and anti-aging products. Not as exciting, but a bit more practical.

Shared hobbies

Growing up, my sister and I both loved music. We still do. We were fortunate enough to go to the same vocal music camp together for many summers. Both of us were part of the same choir in high school. Whenever I hear a song that we’ve sung together, it totally takes me back. Even if the song is TLC’s No Scrubs and the performance was in conjunction with the car radio on full blast.

While she may miss out on the perks of having a sister, I know my daughter will still be able to experience wonderful things with her brother.

Family trips

We’ve taken many long-distance car trips as a family. Many more will come in the future. Who will be best at helping my daughter re-live all those hours spent in the car driving to places she loves? A brother. 

Life advice

At ages 7 and 8, life advice often consists of what flavor popsicle to choose. Unfortunately, the decisions will get harder, but the support will remain. Who will that constant be? A brother.

Unconditional love

We always tell our kids that family is forever. Friends may come and go, but you will always have your sibling. If that sibling isn’t a sister, then who do you have? A brother.

Do you have a sister (or brother) that you have a close relationship with? Leave me a comment and let me know what you love about it.

4 Spring Cleaning Tips from the Experts at College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving

Thank you to College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving for sponsoring this post and providing helpful tips to use when spring cleaning.

Whether spring cleaning is an annual tradition for you, or you’re fighting boredom and cabin fever during quarantine, now’s the time to clean, purge and refresh your home. This year, most people will take spring cleaning beyond simply vacuuming the carpet and wiping down the kitchen. We have the opportunity to reevaluate our home and the things in it. Having a clean, decluttered home can bring some peace and calm during this stressful time. If you’re motivated to get your house in order but are feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to begin, here are four spring cleaning tips to help you make the most out of your home:

Create a Plan

Work smarter, not harder! Unless you’re one of those people who loves to clean, you probably want to get the job done as quickly as possible. Kick-off your spring cleaning on the right foot by devising a plan to ensure you’re working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Writing down your goals will help. Do you just want to tidy and sanitize? Or do you want to purge your home of unwanted items and start fresh? Thinking through what you’d like the end result to be will help you prioritize each task. This will also enable you to take stock of your cleaning tools and supplies to ensure you have what you need to accomplish that goal. If you’re all out of wood polish or the vacuum is broken, it’s best to know before you dive into a day of deep cleaning. 

Deep Clean One Room at a Time

Have you ever spent the day vacuuming the whole house? It sure FEELS like you did a lot of cleaning… but then you take a step back and realize it doesn’t look like you did a thing. That can kill motivation quickly. It’s much more rewarding to tackle a deep-cleaning project one room at a time. When you completely focus on one room at a time, you will notice things you may not have before like dirty grout lines, chipping paint, or an overabundance of junk. When you commit to cleaning and refreshing one room at a time, you can truly evaluate your needs and the purpose of that space.

RePurpose a Whole Room of the House

While you were deep cleaning the guest room, did you realize it had actually been turned into some kind of pseudo storage closet? We’re all guilty of it, but now’s the time to reclaim that space and give it more purpose… we call it the guest room, but it’s not just for guests! Get the most out of this space so you don’t feel the need to keep the door closed to hide the mess. That space can be transformed into a yoga/meditation room, reading nook, craft space, home office, and much more. 

Use All Your Senses

Just because your home LOOKS clean, that doesn’t mean your work is done. How does it smell? Musty, stale odors are lurking in every corner of your home. Opening up all the windows to let the fresh air in is a good start. Then it’s important to find the source of the smells. In the kitchen, obvious culprits such as the dishwasher and garbage disposal will need some attention. But consider other areas such as the garbage can, and inside your appliances. A simple box of baking soda will absorb odors in the fridge, and regularly cleaning your oven and microwave will prevent the smell of burnt, caked-on food every time you use them. Then there’s the bathroom. You probably already regularly clean the toilet, but are you snaking the drains as often as you should? Hair and other debris can trap bacteria in your pipes, giving off a smell that can linger. For all the other areas of your home, it’s about regular maintenance. Washing your bedding once a week, and any removable fabric from your furniture will go a long way. Shampooing your carpets at least once a year will also keep them looking and smelling great.

Now that you’re mentally prepared to tackle some chores around the house, don’t forget that you don’t have to go it alone. While you’re sorting through your things and deciding what needs to go, call the professionals at College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving for assistance with getting rid of any junk or bulky items such as furniture, appliances or debris. We offer full-service and no-contact solutions for junk hauling, as we can remove the junk from inside or outside of your home. Just schedule a time for our team to come and take it all away for you! You will be happy to know that with a commitment to reducing our impact on the environment, College H.U.N.K.S. aims to donate or recycle every item we haul away to organizations like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity Restore. 

College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving was founded by college students, has grown to a national franchise serving customers across the country, and is headquartered in Tampa, FL. “H.U.N.K.S.”, which stands for “Honest Uniformed Nice Knowledgeable Service,” also donates 2 meals for every completed job to Feeding Children Everywhere, and recently began offering free moving services for victims of domestic violence during COVID-19.

To learn more, visit www.CollegeHunksHaulingJunk.com

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