This is a guest post by Chaunie Brusie of Tiny Blue Lines.
A few months ago, at the age of 26, I was heavily pregnant with my third child. Pushing my brood in the grocery store, diapers and cereal spilling out of my cart, I felt disapproving eyes turning on me down every aisle I clumsily navigated.
No! I wanted to shout. It’s not like that! I have an education! I’m a homeowner! I’m accomplishing things with my life, I swear!
There are days when I sit and count what I have accomplished with my life so far.
Ok, I’ve studied abroad in France. Traveling, check.
Grad school? Check. Well, half a check.
Got a book deal? Spoken at Capitol Hill? Check and check.
I do these things not because I am some kind of crazed egotist, hoarding accomplishments like shiny statues for my shelves, but for a much more embarrassing reason.
I feel like I need them to prove I’m a good mom. [click to continue…]
This guest post is by Lindsey Mead, writer and blogger at A Design So Vast.
This last Sunday was one of those rare days I’ve come to treasure almost above all others: a day with absolutely no plans. We puttered as a family, each of us doing his or her own thing, coming together in various combinations at different moments. Grace and I went to the grocery store and to drop some things off at Goodwill, and she sighed from the backseat, “Mummy, I love days like this with you.” My eyes filled immediately with tears and I nodded, not speaking for fear that my voice would waver. Whit and I curled up on the couch and he read The Velveteen Rabbit to me, proud of his newly-fluent reading. The kids and I made cookies for their school’s teacher appreciation lunch, and then worked at the dining room table on a puzzle while they baked, the house filling with sugar cookie smell.
I made homemade tomato sauce and apple sauce, hardboiled some eggs, baked two potatoes for lunch. I did two loads of laundry. As I was folding Whit’s pajamas and stacking Grace’s jeans in a careful pile, I felt a swell of gratitude and of well-being. I realized, not for the first time, that there is something I find deeply comforting and satisfying in the most quotidian domestic tasks. [click to continue…]
This post is by Sarah Powers, Happiest Mom contributor and Managing Editor, and blogger at Powers of Mine.
I can hear it. Can you? That little voice that begins with a whisper just after Thanksgiving dinner every year.
This is the year, it says. This year, you’re going to get it together for the holidays. This year the decorations will be up by December 1st, and all the gifts bought and wrapped – from locally-owned Etsy shops, of course – by the 15th. This is the year you’ll nail it – creating a season filled with the perfect balance of anticipation, wonder, spirituality, and altruism. But also simple and frugal and scaled-back! Don’t forget those. You can do it. Probably. Maybe…
There’s a part of the voice that means well, I think. When several weeks remain before the end of the year, the season does feel full of promise. I do, in fact, wish to be a little more intentional each year, find my groove as a mom-in-charge-of-the-holidays, and deliver to my family an experience that is both fun and also consistent with our values. So that part of the voice that challenges me, that acts as a motivator and cheerleader, is okay.
But in that whisper that only I can hear is something less uplifting, and more poisonous: pressure. [click to continue…]
I’ve been thinking all day about a blog post written by my friend Kyran Pittman, an amazing writer, memoirist and mother of three. In the post Kyran explores the idea of what keeps us going as we age, as the people we have loved and lived for – both our children and others – grow up and go away, get old and die. Kyran asks: What abides?
My children feel like my passion and my purpose, but their childhood will pass, and is passing, like all things. My husband is the love of my life, but our eventual parting is written into our marriage vows. What will one or the other of us live for, then?
There’s truth and wisdom in the refrigerator magnet maxim that what might be remembered 100 years from now is making a difference today in the life of the child. But I think it sometimes gets misused as a license to bury our gifts. To keep from making something that is truly our own. Maybe the difference we make in the life of a child is one made by example and inspiration as well as a nurturing presence. Perhaps our own lives can be object lessons in how to stay full, whatever hardships may–and will–come our way.
While reading Kyran’s words I found myself nodding in agreement while also feeling a little bit “busted”. [click to continue…]
Or keep your dining room table clear. Or sweep under your dining-room table regularly. Or make sure your dressers aren’t overstuffed with clothes so they don’t shut all the way. The point is, all of us have that one thing (or half a dozen things) that drives us crazy. Whether yours is crumbs on the counter or rooms where half the lightbulbs are burned out, taking care of your biggest crazy-makers (BEFORE they get to the point of making you crazy) sets the whole mood for the day.
For me, that one thing happens to be making my bed. I used to roll out of bed in the morning, look at the rumpled sheets and blankets and think “eh, what’s the difference? I’m just going to be messing it up again in 15 hours.” But I spend a lot of time in my bedroom, even during the day, and I found that every time I went back in, the sight of that unmade bed made me feel…slumpy. It made the house feel messy even if the house wasn’t particularly messy. It made me feel disorganized. And every time I sat on the bed (like I am now with my laptop) I would feel like crawling under the sheets and going back to sleep.
I’m far from being a neat freak, but I began to realize that I require a certain level of cleanliness in order to function. I spend most of my day in my home, and if it feels too messy or cluttered I just want to retreat and watch bad TV instead of being productive. I also realized that it pays to stay on top of mess by constantly straightening up instead of saving it all for some mythical 2-hour stretch when I’ll be able to do a big clean. So four or five years ago I started making my bed every day, as soon as I could after waking up. What a difference. It took a couple of weeks to really get into the habit, but soon I found myself looking forward to making my bed–it feels like tearing out a fresh sheet of notebook paper, clean and crisp and full of possibility. Now, no matter how the rest of the house looks, my bedroom is a neat and pleasant retreat. When I go to bed, it’s so satisfying to pull back the smooth covers instead of climbing into a tangled mess of sheets. And it really makes a big difference in my mood.
I have other “must do” chores, too. For example, I really like my bathroom to look clean (with four boys this means wiping down toilets at least daily) and it’s important to me to have a clean kitchen sink (which I realized after doing FlyLady many years ago). I also Can. Not. Stand. to have couch pillows and throw blankets all over the living room so I stop a few times a day to toss pillows back on the furniture and fold blankets. I call these things my “triggers”—I’m actually crankier to my kids and anxious when my sink is messy or there are sofa pillows on the floor. So I try to stay on top of it through the day—and it all begins with making the bed.
One note, though: I have my older kids do a lot of chores, but I almost never put them in charge of my “trigger” tasks. It’s too important to me that they’re done right–not to mention promptly.
Do you have housecleaning “triggers” that can make or break your mood? What are they? How long did it take you to figure them out?