Tips on Taking Time For Yourself Each Day, Even When There’s None to Spare


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As a mom it’s not always easy to find time for yourself. And often when you do it somehow feels like it’s at the expense of someone else in the family. But as research and personal experience shows, taking a little time for you is VITAL to be a good parent, a healthy person and just plain happier.

Even with my kids in school (one only in school for a couple of hours at that) I still struggle to find time for myself that doesn’t involve cleaning or working. But lately I’ve been working hard at making it happen, and I’m starting to get better at it.

Here are a few things you can find a little time to yourself even when you don’t have any to spare.

  • Garden – OK so gardening can be a bit of work in the beginning but once it’s going strong the actual “gardening’ part can be very therapeutic. Weeding, watering and harvesting have been soul-soothing activities for thousands of years. When the weather is right you can let the kids loose in the yard while you get some earthy time in the dirt.
  • Read – Most schools ask that your kids read 15 to 20 minutes a day, each day. At our school we actually have to sign a sheet that the child did read for that period of time. Instead of nagging your child from the kitchen, sit down and read a book or magazine of your own. This will help encourage your child to work on their reading and give you 15 minutes of quiet reading time.
  • Early to Bed Early to Rise – Make it a point to get up 15 to 30 minutes early than the rest of your house. Read, do some yoga or just enjoy a quiet cup of coffee before the chaos of the morning starts. And set a decent and early bedtime for your kdis and stick to it. Then use that time to unwind from the day, catch up on Facebook, go to sleep early or simply watch a little TV with your spouse.

These things may not seem like much but incorporating them into your daily routine can do wonders for your stress level, your health and even your ability to be a good mom.
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Love and Laughter

I don’t think that there are really any right ways to be a mom. Every family, every house, every woman and child are different. But there are two secrets to surviving motherhood that apply to every mother. Love and Laughter. Now I think as mothers we generally have the love part down. It’s the laughter part that we seem to lose sight of from time to time. At least I know I do sometimes.

During the most chaotic days in my house I know I get caught up in the never-ending to–do lists of household chores, deadlines, homework, field trips reminders, prescriptions to pick up, etc. sometimes I forget to laugh.

But sometimes I remember. I look at my house, which is a mess, and my kids who have turned over chairs in order to create a puppet show where the puppets throw all the toys within reach across the room and laugh.

Because being a mom is silly. It’s exhausting and silly and crazy and wild. It’s like living on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Every single day. And totally the most awesome thing ever.

For the last couple weeks I’ve been spending every quiet moment I can spare (which are few & far between) to read bits and pieces of the hilarious SV Moms book club book, Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom by Kristin Van Ogtrop.

Written as a dictionary with terms that every mom knows. It’s pretty much one big laugh out loud moment that reminded me that we need to take life just a little less seriously and enjoy it for what it is.

Awesome.

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Our First Pinewood Derby

Photo-46 One of my all time favorite movies growing up was Ron Howard’s Parenthood (a movie that has become a hot topic once again since the recent premier of the show by the same name being filmed right here in the East Bay). And as funny as I thought it was as a kid the movie took on a whole different meaning once I was not only an adult, but as a parent.

One of the best parts of the movie is when during a Little League game Steve Martin’s son makes the winning catch. Steve Martin’s reaction, as the dad, is hilarious and his entire outlook on life changes based on the winning catch.

Well recently we lived out the scene. We’ve been going through some rough times lately. Nothing worse than anyone else on this day and age, financial struggles intermixed with job troubles can create a pretty dark cloud over life. We were having a particularly stressful weekend two weekends go. And it was the day of our son’s first Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. My husband and son had been working on the car for weeks. But all of us were in such
crappy moods, that none of us wanted to go.

But as anyone involved in scouts knows, the Pinewood Derby is a huge deal. And we hopped into the car and headed over. We hung around and waited for the Tiger Scouts to compete and then for our son’s first heat.

1st place.

We screamed and shouted. Then he raced again. And POW! First place again.

Race after race he place first except for one where he placed second. By the end we were those annoying parents screaming and shouting every time he won. My husband was on the verge of tears. We were Steve Martin in Parenthood.

It’s amazing how much the little moments of parenthood can change you. How the look on your son’s face when he shows you his first place trophy can touch a place in your heart that you never knew was there.

Pictures

Most of you on Facebook may have noticed the retro thing going on with people’s profile pictures. Well considering how many dozens photo albums and picture boxes I have stocked full of millions of pictures, I thought it would be fun to pull out some old pictures, scan them and then tag all my old school friends. But instead I ended up spending an entire evening pouring through every single photo album and photo box I own.

I have pictures that of course begin with me as a baby, my childhood, teen years and into the years my husband and I were dating, our wedding and of course there were tons of both pregnancies and the kids all the way through now. My mind is kind of racing full of all the memories. It’s so weird to look back and see how much I’ve grown and changed. And even weirder to see how much the kids have grown and changed. I swear it was just yesterday that they were born. Then again I would’ve sworn that it was only yesterday that I got married or graduated high school…

There were so many pictures that just took me back. Friends and family that have long since passed away, friends that are still in my life today. So many people and so many memories.

Nothing puts your life into a sharper focus then looking back over your life in pictures. It reminds you of where you come from and who you are. It also reminded me of just how fast my babies are growing and that I should take time to slow down and smell the roses with them more often.

My dad took this picture when I was in elementary school. He told me to picture the woman I’d be when I was 30 and to say hi to that woman. And now here I am, 32, looking at that same picture, saying hi back to that girl I once was.

I never did scan any pictures and upload them to Facebook. Maybe tomorrow…

The Birth of Evil Mommy

Ok, so I know that Supernanny would probably be here in an instant. And I know that Dr. Phil would have me shipped off to his boot camp so fast my head would probably spin. I know all this because I have worked with kids on and off since I was in high school. I have credits in Early Childhood Development and a library of books on child rearing. Including my college textbooks. So I know what I’m about to tell you is soooooo wrong.

Recently in the heat of a weak moment I did something. The house was in shambles and the kids were refusing to clean up. Not just refusing, but downright telling us NO. And in a moment of complete weakness I broke down and told them that if they didn’t start listening Evil Mommy was going to come down and make them.

That’s right. Evil Mommy. I told my children that I was the good mommy and Evil Mommy lives in the attic and would come down if she didn’t like the way they were behaving. Evil Mommy hates TV. She hates video games and toys. And she ESPECIALLY hates little boys and girls who talk back to their parents.

My kids DID NOT LIKE THIS.

Right away through sniffled tears they started cleaning. Right away I knew what I’d told them was wrong. But is it really any different than threatening to cancel Christmas by calling Santa and telling him not to come? Something I KNOW many of you have told your kids at one point or another.

And there was a kid’s book that I loved growing up that had a similar story… Miss Nelson is Missing.

So while I know that somewhere Supernanny is cringing in her sleep, part of me found some evil satisfaction in the fact that my kids suddenly were very intent on listening to me.

I know, I’m a bad mom.

I have not come clean with my kids about the Evil Mommy not really existing. But I’m no longer threatening to bring her down either. You never know, I may just need to conjure her up again someday.

So tell me, what’s the worst thing YOU’VE told your kids in order to get them to shape up?

Father/Son & Mother/Daughter Day at the Harvey House

Allen and Patrick spent the day learning and exploring the airport while Cheyanne went for a trip to the African American Arts & Culture Complex in San Francisco. It was a big day for all of us, but the kids can’t stop talking about their big days and are asking when we’re going to flip flop and do a Mother/Son & Father/Daughter day.

It’s days like this that I just love that we live where we live and feel confident that as parents, we’re truly giving our kids memories that will last a lifetime. *Sigh*

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Cheyanne and SF District Attorney, Kamala Harris
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Patrick the Pilot

All I Need to Know about Parenting I Learned From the Cosby Show

2349462820_da5a2f4138I love reruns. I will admit here & now that nothing gives me greater comfort after a long day then a bowel of ice cream and a classic episode of the Golden Girls on Lifetime. Or the fact I’m so happy to have discovered that my kids totally love Full House AND Different Strokes. All shows I grew up watching. Now, I have watched Family Ties and Growing Pains here & there over the years since I’ve become a parent. And though I still enjoy them as much as I ever did, there is never really anything truly miraculous about them. No secret lesson that was only privy to the adults or anything. I enjoy watching them, but they aren’t giving me anything new.

But then, recently, I rediscovered another show that had been a weekly staple in my house growing up, The Cosby Show. It was always funny and always entertaining. We watched it religiously while it was on the air. And then we watched it for years on and off in syndication. Until a couple of weeks ago it had been years since I watched an entire episode of the Cosby Show. In fact it was probably my first time since I became a mom. And now I’m addicted. Not for the same reasons I loved it as a kid (Bill Cosby was funny, Denise was my idol, etc.). I’m addicted because it is better than any parenting book I have ever read. Got a problem getting your kid to do homework? Watch the Cosby Show. Eating vegetables? Cosby Show. Teaching your child manners or how to follow through with commitments? The value of a dollar? All these lessons and many more are at your fingertips with the simple push of the TV remote.

It’s funny because at first look the show seems dated. But it’s not in the least. The lessons and storylines couldn’t be any more current or timely if they had been written yesterday. I will longer be spending any money on parenting books, magazines, or DVDs. Except for the entire series collection of the Cosby Show of course.

Now excuse me, my daughter is refusing to eat her lunch. Hmmm, I’m sure there’s a Cosby show episode somewhere with a speech that would work perfectly….