#metoo

#metoo

#metoo

 

I have held on to my #metoo for a lot of reasons. The biggest of which is that I have been afraid of what it says about me. Then today I finally realized, that’s the problem right there. See, there are people in my life, many people over the years, that have said some unkind things about me. As a teenager, I mostly internalized these things, and I believed them to be true. I thought I was damaged. I thought I was broken. Several times, I even thought I should disappear or die. I tried to hide inside myself. At a younger age, I starved myself, little by little, trying harder to disappear, to become more childlike, to become invisible. As an adult, I have combatted those voices, recognized them as alien, and done my damndest to prove them wrong. See, I thought that by me saying, #metoo, I was saying to those people, “You’re right. I am broken.” But if that is your thought when reading this, then you are truly part of the problem.

 

I was raised in a system – the church – that told us girls that we were unequivocally responsible for our own “purity”, and that we were to guard this. Weirdly, girls’ sexuality somehow belongs to their fathers until it one day belongs to their husbands, and no one else. I was never taught that it even belonged to me. In fact, I was shamed for it. That is the nasty thing about shame. You cannot acknowledge it without feeling it, and somehow it feels like part of you, when it’s not. Or at least it shouldn’t be. This system is so disgusting. The things we are teaching our girls in this system is disgusting, and if you have been a part of it, I’m sorry. #metoo

 

I have combed back through my experiences lately. (That is the unfortunate thing about sleepless nights with a baby and a toddler. There are a lot of ghosts that greet you in the middle of the night, that don’t show their face in the light of day. I admit, I used to be afraid of those ghosts. Not anymore.) The question in my mind has been, did that experience count? Was that time assault? Was that harassment? Did I do anything to bring that on myself? Did I have a few drinks? Did I dress provocatively? Did I say NO? Did I say no enough times and loud enough for it to mean no?…
Today, I’m asking a different question. I’m not asking what is wrong with me and do I count… Because I know the answer to those questions. The answer of course is NOTHING is wrong with me and YES, I do count. Yes, my experiences matter. Yes, my voice matters. My NO isn’t broken anymore!  Today, I am asking, what can I do? How can I make this better for somebody else? How can I raise my boys differently? And I think those are much better questions, don’t you?

 

 

Why I am ALL About the MOM BOSS Trend!

So, there is this new breed of women. You’re familiar with the Mommy Wars and the working full-time versus stay-at-home mother debate. Blah, blah, blah. Can we please stop having this conversation? Guess what? The GREAT thing about us all living our own lives is that we get to make our OWN choices! Today I went to Whole Foods. Another person probably did their shopping at the Meijer across the street. If I met that Meijer shopper at a party, I would still talk to them (provided they weren’t a complete jerk). This is how arbitrary the Mom Wars are – it’s like refusing to be friendly to a mom because she’s in a different club than you. Ridiculous. Maybe shopping at Whole Foods is totally your thing. Maybe not. We all make choices for our family, given our unique circumstances, and we are all doing the best we can, in general. For the most part, we are all just trying to pay the bills and not mess up these little creatures that come into the world totally innocent and wonderful. That is my daily goal. Don’t f*ck up the angels that the universe has blessed us with. Continue to treat them as the blessing that they are, even when there is urine all over your floor that the blinds sales person may or may not be standing in (I’ll have to tell that story another time.)

 

Back to this new breed of mom. So, she seems to be doing it all. She’s the new work from home mom. She’s on her iPhone, rocking her thing, making the parties, passing out business cards in the school parking lot after drop off. Get it, girl. She’s doing all this in her damn yoga pants. Guess what! She probably has a Bachelor in Science and used to work at a high-end boutique or law firm or environmental protection agency – whatever. Friends from high school may look at her and wonder, “What happened?” Why did you give up your career? Guess what. Somewhere along the way she probably got a little tired of working for the man and decided to work for herself. More freaking power to you!

 

Here’s why else I totally buy into this – because we were already doing it, and somebody just figured out how to get paid doing it. Then companies figured out that women could sell a lot more than just makeup. So maybe I don’t want to buy your lipstick that stays on for 16 hours or maybe I’m not really into scented stuff for my home. That really isn’t a big deal. I still support you. Bring on the oils, the shakes, the at-home-workouts, the amazing yoga pants that feel like butter, and the piles of books for my kids. Do it. At the end of the day, we are all in this together. At least that’s how it should be.

 

If you haven’t figured this out yet. You are a brand. You are a unique set of preferences, skills, characteristics, and look. All of this together makes you AWESOME. It makes you what you are. You are promoting something. Every single day. You’re promoting that coffee shop that you frequent on your way to work. You’re promoting the clothes that you’re wearing, the car that you’re driving, and the posts that you’re “liking” … you’re already doing it! As humans, our brain takes inventory of all of these millions of images and inputs and looks for patterns. We come to realize that a person that drives a Subaru is outdoorsy (or at least want to appear outdoorsy). Companies spend a lot of money to figure out what people want and what kind of people fit their brand. We are putting all of this data out there, and somebody that understands statistics a lot better than me is paid a lot of money to analyze it. The world is changing, rapidly, and in the future, there may be a lot less people working for the man. Frankly, I hope so. Cheers to all of you that are figuring out your own way of doing things. Cheers to all the entrepreneurs. You people are the ones making the damn world go round!

A Letter to my Father, 10 years after you died of brain cancer.

A Letter to my Father, 10 years after you died of brain cancer.
(In honor of John David Farrell – born September 15th, 1958 and died October 5th, 2007.)

Dad,

It seems strange that 10 years have gone by. Ten. You passed from this life to the next just a few weeks after our birthdays. I had turned 22 and you, 49. Now here I am, newly 32, and I guess you would be 59. I don’t know what you look like at 59 years of age. I picture you much the same, with a few more lines around your eyes, your laughing eyes, always laughing. I know that you would be delighted in how far we have come in these last 10 years. In many ways, it feels like an eternity. I was so lost when you left. So completely lost. Somehow, I feel like you guided me through. That was a dark year. We used to have talks in my dreams, meeting up somewhere like Jupiter, just for a coffee. It has been a while since we have had a coffee date, but, I know that they will always be there, when I really need it.

Lately, I have been thinking about the lessons that you taught me. They call these LIFE lessons. Lessons about life… You always seemed bigger than life, yes, even bigger than death. Your charisma, your spirit, your laugh. These are the things that carry on. These are the things that I must find a way to show my boys. I hope that they can see the piece of you in me.

It never mattered what you did. You could be in the grocery check-out lane, or preaching from the pulpit, or comforting a friend over coffee, but your love made a difference. It never ceases to amaze me, years later, how many people that your love made an impact on. Life has a way of bleeding us dry from time to time – all of us run ragged and empty on occasion, and feel like we have nothing left to give. I know that you felt this way sometimes, maybe more than others, and yet from this, out of this, you continued to love. That love, as you poured it out into others, always filled you up. I watched it, all my life, in amazement. You were never perfect. It was your humanity that was amazing, though. I watched you, even in your worst moments, reach out and make a difference for somebody else. In the end, it was always your love for others that carried you from one heartache to the next victory.

I know that you asked us to take care of Mom, just so you know, we are trying. Sadly, I think you were much better at this than we are.

When you were sick, you became even more of a prophet, a spiritual man. It was like as your body was fading, your spirit was growing stronger. It was intense and overwhelming to be around, as a mere mortal. When you finally left your body, after days of struggle, days of coma, it was the heaviest air that I have ever breathed, breathing in the room where you took your last breaths. I stuck around in the room, for a few moments after. I wanted to feel its emptiness, to know with certainty that you were gone. To be in the room with your empty shell and to be alone. You were gone. My sister came to get me. I’m thankful for that.

In retrospect, your death was powerful, but nothing compared to your life. I hope that I can live in a way that honors your legacy. All of your 4 children hold different pieces of you. We all honor you in our own ways, all very differently. If there was anything that you taught us, it was always to think for ourselves – to question everything, especially the things that were “given” – and to take nothing for granted.

The curse of being an idealist – as you were, and as I am – is that it is the things that are bigger than life that draw us and keep us alive, yet it is in the everyday and the mundane that we seek to fulfill this greater purpose. I’ll be honest, sometimes, right now, I don’t feel super powerful as I’m cleaning up poop and doing dishes. I’m just a mom. Right now, this is my purpose. This is my season in life. I am giving more than I ever have before. I give more of myself than I knew that I had, and yet, I’m not getting paid a dime. Ha. I’ve learned to find my value, finally, outside of a paycheck, in a society that holds no value to what doesn’t hold the value of a dollar. It has been a humbling experience, to say the least. I also know that you would be incredibly proud.

To say that I miss you is silly, because you know it already. To say that I love you is obvious. I’ll just say that, if life is so kind as to give me another 10 years, and I hope that I have many more after that, I hope that with each passing decade that I continue to grow and I continue to shine a light. I pray that in that light, somewhere, is a piece of yours.

Always yours,

Kristy Lynn

 

 

 

 

What it’s like to be a SAHM with a spouse that works 90 hours a week…

First of all, this is not a letter of complaint. We are very lucky. We have a beautiful home. We have a healthy, growing family. Everyone makes choices in this life, and we have made choices together, as a team, that have led us here. However, I do feel that our life is a bit unusual in some ways, and one of those ways is that my husband is currently working roughly 90 hours a week. This is not an exaggeration. Last week he had put in 50+ hours by Wednesday. What does that even look like on a weekly basis, you may ask? It looks like working 6 full days a week. It looks like Daddy getting into the office around 9 am and leaving between midnight and 2 am most weekdays. It looks like this:

  • Mama works 90+ hours a week, too. Yeah, it’s true. When your spouse is gone that much, you don’t get PTO either. I don’t (generally) get relief before bedtime from my mama duties. When the toddler wakes up in the middle of the night or at 6am, you guessed it, it’s me. “Mommy!” I am on call 24/7, but really, what parent isn’t? I don’t care if you’re stay-at-home or not, parenting is a job that you don’t get time off from. The only difference is that unless you’re a single parent, most people do it in teams. On our team, this mama does most of the hands-on stuff day-to-day.
  • It’s really hard to get motivated to make dinner. Let’s face it – when it is just mama and the toddler eating, and he is just thrilled with Annie’s pizza poppers – it feels really silly doing 30 minutes of prep work with something that requires fresh chopped cilantro. (Plus, those damn pizza poppers are amazing.) If there is a parent out there that does this fresh dinner every night, kudos to you. I am a terrible cook as it is, so grilled cheese is pretty much a staple at our house. Lunch, dinner, breakfast – anything goes.
  • Saturdays are sacred. My husband has “protected Saturdays” at his job, which pretty much means that he’s not supposed to go into the office, and they have to get approval from higher-ups if they require the staff to come in. This doesn’t mean he’s not still monitoring email from his phone (don’t you love the digital age?), but he’s not supposed to be “working”. The struggle is usually between trying to find time to rest and trying to squeeze in family fun time all in a day. Chores and grocery shopping feel like a waste of a sacred day, so I try to mostly get these done during the week. If there is anything that can be put on hold until after Saturday, it pretty much goes on hold. This also means that I will often decline social invites simply because I don’t want to share. This is our time, and we don’t get much of it.
  • Daddy is our favorite. The thing about Daddy being gone most of the time is that when Daddy is home, my two-year-old is pretty much attached to him. Honestly, I don’t really mind this. Plus, when it comes time for bedtime, mama is suddenly the favorite again. I know that I can get all the snuggles and boo-boo kisses in that I want during the rest of the week, so I don’t mind when I hear for the 40th time that day, “No, Daddy do it!” Sure, kid, knock yourself out. Tomorrow you’re stuck with mom.
  • The 2-year-old knows how to FaceTime. Yes, this one is probably a given. We have a nightly FaceTime date with Daddy, after dinner and before bedtime. Our son is pretty much a pro at holding the smartphone and having a conversation – even if that conversation is about Mickey Mouse. I think it’s good for everybody to have that time to reconnect daily, and we have to get creative to make it happen. It is pretty damn cute seeing them give virtual kisses to each other.
  • Mid-week sex feels like a booty-call. I won’t go into details here, because my mother reads my blog. However, let’s just say that, it is important to find time to reconnect with your spouse, too. Just the two of you. When that time is 2 am and you haven’t seen your partner during the light of day in several days, it very much feels like a booty-call. The disappointing thing is that there isn’t alcohol involved and you don’t get to brag to your girlfriends about the bad decision that you made last night.
  • You rely on your support system. Speaking of girlfriends! I have a handful of ladies that I can text or call at any hour of the day or night, and if I confess that I’m hiding in my bathroom having a good cry, they aren’t going to judge me. They have been there, too. This is also tough because we are living in a brand-new city. We recently relocated for my husband’s job. So, I’m working on building up this support system here, too. However, I feel very fortunate to be in an amazing neighborhood. I am soon going to be sending the toddler back to preschool very part-time. Also, if all else fails, 20 minutes of Dinotrux to save mom’s sanity is totally worth it.

I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mama right now. For me, I know that it is not a permanent thing, so that helps me enjoy it more, even during the tough times. Eventually I will go back to school (again), and then someday I will decide to work outside of the home, but for right now, it’s magic. I get to be the one to see my kiddo tackle that new playground and concur climbing the slide. I get to be the one stroking their sweet cheeks and playing with their hair. I get to be the one that they are climbing all over asking for the toy or the book or the snack. (The midday naps are a big bonus, too!) Being a stay-at-home parent means that I get to be #1 to them, and I don’t have to worry about somebody else screwing them up. I get to do it myself! 🙂 When my children go to therapy as adults and blame it all on their mother, at least it will probably be accurate.

For us, marriage has been a constant balancing and rebalancing act. I have gone from working full-time and being a part-time student to a full-time student, graduate student and student worker, to a full-time at-home mama. My husband has also gone through his fair share of shifts and job changes, not to mention the recent out-of-state move. We are busy, like many, and mostly I’m so thankful that I’m not doing this parenting thing alone. Even though it is easy to feel like the kids and house are my job while his work is his job, at the end of the day, we are in it together. It’s just that I’m wiping up poop while he’s shaking hands with executives, but hey – every job has its upsides and downsides, right? 😉

A letter to my firstborn, not long before your baby brother arrives…

A letter to my firstborn, not long before your baby brother arrives…

Dear Firstborn, First Baby-Love of my Life,

You don’t really know it yet, but our world is about to change drastically. I have been trying to prepare you – prepare us – for what lies ahead, but I know that we aren’t ever going to be really “ready” for this. As I write you this letter, I am 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Your baby brother will be joining us soon, and I’m so excited to meet him! However, I’m a little sad, too. Up until this point you have been my only baby. You have been this wonderful, all-consuming force. From the minute that I found out that I was pregnant with you, our world changed. Everything changed. I took three pregnancy tests to be sure, and that same day I drove to your dad’s office and had him meet me outside. I gave him a little gift (a small pack of pacifiers that said, “I love Daddy”) and told him our amazing, amazing news. We were both a little shocked, but truthfully could not have been happier. We were going to be parents. Sure, we had the doggies, Nova and Nebula, which you now love to chase and play with, but it was really still just about us. Now, everything, absolutely everything, became about YOU, and we hadn’t even met you yet!

On April 9th, 2015, at 5:42pm, we met face-to-face for the first time. After 3 ½ hours of pushing, you were finally here. “He’s REAL!” were the first words out of my mouth, as up until that point you had just been a dream. I had spent hours laying on the couch in the evenings watching my belly bump move back and forth, obsessed with all your rolls and turns and hiccups, but even then – I don’t know if I believed it fully. Here you were. Right here, laying on my chest, with your own little heartbeat and your own little hands – looking up at me. You looked so much like your daddy, but you have mama’s round eyes. I loved you instantly. I know that sounds cliché, and I know that sometimes it takes a while to fall in love, but not with you. You were so perfect, I had no choice but to love you. I won’t ever forget that moment. I won’t ever be the same. That is the day that Kristy became a mama.

Your first year was a blur, and amazing, and so, so challenging. You were such a happy baby. You can still make me laugh like nobody else. Sometimes, even when you were so tiny, we would giggle back and forth, over nothing, our own little secret jokes, and just hearing you laugh would make me laugh, too. You were very demanding on your mama. You were happiest when we were together, and you were really unhappy when we were apart (and so was I!) Mama tried to go back to work part-time when you were about 5 months old, but it didn’t last long. You refused to eat from a bottle, and Daddy would drive you up to see me, so we could be together. These feedings were shortened, and felt so rushed compared to the endless, lazy cuddles on the couch that we were used to. The job wasn’t that important, so one night mama just walked out and went home to see you. We were both delighted. We spent a lot of time together, especially that first year, rocking and cuddling and talking. Sometimes mama would read to you. I read, “The Wind in the Willows.” We liked to sing songs from our favorite TV Show, “Nashville,” and sometimes Mommy and Daddy would even duet like Scarlett and Gunnar.

You started walking at 10 months old, on Valentine’s Day! I knew you were brilliant. You continue to amaze me all the time. I spend a lot of energy keeping up with you these days. Today we went shopping, which we often do, and you didn’t want to sit, which you never do. You were running around the store, hiding in the clothes racks, and I was going a bit crazy trying to keep you safe and keep track of you. At almost 2 ½ you are so busy and so brave. You like to go “BIG jump” off of things, testing the limits of what you can do. You can climb everything. Earlier this week you were playing on the playground with a little 4-year-old girl, and you were climbing all the slides and all the structures, and she was playing right along with you. You were laughing so much. I cannot wait to see you run, laugh, and play with your little brother.

You see, you have a gift coming. Oh, how I love to give you surprises! I love your face when you’re excited, like Christmas morning, and you light up everything. I hope that you’re excited to meet your baby. A little brother is a wonderful thing. I have one, too, you know. He’s 30 now, but he was little once. This is why I am having you share a room with your new brother. I want you to have plenty of time to play together and eventually have late-night talks when you’re supposed to be sleeping. You see, a little brother is the best for having these. It might not feel like it right away, when the baby is crying or mama is holding the baby a lot, but this is going to be really, really fun. Just like when I met you for the first time, this baby is going to change us. You see, you get to be something else, something new, a big brother, and you’re going to be amazing! I cannot wait for you two to meet!

I love you so, so much! Sometimes I tell you that you’re my favorite, and I want you to know that it’s still true. I just have two favorites now.

All my love,

Mommy

Why I’m not apologizing for my messy bun anymore…

Why I’m not apologizing for my messy bun anymore…

So, I was scrolling through my old Instagram posts recently, and I came across this photo of me, sitting on the couch, freshly home from the hospital with my firstborn. I had asked my husband to capture the moment when we introduced our new baby to our two fur babies. This seemed like an exceptionally pivotal moment. I smile when I remember how nervous we were to bring Maximus home from the hospital. (I kid you not, crazy mother that I am, I was having my carpets in the house professionally steam cleaned that very same day, for fear that even after months of “nesting” that my home was not clean or sanitary enough for a newborn.) When Troy, my husband, picked the girls up from the doggy sitter he brought along a onesie that Maximus had worn in the hospital that smelled like him, to help make the girls familiar with the new baby’s scent. All of these things are permanent products in my memory, but they actually have nothing to do with the topic of this blog! Ha. What stood out to me when looking at this beautiful moment, captured historically on my Instagram account, was my ridiculous caption,

 

“For those that were wondering, introductions of the girls to their new brother couldn’t have gone better!! We are officially a family of five!! (Forgive my crazy hair and appearance!)”

 

It’s that last parenthetical that kills me – Forgive my crazy hair and appearance!

I wanted to reach through the image and slap my former self.

Forgive!? Mama, WTAF is there to forgive!? You literally just brought this baby home. You are a super human. You pushed for 3.5 hours (not including labor) to deliver this amazing child, and you look amazing. Your hair is in a neat and tidy bun on top of your head. Get serious with your life right now. Oh, PS, the bun is here to stay – you’re a mother now. Welcome.

 

The thing was, this was all new. This motherhood thing. As a first-time mom, it is absolutely overwhelming. I had no clue what I was getting into before it hit me. I packed my hospital bag like I was going on a weekend resort vacation. We had taken a 12-week long natural child-birth course, and I was still drastically underprepared for what the realities of postpartum were going to look like. This is a major problem in our society. We expect mothers to deliver and within weeks be ready to walk the catwalk for the VS fashion show. It’s insanity. I’m sure that we will revisit this topic soon, since I will be delivering again in roughly 5 weeks. However, one thing I can be sure of, is that this time around, I will not be apologizing. I swear to embrace my hot mess self, diapers and all, with grace and acceptance. Now I know that a day with a shower is a really, really good day!

 

I visited a hair stylist recently that was asking about my daily hair ritual… I almost laughed out loud. Hmm, let’s see. I wash it every 2-3 days or so. I do use a leave-in conditioning treatment, which is the full and complete extent of my hair product usage. I let it air dry. When it is dry it usually ends up in a ponytail or a tie-back knot of some kind. On really fancy days I do a braid, and the great thing about this is that my next-day hair has a little texture. Otherwise, my hair is straight. Flat. It’s there.

 

Don’t get me wrong, when I get the opportunity to have an actual blowout, I seize the luxury. I still get my hair colored every 8-10 weeks or so, because this is necessary for me to feel like a human. It’s just that on a daily basis, this feels like such a rich indulgence in time-wasting that it’s not even worth contemplating. When your toddler is going to run his cereal and milk fingers through your hair, using a texturizing spray is no longer necessary. Got milk? Texturizing complete!

 

I hear some of you mamas shouting, but yes – what does your hair say about you? What type of person do you really want to present to the world? Don’t you feel better when you put in the extra effort? So, let me respond to that… what does my hair say about me? It says I’m tired. It says I’m busy. It says that I would rather not spend 20 minutes in the morning with a blow-dryer and a round brush when I have someone tugging at my leg to go outside and play “sand” or “read, mama?” It says that at this point in my life, it’s just not really a priority. Guess what. I’m okay with that. Maybe someday, in like a decade, when I’m done having babies and I’m sending all of my littles off to school, perhaps then I will take the 20 minutes. Maybe when I can ethically lock the door to the bathroom without worrying that some small person will absolutely be freaking out or may do something crazy like drink poison, maybe then it will seem important. Right now, I’m just keeping tiny humans alive (one at my feet and one in my belly still), and right now, that seems like enough.

 

So, cheers to not apologizing. Cheers to messy buns. Cheers to motherhood.

 

 

 

Top 5 Things I Do as a Mother to Enhance My Children’s Development

Top 5 Things I Do as a Mother to Enhance My Children’s Development

It’s no secret that I think my son, Maximus, is brilliant. (I have yet to read any research that supports the idea that having low expectations for your kiddos helps them out.) Yes, I believe it is my right as a mother to endorse them shamelessly! This is a quality that I most definitely inherited from my father. Despite it being horrifyingly embarrassing in my teenage years, I always secretly loved when I would show up at my dad’s office and all of his coworkers would know all about my latest and greatest. My exploits were never truly that exceptional or noteworthy, in my opinion, but to my father, every move we (his four children) made was as good as gold. This has always instilled a deep, inner confidence in me that, despite what the world thinks, someone out there believes wholeheartedly and unabashedly in my abilities, my character, and my uniqueness. My father passed away in October of 2007 from brain cancer, but I know to this day that he would be unequivocally proud of me. This continues to be a driving force in my life. I want to instill that same driving force in my children.

 

To that note, I have the same brazen belief that my children (all of them – present and future) are wonderful in their own unique ways and will be successful in their own ways. I will do my absolute darndest to foster their minds, their creativity, and their spirits. At just about 28 months, my son does some pretty amazing things. He can count to 10. He knows all of his colors, and he can name an exceptional number of animals – including “hippopotamus” – which is quite a mouthful for a two-year-old. He blows me away. I do not begin to take full credit for anything that he does, because honestly, his father is brilliant, but I do some things on a daily basis to encourage his development. These things are intentional. I don’t do everything perfectly – far from it – but I thought it might be helpful for other mamas to hear some of the things I am striving for. I am also extremely curious to hear from you all about the things that you do to encourage your children’s brains and spirits, so please share!

 

  1. Read. Read. We go to the library once a week. There are obviously weeks that this is not possible. We relocated recently from Omaha, Nebraska to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the move, this schedule was upset. However, one of the first things that we did while getting settled was to go explore a few local libraries. Every week we get 5 books. This might change as he grows, but for now, it helps my frazzled mom brain to know each week exactly how many books I’m looking to collect for this week’s drop-off. We try to read every day. To help with this, I keep a basket of books accessible in the living room. I don’t keep many toys out at all times, because I prefer to keep things minimal, but this is important to me. Maximus loves books! He will often grab them and insist on climbing into my lap (or anyone’s lap nearby!) to read.
  2. Talk and Listen. Even since Maximus was old enough to babble, we have back and forth chit-chat. I honestly cannot even tell you what we talk about. Everything. Nothing. I just try to respond when he vocalizes anything. Right now, it’s a lot of me repeating what he says, because he’s two, for clarity or for encouragement… a typical conversation while driving in the car sounds like: “Mommy! Mommy! Excavator!” “Yes, baby, excavator!” “BIG Excavator!” “Yes, that is a huge, yellow excavator!”
  3. Keep Things Fresh and Interesting! This is not always easy. There are a few simple things that I do that help. Firstly, we get out of the house. I actually do not like the term “Stay at Home” mother or parent, because that isn’t even close to what we do. We don’t “stay at home” exclusively. Most days, more days than not, we go OUT. We go to Target (a lot lately with the move!), we go to the park, we go to different attractions in the community, we go for walks, and we just generally go (This is also for mama’s sanity as well!) This is important because he sees and experiences new things all the time. He’s very social, “strangers” love him, and he makes friends wherever we go! I also try to bring new things home. I get that on a tight budget, this may seem overwhelming to constantly have new toys. I LOVE the Target dollar bin for this very reason! It’s easy to grab stickers, or little books, or even flashcards with interesting pictures. They have had their back-to-school selection out, and I have grabbed more than my fair share of goodies lately. These are easy things to toss in the backpack or diaper bag and keep them entertained! We also subscribe to a magazine – we do the Highlights Hello/High Five right now. He loves getting mail, and it’s something new to look at every month. I have heard about these development baby brain boxes – like BarkBox for your baby – but I haven’t tried them yet. It sounds right up my alley.
  4. Limit Screen Time. I know, I know, I know. I know how easy it is. I am guilty as well, sometimes. Recently Maximus threw a giant tantrum, as I was trying to run out the door to meet his father for a cooperate dinner, and I carried him out the door with the iPad in hand. I knew that turning on his “Sinosaurs” (Dinosaurs AKA Land Before Time) would buy him (and his sitter) an hour of calm and quiet. However, I usually try everything else in the world in my distraction bag of tricks. In the grocery store, this means countless snacks and appropriate expectations. (He will not stay in the cart, I know this, so I just try to keep him in the cart as long as I can and he hops in and out!) I don’t generally turn the TV on during the day. I save screen time for the half hour to an hour after dinner when mama is too pooped to do anything else and I frankly just need a freaking break. Some days we don’t do screen time at all. Some days I sit down and watch a movie with him. The big thing is that I don’t rely on this as my go-to problem solver, and I firmly believe in no screen time for babies. This is backed by the AAP’s recommendations. We didn’t introduce the iPad/iPhone until Maximus was about a year and a half. This is a hot topic, so I’m sure I’ll return to this in my blog. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx
  5. Hugs, Tickles, and Love. When children are growing, their brains grow faster when they are getting healthy doses of affection from key caregivers. The best thing that you can do as a caregiver is to be gentle, responsive, and loving towards the little one in your life. This does more than make them feel good – it helps them to grow and develop, too.

 

This is just a snippet of information about some of the key things that I try to do as a primary caregiver for my little. Feel free to post questions or commentary! Again, I’m excited to hear more about what others do, too!