Category: Advise

5 Things That Will Make You A Happier Mom

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It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been in the “mom business” for nearly 5 years now. (Seriously?? I swear she was JUST born!) Since joining “team mom” I’ve had my share of ups and downs. There have been times when I wasn’t enjoying my role as a mother as much as I knew I wanted to and the way my children (and myself!) deserved. Life is far too short to be unhappy (especially when you have so many things to be happy about!). 

So I thought about some of the little things that have helped me to become a happier mom. After some thought, a few scribbles in my notebook, and now the clicking of my keyboard; here is a list of the top 5 things that have contributed to my being a happier mom!

  1. Buy good bras! Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly the secret to happiness, but it’s more of a metaphor about how you take care of yourself. Two pregnancies and nursing two kids for nearly a year each can take a toll on the ta-tas. Bras were an afterthought for a few years. When I was finally ready to hang up the nursing bras I realized that I had absolutely no idea what my new bra size should actually be. My advise; get yourself measured, buy the correct size, and spend a bit extra to get the good bras! It’s a small thing, but as moms we tend to put our own needs on the back-burner in order to put our kid’s needs ahead of our own. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, don’t forget to treat yourself sometimes too. Buy some of that make-up you want, put on that cute outfit sometimes “just because”, and BUY THE GOOD BRAS!
  2. Get out of the house WITHOUT KIDS! Go out with girlfriends. Leave the kids with your husband, meet friends for dinner, have drinks, talk, reminisce, bitch, gossip. Never underestimate the power of a girl’s night out! It really is good for the soul. Also, make dates with your husband. I know not everyone has a ton of extra money for sitters. Get a neighbor to watch your kid for a few hours or find a Parent’s Night Out in your area. Many churches offer them and it’s a great (inexpensive!) way to carve out some one-on-one time.
  3. Take time for your hobbies. Whatever it is you enjoy doing and rejuvenates your wary soul; do it! Reading, blogging, refinishing furniture, scrap-booking, running, yoga. Find what you enjoy and leaves you feeling refreshed and do it. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have interests of your own outside of your kids. I’ve seen this too much and I’ve DONE this before too. Nothing will make you more miserable than not allowing yourself a personal outlet.
  4. Music! I recommend that occasionally you should listen to the music of your youth at ignorant levels. Extra points for singing along at the top of your lungs and dancing. Even more bonus points if the song is explicative laden. Usually I have little ears around me and it tends to affect what and how I listen to music in the car & at home. That’s why sometimes you might pull up next to my minivan at a red light after I’ve dropped my kids off at preschool and hear Beastie Boys or Rage Against the Machine blasting at irresponsible decibel levels. Deal with it.
  5. Be grateful for the blessings in your life. It’s hard to be unhappy when you choose to focus on all of the good things in your life, both big and small. One of my favorite people, Dennis Prager, says, “Yes, there is a ‘secret to happiness’ and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy.” There have been days where nothing seemed to go right and it was a struggle to find a happy place. But then I would notice that I was outside and it was a gorgeous day with white puffy clouds in the sky. Or that I had a coffee and it was exactly what I I needed in that moment. Look for all things, big and small, to be grateful for.

What are some of your secrets for being a happier mom?

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Potty Training: Tales From the Trenches

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Potty training. Never have two words struck more fear and anxiety in the hearts of mothers everywhere. It’s so much more than just teaching a small person how to use the toilet. It’s bribery, crying, cleaning up messes, pleading, more messes, banging your head against the wall, wine drinking frustration. (Just to be clear, the wine is for you; not the little person.)

In short, potty training is war.

If you’re anything like me, you feverishly read every article and Pinterest tip you can find leading up to the big event. You consult friends that have successfully battled before you. You look for signs and cues that your little one is ready. And then, when you have conjured enough bravery, you gather all the necessary tools and pray for sweet mercy from the potty training gods. My tools of choice are:

  1. Plenty of liquids for your little to help move the show along.
  2. Wine (or adult beverage of your choosing) to help take some of the edge off. No judgement here if you can’t keep it corked until 5 o’clock. Gotta do what you gotta do. This is war, people. Showing up to potty train without alcohol is like showing up to a gun fight empty handed.
  3.  Plenty of cleaning supplies and paper towels for messes. War is messy.
  4. Bribery implements. This can be candy, small toys, whatever motivates your child. This is one time when you must engage in negotiations with the terrorist, err, kid.
  5. A lot of new “big kid” undies/panties that your little will like. A lot. Like I said, war is messy.
  6. A cleared schedule. Plan on being home for at least 2-3 days. You didn’t have anything to do anyway, right?
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.

I nervously entered into potty training battle with my oldest when she was 2 years 10 months old. She was probably ready before that, but I wasn’t. With my second being an infant at the time, I felt I had too much on my plate to jump in sooner. Also, the very thought of potty training made me so anxious that I put it off.

We jumped into battle and got both feet wet. Both metaphorically and literally. That first day was TERRIBLE. She didn’t make it to the potty on time once. Plus, every time she peed on the floor little sister came crawling over like the bat signal had just flashed into the sky. It was as if a puddle of her sister’s piss on the floor was the best sensory play ever. It was not a good day. Wine was uncorked, words were muttered between gritted teeth as I tried to feign a smile and pretend I wasn’t about to lose my ever-loving shit. I almost surrendered, but decided to show up for round two. She had won the battle, but she wasn’t going to win the war. Then, something happened that second day. At some point it just clicked for her. She got it. She started using the potty and we never looked back.

Doesn't everyone keep a little potty by their front door?
Doesn’t everyone keep a little potty by their front door?

I felt like a potty training genius. I figured it would be just as swift a victory when it came time to potty train my second. I was wrong. The battle instincts are strong with that one. It started off well enough, but as you can see in the progression of photos morale started to waver as the day went on.

All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
“Is this how you use the potty, mom?”
Just not having it anymore.

You see, my second child is un-bribable. No amount of promises for candy or toys was going to convince her to use a potty. How am I supposed to parent under these conditions?! On top of that, she could give a rip about pissing on the floor. My oldest was very upset when she had an accident. Not little miss stubborn. She would no sooner take a wiz on the floor and look at me all matter-of-factly and say, “Mama, I go pee-pee on the floor. Clean it up”.

This continued for three days. She didn’t go in the potty once. Not ONCE. On the third day she began telling me, “Mama, I not a big girl. I a baby. I want my diaper”. How can you argue with that? She had won this war. I packed up my battle gear and retreated to safety.

So here we are, four and a half months later. It’s time to declare war once again. She has proven she’s a worthy adversary. I have enlisted a secret weapon this time. Big sister. I have bribed her with a trip to Toys R Us if she helps me encourage her sister to use the potty. Pathetic, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Wish us luck.

How was your potty training experience? What worked for your little one? Feel free to share your funny/scary/encouraging stories in the comments.

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Opinions Are Like A-Holes; Everyone Has One

Something happens the moment you let the world know you are going to be a parent. Everyone has advise, insights, and cautionary tales to tell you. Even the least likely among us to give a flying fart about what others think are suddenly susceptible to give weight to this unsolicited advise. Maybe it’s the unparalleled hugeness of it all, or maybe it’s just the hormones blocking your ability to form your own objective thoughts. Who knows…

What I do know is that in the beginning of my parenting journey I listened (mostly) to what others had to say about pregnancy, birth, babies, and toddlers. I assumed (falsely) that if my experience was different that I must not be doing something right. What I realize now is there isn’t a “one size fits all” for parenting. Just because someone else finds something to be true for them does not mean that it will ring true for you. And that’s okay. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t still seek advise from others or share our experiences with others. Give advise, take advise; just take it all with a grain of salt.

Here are the top 5 inaccurate (for me anyway) parenting nuggets I was told. Maybe you can relate too.

1.) Breastfeeding comes naturally and it’s so easy. Um, false. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and once you are established it is pretty easy. But it can be very difficult in the beginning, not to mention painful. Did I mention painful? (Ouch!) Just because your body naturally produces milk does not mean you and your baby automatically possess the ability to be instant experts at it. There is a learning curve involved. And, sadly, you might find yourself bleeding from the nipples in the early days.

Good advise, luckily, did come in the form of encouragement from Second Rate Best Friend. In the early days when I was contemplating even continuing to breastfeed she advised that I see it through the first month before making the decision. Glad I listened to her. It did become natural and it did get easier.

*On a side note: Can we please just all agree to stop all of these ridiculously immature and ignorant online mommy wars on breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. Both ways are great and nourish your baby. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you more of a woman any more than formula feeding is going to poison your infant. What happened to respecting and supporting other’s decisions? Enough! Jeez. End rant.*

2.) Sleep when your baby sleeps. What the what?! Okay, maybe this works for some people, but it was not true for me. I love my sleep as much as the next sleep-deprived Mombie (mom-zombie), but this just wasn’t realistic for me. When my newborn was sleeping it was the only time I had to tend to the mountains of poop/pee/spit-up laundry, do dishes, prepare a meal, or take a not frequent enough shower. And when my second baby was born, her napping provided some much-needed one-on-one time with my oldest. This well-meaning advise just didn’t work for me.

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3.) Your life is over once they start walking! Could not have been further from the truth for me! I felt so much more freedom once my littles hit the walking stage. That’s not to say that the walking stage didn’t come with a new set of challenges;  just that I felt like it beat the hell out of crawling. Walking gave my poor aching back a break from always having to carry the baby around. It meant no more being grossed out by all the germs on the ground when they were forced to navigate the world on hands and knees. Walking brought with it a whole new world of awe and discovery.

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4.) When they drop nap time, it messes up your whole schedule. This one is both true and false. My kids decided to drop nap time within weeks of each other shortly after turning 2 and 4 years old. It was rough at fist. I had grown to cherish the 90 minutes of peace and quiet nap time afforded me every day. Losing it sucked at first. But then I realized there were also benefits and some new freedoms to our napless days. No more stressing about rushing home from a play date or an errand to make it in time for a nap. Plus, once my girls dropped their naps they started going to bed a bit earlier in the evening with less bed time protests. What’s not to like about that?! So overall, this was one for the “tie” column for me.

5.) Going from 1 kid to 2 kids is so much easier than going from no kid to 1 kid. FALSE! At least, it was for us. I’ve heard split reactions to this one among friends. The transition from 1 to 2 kids rocked our world to the core. Me and Second Rate Husband admittedly aren’t the best at multi-tasking, and having multiple children is the ultimate form of multi-tasking. Add that to the feeling of suddenly being pulled in too many directions, and the insecurity I had about being able to equally divide my love and attention. Our first year as a family of 4 was definitely harder on us than our first year as parents. Again, I know that is not the case for everyone, but this was true for us.

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Was there any advise you received that didn’t pan out for you? What was the worst advise you ever received?

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