Real Life Fridays: My House Is Not Meant For Play Dates

Real Life Fridays

I will save you all the long story of how a Facebook post on a controversial topic brought me back to a friend the girls and I haven’t seen in almost a year and a half (mommy life gets busy).  What I will tell you is what happened AFTER said conversation that resulted in a VERY LONG morning, and a GREAT play date.

I am NOT by any means the most logical person in the world, so when a friend I hadn’t spoken with in a while and I decided to let our kids play so we could enjoy some adult conversation I was STOKED to say the least, and didn’t think about the EXACT condition of my house.  Now, let me explain this just a bit further by saying I was raised for the first 8-9 years of my life in a house where my father was a hoarder.  I am starting to learn that children of hoarders don’t necessarily hoard themselves, and yet in some ways, they DO.  When you are raised by someone who sees value in every coffee can, weird shaped jar, or stack of magazines you are either a DIYer/crafters child, or a hoarders child.  As a crafter or DIYer I’m sure you’d have a spot for your projects, AND even if it was a messy or cluttered spot, it is still one area.  When you are a hoarder, you may have GREAT intentions for the 1,000 magazines you have kept over the last 25 years, but they are all over, and nothing ever gets done with them.  As a child, living in a hoarding home for so long, I became rather oblivious to that which normal people those who do not hoard normally consider “junk” or “trash” and throw away.  It’s not that I had a PLAN for the 15 12 pack boxes that sat stacked in my hallway, I just kept thinking I’ll get to those later, and would generally only think about it when I nearly knocked them over, on my way to bed, and would think “I’ll get them in the morning” and morning came and I’d walk right past them as though they were a work of art and supposed to be there.

Being the mom of a 3 and almost 2 year old, by the time my littles go to bed, I’m ready to relax and be DONE with “work” for the day.  So naturally the night we made the plans for a play date the  NEXT day, I was exhausted and figured I’ll get up an hour earlier, and I’ll clean all morning and it will be worth it when I get to see my girls having a good time playing.  I got up and started on those 12-pack boxes, some diaper boxes and the grocery bags that had piled up in my hallway.  I felt much better once the mess had been cleared, BUT there are MORE reasons than just my house being Pre-hoarder material.  We have a dog, our dog sheds… EVERYWHERE.  As in every room in the house is covered in dog hair that unless I sweep ever time he MOVES (I’m talking switches positions, blinks his eyes, breathes… you get my picture, right???) there is just hair EVERYWHERE!!!  Some people are okay with this, others, would seriously give the dog away, I get that which is another reason I say our home is not “right” for play dates.

The last reason our home isn’t the perfect place for play dates is “But Dad” and his smoking habit.  I know, I know, smoking is BAD for you, but let’s just say it would be BAD for all of us if he decided to quit without getting help.  He doesn’t smoke a TON (My ex-husband smoked like 3 packs a DAY, talk about an expensive habit), but he DOES smoke, and he tends to smoke in the house now that we OWN it and we make the rules (I know, I know, some of you are cringing, but it is what it is.)  I completely forgot, being that I have lived with smokers since I was about 9, that some people just don’t like smoke or can’t be around it.  Fortunately for me “But Dad” is very polite and thinks about other people in ways I just don’t think about, and he reminded me that the smoking might make for a shortened play date, and so….

We ended up meeting at McDonald’s where I was able to relax and let the girls play without worrying I was missing some bit of hoarders paradise, missed a BIG bunch of puppy fur, or that the smoke was going to be a put off to an otherwise AMAZING play date.  The kids played, my friend and I chatted, and we WILL be doing this again!!!  I am sooo happy we changed the location, and I really don’t think I will set another play date up at the house until the girls are old enough to help clean and we are living in a bigger place (Hopefully with a “Man Cave” for Mr “But Dad” to smoke in.

Anyone have any tips on clutter???  Throw them MY way 🙂

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My Real Life: Messy Play Edition

My sink (and the counter next to it) are piled with dishes.  There are toys scattered all over the floor in my living room, and I don’t even want to talk about the bathroom right now.  It is my life, my REAL life. I spend MOST of the kiddos waking hours attempting to do a fun project with them, which usually ends up in disaster (Think slime over every inch of the house as my 2 littles realize I can only go after 1 at a time and proceed to run in different directions spreading whatever wonderful concoction we just made over furniture, toys, and the walls.).  This generally ends with me in meltdown status and the kids in front of Disney Jr while I attempt to clean the mess from, well, everywhere in my house.

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You would think that I would learn my lesson, plan “less messy” projects with them, and find a better result .  The truth is, my 3 year old still eats crayons half the time (I know that can be considered normal for her age) and when you attempt to let her do anything out of the normal, she decides that means the rules don’t apply and she can now leave said activity and do whatever she pleases with no consequences.  It is frustrating to say the least, but, it is my life.  I would love to say that I am a pro at getting through the frustrations, but sadly, I still have moments where I fall apart, into tears, and wonder what I am doing wrong.

My saving grace has been my new-found ability to pull myself back together quickly, and deal with life without too many more issues.  Here are some things that I have learned from this experience.

  • Objects and people can always be cleaned up.  It may take some scrubbing, and it may seem impossible, but I can assure you, with the right cleaner and some elbow grease, possessions and people can look just as they did BEFORE the accident happened.
  • Schedules or activities should remain flexible.  This is one I am STILL working on learning and have to remind myself about ALL. THE. TIME.  If my girls wake up and are in a grumpy mood that day, it is probably for the best if we play with toys, watch a movie, and maybe color a bit later in the day.  I often find myself planning an “Amazing” activity, only to realize their level of listening and cooperative skills that day are less than stellar acceptable.  I used to feel extremely hurt when I’d plan something, and the day was not as I would have pictured it, because it started out bad to begin with.  I am learning that just because I PLAN something, doesn’t mean it has to happen THAT day, or at that exact time.  Being flexible helps a TON
  • My kids can’t handle what other kids their age can.  Another tough pill to swallow.  As a parent, you never want to think of your child as being behind, but, in a case like this, it really IS better if you are up front and honest with the level of maturity your child has and plan activities for that age level.  In my case, both my children (though 18 months apart) are at the same maturity level.  I see all these super neat projects for preschoolers and I WANT to do them, however, I know if I put the work and effort in to do them right now, we would have craziness and frustration, yelling and tears.  If I find toddler activities, we can generally get through them with only me having a Semi-nervous breakdown and life can move on decently for the rest of the day.
  • Planner never hurt anyone.  There was a while where I just STOPPED trying.  I didn’t plan, I didn’t look at Pinterest, or read any preschool blogs, I was tired of feeling like a failure.  It is HARD for me as a mom to talk about this, because after babysitting 6 month old twins and a 3 year old for 4 days a week (96 hours without a break) while a friend of mine was in school, I felt invincible.  Now, I feel like I can’t even handle the 5 hours of wake time from morning until nap time some days (I’ll talk more about this in another post).  So, defeated, I just gave up.  I am learning though, that a little planning has never hurt anyone.  It may not turn out like I have pictured in my head (for some reason, in my head my children are angles that listen and never rebel… lol) but, if we have some fun, waste 30 minutes of time, and the girls are happy, it was worth it.
  • Never give up.  My last point goes along with the previous point here, don’t give up.  Keep trying, and keep looking for great projects or ideas that will work well with your kids.  I may not LOVE painting projects, however I can handle giving my kids playdough or crayons.  Plan crazy projects for nice days and do them outside, or call up a friend of neighbor and have their kids come over and play too.  Having someone to help you stay sane during crazy messy projects keeps you from feeling overwhelmed.

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As you can see, we are still working on what to do with all of these “works of art” my children are creating, but one this is for sure, they will be able to create plenty more, because I’m not going to stop planning the fun stuff, even if it doesn’t work out according to plan

 

What do YOU do to help stay sane during messy activities???

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Super Sunday: Kids and House Cleaning

Being a mom to littles can make you crazy.  Crazy in the way you start to “not care” about things.  Everyone has different areas in life they tend to “let go” when their kids are young, and while I am hardly out of that stage in life, as my oldest gets older, it has come to my attention… This house is a MESS!!!

Some of you with teenagers may be thinking, it doesn’t get much better, and while I know that the older children get, the crazier there schedule and likewise the parents schedule gets, leaving less time to clean, cook, and so on.  I get that, however, we are at a point where it is time to start teaching the littles how to do simple chores and help around the house.

I think most of us have seen graphics like this one of chores by age however, HOW do you start???  For us, it is a very slow process. We are starting with a daily time of “cleaning the play room” and while they fight it with every fiber of their being, we do nothing else until it is done.  Once we get the playroom down, we will move on to making beds and helping with laundry.  Here are some steps I use to help them learn something new:

I demonstrate… a lot

For something like picking up toys, we sing the “Clean up” song, you could make up a song to go with any chore though.

I will give very specific step by step directions.  Go get the baby doll. Wait for child to pick up doll, now put baby in the toy tub. Then repeat with the next toy.

I only help them while they are working.  This is a big one right now, with picking up toys, if I start picking them up, a lot of times they stop.  I now stop and wait for them to continue picking up before I start helping them again.

I have made the goal smaller.  I down-sized the amount of toys, so this means there are fewer toys to pick up and that means less drama (I might just down-size even more until we get good at cleaning up).

So these are some tips.  For making beds, I will go in, and shut the door behind me in their room and they won’t get to come out until the bed is made.  I’ll show them how for a while, and then let them move into doing it all on their own.  Laundry will be made into a fun game of “help mommy” which we do well at around here.  How do you get your kids to help

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Color Blocking Your TIme: It is a Good Thing.

Time is precious.  I think when you start adding more to your proverbial plate, you start to get less done, or feel as though you are getting less done anyway.  So, how do I keep it all straight???  What are my tricks for staying on track???  Welcome to the world of Color Blocking your Calendar.

Color Blocking your Calendar is just what it sounds like, you block certain amounts of time for areas that are important to you. You will need a day planner or calendar with time slots (I love my day planner since I can take it with me to appointments and places I may need to schedule activities, however, there are great apps for your smart phones and also sites like Google Calendar that may work for you as well.  My calendar has 5 areas that I “block” my time for.  There are many subcategories to these, but here is my starting point: “Me” time, Family time, Work, House Work, and Time with “But Dad”.  When I go through my planner at the beginning of the week, I look at what appointments I have, and I then “block” my time around them.

1. Me Time.  The first time I schedule in my planner is “Me Time”.  This generally happens before the kids get up (my coffee and get my thoughts together time) and once they go to bed for the night (my relaxing, play some mindless Facebook games, and catch up with friends time).  I make sure this is scheduled 1st, and I try to make myself stick to it.  When I have time for relaxing, or getting my thoughts gathered in the morning, I’m happier, and that makes for a better day.

2. Family Time.  My family is my first priority, therefore, this is the 2nd time I schedule.  This is time I spend with the kids playing, time we spend as a family watching movies or at a family gathering, and also time spent eating meals and time I spend with the girls at night (bath time, book time, etc).  I also schedule therapy and Dr appointments in this color.

3. Work.   Next I schedule “work” time.  This consists of anything from blog post writing, editing, and scheduling, to working my Wildtree business, and keeping up on various social media pages I have for my blog and Wildtree business.  When I schedule in the time to work, I know that this is what this time was set aside for.  I don’t feel guilty for working when it is scheduled, because I know I have time outside of working time that I can spend with my family, or catching up on house work, so it’s okay to focus on work, and I get Waaaay more accomplished.

4. House Work.  In this category, of course is the daily and weekly cleaning and meal prep, and also errands.  When I have time set aside to do dishes and make meals, it generally gets done faster, since I know that is what I am suppose to do.  It isn’t always pretty, and I have been known to WANT to continue working, or playing with the kids through this time, however, it is generally no longer than an hour or two at a time, and I keep reminding myself of how good it will feel when it is all done.  It is a work in progress for sure, but I am getting better at sticking to this, and it is helping to ease the stress level in the house as well.

5. Time with “But Dad”  Please do NOT confuse this thinking that we only spend scheduled time  together.  Some nights, my “Me Time” is spent hanging out binge-watching a show on Hulu, or a movie with “But Dad”, or during the day we snuggle on the couch and watch a movie as a family.  This time I schedule is a reminder to me that it is important to take this time and focus on our marriage and each other.  It is time (usually) during the middle of the day, while the littles nap.  It is before the stress of evening comes with dinner, and baths, and bedtime.  We use to wait until we got the kids in bed for the night, but somehow, a lot of nights there just wasn’t anything left from either of us.  The sad truth is, we are both exhausted and brain-fried by bedtime, and it isn’t fair to either of us to not get that quality time with each other, so scheduling it in works for us.

These are the areas on my calendar.  When I have an impromptu meeting come up (Business convo, play date, errand to run) I can see where that would fit in my daily schedule and add it accordingly, this way, I am not neglecting 1 area because I made my plate too full.  It keeps me balanced, and focused, and my family happy.  What would YOUR calendar look like???

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