WT 087: Should I Pretend Like I Have It All Together?
Join Karen in this live edition of Wire Talk where she talks through practical ways of parenting and not feeling pressure to have it all together.
Question 1: Karen, even though every day is busy… at the end of most days I don’t even feel like I’ve accomplished anything. How do I keep things moving on my to-do list without being exhausted all the time?
Karen’s Answer: Keep in mind there are seasons in life, and it sounds like you are in a season where you just have to keep going, and sometimes just getting through the day is accomplishing a lot. Seriously! I remember those days when Greg would come home and asked me what I did and I would be thinking and honestly had nothing to share other than feeding the kids, getting everyone dressed, nap times accomplished and possibly a load of laundry or two, and that was it. Doesn’t sound like much compared to other people’s days, but in my world, I was busy all day. You know what? I look back now and see I accomplished a lot! I didn’t give myself enough credit. The fact that we got through those boring days and came out the other side smiling and liking each other, well, that was a job well done. My children are VERY close right now, in their adult lives and I think it is a direct result of those “boring” days, days when we did more than just survive, they developed deep friendships with one another.
Just keep moving!!! One step at a time!
Question 2: Karen, what were your top few organization tips to keep things from falling through the cracks when your kids were young? Systems for organizing homework, planning meals, etc.?
Karen’s Answer: Girl, you are asking the wrong person! :) I am not naturally organized, but I guess I had to be a little organized to stay afloat so here are a few of my tips:
homework: I made my kids be responsible for their own homework. I would “aid” them, but not do it for them. I would get them started then walk away and do my own work.
I tried to keep a stash of paper, markers, crayons, and poster board in the house to avoid last minute trips to the store for a project. I found if I had three poster boards behind the cabinet in my dining room, that saved most melt downs at 9 p.m. when a child realized they had a project due the next day.
Laundry: I started having laundry days instead of everyday, so I would do Monday and Thursday. Other than those two days, I wouldn’t do laundry; it helped keep me sane.
I gave children chores around the house to help out. Simple chores, like taking dirty clothes to the laundry room, helping with the dishes after dinner, making up their beds, picking up wet towels, picking up shoes, backpacks, etc. I found if everyone pitched in it wasn't so bad. Sometimes I would stop everyone and just say, “let’s straighten up the house for 10 minutes then you can go back to doing what you are doing.” And no, I didn’t pay them to do chores, that was just part of living in our house. I did pay them for special chores like cleaning out the garage, weeding, etc.
I kept a routine most days, I found that it helped me and the children know what to expect.
Meals: I tried to cook the meal for dinner while the children were napping when they were young. As they got older, and I was working, I tried to make easy things during the week, like tacos, spaghetti, pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home and make a salad and another veggie for a quick meal. I had my “go to” meals that I could whip up easily. Chicken potpie was one of them. (Recipe included)
Chicken Pot Pie:
Onion ( optional)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 chicken breasts
Cut up your veggies- normally takes about 3/4 whole carrots; 3 stalks of celery, 1 potato (peeled) if you add onion only 1/4 of one.
Pour chicken stock over the veggies until they are covered. Sprinkle a little pepper and let cook until veggies are softened
In a separate pot boil your chicken add salt & pepper - once chicken is cooked shred/cut add the chicken into the veggies
Mix in the can of cream of chicken soup
Pour all ingredients into your pie dish, cover with piecrust
Bake at 350 until golden brown
Start small then work your way up to the bigger challenges. i.e.: Start getting your child to make up their own bed. :)
Question 3: When my kids were toddlers, their battle of choice was dinnertime. Now that they’re in school, it’s getting out of bed. The mornings are a madhouse with me trying to get everyone ready and out the door. It’s a miracle when I get to work on time. Any advice for making it easier?
Karen’s Answer: Okay, you aren’t going to like my advice today, but trust me, I love you and it will help you if you do it! Sit your children down and explain to them your dilemma. I would tell them their choices of not cooperating in the morning are affecting your job and that is not good. Some changes need to be made and they are at the age to where they need to help. I would tell them from this point forward bedtime is a firm time, and no more getting out of bed. I would think through what your punishment will be and if they don’t stay in their bed, I would punish them. (You can decide what that punishment will be) But, you MUST enforce it!
Secondly, in the morning, go in their room and turn on their light at 6:30 and walk away, leave on the light. Tell them they are responsible for getting up, getting dressed, coming downstairs to eat breakfast, then brush teeth and be ready by 7:15 to go to school. (you know your times needed, I’m just giving an example) Tell them if they are not ready on time, once again there will be consequences and once again you MUST enforce them.
Be prepared that the first week will be brutal. But, if you stick to it, I promise you will see results. You MUST be firm.
I struggled with Kelsey being ready on time, and one day, I left her at the house. I had told her I was tired of her making the whole family late, so if she wasn’t ready by 7:15 she would be left and have to do chores all day and then make up her work from school she missed. I left her one time and she never did it again.
Get your game face on! You got this mom!
Question 4: What do you do when you start to really miss the freedom that came with your old life pre-kids? Of course I love my children and husband, but I hear about some of the vacations my no-kids friends take or how they have date nights several times a week and it just makes me miss the pre-kid season. Is that wrong? What do I do in those moments?
Karen’s Answer: I don’t think it is wrong at all. I think it is normal. I wouldn’t stay there though, because that can be dangerous. I think it’s normal to long for those days where we didn’t have to worry about anyone but ourselves. Why wouldn’t you miss those days? But, bottom line is you are not in those days anymore, and dreaming about yesterdays gone by, are not constructive, it only makes you miserable. In those moments, I would choose gratitude. Grateful that you have great memories to look back on and enjoy the memory, but now you are in a new season of life, and with that season, you have new opportunities! Listen, the freedom of youth is fun, but the only person you were concerned with was you, now you have an opportunity to do something way bigger than yourself. You have the opportunity to raise up the next generation and guide and mold those children God has blessed you with. Yes, there is sacrifice, responsibility and hard work, but it is so worth it. I promise, you will look back one day to these days and remember them as sweet. I know it doesn’t feel that way now, but they are sweet days.
I 100% experienced it. I had to do just what I’m telling you to do. I had to choose gratefulness of what I had and stop looking back. Before we had children, I would travel a lot with Greg, I would go meet him on his Navy cruises, on the French Rivera, Caribbean, CA, Key West and obviously once children came along, those trips were non existent, but I had to focus on the choice I made for children. I would dream about one day going again and in the meantime, plan trips with Greg that were more doable like the beach, or Charleston for a few day get away, etc. Honestly, any break from children was always much needed and I didn’t need to go to Europe to enjoy it! ;)
Stay in the moment of today and if you need to daydream, dream about the future not the past. Start a little nest egg for a future trip.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
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