Parent Hacks: Mini Camp starts tomorrow

You know about Parents Hacks right? Only one of the best sites out there giving you hacks parents have created to make their parental lives easier.

Well those bloggers have written a book called Minimalist Parenting. No, they don’t tell you to throw out all your possessions and move to a hut. This is from their site:

We’re in the midst of a parenting climate that feeds on more. More expert advice, more gear, more fear about competition and safety, and more choices to make about education, nutrition, even entertainment. The result? Overwhelmed, confused parents and overscheduled, overparented kids.

In MINIMALIST PARENTING, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest offer a fresh approach to navigating all of this conflicting background “noise.” They show how to tune into your family’s unique values and priorities and confidently identify the activities, stuff, information, and people that truly merit space in your life.

The book begins by showing the value of a minimalist approach, backed by the authors’ personal experience practicing it. It then leads parents through practical strategies for managing time, decluttering the home space, simplifying mealtimes, streamlining recreation, and prioritizing self-care. Filled with parents’ personal stories, readers will come away with a unique plan for a simpler life.

Tomorrow they are starting their Mini-Camp—the companion workshop to Minimalist Parenting. No, you don’t need to buy the book. For two weeks, they’ll email you one doable task per day that will help you simplify and streamline your home and life. We focus on the topics most of us find challenging: time (we need more!) stuff (we need less!) meals (we need simple and healthful) self-care (we need a moment for ourselves)

Plus: you’ll earn MERIT BADGES. It’s free and I’m doing it.

MinCamp-sharebadge

Head vs. Heart—Welcome to the Tractor Pull

I can just hear it now—Competition

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY—the main event! The “Head” takes on the “Heart.” Be there, be there, be there! We’ll give you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge!

Was that too dramatic? That’s kind of how I feel sometimes—my heart wants to do this, while my brain knows better. It always knows better. Stupid brain.

As a single mother, taking care of yourself, well it rarely happens. But it should. Don’t flight attendants always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, then your child’s? But for years it’s been my sole responsibility to make sure those kids had everything they needed. Now they know that I will give up doing something for myself in order to provide for them. But I wonder if that’s healthy for anyone?

Case in point:

I have a meeting I have to go to this week. At the same time as a school event being held at McDonald’s. Not any McD’s—the one with the Play Place. Once my son heard he wasn’t going to be able to go, he broke down. Side note: my son doesn’t throw tantrums any more. He might get mad but he won’t break down. What a relief right? So this is how I know he was really upset.

Boy did my heart strings get pulled! I overcompensate for them due to the challenges they have had to face already in their short lives. I do all that I can to see that they are happy. But then my brain kicks in. It says he will be just fine if he is disappointed. So I let him cry.

And he cried and cried. Then he lost it in his room and began screaming. I let it blow over. Once he calmed himself down I took him aside and reminded him that the whole school was invited to ONE McD’s and if his goal was the play in the Play Place, then we really should go on another day. The light bulb went off in his head and he smiled.

In this case it was easier because he IS getting what he wants, he just has to wait. But it’s not always so cut and dry. I am always letting go of my things because of Girl/Cub Scouts, birthday parties, when one is sick, when one is in trouble…and I don’t always have the money for a babysitter or a reliable backup. Their father lives in a different state, my fiance takes his own classes, and my friends are often in the same boat as me.

It’s frustrating. I don’t have any answers. But I know if I don’t stay healthy and put my mask on first—the whole plane is goin’ down!

My Son is Seven

Seven. It’s the magic number…(everyone…sing along!) Oh wait, I think that’s six.

He was actually 4 or 5 here.

He was actually 4 or 5 here.

My son is now seven. And it is a magical thing, because boys are magical—if you are able to stop and just see it. The kids are with their Dad for the week (God help me) and I have been able to gain perspective with a bit of distance. I don’t like the distance—write that down—but there are good things about it.

As I was thoroughly cleaning his room, I am reminded of him everywhere I look.
He wanted Transformers for his birthday, but we quickly realized even I cannot change the robot into the truck in under 30 minutes without swearing. He is slowly giving up his Thomas the Tank Engine phase, which started only 2 years ago. He still loves playing dress-up but only if the costume is right-in-front-of-his-face. He cannot be bothered to look for the costume. He really enjoyes Legos but gets frustrated easily.

The amount of energy this child has could power the world for a year.

He loves it when you read to him, but don’t expect him to sit quietly at the same time. Instead you will see him go from this side of the bed to that side, to OFF the bed to get another toy, to have 2 toys engage in conversation with each other then suddenly…”Wait Momma. How can Jack and Annie go into the Jungle at night without a flashlight?” proving he was paying very close attention the whole time.

He loves to play any board game or card game. He also still loves to SPINNNNN wildly around the living room like he did when he was 2. When he watches TV, rarely is he sitting on his butt. More likely he is sitting on his head. He never walks. Never.

He loves playing video games but always makes sure his sister is close by to “help” him get to the next level. He absolutely loves babies. We have a friend who has 12 cats. That’s right, 12. When we visit, you can see him sitting amongst his pride, like a Momma Lion.

I’ve mentioned more than a 1,000 times, “You cannot attack-hug people.” This is when you run up to a friend and suddenly give them a fierce hug. He will eat all your food—like that of a teenager—when he is going through a growth spurt. ALL OF IT. He is the same height as his sister who is 3 years older than him and is one of the tallest in his class.

He’s not so fond of his sister’s pet snake. He’d rather have a dog. He tells me he is big enough to go to the playground by himself (100 yards away) but often asks me to read my book by his nightlight as he falls asleep. He also doesn’t like to let go when I hug him goodnight.

He doesn’t like to play by himself. He craves attention and people. The kids come home from school while I am still working and I was getting frustrated when he would ask 100 times, “Can you play NOW?” What I find works is for him to play next to me. Just having me there is enough. He is getting very strong. He is my go-to-guy to help me carry out the garbage, bring in groceries, or do the laundry in the complex basement.

He and I like the same kind of music—mostly classic rock. But anything with a good guitar lick or strong drumline will do. He tells me his favorite is Stevie Ray Vaughn. Everytime he writes or draws, he sticks out his tongue and licks his lips. Everytime. His favorite thing to eat is Mac & Cheese.

My little boy isn’t so little anymore. I can’t pick him up but I still have to cut his meat. I cannot give him a piggy-back-ride, but I still have to help him zip his jacket sometimes. He can pop a wheelie on his bike but if he scraps his knee he still wants me to kiss it.

Don’t grow up so fast. Slow down.

Scared

Once again, it’s that time: the time I drive my kids to see their father. He lives quite far so we meet up at a halfway point. The kids get to see him only 2-3 times a year. For me, that’s more than enough.

Since our divorce I feel like we have become strangers to each other. I barely know or understand him anymore. So, why wouldn’t I be scared about letting a stranger watch my kids for a week?

Last night I went out and bought the girl a pre-paid phone. She is aware of the chronic issues her father deals with, even if she doesn’t fully understand them. She knows what he ISN’T suppose to consume while they are with him. She knows to call for help if she ever needs it. And it completely saddens me that she has to deal with this at such a young age.

I haven’t always been a religious person. Now I’d say I was more spiritual. I believe in a higher power. I have seen my HP work wonders I cannot ever explain. I know is sounds hokey, but when I pray to my HP, I actually see results. No shit. So I am praying for my children’s safety and happiness for the next week. I am also praying I will relax a little and enjoy the much needed break.

Heaven Help Me

Weekly Menu

I am always on the lookout for dinner ideas (that I can accomplish). So let me repay the world by giving you MY list.IMG_3187

Monday:
French toast with fruit smoothies
That means my kids eat eggs! And the smoothie is frozen fruit quickly thawed in hot water. Throw in some milk, OJ, and yogurt. I have also been known to throw in some puree carrots or peas. They never knew what hit them

Baked chicken legs, rice, any raw veggie child willingly eats

Spaghetti with meat sauce
Again with the hidden carrots

Snack dinner
peanuts, yogurt, lunch meat, crackers, raw veggies and fruit, milk.

Homemade pizza
Kids now like green peppers! Another win!

Chicken fried rice
Cook chicken strips in frying pan with a touch of oil. Take leftover rice from the other day, throw it in there with peas or corn. Soy sauce, a little oil, salt, pepper, maybe onion. Done. Pair with oranges.

Shrimp scampi
Seriously. Easiest thing to make. Saute butter and garlic with precook end shrimp. Make noodles and throw together.

Details of Crazy

It’s been a month. Life got crazy…and here is where I detail the crazy.images

Last month we all exhaled from Christmas. And in our neck of the woods, Christmas came with every known virus you could think of. Everyone we knew got hit with at least 1 awful sickness. Some people got many. Have you ever read Stephen King’s “The Stand”? Hello super-flu! If you haven’t read it—your an idiot. You need to read it. ALL of it. Yes, all 1,436 pages.

Then there was my son’s birthday. At Chuck E Cheese. I was pleasantly surprised at the experience because usually CEC reminds me of every gross, germy, money-sucking, child-overrun play establishment. And this one serves beer. But this CEC was clean, orderly, and helpful. However the weeks leading up to it were murder. “How many more days till my party?” “When’s my party again?” “I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL MY PARTY!!”

His father wanted to buy him Transformers this year. He wasn’t having any luck finding them where he lives. I volunteered to help him out. Only to find out—it took me 30+ minutes to transform ONE of those things. Now he owns 5 of them. His father wrote me a check and was surprised I was willing to help him. Generally I steer clear of anything money-related with him. For the past 7 months he has been employed and Child Support Enforcement has been sending me regular checks. Yah for money! I thought…give him a break and help him out.

Bam. Unemployed again with a text telling me he’s sorry but the check is going to bounce. Hey Lucy, wanna play football?

Lastly, the weather has been kicking my ass every joint in my body. My rheumatologist would say it’s not the weather when I feel this bad. It’s the disease. And it means we need to do a better job of managing it. One thing I haven’t really tried is exercising. Who wants to exercise when the day after it leaves you in a ball of hurt?! Can I get a hell-yeah!?

In January our YMCA was offering half off their joining fee. When I calculated what I pay for a babysitter to “save my sanity” for 2 hours once a week, I realized the YMCA monthly fee was LESS. This Y has a rock wall, a heated pool (about 78), a HUGE hot tub, and indoor track, a Tween center, an endless supply of nautilus/running/biking equipment, a huge playroom, and a boat-load of classes. Drop the kids off and get time to myself while exercising. What could be better?

Here’s the rub: the day after I exercise—ball of hurt. And that’s where I am today. But I can’t give up.

So, please pass the anti-inflammatories, and the ulcer medicine (from too many anti-inflammatories).