Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Focusing on the Good

It's so easy-- natural, even-- to obsess about all the challenges in our lives as mothers. Is your kid all the sudden not sleeping? You wonder why. Are your kids in a "I only eat plain hot dogs and Cheez-its stage?" You worry they'll never eat a piece of pizza. Are they struggling with x/y/z? Quick, search Google. Are you frustrated with yourself for losing your patience? Commence feeling guilty.

Not hard to do, right?

I read (and took) some advice in a book recently (I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood) that has added to my daily happiness.

The authors write that one behavior to practice at the end of each day is to think about and feel good about what did go well with your kids that day. It may not sound groundbreaking, but I have to say, regularly doing so has positively influenced me.

I have also started doing this throughout the day-- taking a mental note when I am enjoying my kids during the day, or when I feel that surge of love and pride for them.

Some days, yes, the hard parenting moments may outnumber the joyful ones, but by focusing on the really good ones, I still feel better.

This print was my gift to my husband for Father's Day: A good reminder that having each other is something to feel grateful and happy about every single day.

Since just last week, when I first read this nugget of wisdom, I'm feeling calmer and like a more successful mother. [To me, a successful mom isn't defined by someone else. It simply means that I feel satisfied with how I'm doing with my own children in our own lives.]

Here are a few simple joys I've taken note of in the past week... See if you can start to recognize those little moments of happiness in your day as well.

Reading aloud with each child pressed up next to me on our big yellow couch.

My son and daughter saying the best part of their morning at camp was seeing each other on the playground.

My daughter dancing like a surfer dude to her new CD.

My son making me laugh with his ever-developing and quite hilarious sense of humor.

Watching both of them try (and like!) a new food at breakfast.

Reading together as a whole family in my son's bedroom before bed (they have started sharing a room this week; it's ridiculously adorable though it brings its own challenges...).

Watching my son hit the ball at t-ball and race around the bases as fast as he can.

When my little daughter runs up to each of us and gives us a big kiss.

Letting my son steal the Twizzlers right out of my hand and laughing with him about it.

It feels really good to list all the happy moments from the last week because of course-- certainly-- there were plenty of hard ones too.

I think it's also important to note that none of these moments were earth-shattering-- there were no home runs, no winning of spelling bees or trophies, no life-altering achievements. Those big joys are rare; the real joy of life is hidden in all the tiny moments.

Life is basically a collection of moments, and I'm choosing to focus on the best ones. I'm no Pollyanna-- when there's something serious going on, it's important to figure things out. But obsessing about the countless little bumps in the road doesn't do much good for any of us, does it?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Project Series: Bye Bye Wallpaper!

It's June, which means many things in our home: no school, warmer weather, my birthday, and... house projects!

What have I decided to tackle this summer?

Our kitchen WALLPAPER!

We moved into our house a whopping four years ago. We thought the first thing we would do is strip the green polka dot wallpaper (with floral border), but with two little kids at our feet and the various necessities that crop up (broken well water pumps and hot water heaters take priority, apparently), it simply hadn't gotten done.

Until one day a couple of weeks ago, I just begin ripping at that paper!

The coolest part is that I did all of the removal without using ANY chemicals or any new store-bought tools. It was FREE and nontoxic.

I ripped up the top layer by hand. Then, I soaked the bottom, adhesive layer with a wet sponge, and then scraped it off using a putty knife. It wasn't hard, but it was a long process.*

*[Very long. Because when you are home with little ones, you have to work for 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I didn't have, say, a block of several dreamy hours.]

Still, I did it! The bare drywall alone looked better than the wallpaper.

Next was the paint choice. My husband and I both wanted a gray with just the slightest of blue undertones. Harder to find that you may think!

Many test spots later, we settled on Nomadic Travels by Hirshfield's (a paint shop in Minnesota).

Here's one wall!

I'm still painting the walls, but whew, I'm seeing the light! It feels so good to have done it all by myself and to actually like what I see when I walk into our much-used kitchen.

How about you? What projects are you dreaming of tackling this summer?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Are You Enough?

May was an upside-down, exhausting, non-stop whirlwind of a month in my world. Yours too?

There's just something about May, I think. There are SO many events to attend-- birthday parties, end-of-school activities, family commitments. So many endings. So many transitions. Plus, I started to get my feet wet in the teaching world again (squeezing in some tutoring), and even just a few hours a week of that has zapped me.

The wheels are constantly turning until the kids are in bed. You know, that long-awaited moment you plan to do all the "stuff" you didn't get done while you were taking care of the kids, house, chores, and work all day?

That's when the wheels finally, mercifully stop. Hopefully. And suddenly, all of those tasks/chores/goals take a way backseat to The Bachelorette, a drink, and the couch.

Too true, right?

Some days, when those wheels are turning, or after they stop, I don't think I am enough. I'm not doing everything well enough. There are countless things I could do better. Maybe this is because of the fact that I try to do so many things at once; I'm not sure anything gets my 100%. Even my kids.

For instance, I might be scribbling a text to a friend and ignoring my daughter asking for a curly straw. Or, I might be lounging next to my son, watching Wild Kratts for 15 minutes rather than seizing that moment to fold the laundry, respond to e-mails, or make a phone call. Or, I might submit an article instead of molding Play-doh with my daughter. There are too many things.

I just cannot do everything. Or at least, I can't do everything well. The blessing and the curse is that I don't want to limit myself. I feel even worse if I cut out activities/hobbies/jobs I love.

How about you? Most days, do you feel like you are enough? Do you pick a couple of the of most important parts of life and focus solely on those, or do you spread yourself thin to experience as much as you can, like I do?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama