Finding me time in the chaos of summer days

standard June 26, 2013 Leave a response

There was a time, back when I worked in an office, when I made a point every week of taking one hour to myself. Friday afternoons I got out of work an hour early, and, instead of rushing to daycare to collect my babies, I would stop off at Starbucks, buy myself a latte and some chocolate covered graham crackers, and find a cozy spot to sit and read for an hour.

An hour out of a week doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but I loved that hour. The rest of the week I changed diapers, fed bottles, made dinners, answered to supervisors and a million other people. But that one hour was mine, all mine, and for 60 glorious minutes I didn’t need to tend to anyone other than to me.

Then I quit my job and started working for myself and every stolen hour felt like just that, stolen. Instead of relishing the quiet, I worried that I should be doing something productive or taking care of someone. So I stopped taking that time for myself.

It took me years to realize that I really needed that me time. That it wasn’t stealing since it was critical to my well-being. To be productive and effective as a mother and a freelancer I need to take care of me. Simple, right? And yet such a hard lesson to learn.

This past year I’ve gotten better about making sure I take time to exercise, take time to have lunch with a friend, even take time to just take a morning off to read a book or knit in front of the TV. I’ve found that I’m more productive the rest of the time because I’m trying to finish things up so I can enjoy my time “off.” I’ve found that I’m much happier when I take care of me.

And then there came summer.

Now, let’s be clear, I have chosen to have my kids home with me all summer. I want them here. I want to hear them play while I write. I want them to have a summer with no schedule so they can just relax and be. And I’m enjoying having them here.

But the unexpected downside is that I’m never alone any more. And I won’t be alone again until they go back to school in August.

So, what’s a mom to do to get some much needed “me” time?

Well, I’ve gotten creative.

I’ve made it clear to the kids that they need to let me drink my morning tea in peace.
I’ve negotiated the right to go to the YMCA three times a week to work out while they hang out in the childcare room.
I’m very mindful of my evening down-time and try hard not to work after they go to bed.

It’s not much and it’s definitely not what I’m accustomed to, but it’ll do. And come August I know the house will be too quiet and the alone a bit too intense. So I’ll try to keep in mind, when the playful noises turn to whines and the happy sounds turn sad and I’m craving a bit of solitude, that summer only lasts 9 short weeks and that sooner rather than later it’s kid time I’ll be craving rather than me time.

 

Quaker® Chocolate Chip Cookies aren’t just for the kids! They may not be a latte and chocolate covered graham crackers, but they’re better! They allow me to be indulgent while still providing the power of Quaker® oats to fuel me for whatever the rest of the day might hold.

Share how you celebrate your me-time and go to Everyday Health for more fun stories.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker®. The opinions and text are all mine.

What if we raised our kids to be more like Charles Ramsey?

standard May 7, 2013 Leave a response

A few weekends ago, after a leisurely day spent walking around San Francisco with my sister and her fiance, we all headed back towards their apartment to say goodnight before making our way home.

We’d been together since the early afternoon and the kids were tired from all the walking and window shopping. It was Sunday night and I was a bit anxious about getting them into the car fast so we could get home to put them to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.

It’s always when you’re anxious to be somewhere else that fate interferes.

So there we were, dusk, warm day, tired kids, tired parents, tired aunt and soon-to-be-uncle. Bellies full from a great dinner and facing an hour long drive home. And that’s when the couple just a few feet from us morphed from ‘random couple on a bench’ to ‘potentially explosive situation hard to deal with in front of kids.’

She stood up, tried to get away from him, he grabbed her arm and held her, she crashed to the ground, and he fell on top of her.

Hard.

The four of us looked at each other.

The girl lay on the ground and curled into a ball, sobbing her heart out. The boy stood over her, doing nothing.

Every bone in my body was screaming to keep walking, to get my kids away from the situation, to just go get in the car and drive home. But she lay there and just sobbed.

The kids stared at her, at us, and back at her again.

And that’s when I realized that, as much as I wanted to hustle them away, to shield them from what seriously looked like an abusive relationship situation, I couldn’t.

“Is she okay?” We asked the boyfriend.

He shrugged, looked at her helplessly. He babbled about how she was his girlfriend, had been for years. They were just visiting. He just wanted to go back to their hotel.

It was 6pm and they were both utterly wasted.

She struggled to sit up and we helped her get back onto the bench. He handed her her shoe and her sunglasses and she tried to put her sunglasses on her foot.

M asked if we needed to call the cops.

And all this time the girls gaped.

We talked to them for a bit, silently assessing the situation. In the end we cancelled the call to the police, she got her shoe on her foot and her glasses on her head. He helped her to stand up with gentle touches, caring touches. They walked away, she, in front, like she was still mad at him about something, him trailing behind, trying to catch up.

We’ll never know what really happened, but before we let them go we were all pretty confident that what had at first looked like an abuse situation was nothing more than a regular spat exacerbated by too much booze.

The girls still talk about the strange girl who tried to put her glasses on her foot.

I still think about the urge to walk away, to not get involved.

I grew up in Paris, a city where, if you’re looking, you can find gnarly situations on every street corner. I learned early on that getting involved was dangerous and not recommended. I grew up looking the other way.

I don’t want my kids growing up that way. I want them to know that they can help. That they can make a difference.

Yesterday a man stopped and didn’t look the other way when a girl screamed for help from behind his neighbor’s front door. Today that girl and at least two others are safely reunited with their families. Families they hadn’t seen for 10 years.

He could so easily have walked away, have pretended he hadn’t heard, have refused to get involved. So many people would.

I’m glad we’re teaching our children to be more like him and less like them.

1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.* 
More than 5 children die every day from the result of child abuse.** 

What if more people were like Charles Ramsey? Would those numbers go down?

*NCADV.org
**Childhelp_USA.com 

My final picky eater solution

standard March 12, 2013 Leave a response

In November 2009, a mere four years ago (eeps!) I wrote a post bragging about how I had bested the whole picky eater issue. Oh, I was sooooo proud of myself with my “kiss, lick, nibble” trick that worked so well on my the 1-year-old. As long as the food item in question was “cute” and small and I could play the ‘oh! you need to kiss the little baby’ card and usually get my way.

Fast forward four years and that sweet easily convinced baby has been replaced by a 5-year-old who would happily subsist on fruit on candy if I let her.

I’m mean.

I don’t let her.

The fight to get protein into her little body starts at breakfast, continues on through lunch, and finally ends after dinner when we get to take a 12 hour break before starting all over again.

I wish I could tell you I really had a trick to get picky eaters to try something new. But I don’t. We’ve tried all the common tips.

  • She won’t dip… anything into anything.
  • She loves helping us cook, but refuses to try anything we prepare with her.
  • She helps me do all the shopping and still shows no interest in trying any of the things we’ve purchased.

I thought about worrying about the whole thing, but since she’s getting plenty of vitamins and I manage to sneak in protein when I can in the form of milk in her cereal or the odd chicken nugget, I just get on with our meals as best as I can. I serve the things she loves when I possible and every so often add things I know she won’t want to try.

If she wants any desert she has to taste everything on her plate. If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to eat more than one bite.

Fact is, she’s stubborn. Most times she’d rather forfeit desert rather than try something new (and there’s nothing this kid likes more than desert…). And everything she does try is instantly categorized as “disgusting.”

I’d get more annoyed, but I can’t really fault her when, 30 some years ago (ahem!), I was the one making that repulsed face and pushing the proffered fork away.

I remember my mother desperately trying to cajole me into trying something new. I remember being determined to hate whatever it was even before tasting it. I remember saying “YUCK! (or rather “Beurk!” the French equivalent) even if I kinda maybe liked it a little. It was a point of pride. No. New. Foods.

I’ve outgrown that pigheadedness (at least when it comes to new foods) and today I’ll try pretty much anything and usually find it delicious.

So? My latest picky eater strategy?

I’m just waiting it out. One day she’ll get bored of plain vegetables, rice, noodles, and fruit. That day I’ll be ready with new things to enjoy and I’ll try my hardest to not say “I told you you’d like it!” when she exclaims “Oh YUM!”

 

A quick peek at VirtualPiggy.com

standard January 19, 2013 Leave a response

Well hello there! Guess what I’ve been doing all day. Vlogging that’s what. That’s right, me, two cameras, a website, and countless hours spent trying to convert movie files from one format to the next so I could find something that would work in iMovie on my iPad.

Good news. I figured it out. Lucky you! Now you get to watch my very first ever Vlog. You get a peek into my office! Oh and yes, you get to hear a bit more about VirtualPiggy.com the awesome virtual piggy bank website. (Remember when I told you about them a few weeks ago?)

Okay, be gentle now, this really was my first ever attempt at a Vlog. Had I been able to figure out the file thing faster I might have had more energy for editing! Enjoy!


Please note: this post was sponsored by VirtualPiggy.com, a client of Splash Creative Media. That I think their site cool enough to venture into the world of video blogs should speak for itself!