Bringing Back Date Night

As parents we often find ourselves over-worked, over-booked, over-tired, and over-scheduled. The last thing we need is to add yet another thing to our calendar, right? Wrong! I am here to tell you that it is time to plan a date night.

I recently wrote about why we should date our children but I think it’s high time we start dating our spouses too! If you, like us, have gotten lost in the chaos of parenting young children, it is time to get back to where you once were. Time to focus on your marriage, to focus on your “us.”  Taking time out for the two of you will help you rejuvenate, relax, and reconnect. You will strengthen your relationship and bolster the core upon which your family depends.

If the thought of planning or scheduling yet another moment on your calendar has you reeling and running for the comfort of your flannel pajamas, don’t fret.  http://knoxville.citymomsblog.com/bringing-back-date-night/

 

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7 Reasons Why You Should Date Your Children

When you have one child, individual time with each parent is a given. Once you have more kids than you have hands, things can get a little, okay- A LOT – tricky. However, this special one-on-one time is so important, for both the parents and the child.

Before you had additional kids, did you wonder how you could possibly love another human as much as your first born? By taking time for your second, third, fourth children you will clearly see how your love for each child is just as strong and as equally unique as each child. Taking time to nurture a special relationship between you and  your child will bring you closer and establish a solid foundation upon which to grow.

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It Strengthens Individual Bonds.

Carving out special times and making memories will strengthen your relationship. On a recent trip to Chicago my daughter and I took a shortcut through the American Girl Store. She is only 20 months old and doesn’t have many dolls, but the second we walked in I got to see her skip and hop for the first time. She was literally beaming like a kid in a candy store as she ran around pointing at every single doll and stuffed animal. Always a Daddy’s girl, I was not-so-secretly thrilled when we walked out of the store and Daddy went to pick her up and she shook her head and ran to me 🙂  (And no, I did not buy her affection- we left empty handed in case you were wondering!)

It Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence.

Have you noticed how your child lights up when you pay them special attention? Every positive affirmation helps them to become more confident in their abilities. Simply sitting down with a child to read a book validates them as individuals and shows them that you want to be with them. Without others around they feel safer expressing their feelings, sharing thoughts and ideas, or trying out new skills.

You Get to know One Another Better.

My days are generally chaos. A  happy chaos, but still chaos. Some hours go by in a complete blur where my only goal is to make sure no one gets hurt. However, it is in those one-on-one moments that I truly get to know my children. C isn’t being overshadowed by his big brother and starts practicing his words and shows off his silly personality. T gets to snuggle all she wants without having to share my lap with her brothers.  J gets to do all kinds of “big boy” stuff and thrives on the attention he grew accustomed to in his first years of life.

You Take Time Out from the Crazy.

Since we have three kids, individual time usually comes when one parent takes one kid and the other has two. And honestly? It’s a nice break for all of us! Once you are out numbered, having two kids is just so much easier than three! Don’t get me wrong- I remember thinking having just one was hard. Whatever your situation, changing up the routine is a nice break.

They OPen Up MOre. datechildren2

Think about how much closer you feel to someone when you spend time with them. On a one-on-one basis, people are much more likely to open up and you get to know each other so much better. Kids are the same. When we have time to just hang out, J talks more and I get a better glimpse into what is on his mind. Quieter kids come out of their shells. There is going to come a time when each child needs each parent for different reasons. It is essential to establish this rapport and comfort level early on.

It Shows them they are Unique Individuals in the sea of siblings.

While the gift of siblings is one of the greatest things you can give your child, it is still important for them to have solid relationships with their parents.  We strive to have alone time with each child at some point every day. Perhaps we are more sensitive to this because we have twins, but we want each of our children to know that we value them as individuals. Each day, even if it is just for a few minutes to read a book, play a game, play on the swingset, etc, we take time for each child.

It Allows them to Do Things They Can’t Always Do.

date children 3C is a very adventurous and impulsive toddler. I can’t trust that he won’t jump off the highest playground equipment or try to jump in and swim with the ducks. Unfortunately for him, that often means I have to strap him in his stroller, hold his hand tighter than he’d like, or constantly yell “no” when he tries to explore his limits. Unlike his older brother who I could shadow at all times, I have to hold him back more. So when we get one-on-one time, we run to the park where he is free to run and climb to his heart’s content. Our 4-year old gets to do “big kid” things that we can’t do with his younger siblings- go bowling, swimming, kayaking, etc.

Here are some simple ideas to spend individual time with your kids.  The key is to preface it as “mommy/daddy-daughter/son date time” and no matter what it is, it is special:

Learn Together: Read, color, build, write, attend storytimes and music classes, visit museums, do puzzles, play games, paint pottery.

Eat Together: Have a picnic, plant a garden, bake cookies, plan and cook dinner, make pancakes, share a special treat, go out for ice-cream.

Work Together: Run errands (they love it!), have a cleaning race, do crafts, do a service project.

Play Together: Mini-golf, bowling, swimming, building snowmen or sandcastles, ice-skate, ride bikes, play catch, practice a sport, go to the park, participate in a race.

The best advice is to ask them what they want to do! You may be surprised that all they really want is to be with you!

Don’t forget to make time for your hubby too!

What are some of your favorite kid date suggestions?

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Yes! Day. The Day I Said Yes to Everything.

A guest post my Jenny Oberhaus.

OK, let’s get real…

Y’all, I’m tired.

As a stay-at-home mom of an almost-5-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy, juggling two part-time jobs that I also do from home (can you say “multi-task”?), I am tired.

I’m tired of pretending to be interested in the intricacies of my son’s Minecraft village. I’m tired of feeling like a PR rep for the food I’m trying to convince my daughter to eat (“But Sweetheart, this type of mac and cheese is all the rage with First Graders these days!”). And I’m tired of staying up way too late just to relish in the peace and quiet that only exists after my darling children are snug in their beds.

But – truly, truly, TRULY – the thing I’m most tired of is saying “no.”

All. Of. The. Time.

I sound like a broken record of negativity and I’m over it. So I took a page from a friend’s playbook and declared a “YES! Day.” It’s meant to be an entire day when you literally say ‘yes’ to everything your kids ask to do. Being the Type-A, control-freak kinda gal that I am (and for our family budget’s sake), however, I did mentally set a few parameters:

  • Activities that charge a fee or admission were OK (within fiscally responsible reason).
  • Other purchases were OK as long as the kids used their own money. (I still see this as fun for them because I often say ‘no’ to the junk they want to buy… Even with their own money. Yes, I am that mom.)
  • I didn’t announce YES! Day ahead of time, lest they stay up all night scheming about how to take the fullest advantage of the opportunity. Heck – I didn’t even announce it that morning. I just started saying ‘yes,’ which was a sneaky-sort-of fun for me. [Insert evil mom laugh that will later be used for when I threaten to embarrass them as punishment.]
  • And, finally – and this is more of a suggestion than a guideline – I did this on a day where we had little-to-nothing planned. Otherwise, I’d inevitably find myself slinging the N-word all day long just to make the day work.

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So, our YES! Day went a little something like this…

YES #1: During breakfast, my son asked me to play Gangnam Style on my phone. I obliged and, as usual, I start dancing. Then the kids asked to join me.

Why, YES, you can!

So we danced like fools in the kitchen while our Eggos waited patiently.

YES #2: I had already planned to take the kids to the movies so, after breakfast, off we went. I paused at the concessions stand, fully prepared to rack up points on my Old Navy Visa by buying popcorn, candy and even – gasp! – soda. But the craziest thing happened: Nothing. They didn’t ask for a single thing. [Mom scratches head.]

YES #2, again: After the movie, they hopped on one of those scales in the lobby that charges a quarter to give a digital weight reading. Well, both of my kids plus two of their friends hopped on simultaneously, I actually put the quarter in (this is the anomaly), and we learned their combined weight was 164.3 pounds. It was such a cute moment and 25₵ very well-spent.

YES #3: I needed to stop at the grocery store on our way home from the movie and – despite the fact that it was almost lunchtime – they each delightedly scarfed down a cookie from the deli.

YESSES #4 & #5: We topped off our day with a post-dinner trip to the splash pad (their favorite place for summer fun) and stayed up past bedtime to enjoy popsicles in the driveway.

At bedtime, I finally divulged my secret. I got a strong finger wag from my son who – with the spirit of a spunky, 75-year-old school teacher – semi-scolded me with an “I thought something was going on today, Mommy.” My daughter, on the other hand, was quicker to mentally replay the day and recall moments she really could have capitalized on. In retrospect, she was a bit miffed.

I have a feeling they’ll both catch on much quicker when the next YES! Day rolls around.

Did I have to say “no” for some things? Of course. But they either (A) had no bearing on the current day (No, you can’t have a playdate with Alex this weekend, he’s out of town.) or (B) were for their protection (No, you can’t skip through the Kroger parking lot without holding my hand). Aside from my aforementioned parameters, I really did my best to stay true to all other requests.

All in all, I mark our first-ever YES! Day a success. I’m 90% sure I confused the heck out of my kids with all those yeses. I’m 95% sure that I typically say “no” entirely too much and for things that don’t really matter. And I’m 100% sure we all had a blast.

I think I’m ready for the next YES! Day!… Well, almost.

 jenny

So Many Questions! M.Y.O.B.

so many questions

Wanna play the question game? The what? Here, in the stage of endless questions from inquisitive young people, I stop and think about all of the interrogations we encounter throughout life and realize that while this stage is exhausting, it is also simpler than some of the other questionable times we have faced. Unlike in Jr. High when we could simply yell out M.Y.O.B. (mind your own business) to anyone and everyone at all times- because it was cool- I find that as we get older, the questions get harder and quick answers less satisfactory.

I would say the challenging questions start when…. http://knoxville.citymomsblog.com/so-many-questions-m-y-o-b/

The US won and I’m Bummed (reflections on life.)

I’ve had a soccer ball at my feet since I was four-years-old. Suffice it to say I am an avid fan and could not wait to watch the Women’s World Cup final tonight. What I didn’t expect was to be struck with an overwhelming feeling of melancholy in the moments that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat.

I’m not sure if it was watching Wambach’s emotional interview before the game started or just poor hormonal timing, but instead of celebrating along with them, I found myself on the sidelines, lamenting the end of an era.

Ironically, I have never been a huge Wambach fan. I don’t dislike her- she’s obviously great- I just prefer Rapinoe’s style of play. Five years ago I probably would not have given her interview a second thought.

But tonight, now that I’m a mother, I was watching out for Abby.

As she tried to power through her pre-game interview it was evident that she didn’t want to accept this. I hurt for her as she choked up when discussing how her body is telling her that time is up. Through clenched teeth she spoke so highly of her teammates- the ones she is not ready to leave. She wasn’t touting her legendary career- she was basically implying that she isn’t ready.  As she accepted the trophy she kind of stood off to the side, perhaps feeling as if she was not really a part of this anymore.  Abby doesn’t feel done, doesn’t want to be done, but her body is telling her that she is. It reminded me of people who say they just “knew” when they were done having kids whereas for others their bodies decided for them.

I now realize my reaction is two-fold. It is the acceptance of aging as well as the constant struggle to slow down time.

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While I obviously never played professionally, I have recently begun coming to terms with the body’s aging process. It struck me that my time for playing sports at a competitive level has passed. (If you need further proof, two months after having a baby, in front of the high school team you coach, kick a soccer ball as hard as you can. You will soon realize how much ab strength that requires and how little you no longer possess!) My husband can no longer “just run a marathon” with very little training. My speed is not going to be my saving grace in athletic endeavors. In fact, we are more likely to get hurt doing the most basic of things. (i.e, throwing out your back tying shoelaces, anyone?!)

Of course adult leagues abound and we don’t have to completely write ourselves off from the sports we love, but when you are used to doing something pretty well and your body no longer cooperates with your brain, it can get very frustrating.  I find that I have less frustration when I play sports I was always just “okay” at- I am much more forgiving of myself!

In general, I am very proud of my body for what it can do as well as what it has done. Carrying 14 lbs of twins in a 5’2 petite frame is no joke!  My arms are far stronger than ever before due to carrying 25 lbs in each arm up and down the stairs all day long. I can still build endurance and strength pretty quickly. But it just isn’t the same. Sometimes I just miss running up and down the soccer field. And yes mom, I DO wish I had those extremely muscular legs that I always tried to cover in high school- the ones you told me I would wish back.

Just as we all will, Abby will undoubtedly move onto many great things in her next chapter. It’s true- there are definite benefits to getting older, wiser, etc, but it is equally true that sometimes it is just a big bummer. It stinks when your body dictates your limitations. You are forced to realize the end of an era.

My soccer player days are over and now I get to be a coach. I’ve always looked forward to teaching my children to play sports, but here’s the problem. I’m not ready! In the useless battle of trying to slow down time, I often feel sad. Time just goes too quickly. I know I will happily cheer my kids from the sidelines and would love to be a “Soccer Grandma” one day, but not yet! In my head I feel like my “babies” should be swaddled in soccer blankets- not needing me to lace up their cleats and secure their shinguards. I fear that if I blink they will be playing under the big lights of their high school stadium, embarrassed by my cheers in the stands.

I generally embrace the present moment (click here), enjoying whatever stage of life we are in. After all, there truly is nothing we can do to stop it. However, there’s a reason almost every single person you meet when you are out and about with a newborn tells you to enjoy this precious time. It’s okay to lament the passage of time, as long as you are still living the time you are in to the fullest! You never know what is around the next corner- each chapter is full of incredible potential!

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Baby, You Are A Firework

Ever since you burst into our world, you have captivated our attention. You mesmerize us with your big curious eyes and keep us thoroughly entertained. From the explosive diapers to the unpredictable toddler years, you have truly blessed us with the most fantastic display.

You light up the darkest night- in fact you illuminate our entire lives. You scatter your joy for life wherever you go. Your boisterous nature and loud booming laughter fill a room faster than any shooting star. You dazzle everyone you meet with your glorious smile. Your colorful, multi-faceted personality makes you who you are. You are loud, excitable, fun, sweet, tender, and bright. With such great variety, you could never be a dud.

You even said so yourself. You simplysparkle and shine“.

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You may still be small, but you are so very powerful. You start off shy, gradually build up intensity, and leave your mark on people’s lives with a bang. You catch us off guard and you take our breath away.

We find the rate at which you acquire knowledge so very impressive. Your ability to enlighten others with your perceptive thoughts is truly awe-inspiring. You honor tradition and do things a certain way because “that is just how we do it”.

You can be both solemn and celebratory– sometimes within seconds of one another. You demonstrate a flair for the dramatic as a growing toddler fighting to express your independence. You make every day exciting. At times your adventurous ways are daunting, intimidating, and over-bearing. Yet no matter how trying the day, you leave us with lingering good feelings and special memories.

As you blast out of toddlerhood, ready to spread your wings and strive towards becoming independent, please remember this:  No matter where you go or what you do, we will always be there, oohing and aahing for you. We will be your flag pole, supporting you as you wave- as you test your strength and blow in the breeze.

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My Greatest Regret, On Mother’s Day

Even though I am a mother of three and am thankful for my blessings every single day, Mother’s Day isn’t a special day for me. Hearing and seeing the words are like a tiny punch in the gut, every single time. To me, Mother’s Day is a day when I should celebrate my mother. And she isn’t here for me to be able to do that.

I lost my mom when I was 18. Right smack dab in the middle of the “I am a jerk and treat you horribly” stage. I held on to that regret for a very long time. However, now that I am a mother myself I know that she recognized it for what it was- a stage. A natural right of passage,  a college freshman exercising her independence. She knew that I wouldn’t have talked to her like that if I didn’t love her more than anyone else in the world. I was just beginning to come around and then she passed away suddenly. We were robbed of the stage where I get to apologize and grow to become best friends. However, that isn’t my greatest regret.

I marvel at all that I have been through without her here on Earth. Graduating college, working a job I didn’t love (hearing her say “I told you so” every step of the way), getting married, getting pregnant, raising my first child, raising twins, navigating adult life, relationships, and every other little thing along the way. I missed her every single day, but I also accepted that it is what it is and held my head high.

And now, here I am, a mother of three with the greatest regret of all.

While there is nothing I can do to change it, and nothing I could have done differently, my greatest regret is that she isn’t here with her grandchildren. I never would have imagined that now, in my adult life with my own family unit established, I would miss her more than ever. My mother was a woman who lived for family. When my father was dying, the first thing she said to me was “who is going to walk you down the aisle?” She would have adored these children. I can’t give her the gratification of calling her for motherly advice or leaning on her when I need her most. I can’t return the love by letting her love on her grandchildren. My heart shatters whenever I think about how much she would have loved these children. They would have been her world, and she theirs.

I know I am living the life she would have wanted for me, and the best gift I can give her now is to do my darnedest to teach my kids about her and my dad, to shower them with love as they taught me to do, and to embrace every second of my fragile time with them. She wouldn’t want me to be sad today; she would want me to celebrate what she taught me was of utmost importance- family.

I used to just block this day out, treating it as just another day.  However, now I am a mom too and I can’t ignore it. I usually take things in stride, but now it hits me harder than I ever would have imagined. Perhaps I am just overly sentimental because I’m so darn sleep-deprived, but I know that’s not it. As happy and grateful as I am, no matter where I go or what I do, I will always have this mother-sized hole. She will always have been robbed of meeting her grandchildren and they will always wonder why they can’t see her.

This year I will celebrate Mother’s Day. I don’t really like attention; I haven’t celebrated my birthday in years. However, I have three kids who, like me, will want to celebrate their mother. I owe it to them, and I owe it to my mom. We will buy a beautiful hanging plant, the one gift she requested every year, and I will tell my children all about why our “Grandma Wilma plant” is so special. I will remind them of how much she loves them and I will smile, because I know that she would have wanted nothing more than for me to be able to experience the precious gift of motherhood myself.

This Mother’s Day, please do me and everyone else who misses their beloved mothers a favor and take a moment to celebrate the most important mother- your mother.

Mom, I love you. You truly are “the wind beneath my wings.”

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Baby Girl, I Messed Up.

I was so excited when I found these adorable Batman shirts for your brothers, envisioning the perfect picture for J’s big boy room. I loved the idea of them matching, of J having a bonding experience with his little brother without having to compete with your natural twin bond.

DSC_0245-001 On vacation, we dressed the boys in their caped costumes and set out for a photo shoot on the beach. After getting some awesome brother shots, I paused mid-snap as you entered the lens, happily chasing  your two real life superheroes in your brightly colored mismatched outfit. That is when It hit me smack dab in the middle of the face.

MOMMY FAIL.

Where was your cape? Why did I buy the Superman shirt for my nephew-to-be and not for you? Why can’t you  be Superman? Or Batman for that matter? You could wear a tutu or a cute bow with it.  OR NOT!!! What is wrong with me?!

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Baby girl, I was always a tomboy. I have fought gender stereotypes for as long as I can remember. I was the one who refused to buy pink for friends’ baby showers. Before I even knew I would be blessed with a little girl I knew in my heart that I would not raise a “girly-girl”.  You would be tough, strong, smart, and beautiful.  I can’t believe how quickly I have let media infiltrate into my brain. Just because I wasn’t in the girls’ section, because it wasn’t pink or frilly, it didn’t even occur to me that you are just as much a superhero as your brothers.

Of course at 17-months, I know you could care less.  You are just as happy playing princesses as you are playing in the dirt. Most of all, you are happiest when you are with your brothers. You are all forming your own bonds in your own ways.  Who am I to intentionally leave you out?

So here you go, baby girl. Your cousin-to-be can have a hand-me-down. Run with your brothers, dig in the mud, splash through the puddles, climb the tall trees, fight evil, spread the love,  and be the superhero that you are. Be whoever you want to be. Don’t let your silly mommy get in the way.

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The Perfect Season

I am at the pool and have been holding my breath for 2 hours. No, I am not under water. I have three young kids. AT THE POOL. Enough said.  I glance around at the mothers of older children, relaxing, sun-bathing, reading a good book. My first thought is…LUCKY. My next is… when is the last time I read a book? My third is- I AM NOT READY FOR THAT!

As luxurious as it sounds, lounging on a chair is not what I signed up for in this season of life. My kids are already growing too fast. Since when can Jake jump off the side and paddle across without floaties to me? Why aren’t the babies strapped into their newborn car seats under an umbrella? Where is that pregnant belly that turned my tankini into a bikini? Time truly does fly. Sigh… Alas, this my present reality.

I am in the hold-your-breath, “get down”, “be careful”toddler chasing, boo-boo fixing, story book reading, ever-exploring, constant praying, busy playing,  booger wiping, hand washing, diaper changing, snot sucking, baby-proofing, endless question answering, “stop fighting”, being hung on, being climbed on, imaginary playing, obsession indulging, constant clothes washing, pants peeing, always juggling, not sleeping, being clung to, sucked-clawed-spitup on, clothes folding, sock searching, play group going, accident dodging, spill wiping, mess cleaning, vomit catching, germ fighting, sweet cuddling, always helping, hand holding, leg hiding, tower building, constructing, kite-flying, dirt digging, worm finding, bug collecting, potty talking, always learning, ever-growing, toppling, risk taking, butt wiping, sand eating, “please share”, tantruming, rigid carseat maneuvering, food cutting,  fruit pureeing, swing pushing, constant vigilence, tickle torture, snuggling, bed wetting, nightmare reassuring, belly hurting, food throwing, toy fixing, belly laughing, full-of-wonder, ABC singing, cartoon watching, hold my breath season. And embracing every single second of it before it goes away.

I am exhausted but when the lounging in the chair time comes, I will wish for these days again. Maybe not when there is a pina colada in my hand and I am in the middle of a really good book, but I will. I know I will. Because when I look at newborns I already do.

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Embrace each season as it comes.  No matter where you are in life, it is where you are meant to be.

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Children’s Fitness Easter Egg Hunt

Although Let’s Eggercise can easily be adapted for children, here is a cutesy rhyming version to get them engaged and egghausted.

Here it is, sweet and simple:

Print the rhyme below, cut each couplet below the dashed line into strips, place the strips inside the eggs, hide the eggs in your yard.

Start off by reading these first three stanzas aloud to set the challenge.

GetHopping

The Easter Bunny is very wise,                                                                                                                                      He knows to stay healthy he must exercise.

So join him on this hunt for eggs,                                                                                                                                Let’s run and jump and stretch our legs.

Hop to the first egg and do as you’re told.                                                                                                              Open the egg and uncrease the fold.                                                                                                                 ————————————————————————————————————————————

Cut up the following ideas (or use your own) and place one inside each egg.

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My ears are long and like to flop.                                                                                                                                 Stand on one leg, and do 5 hops.

My feet are very big and long.                                                                                                                                        Do a dance and sing a song.

My coat is very soft and furry.                                                                                                                                       Run as fast as you can. Hurry hurry!

I have a bushy white cotton tail.                                                                                                                                     Pretend to swim away from a whale.

I have white fur on my back.                                                                                                                                          Do 10 super jumping jacks.

I have a pink, twitchy nose.                                                                                                                                        Reach up to the sky, then touch your toes.

On my cheeks you will find whiskers.                                                                                                                        Lay on your back and make your legs do scissors.

I can use my teeth to saw a log.                                                                                                                                    Squat down low, do 5 hops like a frog

It doesn’t matter where you are,                                                                                                                                 For 30 seconds, jump like a star.

I carry my basket on my hip.                                                                                                                                           When you go to your next egg, be sure to skip!

because the easter bunny said so

You could always conclude with a game of Easter Bunny Says.

Share photos or exercises you create! Be sure to #strollersavvypinchallenge