Day in the life: stay at home mom with a toddler

My daughter is 18 months old and I have the privilege of staying home with her.  I don’t have a schedule, never really have, and every single day at our house is different.  I keep organized with a to-do list, but that’s it. I’m not a super organized mom, I don’t do tons of great daily activities, pretty much the only thing that is consistent from day to day is dinner.  We love dinner! 

5:30am-daddy leaves for work. 

Emmy and I don’t typically wake up for this, so I can’t actually tell you what time daddy left for work.  The brave and hard-working hero of our house gets up while everyone else is still sleeping to slay the office dragons and bring home the bacon.

9am-Emmy wakes up mommy.  

I’m not a morning person. Like AT. ALL. My college roommates used to turn off my alarms if I didn’t wake up (and I never did).  Honestly, I’m not sure how late I might sleep if I didn’t have a kid! Emmy usually spends the second half of the night in our bed, so when she wakes up she climbs on my face or whatever.  We were getting up consistently between 7-8, but with daylight savings time it has been consistently 9 and I am not complaining.

Morning-

usually our mornings are very relaxed and slow (did I mention that I’m not a morning person) but Wednesday is library story time day at 10:30!  We don’t make it every week, but I really want to take her, so we start getting ready. Actually, the first thing I do is turn on veggie tales on netflix so that I can take a shower all by myself.  Typically Emmy likes to nurse first thing in the morning, but she seemed okay with veggie tales and some cheerios. She LOVES tv. It’s probably a problem, but if I get to take a shower without any “help” I’m going to just let her do it.  I get myself ready, make our breakfast smoothies and get her clothes and diaper bag ready while she drinks her smoothie. We have smoothies almost every morning, we both love them!

10:15-Emmy still isn’t dressed.  

Mornings are slow. Like, I seriously feel like I’m in slow motion sometimes!  I realize that I forgot the laundry in the washer yesterday and I start it to wash again.  We change diaper and clothes and get shoes on. The dress I picked for her is too big, so we change again.  The library is only 3 blocks away, so we drive and pulled into the parking lot at exactly 10:30. I’m calling that on time!

10:30-Story time 

Emmy is seriously so chill.  Our library’s story time is usually very crowded and girlfriend just watches the world go by.  We stayed afterwards to play with toys for a bit.

11:30-We get home 

Emmy climbs the stairs to apartment by herself and takes off her own shoes-when did she get so independent!?  I get Emmy a snack and finally sit down for my bible time. I like to do this first thing in the morning during breakfast, but this morning we woke up too late.  I read and write in my journal and Emmy brings over a pencil and paper so she can sit in her high chair at the table with me. I love how she wants to participate in whatever I am doing!  She plays and makes messes with her toys.

A little after noon- I put her down for a nap.  

Even though we have been staying up and going to bed an hour late, I’m trying to put her naps and bedtime at the right time so that she will sleep on time.  So far she has just been playing in her bed for an hour whenever I put her down. I would like to say that I use this time to be awesome and clean my entire house, but I take a nap on the couch.  Why am I so tired when I got up at 9? It probably has to do with our uncomfortable mattress. We already ordered a new one but it hasn’t come yet. I hear Melody talking and playing in her bed as I drift off.  

An hour later I wake up and she is still talking at playing in her bed.  Well, at least she wasn’t crying. Our apartment is very small, so I would have heard her.  The odd thing is that she hasn’t nursed yet today. Typically she would have nursed 2 or 3 times by now, but she went to bed without nursing.  She’s been skipping some nursing sessions if she is busy or distracted and sometimes while she is nursing she unlatches to ask for milk. I tell her that this is all the milk I have and it makes me wonder if my supply is decreasing and this is the beginning of the end of nursing this baby.  I haven’t done anything to wean her other than offer her milk in a cup or distractions if I am busy. By 1:30 she finally falls asleep.

1:30-nap time

I fiddle around sort of cleaning and sort of eating lunch/snacks and sort of getting distracted and really not getting any task fully done.  I’m not really sure what you would call this…wasting time while attempting to be productive? Eventually I sit down at the computer to work on the blog. Just when I’m getting something actually accomplished…

2:30-Emmy wakes up.  

Girl, I know that a 1 hour nap was not enough for you.  I lie in my bed with her and nurse her so that she can go back to sleep and get back to the blog and doing some dishes and tidying up and listening to podcasts.   That’s my favorite thing to do to distract me from chores. I call the car mechanic and the accountant and pay the gas bill (I earn lots of adulting points here!)

3:10-lunch 

I hear that little monster playing in my bed, she is still awake, so I get her up.  She didn’t sleep long, but she was in bed for a very long time. I finally serve us both a “real” lunch of leftover homemade tacos.  We eat together, but she decides to have only corn tortillas and corn for lunch, oh well, what do you do? I offered her a healthy, balanced meal and that’s good enough for me.  She drinks a lot of cashew milk and makes a big mess, hopefully she eats some protein at dinner. Right after lunch she asks to nurse again, even though it’s only been a little over an hour.  I leave all the lunch dishes in the sink. It was empty for at least 4.8 seconds, so I’ll consider that a success.

4:10-We go for a walk.

 I’ve been having weird hip pain in my right hip and the chiropractor suggested taking more walks, so awalking we go!  I can’t find my sunglasses, so we walk to dollar tree to get a new pair. We break and lose sunglasses so often that we aren’t allowed any pair over $5.  It’s about 15 minutes of fast walking each way. Emmy rides in the stroller. I almost always put her in the carrier, but upon the chiropractor’s suggestion, I’m trying not to carry her if I can use the stroller instead.  As soon as we leave, Vince calls and says that he’s on his way home. Yay!

5:10-We return home

Emmy and Daddy playing chase and tickle!

with 2 pairs of sunglasses and something fun for Emmy’s easter basket.  Vince got home a few minutes before us and he meets us outside. Emmy and daddy play chase and tickle & we go inside so I can start dinner.  While I cook, we all listen to a short episode of John Bevere’s podcast where he and his wife talk about the spiritual discipline of bible reading.  Emmy and daddy play roughhousing and I make white fish, broccoli and leftover quinoa and sweet potatoes.

5:45-Dinner

We usually eat at 6 so that Vince has time to eat before the gym, but we got to eat even earlier tonight!  It’s the first night since daylight savings that I’ve had dinner ready on time. I actually told time by the clock and not the sun today.  Emmy makes a huge mess with mashed sweet potatoes, but eats a full meal. We read the next story in The Little Golden Bible Storybook. The stories are just a few sentences, but it’s our “family reading level” bible time.  It doesn’t happen every night, but if I leave the baby bible on the table during dinner, that helps us to remember. Emmy likes to hold the bible after we read it, so I clean her up and she gets down.

6:10-What do we do?

Dinner is done and it is still 20 minutes before Vince goes to the gym, this has never happened before!  We deal a quick game of StarFluxx. Fluxx is one of our favorite 2 player games with very simple rules. (Draw a card. Play a card.  That’s it!) StarFluxx is our favorite because the deck is very balanced, the games are quick, and it’s nerdy. Emmy joins us of course by sitting in her high chair at the table with us.  We give her some cards and let her “play” with us.

6:28-Victory

Sitting on the counter cures grumpy attitudes

Vince asks to pause the game because he has to run to his class at 6:30.  I take one more turn while he gets changed and I WIN! Vince says goodnight to the baby and runs to the gym.  I do a victory dance and clean up the game and get started on the dinner dishes. Emmy is in the kitchen with me, playing with the cans in the pantry and starts acting out.  I pause the dishes to give her some attention before bedtime. I feed her her vitamins crushed up in applesauce and let her sit on the counter and play with straws.

7:00pm-A little playtime

We color together and trace our hands.  We put the baby doll to sleep, she wears my shoes.  I attempt to secretly tidy the toys, but she wants to play with everything I touch.  She is so loving and keeps giving me hugs. I debate having her help me tidy up, but decide to just get her ready for bed.  She nurses, but again just keeps asking to nurse and I don’t hear her swallowing as I usually do. Only 3 nursing sessions all day long?!  Pretty normal for her age, but weird for us.  Let’s see how many times she nurses tonight.

7:40-Bedtime 

We sing a little song and pray and I put her in her bed and say goodnight.  Sometimes I have no energy after she goes to bed, but I think that afternoon nap helped a lot.  I finish the last couple of dishes, pick up all of the toys and sweep the floors. They really need to be mopped, but at least they are cleaner than they were.

8:00-Vince comes home.  

He wants to shower quick and go to pick up a discounted pizza for pi day(3/14).  When he goes into our room, not only is Emmy awake and playing, she has thrown out every removable piece of clothing, stuffed animal and blanket, removed and thrown out her sheet and is sitting UNDER her pack n play mattress staring out the side, hahahaha!  We give her a hug and put her back on top of her mattress but don’t give her ammo (I mean blankets) back. Vince leaves and I make a GIANT bowl of chocolate covered popcorn and a cup of tea. I eat the whole thing and don’t regret it at all. At some point Emmy falls asleep without crying.

9:00-No pizza 

Vince comes home empty handed.  The line was too long, bummer. I settle in to finish up this blog post and add pretty pictures.  I didn’t do a great job photographing this day.  He falls asleep on the couch while we watch reruns.  I’ll try to get to bed as soon as I can. I’m not a morning person, but I’m not really a night owl either. I like to sleep.

There you have it, the ordinary, wonderful, blessed day in the life of one stay at home mom with a toddler and hard-working husband.   That reminds me…I need to start the dryer!

First month blogging report

So, on February 1, 2018 I started this blog by purchasing a domain name!  I was a complete beginner (as in, I had never heard the words “hosting” or “wordpress,” beginner!)  So I had pretty low expectations of myself for starting out.  I literally didn’t know how long it would take to purchase a domain name or how to choose hosting. Once I had both of those things, it took me an hour to connect them!  I’ve come quite a long way since then and I’m quite proud of how much I have learned.  I still struggle with every. single. thing. relating to the site itself.  So here it is the full…

First Month Blogging Income Report

 

If you don’t know me yet, I’m a stay-at-home mom to a super fun toddler, so I only get to work at naptime and after bedtime, but I do it 6 days a week for a minimum of an hour, but usually more like 3 hours a night. 

 

I really don’t have an interest in being a blogger who blogs about blogging, but I know how helpful it was for me to read from other new bloggers about their goals and experiences.  I also believe that there is power in writing things down and sharing them with the world!  Will this be a regular thing?  Probably not, but that’s okay.  Hopefully it will help you to learn a bit about one clueless person’s experience with starting a blog and it will inspire you that if I can do this, literally anyone can create a platform to write and have their voice heard.  

 

You’ll notice that I don’t have any goals about income.  Honestly, this wasn’t a big concern of mine starting out, I just wanted a place to say what I have to say and create something useful and helpful.  This is still a brand new blog, so why should it earn money before it’s content has value?!  Income will be a goal in the future, but it’s difficult to place goals on it since I still don’t know what I don’t know and how long these things will take.  

Here are the goals

that I wrote for myself for February, they seemed really high at the time, but I worked hard every single night and achieved them really fast, so there is a second set of goals that I wrote on the 9th of the month

  • -Launch blog WIN it’s out there!  Looking ok, some mistakes i’m still working on it
  • -Set up social media channels WIN facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter, although they are blank and I’ve never used twitter before today
  • -Launch 3 posts WIN first one was a welcome post though
  • -Create email subscriber list with welcome email WIN want to update this
  • -Fill out 1 pg business plan WIN
  • -Write about post WIN but I want to make it better
  • -Pin 30 pins WIN
  • -Take 1 blogging ecourse WIN
  • -Comment on 3 blogs or send emails to bloggers WIN apparently this is a thing
  • -Set up 1 way for the blog to make money.  Affiliates? Adsense?  What are these things? WIN 

 

Even just a few weeks later, I laugh at my cluelessness.  I also noticed that as I achieve each step, I then immediately have something in mind that I can do better, do next, or try again.  On the 9th I wrote myself new goals for the rest of the month since I achieved all of these quickly (not easily though).  

  • Launch 8 total posts (5 more) WIN if you count this one!
  • Have a list of 10 possible post titles WIN I have way more
  • pin 20 more pins WIN I changed my mind and converted my personal pinterest to business, so I have 5,000 now
  • verify website on pinterest WIN this took me forever
  • take one more free blogging ecourse WIN 
  • make a facebook post WIN I learned that you can schedule them ahead
  • take photos of myself-don’t have any! FAIL 

To anyone who has been blogging for more than 5 seconds, these goals probably seem very small.  “Verify website on pinterest” seems pretty easy, but I had to learn what this meant and how to do it!  For me each one of these has been a small victory and I’m actually proud of what I have done and I’m enjoying doing it!

Other site stats:

  • February Pageviews: 43
  • Visitors: 23
  • Income: 0

There are pinterest and facebook stats that I know are much more important than followers, but I’m not really sure which ones are important and how to use that info yet.

Top posts:

 

I’ll share with you a few things that I have learned this month and then share my goals for March…..

I learned: 

-That blogging is super hard!  I’ve read a lot of blogs (who hasn’t) and it seems so simple, you just type something and put it on your website!  But when you have never set up a website before, everything is a challenge.  I wanted to learn everything myself, so I kept trying and researched everything.  I’m sure that there are some great courses out there for starting a blog and there are even people who will do it for you, but I enjoyed the challenge of saying “I made a website,” plus I did it in the most economical way that I could.

 

-That done is better than perfect-I’m pretty sure that there will ALWAYS be things that I want to improve about this site and my content, and I’m going to keep making those changes, but I think that blogging can quite easily lead to paralysis of the analysis.  You can only learn so much through reading and watching other people, you really have to do it and make mistakes in order to do better.  No matter how much I read, I don’t think that my first try could be any better, but my next update/revision/post/idea will be even better than the last.

-That I don’t know what I don’t know, and that’s okay.  I’m trying to balance learning from experts, who truly know everything more than I do, and doing it my way.  If I just do everything I think that I should do, or that someone tells me that I should do, this blog really won’t be mine.  I want to continue enjoying the challenge and not become a slave to what I “should” be doing.  While I am excited to learn, ignorance is also bliss, and I’m happy doing my best with what I have.  Tomorrow I will know more, and do better

-That it’s okay to be at 0, but not to stay there.  Zero pageviews, zero likes, zero followers, zero posts.  I’ve seen the number zero a LOT this month, but that’s okay.  I can’t have any less than I already have, so why not go for it?!  I have nothing to lose!  There have been equal parts freedom and frustration with those zeros.

March goals:

I’m proud of my first month, but going forward I really have no idea if I’m setting my goals high or low.  I’m going to try to set them high so that I have something to reach for, but I really don’t know how difficult any one task will be until I try to achieve it!

  • Take photos of myself
  • Update the look of my blog and social media pages: new featured images, clarify descriptions, look into a new theme
  • Create an opt-in freebie for my email subscriber list-any ideas for this one?
  • Send 2 email newsletters
  • Post 2x per week (8 posts)
  • Pin every day/find out what tailwind is
  • Join 10 pinterest group boards
  • Take 2 blogging ecourses
  • Learn what affiliates are
  • Increase pageviews by 50%
  • Set up a gravatar
  • Comment on 3 other blogs each week (someone told me I should do this-is this how you make blogging friends?)
  • Do the challenges learned from the Jeff Goins webinar
  • Learn some about how to use facebook and instagram for business
  • Post something on instagram
  • Get a pageview every day of the month
  • See if updating ads so they don’t look so ugly is possible

 

What do you think?  Can I do it?  Is there something else that I should add?  What questions do you have? because I have a lot!

Adventures in unschooling a toddler-February 2017

Adventures in unschooling!  February 2017 toddler edition

“Mommy learns what unschooling is”

 

This week my toddler took all of her crayons and put them into the hole of a pool noodle!  

She’s 18 months old and she started doing this on her own when she was having free-play aka mommy was doing dishes.  I realized what a great fine motor activity that was and that I had actually been planning a similar but more complicated activity that I found on pinterest, using straws and an empty parmesan cheese container.  I hadn’t taken the time and energy to actually prep aforementioned awesome activity.

 

So, I hopped onto pinterest, as any good mom would do and I came across this term,

“unschooling.”  

 

You’ve probably already heard it, but it was new to me.

 

Basically the idea behind unschooling is that children are naturally curious and we just let them learn by exploring their interests.  

 

I love this concept because sometimes the “education” that we push on children for their benefit actually has the opposite effect by making them frustrated and not want to participate in anything labeled “learning” or “education.”  I know few children going through traditional schooling anywhere who would say that they enjoy it or that learning is fun.  

 

Am I planning to exclusively “unschool” my child?  

No.  There are some things that we have to do in life that may not be the most fun.  I want her to have some basic knowledge and skills that may not fall into her “interests” and I want her to be stretched to learn to do things that aren’t initially exciting.

 

However this experience really taught me a lesson!  My child is already curious and has a desire to try things, learn things, and explore the world.  Probably the greatest educational gift that I can give her is to not squash that spirit!   So I will give myself a break and let her learn by playing, copying and trying things.  There will be lots of times that I need to step in and be intentional in teaching her, but she is learning so much in her playing-I’m going to enjoy watching her unschool!

Want to read more about how my ideas on education have changed since having a toddler?  I wrote about it here

What have you noticed your children learning on their own?  Do you incorporate any unschooling into your education plan?

How I helped my husband lose 40 lbs

Recently my husband lost 40 lbs in just a few months.  He will tell you that I was a huge part of the reason why he was able to lose the weight!  I wanted to write this as an encouragement for other wives who want to help their husbands lose weight also!

First and most importantly,

I never asked my husband to lose weight.  

If you are reading this because your husband is overweight and you want him to be healthier, I’m sorry but this might not be so helpful for you.  All of my husbands goals were 100% his own and I was his support.  Actually, I wanted him to take it a little easier on the working out and not lose the weight too fast.  

My HUSBAND was the one who wanted to lose weight and I was simply the support who made it possible for him.  Some of these suggestions might work if your husband is not motivated on his own, but I would not suggest asking him to lose weight as this would probably be very damaging to your relationship.  In fact, I have never asked my husband to lose weight, even when he was 100 lbs more than he is now.  These suggestions are meant as a way to support your husband who is already motivated to lose weight, not to get him motivated.

 

This next one was actually very hard for me:

I never faulted him for going to the gym.  

Most wives would be delighted for their husbands to work out, but it was a quality time issue that I really struggled with .  His work out times directly impacted our family time and that was very difficult for me.  The way that I primarily experience love is through the time that my husband spends with me, so for him to dedicate a large portion of that to going to the gym has sometimes been a source of contention.  If your husband wants to dedicate a portion of your time together to getting healthier, imagine how much more time he will have to love on you because of his longer, healthier life in the future!  

 

An even better suggestion for some couples might be to find a workout that you can do together.  This didn’t work for us because my husband is the only one with a gym membership and he is motivated to do incredibly hard work out classes that I am not interested in (and probably couldn’t do!)  The least that I could do was to allow him that time (and encourage him when he didn’t feel like going).  I did not make him feel badly for going to the gym and I did not guilt or beg him to go.

 

I made him healthy food. 

 I can’t stress enough that all of my husbands goals and decisions were his.  He decided the amount of weight that he wanted to lose, the time period, the diet he wanted to have, and how often he wanted to work out.   I am a stay at home mom and one of my jobs is to grocery shop and cook our dinner every night so that we don’t have the expense of going out or convenience foods.  I already cook whole foods from scratch, but I made extra effort to provide more salads and nutritious foods, some quality protein in every meal, and higher levels of healthy fats.  It was actually good for the entire family!  Every night, I could feel good telling him to go ahead and have seconds of dinner because it was good, healthy food!  I also prepared him a protein breakfast smoothie each evening that he could just blend and take to work in the morning.  (Now the whole family has smoothies for breakfast every day!)

 

If you don’t have time to cook every night, cook one healthy meal in a double or triple portion that your husband can eat throughout the week.  Also, prepare or purchase healthy easy snacks for the whole week.  Figure out which are the unhealthy foods that tempt your husband, and keep them out of the house.  Do whatever you can to avoid going out.  If there is healthy food in your house and you don’t go out, you can’t make poor diet choices.  Sorry, you can’t order dessert here, I didn’t make any!

 

I did his laundry.  

Okay, I already do the laundry, but when my husband is working out, there is a lot more laundry…. Like double.  I never complained about the extra laundry because I knew what he was doing for his health and our family.  If I wasn’t caught up on the laundry, I would check that he had clean work out clothes before he went to the gym.  I wasn’t perfect, sometimes he had to pull them directly out of the dryer, but he never missed a class due to no proper clothes!  Staying motivated to work out is hard enough, if you are not the one who usually does the laundry, I suggest at least washing the work out clothes for your husband.  Or even just buy more pairs of workout clothes so that you have plenty of clean clothes to last the entire week of workouts.

 

There were obviously way more important and hard choices that my husband made.  He worked hard every day to lose the weight and be healthier, but I’m taking credit for being his number 1 support.  If your husband wants to make changes that will benefit his health (and remember that his benefit is ultimately your benefit), find out what obstacles he is going to face and knock down as many as possible as you can for him!  

 

You can’t run for him, but you can buy him a really cool water bottle and fill it with ice water before he runs.  

You can’t get up early for him, but you can get up early with him

You can’t eat the healthy food for him, but you can make something super delicious and healthy for him.  

You can be his number 1 cheerleader and make it possible for him to reach his healthy goals, whatever they are!

Please note that I am not a medical professional and I am not certified to give any medical or health advice.  This post is written for inspirational and educational purposes only.  The information provided on this blog is purely from my personal experience, and may not be right for you. Please contact your healthcare professional to help you make your own health and wellness decisions

Have you ever tried to make healthy changes?  What support would you have wanted from your family? 

8 Ideas for observing lent even if you aren’t Catholic

While I grew up going to church, my family and church never observed lent. I first encountered it about 5 years ago when we started attending our current, liturgical-style church, which observes the traditional Christian calendar. Actually, I mentioned to my brother that we were going to ash wednesday service yesterday and he asked me, “isn’t that some sort of Catholic thing?” Hahaha. My husband did grow up attending Catholic church, but his only memories of lent were not eating meat.

Baby’s first Ash Wednesday!

So, suffice it to say that we don’t believe in any hard and fast (get it? fast!) rules about observing lent, as there is nothing specifically stated in the bible. It is, however, a powerful and beautiful tradition to prepare your heart for Easter!

 

What is lent?

Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (the evening before Easter). The 40 day period represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His ministry. 40 days is also considered a Holy length of time in which changing of the heart can take place, due to it’s use throughout scripture.

 

Since neither Vincent or I had traditions in ways that we wanted to observe lent, we got to research all of the ways that people celebrate and choose for ourselves!

1

The most traditional way of observing lent is through fasting from food. Many people will give up meat, or not eat at all during certain hours of the day. Other people will give up a particular food item that they enjoy, such as chocolate, cheese, or sugar.

Just remember, this is not a diet plan! You are depriving yourself in order to have heart and mind change. Each time you would normally reach for the junk food, you can instead be reminded to pray.  

 

2

Some people will instead fast from something else.  Usually other enjoyable activities such as social media, television, going out for coffee, purchasing clothing, etc.

Anything that you prioritize over God and need a heart-break from to re-focus on His desire for your life is a good choice here. Anything that is a distraction from serving God or even just something that you do often that will again remind you to pray.

3

Adding something-While the traditional way is to fast (take something away), sometimes it’s best to add a new routine. You may choose to add a daily morning prayer walk, begin keeping a journal of your prayers, or if you never have before, maybe lent is the perfect opportunity to begin a daily bible time.

4

A lenten devotional-There are many scriptural resources dedicated specifically to this season! A book to guide you through prayers and bible verses related to lent?! Sounds like a great way to get ready for Easter! If you want to do your own bible study, common topics for this season would be the suffering of Jesus, repentance, and returning to God’s ways.

 

5

Family prayer and devotions-if this is not already a part of your family routine, I highly recommend integrating it into part of your lenten season! Family devotions can be as simple as reading a scripture together and praying out loud. It’s powerful for your kids to see you holding and reading from an actual paper bible, because they will copy and value what they see. I know that often when we read scripture, it’s on our phones and our daughter wouldn’t know if we were memorizing bible verses or scrolling through instagram.

6

Lighting a candle-even just this simple habit of lighting a candle each evening can symbolically mark that this is a special season.  It will be a reminder each time you look at it of Christ’s suffering, the Holy Spirit’s power, and the Joy that’s coming at Easter

7

Service-Lent is a great time to make a new habit of serving others. Some may want to commit to serving or volunteering in their communities once a week or doing acts of kindness for their coworkers. A great way to institute this as a family is to commit to doing one surprising act of service for a family member each day, how fun would that be?!

8

Giving-You may want to challenge yourself to give money more sacrificially this lenten season. Maybe there is a particular ministry or needy family that God wants you to give to. Lent is the perfect time to give and pray for the need that God is calling you to fulfill!

Pray about what is God’s desire and will for you in celebrating this season. It’s not a period of rules, guilt and chores, but it is a joyous and exciting way to examine your own heart, gain more biblical knowledge and wisdom, find freedom in Christ, and strengthen your family.

What about you? How will you be celebrating Lent this year? Did I miss any ways to prepare your heart for Easter celebrations?

How having a child changed my views on education

 

 

 

 

I have always valued education very highly. I excelled in book learning, structured school environment and pleasing my teachers. I wanted to teach elementary school from the age of 8! I pursued an education degree in college, constantly touting the benefits of reading to children, early education, reading skills, and the importance of college preparation from a young age. Every job that I had in college was education based: I tutored college students, taught preschool, and wrote elementary lesson plans. I also read about educational theories for fun, and loved the challenge of working with different children and helping them get to that “aha” moment on a particular topic. I continued after college to get my teaching credential in California and had a natural, God-given gift to teach.

When I was assigned to do my student teaching at the elementary school that I attended, it was a dream come true. That dream quickly turned sour (as you can probably guess from the title that you clicked on to get here!) While I expected to have too many students, low pay, too few resources and a lot of work to do, it was so much worse than anything that I could have imagined.

Honestly, if you know a teacher, give her a hug or send her some chocolate and flowers because she truly has a difficult and undervalued job. The students that I had were great! The real deal-breaker for me was the treatment of teachers by administration and parents. I became jaded quickly and I decided that the public school classroom was not the right place for me to utilize my passion for education that still remained.

Note: the teachers that I worked with were actually amazing and I am still in contact with them, they are truly excellent educators and the fact that they work well within the environment where everything is against them shows that shows their true love for their students and their work.

I sort of fell in to postpartum doula work on accident (helping families adapt to having a new baby) and between that and nannying young children, I felt that I was still able to educate new parents and toddlers, while controlling my work environment and schedule. While many in my life looked down at my decision to abandon the career that I had pursued for so long at the last moment, I knew that I was not about to start what would have been miserable for me even though it would have paid more.

I loved this season of my life

and education was still a huge part of it. I read classic novels to 1 year olds, created “lesson plans” to demonstrate and practice with new parents how to use an infant carrier or give an infant a bath, and got to read to children and see them excited about counting to 3 or knowing the color yellow. We did art projects,went to music class, and taught new mommies how to properly prepare bottles.

When I had my own daughter,

I expected to think and feel exactly the same way as I did as a nanny, or even value education more! But truly, that all went out the window.

I still want my child to learn things and have skills, but I care so much more that she LOVES learning. I still want my child to read well, but I care so much that she ENJOYS reading. I want her to have a great foundation in practical math, but I care even more that she knows the LOVE of the Lord.

And all of those great activities that I did with my nanny kids (art, structured and unstructured play, crafts, messy activities, outside time, water play, reading) seriously, no one has time for all of that!

At first I felt guilty that I had done more projects and read more books to other people’s children than to my own. I actually came to my husband crying that I had given my best to my nanny kids and didn’t have enough energy left for my own beloved daughter! But in time (and with my husbands encouragement) my mind was changed.

The first step

was to throw guilt out the window because Stephanie the nanny doesn’t have to do laundry, get up in the night, go to appointments, make dinner or even prep the baby food, doesn’t sweep the floor, walk the dog, do the shopping, and leaves at 5:30pm and gets 9 hours of sleep every night and weekends off. Stephanie the mommy obviously has those other homemaking tasks and no time off (but I don’t want time off either)

The next step

was to really think and talk with my husband about what we want for our daughter to know when she reaches adulthood. For us, the priorities are all about the Lord! We want her to know the joy of the Lord, the peace that passes all understanding, the goodness and fullness of God, His forgiveness and that He is just.

Next would be how to treat people with love and kindness, gentleness and respect.

Third would be a love of learning and reading, if she can read and is curious, she can learn more about what she is interested in and enjoys and will continue learning for her entire life!

Last would be basic practical skills and facts to be able to file taxes, write a resume, calculate her grocery budget, cook, clean, write a professional email, music, basic government, and some other things like that.

And I realized, none of those goals involve paint.

I had heaped so much pinterest-mom guilt on myself that involved tempura paint and truly, it has nothing to do with what is actually important to me. In trying to do what was “good,” I neglected what was important.

I also neglected my child’s needs and preferences.

She doesn’t like reading books. I’m pretty sure she’s a kinesthetic learner and wouldn’t thrive in a traditional classroom anyway because she sat through an entire board book for the first time this week and I may or may not have cried because there are 4 other babies in this world who I had read 100 books to by this age!

Now having clear goals for our child’s education, we can take our time and take deliberate steps to teach our child.

We still paint, but not because we should, we do it because it’s fun!
I let her watch me read my bible and I tell her about what I’m reading      We watch veggie tales while mommy drinks coffee.
I offer to read her books and if she says no, it’s okay.
We dance while we fold laundry, maybe we count the socks.
We go to the library, but we only play with the toys
We play outside with rocks

And for today: it’s enough. In fact, it’s more than enough.

Simple toddler Valentine card

Hey there!  I wanted to do something super simple and cheap and fun this year for Valentine’s day.  A card from my 1 year old to my husband.  There’s always the old-standby of putting a photo of her on a blank card, but I think that this is more special because it’s something she made, and it was even easier than ordering prints and driving to walgreens! WIN!

You will need:

  • paper
  • construction paper
  • painters tape (optional)
  • toilet paper rolls
  • tape
  • tempera paint
  • plate
  • glue (not pictured, but tape works)

1. Secure

regular paper with painters tape.  I do this with every single toddler art project.  If the paper is not held down, my daughter always rips it up! Confetti art is fine sometimes, but this is a craft that we actually wanted to keep. I prefer to use painters tape because it is strong enough to hold the paper in place, but gentle enough to peel off of the paper without ripping it.

2. Make heart shapes

from toilet paper rolls.  Place 2 creases along the length of the toilet paper roll going the same direction.  Secure the top of the heart with tape.

3. Put tempera paint on the plate

4. Go get your toddler

5. Get to stampin’!

I helped too, it was pretty fun and I was surprised how good it looked

6. Finish up!

I simply folded construction paper into a card and cut a section of our stamping for the front and one for the inside.  I wrote a special Valentine’s Day message from Emmy to Daddy!

Are you doing Valentine crafts this year?  Let me know in the comments!

3 Chores for my 1 year old (and how I get her to do them)

 

Having a toddler is my favorite thing ever!  She is starting to do things on her own, express opinions, and try new things.  While my 17 month old daughter is not saying many English words, she is definitely understanding, imitating, and cooperating.  1 year olds usually have a desire to please the adults in their life, so I intend to use that to my advantage!  I want my daughter to feel like she has a job and a purpose in our home, I want her to see that everyone in the home contributes and that she can have a helpful spirit.  

At this young age, teaching her to do the chores is much more work than doing them myself, so I’m trusting that through consistency I will reap the rewards later as she becomes self sufficient and independent. With practice, she will be able to slowly take over each of these tasks.  Can I hear an amen from moms of older kids please?  

“Doing a chore” with a 1 year old typically consists of four steps, 1-tell them what to do (cheerfully but directly). 2-show them how to do it. 3-help them do it. 4-praise them for doing it

1. Turning off the light before bed

This one seems small, but I hear so many parents complain that their older children won’t turn off the lights!  My daughter actually really enjoys this as a part of her evening routine, I think it makes her feel powerful because she always looks up at the light and says, “wow!”  

To teach her to turn off the light, every single night I say, “time to turn off the light.”  Then I point to the light switch and lift her up to reach it.  If she reaches out her hand, I will guide her hand right to the light switch and even pull it down if she is struggling with the movement of it.  If she does not reach out her hand, I’ll gently guide her hand to the light switch and turn it off using her finger.  I always tell her “thank you,” even if I was the one who turned off the light with her finger.  If she was distracted looking at the fan, I’ll remind her what she did, “you turned out the light!”

2. Picking up her toys

This one is honestly super hit and miss.  At 1 and a half, my daughter has JUST started putting items into containers, instead of only out of them.  Take out and put back in is one of her favorite games, but when she is playing independently, it always ends with take out!  At this age she is not ready to organize toys, put different toys in different areas, or stack toys nicely, but she IS ready to put something into a basket, so that is what we do.  Right now, this chore is typically only done when something is dumped out defiantly, so I need to develop some consistency around doing this chore every day, multiple times a day!  

To do this chore, I sit down with her and grab the toy basket.  I tell her, “time to pick up your toys” and I put a toy into the basket.  While we are completing the task, I say “thank you” every time we put one in.  I don’t require her to pick up every toy-I probably pick up 90% and she picks up 10% but at this age, the cooperation and hard-working attitude matter more than actual achievement!  At the end, I always tell her “all done, thank you for picking up your toys!”  

*pro tip- If your child is being defiant and refusing to cooperate in this chore, don’t accept that they will not do the chore.  Without anger or frustration, require obedience of your child.  Sometimes Emmy will throw herself down and shout, “no!” so I simply and calmly pick her up and tell her that it’s time to pick up her toys.  I carry her to the toy and use her hands to pick it up and drop it in the basket.  Even though she may be thrashing or whining I praise her extra for her (forced) cooperation, typically by the end, with a lot of encouragement, she is helping willingly and sometimes even running across the room for an extra toy that I missed in the initial pickup

3. Wiping up spills

I don’t know about your 1 year old, but mine thinks it’s funny to turn her sippy cup upside down when no one is watching and bang it on the floor until milk comes out.  Anyone else?….No?…Just me?…Okay.  

Well, what I do in this situation is RUN to the kitchen to get a towel to try to throw it on the spill before she splashes in it.  I tell her, “oops, you spilled, help mommy clean it up.” I show her how to wipe the towel back and forth on the spill.  If she doesn’t do it on her own, I gently place her hands on the towel and wipe it around on the floor.  I always tell her “thank you for your help!”

While these are the chores that we “assign” to our 1 year old, she can be involved in any chore by following the same simple steps, tell her what to do, show her how to do it, help her do it, and praise her for doing it!  As she sees my positive attitude towards chores and wants to be involved in chores, she is learning how to contribute to the household.  On a non-regular basis we have also been able to have her involved in scrubbing the bathtub, sweeping the floors, doing laundry and even the dishes.  Does her contribution in any way help the chore get done: no, in fact it’s usually harder,  but we are accomplishing something much more important and long-term by taking simple steps to get her involved in our lives and our home.  

I hope that these ideas help you keep it simple and fun so that you can get your toddler involved in chores today!  Let me know how you get your kids involved and helping by leaving me a comment below

Welcome to Homemaking Matters!

Welcome, I’m glad you’re here!

My prayer for homemaking matters is that it will be a source of encouragement, joy, fun and passion for homemakers.  Caring for family and home is truly an awesome privilege and sometimes incredibly hard!  

 

I’m Stephanie and I’ll be your guide as we walk together through trials and triumphs in finances, marriage, natural living, parenting, daily running of the home and more!  I’m excited to embark on this journey together, let’s get started!