Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Why Should We Have to “Have it All”

Monday, December 19th, 2016

have it allSocial media did it again. Another mama went and did something that has a lot of people armed and ready with all their judgments. A mom, ten weeks post-partum, videotaped herself working out as she went about folding cloth diaper laundry from the dryer. Diary of a Fit Mommy is known for her videos incorporating workouts into daily routines and inspires a number of other people, mostly women, to do the same.

I want to be very clear. I have nothing but love for this mama. You get yours! I work out most days of the week and have my own strategies for fitting it in. My routine is a work in progress but I think I get the sentiment behind the idea that we all have time and can find said time if we get creative and honest with ourselves and our day. I also wonder if people would have a strong response to my laundry multi-tasking—folding while talking to my hubby about our day. We are all multi-tasking.

But my first thought upon viewing this video was more of a question: Why must everything be so complex? Can we make single-tasking a fad that sticks? Perhaps the response is doing squats while stuffing cloth diapers is not a complex task. That’s true—it appears relatively easy. I just tried it myself and, yes, it’s simple enough. I’m just wondering what’s so wrong with single-tasking?

All day I’m doing five things at a time. I just want to sit and do the laundry with a show on the TV or even just in the still silence of children in bed. In some ways sitting in the quiet or watching TV still isn’t singular in focus. I might be reflecting on the day or catching up with hubby. Still, can’t I just not always be thinking and acting on the idea of “having it all?”

Lots of women all over the world don’t have it all—they don’t even have the time or resources to play around with the idea of having it all. Sometimes I think what many of us want is just a little simplicity. I am okay with a single focus even if it means I don’t have a “perfectly” slim tummy. For my own sanity I need to not always be doing, fitting everything in, and getting the most out of the day. That just feels like unnecessary pressure and anxiety.

Yet again, that’s what I’ll have to come down to, my own sanity and my own experience. We are all battling different demons; we all have different places we’re coming from and ideas of whom and how we want to be. If you’re in the mood to multi-task your way to a perkier tush while preparing diapers for your baby’s fluffy bum I’m happy you’re finding ways to make your goals reality. I’ll be over here folding laundry and little else, except perhaps taking a sip or two of wine.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

How to Get a Break This Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

How to Get a BreakI know the feeling of being at breaking point. I’ve had three children in four years. Our budget is tight and can’t afford childcare for the sake of self-care. I’ve worked a full-time job with on-site on-call hours as well as stayed at home with the children. I’ll note I do not have to manage additional challenges of a partner away for long periods, being a single mother, or behavioral, physical, or other particular attributes that some parents must balance in caring for their children. Here’s what has helped me find breaks, sometimes just five minutes in the day, and sometimes more.

Get off Facebook or whatever your social app of choice is. Social media and apps are a great resource as long as they add to your life. Checking for the umpteenth time if I received an email or looking every time my phone dings with a notification wastes time I could use getting a few minutes of solace. When I discipline myself to check my email minimally (maybe once a day or once an hour, depending on your work and situation), I somehow find a half-hour a day because of the five minutes here and there I save. Delete the app, limit the notifications, or simply put your computer and smart devices away for periods of the day to give yourself some space to breathe.

Write down your gratitude. Keep track of when you do get a break. I get more moments to myself than I realize. This is not to say I don’t deserve them, nor is it to deny that I may need more. Somehow, though, being aware of my time allows me to really feel the reprieve those breaks offer, even in retrospect. I keep track of the moments as the day passes. Try on a post it or in your planner or whatever system works for you. At least use a few slow moments of the day or in the evening to reflect back. This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Write down a word or phrase (e.g., “all napped at same time” or “15 minutes of quiet Legos”).

Reassess expectations. Figure out what you really need to find a little peace to really get your break. My oldest can help fold or put away the clothes, even though the result is a tad wrinkled, and the toys don’t have to be separated and stored exactly as I’d like so long as they are mostly put away. Also reassess what a break means. Can it be just 2 minutes of quiet? Does it need to be two hours completely away? Likely it’s both, sprinkled throughout the week.

Figure out what pushes your buttons. You can make the most of your break if you understand what you need a break from. My children can be around all day and I’m fine but them sitting on me, or breathing on me, really taxes my need for space. I also ask for “breaks” from requests. I don’t approach the kitchen until a certain time, so they are learning to wait until I’m ready for breakfast requests. Lunch is served at a certain time. This cuts down on the endless requests for food and snacks through the day. You can also put approved snacks within reach of little ones for self-service. Once you know what you need, you are better equipped to get it.

Reach out, and be direct about your needs. I do not claim to know your relationship with your partner, friends, or parents. Given your particulars, speak honestly and clearly about your need. Speaking passively or generally may not prove as effective as speaking clearly. For example:

“I’m so tired!”

Versus

 “Grandma, I’m exhausted with all the sleepless nights from infant teething. Do you have a day coming up when you could watch the kiddos for a few hours?”

Take what’s offered. Even if it’s not exactly what you want, accept it. If you just can’t bear to put your children in someone else’s care, stay home but go in the other room. If your children still come to you, put up a gate, put in earplugs, and let go or take a walk around the block. For me, leaving the kids at home with my hubby means coming home to a messy kitchen or living room, which is more stressful than not getting time alone. So I prefer they go on an adventure to the park. You can also voice how the messy kitchen doesn’t really give you a break, or have them clean up once you return. You can also just accept that whoever offers the help—hubby, parent, friend, church lady—may not be the finely tuned multi-tasking machine that you are. If getting a free hour or two means cleaning up a little extra later, it may be worth it to you.

Let go. You cannot have the space, break, or reprieve if you’re unwilling to let go. I can’t need the break but also need everything to be exactly as I would do it. Someone may pout for a little while, the shirts may not be folded as you would like, or they might get a greasy dinner instead of the well-balanced meal you would provide. If you want a break, you have to actually take a break. Enjoy it.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 7 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Can You Prepare for Parenting?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Can You Prepare for ParentingYou read the books. Not just one, and not only about pregnancy and birth. You signed up for emails and apps that provide development updates at your fingertips. You checked the registry lists—all of them—and planned accordingly. You even read the “what you REALLY need” and “things you just don’t need” blog posts. You took the classes for the birth and talked to a few trusted sources who have been there, done that. You’ve even taken in more unsolicited advice than you’d like because…almost all unsolicited advice is more than you’d like. You are prepared, you think.

Just like you were prepared the first time you went to a new school, on your first date, off to college, into a committed relationship, on a first interview, to that first job, and more. Parenting is unlike any other endeavor. If you could prepare for major seasons of life I imagine there would be fewer letters to my younger self, what I wish I knew, tips for fill-in-the-blank, and other such thematic articles. There is knowing about something, and then there is actually breathing it in and out to your very core.

This isn’t to say one can’t understand until one has children. That’s too condescending. You’ve heard it. “One day when ____, then you’ll understand.” It’s not that simple. There are many parents who don’t have a clue on some things for any number of reasons and other childless people who have great wisdom in what being a parent might involve.

I knew patience. I grew it over years; parenting did not teach me patience unlike anything else so much as it affords me opportunities each day to learn it again in all its endurance. I knew love. I tended to love over all my years; parenting did not teach me love so much as specific love and selflessness.

Something I did not know until I became a parent, nor do I think I could have prepared for, involves the time of caregiving, the way it weaves into one’s soul. In this sense caregiving is not only to children but also to parents or others loved dependents. It’s life-altering and perspective-changing. I spend my time considering and doing things I’d never thought of, never even knew to.

This investment is partly pragmatic. Pulling out four sets of clothes for upcoming season was just a short afternoon task when it was just me and my one set of clothing. Or in the morning, when getting ready for one to get to work on time seems like a task, suddenly getting four bodies fed and ready, in the car, and off to school and childcare, then me on the road. Don’t forget the lunches! The change of clothes to replace those used yesterday! The sign-up sheet for the goods to bake! So much time and thought goes into making that process seamless, not to mention all the emotions of shuffling kids here and there as you leave them for work.

Then the time that gets to the intention of your parenting. You care and everything is new. What doctor to choose, what that rash might be, which stroller to buy, whether to preschool or not, which preschool, what sports and how many, when to speak and hold your tongue, when to give them space to fail and succeed, how much screen time, when to allow a phone, oh-my-gosh bullying or dating or developing ethics and principles, and so on. Everything takes thought and attention like those first days of being at college or starting my first “real” job, or planning a wedding—except a life hangs in the balance. Of course a wedding comes and goes—for a child the new just keeps coming. One age mastered and another age comes.

Turns out you constantly prepare for parenting. It is the real-deal, never-ending, choose-your-own adventure every day. Welcome.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Have I Outgrown Social Media?

Monday, October 24th, 2016

10-20-16-outgrowing-social-media-option-1Scroll. Scroll… scroll.

It started innocently enough five years ago. I researched strollers. Which brand should I buy? Which one is smoothest for jogging? How smoothly does the front wheel pivot? It costs HOW much? Oh wait… a giveaway! I’ll enter the giveaway! Just like these 20 Instagram accounts and I could win! Ok. Cloth diapers. Which brand should I buy? Group? Sure I’ll join your group. Seasons of life start like this, at least for a new soon-to-be-mom and solidly through my second child’s first year.

Here I am with baby number three, at six months old, and I’m tired of scrolling through Instagram photos of single strollers and belly belts. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve outgrown you. I don’t mean to be brutal. After all, you’ve supported me with encouraging words, kept me company through many sleepless nights of nursing. But unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow. Don’t get me wrong, there is a core group that will always keep me going. I’m sticking with a group, a couple businesses, and my handful of friends. I just don’t have interest in the fringes anymore.

The moment of truth hit me after weeks, months even, of me mulling over the rut I so desperately wanted to climb out of. The mommy rut, with three kids ages four and under, wanting to lose that baby weight and talk about something other than diapers, nap schedules, and tantrums. I don’t have time for everything. I have to choose. I have to cut the fringes because grabbing onto them I know I’ll just fall back into a rut. I need the strings that are deeply attached. I am ready to reincorporate the “me” from before mommy hood with the mommy that I am now.

Those late night chats with a handful of imaginary friends—the ones I’ve shared with but never met—they got me through many challenging times. Friends we will always be, but it’s time for me to put my computer away at night because I need to sleep. My kids now sleep through the night, you see. Five years ago I was expecting my first brand new baby and I had so many questions. Now I’m seasoned. I’m happy to talk you through your sleepless nights but I no longer need it myself.

I’m always going to be parenting, so it’s not so much that I’m giving up something as I am outgrowing the first stages of being a parent on social media. Goodbye stroller specs, hello homework or sports or preteen questions. Let me be clear there is no judgement at all. I am thankful for the likeminded people, companies, and communities I invested in—and who invested in me. I needed you and hope that I served you well. But I’m done. It’s done. That season of my life is done.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Unapologetic Parenting

Monday, September 26th, 2016

img_1145I take it for granted that when my kids grow up and ask me questions about their childhood, I’m going to end up apologizing for something. I’ll tell the oldest I’m sorry I didn’t hold her enough. The middle child will get apologies because I didn’t enjoy her enough while she was the baby because I was too freaked out about getting pregnant again so soon. The youngest, for not getting to go to preschool, story time, playgroups, or dance class like her oldest sister did at her age, because I was too busy carting around the older ones.

This approach has come to guide my daily decision making. I think about it frequently, like when I’m tired, when I’m tempted to say no automatically instead of thinking about each situation specifically, or when I’m out in public. I try and really think about my decisions because I don’t want to make decisions I’m going to have to apologize to my kids for someday if I don’t have to.

But now, in an age of frequent parent-shaming, I’ve come to think of parenting decisions in public also as public-relations problems. How will I defend myself if someone videotapes me or turns me in to authorities for something I think is perfectly reasonable or low-risk but they think is not? (I honestly had examples here but was too worried someone would shame me for doing those things, so I took them out.)

I feel like any small parenting decision can have very public consequences. Once when my husband was out of town, I had just put both kids to bed and decided to have a glass of wine now that I was alone. But then I thought: What if the house catches fire? What if someone breaks in or I have to take a child to the emergency room? All it takes is for someone to smell alcohol on my breath and that becomes a story. I dumped out my wine and spent the night tossing and turning in the dark, waiting for one of the kids to cry.

I’ve seen friends get called CPS on them because someone thought their house was too messy in a Facebook photo–Hoarder! Or because they joked in a post about running away from it all–Call the police! There was the mom in Houston who was going for help because she locked her kids in her car and got accused of getting her hair done while her children baked in a hot car. (She’s now suing the TV station for $200,000 and fears for her family because people were so vile over it.) There’s the couple in Sandusky, Ohio, who walked a few feet away from their baby, who was in a car seat, to grab food at a buffet, and had a complete stranger shame them on social media and call them terrible parents. (He didn’t call 911 or do anything about it at the time because the baby was in no danger.) A recent study showed that individuals in a focus group judged parents on the perceived moral rightness of their actions when stepping away from their child even for a moment.

Read that again.

The article says that “moral attitudes toward parenting have changed, such that leaving children unsupervised is now judged morally wrong. And because it’s judged morally wrong, people overestimate the risk.” It’s much more exciting for some Facebook acquaintance or stranger to call the local news station than give you a call and ask if you’re OK or if you need help. What a hero.

So what started as a pledge to not have to apologize to my kids one day in the future has become of a way of living in public. I have to make the best possible decisions I can not only for my family, but now also to the defense of my integrity in the public eye, even when my kids are unaffected. You’d think raising tiny humans to be decent adults is enough pressure. It’s an exhausting proposition. It puts me on edge in public, and sometimes I have the feeling that everyone I see is judging me. But that’s an advantage, I guess. Because someone always is. At least now I am prepared to confront them.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.