Summer is upon us. Let’s talk survival strategies. Or, even, happiness strategies. Maybe we can enjoy the summer with our kiddos, and not just get through it. Both/and. Here’s what’s been helpful for us, with our four (9, 7, 5, … Continue reading
I have lots of thoughts rattling around in the old noggin, and hesitate to even try to put them in a blog post. But let’s not let perfect be the enemy of the good. Move forward, and blog even if it is not fully comprehensive. Right?
Here’s a few things that worked for me in 2016:
1. Buy what works, even if it costs a little more. It applies to my hair, which I have been wearing wavy for the past few months. My bestie from childhood (shout out to Heather!!!!!) told me about devacurl products (not to be confused with diva cup. Different.) and I invested the big bucks in September to give it a go. For a typically $2 suave shampoo girl, it is darn pricey- but worth it because it works and I like the way my hair looks down now. Win!
(Never forgetting to spend well within your means, of course. My friend Lee-Ann chimed in about that and I could not agree more.)
2. Bullet journaling. I started this back in February and have figured out how it works best for me. I keep both the daily and the long-term to-do’s corralled in one place, along with my book log (I read 77 books in 2016!), books to read, gift lists, and the monthly calendars. I don’t use the index much at all- I just put a paper clip on the pages I flip back to a lot. Simple (for me) and a single place for lots of stuff I want access to on a regular basis.
And I like that it is pen and paper.
3. “This is a fixable problem.” I say this to myself a good bit when I am frustrated by something pretty trivial. Like when my kids take my pens out of the jar in the kitchen, so when I want to add to the grocery list I don’t have a pen. I am a smart woman and can certainly fix this problem. I fashioned a little paper container out of notecards I have on hand and packaging tape (also already in the kitchen) and tacked it up on a bulletin board, beyond their reach. Now they stick with their markers and art supplies and I have a pen when I need it.
4. Gratitude. I am struck- really surprised all over again, at least once a day- at this crazy, full life I get to live. My kids are fun little humans who push my buttons and highlight my weaknesses and make me laugh and who I adore. Like heart explosion adore. They are nuts…and imperfect…and I am so thankful I get to have them in my life. What a gift. My husband is a man of extremes and adventure (for example), makes me laugh quite a lot, and often sees life and relationships in a way that is upside down from me, and I am thankful for that. If our family does anything remotely out of the ordinary, day to day routine it is because of him. I keep the train moving and he suggests different, fun destinations.
Also- our house and our neighborhood. Someday I will write out the story of how we ended up in our house because I do not want to forget the details. But I love love love our home and feel grateful on a daily basis that we get to live here, with great people all around us.
5. Counseling. 2016 was a new stage of life for us as a family. For the first time in ten years we were not moving/changing jobs/pregnant/trying to get pregnant/recovering from pregnancy/sleep training a baby/breastfeeding/walking through major medical issues. We just were.
Happy in our jobs, enjoying our kids, loving our home. Pretty settled.
So it seemed like it was time- and I actually had the margin again- to refocus on a few things. Like marriage, post-survival mode. And parenting as we are just starting to see headier, more emotionally complicated years ahead of us. I found a great counselor and have met with her off and on for the year. (If you don’t like the first counselor you meet with, give it a good solid try and then feel free to move on. It is not unlike any other relationship where sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t).
I am a biased source- I am a counselor. But here is something that happened this morning, that reminded me why I think counseling is worth the effort.
One of my kids had some anxiety about returning to school today. This child has a classmate that causes some anxiety and fear. I emailed my child’s teacher and school counselor last night, but was not really feeling that optimistic about the situation. I said something to that effect to a friend this morning– I just had zero imagination for how this classmate situation could resolve well. Jenn was pretty quick to respond- “No, that is a really big deal in schools these days. The staff get a lot of training in how to deal with it. They will know how to handle it.” And I thought “Oh right. I don’t have a good roadmap for how this will resolve, but this is not my area of training and expertise. Of course they’ll have something to offer here.”
I have gone into counseling before with that similar thought process- I have zero imagination for how this could improve…I have tried a bunch of things and they are not working…what else could someone offer me?
Spoiler alert: a lot.
What worked for you in 2016?
…Can overwhelm me.
Breaking my blog silence to tell you how I store my kids’ important stuff. Like, the stuff I want to save for a long time and give back to them one day. Artwork. Letters to the Tooth Fairy. Their favorite board book that we read 100 times a day for a while. That kind of stuff.
I know you need to know MY method, because Pinterest probably turns up zero ideas about “how to store kids’ stuff”. Hahahahaha… I crack myself up.
If you want to know Pinterest’s ideas, feel free to click over there now. I will be here when you return in 3 hours. If you’re like me, you will sign on to look for kids’ storage ideas and, instead, find outdoor planter flower ideas, homemade grout cleaners, and party-perfect crockpot meatballs. Pinterest makes me feel like I have the attention span of a squirrel.
So. My idea.
Pick a finite space- a box or bin- and use it well. Just one allocated space for the special stuff.
I have four bins that sit on the top shelf of the kids’ closets. One for every kid. They are not clear, because I don’t necessarily want my kids to see everything in there and ask me to pull it down every few weeks. The point is to tuck certain things away for a long time.
When my Mom passed away, my Dad spent some time going through our house and collecting things for us kids to sort through. Among the things I received was a box of my old stuff. One box- letters to my mom on Mother’s Day, preschool art projects, my handprint from elementary school, report cards, etc. That was pretty emotionally filling to go through. I enjoyed it, though it was hard to know what to do with a lot of it. Keep it? Display it? Trash it? Yes, yes, and yes.
I don’t think I would have enjoyed much more than that. One box is special and worth savoring. Several boxes feels like an emotionally exhausting chore. (To me. I don’t think everyone feels like I do).
Here are some things in my kids’ bins: a letter to the Tooth Fairy, a teeny tiny pair of pj’s that both of my girls wore, the books that each child really attached to, a special shirt, a Lightning McQueen matchbox car, a lovey that was once vitally important every evening at 7:00, their first artwork attempts, first letter-writing attempts, and so on. I keep a jar in the kitchen to write down and store funny things that my kids say, and periodically I will put their quotes in their bins.
So those are some ideas.
I often feel overwhelmed by the volume of stuff and the memories attached to that stuff. I want to remember and savor and all of that. This method works for me. If it doesn’t float your boat, feel free to try Pinterest for 7 million other methods, plus party-perfect crockpot meatballs. That place is a real one-stop shop. It’s like the Wal-Mart of the internet.