Raising Readers

It’s no secret that I am a massive reader. I devour books the way people devour food. I spend most of my time reading and it is my dream that my kids read books as well. I don’t expect them to read like I do, but I would hope that they turn into little bookworms in their own ways. I’ve noticed over the past year, they both have been turning to books more and more and it is something that I’ve gotten comments on in the past when others see that.

First, the importance of reading.

Reading has such an impact on our lives in ways that we don’t even realize. Reading is a form education and escapism, a way of gaining new insight and knowledge on a vast amount of topics from a vast amount of voices. As human beings we read in some form every single day, whether that is reading a book, a news article, a blog post (are you reading this post?), or even a caption on social media. And with those words, knowledge is conveyed to us. Knowledge about the person who wrote them, knowledge from the words themselves, knowledge in our reaction and understanding of them.

Basically, reading is important beyond just being able to actually read signs, directions, and other things. Even if the only reading you do is reading directions, or Instagram captions, it still has an effect on your life.

Of course, I prefer to read books. For me personally reading is a form of education and escapism. I learn from everything that I read (even just the light and fluffy novel, even if I’ve just learned that I don’t like what I just read, there is always something to be gained) and I truly love to just curl up with a good book in the afternoon and read till the late evening.

Anyways, all that aside now, let’s talk about how my little boys are starting to turn into little readers. Now, they are too young to actually be able to read the words on the pages (that’s coming though), but they love to a)be read to and b) flip through the books they have themselves and tell us what is on the pages. We’ve started to slowly introduce the longer chapter books to Colton (our older son, a few months shy of 4 years old), starting with Winnie the Pooh.

One of the top reasons why I think they are starting to get much more interested in books is that they see Mommy reading. Kids watch the adults that are around them, especially parents, for cues. They pay attention to what we do and what we say and they model some of their behaviors off of ours. For some reason, when I am sitting and reading a book, the boys are reasonably well behaved (allowing me to actually read the book) and often times they will pick up a book and sit with it as well.

Another reason I think they are starting to get more into it, is that if they want to read, we will stop everything and read. Everything stops if they want to pick up a book and read it. We will read whatever, whenever and always give it our full attention.

There are two reasons in regards to buying books that I think has helped. The first being that if we are out and about at the library or at a store that carries books, the boys can each pick one book out for themselves. We will usually always buy them a book if they want it (as long as we don’t already have it at home, at which point I will usually see if they want a different book). This may not have always worked our in our personal favor (those noisy sound books are obnoxious), but it still encourages them to continue reading and shows them how great books can be. The second reason is they have full control over the books that they want (again as long as we don’t already have it). If it is age appropriate, then they can pick the book that they want. I find that just by simply encouraging them to read what they want, makes them more likely to pick a book up. I’m sure this will play a much larger role later on in their lives when they are actually reading. At the present though, it means we have a lot of Paw Patrol and Dinosaur books in our home.

Honestly, what it comes down to is just offering books to your children. Showing them that reading is enjoyable and allowing them to explore books and reading in their own little ways. If they are given the freedom to read what and when they want (aside from bedtime, but that’s going to be a later battle I feel like- Colton is already trying that), it encourages them to want to read.

Motherhood and You

Motherhood is all consuming, a never-ending cycle of care, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t simply become “mom”, don’t lose yourself, who you are, in caring for your children. Don’t cling to them as they start to grow up and grow away. Being a mom may be the most important hat you wear, or title you receive, (however you want to think of that), but it is not solely who/what you are.

All too often, starting almost immediately after birth, we become consumed by being a mom. By taking care of a little human being that depends solely on us for EVERYTHING (daunting, so daunting), by trying to be everything for this little being, and all too often we lose who we are in the process. We become so wrapped up in that “mom” role that we don’t take care of ourselves (a post for another day), we don’t take care of our significant other, we don’t take care of our friendships.

These things start to fall to the wayside, and it isn’t until we are a couple years in (or longer for some) that we realize that we don’t know who we are anymore. We have become a mom, the greatest blessing of all, but we’ve lost who we are in the process.

This is a normal thing that just about everyone experiences to varying levels. That isn’t to say that we can’t get back to who we are, or avoid this entirely, I’m just saying that this is a normal thing to go through. In fact, even the most prepared parents (the ones who swear that parenthood won’t change them) go through a level of this. It’s a natural instinct when we have a child that our world changes to revolve around this baby and it’s a very sweet time in our lives (postpartum depression/anxiety/and other issues aside). That doesn’t mean that it lasts forever. Our children will grow, they will mature, they will become independent and need us as parents less and less. That change is why it is important not to lose who you are when you become a parent.

How do we handle this? How do we allow motherhood/parenthood to take over our lives, and still maintain who we are?

Little things. What do you like to do in your free time? What did you like to do before you became a parent to relax?

Did you like to exercise? Find a gym that has childcare. Have your significant other take over the parenting duties for a few hours while you hit up a workout.

Did you like to read, write, watch TV, YouTube, etc.? Great! Naptime and after Bedtime are great opportunities to do these! (In fact, I squeeze a lot of my reading time during naptime and after the kids go to bed).

Did you like to shop or explore new areas? Perfect, you can do that with baby OR if you want baby free time, have your significant other or family watch the baby while you get a little break.

The main takeaway from this is not to have time away from your child, although that is needed too, but to find time within your day to do what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. So much of motherhood is spent tending to others (and not just your own children, being a mom turns you into everyone’s mom) and it is easy to lose ourselves in that. So so easy to be swept away taking care of everyone and everything else.

If that is what fills you up and makes you happy, perfect! Do more of that. BUT don’t forget to take a little breath for yourself.

Big things. Find time for you and your significant other to have a little time together at the very least once a month. Take care of that relationship or it will fall to the wayside. Check in with each other throughout the day, send that sweet little text. Have a moment while the baby is napping. Hire a babysitter when baby is a little older to get much needed date nights in (no matter what those actually look like).

Everyone says that one day your children will go up and leave and then what will be left is you and your significant other. This is true, but what is more important is the example that you are setting for your children. From the get-go, our children learn from us. They see what a stable relationship and family looks like from us, so water your own marriage and your children will see how to water their own (when that time comes).

Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as situations arise so that you can be a cohesive unit. Parenthood can help your marriage thrive and grow into new heights, or it can fall to the wayside. More than likely it will ebb and flow between both (again, completely natural), but the continual watering will help everything stay on a balance to continue to go towards success and happiness.

Ultimately, motherhood is a phase of life. For those of us who are mom’s (in any form) it is an all-encompassing blessing. It never ends and takes a lot of who we are. BUT it doesn’t have to be solely who we are. We were somebody before we were “mom” and while being mom takes precedence, don’t say goodbye to who you are. She is still there, and she should be able to shine as well.

My #1 Piece of Advice

Whenever I have a conversation with someone who is just starting something, whether it be motherhood, a new job, marriage, whatever, inevitably the conversation goes somewhere towards advice. I get this a lot when I talk with other expectant moms or engaged couples. Big life changes can be daunting and sometimes it helps to talk to someone else who has been through it (and sometimes it doesn’t, I get it either way).

While I try not to offer unsolicited advice (I remember how much I hate that myself), if I get asked for any tips this is ALWAYS my go to answer:

“Be open to the idea that NOTHING is going to go the way you have it planned out”

Yep, Type A, planner/organized/list maker me just said that. This one piece of advice is the one piece that I feel like everyone tap dances around, but never just comes out and says it. It can be applied to any situation and is both blunt/honest and yet kind. It’s the best piece of advice I ever heard and it is the single most true thing anyone has ever said about life.

We can try and plan things out, set goals, and map out the direction our life will take. I would hazard a guess that our lives end up going that path 75% of the time. Life throws curveballs all the time: that dream promotion went to someone else, relationships come to an end, pregnancy is not the dream that we thought it would be, the list goes on and on.

When we get those curveballs, we fall into two categories:

Category 1: We freak out and try to resist wherever it is that we are being pulled in order to stay on track with our perfect life plan. We desperately cling to our plans/lists/goals and crumble at the curveball that has just been thrown. A good amount of us end up staying in this category, unsure of how to pull ourselves out and get back to where we want to be.

Category 2: We roll with the punches and try to adjust our plans and goals around whatever the curve ball may be. These are the people who are taking the advice given above and putting it into action. They are the ones who seem to always have their stuff together and always seem to getting places.

I’m not saying that we can’t dwell or process the curveball when it is thrown our way. Absolutely in some cases we will need to process and deal. The difference is that if we make our goals and plans knowing that they may shift and change as life moves forward, then we can continue on after we’ve processed the curveball. When we make our life plans, if they are made with this knowledge, then we can bounce around the curveballs (and maybe hit a few of our own) with ease. Knowing that we will get to where we are meant to be.

So, whether you are engaged, an expectant mother, a soon to be graduate, or looking at a major life change, just keep in mind that things may not go according to your plan. Welcome those curveballs and keep moving forward with your life.

Friday Morning Cups

This picture may seem simple. May seem harmless. Just a book and a cup of tea. Nothing more to see, right? Wrong. Now I don’t expect you to infer what I am about to say, nobody could just from this picture. But that is why I’m saying it. That is why it’s just a simple picture, with a much more powerful caption. Often times this isn’t something that is spoken about beyond the “shtick” that many moms have started to claim. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a dangerous line between what is normal and a funny “just a mom thing” and what is needing a little more attention

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Here sits my now cold cup of tea untouched along with my unopened book (that I started a night or two ago and haven’t touched since). If you know me, you know that either of these things being untouched is unheard of. Instead, I have been sitting here in my chair, staring out the window, utterly spent. Trying to recoup what little I have left.

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Motherhood is the most incredible gift that I have ever experienced but it is also a uniquely exhausting and trying time. It is a constant, overwhelming, role and there comes a time (for all of us), when we are just spent. When we have nothing left. When the simplest of things (like drinking a cup of tea or reading) can just sit for hours without being touched. We are not good at asking for help, we are not good at saying that we are overwhelmed, we just keep trying to hold everything together, while seemingly pulling our own selves apart. There is a level of exhaustion that is normal and then there is a level where you may need to talk to someone or need to ask for help.

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Don’t do what I did for a long time. Don’t try and hide how you’re feeling, or pretend like you’ve got it all together. Don’t always put yourself last. Every once in a while (preferably before you feel that last fraying string snap), tell someone. Reach out. Say I need a minute, 5 minutes, an hour (he’ll be ambitious and go for a couple hours if you can). You’ll be better for it. Your spouse will be better for it. Your children will be better for it.

Friday Morning Cups – A Super Important Motherhood One

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“Toddlers are not giving us a hard time, they are having a hard time”. Saw this quote a little while ago and it really just put me back in the right mindset. Figured I would share it as well as it may remind someone else of what toddlers go through. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it ISN’T hard to be a parent (it is at times and I will be the FIRST PERSON to acknowledge that, I actually just recently did), but I am going to try and say that sometimes we need to rethink our thought process when it comes to “terrible two’s”, “threenagers”, etc (which I totally do say those things, so I’m not perfect with this by any means.

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It’s hard for us to truly understand (as we as adults now possess the abilities our youngsters are learning), but imagine having all the feelings, feelings which you’ve never experienced before, learning all of these new things you’ve never known before, trying to understand the vastness and complexity of the world you live in, without having the words to express yourself. Without having the ability to truly make sense of what is going on around you. Sounds frustrating, right?

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So, when you are dealing with the 5th temper tantrum over your first morning cup, try to remember, they don’t understand. They are trying to learn about their world. Their rules. Their role. And it is up to us, as their parents to calmly riddle it out for them. To show them the way. To speak to them and help them understand. It is hard for them, just as it  can be draining for you. AND if you are feeling drained, say something. Take a little breather and do some self care. 

Friday Morning Cups : A 2 for 1 on Motherhood

IMG_6071Before I was a mom I never thought I would be the mom who said: “Send (insert:caffeine,wine,junk food, etc) it helps” (In my case it’s tea and It totally does help).

▫️Before I was a mom, I never thought I would be annoyed at my messy house (I mean the kids are living, making memories, etc). 

▫️Before I was a mom I never thought I would celebrate the idea of using the bathroom in peace (I totally knew this whole everyone in the bathroom would be a thing, but that solo celebration is also a thing).

▫️Before I was a mom I scoffed at the idea of making separate sides for children (I don’t make a full separate meal, but I do occasionally make two different sides, while offering all options, just to ensure my picky toddler eats something at dinner).

▫️Before I was a mom, I thought that after becoming a mom it wouldn’t be hard to get back to husband and wife (don’t let this scare you, it’s not HARD per se, you just have to make it a priority because it is so so important. 

▫️Before I was a mom I had all sorts of ideas about TV time, technology, etc (which I actually still maintain most of those same ideas ☺️)

▫️Before I was a mom…The list could go on and on of things I thought, ideas on how I would parent, how I thought life as a mother would be. Then I became a mom. 

▫️That’s the thing about motherhood, you have all these ideas and principles in your head…and then it happens. You are handed your child and it gets real. While your overall principles stay the same, your approach, the way you talk, the little things you do everyday. New things annoy you, old things fade away. And if you decide to have multiple children? Your parenting approach and style change to meet the individual needs of each child. 

▫️So have your ideas and overall principles about how you want to parent, try to stick with them as you parent, but know that the minor details may change here and there. That every child is different and will have different needs. That it’s ok to say, how I had planned to parent isn’t what is working. It is ok to shift styles as you figure out what your child needs. Once you find what works for you and for your child, it’s magic…or at least magic with a side of what gets you through the day. 

IMG_2124.JPGI’ve said it before- I like a clean house. I strive for a clean house 97% of the time (the 3% being the time that my kids are awake and trashing everything 😅). A clean home makes me calm (no joke). What I really pride myself on though is my kitchen. I strive for clean counters, floor, dishes in either the washer, drying wrack or put away. Perfection in my kitchen is heaven/less stress to me. BUT (and this is THE BUT of life really), there is a time and place for that. 

☕️Yes, there are dishes on my counter. Yes, I was in the process of clearing breakfast and handling my kitchen after a meal. But if I hadn’t turned around. If I hadn’t bent down. If I hadn’t taken the chance to just be with these two and have a mini pile up/dance party. Then I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t have this picture. I wouldn’t have these smiles. It may sound dramatic and over the top, but it’s true. 

☕️Our children want us. They want us to watch, to play, to talk, to be with them. While we see all the mess around us, see everything that needs to be done, see the work that needs to be done, they just see Mommy and Daddy. So turn around for a minute. Have the dance party. They may not remember every little thing, but they will remember the overall feelings/picture they had. And you will remember. And there will be smiles. Giggles. Happiness. 

A Different Kind of Tired

If you follow me on any of my Social Media you may have already picked up on this, but the past few weeks have been no joke. They’ve been rough. It hasn’t been anything inherently bad, just routine life, but it’s just been a constant of life that’s stretched me thin.

Before we get too far into this, I did take a little “break” and did some self care that I haven’t really been able to get in, so I will not be so stretched thin and can “recuperate” a little. I am doing so much better now, which is referenced at the end of the post.

 I was talking with my husband one night and I found myself saying “I’m just so tired”. This was a pretty good sign to me as to where I was at. How I was feeling and what was going on. His response though? “Why don’t you go to bed then” A logical response to what I had actually said, but I knew that going to bed wasn’t really the answer, just like being physically tired wasn’t what was wrong. Yes, I was physically tired, and yes, going to bed would have probably helped, but it wasn’t the larger issue.

There is a different kind of “tired” when you are a mom. The feeling of just being so worn out emotionally and mentally. We say tired because with this feeling we can feel physically tired, but the root of that is really just our mental and emotional state. It usually comes at a point when we just simply need a break from “being a mom”. We need to have an adult conversation, an adult beverage, or -honestly- an adult only restroom break.

Being a mom (and a parent) means being constantly there when your kids are there. Yes, there are times when we step away and do dishes, or write, or read, or make food, but honestly there is always a part of us that is paying attention to our children. Keeping an ear out for what they are doing, keeping a side eye on what toys they are playing with, making sure that they aren’t destroying the house or hurting each other or getting into things they shouldn’t be into.

That alone, that divided attention, trying to do two things at once (keep the kids happy, and maybe cook some food, do some dishes) is exhausting by itself. And sometimes, being a mom is not the only thing we do. It may be the most important, but often times we are also wives, employees, business owners, or have some other commitment going on that we need to do.

Not only do we balance motherhood, partnership, work, we are also actively maintaining a living space and trying to take care of ourselves. Even with the help of our respective partners, it all adds up. And, at some point, we get tired. Not just physically tired, but emotionally and mentally worn out. We collapse in a pile in bed or on the couch and just lay there. We revel in the peace that is the house after the kids go to bed, the nightly chores are done, and there is a quiet that we haven’t heard all day long.

So yes, I was tired when I said that and yes, I did go to bed, but it wasn’t (and isn’t ever) a simple fix. It took a couple days for me to get out that “tired” feeling. A couple days of easy weekend-ing, having my whole little family together, and getting a blissful few hours kid free. That was what I really needed and when we started a new week, it felt as if I was back in action.