Monday, May 14, 2018

Summer Vacation: When a Plan is a Mom's Best Defense

Oh, summer vacation.  The thing our kids look forward to from Valentine's Day until the end of May. When I think of vacation, I imagine beaches and sunsets and holding hands with my sweetheart and amazing food and kids who are actually really best friends and reading and reading and more reading. The reality will probably be closer to the constant noise of Fortnite combined with whining about the lack of snacks in the house and the constant proclamations of extreme boredom. Soooooo, it's time to make a plan before summer turns into a train wreck!

First, chores. They just have to be done. They'll thank me for it someday. (I think that may be another parenting lie, but I'm running with it.) We are currently on chore chart attempt number 374, so it's time to create chore chart #375 for the summer. I stick to the very basics. We have animals that need to be taken care of, bathrooms to be cleaned, clothes to wash (if they actually put them away, bonus), floors to keep picked up and vacuumed, but that's about it. I normally have my house cleaned every other week, but not so often in the summer, so, before they can settle in on the couch for more screen time with a can of Pringles (which they should not be eating in the living room, btw) and a water bottle (let's be real, it's  soda), they have to do their chores first. If they choose playing before chores, then bubye, Instagram or Fortnite or whatever will make their little faces screw up at the injustice of it all.

Next, schedules. I just made our schedule posters for the summer. I got all family trips, campouts, town carnival and parade, youth trips, cousin camp, holiday trips, etc. all laid out on posters that live on our living room wall all summer. That way we know what days are open for some bucket list fun! Make sure you schedule date nights in there, too, or the weeks will fly by before you know it!

Now, you can't forget the crazy amounts of extra food that you buy in the summer! All the kids are home all day and when there's boredom, there's grazing! So we stockpile food like we live in a fallout shelter. I also make sure there are easy lunches that they can make for themselves since I still work part-time in the summer, but the real winner for summer is throwing together quick and easy picnics! I take about four loaves of bread and make ridiculous amounts of PB&Js and ham and cheese sandwiches, throw them in freezer bags, and voila! Super easy picnic sandwiches ready to go. They last really well in the freezer for about six weeks so I have another sandwich-making assembly line that happens mid-summer. It makes for the easiest picnics! It also saves me from spending a ton of money on drive-thru food during the summer (which makes the maaaany Swig stops that much sweeter).

Now for the bucket list! In the past we've had a water park pass and that was our go to spot for summer fun, but this year we're going to explore different pools in our neighboring cities. My kids could swim all day every day so we luck out since everyone can agree on that outing. They also LOVE trampoline places and just plain ole' playgrounds. So the next poster to live on our living room wall is our bucket list:

  • any movies we want to see
  • pools we want to visit
  • trampoline places
  • parks
  • escape rooms
  • probably a day trip or two

One of the biggest obstacles to get out the door is, well, getting out the door. This is why a summer bag should be your secret weapon! What is in the summer bag? It has sunscreen, bandaids, chapstick, ibuprofen, a few towels, wipes, water bottles, snacks like jerky and granola bars, quarters (honestly, that's weird, but they come in handy for that lurking candy machine), bubbles, deck of cards, etc. Grab an old backpack and you'll be set!

So, here's to having as close to a 10-week vacation as you can get! However you plan your summer, good luck! May the force be with you.

Monday, April 30, 2018

My Favorite Not-So-Common Stress Relievers

by Jen Sorensen

  Want to know the dirtiest s-word of them all?? STRESS. Ugh. There’s SO much of it in our lives and we have to make a huge effort to control it before it shapes us into a person we barely recognize. Here are a few ways I’m learning to do that.

Give someone a compliment.

  Really, this one should be called Do Something For Someone Else, but I find that giving someone a genuine compliment is one of the simplest, yet most meaningful, ways to get us out of our own heads and focused on someone else. One of the worst side effects of stress is that we zone in more and more on our own problems and we forget that one of the things that brings us peace is caring about other people. So tell a stranger that you love their shoes. Tell a coworker that they did an amazing job on a project. Tell your spouse that they look hot. For real. Tell your kids that their hugs are like a superpower. Tell your neighbor that you’re lucky to have them because they always have baking soda. (Unless you’re my neighbor because I never do.) Tell your sister that she’s the best listener and you should know. Tell a friend that she helps you be a better person. By the time you’ve thought about all of those compliments, the stress will most likely have faded to the background and allow you tackle it with a clearer mind.

Face whatever is stressing you, and beat it.

  So often our problems are never quite as scary or as time-consuming or as hard to figure out in real life as they are in our imaginations. All of us are affected by stress in different ways. For me, it really messes with my sleep! Usually I just stay awake because all the worries are swirling around in my head. When I do finally drift off I dream about the same problems that were plaguing me while I was awake, except there’s a weird unicorn selling ice cream or something.
  When I finally face the stress, it’s usually a pretty quick fix and definitely not worth all the apprehension that preceded it. I try to teach this to my kids. Especially where math homework is involved.

Ask for help.

  Uh, excuse me. I am Wonder Woman and I do not need help. Ha! I wish. I need sooooo much help, but I’m actually really bad at asking for it. It’s not because I don’t think I need it (I could barely write that without laughing out loud!), but I really don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Several months ago I asked my husband if he would start switching off with me every other week to take care of the menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking. He is the most amazing human on the planet and immediately started doing exactly that. Let me tell you, a whole week of coming home to delicious dinners that someone else thought of and shopped for and cooked and cleaned up after… HUGE STRESS RELIEVER. And it only happened because I asked for help. I did it and so can you.

Give yourself permission.

  This means so many things to me. One of my biggest stress-inducing flaws is that I never feel like I’m good at anything. The way I’m learning to combat this is by giving myself permission to feel like I’m good enough at something. Sometimes this goes hand in hand with giving myself permission to cry a little or permission to quit even when I feel like I should keep going or, weirdly enough, permission to feel inferior, but only for a little while. Sometimes you must give yourself permission to do nothing. The world will go on with Henry Higgins and it will go on without you. Lay in your bed and watch a show and then watch another show and then remember that you are a person.
  Giving ourselves permission to feel or do something that usually isn’t allowed can be liberating, and you can’t feel liberated and stressed at the same time.

Remember who you are.

  After all the other things we’ve talked about, this is the most important. So often one of my biggest stresses is keeping up with everything I’m “supposed” to do to keep myself spiritually put together. There are (way too many) days when I allow work, kids’ schedules, meal prep, housework, tv, social media, yard work, blah blah blah, to take all of my attention and I become so depleted that I’m too tired to talk to my Heavenly Father and waaaay too tired to read from the scriptures. I get so stressed out and snappy and overwhelmed and forget that I’m worth anything and I wonder why everything is going wrong?!
  I’ve been through this cycle so many times that you’d think I’d start figuring it out a little sooner, but recently I found myself back in the same slump so I picked up where I left off last time in the scriptures and what do you think I read on that very first morning? This:

And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.” (Mormon 9:20)

Well, there you go. Depart from the right way, and God’s miracles cease in our lives. What a great argument to turn the things we're "supposed" to do into things that we "get" to do. I get to pray every day. I get to study His words every day. I get to serve those around me every day. I want to know God every single day because I don’t have a chance of handling the stress of life without his miracles, big and small. So, above all, remember the things that we’re “supposed” to do are the things that will wrap his loving arms around us and keep us safe. No matter what religion you are, just remember that you are a child of God. You are worth taking caring of and you are powerful enough to take care of those around you.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Right Way to Write a Note

by Danielle’ Dimond

I estimate that I say the words “I love you” about 50 times on a good and loving day. On a super grouchy ‘good feelings gone’ kind of day that number is still up in the 20-25 times range (and then after bedtime I may sneak guiltily into rooms to whisper 5 more just to be sure I haven’t ruined them). What can I say? I’m a words gal!  However, I have also experienced that mind-addling effect of saying one word over and over until it loses meaning and I begin to question my very existence in the cosmos. Yikes! Is that what happens when I tell my kids I love them day after day?! Are they questioning their existence in the cosmos because of it?!

I kid, but I definitely feel like us Moms need to up our ‘I Love You’ game once in awhile to keep things fresh, fuzzy and meaningful.

I have just the thing. I mean, obviously, here we are, me writing and you reading this blog post together to find out the answer. Now prepare for your mind to be blown. That IS the answer!! THE WRITTEN WORD is the answer! There are not-so-hidden messages of love in the act of taking out an actual piece of paper and an actual ink-laden pen and spending a few minutes to handwrite a note of affection to a loved one. Just knowing that some person felt the feels of love so strongly for you that they wanted to spend some time to do this archaic thing makes all them warm feelings, super fuzzy. Plus, if my name is written all fancy and decorated (you know, junior high in the 90’s style) forget about it. I’m all heart-eye-emoji feelings for days!

Blog post about the right way to write a note. Let people know you care enough to handwrite a note or card for them!

I KNOW I’m likely talking to the right audience here since most of you are MMP users (or plotting to be) and clearly you recognize the superiority of modern day papyrus and quill over cold electronic messages, so let’s step things up, shall we? Here are some ideas for telling your people you adore them without having to speak a word.

Post-it Notes

Post-its with little sayings of adoration or jokes or quotes or cartoonish doodles on them are so fun to come across by surprise. I like to stick these types of notes on mirrors in the bathroom, on headboards, on laptop screens, inside cupboards, on picture frames, the underside of toilet seat covers and pretty much any other surface that I know the person it is intended for will see it at some point in the day. If I’m asked to house-sit or pet-sit for family, I can’t help myself. I will post at least a dozen or so of these gems around a house to surprise people when they get home from their trip. A surprise note is guaranteed to bring a smile to someone’s face. It also has the added bonus of being super fun to do!


Snail mail is a forgotten art and obviously an avenue to use for loved ones you don’t live with. But picture yourself on your birthday. How much more thoughtful is it to receive a birthday card with a lovely note of good intent written inside that makes you realize that this person wanted you to have this on your b-day and was thinking and planning for you days ahead of schedule…versus a text message that took 15 seconds to thumb out and send? Finding something written just for you inside your mailbox is like a sunny shot of delicious endorphins right into your heart! So why not send someone you love that organic endorphin shot today? Dust off that old stationary (or better, go get some new stuff) and write an old fashioned and papery correspondence to someone and stick an antiquated stamp on it for delivery! Use that MMP to plan ahead and send a birthday card to someone instead of (or in addition to) that birthday text or phone call. You wont regret it!

The Hidden Note

Hiding a note for someone to receive at a particular time brings intrigue, stealth and creativity that is all kinds of dorky fun for the note maker and the receiver. I love to hide notes in books my kids are reading, journals that are left out, backpacks, lunches, inside sandwiches, under pillows, in suit pockets, inside socks, shoes, hoodie pockets, hats, scriptures, drawers, gym bags…people, the possibilities are endless and it takes as much or as little time as you want. It also has the added bonus that if you do this enough, you may even receive one of these hidden notes yourself. I received two of such notes one morning when I set off early to a yoga class. My 14 year old daughter, who hasn’t written me anything since she was 8, left two notes inside the hoodie I always wear to class. One stated that she loved me and hoped I had a good class and the other proclaimed me a yoga master of premo abilities and I grinned (and scratched my head) for three hours afterward.

The Neighborly Note

There is room for notes to people we may not LOVE but who we really like, or appreciate or who we feel may need a little pick me up. It doesn’t have to be a love note. It can be a thank you note, a note of encouragement or compliment or any “–ment,” as long as it is meant to make someone smile and feel noticed. That sister who gave such a thoughtful lesson in RS would love to hear that she said just what you needed to hear. Your neighbor who always brings in your garbage cans would probably smile to see a note taped to the garbage can one day stating your appreciation. Your teen’s friend who left their water bottle at your house would likely feel all kinds of surprised and delighted to find some candy in there with a note saying what a great friend you think they are.

Writing down how you feel about someone has power. You can express yourself without interruption and without the pressure of the recipient’s expressions or reactions to what you are saying. You are free to say exactly what’s in your heart (eloquence is unnecessary and inconsequential) without feeling rushed or pressured. Plus, when you have to think about what to make your hand write down you have to think about how you really feel about a person. It requires an inward inspection of your outward feelings towards another. Whoa, things just got real around here. Inward reflections about my feelings? Sounds intense, but it doesn’t have to be! Just write what you feel!

The written word lasts much longer than verbal declarations or electronic ones. You can read and reread a love note as often as you like so you never have to second-guess something you heard or worry that it will get deleted. The written word of love and truth has stood the test of time! Written documents of worth are framed, preserved, protected, reverenced, analyzed, buried in the ground for thousands of years so some young man can maybe unbury it and translate it to change millions of lives and bring joy and happiness to millions of people alive and dead. Oh yes, I just went there. C’mon! WRITE something of worth to someone you love today!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

What Easter Can Teach Us About Parenting

by Jen Sorensen

I’ve been really thinking about the last week of our Savior’s life and I keep drawing parallels between his great sacrifice and parenting. I consider being a mom the best thing I do every day. It’s definitely not the only thing I do every day, but it is the most important and I will take any help I can get, especially in the form of my Savior’s example.

What Easter Can Teach Us About Parenting - Mormon Mom Planner Blog

We need to let our kids do hard things.

I think of our Father in Heaven hearing that plea from our Savior asking if the cup could pass from Him and I just hurt inside, but they both knew it had to be done for the rest of us. While our kids’ struggles have little bearing on the rest of the world, we do know that they have to go through hard things to refine them and become capable, independent adults. But, man, it’s hard to watch! I don’t give in to many things—whining makes me angry and begging makes me roll my eyes—but real, genuine struggling is so hard for me to watch. When my kids are hurt or are sick or in pain, I just want to do anything in my power to make it go away. Sometimes, though, that is exactly what they are supposed to go through.

My 11-year-old has struggled in school for a long time. We always spend the last couple weeks of summer trying to remind him of all the good things about school like friends and recess and fun fridays, but all he would do is turn his back to us and pretend he can’t hear. It was so hard for him to even think about going back to school that he couldn’t face us. Literally. I wanted to just wrap him up, squeeze him tight, and tell him that it could just be him and me together forever while we ignore this hard thing in his life. Instead, we got him ready right along with all the other kids, told him he was brave and that he could do it and then took him on his first day. He looks like he’s about to throw up in a couple of his first day of school pictures. What he doesn’t know is that I always spent those first few days in knots and crying my tears while he was at school so I could be strong for him when he got home.

Watching him struggle to read a simple book or relearn the same math he thought he had mastered the day before was hard. Really, really hard. But we couldn’t let him give up on himself. The Savior endured to the end with the help of his loving Father and so we kept fighting for him, praying for him and cheering him on, and it paid off. He just finished six months of vision therapy after finally being diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. He still has a long road of catching up to do and that’s okay. He’s grown and turned into a happy kid who doesn’t dread being at school and doing his homework, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

We need to try to feel what our kids are feeling.

One of the most beautiful parts of the Atonement is that we know our Savior felt all that we have felt or ever will feel. I would love for my kids to have even the slightest trust that I feel and understand what they’re going through. To do that, I can’t “mom” halfway. I really need to stop the million-and-one other things I’m doing and listen to what they’re saying. And I really need to listen to what they’re not saying.

How else will we know that a “bad day” was really someone they thought they could trust telling everyone their biggest secret. Or how else will we know that the “grumps” is really a kid who is struggling to admit that they made a mistake and it’s affecting how they feel about themselves and they really need help and guidance to make it right again?

So often we just react to our kids instead of absorb what they really need from us. I am going to try harder to emulate the perfect empathy that our Savior has because understands all of our feelings with only one goal: to help us become who we can really be. If we strive to understand our kids’ feelings, then I know we can issue fewer rash punishments and instill more lifelong lessons.

I'm so grateful for the unmatched sacrifice of our Savior so that I could spend each day figuring out how to be a better mom to these cuties.

We need to teach our kids to forgive others, but especially themselves.

Why is this lesson so hard for us to learn? I think sometimes we get so frustrated with our kids that we kinda hold a grudge. Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe in coddling our kiddos; sometimes they just need to know they’re in trouble. But when we hang on to our anger and frustration, they forget what they did that actually got them into trouble and focus instead on feeling uncertain where they stand with us. If we can make sure they understand the lesson (whether that’s through a talk or consequences or both), then forgive them for the mistake or behavior, then they will learn to forgive themselves and move forward.

I believe our Father in Heaven did not intend for us to learn lessons in this life by carrying prolonged guilt or surviving extreme punishment. I believe that he wanted us to learn our lessons by experiencing more and more of His Spirit with every correct choice we make. We can learn a deeper meaning to this by parenting our children with that same love. Of course, as we’re taught about repentance we know that they do need to experience consequences that nudge them back to the right path, but so often they just need our sincere love and adoration and forgiveness.

I'm grateful for the example of our Savior and the layers and layers of lessons we can learn from His life. I'm grateful that this week I was able to ponder the last week of His life and the extreme and unmatched sacrifice He made for me so that I could be here  and be a mom. I'm so grateful for Him! Happy Easter!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Art of Questions

By Danielle’ Dimond
Follow Danielle' on Instagram @my30somethings

Has your 4-year-old ever asked you a boring question? I mean, ever? You’re thinking about it…and the answer is…an emphatic NO!! Kids don’t ask boring questions! They ask, “Why does Mr. Smith spit when he talks? Why can’t I have Kit Kats for breakfast? Where do babies come from? Why does the dog eat her own poop? Can I eat my poop? Why not? Who made our house? Can I get a giraffe? Where is Constantinople? How many people have you met in your whole life? Why doesn’t Mrs. Haniger wear a bathrobe to get her mail? Do giants drink hot lava instead of hot cocoa?” Kids know how to ask a question that gets your brain cranking. Sure, your brain crank will eventually snap and you will be willing to sell your own fingernails for a quiet drive to the grocery store, but those questions are anything but boring.

As a newly called Relief Society teacher using the new discussion-based curriculum this year, I have done a lot of question crafting and trial asking and word picking. The art of asking questions has taken on a life all it’s own and I have found myself really thinking carefully about all the questions that I ask. In Relief Society I can get a lively discussion from asking a perfectly crafted question. Whereas a question with little to no life will get a well harmonized, but no less awkward, cricket chorus. I’m finding that the same can be said for the questions (and answers) I ask of my kids, my friends, my husband, my visiting teaching sisters and that really nice lady I always see at the park. There is a real art to the Who What Where and When of question asking! 

Questions are powerful tools! They CAN serve two purposes. The first is obvious, an answered question provides us with information we didn’t originally have (or usually in my case, I forgot). But the second purpose is the clincher! An artfully crafted question communicates to the recipient that we want to know something about them. It says we’ve been thinking about them and wondering and, golly gee, we really want to know why they always wear a scarf on Sundays! Or whatever. (Scarf wearer, you know who you are and this question is coming for you!)

If you’re like me and you don’t like the stale, one-word answers you’re getting from people, you need to spice up your questionnaire! Ask your teen the ever inartistic, “How was your day?” and, honey, you’re going to get a shoulder shrug and an inartistic, “it was ok.” That’s just science. If you ask your 9-year-old what they did at school, the rules of child engagement clearly require a “nothing” response. 

The Art of Asking Questions

WHO should you ask questions? 
Everyone. I’m telling you everyone has something interesting to say to a well-asked inquiry and almost everyone WANTS to answer one. The lady next to you on the park bench would love to tell you about her bracelet and she may not have gotten it where you think she did. The grocery store clerk would gladly share his ear gauging techniques with you and will smile the next time you see him at the register. The woman you visit teach who seems so closed off to you no matter how much you show her you care really does want to share things with you. Your hubby wants to tell you about the new deal he’s working on at work and good heavens your kids really DO want to tell you about their day at school. You just gotta make that question so juicy and drool-worthy that people can’t wait to open their mouths and hearts to you! 

WHAT should you ask? 
Anything. You can ask anyone almost anything if you lead up to it properly and have already proven that you care. This can take time for some people who aren’t open books, but can be the most rewarding. A lot of ground work and follow-up inquiries help to get to the more meaningful stuff. Some people are more open than others, but I have found that in general, if a person knows you care about the answers they give to smaller questions, then they’ll feel safer answering your deeper ones. 

WHERE and WHEN should you ask? 
In the car is my personal favorite! At the kitchen table (yours or someone else’s) during any activity that takes place there. Bedrooms when you tuck the kids in at night. Couches when it’s quiet. A front porch when a house is too noisy or the park on a nice day when the kids are playing. Quiet times with no distractions are the times to ask important questions. If those times are impossible to come by, then it’s just important that YOU don’t get distracted. Remember your questioning is art at work! Look them in the eyes; ask small follow-ups so they know you’re focused and that you think they are just the most interesting human in the world.

The Art of Answering Questions

Have you noticed how a 4-year-old girl asks 14.3 million questions a day and a teenager asks maybe 1 and that’s usually just a hangry demand to know what will be served for dinner. What happened in between there?! Not only do the number of questions plummet with teen-hood, but the willingness to answer more then 1 or 2 questions at a time crashes as well! Is it possible that our own answers to our kids’ questions will directly result in the answers they will be willing to give us later on? If I am constantly shushing or claiming my ignorance to my little ones’ real wonder, am I teaching them that their curiosity doesn’t matter to me or that too many questions are not okay? Yikes! That’s a lot to think about right there! I don’t know the answers to these questions for sure, but I’m thinking I’m going to cover my bases and go ahead and answer each and every one of those sweet questions that get tossed my way. I’m going treat my answers like works of art, too! Well yes, sweetheart, I’m pretty positive that giants DO drink hot lava instead of cocoa AND I’m sure they add dollops of fluffy clouds to serve as marshmallows while they sit on the tops of moss-covered bushes to relax…

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fave Five!

Top Five Blog Posts EVER from Mormon Mom Planner!

Below you'll find links to the five most popular Mormon Mom Planner blog posts of all time! Be sure to read through the comments on each post for even more good tips and tricks.
Happy clicking!

Isn't washi tape the best? In this post from April 2014, there are some fantastic tips and tons of ideas on how to use washi tape to spruce up your planner. Did you know washi tape and cute scrapbook paper can even help you add mini pages to your planner? Read all the way to the end of this post for the link to some adorable and FREE General Conference note cards!

Ever wondered just what you should do with all the pages in your planner? Then this is the blog post from May 2015 for you! It'll help you figure out how to use the monthly and weekly spreads, relationship tracker, even the to do's and budget tracker.

Want to learn how to make dividers for your planner? Pockets for all your adorable sticky notes? Want the link for my favorite pen? Say no more. Just read this post from April 2013!

Who loves free downloads?? What about free downloads that call for eating chocolate?! Then you'll love this adorable idea for teaching kids (or adults!) about baptismal covenants.

Doesn't it seem like Sundays are full can'ts? In this post you'll find some great ideas so you can add some can's

Check out the latest Mormon Mom Planners!

Monday, February 26, 2018

I'm not a Working Mom. I'm a Mom Who Works.

by Whitney Child
Follow her @whitney_child

I’ve always struggled with the term “working mom.” It feels like a derogatory term. On one side, it takes away from the fact that all moms work whether it’s as a stay-at-home mom or a mom who has a job outside the home. On the other side, it takes away from my primary role: mom. I am a mom who works. I’m a mom first.

Tony and Whitney Child and their two boys, Jack (right) and Thompson.

I was lucky enough to go to college knowing exactly what I wanted to do in life, graduated in four years, and found a job teaching high school in the community—essentially living out my American dream. I was ready to take on the working world, and I found so much joy in it. I was involved in every single extra professional development I could. I worked for four years teaching, and I got married at a little bit older age. Then after some years of fertility struggles, we were able to have two boys. When my first son was born, I had been working for ten years, and I loved those ten years. Culturally, the expectation was that I would give it up and stay home because that is what is expected, but I never felt like that was right for me. I dealt with quite a bit of culturally imposed guilt as a result of other people’s ideas of what was right for me. When it came down to it, I had to do what was right for me and my family. As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, that was really difficult to do. My job is my hobby—it’s a calling in life, and I feel fulfilled doing it. All of the outside voices were telling me being a mother should be enough for me, and as much as I loved that new baby boy, I knew that I needed to both do my job outside the home and inside the home. After prayerfully considering my options, I decided to keep doing what I was doing, and then to reflect and revisit it each year to make sure it was still right.

When I am at work, I know that I am ok being there. I have had some significant spiritual experiences in my classroom confirming to me that it is exactly where I needed to be at that time. When I was at home, I know it is ok being there. Going into this mom who works world, I knew I had to find a balance between the two, and even eight years later, I’m still reflecting, revisiting, and revising how to maintain (or even just get!) that balance. 

Looking back over the past eight years, I haven’t been perfect in finding that balance; however, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of being a mom who works. When I decided to keep my full time job, I knew there were things I was going to have to be better at and there were things I had to let go. The following are some of my rules of thumb to help me maintain or find balance between the two worlds.

  1. Make sure it’s right for you.
Working outside the home while raising children is not for everyone, and that is just fine. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. Make your decision because it’s what works for you and your family. I had to be willing to let go of what everyone else thought was right for me, and actually do what was right for me.  

  1. Be ready to make sacrifices.
Since becoming a mom, I cut way back on what I do at school. I try not to take work home with me, and if I do, it gets done after the kids are in bed. I don’t do as many conferences or professional developments. As much as I’d love to travel to summer institutes, I gave that up to have time with my kids. I really want to pursue a Master’s degree; however, right now, I just can’t fit it in, and that’s ok.   I’m very picky on any outside of normal school hours activities I attend. When my oldest son was two, I decided I needed to work closer to home if I still wanted to keep up with what I was doing. At the time, I had a 30 minute commute each way, which wasn’t that big of a deal before I had kids, but then I realized it was an hour a day of just driving. I decided to move to a school closer to my home and in a different district. In doing that, I gave up the comfort of a school I’d known for 12 years. I lost 5 of my years, and I took a $10,000 pay cut, but I was 5 minutes from home, and the school had a daycare in it, so my kids would be closer to me.  It was a sacrifice, and the first year in my new school was incredibly difficult.  In the end, it was the best decision for my family.

When one of my kids is sick, I do all I can to be home with them. Most of the time, I have been able to work it to stay home with them, but when I can’t, my husband has been great at sharing that responsibility with me. My older son’s school is close enough to mine that I can run over there when I need to.

At home, most of my outside social life is non-existent (more to the chagrin of the people around me than me). Most of my social outlet is actually at work, and I really don’t mind that. I have great connections with my colleagues, and I’ve made life long friends with those people I work with. By choice, I rarely do a girls night out or girls’ trips. People always invite me, and I always appreciate it, but when it comes down to it, I want to be home with my family, and I’m completely ok with that. I have one book club I attend monthly (after kids are in bed), and I leave it at that. I try to do a few date nights with other couples as well.  I’ve found that those people who are truly my good friends don’t mind if I don’t go out with them all the time. They are always there when I need them to be.

  1. Be organized.
When I first started this mom who works life, I had a friend who had already raised her kids who told me she knew I could do it because I was so organized, but she never could have because she wasn’t organized enough. This is where the Mormon Mom Planner has been a lifesaver! I sit down once a week to look at the week ahead and make a plan to accomplish everything from getting kids to where they need to be to meal planning. I make my weekly and monthly “to do” lists.   I make our weekly menu based on what our plans are for the week.  I try to find ways of serving my family members each week, and I write those down, so I remember to do them. I reflect on my spiritual and temporal goals and look at what small things I can be doing now to accomplish those.  

I have a pretty solid routine for grocery shopping, house cleaning, and laundry, and they have all become a family routine, not a mom routine. I can’t do all of it alone, and I need the help of my family. Those routines have changed as my kids have grown up, so they will fit the needs of my family at that time. I only do laundry once a week because that’s all I have time for. It makes for a long day of washing and folding, but it gets done. I do online grocery shopping, so I can order later at night, and pick up the next day quickly.

  1. Realize you can’t do it all.
In the words of Lorelei Gilmore, “I fancy myself Wonder Woman.” I really thought I could do everything all the time and be perfect at it. I can’t. I could kill myself over trying to do all of it. I had to choose what was the most important for me, and give up some of those other things. I can’t be a room mom at school, but I can take a personal day at school, and go on field trips. I can’t volunteer in my son’s classroom, but I can go over every other week on a prep period to change out take home reading books. I can’t organize the SEP dinners, but I can sign up to bring something. I can’t be the PTA President, but I can do the newsletter.  

For a few years, we had a house cleaner, which was a lifesaver. I really wanted to be able to do it all by myself, but that was one thing I realized I could give up to relieve stress and have more time with my family.  I worried that I wasn’t teaching my kids how to work because I wasn’t having them help me clean the house, but I could teach them to work in other ways. (We are currently back to cleaning the house ourselves simply because our original house cleaner moved, and we have yet to find another one we like anywhere near as much!).

I also have a husband who is incredibly supportive of me, and he does his fair share around the house. I could not be a mom who works if I didn’t have his support. The decision for me to work full time after having kids was a decision we both made.

  1. Make time for you.  Schedule it!
When I first started  being a mom who works, I looked at my work time as my “me-time.” It didn’t take long for me to realize that it really isn’t “me time.” I knew I needed to have some quiet time every day in order to remain sane. I’m a morning person, so I decided to get up earlier to have that time. I give myself about 30 minutes each morning to read, study, or just sit, and I do it before anyone else in my house wakes up, which means my alarm goes off around 4:30 am.  For right now, this has worked for me.

I’m far from perfect, but I’m working on balance. When it comes down to it, even though I have a successful career, being a mom comes first—always. Despite all my fears and worries, my kids are doing great having a mom who works. Everything gets done, eventually, and I’m ok with that. This is a path that has worked for me, but I’ve had to make adjustments to what is considered the “norm.” We have worked as a family to make it work, because I cannot do it all alone. I have a full and rewarding life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I spend as much time as possible with my family, and we continue to grow together as we do. When I feel out of balance, I reflect on my decision and make necessary changes as they are needed. Being a mom who works is not an easy task to take on, but it has been a rewarding experience for me.

Click here to view all the different options Mormon Mom Planner has to offer.

Monday, February 19, 2018

You're Not A Martyr. You're a Mom.

The below post was written by Becky Squires from @makeminehappy
Welcome, and thank you for guest blogging here with us! 💜

You're a martyr. You're a mom.

You could say that I’m in the midst of motherhood. I have thirteen years of experience. Hundreds of diaper changes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.  I’ve lived the highs and the lows. But just recently I had kind of an “Aha!” moment. I had just sat down to eat lunch while my kids were all occupied doing other activities. If you’re a parent, you know what happens as soon as you sit down, right? My two youngest boys came running up to me demanding I get them a drink. I hadn’t even taken my first bite. I almost stood up out of habit to cater to their request, but then I paused as I looked at their faces.
“No,” I simply said. They looked confused. “Do you see that I’m eating lunch?” They nodded. “I would be happy to help you when I am done, or you can get yourselves a drink.”
And guess what? They pulled over a chair so they could reach a cup, and they got themselves a drink. So simple, I know. But it changed my perspective.
When you are constantly keeping your needs on the bottom of the totem pole, you are creating children who are entitled. Then they may grow up expecting other people to handle their problems for them.

Losing your sense of self is not indicative of your devotion to your children.

Forgetting yourself doesn’t make you a more responsible and caring parent.
So why do we think like this? Maybe it’s the way we were raised. Maybe it’s our culture. Maybe we moms enjoy the feeling of being needed all the time. But being needed doesn’t mean we have to fill our days with being busy, yet not really accomplishing anything worthwhile.
Why do we glory busyness? Filling your days with chaos doesn’t make you a good mom. Filling your children’s lives with endless activities doesn’t make them happy. Do you know what makes children happy? A mom who knows that taking care of herself is the first step. Then, we can take care of their needs. And as we take care of their needs we should be teaching them how to take care of their wants. We should be building children who are self-reliant and responsible.
Why do we treat motherhood like martyrdom? If you don’t want to be victimized, stop playing the victim. Martyrs always want to be recognized for their “selfless” acts. But isn’t that the definition of selfish?  You’re not a victim. You’re a mom. Let’s face it. Motherhood is probably the hardest job with the least amount of recognition. But we shouldn’t be in it for the recognition. That’s not why I became a mom. And I’m sure that’s not why you did either.  
It’s so important to take care of yourself. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time away from your family or cost a lot of money. There are thousands of ideas out there on how to get started. Here’s one great article full of ideas to get you started.

We moms think we are showing the world how to drain out all our moments and efforts into motherhood and that they will see a Super Mom. But what they are seeing is a tired and frustrated woman with little to give. Take care of yourself!  You’re not a martyr, you’re a mom.

Thanks again to Becky Squires for this sweet post! You can read more from her here.