Balancing Act

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PoiseHappy New Year!

2014ย was my very first full year as a mother of two, and it taught me many things. Like how to cook dinner with one kid on your back and the other one clinging to your legย and that every time your newly potty trained child will have to poop is the exact second after you have sat down to nurse the baby.

All jokes aside, the number one thing I learned, and am still working on daily, is balance.

To start off the new year, I have taken the Hands Free Mamaย pledge, from the talented and inspiring blogger turned author, Rachel Macy Stafford.ย The stories she tells of life before her epiphany were all too familiar and I did not want to go any further down that path.

I have always been a bit of an over-scheduler, and to be honest I believe that everything I take on is a part of me and denying that would be stifling my true self. But I don’t want anything to come at the expense of my family. That’s where balance comes into play.

For the past week, I have been rising a full hour before the kids in order to get a few pressing matters out of the way, allowing me to be fully present during breakfast and our entire morning routine. Of course for this to be successful, I have to start going to bed an hour earlier, which I haven’t quite mastered yet.

Some days I could use a nap by lunch time, especially since going back to work a few weeks ago (I’ll blog about that exciting news later in the week), but it’s a small price to pay for the feeling of accomplishment that I getย without having to compromise time with my loved ones.

I’ve found that I’ve had to become more organized and more conscious and protective of my spare time (i.e. no getting lost in news feeds or spending 45 minutes trying to find something to watch on Netflix). I realize I need to maximize my free time to include the things I truly value. Some days that might be writing, some days that might just be doing something nice for myself like takingย a bath uninterrupted. That and lowering my expectations. This is the year I will let go of mommy guilt for good, slow down and allow myself to fully experience the things that bring me the most joy. It is only then that I can be the wife, mother and woman who I strive to be.

I want to be a hands free mama, but I also want to be fulfilled as a separate entity and I wholeheartedly believe that if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it work.

It’s all about balance.

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2014 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Back to Zero

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Inspired by Nurshable‘s posts about not yelling, I am proud to say I made it to Day 9. NINE. For me that is quite a feat. I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but I have what my husband calls a bit of a tone problem. Even when I am completely calm (albeit passionate about something) it can appear to others as if I am yelling. Like at them.

Over the past nine days, I have been yelled at, I have been stressed, I have been worn out, I have been completely frustrated. But I did not yell.

Until today.

I’m not even exactly sure what set me off, or what made today different, but I felt it coming and I was powerless to stop myself. Of course it only lasted for a short time, as feelings of anger often do, and then the usual rush of guilt set in and I wanted to curl up in a tiny little ball until I disappeared from sight.

But that wouldn’t do anyone any good.

If I have learned anything it’s that all I can do is try again. All I can do is admit I was wrong, apologize and move on.

So here I am. Back to zero. Ready to try again tomorrow.

5 Things I Love About My Spirited Child

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1. He never holds back his emotions… like it or not, he is always himself.

2. He is persistent… not always such an easy trait to deal with, but one of the ones I am the most proud of.

3. He loves me the same NO MATTER WHAT… even if I’m not feeling very loveable.

4. He forgives me… much faster than I deserve and much faster than I am capable of forgiving.

5. He teaches me patience… even if it’s the hard way. Every. Single. Time.

These past few weeks have been rough. And I thought things were actually getting better, but three is a tough age. It’s tough to have a three year old, and even more tough, I imagine, to BE a three year old (okay, maybe not). This is a reminder for myself and every parent out there, no matter what your child’s age and whether they (or you) are spirited or not, that there will always be days you will feel frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. But there’s more reasons to love them than there are reasons to bang your head against a wall, so hang in there.

Unplugged

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I meant to post this on Monday, after wrapping up my very first Screen Free Week, but alas life got in the way, as it has so much over the past couple months.

What is Screen Free Week, you may ask. It is a pledge I took to stay as disconnected from technology as much as possible for one full week (excluding work and school use).

If you know me, you know this is something I struggle with. Technology is all-consuming and it’s hard not to allow yourself to get sucked in.

I knew it would be challenging, but you don’t realize how much you rely on technology for literally everything until it’s gone. I had to use, get this… a PHONE BOOK to look up the number of a restaurant when booking reservations to take my in-laws out for dinner. You can imagine how much dust was on that thing!

Everything from my grocery list to my banking and to-do lists use a screen in some way. Even as a photographer, I rely on my cell phone to snap pictures of my kids’ day to day lives (my DSLR has a screen though too, so not much better).

I decided right away that it wouldn’t be possible to be 100% screen free. TV and social media were out, but I would allow myself to use my phone for its camera, fitness apps, text messaging and calling, as they are my sole method of communication with family and close friends.

As I said, it was a challenge in the beginning, but not as much as I had anticipated. I only got one or two complaints from the hubby and D asked me maybe three times if he could watch a movie, to which I replied, “We are on screen free week. Let’s go find something else to do.” Not one tear was shed in the process.

I find the concept to be quite refreshing and inspiring, however (for us anyway) it is slightly flawed. To be completely and totally screen free for an entire week would be next to impossible. A week is a long time. Instead of feeling free, I ended up feeling disconnected and even lonely.

I did learn something from my week of screen time reduction, which is a more accurate description. Technology does not replace real life interaction with others and it’s not the only way to accomplish many of the necessities of a modern life. I can write out an old fashioned grocery list or *gasp* open up a phone book once in awhile.

So instead of one week every year, what about one day every week? One day a week to be screen free and allow myself to really commit to the notion, in order to fully reap the benefits.

So my new thing is Screen Free Sundays.

Okay, except when The Walking Dead is on.

Bare Minimum

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I’m doing it again.

I’m procrastinating.

What I really should be doing is writing a 750 word eulogy for my English course (influenced by Tuesdays with Morrie), but instead I’ve decided to write about why I can’t seem to find time to get a damn thing done these days. Yes, I see the irony in case you were wondering.

Since becoming a mom of two, I feel like I’m only ever putting forth the bare minimum. And I am not a bare minimum kind of girl. I am the mildly obsessive if you’re going to do it you might as well do it right type.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you gave up even starting things because you knew you wouldn’t be able to see them through to the end? That’s about where I’m at right now. Take this blog for example. Instead of typing out a quick blurb and hitting Publish a few days a week, I take two hours to write a few hundred words, agonizing over each and every one. Instead of enjoying the process of writing, I put it off all week and dread the thought of logging in.

So I find myself doing a whole lot of nothing. Or a whole lot of half somethings, which still leads to nothing being accomplished. I have about ten projects on the go right now, and I keep breaking my own rules by taking on more. Aside from taking care of two kids and a household, running two businesses, school work, blogging and working out six days a week, I have just started training for my first triathlon and joined a book club. I don’t get to sleep until past midnight every night and D has me up at 6 every morning. No wonder I’m exhausted!

For the past four months now, I feel like I am constantly putting out fires and it’s time for that to stop. I am a mom and my kids are only going to be this small for a short time. They need me and they have always and will always come first. That is the promise I made the day I became a mother. Yes, I have obligations and need to make time for myself and for the things I am passionate about, but I also need to slow down and take a deep breath and know that it is physically impossible for me to “do it all”.

The way I see it I have two choices. I can give up on everything extracurricular that I love (and go crazy and be of no use to anyone) or simply lower my expectations. It’s okay that I’m late to everything and that I skip a couple workouts here and there. It’s okay that I only post once a week, or sometimes even less. I need to allow myself to not be perfect at everything I set out to do. I need to prioritize what it is I hope to accomplish. Most importantly I need to realize that no one (other than myself) expects me to accomplish much of anything right now, and be thankful for the days I find time to shower and get dressed.

Parenting is all about lowered expectations and I’m starting to be okay with that.