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Mommy Struggles

The Bane of My Existence

receipt organization

Receipts.

They are the bane of my existence.

I am swimming in them and am drowning in a sea of crumpled little papers. My wallet, my purses, my car, my jewelry drawer, my junk drawer ~ they are everywhere and I am haunted by them. In my nightmares they grow legs and come running after me in a swarm. Kidding. But seriously, they drive me CRAZY.

So, this post is not a receipt organization tips post. I wish it was. This post is a mom-to-mom SOS post because that is what I desperately NEED from you – receipt organization tips.

Here is my problem, and I want to know how you handle it:

I am doing my shopping at warp speed. Either during the ridiculously short preschool time frame OR with kids that are not so thrilled to be shopping with me. Therefore, at check out I am usually in a rush and I take the receipt and stuff it in either my wallet or my purse.

The have it together mom would then, immediately upon returning home, take out the receipts, organize and file them in some civilized fashion. But I am not that mom.

But I know some of you are.

So, please share the secrets to your success at keeping receipts in an organized fashion?

What are your receipt organization tips?

How do you keep them organized?

I want to take all your tips, try them out, and then hopefully do another post with a real life receipt success story. Help a mama out?

Taming Playdate Disasters

playdatedisasters

Has this ever happened to you?

You pack up your kiddos, load them into the car, arrive at your scheduled playdate, and then…your toddler or preschooler has a complete and total meltdown? It’s the worst, isn’t it?! So today I want to talk about taming playdate disasters.

I don’t have a lot of great answers. What I do have is a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that work (most times) for our family.  I’m asking for your best tips, too!  Let’s start a dialogue and share about what works for our kiddos.

Tip #1 – Set yourself up for the best chance for success (maybe.)

I try to not schedule playdates after other big activities, or when my kids are likely to be cranky or hungry.

Best case scenario, my kiddo is ready for fun. BUT, if my little man is in a mood, overtired, or already throwing fits about this or that, why start the whole playdate out on a sour note?

Being a “Type A” personality, it’s difficult for me to alter plans at the last minute, but depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing (and if the timing is somewhat flexible), I will sometimes hold off until he is in a better frame of mind.

This may mean we’re a little late…and that we have a better playdate!

Tip #2 – I stay consistent with my own “house” rules.

Consistency has been key for our kids. This means that our rules at home are the same rules wherever we go. And believe me, my kids test me, especially if other families have different house rules.

I simply explain that every family has different rules, and that’s absolutely okay.  But our rules are _______ (insert applicable rule).  This.is.so.hard. Especially at someone else’s house. But, I’ve found in the long run, consistency has worked better for our kiddos. They know what I expect of them, and vice versa.

Tip #3 – I leave special lovies or toys in the car.

I have made the fatal mistake of letting one of my kids bring their lovey into someone else’s home for a playdate. I mean, it’s their security, right?

Ummmm, guess what happened?

My baby was easily distracted by the “new” toys their friends had, left their lovey on the floor…and minutes later, freaked OUT because another kid was wondering around with it (on the floor = fair game, with a group of kids.) Ensue major meltdown.

From that disaster on, our lovies and special toys stayed in the car. We strap them into their carseats so they are waiting and ready for us when we return to the car.  Major tantrum avoided right out of the gate.

Tip #4 – I make an effort to listen. 

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes I get so involved in talking with my other mama friends or helping with something to do with a craft or snack, I don’t always stay tuned in to the conversations going on with the kiddos.

If I hear fighting or yelling between my kiddos and their buddies for more than a few minutes, I’ll wander over, listen and observe.

If I need to intervene, I’ll ask them to use their words and explain what’s wrong. The majority of the time, it’s a quick fix. An apology, hug and change of activity usually does the trick.

And, if it’s not?  If appropriate, my kid gets a time-out for the infraction (our main form of discipline) – even though we’re at a friend’s house.

Tip #5 – I’m not afraid to abandon ship.

And, if all else fails (after several attempts to appease the situation), I’ll give my fellow mama a hug, apologize for the speedy exit, and take my kiddo home.  Hey, we all have bad days, right?! Plus, it likely makes the other mom feel grateful she is not the only one.

Sometimes we need our space…and this is true for our children, too.

What do you do when a play date turns disastrous?  Any great tips to share?
Please comment below!

This Mom is Going to Lose It. Please Help.

Sleep tips for elementary aged kids

Topic today is sleep tips for elementary aged kids. This Mommy S.O.S comes from a friend of mine who is about to lose it. You know those S.O.S scenarios moms? When you don’t think you can take one more day of some behavioral issue? Yep, we have all been there.

That’s why I offered to put this out there to my wise “in the trenches with us” readers.

Here is her current struggle:

 My girls, ages 6 and 8, share a room.  Lights out is at 8:30 p.m.  Theoretically.  Then the fun begins. 

Lots of head stands, cartwheels, giggling, etc., which leads to accidental injuries, crying, fighting, intentional injuries, tattle-telling, ice packs, etc.  By the end of the night we have threatened almost every form of punishment possible.  They finally fall asleep around 9:30 or 10:00, about the same time as us, which makes life miserable the next morning starting with the dreaded morning alarm at 7:00 a.m.

It starts with tears and “I’m tired, I don’t feel good, I want to stay home, gymnastics is too hard, school is too hard, I don’t want you to leave me,” etc. 

Needless to say, I’m at the end of my rope because I know the issue has to do with not enough sleep.  

I hate that we have an awful night the night before and then an even more awful morning which can end with a teary good-bye and a horrible start to the school day. I don’t want either of us to start the day like this! 

I don’t know how to get my girls to go to sleep, so they can wake up happy! 

What does everyone else do?  Should I separate their rooms?  Put them in bed at 7:00?  Start waking them up at 5:00 a.m. so they will be tired by 8:00 p.m.? 

HELP!!!

Moms, can you help? Any advice on sleep tips for elementary aged kids? I just hate it when I am going through hard times like this. Thank you! Us moms have got to stick together!

If you have a Mommy S.O.S and would like our readers to offer help and advice, email me at jennifer@tinyoranges.com.

You Are Not Alone

How to Support a New Mom with Baby Blues

My friend Pam, holding my newborn daughter, Morgan, July 2009

A couple years back, as a part of my mommy and me class I took with my youngest, we had regular breakout “coffee talks” with just the moms where we discussed various parenting topics.

One week the topic was about community, and how as moms we all need support. We were asked to go around the room and share a particular time when someone showed us support when we needed  it.

As you can imagine, there were quite a few tears that day. It was a “pass the Kleenex” kind of talk. I felt bad for the lone substitute dad filling in for his wife. I think the topic from the week before was on how to make your own play doh. He picked the wrong week for sure.

The first thing that came to mind was a dark period in the weeks following my youngest daughter’s birth back in July 2009. I was in pain post c-section, had kidney stones, super sore nipples and a newborn with severe reflux and colic.

Looking back, I think I might had postpartum depression to some degree; definitely the baby blues.

I was so overwhelmed and everything in my life felt out of control.

One of my best friends from college knew I was having a rough go of it, so she came to visit me one day. She brought a gift bag with new jammies, a magazine and some candy to cheer me up.

But the best gift I got that day was nothing that could be brought in a gift bag. Just seeing her made me feel better; a glimpse of normality.

We started talking and I got so emotional I blurted out, “I want my old life back!!” Life before a screaming baby, life before sleepless nights, life before this physical pain. I  felt so guilty for thinking that thought but to be able to say it out loud made me feel better. I had been living trapped in my own head and keeping a lot of my sadness to myself.

With her, I didn’t have to worry that she would think I didn’t love my new baby. I didn’t have to worry she would judge me. She knew me better than anyone and knows how much I love my kids.

She let me talk, and cry.

In retrospect, I realized the most poignant thing about that visit was what she didn’t say. She knew I would get better, sleep more eventually, start to heal physically. She knew the postpartum hormones were doing a number on me. I didn’t need a pep talk or a list of suggestions on what I could do to feel better.

She just held my newborn baby and cried with me on the couch. 

In that moment of us sitting there, I didn’t feel alone. In retrospect, what I realized is I just needed someone to be there with me and share the burden of my emotions. Her actions said, I’m here for you. 

I did get better, it took a few weeks, but I got better and better and we adjusted to our new normal. However the colic held on until about four months, which was a whole other story.

BUT my colicky baby grew into the most positive, enthusiastic, happy child you might ever meet. I wish I could have had a glimpse of my future life a few years down the road in that time, but of course life doesn’t work that way.

Life can be hard.

We need each other.

I realize that now more than ever approaching 40. People all around me are going through tough times and serious situations. So if you have someone in your life facing a challenge, or are looking for ideas on how to support a new mom with baby blues, remember that sometimes the best gift is your presence.

A reminder they are not alone.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Pam, who has always been there for me. 

New Year’s Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

New Year's Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

Here are my New Year’s resolutions…specifically, new year’s resolutions from an exhausted mommy. 

As much as I love the holidays, as much as I love all of the extra parties and extra treats and extra late nights, I am very excited to start 2014 fresh and energized and organized and (hopefully) on top of it.

Except for one small tiny little detail. I’m exhausted. Anyone else in the same boat?

That’s when I realized I needed to add more to my resolutions than the typical “finally get that unwanted weight off, exercise consistently, eat healthy, etc. etc.”

So here we go…my NEW new year’s resolutions. Would love to hear yours!

1. Streamline my calendar 

This means evaluating what I’ve committed to, and really thinking about what’s important to me, my kids, and our family. When I say “yes” to something, how does that affect me, my family, and my schedule? Same goes for when I say “no.” What’s flexible and what’s not? I am challenging myself to really think about whatever the commitment actually is before I jump in and excitedly say “yes.” This will be hard because I LOVE being involved and on-the-go and busy. Hence, being an exhausted mommy!

2. Sleep more

I stay up late to get things done. It’s my only quiet time. And I forfeit sleep. So I wake up tired. And this is a never-ending cycle. So, more sleep it is!  I need to be more disciplined and have a bedtime – hey, I make my kids have one!

3. Eat healthier – and stick with it

I actually think this is just as important, if not more, than the proverbial “lose weight.”  Because by choosing better nutrition (instead of my next fad diet), I’m convinced that I will have an overall healthier lifestyle.  And, hopefully more energy!  The added bonus – weight loss.

4. Drink more water 

I don’t drink nearly enough water.  Coffee, yes.  Iced tea, yes. Water, no. I am going to start carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I go, and refill every time it’s empty.I think most of the time I’m probably dehydrated. I know that drinking more water is going to make a BIG difference.

5. Pick a tangible fitness goal

Last year was my year of endurance events. I completed my first half marathon. Then my second. Then my first marathon. I find that setting a tangible fitness goal works much better for me – it keeps me focused and motivated…versus just “exercise more.”  I’m not sure what’s in store for me this year (yet!)…maybe another half marathon.  Maybe committing to a favorite fitness class three times per week. Consistent exercise means more energy and a healthier lifestyle.  Boom.

6. Maintain an organized mommy “command center”

Piles are taking over desk, kitchen counters, and dresser tops.  Don’t even get me started on Post-it notes.  I commit to going through my piles once a day (okay, maybe every other day) and file the important stuff, separate the action items, and recycle the excess.  Going to bed with a clean desk – and waking up to a clean desk – will help me start each day fresh.  And maybe a little less frazzled.

7. Take a five minute breather, when needed

My schedule is pretty packed…I’m sure you can all relate!  And, I tend to “power through,” (and…ahem…keep drinking caffeine all day!) instead of taking a little breather, when needed.  I think by incorporating some deep breathing and scheduling some quiet time each day…even if for five minutes, will help bring a little more peace to my day.

8. Keep a Gratitude Journal

One of the fantastic mom’s group I’m involved with (and love!) challenged us to keep a gratitude journal during the month of November….and what an incredible experience it was.  It was a focused activity once a day (for me, usually at night once the kiddos were asleep and the house was quiet), when I could journal and think about what I was really grateful for in my life. I loved the experience so much, I am challenging myself to do this once a day on a regular basis.

9. Have more impromptu dance parties with my kids! 

And above all, I resolve to have more impromptu dance parties with my kids. Be silly. Laugh loud. Take more walks. Go to the park more. Play dress-up more. Finger paint.  Pretty much take time every day to REALLY enjoy my children.  They are only this age once.  And, I want to enjoy all of the beautiful moments (which make the crazy, pull-my-hair-out moments worth it!).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Feel free to share below!