Tips

We Should Let Our Boys Be BOYS

we should let our boys be boys

I’m reading a book right now (which I love so far), called The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers. I’ll let you know when I’m done with it. 😉 This book and a conversation I had with a friend recently, has made me think a lot about raising boys. As a mom, I feel like there are things I rock at (like having sleep routines) and things that I suck at (like doing fun crafty activities… I really hate doing crafts with little kids… 😣). Something I am consciously going to work on right now is letting my boys be boys.

Now I’m not referring to that old saying “boys will be boys” which often implies that aggressive, sexist, sexual behavior should be overlooked because “that’s just how boys are”. Gross. No, boys are not naturally animal-like creatures that lack self-control. I truly feel that boys are misunderstood these days. Did you know that boys are falling behind in academic and career achievement, and have for some time? There are many arguments that try to explain the reason for this crisis. Here’s my theory:

  1. Boys, as a general group, tend to need more physical activity and hands-on learning than many classrooms and schools are providing.
  2. Boys tend to be high-energy: what happens when they can’t channel that energy into their learning, but are required to stifle it? They disengage from learning.
  3. Girls are encouraged and applauded and praised for their achievements, especially since for so long girls and women were treated like second-class citizens. Do boys get encouraged, applauded, and praised as well? I feel like they don’t- at least not to the extent that girls do. What’s another intelligent, succeeding boy, after so many males have gone before him to shape the world? It’s the girls’ turn! (Insert sarcasm)
  4. Boys do not have productive role models. Think about the mainstream role models geared toward boys right now: superheroes, singers, professional athletes? What do these groups have in common? They have big, attractive bodies and they can pretty much do whatever they want.
  5. There is such a double-standard of what it means to be a man. Are good men intelligent or are they dumb and humble? Are good men physical or are they weak? Should they be tough or should they be sensitive? Is it better for boys to be more like girls, to help mold their character into more evolved, mature, higher beings? (Again, insert sarcasm)

I am worried about the kind of world we are raising our boys in. It is NOT second-best to be a boy. Girls and boys, males and females, are needed equally and should be treated with the same respect, love, and encouragement, and given the same opportunities. I do not wish that I had daughters instead of sons.

Here’s my plan for raising my boys to love that they are boys:

  • I’m going to help them understand that it’s okay to cry and be emotional.
  • I’m going to introduce them to male role models that portray and encourage kindness, intelligence, respect, happiness, and ambition.
  • I’m not going to stifle their energetic spirits; I will give them plenty of opportunities to be physical as well as teach them about when it’s appropriate to sit still and be calm.
  • I will teach them how to be reverent and thoughtful.
  • I will play WITH them!
  • I will let them choose what activities, sports, etc. they want to do. If they want to play basketball, great! If they want to do ballet, great! If they want to be on the chess team, great!
  • I will show them that I am interested in what they’re interested in.

 

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Traveling

How to Create a Family-Friendly Guest Room

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After traveling to multiple homes with a baby or toddler, I feel the need to share the things I love to see in a guest bedroom.

  1. A Trash Can- It seems like I always have things to throw away (tissues, wrappers, etc), and it’s nice to have a trash can in the room that we are staying in.
  2. A Tissue Box- whether there’s tears from a long road trip or just the standard runny nose, it’s nice to have a tissue box on hand in your room.
  3. An Empty Chest of Drawers- On our last family trip, it was so nice to tuck our bags away and unpack all of our clothes so we felt more at home.
  4. Blackout Curtains- Even if your child isn’t used to sleeping with blackout curtains like mine, it never hurts to have a darker room at bedtime. Even temporary blackout curtains can make a huge difference.
  5. Easily Accessible Linens- You never know what kids may do to a bed. It’s always nice to know where linens can be found if there is an incident in the middle of the night.
  6. A Pack-n-Play- Not having to bring one of these along is so nice! It’s also better than co-sleeping (unless you are used to that).

What things do you love to see in a guest bedroom?

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Health

How to Reduce Stress With Mindfulness

how to reduce stress with mindfulness

I know this post is a little bit different than what we normally write about: it isn’t directly related to parenting. But, since we’ve been talking a lot lately about improving on and focusing on our own health and well-being as mothers, I thought having a conversation about mindfulness would be beneficial. 🙂

Stress

STRESS. It’s inevitable. Some of us handle it better than others, though. Like me for example: Coping with stress in healthy ways is something I have to consistently work on, because I tend to obsess over little things… Why can’t everything just be perfect? Is that too much to ask?! 😉 (If anything has helped me realize that I’m NOT in control of everything, it’s parenthood. This is a good thing. It’s good for me to accept that things can be imperfect and happy at the same time.)

Stress is a normal part of life, and a small dose of it can be healthy, as it may help motivate us and help us achieve our goals. However, too much stress, on-going stress, or chronic stress can be detrimental. Stress triggers the human fight-or-flight response; it causes our blood pressure to rise, our adrenaline to accelerate, among other physiological responses. These responses can be helpful, say if you’re… you know, in danger. The fight-or-flight response is a survival instinct! The adrenaline rush can even be exciting, like right before you’re about to give a performance in front of a crowd of people (Psychology Today).
https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/stress

But then there’s the kind of stress that doesn’t go away- the harmful kind. Chronic stress can really take a toll on a body. With stress, the key is to bring our bodies back down to its equilibrium. We can achieve this in lots of different ways; mindfulness is one of the techniques.

Mindfulness

I first learned the term “mindfulness” in a class called Family Stress and Coping. The principle of mindfulness has a lot of value. Here are two definitions of “MINDFULNESS”:

“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

(Google definitions)

The concept of being focused on the “present moment” fascinates me. Why is it beneficial to focus, to hone in on our current thoughts and feelings?

Because it helps us relax. It can help us achieve a sense of equilibrium. Stress, and anxiety, can warp our perception on reality. Being aware of our present state of being can help us understand the differences between what is real and what is not.

Basics of Mindfulness

In the practice of mindfulness, you focus your mind on what it is that you’re doing. You pay attention to your body, what you’re feeling, your immediate surroundings. It doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting about everything else; it encourages you to be in tune with your present state of being.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including meditation. But there are also ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life, while going about your day.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is the mindfulness technique we practiced in my Family Stress and Coping class. It’s actually quite simple, and it’s a good introduction to the principle of mindfulness. Here’s what you do:

-The next time you eat, examine your food for a few moments before eating it. Take in the color and the smell. Think about what it might taste like.

-With each bite you take, try to really enjoy the food. Think about what it tastes like, what it feels like in your mouth. Try to chew slowly. Again, try to enjoy the experience!

 

Mindful eating is one example of how you can use the concept of mindfulness in everyday life. You could also try mindful communication (actively focusing more on what others say in your conversations with them) or mindful exercising. Or, you can set aside time in your day to truly meditate (set aside all distractions, use calming music, relax your body, and strive to think about nothing).

Stress Reduction with Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress because it helps calm the mind and the body. For example, when I find myself feeling overly stressed or anxious, taking a few deep breaths immediately helps calm my body down. Actively trying to calm down one’s body and focusing in on the here and now can do wonders for one’s health. Practicing the art of mindfulness immediately in or after obviously stressful situations, as well during times of regular day-to-day stress can help a person become skilled at keeping stress at a minimum. Over time, a person who is able to keep their overall stress at bay and is skilled at reaching equilibrium can enjoy a more peaceful and content state of being.

 

Here are some other articles about mindfulness, if you want to learn about it further:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

http://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

 

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Jobs

Four Benefits of a Side Hustle

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If you haven’t seen a theme in our last few posts, it’s that all moms, especially Stay-At-Home Moms (SAHMs) need to take time for themselves. One of the ways in which a SAHM can do this is through a side hustle. Simply put, a side hustle is “a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in. It can also be your true passion – a chance to delve into fashion, travel or whatever it is you care about the most without quitting your day job.”

As I perused my “Friends” list on Facebook, I saw a wide variety of side hustles that my fellow SAHMs were doing. Here’s just a glimpse of what I saw.

  • Consultants: LuLaRoe, LipSense, Younique, MaryKay, Usborne Books, Beach Body, Plunder Design, Scentsy, Avon, Young Living Essential Oils, Matilda Jane
  • Bloggers: Mostly mommy and lifestyle blogs, but one of my friends has a budgeting blog
  • Etsy Shops: Kid’s Clothing, Handmade Jewelry, Handmade Cards, Artwork, Digital Downloads, Shoes
  • Small Business Owners, such as Photographers

From Sales to Blogging to Boutiques, these women are expanding their horizons and developing their talents- directly from their home. And what do they get from all of this? Here are the four main benefits a SAHM gets from a side hustle.

1- Social Support.  As fulfilling as it is to be a SAHM, it’s not enough. Often, SAHMs need more interaction with adults, more validation, and more variety than they get just through their kids. Side hustles are a crucial way to provide such a network of support. Side Hustles mean interacting with ADULTS, whether online, at a conference, or through in-person consultations.

2- Experience. Even if you don’t make a lot of money in your side hustle, you gain so much experience! One of my bucket list items a few years ago was to open an Etsy Earring Shop. While I was only able to break even with my investment, I learned so much through the process. I consider the experience I gained running a small business far more valuable than the money I made. I was so grateful for the insight it gave me into other businesses. By doing a side hustle, you learn things about the market you are in, about yourself, and about your potential. I found out I didn’t really like trying to do all the marketing for my Etsy business, and it was easier for me just to go to a craft fair for a day.

3- Education. If you want to do a side hustle right, you have to get more education. I’m not necessarily talking about taking more college classes. I’m talking about online webinars, email courses, or training with someone in the same field. As a blogger, I’ve attended webinars on growing a blog, received email courses on growing a Business Instagram account, and joined a Facebook group for Small Business Owners. All of these things provided me with a targeted education to succeed.  So if you are looking to grow your side hustle, look online! There are so many resources available to you. And as a bonus, they’ll add to your resume while you still are a SAHM.

4- Finance. It never hurts to have an extra income! I know a lot of women who are quite successful in their side-hustles. But I also know an equal amount of women who choose to make less for their own flexibility.

Even if my side hustles only lasted a short while, I’m grateful for the benefits I’ve gained from them.

Do you have a side hustle?

Why I Needed a Mom Vacation

Tips

How to Thrive-Not Just Survive- as a Stay-at-Home Mom

how to thrive as a stay at home mom post

how to thrive as a stay at home mom

 

Is this you, by the end of the day? (Or by lunchtime… ?) I know I have days like this! Days when I just want my kids to take care of themselves and let me eat my favorite chocolate while watching my favorite show. Days when the house looks like it’s been overrun by a stampede of wild animals…. Days when I’m still in my P.J.’s at 3:00 pm.

These types of days are not fun! But we all have them sometimes. (Hopefully not all the time! 🙂 )

I stay at home with my two boys, and most of the time I love this job. I can definitely understand why some moms choose to work (or simply just need to work) while raising children. My belief is that as long as a mother is happy, fulfilled in her life, and gives her kids consistent love, attention, and stability, kids will be okay- no matter if the mother works or stays home.

That being said, I’ve thought a lot about my job as a stay-at-home parent. There are things I feel like I do well, and there are things I need to improve on. All of us parents know that kids are unpredictable. But there are certain things we can do to help our days go more smoothly, no matter how our kids are feeling or acting on any given day.

Based on my experience, here’s a list of things YOU can do to thrive as a stay-at-home mom!

 

How to Thrive- Not Just Survive- as a Stay-at-Home Mom!

 

  1. Set aside time for yourself, every day. Mama R talked about this in her most recent post!
  2. Adjust your schedule to make sure you get enough sleep. Everything in life is hard when you’re sleep deprived! And obviously, with babies it’s hard to get enough sleep. But once your kids are on schedules, try to be on a sleep schedule yourself. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. (This one is hard for me! I’m a night owl, so I hate going to bed early. 😉 But I feel much better and more able to wake up with my kids when I go to bed at a decent time.)
  3. Exercise. I’m a BIG believer of exercise not only being good for the body, but for the mind and the spirit as well. We give so much to our kids, including our bodies. We need to take time to take care for these special bodies that are able to do so much. You don’t have to be a marathoner to be healthy; even going for a daily walk is a wonderful way to get your heart pumping. I find that my mind is sharper and my mood is brighter on the days I take time to get my workout in. I know this can be a sacrifice, because our days are so busy. But exercising is definitely a worthwhile investment in yourself.
  4. Try to abide by some sort of schedule. One thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can be so flexible with my days! But I do feel more under control of things when my kids and I are on a schedule, even if it is a flexible one.
  5. Get ready for the day each day. I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t shower, get dressed, and do my makeup and hair each day, I feel like a bum. Even if I don’t get ready until the afternoon, it still counts as getting ready for the day! 🙂 I just believe that a woman shouldn’t completely lose herself after she becomes a mom. Yes, we do give everything to our children, and we would do ANYTHING for them! But we need to remember that we are individuals, women. Not only does it benefit your heart and mind when you feel good about how you look, it helps your kids see that it’s important to prioritize one’s self-esteem.
  6. Go on dates!!! If you’re married, DATE YOUR HUSBAND! Get dressed up, feel hot, and do something fun- regularly! If you’re single, take time to go out and feel hot and have fun! Every mom was a girlfriend/wife before she was a mom. 🙂
  7. Keep in close touch with friends and family. The life of a stay-at-home mom can be lonely sometimes. Try to keep in close touch with people you love. I love talking on the phone to people- it keeps me sane!

Being a mother is the most rewarding job there is, but it’s also the hardest- and it’s okay to admit this! It’s just as important to love yourself as it is to love your children. After all, the person you have to confront at the end of each day is YOU. Your kids need a happy, confident, fulfilled mama. And you need a happy, confident, fulfilled life. You can have these things as a stay-at-home mom!
Do you have any tips for thriving as a stay-at-home mom???

 

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Holidays

Mamas, Take Time for Yourself!

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As Man-Cub Mamas, we realize that being a mama is rewarding, but at the same time draining. So this Mama’s Day, I’d like to remind you to take time out for yourself EVERY DAY, not just on Mama’s Day.

I was talking to a good friend today who mentioned that when she was young, her mother started a part-time job at Hallmark stocking cards. Sometimes her mother would bring her along. My friend remembers how much she hated having to help out. But what she also remembered is that her mother had an extra spring in her step every time she went to work. It seemed that she was a little more rejuvenated and happier. I think this is because she took time out for herself.

Another one of my friends, who is a single mama, described this perfectly when she explained that she was able to adjust better to her new life as a single parent when she started taking time out for herself. She started hiking. She took classes through a local university like home repair and rock climbing. She volunteered at a non-profit organization to help other single mamas find better employment. She said, “Making time for myself has transformed my life and helped me to embrace the life I have.” She also has a better relationship with her kids now that she has dedicated time to herself.

Taking time out for myself has not been easy to do, but it has been worth it. This past month, I have been dedicating all of my son’s nap-time (which is about an hour) fully to myself. I can do whatever I want. I’m not required to clean, or study for the Bar, or anything else I don’t want to do. It has made a big difference in my happiness level and with how I interact with my son. This has come with some sacrifice. I still need to study for the Bar, so my husband will spend an hour of one-on-one time with my son in the evenings so I can have that time.

I know it’s not easy finding time to yourself with young children. But it is so important and worth the sacrifice, whether it means finding a babysitter, adjusting parenting roles, or whatever else you have to do to make it work. Find a hobby! Volunteer! Do something that is meaningful to you (aside from raising your kids).

Happy Mama’s Day,

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Tips

20 Screen-Free Activity Ideas For Parents Who Are Running Out of Ways to Entertain Their Kids

20 Screen Free Activities

Do you crazy trying to think of new ways to entertain your kids- away from the TV or computer? I know I can always use new suggestions!

I’ve put together a list of fun and simple activities you can do with your kids (or have them do on their own)! None of these involve screens. 🙂

 

If you’re curious, here’s an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which explains the most recent screen time guidelines for children:

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx

20 Screen-Free Activity Ideas

  1. Read together
  2. Build a block tower
  3. Print coloring pages from online and color them
  4. Draw with sidewalk chalk outside
  5. Color on a chalkboard
  6. Go on a walk
  7. Play at a park
  8. Play at your local library
  9. Record your child telling a story, then record it for their keepsakes
  10. Make homemade finger paint, then finger paint together
  11. Play with bubbles
  12. Clean together (My oldest loves to help me with things around the house! Even though it slows things down right now, he’s learning- and someday he will be a huge help!)
  13. Have quiet time (In my house, during quiet time, each person does their own thing in a separate room or area of the house away from everyone else. Usually, the activities involve books, puzzles, or sleeping. 🙂 )
  14. Learn about something new! (Check out a book from the library about a subject your child is excited about, and read it together!)
  15. Play with Play-Doh (I know there are recipes out there for homemade Play-Doh, but I’ve never made it myself.)
  16. Have a dance party!
  17. Bake a treat together
  18. Go to a store and spend time in the toy aisles (I know this would be a dream-come-true for a lot of kids! Usually they’re rushed in this part of the store, since parents have other things to get and look at.)
  19. Go to a museum or zoo
  20. Do a photo shoot

 

Are there any creative activities you do with your kids that you want to share? Tell us about them in the comments! 🙂

 

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