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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Mommy Miscellaneous On Becoming a Better Mom

Another New Year

New year — new blog format it seems! I guess it’s been a while since my last post!  As much as I tried my hardest to write regularly, life got in the way. Doesn’t it always?

I will admit, man that last quarter of 2018 drove me to the ground. Everything had to happen at neck-breaking speed (literally). In the end, they were all good things and much got accomplished, but the juggling and time management of it all did send me towards…. wine (what else?).

We’re currently on a trip out of the country at the moment (and a lot of future posts I have mapped out will go into further detail), but let’s just say I’ve found some downtime now at our hotel now that Jamie is down with a cough. We opted to stay in and take it easy, so she is napping now while the husband tours Sam around on our last day.

Being away for three weeks has truly made me miss home; the predictability, the regularity of it all, and of course a little bit of the busyness that comes with it. I am hoping I will be “smarter” this new year about time management and commitments, but I suppose that remains to be seen. The irony of it is I keep harping about the same to Sam, and yet it is possibly a lesson I too have to learn in a different way.

I think I have to admit that there’s always going to be a lot to do. We are involved in so many things, it will always be an adventure, and it will always be tiring.

I suppose it’s just a matter of perspective. As a wise person recently told me — it’s because you’re capable of more.  I suppose that is a good perspective to have, to be able to do more because we can.

My little family ended the year with quite the adventure. And we greeted the new year with another adventure. As they say, the first day of the year sets the pace and tone for how the rest of the year will look like.

If it is truly any indication, then I suppose I know what kind of year I’m in for. At the end of the day, it is all good — the girls learn, they have fun. And I have to remember, it is because I can.

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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes

Are We Too Busy?

Quite often, a family in our neighborhood asks me on a whim if my girls can come over to play with her little girl.  Right now?  Yes now.

Quite often I decline (politely) because my girls have one activity or another after school.  I assume she doesn’t keep track of our schedule, because after asking for the nth time, she walked away shaking her head. “Boy your girls are TOO busy,” she commented.  I smiled and waved, “see you tomorrow”, and we went on our way.

From the look on her face and the tone of her voice, I probably came off as one of those “busy” moms who over schedules her kids.  I know for a fact that they’re lifestyle is the complete opposite, where her child has no after school activity whatsoever.  It’s free unstructured play all day long.  She doesn’t believe our kids get enough play time at school, and they’re being worked too hard as it is for them to do anything else after (hence the judgement conclusion).

Her opinion of me doesn’t really matter (Thank you, Discover Your Core), but quite honestly, this “busy-ness” business is an everyday concern of mine.  I constantly ask myself this:  Are my kids TOO busy?

I know there are varied points of view on the topic.  And after going through several links, I found an article on the New York Times that resonated with me the most (click the link to read it if you like!).

Excerpt from the New York Times article.
Excerpt from the New York Times article.

I’m PRO extra-curricular activities.  Sam and Jamie have several of them.  They’re in ballet and Kindermusik — but different days and time slots.  They go to Kumon together.  And then they have their own after-school interests:  Jamie’s are Spanish and Soccer, and Sam’s is Basketball (She does her Spanish on the iPad at home when she feels like it).  As members of the Catholic community, Sam also attends a separate Religious Education class once a week as part of the two-year requirement for First Communion.

When I the kids if they think we’re too busy, they always answer “no we’re okay.”  On days when I feel entirely overwhelmed and exhausted by our schedule, I wonder how that’s possible.  But on the days when things run smoothly, I somehow find the answers to my question.

These extra curricular choices, we made as a family.  The girls were involved in every decision.  And it wasn’t because it was something that I wanted for them but rather, something they were excited to do.  They went through the brochures with us and discussed their options.  Even three-year old Jamie appreciates this process.

Jamie loves soccer.
Jamie loves soccer.

Like any human being, on some days, it takes a little more convincing to keep this commitment.  Other fun things pop up and distract them from it.  But (thankfully) I’ve never had to drag one kicking and screaming.  That tells me that the initial protests are superficial, and once they understand the value of sticking to our commitments, they get excited about going all over again.  I feel it’s just as important for me to show I’m equally committed to getting them there and supporting their choices.

Of course school and homework clearly come first, and we all know this will always be the priority.

Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.
Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.

My smart little Sam sees the extracurriculars as an incentive for her to complete her homework quickly so she can get to them.  New activities are good for her adventure-seeking personality.  She has a productive channel to work out all that energy and thirst for knowledge.

And while I know the Tiger Mom in me can push, I’m also not that hard-core about it.  I want my girls to learn, but I also want them to enjoy doing so.  I don’t have dreams of them becoming the next Tiger Woods in their field (sorry, it’s the only analogy I know thanks to my husband!).  And we only skip class for good reason (an illness or schoolwork for instance).  I put their needs first.   If they need sleep, I won’t wake them the next morning.

...And this is too good to move! ;)
…And this is too good to move! 😉

Contrary to popular belief, my husband and I don’t say yes to every request.  For one it’s costly, and I haven’t figured out how to grow money on trees yet.  Secondly, I’d go crazy shuttling them back and forth (I go crazy enough as it is!).  But more than that, I do believe they need time for the mundane everyday stuff: errands and chores, play dates, toys, and yes, even the electronics.  These keep us busy too but in a different kind of way.

Even if my girls assure me with words, that “they’re ok” and “not too busy,” I still validate this against their behavior, and make the call if I see overtiredness rear its cranky head.  After all that’s said and done, I still adjust where I can depending on their needs.  The health and well-being of the girls come first above all else.

Finding the balance is hard, but it’s also very relative.  One may need more “free play” than the next.  Some may need more structure.  And what may be “too busy” for some, may be just right for others.  It all depends on the parents and the child.

Our days are usually pretty full (I should know I’m the first to feel the fatigue), but it’s not always because we’re running from one class to the next.  I purposely left days “free”, and we get to decide on what fun things we can do together.  Somewhere in between the routine and set schedules we have our own spontaneous moments that are just pure fun (more on that in a separate post).

Random game night over dinner.
Random game night over dinner.

So — are we busy?  Technically yes.  I’m a planner by heart; I like to know what’s next.  So in the eyes of an outsider we really do a lot.  But when I look at my girls, I think they’re right and we’re really ok.  After all, we’re never too busy for each other.

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Mommy Anecdotes

Busy Busy Busy!

Oh my.  I didn’t realize it’s been days since my last post!  The days flew by that fast, I can tell you that.  Let me see if I can give you an overview of what’s been  consuming my time the past few days.

My Mommyology Thanksgiving Meal
Gobble gobble! Yummm!

Thanksgiving cleaning.  Thanksgiving was Elie’s birthday, but it was also the only time my husband had 4 straight days off work.  As such we did our version of spring cleaning in the winter.  I can’t begin to tell you how much things you can accumulate over the years without realizing it.  Also, I couldn’t believe how dirty our home had gotten over a short period of time.  Well to be fair, we both do as much sporadic cleaning as we can when we can… but there’s still some things that escape the day-to-day maintenance.  My big “aha! moment was that I realized I get things done at a much slower pace, because of the girls and their schedules and moods.  Of course, a main contributing factor to that was that they constantly mess things up on a daily basis anyway!

It all works anyway since my brother (whom I have not physically seen or been with in about two years!) and my mom are arriving in a few hours, and so we really did need to clean up the place anyway.  Now that everything is clean and orderly, it actually feels quite nice!  The question is, how long will it last…

Nonetheless for Thanksgiving, we were still able to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the other Filipino family in Chapel Hill.  I think I gained a few pounds that night because everything was delicious!  And of course, they are always great company to have and to share a meal with. 🙂

Oh and yes… how can we forget… Thanksgiving weekend = BIG BIG SALES!  So we (I) did a little shopping, much to the chagrin of my husband and his poor wallet.

Nap Schedule Shift.  Then, the last few days, my girls have decided to take turns take naps (If I am lucky to get Sam down for the afternoon).  I have been thinking about doing an anniversary Sleep Training Series post because of all of this, but I am still experimenting.  I have no conclusive results as of the moment (then again… will I ever?!).  I’ll keep you posted. 😉  Of course, the naps have also affected the night time sleep (and waking moments) and so of course, these have consequences on other aspects of my day, such as work and chores, which also eat into my me-time during the day.  You get the drift.

Well one part of it is that just very recently Jamie started to get more mobile.  She is scooting and army-crawling and getting into trouble.  Because of this new milestone development, she has not wanted to be left strapped into her chair or in the Pack & Play for very long, and therefore requires another pair of eyes at the back of my head.  Oh, why don’t people sell these kinds of body parts… they would definitely make money!

My Mommyology Birthday Cake
A slice of rainbow cake, what else would we have?

The big THREE!  Need I say more?  Sam’s birthday and all the preparations for it have definitely kept me busy.  Excited (yes), emotional (definitely!) and still physically busy.  So far Sam has had two mini-celebrations for her birthday already, and the third one with all her friends, the one she asked for, has yet to happen this coming weekend (I will definitely put up a post about that!).  I’ve also had to hide and re-wrap presents that have arrived in Amazon boxes, as she specifically asked for a red present on her birthdayIt turned out to be a good move on my part because when she opened the door the morning of her birthday to see a stash of gifts on the couch, she was BEAMING.  Words couldn’t even begin to describe the smile on her face, it was priceless, and I caught it on camera!  Hurray for me!

Apart from all those big ticket items, the “ber” months are really a busy time in general — Christmas is fast approaching and there are so many get togethers and activities and trips planned.  It feels like everything is moving at such a fast pace and soon enough another year will be over!  I guess the feeling of just finishing the year and trying to get everything done before then makes it all the more busy.

What about you, what’s keeping you busy these days?  Would love to hear it!

And whatever it is, don’t forget to breathe! 😉