Something’s Gotta Give

Anyone who’s been following along on my social media account or blog has watched me approach Critical Breaking Point (haha, I love a bit of drama!). Life has gotten busier and busier for me this year with one kid in school, one kid in preschool in the next town over, and one kid still at home. We’re constantly busy without a moment for ourselves and it really feels lately like something’s gotta give.

Life is too precious and too important for the thing that I cast aside to be time with my kids, or time for my husband, or time for my friends and community. For a long time the thing that has suffered has been the time to myself, but it feels unbearable for me to continue that trend. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and I have to choose something to let go of, something to make my life lighter and easier, something to take out of my mind to create more space.

That thing is Instagram.

I looooove Instagram. Since moving to a small town from the city I’ve found it to be a major tool for connection. By following local businesses and a few other local moms, I slowly enlarged my network and found a ton of small town events to attend where I met new friends and was able to support small businesses. Since most advertising is done on Instagram these days, the app allowed me to find out about and share new ways to support the community around me. As I take a hiatus from IG I am a bit scared about my isolation increasing without having access to those things, but I have enough friends in town who know my real phone number that I’ll hopefully still be able to find out about all the fun stuff this winter.

Another thing I love about Instagram is the community that comes from sharing. I know, it sounds narcissistic to want to share my life, and trust me, I don’t think I’m like, a real treat or anything. I don’t have unique opinions or anything special to offer. But over the years the DMs I’ve received have made it clear to me that I’m relatable and validating in a way other parents find helpful, and sometimes even stupid and self deprecating in a way others find funny. In kindergarten I took off my rainboot, filled it under a drainpipe, and dumped it on my head to make my peers like me so I guess I’ve always been inclined to diminish myself for a laugh 🙂

But despite the merits of the addictive app I love so much (lolz), I definitely need a break from it. I am feeling like my brain is too full, and when I log onto Instagram my brain thinks (buckle up…) “I need to bake that! I need to donate to that! How do I make more money so I can give to every single thing? Why is everyone traveling except me? I need those boots. I should get my kids that toy. I should do a sensory bin with them or I’m a bad parent! I should share this hack I learned so it can benefit other moms! I bet other parents aren’t on their phones in the middle of the day like I am. I should go for a run. Wowwww look at that fitness transformation! I should eat a calorie deficit to get lean. I wonder if I’m strong enough? I need to try that new beer! But maybe I should give up drinking. Should I do 75 Hard? Ohhh I should save that podcast for later.” It’s just so much noise at a time in my life when I feel called to find direction and seek stillness.

Despite the things I’ve tried (ie. making “rules” about when I can use Instagram, using the app only in black and white so my brain is less stimulated, limiting the accounts I follow) I can feel that the constant exposure to so many people, objects, lifestyles, ideas, traumas, deaths, renovations, travels, tips, strategies, and strangers is harming me. It’s contributing to an increase in my growing anxiety. It’s clouding and confusing me. And it’s taking a lot of time away from the people who are right in front of me.

I’m really just telling everyone so people don’t think I’ve died, which is what I assume whenever anyone goes cold turkey off Instagram for a while without explanation. I doubt many people notice when someone leaves Instagram. It always makes me chuckle when I come across a post that says “I’m back!” and I never noticed they were gone. There’s just so much static on the app that it’s impossible to notice when someone disappears (I’m picturing the Homer-in-the-hedge meme right now).

I’ll still be here though, writing in longer form and doing the odd blog post when I have a brand new, never-before-thought-of idea that has definitely been thought of by tons of people already! Byeeeee!!

Burnout.

If they ask me for something one more time, I’m gonna scream.”

I miss my old life. I miss being a woman. I’m not a woman anymore, or a wife, I’m just a snack dispenser.”

I’m so bored of this. I’m sooooo booooored. I’m SO BORED.”

All I do ALL DAY is clean and then evening comes and I make dinner and afterwards I’m exhausted and I look around the house and the entire thing is a shitshow again. It doesn’t even last a day. It barely lasts a few hours. I’m so sick of it.”

I can’t handle the constant whiiiiininng anymore. I miss being spoken to like a human being.”

I can’t wait for life to just slow down a little bit, just enough that I can organize my thoughts.”

These are just a few of the things I thought or said aloud to my partner last week. It was a doozy. And I might be waiting for it to “slow down a little” but I’m also keenly aware that it’s not going to. I’ve been cruising steadily towards burnout for six years and I’ll keep on cruising for many more.

I need help. I need to ask my community here for ideas how to avoid burnout when you don’t live near family. For those of you who moved away from family or don’t have a large family, if you are somehow able to avoid the deep, deeply felt burnout of never having a break from your children, how do you do it? How do you avoid the burnout?

And I know what so many of the mothers of the older generations will say: the laundry can wait. The house doesn’t need to be spotless all the time. Slow down and be present and take a breath because it all passes by so quickly.

But here’s the thing, it can’t wait. It’s too much. We are five people generating a colossal amount of dirty laundry, dirty dishes, dirt dirt dirt. We have recycling to be sorted, garbage to be taken out, meals to be prepped, groceries to be picked up, kids to be dropped off, school, ballet, football, art class, work, yard work, spring bulbs to plant and fall leaves to rake, holiday presents to add to wish lists so that magic can be generated for memories. Friends to check in with, emails to send, PAC meetings to attend, homework to check, rooms to be tidied, bedding to be washed, bums to be cleaned, hair to be braided, fundraisers to be donated to, and after all of that has been taken care of, time and energy must be mustered so that I can find something for me, some kind of hobby or project so that I don’t lose my mind the way I’ve already lost myself.

Anyway, I may not know who I am anymore, but I still know what’s important to me: family, friendship, community care. Learning and growing.

So please let me learn from you; teach me how to combat burnout. Help me grow into a functioning, happier mother (and hopefully, eventually, a person) by telling me what works for you so I can try it and see if it’ll work for me.

I’m gonna go do some laundry now and I’ll check back later to read your gems of wisdom 🙂

Shifting Seasons (and Attitudes)

Where are all my SAD gals at? Our Seasonal Affective Disorder is gearing up to hit hard as soon as the clocks change this weekend and I, for one, am not ready for it. I mean, I’m never ready for winter to come, but this year’s hot, summery Autumn has really contributed to my lack of preparedness for winter’s arrival. Yet here we are, a few days away from Daylight Savings Time, the holiday season, and the freezing temps.

My least favourite months of the year have always been November, December, January, and February. The darkest, coldest, most dreary months. Every year at this time I start an internal countdown because I can’t wait until March. The spring time change, increasing daylight hours, crocuses and tulips popping, sun setting a little later each evening….sigh. The anticipation of a coming summer is so grand and full of promise.

But as a parent I am keenly aware that constantly looking to the next thing has consequences. It’s so easy to wish away the sleepless newborn phase, then wish away the whiny toddler phase, then wish away the energy-sucking preschool phase, then wish away the demanding school years. All of a sudden we have a kid who we didn’t enjoy raising nearly as much as we could have! This is something I’ve ruminated on endlessly these past six years. Though some stages (and some winters) can feel truly unending, it’s crucial to our happiness that we try to sit in a place of gratitude for the present season (and if not gratitude, at least growth. I’m looking at you, Colic Phase!).

So here I am, at the outset of another dark and dreary Canadian winter. I know I prefer the summer. I know I’ll miss my daily walks in the sunshine up local trails. I know our beach dinners will be few and far between so that our children’s fingers don’t freeze off while they clutch their stone-cold snacks and look out at the stormy sea. But what would happen if I chose to focus less on these losses and more on the potential opportunities?

The opportunity to unplug.

The opportunity to turn inward.

The opportunity to grow.

The opportunity to move slow.

The opportunity to be still.

The opportunity to ask questions.

The opportunity to focus.

The opportunity to get close.

The opportunity to hibernate.

Some winter seasons the thing that gets me through is the hustle; I find a thing that makes me feel passionate and excited and I work toward it with that renewed New Year Energy that I love so much. I do DIYs around the house, get stuff done, and plow through the dark winter until I see the light of spring on the horizon. But this year I’m curious about using winter to slow down, to mull some things over, ask questions and seek answers (this is sounding far more cryptic than I mean it to). Being still and slow is the thing that I am the worst at, the thing that I rail against every day.

But I think this winter I wanna try something new, try to stop, and log off, and look inward.

You?

[For more practical tips for enjoying a long winter, I love this article from my favourite blog Cup of Jo]

Making Peace with Imperfection

Writing is a tool that I rely on to organize and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. Whenever I feel anxious, confused, or overwhelmed I often can’t find clarity until I’ve sat down to write it out. Somehow during the process I start writing truths that I don’t know until they flow from the pen, though I spend plenty of time thinking (and overthinking); it’s like my brain doesn’t know the thing, but my hand does.

Sometime in 2020, amidst the pandemic pregnancy and the long lockdown, I stopped writing here and even journalling for myself – probably the worst time to take a break since I had so much to work through! The fact that I stepped away from it at a time when I felt particularly isolated and didn’t have access to my other form of mental processing (running!), probably explains a lot of the inner discontent I struggled with that year.

The main reason I stopped writing in 2020 was because of the self-imposed pressure I felt from Instagram. After scrolling past all those perfect, curated squares with their carefully edited captions, I started to feel like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t!) post anything that wasn’t in its final finished state and this kept me from writing at all. Part of this pressure came from myself; a part of me believed that as your average stay-at-home-mom, I’d never have anything important to say. But the other, more rational, part of me failed to see that Instagram is a collection of finished products; no one is posting their shitty drafts or their unedited photography. We’re putting our best foot forward on that app at all times.

For creatives (or anyone really) this can be discouraging to witness on the daily. We don’t see the countless hours that artists devote to their crafts, the workshops they attend to get better, the terrible rough drafts and pages and pages of brainstorming for ideas, the time when an interior designer paints an entire room the wrong colour and it just doesn’t work, the unfinished novel that never made it to print, the poem that sucked, big time. We don’t want to mess up our perfect feeds by posting the ugly processes we go through to achieve end results.

So this is me recommitting to imperfection.

It’s tough for a Type A to come to terms with, but most people have to commit to the mess before they get to the beautiful ending. A runner needs to go through the sweaty, slow training sessions before they can run a marathon. A writer needs to carve out time to write the messy rough draft before they can publish the novel. An illustrator needs to sketch out their ideas before they arrive at the finished canvas. These are necessities of art. We’ll all be amateurs on our way to greatness, and if we’re growing and evolving there’s a good likelihood that we’ll look back one day and think the great art we’re doing now was the work of an amateur.

So I’m gonna lean into the knowledge that I don’t have to be perfect and give myself the freedom to post often and fret less. Hopefully this will help me get back to writing and processing, even when my thoughts are unpolished. Whatever space you’re in, I encourage you to do the same!

I’ll leave you with [this awesome graphic] I found recently (on Instagram of course. Eyeroll, lol). Here’s to making shitty art, so we can maybe one day make better art.

Colic Mama Trauma: What Do We Do When Crying Triggers Us Years After Colic Has Ended?

Well, you’ve done it. You’ve made it to the other side of colic, though every day (or every minute) you swore you wouldn’t survive. You’re an incredible and resilient bish and you’re ready to leave the Colic Days behind you! But what happens when months or even years later, you still find yourself getting triggered every time your child cries?

Unpacking our triggers is one of the hardest parts about parenting. Sure we can skate by without doing the work, but we run the risk of having excessive reactions when our kids do something mildly annoying and developmentally appropriate that probably wouldn’t bother us if we didn’t have some kind of PTSD / trauma surrounding it. Sometimes these emotional reactions are even fuelled by our own negative experience being parented a certain way.

OBVIIIIII, therapy is the best route for us to work through our baggage but we don’t always have access to it when we need it, especially in countries that don’t have affordable health care. So where does a parent who identifies as a Colic Survivor even start?

I really don’t know, but I’ve thought a lot about it in the past six years. Like, daily, because that’s how often one of my children cries and triggers what I call my Colic Mama Trauma. I’m very much NOT a therapist, just a two-time colic mom who’s been through the wringer with crying kiddos, but if you’re in the same boat as I am and want a jumping-off point, I’d love to share the only thing that helps me, in the hope that it’ll help someone else. What I’ve found when I’m being triggered by post-colic crying is grounding myself in reality in as many ways as I am able to in that moment. Let’s get into what that looks like mentally and physically.

Mentally, this looks like reminding myself what is true rather than getting swept away by emotions that are not rooted in my current reality. I repeat truths to myself in my head as I hold my crying child and reassure them that they are safe and loved (sometimes this reassures me as well, ha). The truths I have to remind myself about are going to seem glaringly obvious to someone who doesn’t have a tendency to spiral, but this is just what helps me. Some favourites include:

“The colic is not coming back just because they’re crying in this moment.”

“They won’t be crying forever, this moment will pass.”

“They won’t be sick forever. Everything is just a phase. Nothing is permanent.”

“I am the best mother for my child.” (this is one I tell all colic parents)

Say whatever you need to say to yourself to bring your mind back to those truths. As you can probably tell, my colic PTSD tends to manifest as catastrophic thinking (“this is my life now! I’m going to have a crying child forever! I can’t do this! I’m a bad parent!”) so the grounding truths I have to tell myself might seem silly. Write out a few that you think will help you and put them somewhere you can find them again next time you’re feeling triggered by excessive crying.

Grounding myself in reality in the physical sense means getting myself outside in any way I possibly can. This advice is some of the first I received as a mother, back during the colic days with baby Hennie. I had become a total hermit, terrified of leaving the house in case my infant cried. She was a November baby and I stayed inside almost the entire winter, just bouncing on my yoga ball and crying. Finally I confided in a friend who encouraged me to go for short walks around the block every day. “It’ll make you feel good” she told me, “and if worse comes to worst, her cries won’t seem as loud if you’re outside.”

She was right, of course. I found that my colicky baby cried less when we were out walking around, and when she did cry I felt much less anxious about it. Being outside made me feel like a more capable first-time mom, even though they were very short walks at the start, and seeing other people going about their normal days offered perspective that I desperately needed and reminded me that the phase I was in wouldn’t last forever.

These days, in my post-colic, three-kids life, I still try to get outside every day and it still helps and offers much needed perspective. As I cart my whiny kids to the park around the corner or school drop-off or even just playing in the yard, I often find that their moods change and take on a lighter feel when they’re outdoors. And if they don’t, well, their whining doesn’t seem as loud when we’re outside. Thanks for the advice, Amber.

When all else fails I try for a Hard Reset. Sometimes it’s the kids who are being difficult but sometimes it’s me. When one of the kids is having a tough time I find it manageable but there are times when all three are struggling. When that happens I often wake up with an attitude of discouragement and defeat right off the bat, and that makes it pretty much impossible for any of us to get out of our slump (do you also find sometimes that parent’s attitudes set the tone for the day rather than the other way around?). When I find myself in that headspace I choose a high energy activity to do and decide it’ll be a hard reset for my attitude. Then I do it for as long as I need to to feel a little better. Sometimes this means doing a peloton ride while the kids watch a show or going for a solo run if my partner’s at home. If I have the kids and it’s not raining I’ll go for a fast, long walk and put a podcast on my headphones. If it’s pouring rain sometimes I’ll blast a killer playlist in the kitchen and bake/dance. For me, this helps me get out of my head and back into my body.

*Please note that the Hard Reset really only works for a bad day, not a deep dissatisfaction in general. I am absolutely not suggesting that dancing or going for a walk are going to solve your probs if you’re in a critical burn out stage of life or going through something exceedingly difficult. It’s just for when we wake up a little crabby and impatient and need to run it off.

Once again, I’m not a therapist and I’m certainly not trying to tell anyone how to live their life. But I’ve spent six years working through my Colic Mama Trauma and have developed a few coping tools that make my tough days just a tad easier for me. There are a lot of us Colic Parents out there, so I hope one of them helps you, even if it’s just a little.

“What Should I Wear Today?” and Other Unanswerable Questions

Lately I’ve been trying to pull like 15 minutes of thought each day away from the kids and toward myself. The purpose of this very minor pivot is (major cliche alert, btw) to try and rediscover who I am now, in this new phase of motherhood and life.

The past six years my life has been deeply defined by family planning and survival mode. For six years I’ve been in a cycle of pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding (repeat 2x). Finally now that the kids are 1, 3, and 5 I am none of the above and I find myself with a few moments, just here and there, to ruminate on who I am becoming and what my own personal purpose may be, y’know, outside of my family.

The first thing I found myself considering was actually my wardrobe, which would surprise anyone who knows me. However you choose to define style, I’ve never had it. I like tee shirts, I like jeans, I don’t really brush my hair. That’s pretty much it. So how the hell have I ended up thinking so much about what I wear?

The thing is though that since my life is so busy and chaotic, the only small thing in my world that I have control over is what I put on my body each day and of course for six years this  has been largely dictated by pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing, too. While pregnant we dress for expansion, while nursing we dress for access, and while postpartum we dress for sheer, soft, comfort. In all of these stages our bodies are deeply in flux. We dress strictly according to function and it’s okay and it’s necessary. But what I’ve been missing these six years is the clothes that bring me joy, that make me feel like myself, rather than a workhorse of motherhood who lives only to serve my offspring (even if that is undeniably who I am right now).

So it feels expected but still a little odd that I’ve been finding myself in my mid-30s with three young kids, asking myself every morning “what do *I* want to wear today?” which leads to the discomfiting next question: “well, who am I?” and the answer: hell if I know. Because in my journey to figure out who I am and how I want to dress in this phase of life I’m realizing that I’m not sure I ever knew who I was before I had kids.

So I’m trying to pay attention to things I wear that make me feel like me, outfits that feel comfortable and confident and “put together” by my own (very loose) interpretation of what that means. Many questions have arisen from this. Do I not like wearing dresses, or are they just not functional for me at the moment? Do professional clothes secretly suit me but I just have nowhere to wear them? Do I actually enjoy wearing skin tight clothing or have I been influenced after working in pubs for 13 years and having my tips depend on how much skin I had showing?

Every day I try to take a second to put aside my perceptions of what I should look like, and dress according to how I feel and what makes me happy and comfortable. So far the things that make me feel like me include: Stud earrings. Denim. “Masculine” button-down shirts. Combat boots. Tee shirts, pref cropped. Tomorrow I’m gonna try a dress out; will report back. 

One thing I do know is that I’ve never been the type to dress up. But after a solid six years in leggings I feel it might be time to consider just… getting dressed.

Beating those Bleak Mid-Winter Blues

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s having a tough start to the year. With the Fifth Wave circulating, stressful decisions about school closures, and the usual “bleak mid-winter” darkness of the Pacific Northwest, I think we’re all just hanging in there until the spring. Inspired by my friend Mel’s recent post about self care I wanted to share some of the ways that I’ve been keeping my head above water so far in these first trying weeks of 2022.

Movement. I don’t want to say exercise because that often suggests a “weight loss” agenda, especially at the outset of a new year, and that isn’t at all what I mean. Moving your body helps so much to keep things in perspective, get yourself out of the house in the winter, and just to clear your mind. I’ve been making it a priority to move every single day and it’s been having a super positive effect on my headspace day to day. Some days I’ve felt energized and motivated to do a more intense movement like running or cycling, but some days I just do stretches before bed or a short yoga video. Sometimes I only have time for a kitchen dance party with the kids but other times it feels good to do a heavy, slow strength workout with dumbbells.

Meditation. I’ve had problems falling asleep since I was a teenager and had mostly gotten a handle on it, but pandemic parenthood has given me a lot more to ruminate on after the sun goes down and it’s been back with a vengeance lately. Doing a 20 minute sleep meditation in the evenings has really helped me acknowledge and breathe through my anxieties without letting them take hold of my mind. I used to think it was a bit “woo woo” but there’s something to be said for mindfully acknowledging your feelings without the pressure of trying to turn them off, ignore them, or change them.

Creative Projects. Bob Seger once said that he writes most of his stuff in the winter and I must admit that my own creativity spikes in winter, too. The summer makes me feel too lethargic to get anything done but the energy of the new year always makes me feel invigorated. Just like I need to move my body I also need to move my hands, and I’ve been revisiting half-finished crochet and sewing projects and constantly jotting down ideas for new articles and blogs. Is it easier to create when we have less stimuli? Who knows, but I’m embracing it while it’s here and I have the time.

Home Improvement Projects. I’ve always been a homebody but even I’m not used to spending quite this much time in my own house. Small-scale, achievable, budget-friendly DIY home improvements always help me feel like I’m steadily moving forward through the fog of January and February toward brighter days. I know I’m gonna be super busy with work this summer so it’s been nice to get things done to help us continually fall back in love with our home. Sometimes these projects are fun, like painting (my fave!) and sometimes they’re tedious, like organizing bathroom clutter or going through kids clothes, but they always make me feel light and happy once they’re done. Everyone likes the feeling of accomplishing a task, right?

I do want to acknowledge that not everyone has the time or energy these days to get stuff done and if you’re not there right now, by all means bask in the joy and contentment of Doing Nothing! Rest is so important and I sincerely hope we all get some. But if you feel that your mind needs some distraction or you just need something to propel you through these next two months (anyone else counting down the weeks until the time change?) then hopefully you can gain some motivation or learn something new!

Hope you’re all having a healthy month.

2021: A Year of Endings, A Year of Beginnings

I woke today feeling the soft tenderness that always comes along with January 1st, at least for me. It’s more difficult these days to find the stillness and quiet that a person needs in order to reflect when they’re feeling introspective, but I’m able to snatch a few moments here and there between naps and snacks.

If I had to characterize 2020 I’d say that with pregnancy, Covid, and then colic, it can be pretty solidly defined by the word anxiety. Actually, maybe the word would be discomfort. Just a constant state of discomfort from morning sickness, an unrelenting news cycle, and lockdowns with two young children at home. Then recovering from my third birth in four years, adjusting to life with three at home, and spending sixteen hours a day bouncing a screaming baby. Discomfort. Like many other families, 2020 was not our finest or our favourite year. We did not flourish.

For us, 2021 was more chaotic but thankfully also much more fun. There was a sense of finality and newness, of endings and beginnings. The pregnancy and baby years closed for us with the year, taking with it the bittersweet experience of raising a last baby, of seeing all the milestones of her first year knowing that we’ll never have another one. 2021 was also the last year I spent as a breastfeeding mother, a journey I loved and felt so rewarded by. These little finalities made the year both challenging and rich.

Amidst those tender conclusions were beginnings that herald the start of a new chapter for our family. Our first child started Kindergarten, kicking off the seventeen years that we’ll have one or more kids in school. A new and deeply-loved, rewarding job for me outside the home after five years out of the workforce. A lot of new friendships after starting a local mom group totally on a whim. There have been many bittersweet, complex, rich, euphoric, and mournful feelings for me in 2021 as I finally carved out a little sliver of self identity from the long fog of early motherhood.

The little things have been pretty sweet, too. Learning how to chop wood and make a fire. Trying new recipes. Making breakfast in a sunny kitchen. Bonfires at the neighbours house. Organizing kitchen cupboards between nap times. Hennie’s excitement when we pick her up from school. New library books. A freshly mowed lawn. Good coffee after a full night’s sleep. Painting. Building. Running. As the world has felt in a real upheaval these last years it has sure given us fresh perspective and a new appreciation for our privilege and our simple, small luxuries.

Happy New Year, friends! I hope that even amidst the anxiety of 2021 you are able to tap into gratitude for all you were given.

YOUR Kindergarten Prep Advice!

The Basics

First off, none of the advice I received (like, not ONE comment) was academic-based. No one cares if your kid can write their name, recite their ABCs, or memorize a times table. What’s most important for Kindie-going kids is that they can do basic tasks independently. In the lead-up to September practice the basics with them: opening and closing their backpack, lunch box, and water bottle. Going to the bathroom solo. Putting on and removing their coat and shoes without assistance from a teacher. If you’re planning to send your kids in lace-up shoes or with an elaborate bento box that they can’t open themselves then it’s time to find some new functional accessories for them that will help them start kindergarten with confidence.

Your Best Kindie Advice

  • Label everything, but especially coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, and other items that kids take off frequently when they get too warm. Also label their accessories – lunch box, water bottle, etc. Teachers can’t send your missing items home with your kids if they don’t know who they belong to!
  • No tiny backpacks! They’re cute but your child’s backpack needs to fit a large library book. Don’t get one with 25 pockets because it’ll just weigh them down. Keep it simple and basic.
  • Keep your evenings free for the first few months; kids come home from school exhausted and it might be too much for them in the beginning.
  • If your child takes a long time to eat practice setting a timer for lunch and having them finish their food in 12-15 minutes (or whatever the allotted time is at your school). One of the most common complaints about elementary school is that there isn’t enough time for the kids to eat.
  • If your child is neuro-diverse, let the teachers know all relevant information ahead of time so that not just your child but his teacher also feels prepared for the start of school. Consider noise-cancelling earmuffs for kids with noise sensitivities who quickly become overstimulated.
  • Practice good hand-washing and hygiene! They’ll be using these skills a lot.

Your Best Kindie Purchases

  • a good quality backpack that will last
  • functional lunch box that a child can open and close on their own (You Recommend: YumBox, LunchBots)
  • good quality raincoat and outdoor gear (especially here in the PNW!)
  • supplies that are functional and that a child can easily operate rather than “the cute, cheap shit” haha. Your words, not mine!
  • name labels (you recommend: Oliver’s Labels)
  • shoes that they can put on themselves – no converse, no laces! (You recommend: HeyFolks)
  • water bottle with a straw that closes to hide germs (You recommend: Yeti Jr)

Best School Lunch Ideas

  • so many of you said that charcuterie style food is key: have everything unwrapped and ready to eat to give your kid as much time as possible to eat lunch. Peel and slice fruit, unwrap cheese, open all packages.
  • A few of you mentioned @kids.eat.in.color on Instagram as a great resource for ideas
  • Your ideas: sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter, quesadilla, tortellini, perogies, cinnamon raisin bread, hard boiled egg, pizza buns, fruit, pita with hummus, bagels with cream cheese, apple sauce pouches, muffins, tortilla roll-ups cut like sushi, small wraps with guac, mini pretzels. There were also a LOT of votes for the good old fashioned PB&J but many classrooms are a nut-free zone so be aware of your school’s policy before sending.

Good luck to all starting Kindie this September and all the kids going back to school in the higher grades! If you have more advice drop it in the comments so we can all be as prepared as possible. But at the end of the day, these kids are gonna have fun and do so well, I just know it.

What Does a Mom Do All Day?

She cooks. Loord she cooks. She makes snacks ten times a day to keep the tummies full. She bakes muffins and preps dinner and makes playdough from scratch. She makes lovely fragrant granola that makes the kitchen smell like coconuts and maple and then she makes snacks again while dancing in the kitchen because she likes to make her children food but she also likes to make her children smile.

She cleans. Looord how she cleans. She does two loads of spit-up covered laundry and spot cleans the felt pen off the couch when her toddler finds the markers. She cleans the tub and toilet and dishes and blender. She cleans up the activit the kids did for 5 minutes after she scrolled Pinterest for a dang hour to find the perfet one. She cleans their faces and bums and their jammy fingers and then she wipes the walls because stickiness always prevails.

She reads. Loooord she reads. The same books over and over and over and over until she can recite them from memory long after the kids have ripped the pages out. She reads instruction manuals and recipes and ingredients to make sure no one is eating too much sugar or secret dairy because it makes the baby fussy. She reads the words engraved inside her wedding band because she misses her partner in the next room and she tries to read parenting books but falls asleep instead.

She plays. Oh my goddddd she plays. She rides pretend ponies and swims in pretend oceans and eats pretend food. She does it until she thinks her brain has turned to mush. She plays in forts and wishes she could fall asleep in them for a minute but when she closes her eyes her son does a bum drop on her head and her daughter pries open her eyelids and the baby cries. She plays “folding laundry” and thinks she is tricking them but they throw the mismatched socks in the air and scream that it’s raining and then they end up with her underwear on their heads.

And she laughs. Lord, does she laugh. She cries sometimes too but mostly she laughs because it feels so impossible to keep up and so improbable that it’ll end and when it does end her couches will be as ruined as her poor nipples after three teething babies and the house will be in shambles but the memories that they’ve made will be so sweet, will fuel her when she is eighty in her creaking rocking chair thinking “I wish…I wish…I wish…I could just go back for one more long, long day with them.” So she laughs because it is hard now but she already knows that she’ll long for these days when she is old, and all that she can do right now is inhale the smell of their freshly washed hair after a bath and laugh.