Why I let my kids skip school

While most employers want you to take the day off if you are physically ill, mental health days aren’t always looked at the same way.

With my kids I often encourage them to go to school with a case of the sniffles or a nagging cough. I use the old, ‘tell your teacher if you are feeling sick and they will call me to get you’ schtick knowing full well that they will forget about wanting to stay home once they are surrounded by their friends and the fun of school.

Yet when it comes to mental health I tend to take a different approach. In my opinion and my personal experience, when your mental health is suffering you are not going to be productive or receptive to learning new information.

While weekends may be the ideal time to recharge your batteries, with birthday parties, errands and three busy little girls I find the weekends busier than ever.

Taking time to reconnect

So when I notice one of my kids needing a little boost, I will usually take a day just for the two of us. This past week I noticed a need in my middle daughter. She had been especially crabby after school and I could just tell she was exhausted. The demands of full-day senior kindergarten coupled with after-school activities and a lingering cough had taken her toll and she needed a break.

So when it came time to get ready for school the next morning I gave her a free pass. One of the things my kids like the best about days off, whether it is the weekend or one of their special ‘bonus days’, is the ability to spend their entire day in their pajamas. Even if we go out I will still let them rock a princess nightgown and mismatched bottoms. After all, they are only kids once.Before I know it they will be embarrassed to be seen with me.

Our day off

Our days off usually follow the same sort of formula. We spend part of the day cleaning up the house and striking items off of my to-do list and then we get to do something fun together.

Our latest adventure consisted of cleaning a new to us couch, getting a happy meal (and a very large coffee) and going on the hunt for an out of season winter jacket.

Some days we spend alone at home snuggling on the couch and watching some terrible shows on Netflix. We spend time cuddling, unwinding, and de-stressing.

We get to spend some much needed one-on-one time together and they are able to face the next day of school energized and refreshed.

Mental health breaks benefit everyone

Taking care of my kid’s mental health is a great reminder to also take time for myself. As much as I am needed to take care of my family, if I am not also taking care of myself everything will fall apart. So, as I sip my wine and soak in the tub I am not wasting away my Friday night, but instead taking a great step towards better mental health.

 

Mom’s night out

 

 

Just because I am a mom doesn’t mean I have stopped being me. It actually took me a long time to work that out. It took years of parenting for me to figure out that while I am a mother, it does not completely define me. I love being with my children and I love being their mother, but before I was a mother I had a whole other life for 28 years and I loved that life as well.

One of the ways that I work towards keeping my life in balance is spending time with good friends. I love having mom friends who would never judge a dirty house or a bad parenting moment because I know they have them too.

A few months ago I got the opportunity to reconnect with some friends that I had not seen in 16 years. When I last saw these friends I was fresh out of college, with a super hot pre-baby body and all the time to hang out in the world. Almost two decades later I have a mom bod, wrinkles and I am piled with responsibilities, children and mom jeans.

I could have of easily said no, or opted out at the last minute. The thought of staying home and soaking in a tub with a glass of wine often trumps any ‘plans’ I may make, yet for some reason I decided I was going, come hell or high water.

And so I found myself knocking on the door of a friend I hadn’t seen in 16 years and yet when she opened it one of the first things she said was, ‘you haven’t changed a bit.’

Well, she may be a wonderful liar, but truth be told, sometimes I need a break from being a mom. Sometimes I need to be around people who don’t want to hear about my kids’ latest ailments and are instead interested in knowing where I would like to travel to or what the next step is in my career. Of course I couldn’t avoid bragging about my kids completely, that would be way too hard for this momster. But I still got a chance to be Melissa for the night, instead of just ‘mommy’.

While the night was fun and I loved a chance to be out late without worrying about my children (I have a wonderful husband) and got to blow off a little steam. In order to be the best mom I can be sometimes I need to get a chance to just be a woman out with her friends. In order to not let the insurmountable responsibilities of parenthood and adulthood overwhelm me I need a chance to once in a while step away from them a remember what life was like at 20 before marriage and children and a mortgage.

And of course by the end of the night I want nothing more to climb into the comfort of my husband and wake up to the sweet faces of my babies, demanding breakfast and attention and their mom.

 

 

 

What the (S)hell??? Getting crafty with my momster

After a winter down south. my momster has finally returned to Canada after escaping our frigid winter. Of course she came home to plenty of snow and freezing temperatures and of course I took my first opportunity to bring the kids up for a visit.

Not only is my mom’s house a great refuge for the kids, but it is also a perfect place for me to rest my weary bones after three motherless months. Not only was there plenty of homemade food on the menu (any food I don’t need to make is good food) but also red wine which is always very much needed by the mid-point of March break.)

Craft time

The next morning my mom announced we would be crafting. Now my mom will occasionally be creative (we decorate gingerbread houses every year) but we don’t often sit down to make a mess on purpose at grandma’s house. Let’s just say Grandma’s house is full of many expensive things that I often have to remind my children not to touch. Every time my mom allows my children into her home she is actually rolling the dice on an insurance claim.

So when it came time to start this craft project my mom surprised me by leading us into this secret room in her basement set up with folding tables and covered in shells. I was able to glean that the project we were about to attempt consisted of gluing shells to a piece of styrofoam with hot glue. I quickly realized that a) this was not a craft designed for my four, six and seven-year-old and b) I was expected to take this monstrosity home once constructed.

Control freak crafter

So I tucked in to create this structure. I was partnered with my two younger children who were unable to help due to the high possibility of third-degree burns from the hot glue gun and my inner control freak need to make sure this god-awful tacky piece was going to be executed to my specifications.

Since my mom had gathered all the ingredients for this project, she decided that my two nieces and I would construct our sculptures in the shape of a Christmas tree and then pulled her own ‘special’ supplies. Not only was she making a half moon candle holder, but she would be gifting this monstrosity. Even with her hand-picked shells, upgraded shape and candle, she gave up about 20 minutes in realizing this was the kind of gift that could end a friendship.

Our ranks start to crumble

As the hours dragged on, the kids slowly melted away. I simply took a meal break and returned as Shelly (as my creation was later named) began to take form. My mom became my second in command, searching for the smaller shells to fill holes while I threatened to gift her Shelly for mother’s day.

“You know Melissa, people will pay good money for these in Florida. They cost $240 US in stores.”

“Well mom, you can take Shelly with you next year and set up a booth on the beach.”

Once complete, my mom tried unsuccessfully to convince me that Shelly was beautiful and I tried unsuccessfully to leave Shelly on her mantel.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that all it took was naming the statue for my kids to become attached. They were seriously bummed I wouldn’t display Shelly on the coffee table and fought over who got to have her ‘sleep’ in her room. I finally had to settle the fight by putting her in a place of honour in her guest bathroom for all to see.

So, of course, I felt the need to write this blog to explain Shelly and how she came to be. My mom still may get a special gift for mother’s day this year.

 

How to deal with an itchy uterus

It’s a question I hear again and again. It is asked by parents everywhere and often extremely hard to answer:

how do you know when you are done having kids?

I have found the answer.

Despite the fact that I have three very demanding and energetic girls my family has never felt complete. With my youngest approaching five and my husband ‘fixed’ years ago, I know logically my child bearing years are over, but my heart wasn’t all the way there. Luckily, I was able to find the cure-all for an itchy uterus.

Baby-sitting.

The other day I spent some time with one of my nephews. At a couple months old he is now out of the newborn stage (way too sweet and squishy of a stage to solve my itch) and is now a full-fledged baby. As soon as my sis-in-law came through the door I had that baby in my arms.

He was so sweet and cuddly. I could feel my uterus twitching with each contented sigh and sniff of that sweet baby scent. My girls cuddled around him just adding to the problem.

Just as I was ready to confront my husband and demand he get his snip reversed, I realized my girls were overwhelming this poor kid and were one step away from mauling him like they do our cats.

Hmmm

Then the poor guy puked. I can’t blame him but still…

And he needed to be changed. While his mom scooped him up to clean him up it reminded me of the fact that after years of diapers my girls are finally able to wipe their own butts . I am also only recently recovered from years of random poop smeared on walls, floating in the bath and I still find the odd streak in cartoon character underwear.

At this point I think the baby started to sense I was turning  so we both agreed it was grandma’s turn to hold him. It was obvious he was tired and as she began to rock him and he started to fight his sleep it hit me.

Nope. Nope. NOPE.

I can’t do it again. As much as I love my girls and I love babies, I have no desire to fight to get another baby to sleep. The itch in my uterus was cured and the answer was found.

All parents of babies need is a break. They love the chance to have someone else love on their little one so they are able to shower, nap or even just get a break from the overwhelming task of caring for an infant. As a parent of older kids, all I need is a visit with a baby to see just how happy I am to have older kids to love on and enjoy.

And if my uterus starts acting up again I know it’s time to offer up my time to a parent in need of a break.

#Momwin

Why having a lazy parent has benefited my kids

Doing less for my kids now will pay off in the future

Most parents find themselves wondering if they are doing enough for their children, but how many question if they are doing too much? After all, our job as parents is to prepare our kids for the future, but are we actually teaching them how to be independent or just becoming their personal slaves?

My husband and I chose to have our kids extremely close together. In the beginning my kid’s ability to be independent was a necessity, but as they grew I realize just how much this skill set has actually benefited my kids. After all, the job of a parent isn’t to do for our children, but rather teach them to do for themselves. Take a look at five ways being a ‘lazy parent’ has helped me raise independent kids.

Dress up-As soon as my kids were able to toddle I encouraged them to dress themselves and rewarded them for doing so. I understand how frustrating it is to watch your  little one struggle to put on a single shoe for five minutes when all you want to do is get out the door, but it will pay off later.

As my children got older, I gave them the freedom to choose their clothing in exchange for them dressing themselves.   They have come up with some questionable outfits, but as long as it is in season and it fits properly, it’s good to go.

Pack up-One of the biggest complaints among parents of school-aged kids is the complete torture of packing lunches. Not only do you have to compete with the Pinterest worthy animal-shaped gluten free lunches posted in the mom groups, but you also have to figure a way to pack a healthy, litter-free, allergen-free lunch your child will actually eat.

You are set up to fail in this scenario.

As soon as my kids were able to eat solids, they started helping me in the kitchen. As soon as my oldest started school, she started making her lunch. She was allowed to choose what went into her lunch as long as there was one veggie or fruit, one treat and a sandwich. Of course I still passively participated in this process, but by making her lunch herself she was far more likely to eat it. #momwin

Clean  up-As a busy mother of three, I see cleaning as less of a chore and more of a necessity. Battling the mess was a daily struggle. I remember I was at a parenting group and we had a guest speaker who spoke about the importance of rest for parents. She encouraged us to clean during the day and make sure to get downtime once we put the kids to bed. As a result from a young age my girls not only watched me clean, they got in on the act. In fact, they would fight over the chance to take a bottle of water and vinegar and wash the cupboards or sweep the floor. As the years progressed, cleaning just became part of our daily routine. Their rooms are expected to stay tidy and they put their own clothes in the laundry room when dirty and in the proper drawers when clean. I know many teenagers who still haven’t mastered this skill.

Make up-The only thing crazier than having three kids under three in our house is the knowledge that one day we will have three teenage daughters living under our roof.

f&*k…

The only way to deal with the tantrums, crying and arguments that are bound to happen in the future, is to take a hands-off approach in the present.  While my kids love to fight, (I have seen some epic blow-outs) unless there are extreme circumstances, I am not getting involved. My kids are learning conflict resolution, tolerance and not to be a tattle tale because I frankly don’t want to spend my day figuring out who took whose toy first.

Sleep up-One of the biggest wins as a parent was finding a punishment that works for my kids and for myself. When my kids misbehave my go-to punishment is almost always the same: early bedtime. This is actually genius because I know that when my kid starts acting out they need extra sleep but they hate the idea of going to bed. This is one punishment that I never feel guilty throwing out and I love following through on. The kid who needs extra sleep gets it and the other kids get more attention for behaving well.

While I may be lazy in my parenting method, I only have my kid’s best interests at heart. If they can grow up to know how to care for themselves, they may even consider moving out one day rather than living in our basement well into their 30’s.

Well, a parent can dream.