Let’s Talk Motherhood Series:: Staying Present With Little Ones

I am excited and oh-so flattered to be a part of this month’s Let’s Talk Motherhood Series with @mckellwilson and some other amazing mommas. I’ll link them at the bottom of my post so we can all connect.

So, we each were asked a few questions about the same topic to see different perspectives and ideas we could gain from each other and everyone reading who comments and joins the conversation. It’s all about connecting and learning from each other, that’s what I love about this social media gig. I get inspired over and over again from fellow striving mommas on how to be a better mom and wife. I love that!

The topic for September couldn’t be more timely or more on my mind, and that is STAYING PRESENT WITH LITTLE ONES. Oh my goodness, I can say that it is SO easy to be distracted in this technology generation and I can and do get distracted so easily by things like social media, group texts, individual texts, responsibilities, and even my own to-do lists constantly when I’m not careful. It is something I have to check myself and work on continuously. I think in this day and age that is one of the hardest things to do is SLOW down and BE where you are.

So, let’s chat about it and I’d LOVE to hear your comments to on what YOU do to stay present.

Here are McKell’s questions and MY answers. Y’all know I’m a rambler by now. I JUST CAN’T HELP IT. So Mandy…so here I am, come run-ons and rambles.

  1. As a blogger, how do you balance working from home and staying present with your children? This is something I was super conscientious about when I started this public blog 9 short months ago. I didn’t want to have my blog take over my time with my kiddos. I had and still have a private family blog for years that I loved, but my husband and I wanted to make sure that having a “public” blog didn’t add more pressure to spend ALL my time working on it. One way I have done my best to balance this is I blog early in the morning OR late in the evenings. I have done that from the start and it’s a MUST for me. Not only does it help me not feel guilty when I blog since my kids aren’t crying or pounding on my door for my attention like they would be if I did it during the day; but, it also helps me be fully present when I am blogging too. I find the less things I do at once, the more successfully and whole heartedly I can be where I am.  It helps me to find joy and happiness in that moment. Granted, having 4 children and 2 kids under 2 makes this kind of an oxymoron because I am ALWAYS doing more than one thing at once ;), but you know what I mean. 🙂 If I am blogging, I blog. If I am doing crafts with my kids, I do crafts. If I am going on a playdate to see a friend while my kids play, I’m going to chat with my friend.  If I am having “me time” I am having some me time. You get the drill. It’s just better that way I have come to learn over the years to “be where you are.”

  2. What is your favorite way of spending quality time with your little ones? This is such a hard question. Bah!! If I were to pick one sentence or phrase I would have to summarize it by saying “making memories with them.” Memories endure and bring happiness looking back, and that is what I love to do and make with my little ones. I can explain. For example, I love doing a twist on normal things to make it memorable for my kiddos and trying and doing NEW things with them. It can be normal things made fun like, “when we took a walk in the dark to the park {because we NEVER do that}, slept in the backyard in a tent, had dessert first, had a girls’ night with friends, did our yearly tradition of sleeping in the same room on Halloween night, etc. OR trying new things [because that is always memorable and fulfilling too] such as:: going tubing for their first time [picture above], trying a new craft, making a new food together, introducing them to Mommy and Daddy’s favorite college icecream place [pictured below–Creamery on 9th for life], discovering a new destination–river or lake together [we do this pretty much once a week as a family], going to Legoland /Schlitterbaun/amusement parks together, of course THOSE are no brainers too….. I know that a pretty all encompassing answer, but it’s the intentional and memorable times that are my absolute fav with my littles.
  3. In such a fast paced world, how do you slow down with and without your children?  One way I SLOW down is I read scriptures BEFORE social media. Game changer. This helps me get focused on the right things for the day, energized, and most of all just in the right overall mindset. If ever I am in a funk it is because I have slipped out of this habit. Then I switch back and I’m rejuvenated again. I know that throughout the course of the day I will check my social media feeds, I just will. But, I will not necessarily make time for my scriptures if I don’t make it a priority. If I commit myself to READ scriptures BEFORE social media, I read every day you better believe it. For me, this is usually before the kids wake up in the morning {unless my babe had a hard night}. I prefer the morning because it is a “still” time for me when it’s easy for me to really read and before I feel the hustle and bustle to get things done or be here and there.  A way WITH my children I try to slow down is saying “no” to some social invitations. I love social time, playdates, friend swaps, and saying no to things that sound fun is hard…but since baby #4 was born there is constantly lots going on and just being home sometimes is just what we need. We did this yesterday had ZERO plans and it was such a great night. We had a meaningful family home evening, my big kids cleaned up dinner and the front room without complaining as we rocked out to some Kid Bopz on Pandora, we read books together, and I attribute that to not feeling rushed from activity to activity. Having a day or two a week with NO plans-no dance, no nothing is often a remedy for all of us.
  4. What is something you do every day to be present and in the moment? Something I try to do every day to be in the moment is UTILIZE regular times to connect 1:1 with my kids. For example, showers/bath time means I get to read with one of my kiddos. I normally just let them each pick out a book for me to read to them while one takes a shower. Or when I am driving to pick my daughter up from dance with my boys means I get to talk to my oldest son who is 5 about what he’s into lately and get him to open up a little. {he’s my quieter one who doesn’t tell me too many details without prying–my almost 2 year old and 4 month old don’t mind if he hogs the convo 😉 } OR when some of my kids are outside and 1 is left inside I do something fun with them or see if they want to help me with something. You get the drift. This helps me squeeze in some individual time which I love and allows me to be present.  PS-Speaking of present, we went on a Sunday drive spur of the moment and I was the only one cool enough to already be in my jammies. Nothing better…. Still can’t get over that all 4 of those littles came from me. Getting back on topic…#5
  5. What advice would you give to new and future moms about staying present as a parent? I would say remember that you are in charge of your phone and your phone is not in charge of you. It’s so hard to live that and it’s a battle, but remember that you DON’T HAVE TO RUN TO YOUR PHONE when it buzzes or dings. This is definitely something I still remind myself. It’s OK. Since when does a text message ding mean it’s an emergency and has to be read right now? I have to say I get a LOT of texts a day. I am a communicator and I love to communicate, but I could easily be texting/calling back/emailing/commenting ALL DAY LONG if I’m not careful. So, disconnect. You can catch up on social media, texts, and emails and normally [unless it really is urgent and you know it’s important] there is ZERO benefit in commenting instantly [unless you are looking for furniture on garage sale websites-then notifications ALL the way-total exception ;)]. However you can totally miss your excited child’s story about his project at school or funny story from recess or a proud big brother or sister moment, whatever it may be. Again-this is what I have to remind myself over and over again with my phone as it dings constantly [and do NOT put notifications on social media-no way-no more dinging needed]. My cue is my phone battery. If I’m “in the red” I know I’ve been on it too long and I go leave it on the charger until it’s charged and take a break. You can click here for my Phone Nap technique I made up for myself after I got a little phone obsessed.
Lastly, I’ll say you don’t have to do crazy things and it doesn’t have to be super complicated to be present as a parent. Like I said earlier, there are times built in the regular day when you can connect with your kids {so I’ve discovered and learned}. I also am reminded being a present mom doesn’t mean you have to play WITH them for hours every day and if you don’t you’re not a good mom and should get mom guilt. No way! A few minutes a day is great.  In fact, my mom is the epitome of the perfect mom in my eyes and I don’t remember her playing with me much at all actually [maybe she did some, I just don’t recall]. But, I do remember that a-n-y-time I told her a story, or was excited about my day, or came to her sad, or mad, or happy she was TOTALLY 100% all there– ALL ears, all eyes–listening. Not half-way while texting or “liking” in one hand …. She’s my #momgoals. She made me feel like a million bucks just like that-we can all do that ladies!

K Momma’s, I am long winded as usual and as promised. 😉 I would LOVE to hear some of the ways you connect with your kids each day and how you strive to stay present as a mom. Comment below if you have any tidbits-it takes a village friends! And, go check out these momma bloggers and get some more great ideas::

McKell :: www.lifeasmrswilson.com

Aurora :: www.auroramccausland.com

Melissa:: www.melissalynchurch.com

Breanna:: www.soulfullysanchez.org/wp

Continue Reading

15 Days of Mommy Play Toddler Edition

One of my new year’s goals see here was to be a more present mom, so I made this little challenge for myself to motivate me to make a habit of spending time with my kids each day–specifically my toddler. The challenge was to play for 15 minutes a day with my toddler for 15 days straight. I already completed this challenge and had this challenge on my instagram, but wanted to have it all in 1 spot for future use for me and anyone who didn’t do it and may want to.

I chose TOTALLY easy, not complicated things to do so it was doable and easy to actually accomplish. No random props, craft supplies, or store runs needed. I just had to make the time to do it. I figured it doesn’t matter what we do as long as I make time for him each day. I’ll be honest, there were a couple times when life would get crazy and I missed my plan for that day and had to do it the next day so it ended up being almost 15 days straight, but what can I say? #reallife 😉 #newmommaof4problems Don’t let it get you down, and pick up and do it the next day. A good real-life set up is to do it M-F with Saturday and Sunday as catch up days. {so it’ll be 3 weeks}

I started out focusing on my 1.5 year old because since having my new baby I was MOST worried about him feeling left out since he was my baby for such a short time. I am so glad I started with him first {he soaked it right up} and it was fulfilling for everyone. My big kids would sometimes join in which was great and just fine. I just kept my focus on my toddler so he felt like “the center of attention” while doing whatever we were doing. When B and J would join they naturally started cheering him on and making him feel even more like the life of the party. It was a blast. Enough Mandy ramble, let’s get to the actually 15 day round up.

Pick a day to start, and grab your toddler and play! Here we go::

 Day 1:: PLAY IN THE SPRINKLERS “with” your toddler today. {for at least 15 minutes} Nothing says summer more than sprinklers. I don’t know about y’all, but usually I set the sprinklers on and let the kids go at it while I go inside and get things done.  Not today! As you can see this was kind of spur of the moment–no bathing suit even {for either of us actually-but it was too hard to get a selfie in when we were both wet, lol} P was so surprised and excited that I was actually going to go IN the sprinklers and get wet WITH him.  He was thrilled and kept taking my hand and going through them over, and over, and over again.  It’s the little things and it was a blast.  
Day 2:: PLAY TRAINS. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the day, make time to play trains with your little one. This is nothing novel, but quality time doesn’t have to be complicated, it just needs to be there.  My little guy LOVES trains.  So we connected multiple trains together, pulled them apart, and pushed them again and again for 15 minutes and it made him oh so happy.  And consequently, it made me oh so happy too. You can never her “choo choo” enough. 🙂
Continue Reading

My Pre Baby #4 Checklist

I don’t know about y’all, but each baby I have I get MORE trunky and ready to be done towards the end of pregnancy. So, that pretty much means THIS BABY I am TOTALLY trunky. I keep wondering how I can have the energy to chase baby P, cook and clean after my 3 littles, and just plain get up and down with my growing body for 5.5 more weeks. lol.

Thankfully, I have L O T S on my to-do list which has helped me stay busy and focused on things I want to accomplish pre baby.

Here is a look at my list of 11 things to do pre-baby #4::

1. Go on a planned 1:1 date with my 2 oldest kiddos {my baby gets 1:1 time every day 😉 so he is naturally covered}.

2. Shop for my hospital jammies. CHECK! Did this when my mom was here. Old Navy-comfy, cute, and casual–my favorite. Thanks Mom!

 3. Take pictures of my 3 kiddos together with my real camera. I feel like this is a MUST pre baby #4 especially since having just 3 babies flew by and was pretty short lived before this 4th one is coming.  So, I want to get a more recent pic I love of the 3 of them to remember this phase. Being in Texas I’m planning on WILDFLOWERS and hopefully bluebonnets…so I need to HURRY! Ok, I DID just take some of them after writing this as shown above, but I still want to find some bluebonnets and go when I actually plan on having them dressed and picture ready–though I’m not going to lie, this magical discovery 18 minutes from our house made quite the backdrop to these 3 beauties.

Continue Reading