4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life

4 steps to go unplugged and take your life back. Plus a free 10 day email course, Go Unplugged: Pro-Level.

As I turned my computer on in a crowded room, all the kids raced to it and hovered like moths. They abandoned their games, their snacks, and their entire surroundings to stare at my screen.

When I closed my computer and looked around, I noticed the adults in the room weren’t doing much better than the kids. Expressionless faces glowed in the blue light of cell phones and tablets.

We were all screen-time zombies. Continue reading “4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life”

Love Your Family: How to Put Them First

A challenge to help you simplify and put your family first.

Sometimes it seems like the most important rule in our culture is “the busiest person wins.” Our society calls us valuable when we accomplish something in every single moment of every day.

This makes us think we need to do the same thing in our family to be a successful mom. We need to involve our kids in sports and music. Art and public speaking. We need to go to the library. Bring them to every children’s museum. We need to never stop.

We think our kids need to become the best soccer player, the smartest student. They need to practice 5 days a week and spend hours doing homework. Our culture glorifies putting all these other things first. Putting anything but our family first.

But I say we need to stop.

We need to stop letting ourselves get sucked in to over-activity. To stop putting the world’s standards above our own. We need to stop putting everything else first. We need to simplify our lives. And we need to put our family first.

It’s time to let go of the world and live for your family. Become a better Momster with me. Follow these 8 steps to stop getting sucked in to “everything else” and learn how to simplify your life to put your family first.

How to Simplify and Put Your Family First

1.Say “yes” to things that energize you and your family

  • Spend time together as a family. Whether it’s a relaxing day at home or a fun day trip, spend time together. Plan time just for your family. Do activities that let you grow closer. Spend quality time together to talk and work on your relationships.
  • Go on dates with your kids, not just your spouse. My kids love special time with me, when my attention is completely on them. I can feel the tension when we go too long without a date. Special dates don’t have to be crazy. My son loves to pack a few dinosaurs in his backpack and share a donut at the coffee shop. My daughter loves to go to Goodwill and pick out cheap knick knacks. Spend special time with each kid, to make them feel special and loved.
  • Rest without guilt. You need to be energized to be able to take care of your family. Or to function at all! Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap or asking for help. Taking a few minutes for yourself can help you be a better mom.

2. Take care of yourself

  • Respect yourself. As a mom, sometimes we forget we have needs as members of our families. I catch myself scraping leftover bits of scrambled eggs off my son’s plate for my breakfast. But I can make myself a real breakfast. I need real food to have the energy to make it through the day. As a mom, you still need food, water, and bathroom breaks.
  • Take time for your marriage. Your relationship with your spouse forms the climate that shapes your kids’ development. A frozen tundra of icy stares and the silent treatment isn’t a fruitful environment. It’s barren. It prevents growth. A healthy relationship between you and your spouse will help your kids grow. Care for your relationship, even if you feel guilty that it’s taking time away from your kids. Because it’s not. They need it.
  • Trust your own judgement. You know your family better than your nosy neighbor does. You know what’s best for your family. Don’t let other peoples’ opinions shape your actions. Do what you need to do for your family, even when other people look down on you for it.

3. Be purposeful about your schedule

  • Prioritize family time. If your schedule tends to squeeze out family time, pencil it in. Treat it like any other commitment. It needs to be done.
  • Evaluate your activities. Look at each activity on your schedule. Does it make your family happier? If not, get rid of it. We had a family day trip planned, with snit fits galore before we even walked out the door. The baby screamed for an hour in the car and the other kids missed their naps. The trip was a flop, and we were all exhausted and snippy. The trip did more harm than good. We ignored our instincts to cancel and suffered through it because we thought we should. Take a deep look at each activity you do, even the “fun” ones. Make sure they’re helping, not hurting.
  • Take it slow. When you feel overwhelmed, do something small. When you accomplish something, even something tiny like putting on makeup, it can give you satisfaction and take away the overwhelmed feeling. It will help you think more clearly (instead of freaking out) and evaluate what you want to tackle and what you want to ignore.

4. Let your kids be kids

  • Let go of your high expectations. It’s more important for your 4-year-old to play pretend than to be able to read at a third grade level. Don’t force her to spend hours on schoolwork so you can “win” at parenting by having the smartest kid.
  • Don’t live through your kids. Let your kids have their own opinions. Their own likes and dislikes. If your son doesn’t like soccer, don’t make him practice four days a week. Of course there will be some things your kids don’t enjoy but need to do. But there are also plenty of activities that shouldn’t be forced. Especially things that are supposed to be fun.
  • Let your kids get bored. Make sure your kids have time to relax and use their imaginations. Simple things are good. Like throwing rocks and hitting things with sticks. Make sure your kids have time to do it. It’s more important than binge-visiting every museum in the state. Don’t get me wrong, we love children’s museums. But keep time for the kids to entertain themselves. You don’t have to be their constant mode of entertainment. They need down time to grow.

5. Say “no” to things that drain you

  • Say “no” to peer pressure. There are always things other people want you to do. Go to birthday parties, visit 5 different families on Christmas, organize a fundraiser. Use your own judgement and say no to the things that drain you. Never do something because someone else thinks you should, when you know it complicates your family life.
  • Be a quitter. Every moment is precious. Give new activities a trial period. If they don’t add anything to your life, stop doing them. Quit and be proud of it. There’s no need to waste time doing something that serves no purpose or is even harming your family life.
  • Remember service starts at home. Serving people outside the home is a wonderful thing to do. It can teach our kids valuable lessons and can be very rewarding. But it’s not wonderful when it takes away from your family. You serve others by serving your family first. They’re the most important “others” to take care of.

6. Don’t burn yourself out

  • Don’t be a perfectionist. You have a to-do list full of laundry and dishes and dinner and cleaning the bathroom. But you can’t do them all in one day. It’s better to leave the laundry for tomorrow or eat dinner from the freezer. You can’t do it all. And that’s ok.
  • Your kids are your most important job. You’re not a maid, a chef, scheduler, or handyman. You’re a mom. The other things are extras. Don’t put them first.
  • Don’t try to win the race. Your mom friend might help out at the soup kitchen once a week, bring her kids to drama practice, take yoga classes, run marathons, and show off trophies from her kids’ spelling bees. You don’t see her home life. Probably because she doesn’t have one. All the activity could be killing her family’s closeness. Don’t try to copy her or race her. Slow down and enjoy the view instead.

7. Don’t let life take over.

  • Keep an eye on your daily schedule. How have you been? “Busy.” Always busy. Every moment of every day is full of something. Be intentional about scheduling rest and down time. Otherwise a million little “busy” things will creep in and take all your time away.
  • Plan ahead. Meal plan before grocery shopping so you don’t have to go back to the store three times to pick up things you forgot. Stop on the bank on the way to get your oil changed. Kill two birds with one stone (not literally). Be efficient doing the chores, the things you need to do, so you have more time to do the things you want to do.
  • Don’t give in to stress. Oh, the stress of being perfect or meeting expectations. Stress and overwhelm paralyze you. Remember what’s really important and focus on it. Look inward at your family when you’re tempted to look around you and keep up with other people.

8. Don’t get sucked in

  • To the craziness of over-activity. The need to “go-go-go” to be good parents. Kids need love and downtime, not constant entertainment.
  • To the “best mom” competition. The expectations piled on you can crush you. Don’t try to be a perfect mom. It’s an impossible goal. Don’t try to be the best mom. Don’t even compare yourself to other moms. You can only see a small slice of their pie. For all you know, the rest is burnt and nasty. Keep your eyes on yourself and your family.
  • To the “awesomest kid” contest. You’re not sponsoring your kids, you’re raising them. Don’t force them to do fifth grade math in second grade, or triple backflips when they hate gymnastics. It’s great when your kids are naturally good at something. But don’t push them to be the best when they want to be a kid.
  • To social media. It wastes your time and makes you feel bad about yourself. Know when you’re in too deep and pull back. Use it for recreation, not as a habit.

Take the Challenge

We have a new resolve and great ideas for how to put our family first. But we need a plan to make it happen.

Let’s make a plan. Join me in a Simplify Challenge! This challenge uses concrete steps and reminders to simplify our lives and put our family first.

Step 1: Prepare and learn.

Print out the materials. Hang the main reminder on the fridge. Hang the small ones around the house, wherever you need reminders most.

Step 2: Start fresh every day

Wake up and prepare to put your family first. Treat each day as a new day, no matter what happened yesterday. Read the printable on the fridge and think of concrete ways to improve today.

Step 3: Pause during the day

Throughout the day, look at your reminders and try to win the small battles. Ignore the world’s call to be the best and think about your family in each little moment.

Step 4: Look back every night

Every night, take a minute to look back at your day. Be thankful for all the good moments! Apologize for mistakes. If you had conflicts with your kids, spend some extra time with them. Give them your full attention. Listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. Read them a book, rub their back. Do something to make them feel a little extra loved.

Step 5: Evaluate yourself weekly

After each week, use the self-evaluation printable to look back on your week. Check off where you excelled and where you fell short. Write your progress to see how far you’ve come and help you grow even more!

I’m super pumped! Click on the preview below and print your materials to start the Simplify Challenge with me! Let’s become better Momsters for our sweet little monsters.

simplify

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8 Easy Ways to Get More Trust in Your Life

Daily steps to learn when and how to trust and become a trustworthy parent.

“Mom, what are you eating?” my 4-year-old daughter chirped as she peeked around the fridge door at the crinkling wrapper in my hands.

“Uhhh… um, nothing,” I garbled past the chocolate I knew she could smell with her super-candy-sensor nose. “Go pick a game and I’ll be right over.” Her narrowed eyes darted back to my closed fist before she stepped away to set up her game.

I finished chewing to get rid of the evidence and walked over to play a round of Candy Land. The game pushed the incident out of my mind until I lay in bed that night and stared at the ceiling. Continue reading “8 Easy Ways to Get More Trust in Your Life”

6 Awesome Ways to Rock Your Compliments Like a Boss

The ultimate list of things to avoid when complimenting your kids and what to do instead.

My 4-year-old daughter slipped into the shimmering dress-up gown and twirled. “I’m beautiful! Mom, am I beautiful?” she asked.

“You are so beautiful!” I affirmed, smiling as she danced around the room. She received compliments all day long about how wonderful she looked, and I couldn’t peel the dress off of her when it was time for bed. I didn’t push it.

The next morning was another story. We had a playdate to go to. She needed new clothes.

I pulled out jeggings and a t-shirt, for comfort and ease-of-tumbling. But as soon as my daughter put them on, she panicked. “I can’t wear these, Mom! I’m not beautiful.” Continue reading “6 Awesome Ways to Rock Your Compliments Like a Boss”

Give Your Kids the Most Important Gift: Learning

The ultimate list of toys that will help your kids learn.

He sat on the floor and stared at the shaking truck with glazed eyes. It rumbled and lurched forward for a moment, only to stop and blast out a few shouted phrases and some rock music before taking off again. Flashing lights followed it forward and backward until the timer stopped and the truck halted. It left the room in gaping silence.

He just sat there and waited for it to do something else. His eyes darted away, then back. Away, then back. He leaned forward and pushed the button again. It restarted the cycle and he settled back to watch it again.

He’s not playing.

He is using a toy, but he is not playing. Continue reading “Give Your Kids the Most Important Gift: Learning”

To Teach or Not to Teach? A Difficult Decision

Three questions to ask yourself when deciding if your child is too young to understand.

I sat in the midst of a group of moms who oohed and aahed at the sweet little girl just learning to sit up on her own. She made spit bubbles that dripped down onto the plastic dinosaur toy she played with- but mostly just chewed on.

All of the sudden, my two year old tore into the room, on his own make-believe adventure, and realized the little girl was eating his dinosaur! He ran straight for her, yanked the T-rex out of her little fingers and started to run back into the other room.

My long arms caught up to him before he could make it far, and I took the dinosaur back, telling him to ask for a turn. His loud protests joined the little girl’s and then took over. She had a new toy and was already back to playing happily. And my son was throwing a fit. Continue reading “To Teach or Not to Teach? A Difficult Decision”

Join me on an Amazing Journey to Better Parenting!

How to be a gentle parent for our kids

I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never put my kids to sleep then sat on the bed crying, ashamed and disappointed in myself for losing my temper and being a jerk to my kids. I want to be kind and patient, understanding and forgiving. But every once in a while, the nasty side slips out.

I look at their angelic faces and beat myself up, hoping to do better next time, but not really making a plan. I’m willing to bet you’ve been there too.

Our kids, the people we love most in the world, can be on the receiving end of our most emotional outbursts. We can make all the resolutions we want to become a better parent, but without a plan, it’s just not gonna happen. Continue reading “Join me on an Amazing Journey to Better Parenting!”

10 Things You’ll Miss the Most (Before and After Kids)

I sat on the toilet, nursing my five month old, while my two year old was trying to help me wipe and the four year old shouted to me from the other room. And I thought to myself, “I kinda miss being able to go to the bathroom alone.” I started to realize that there are a lot of small things I didn’t appreciate before I had kids. Little, everyday things I gave up to be mom (which is the best thing ever, BTW).

I don’t regret it for a second, and I love my kids more than anything! But certain sacrifices do come with parenting. This is a list of the small things I wish I took a moment to be thankful for every time I got to experience them, instead of taking them for granted like I did, until they were gone. Continue reading “10 Things You’ll Miss the Most (Before and After Kids)”

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

When one of my kids starts to make a habit of a behavior that’s not-so-great, I start to be a real drama queen in my head. I place all the blame on him and wonder why he can’t just do what I want him to do. Why doesn’t he understand (or care about) the consequences I have in place?

Then I realize, he does understand the consequences I have in place, which is exactly why this behavior keeps happening. I may not realize it, but sometimes my behaviors actually cause his undesirable ones to increase when I really want them to decrease. Sometimes it’s not his fault. Sometimes it’s mine. Continue reading “It’s Not You, It’s Me.”

Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

Not to toot my own horn, but I really love this Pre-K/K curriculum I made. I was trying to find a curriculum to use for my kids and a few friends’ kids, but I couldn’t find one that measured up to my standards, so I made one! And I absolutely love it!

And then I found someone who, I think, loves it even more than I do. So I decided to use this fantastic review she wrote me to help show you how my curriculum is different from all the others, and why I think you’ll love it too! Continue reading “Homeschooling: You Can Do It!”