Category: family

My Homemaker Bête Noire

Oh man, you guys. I need some help.

Since we’re among friends, I will freely admit that I have lots of shortcomings in the homemaker area. As in, I really don’t excel at it. I hate cleaning, I organize people and schedules better than clothes and dishes and laundry, and I can’t decorate a home to save my life. I see Pinterest boards of beautiful homes and rooms (here’s my dream board) and wonder how people come up with these ideas.

I want this to be my living room:

Pinned from Four Generations, One Roof

In reality, I have this – the laundry couch and the “what, you want to actually SIT here?” couch:

The Laundry Couch
The Laundry Couch
Wait, you want to SIT here?
Wait, you want to SIT here?

I’d love for the kids’ playroom to be this:

clean playroom that is not at my house
Pinned from Houzz.com

But right now we have this:

When children run amok
When children run amok
At least the window blows out some of the messy detail
At least the window blows out some of the messy detail

I’ve tried and failed at various organizational methods, so now I’m going to try again. Because like I said, no change means you stay in the situation you’re already in.

Fact: Five people live in this house. There will always be laundry.
Fiction: Laundry has to immediately be put away, wrinkle-free, and on color-coordinated hangers.
Deal with it, Erin: put the laundry away so people have a place to sit.

Fact: Children are messy and not naturally inclined to organize their toys.
Fiction: Children cannot be taught to clean up their messes.
Deal with it, Erin: Someone has to teach them and build cleaning up into their daily schedules. And they’re learning by watching, so you better clean up along with them.

Fact: Most of my days are spent away from home.
Fiction: I get a pass on cleaning when I am home, because I’m tired.
Deal with it, Erin: It’s not fair to hope someone else will magically take care of all the messes. It’s also not fair to get all crazy and upset every few weeks because you’ve let the messes spawn.

Ugh.

I have some other ideas of things I could do with organization systems, but right now it’s boiling down to this:

  1. Get rid of some crap and junk in the playroom. Okay, around the house in general. Look into toy rotation, too.
  2. Spend at least 10 minutes a day cleaning up, with a little more on the weekend.
  3. Get one storage tote for each child (maybe even the grown-ups) and label it “Next.” Next season, next size, whatever makes sense for the person. Then put all the other ones away.

How do you tame the household chaos you can’t stand?

Not as easy as they say.

One statement I’ve heard a lot about running:

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“It’s the easiest sport ever! You just put on some running shoes and go outside!”

Totally correct! Except when it’s not. I think it’s a gross over-simplification that breaks down pretty quickly for many people. For me, that could have been correct when I was under 30, single, or newly married.

These days – with three children (toddler up to now first-grader), an awesome husband, and a full-time job away from home – it’s more like this:

20140606-103204-37924347.jpgIs it worth it? Absolutely. Is it easy? No way, and I’m not even talking about the running part of running.

I love reading running blogs, but need to go beyond my usual reads. They’re great women, but they’re mostly child-free and younger than me. I am serious when I say that I love reading their posts and have learned a lot from them. I need to find some peers to round out my reading, you know? I start putting unrealistic expectations on myself otherwise.

I had a conversation online with some other mom friends who are working fitness into their lives in various ways. It is HARD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom who stays and works at home or if you’re a mom who’s working outside the home. Filling at least three roles (individual, partner, and mother) takes a lot of time and energy. Adding a fourth role – RUNNER – brings in a whole new dimension of strategy.

I run in the early morning or in a gym at the end of the work day. For the early morning, I run outside in our neighborhood. I have had to think through the things that would make me feel safer … reflective gear, light-colored clothing, lower music volume, CONSTANT VIGILANCE (thank you, Professor Moody), sticking to well-lit sidewalks, and timing my run so that I’m running more toward sunrise than not. I totally bailed on running when DST started because it was just too dark. Also never pictured in my post-run photos: the pepper spray I try to remember to carry every time. Not just for humans, but for any dogs whose owners aren’t being smart about them. I’m also thinking about buying a reflective vest type thing to wear when I run early morning. Early mornings work for me because kids are asleep, my husband can shower and start to get ready, and it’s the coolest part of the day here. I hate getting up, but that’s the trade-off I have to make.

I think that’s the big conversation you have to have with your partner and yourself: trade-offs. If we both agree this is something important to do for my mental and physical health, we both have to agree to make space for it somehow and address associated concerns. If the concern is being left alone at a certain time with the kids, what are the alternative plans that don’t result in that and what steps do we take to mitigate additional concerns? If the concern is safety of running location or time, what are the adjustments to be made to meet those concerns? Which primary concern “wins” for both of you so that you agree to make the adjustments for the secondary concern?

Adding in the Runner role requires change. It is NOT the easiest sport ever for me. It requires flexibility from everyone. There is no absolutely perfect solution that requires no change, because no change keeps you in the situation you’re already in. Something always has to give – time, routine, or money for a gym with childcare so mommy can exercise and not lose her head.

The pay-off has been totally worth it. My daughter plays “runner” now, in the middle of being a princess-astronaut-doctor-mom. She went to go have her run “in space” after putting her babies in bed. My oldest son wants to start running with me every week. My toddler already loves the jogging stroller. I don’t want to smack strangers as often as I used to. It’s awesome … it’s just not easy.

Move it, Move it!

Google Photos has a new (to me) feature that will auto-enhance some of the pictures you upload if the software detects certain characteristics. One of the enhancements is animated GIFs … these are some of the ones that completely cracked me up!

At the pumpkin patch with Joodles.
DSC_0236-MOTION (1)

Hello?
DSC_0420-MOTION (1)
Christmas Eve pictures always go well, don’t they?

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As do family pictures!

DSC_8646-MOTION (1) Uncle Caleb with all the cousins – I think we can use this for a “Marry my brother-in-law” picture!DSC_8655-MOTION (1)Doctor Fairy Princess Mommy Nora
IMG_3673-MOTION

 

The girl’s personality clearly lends itself to animated GIFs!
Western Nora Style 4-MOTION

Moms Unite – Have a Gray Run

It’s pretty obvious, if you spend any length of time around me in person or virtually, that I’m a Mom. Kids are important to me – my kids, the welfare of my friends’ children, the welfare of kids I don’t know. I feel like my community of moms has been one of the best supports I’ve ever had. We have wisdom, tears, laughter, shared frustration … everything you need to make it through the job and joy of shepherding the little creatures we love.

I feel the same about the running community. Just like with moms around the world, people can get all judgey about “not doing it right” (whatever), but for the most part runners look after each other. They mentor, they laugh, they train, they sweat, they go through hardship for each other and urge each other on to WIN — whatever WINNING means for that particular runner.

This is Gray.

Minion Gray
Minion Gray

Gray is not my son. His mom Courtney is a family friend, but we’ve never met in person. She’s a runner, and Gray is a fighter. In December, when Gray was three months old, he was diagnosed with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome. You can read more about Gray’s story here, but I’ll sum up by saying that this is a life-threatening condition that won’t go away. The treatment for Gray is removal of the malfunctioning kidneys and eventual kidney transplant. This tiny boy had both kidneys removed in January, and is now growing stronger so he can have a kidney transplant when he’s around 22 pounds (probably when he’s 2).

His mom is a fighter too, and she’s a runner. She’s a mom of three boys, and she’s dedicated to keeping all of her family in a good, healthy place as they go on this journey together. And as I mentioned, moms and runners know how to support each other in the face of challenges, right?

So here’s what we’re doing: I’m organizing a virtual race weekend for Gray called Have a Gray Run. The weekend of May 16 – 18, we’re going to run, walk, bike, stroll, elliptical 5Ks and 10Ks across the world to show support for Gray. There will be prizes, there are t-shirts you can order, and there will be (I hope) a flood of pictures and Facebook posts to show Gray and his mom (and his whole family!) how much love and support they have.

shirtFront womenfront

Join us! Read about registration here, or let me know if you have a question!

 

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