1. Holidays: We celebrate most holidays as our tiny family unit of the husband, myself, the kiddos and our pets. And being in a blended family, sometimes we are even down one kid and our tiny family gets even tinier. The holidays are our favorite time of year, but they are also a constant reminder that our extended family is far away. I miss having huge Thanksgiving dinners at the long dining room table at my grandparents, stuffed end to end with laughter, food and memories. Opening presents at home on Christmas morning and then continuing on to celebrate with family later in the day was always a highlight. Even simple things, like Easter egg hunts, fireworks or parades are joyful memories from my childhood that I wish my children got to experience with their grandparents like I did.
2. Kids grow fast: I blinked and my niece is 5 years old. Seriously. I barely know who she is. This makes me sad. I also watch my own boys growing so rapidly, changing daily it seems and just know my parents will be shocked the next time they see them. I also know they’ll feel like they missed out. Life moves so quickly. I have great respect for our military service men and women who go on deployments. It must be excruciating to miss parts of your children’s youth and I’m so grateful they willingly sacrifice such an important part of themselves to protect our country.
3. No direct support system: Having twins…well, this blog isn’t called Chaos & Kiddos for nothing. Twins are more work, more tears, more exhaustion, more everything than I could have ever imagined. We’re surviving it, and of course, while we wouldn’t trade our lives for the world, there are moments of utter darkness and overwhelming fear. Those moments when just having family available to be there would be a relief and the energy spark to dig back in and keep on going. Sure, we pick up the phone, but it isn’t the same as the grandma who comes over every week, helps with the kids, does laundry, gives you a date night, gives you a hug and tells you that you’re a great parent. I wish we had those.
4. Child care: See #3. Over 50% of my salary goes to day care and babysitters. As a growing family of five, that money isn’t just hanging out there on trees for the plucking. We work hard to provide for our family and making ends meet is harder some months than others. Having family available to babysit on a whim, and actually asking to babysit, WOW! That would be amazing. The boys are getting older, so babysitters are easier now, but when they were little, we couldn’t just leave them with “any” babysitter. Their care was so overwhelming, we had 1 person who really could handle it solo. My mom got to do full time care for my niece when she was little and my sister was at work and I admit, I’m a bit jealous.
5. Visits are short and expensive: We’d love to have an endless supply of money and vacation time, but it just isn’t so. And with twins, flying not only gives me nightmares, but it’s also out of the budget. Likewise, a lot of our family have children and our parents are on tight budgets, so flying (and even driving) to visit us isn’t easy either. We live in a tourist area, so hotel prices can be a punch to the gut and our small home just can’t support extra people. We end up really seeing family once in a blue moon for very short lengths.
6. Emergency backup: When things go the kind of wrong that you never hope for and an emergency befalls, it can be incredibly difficult to not have family close that can come to your immediate aid. Likewise, it can be hard to hear about challenging situations back home with my family that I simply can’t help with because I’m so far away. You can feel pretty helpless in these moments when the people you really need close are just not able to be there.
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.