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Purposeful Parenting

I Don’t Know How You Do It

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I Don't Know How You Do It | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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It all started with a phrase. One I hear at least twice a week. “I don’t know how you do it.”

Truth is, I don’t, really. Most days, I’m hanging on by a thread, with barely enough energy left at the end of the day to make it to the bed, much less put on pajamas. I told my sister the other day “You know that duck that’s swimming gracefully across perfectly still water that looks calm and distinguished and like life is a breeze of perfect awesome, but just below the surface of the water, it’s paddling like an insane madman who is going to spontaneously combust and burn up in flames if it doesn’t paddle faster? Yeah, that’s me.”

I find myself at a particularly interesting point in my life. I’ve hit the 7-year stretch in my marriage, which quite frankly, is almost the longest standing relationship of my entire life (which is saying a lot for an obsessive-compulsive, self-sufficient hermit like me and…also says a lot about the patience and loyalty of my husband). I’m just over 30, so I’ve bid a not-so-gracious farewell to my youthful indiscretions and stupidity (I hope), I’ve got a great career at an awesome company that is just the right fit for me, and my growing years of professional experience have also empowered me to build a successful photography business that has opened doors I never even knew existed, much less imagined I’d be stepping through. Oh wait, I’m also part owner of a photography studio (WHAT?!) which is something I never imagined I’d be able to do and it’s still so new that I’m still pretty shocked at myself for having taken that particular leap. Add to that a 13 year old step-daughter who is the light of my life, but comes with a whole planetary system of blended family fun along with the general insanity that is pre-teen-dom, and oh yeah, 2 year old twin boys who are my little miracles of boundless energy and somehow inherited my strong-willed attitude and obsessive nature…yeah, life’s a hoot right now. When I’m keeping my head above water.

So. “How do I do it?”

Lots of little steps. Tiny flutters and readjustments to my sails that keep the ship on course and deter life from running aground. The simplest of disciplines, routines and marked efforts to reign in the overwhelming sense of chaos that comes when I step back and look at the bigger picture. Focus small, think big. That’s me. Oh, and a whole slew of counseling. Even if it’s just to hear my own voice talk out the thoughts in my head.

So. “What’s this blog thing?”

Off the cuff, it’s another thing on my insanely long to do list of dreams. And in the words of my husband “Really? Because you have so much free time on your hands.” Yes, really. I started this blog because there are a lot of people out there like me. People with families and jobs and aspirations and road blocks and people that are exhausted but still running the race. Staying in the game and trekking along, but wondering what they could be doing differently to slow down the pace, adjust the sails, catch the wind for a bit and ride it out. So here I am. To say, you can do it.

This blog will be a mish mosh of how I “do it all.” The good, the bad and the ugly. The moments when I’m considering paying someone to take my kids much less offering them to the highest bidder. The moments when they melt my heart and I’m dumbfounded that God thinks I am worthy of raising them. It will be a little bit small business, a lot of my parenting, and all the rest organization (because that’s me in a nutshell). All those little pieces of the puzzle that keep me moving. Not because I know it all or because my way is the right way, but because this way seems to be working pretty well for me and maybe something I’ve stumbled across can help someone else get a leg up on the crazy state of their own life. In a way, it will be a cathartic process for me to chronicle life with kids and all else, and a space for me to just talk it out.

It all started with a few shared Pinterest boards and now I’m here. “I don’t know how you do it all.” Well, now you do. 🙂

Katy

PS. If you’d like to take a look at the shared Pinterest boards, there is a parenting inspired one HERE and a small biz tips and tricks one HERE. These boards are collaborative efforts, so I welcome input from all varieties of thought and experience. If you’d like to join in, please let me know. I’m happy to have you! Hopefully, they’ll continue to serve as resource libraries for new seekers and can help us all keep the very best and most useful information close at hand.

PPS. Here’s my fam…the center of the universe. Miss E, 13 going on whatever age these days doesn’t require any parenting by their own admonition of their greatness and knowing of all things. Hubby, J, who is my polar opposite (thank God!) and keeps me sane, and J&B, my little miracle men who are not so little anymore. LOVE.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Suzanna

    August 29, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Well, I, for one, as a full-time working mom with more than a few things on my plate, including my own little blog, am very thankful that you started this blog. Thanks for sharing your ups & downs and your tips on how to “keep it all together,” haha.

    • Katy Blevins

      September 1, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Yay!!!! Love, love, love all my working mamas!

  2. Becka

    August 30, 2014 at 5:12 am

    🙂 I don’t think you realize just how super awesome you are. 🙂 Your a great blogger and I am so so glad you are blogging, my husband doesn’t understand either, he tolerates but doesn’t understand. Your family is beautiful. The way I do it is is fore go sleep because being rested and alert are just so over rated. 🙂

    • Katy Blevins

      September 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

      Awwww, thank you Becka!!!! You are too sweet and you totally made my day. So glad to have met you in the blogosphere!

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my Legal Policies and Terms of Use. The opinions here are entirely my own. 
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child's Cues - Infographic

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.

My system certainly isn’t perfect, and my kids give new meaning to the word tantrum (I have one that goes “no bones, limp baby, immovable and impossible to catch” and one that goes “cement block that weighs a bazillion pounds and can’t be bended, lifted and/or manipulated in any fashion,” with both adding crazy decibel, ear-splitting screams to boot). At some point in the insanity, I learned to anticipate the meltdown.
My husband and I can spot a meltdown coming from a mile away. We’ll give the other that “It’s time to go. Stat. Grab the kids and sprint. NOW. Forget your shoes! Leave them! Run!” look and as the rest of the human race looks on in bewildered dismay, we quickly head for the hills before things get ugly. I think we have our exit down to about 46 seconds these days (58 if I get to grab my shoes).
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve developed a couple of tricks that stave off most meltdowns. IF I’m paying attention. This is where the understanding your child’s cues part comes in to play. You have to catch the cue before it’s too late. “Practice makes perfect” is the phrase of the day here. Or is “trial through fire” more resonant? In any event, here are my go to lifesavers:

1. Mini Baby Blanket with Attachment Loop – Cold is the enemy. Nothing brings on the whine, which brings on the frustration, which brings on the ultimate refusal to act like a normal human being like frigid weather. I was lugging around blankets to tuck the kids in to their car seats (Remember to avoid bulky coats when strapping kiddos in!) and they were getting tossed, dropped, forgotten, you name it. Then I realized my mother-in-law had given us these super cute sensory blankets with a loop that could attach to a stroller and the light bulb went off. I strapped both blankets to the side of each car seat (they are small and hang to the side if unused, so unobtrusive and the loop is short and sweet, so no wrapping around anything else) and they’re always there when I need them. The link above is one of many Etsy shops that make these small wonders, and ours are even sports themed, so the husband is happy.
2. Baby Sign Language – I admit to being one of those people that eye-rolled the idea of baby sign language when I was pregnant. Never gave it a second thought until my kids starting screaming for reasons that I couldn’t seem to identify. A friend suggested I take a jab at it, and purely out of desperation, I did, still with a bit of attitude and skepticism. And then the boys started signing back. HALLELUJAH! We did only the basics – “More, All Done, Hungry, Please, Thank You” – and that opened up whole new worlds for us in communication. Not only were they excited to sign and overjoyed that I knew what the heck was going on, but I was immensely relieved and didn’t feel like Failure Parent of the Century. Big win. I eat my humble pie proudly. I was an idiot to think this was lame.
3. Snacks at the Ready – Baby Cooler – If cold is the enemy, hunger is the Antichrist. I’d say a good 50% of the time, the boys’ tantrums stem from being hungry. We’re usually in transition to our next meal when the tank slips below E. Low fuel = channeling Satan. And the perfect timing for this special little stream of insanity was pick up from day care. The kids were tired and spent and ready for dinner. Like, 5 minutes before I got there. The first words I heard daily were “Mommy! I need my milk! Hungry!” They were whining, crying, going all sorts of Apocalyptic on me because the last thing they wanted was to be strapped into their car seats for the ride home. They wanted to be teleported straight to the dinner table. I got tired of this daily warfare, especially at the end of my own long day at work, so I started packing snacks and milk in this convenient little cooler (which as an aside, a friend gave me with the promise that it would be one of the most handy baby items I received – she was right). It gets stashed in the community kitchen at work and I grab it on my way out the door each evening. Every morning, I repack and head off knowing that I’ve crossed one tantrum off the list for that day. Yay me.Insert random cuteness here…I mean seriously, people, how can these children have meltdowns that rival the End of Days?

Photos Courtesy of Somer Anne Photography

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.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues

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How to Speak the Right Language | Understanding Your Children's Cues
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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.

What was I doing wrong? Who were these little hellions and where were those
sweet kids from day care?
Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues Purposeful Parenting - How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child's Cues

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.” 

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Emily Speaks

11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks

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Alternatives to Self Harm | Emily Speaks | Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy's Survival Guide
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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. 

11 Alternatives to Self-Harm: Emily Speaks


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. 

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