Inspiration

You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

It’s 11:00pm. 

You know you should be sleeping.

But sleep seems impossible. Every time you shut your eyes, your mind flashes a reel of your latest shortcomings.

You see the moment earlier today when your patience collapsed and you screamed at your kids. You see their little eyes grow wide at your unfettered anger and frustration.

Or perhaps it’s when you caved and made them boxed mac & cheese for dinner—for the third time this week.

Or when you missed your child’s first jump off the diving board because you were too distracted by your phone. Now you’re haunted by their tears when they asked, “Mommy, did you see me?!”

Maybe it’s even bigger than that.

Maybe it’s the day when your daughter was finally diagnosed with a special need. You wonder how you could have missed it—and how much pain could have been spared if you hadn’t. 

Or the day you maxed out your credit card right before your son’s birthday.

Or the day you were so depressed you struggled to get out of bed, let alone be a parent.

You close your eyes and there it is. You can’t forget it. You can’t block it out. You feel like the lowest of the low as you wonder: More →

40+ Quick & Simple Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

40+ Quick & Simple Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

Inside: A list of 40+ easy ways to brighten your child’s day today.

Before I had children, I felt very confused whenever I’d encounter a grouchy kid.

What’s there to be grumpy about? I’d wonder. Childhood seems like all roses and butterflies to me!

That mindset (along with everything else!) changed dramatically upon becoming a parent myself. Now I’m better able to see things from the perspective of a little one. Yes, there are many roses and butterflies, but there are also big challenges too:

Like the fact that the entire world is brand new, which is both exciting and terrifying.

Or that their bodies and brains are constantly learning, developing, growing, and changing. That’s hard work!

Not to mention their parents keep imposing silly rules like no ice cream for breakfast, the logic of which they can’t quite grasp yet. But Mom, it’s so yummy!

Being a kid is not always easy, so it’s natural and expected for them to feel down in the dumps sometimes. But there are lots of ways we can offer our kids a fun pick-me-up, and they don’t require a ton of time, energy, or money. More →

A Letter to My Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

A Letter to My Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

INSIDE: A mom’s heartfelt letter to her firstborn child on the first day of kindergarten.

A Letter to my Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

Dear son, on your first day of kindergarten,

Everyone keeps telling you how much you’ll love school. This is very true.

Everyone keeps injecting you with mini boosts of confidence. This is very good.

But as I listen to each well-intentioned person try to drive out any fear, it’s occurred to me you might also need to hear this: It’s okay if you’re scared.

Because here’s the honest truth: Mommy is scared too.

Of what, you’re wondering? More →

The 5-Minute Exercise That Will Transform How You Respond to Your Struggling Child

The 5-Minute Exercise That Will Transform How You Respond to Your Struggling Child

My 5-year-old is standing at the edge of the indoor swimming pool.

Well, not exactly standing. More like quivering and shaking and crying hysterically.

His swim teacher has just announced cheerily that it’s time for jumps, and my son is freaking out. Mouth open with screams. Goggle-clad eyeballs scrunched up in pain. Whole body convulsing. He is so scared, a tiger might as well be charging right at him. 

For him, there is simply nothing more terrifying than jumping in a pool. 

His teacher is trying valiantly to reason with him, but he’s having none of it. From the bench at the other side of the pool, I wring my hands with my own pain, my mama pain. I want this terrible moment to be over. I want him to just hurry up and jump in the pool already. I am frustrated and embarrassed and also heartbroken. 

As I watch him, my mind suddenly flashes back to 5th grade and the first time I rode a roller coaster.

I was (and still am) no fan of heights or speed or free falls. To me, roller coasters were (and still are) devices of torture rather than exhilaration. The only reason I agreed to go on one was because my best friend was urging me to, and I wanted to look cool in front of her. So with buckling knees and a panicking nervous system, I stepped onto the wooden coaster at Hershey Park. 

It was as miserable as I expected it to be. 

The flashback is so vivid it makes my entire body tense up. My heart rate increases, my palms grow sweaty. I might not be screaming and convulsing on the outside, like my son is, but I certainly am on the inside. It’s misery all over again. 

The flashback is useful, though, because I instantly stop feeling frustrated with my son—who is now holding up the entire swimming class with his terror. I don’t even care. Because now I get it. More →

36 [Non-Overused] Ways to Say I Love You to Your Kids

36 [Non-Overused] Ways to Say I Love You to Your Kids

Parenting a newborn is tough, what with the constant feedings, night wakings, and the total cluelessness the first time around (for some of us, anyway). 

There’s also the fact that caring for a tiny infant comes without concrete rewards: they can’t say thank you or play with you, and they only smile when they’re passing gas in their sleep!

But then, a few weeks or months down the road, the rewards start flooding in.

Coos.

Smiles.

Giggles.

“Mama.”

“Dada.”

And then there’s the really big one: The first time you say “I love you” to your little one and they immediately reply, “I love you too.”

More →

It’s Time to End Distracted Driving #ItCanWait

It’s Time to End Distracted Driving #ItCanWait

This is a sponsored blog post. I was compensated by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tips to End Distracted Driving

We were at the end of our street, about to pull out onto the main road, when it hit me.

WE ARE ALMOST OUT OF MILK.

My mind raced.

We only have enough for one more sippy cup’s worth. 

Milk is my toddler’s main source of nutrition, since she’s going through a “no bread, no protein, no vegetables” phase. 

How on EARTH had I forgotten to get milk at the grocery store yesterday???

Moms everywhere know this pattern: We keep track of so many lists and schedules and to-dos that vital information flies into our brains at random times—and often leaves as quickly as it came.

So I unconsciously and reflexively did what I always do when such information lands in my noggin: I wrote it down.

On my grocery list. 

Which I keep on my smartphone.

Truthfully, I didn’t think twice about what I was doing until, in a surprisingly firm voice for a 5-year-old, I heard…

“Pay attention when you’re driving, Mommy.”

GUT PUNCH.

I’ve made the argument before that little ears are always listening. This was my reminder that little eyes are always watching too—often from the backseat.  More →

What To Do When Positive Parenting Is Too Exhausting

What To Do When Positive Parenting Is Too Exhausting

“I don’t want a bagel for breakfast,” my five-year-old stated.

“Sorry, but that’s all we have time for this morning,” I called over my shoulder as I stood at the counter, spreading the cream cheese.

“NOOOOOO!!! I will NOT eat that bagel! I will not eat anything except a pancake!”

I spun around sharply. “Now you listen to me. If you whine one more time…”

I cringed as I said it but felt powerless to stop myself. 

My preschooler had spent the last three days griping and moaning over every small disappointment. With each new complaint he made, my patience dwindled and my voice escalated.

I was on the verge of losing it, and I knew it. More →

16 Sanity-Saving Tips for Celebrating Christmas With Little Kids

16 Sanity-Saving Tips for Celebrating Christmas With Little Kids

Last year, on the night of December 25, I put my kids to bed and collapsed on the couch. 

All I could think was, WHEW. It’s over. Thank goodness.

I remember feeling quite the opposite when I was a child. The end of the much-anticipated holiday was a major letdown; I couldn’t believe I had to wait 365 days to experience it all again. 

What happened to me, I wondered, that the end of the Christmas season now sparks relief rather than disappointment?

Oh, that’s right, I became a parent.

It’s true that having little kids makes the holidays more complicated—and sometimes more frustrating and stressful too. But small children are also amazing reminders of the magic, joy, and wonder of Christmas.

So this year I’m taking a different approach to make sure my family actually gets to enjoy all that magic and joy and wonder. I’m starting with these 16 serious sanity-savers. More →

How Ruining My Kid’s Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

How Ruining My Kid’s Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

It all started innocently enough. My 5-year-old said he wanted to make hearts for his grandparents for Grandparents Day, and wouldn’t it be cool if they could be all glittery???

Most days I’d be hesitant about that idea, but for some reason that day I immediately exclaimed, “Sure, let’s get out all the glitter!” 

My first mistake, perhaps? 

How Ruining My Kid's Artwork Made Me a Better Parent

Making the art

So we cut out the hearts, retrieved some bottles of glue, and lined up eight different vials of glitter. My son got to work drawing various designs on the hearts with marker—shapes and spirals and even a bird for his Gigi’s heart—which we then accented with lines of glitter.

My son is to the point where he can pour the glitter carefully, without turning the whole kitchen into a sparkly princess castle, but I sat by and assisted him anyway just in case. I had a long list of to-dos and mopping fairy dust off my table wasn’t about to be one of them.

The project was going well for awhile. But then, the clock began to tick. More →

30 Ways to Make This Autumn Unforgettable [Free Printable]

30 Ways to Make This Autumn Unforgettable [Free Printable]

Last week, after I vocally mourned the end of summer for the fifty-seventh time, my son chimed in that he actually loves fall and is really excited that it’s finally here.

“We get to jump in the leaves at Nana’s house!” he cheered. “And pick out our Halloween costumes! And go to the fair!”

Leave it to our kids to find the silver linings, right? Gotta love those little optimists!

So before I complain again that the lazy days of summer have come to a close, I’m going to check myself and remember all the fun that autumn brings.

30 Ways to Make Autumn Unforgettable

To help, I’m printing out this adorable calendar with 30 Days of Fall Activities. More →

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing Suit

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing Suit

Dear son,

Can we talk about that pink bathing suit you wore all summer long? 

You see, you’re five years old now, which means you’re honing in on your unique likes and dislikes. We’ve started letting you choose your own clothes to make space for your self expression to flourish.

This summer you chose a pink bathing suit.

Dear Son, About That Pink Bathing SuitPink rash guard. 

Pink swim trunks.

Head to toe pink.

I wasn’t surprised when you picked it out. Like many kids, your favorite color has been variable, sometimes week to week, sometimes minute to minute. But the one color you’ve consistently loved since toddlerhood? PINK.

Not coral.

Not salmon.

PINK. More →

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

Because I’m a creature of habit, I got up at 6am every morning on our recent vacation to go for a walk.

What can I say, I’m a morning person

After the first day, however, my walks morphed into something much more than thirty minutes of exercise. They became focused, targeted, voracious hunts for…seashells.

You see, we were vacationing at the beach, and on the very first day my 4-year-old developed an intense obsession with collecting seashells. He’s always been one to go all in, and this was no exception.

Do you want to build a sandcastle? Nah.

Swim in the ocean? No thanks.

Look for seashells? LET’S GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO!

His enthusiasm was contagious. On my early morning strolls I couldn’t stop myself from searching for a few to take back to the beach house for him. I splashed through the lapping waves and grabbed shells out of the surf—tossing the broken ones back as I sought out a coveted “keeper.” 

I found some impressive ones. Or so I thought.

The Life-Changing Parenting Lesson I Learned From a Bucket of Seashells

When I brought these two back for him, I expected oooooohhhhs and ahhhhhhhhhs. I expected eyes widened with excitement, a smile broad with gratitude. 

Instead, I got a shrug. A measly shrug.  More →