True Friends Can Stand A Messy House

This morning we had a beautiful spontaneous visit from a good friend as she was running errands with her daughters. After a quick text, and bringing the dog down the stairs I had no time to even think about cleaning up.

The cool thing was, I didn’t actually even THINK about cleaning up. Why would I? I knew that this friend would not care, nor judge me for the state of my house, or ME for that matter. The house this morning was actually not half bad. But there I was in the clothes I slept in, my face not washed for the past 2 days and my hair looking like limp spaghetti (and there may have even been spaghetti in it!)

We had a great quick catch up, the girls played together and they were on to the next thing. How freeing it is to have friends like that in your life. The ones you don’t have to put on make up for, or even a bra haha. The ones that not only do not judge you for your messy house but help nurture it by coming over and adding to the disarray with love and play.

These are the friends that my husband and I enjoy cultivating and look forward to enjoying more of this coming year.

When Your Job is Being Happy

We started #redefiningFUNproject because of the societal overwhelm that tells us that unless it is “productive” it is not worth it. Especially at times of transition, change and therefore stress, FUN, or what makes us HAPPY, is vitally important AND the most challenging.

We are learning how to walk again, in our new normal. There is no headspace for anything else, yet we need a break from the overhaul of learning, growing, being stretched. We need fun.

For those of us who are struggling to just survive, waking up and facing a day that has glimmers of FUN and happiness IS ENOUGH. Is it hard to let go of, this idea that you need to do more, be more, and want more? Absolutely. I tell my husband it is like there is the most powerful magnet in the world that compels me to think that THIS is NOT ENOUGH. That treating being happy today as a job is not good enough.

But why isn’t it? If you are struggling, just surviving, and suffering, then can’t being happy be your assigned job today, and the next day and the next, until you have learned how to walk your new normal walk without working so hard at it?

Nothing lasts forever, and neither does the need to WORK at being HAPPY. But if you are feeling like you need to WORK at it, then give yourself permission for today and all of the days you need to, to do this. Join us by looking for, recognizing and sharing your new definition of FUN.

5 Realities of Housework

There is a small percentage of parents who enjoy housework. 

I am not one of them. Except that is, when I am feeling insecure, vulnerable, anxious, or hormonal, and then I OBSESS and MICROMANAGE housework. Instead of facing whatever is really bothering me I zero in on how WRONG the house is, and its cleanliness. I then proceed to yell at everyone to do MORE cleaning and exclaim, "WHY IS IT SO F-ing DRITY AROUND HERE?"

In light of No Housework Day coming up April 7th here are my favorite reminders about the realities of housework.

1. As long as you are living it will never end. So live and love your lived in home. This can be especially difficult when your spouse takes a week of vacation off of work, and now the dishes, laundry and dirt seem to pile up at triple speed. That is what take out is for. Live a little. Use paper plates that week. If it is your sanity or a bit extra trash, although I am all for the environment I am also for sanity. Pick sanity. 

2. Your friend's house was just as messy as yours is, but they cleaned it all 15 minutes before you arrived. We all do this. The countertops are never that uncluttered. All of those papers and odd ball items are shoved somewhere in a box under the bed or a drawer that is about to bust open. The floors are never that shiny they just sprayed and walked around in their socks to buff it up. The bathrooms never smell that nice, recall if you can smell bleach then it touched the surfaces of toilet and sinks less than a few hours ago. Accept it. Move on. Be a good friend and tell your pals, "Please don't clean. Really, it will make me feel like less of a domestic failure if you keep it just the way it is."  

3. Want less laundry, wear your clothes more days in a row. We all do the sniff test. You pick up a piece of clothing and smell it before putting it on. To me this is the only qualifier for wearing it. A stain is even excusable, "Oh gosh how embarrassing my kid must have spilled something on me." Seriously as a parent we are past the days of washing our clothes after every use. Plus like washing your hair, I hear that washing your clothes that often can be damaging.

4. Stop keeping shit you aren't using. One of the biggest barriers to me in getting rid of stuff was this idea that "It is wasteful to just throw it out, SOMEONE could use this ancient cutting board because it is still functional". There comes a point you have to choose, clutter or living space. Are you making room for new energy or is your junk bogging you down? Purple heart will let you schedule a pick up online and let us declutter our closets which was wonderful for a busy family. Give yourself a deadline of when things need to be donated/picked up/given away and then trash whatever you have left. 

5. ASK FOR HELP! You may be the one in your relationship who always does the housework. It just may be your strength. Or if you are a single parent then you feel you have to be the one to do it because your drooling toddler won't. If housework is the bane of your existence then instead of getting in a bad mood because of its ever daunting task, ask for help. Assert yourself and just ask your spouse, a friend, or hire someone to do something for you.... and be specific. When I ask my husband to do a chore, I have to ask him to do it right then and there, otherwise it won't get done. I might say, "I could use your help, do you have a minute? Can you take out the trash, recycling and refill the dog bowls? Thanks so much that lets me focus on (keeping our children and you alive!) making dinner." Be humble and ask for help. I once succumbed to asking my friend to come clean our bathrooms because we were so deep in the early days of parenthood it was gross. She did and it was the most memorable gesture of anyone's friendship from that time in our lives. Give people the gift of allowing them to help you.

Imperfect Children

Something that strikes me over and over again in every single casual conversation with friends of mine who are parents is the immense GUILT that we all carry around for our shortcomings. For those times when we lose our cool and think we have permanently damaged our children forever. In contrast, I believe it is these times that create the opportunity for our children to become better.

As parents we put such unrealistic expectations on OURSELVES. Am I right?

A recent true conversations with one my most trusted friends taught me that it is not the ability to be a perfect parent who never loses their cool that will create a strong, healthy, self loving child who turns into a strong, healthy, self valuing adult. It is the ability to demonstrate to them what to do WHEN we screw up. Let’s face it, we ALL do, we all WILL. Stop running away from it, it is OK, really.

To show them how to OWN their actions, take responsibility for their faults, and apologize is a much more valuable experience than to never yell at them when you are so at your wits end for whatever reason you think in your mind is inexcusable. It isn’t, be ok with having limits my friend. Even “superparent” over that has limits, he or she just hasn’t had the courage yet to talk about them.

In fact if we do not ever fail or show our imperfections as parents in front of our children, we are doing them quite a disservice. We are dissolving them of the experience to learn that it is OK to be imperfect, especially as a parent, and that there is a proper and productive way to react when we have behaved in a less than perfect way.

I left my friend for the evening saying this. “Truly, she (her daughter) is going to make mistakes and make the less perfect decisions in her life. It is a SKILL and a valuable thing to have showed her exactly how to move about life in the midst of that human quality.”

So how have you shown others your imperfections and owned them? Are you demonstrating in your own life that it is ok to be imperfect by allowing yourself to be?

Waking Up for My Marriage

Welcome to a life transition. There are many events or personal landmarks that cause us to have to change what had worked to what will work now. Perhaps you are going through one now yourself.

My husband and I welcomed into our family our son and second child, about two months ago. I would like to say we established our new normal quite quickly. This time the task of flowing with the unpredictability and the intense increase in demand of our time, attention and resources was not nearly as overwhelming as it felt when we brought home our first child. However, just because we were prepared for how we would share the responsibilities of the additional diaper changes, feedings, facilitating the continued growth of our 2 year old daughter, and manage to feed and shower ourselves regularly, we had not yet figured out how our system for staying connected to each other would change.

60 days had flown by and we had yet to be out on a date, and recently our ability to even have one meaningful conversation in a week was scarce. The hour of time between the kids falling asleep and us falling asleep that had worked last month was no longer available to us, but was needed to help our daughter fall asleep as she transitioned to being a big sister and meet her needs during her own developmental growth spurt.

So here we were, life transition, change required. I had read in almost every book about success that waking up at 5am would benefit your business because it would be undivided time to set your intentions, exercise, read, and start your day off right. It was a coincidence really that our son’s sleep schedule would remind me of this as he woke up always between 5am and 5:30am. My husband would get up, feed him, change him and put him back to sleep, then proceed to get himself ready for his work day, while I sat and pumped the milk for his next feeding, and went back to sleep.

One morning I realized my husband and I could use the 30 minutes before he went to work to connect. It may not seem like a lot; 30 minutes. But the adage, it is quality not quantity has always kept us together. So during this 45 minutes we actually get to make eye contact and hear each other without “mommy!” “wahhhh!” “did you… where’s the… can you… what are you doing?!” blaring in our other ear.

Waking up to be with my husband at 5am will become part of our new normal. Our morning breakfast together will not only nourish our bodies and minds, but the uninterrupted conversation to start our days will nourish our marriage. While we need sleep, time for connection with your spouse is right up with there with the need for air, if you’d like the marriage to survive. So here’s to 5am… until our life requires a new strategy… in probably a week.