On Balance

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of balance ever sine I was a kid. I would try to walk across just about anything without falling off… including the fence at my grandma’s house. As I’ve gotten older, obviously my idea of balance has expanded tremendously. These days, I spend a lot of time trying to attain that elusive work/life balance thing that so many people talk about. Heck, I’ve even talked about it!

But I’m realizing more and more lately that in order for me to achieve balance, I’m going to have to redefine what it means to me. Because right now, well… balance in my mind means:

I ran the laundry AND put it away.

I went grocery shopping, made a meal plan, AND actually cooked dinner every night.

I made a healthy breakfast for the kids AND for myself.

I went to the gym AND cleaned my house AND wrote a blog post AND answered emails AND worked on my Kickstarter campaign AND had a girls night AND remembered to send snacks to kindergarten AND filed my taxes on time AND spent time with my husband AND played with my kids AND…

Well, you get the point. And I know that life isn’t supposed to be easy all the time and I certainly know that I’m not the only one that has an incredible amount of responsibility. We all do. That’s the problem. We keep adding more and more to our plates and we keep believing in this idea of perfection. I know I’m guilty of that. I’m an incredibly motivated person and I know that I can do just about anything I put my mind to.

But the truth is, even though I know I can do anything… I can’t do everything. I just can’t. So I’m making a commitment to change my definition of balance. Because my sanity depends on it… and because I think it’s high time we all join together in being more realistic about what’s possible. And because it’s just easier to know that everyone struggles with balance and it’s okay and we’re not alone. Right? So here’s my new definition of balance:

I ran the laundry. It won’t always get put away before it gets wrinkled… isn’t that why they invented the wrinkle cycle on the dryer? Hangers are overrated anyway.

I went grocery shopping, I made a meal plan, and I heated up Paleo Meals four times this week. It’s a home cooked meal even though I didn’t do the cooking. That’s a win.

I made a healthy breakfast for the kids… and two eggs for myself. Eggs are better than not eating until lunch!

I went to the gym once this week, but hey I went. I avoided email all week, didn’t blog last week but scraped together a post this week, forgot to send snacks to kindergarten three days in a row but remembered on the fourth day, and filed my taxes ON TIME! I worked night and day on my Kickstarter campaign and ignored everyone I know… but it’s a three day weekend and we’ll have lots of family time.

And that’s okay. Because balance is no longer about doing it all, all the time. It’s about not caring that my house is a mess because I’m doing important work. It’s about working thirty hours in two days so I can get important work done… and then spending the whole weekend with my family. Balance is not about perfection anymore. It’s about doing what I can and not stressing out or feeling guilty about the things that have to wait. Especially if it’s laundry!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on balance… especially how you’re trying to redefine it for yourself! Leave me a comment below.working on work life balance

Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids over Your Phone

five simple steps for choosing your kids over your phone

I still remember the moment we decided to cancel our Sprint contracts and buy iPhones. It was one of those random moments when I mentioned to Josh that if he was willing to sell his massive CD collection, we could probably score enough cash to pay our termination fees of $400.

He leaped at the chance, boxed up his beloved CD’s, and drove straight to Vintage Stock. Two hours later, he returned home victorious… with a check for well over $800! His ridiculous music collection paid the termination fees AND bought our shiny new iPhone 3GS’s.

Fast forward four and a half years and I’m ashamed to say that I’m addicted to my iPhone. It is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. I do SO many things on my iPhone, including tracking my sleep patterns, tracking my weight, checking the weather, catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest… and not paying attention to my kids.

I know. It’s crazy, right? There are times that I get so caught up playing around on my phone that my kids have to shout my name four times before I hear them. And the craziest thing is, I know I’m not the only one. So, I decided it was high time to make a real change. I knew it had to be simple. So, here are my five simple steps to putting down your phone and getting your life back.

  1. Make a commitment to put the phone down and make it public. Tell your friends and family that you’ll no longer be available every minute of every day. Post it on Facebook that you’re going to play with your kids instead of your phone. People love to get on board for a cause. Tell your kids that you’re going to choose them instead of the phone. I guarantee they will help keep you accountable!
  2. Turn off notifications. Turn off the notifications for every app on your phone, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, and anything else that makes noise anytime someone sends you a virtual high five.
  3. Quit thinking that you’ll just ‘check email really quick’. We all know that once you get on the phone, you’re probably going to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and then start reading a news story on NPR. If you must stay connected, schedule planned ‘connected times’ when you have downtime from parenting.
  4. Set up custom ringtones and text tones. Every time my phone rings, I run through the house to see who’s calling. Once I set up custom tones for the people I care about most, it made a huge difference. I suddenly knew how important the call or text was based on the sound.
  5. Put the phone away somewhere out of sight. That old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really works. We created our very own Phone Monster to help with this! Anytime we are hanging out with the kids, Ned “eats” our phones. This removes the temptation to pick up the phone for “just a minute” because it’s so handy. Want to get your own Phone Monster?! We’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in May, so head over to the website and sign up for our email list to be notified when that happens.

Ned the Phone Monster put down your phone pick up your lifePlease note: This is an old post that I updated and recycled because I think the content is still relevant:)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] fabulous mommas! We created iPhone monsters, inspired by The Happy Family Movement‘s post: Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids Over Your Phone. Checkout some pictures from today’s [...]

  2. [...] enjoyed our petite cakes with a game of skip-bo today, then nancy (ned’s wife) got hungry and i was unable to document the remainder of our dayshe’s sneaky like [...]

  3. [...] social media sites about putting down the iPhone and being a more present parent.  Thanks to this blog for the inspiration for our “iPhone fish.”  We’re trying to fatten him up by [...]

  4. […] help you and your kiddos make the most of your time unplugged.1. Have your kiddos create a “Ned the iPhone Monster.” Feed Ned!2. Read “The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers […]

  5. […] Here are five simple steps for choosing your kids over your phone. And a tutorial for making Ned the iPhone […]

The Portrait Project {Week 115}

Our Weekly Portrait Project. Something I started over two years ago and have decided to continue on until the kids graduate high school…

I wanted to encourage other parents to join in with their own portrait projects, and here’s how. At the bottom of this post is a spot to link up your own personal portrait projects. There are no rules at all, if you want to do one portrait a month, cool, share it below when you share yours, if you want to do weekly like I do, that’s awesome. When you share your personal portrait projects on your own blogs, just come back here and pop in your link. Each Sunday I’ll have a new link up created. I think it’ll be fun and inspiring for all of us to check out each others portrait projects in the weeks to come.

If you choose to link up, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for participating. Documenting your family is important. Like, super important.

Tired boy.Girl ready to longboard.Girl with veggie juice mustache.

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Risking love

Mom loving her baby.

Sometimes, when darkness descends on my house and my husband is snoring peacefully, I imagine that one of my children died.

I pull the covers tighter and picture coming upon one of them, cold and motionless.

I imagine the hard metal that would spread through my belly. I hear the choking sobs.  Sometimes, I get so close to picturing the pain that tears well in my eyes and the desire to hold one of my babies becomes a tingling sensation.

I toss off my blankets and stare at them while they sleep.

Their chests’ rise and fall.

And I experience just how tightly one can weave fear into love.

When I stand in their dimly lit doorways, I’m allowing a fraction of what I feel for my children to surface. When the house is quiet and they are in their beds, it’s safe to pull it out.

But in the daylight, when all that could harm them is illuminated, I simply can’t.

Because if I actually feel how much I love them, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house.

*                                  *                                  *

Before I had children, little scared me.

I lived, taking risks measured by my own yardstick.

But then I had a baby.

My body will never forget the weight of my first child resting in the crook of my arm. How his entire body fit between my elbow and my wrist.

One night, just a few weeks after his birth, a warm flood of love made me kiss his downy head and whisper, “I’ll always keep you safe.”

Blankets became deathtraps. Sidewalks recipes for busted teeth.

As if seeing them for the first time, car tires seemed massive.

In the children’s film, “Finding Nemo,” Marlin, who has lost his young son, screeches to his companion, Dory, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him!”

“Hmmm,” Dory says, “that’s a funny thing to promise.”

“What?!” Marlin shrieks.

“Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him,” she responds glibly. “Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun…”

The writer intends for you to share in the father’s “a-ha” moment — that he’s been holding his son back from experiencing the world.

But I can’t help but see Marlin’s point.

After all, here he is scouring the sea for his lost son.

The reality is that, when you first have a baby, it’s easy to keep them safe. You follow the guidelines, buckle them in their car seat and you feel secure.

But in the blink of an eye they are crawling, walking, tumbling, running, jumping, swimming, kicking, driving, dating and, finally, leaving.

And to survive all this, with every birthday celebration, my love for my children sinks a bit more below sea level.

The more risks they take, the less I can stand to feel what’s at stake. In a culture that equates supervision with love, it’s so hard let them take the risks which allow them to grow into beautiful, eager, surviving adults.

So, I suspect, as they age, my children will laugh at me when I can’t watch them climb to the top of our trees.

They’ll giggle at “silly Mom” who cries when they leave for their first sleep-away camp.

And they’ll sigh when I can’t stand to say goodbye from their first dorm room.

But, like Nemo, there is something they can’t begin to grasp.

Until they are grown and they have their own husbands and wives and little babies.

Until they too learn just how terrifying it is to love someone more than you love yourself.

Until they are standing in a doorway, crying over how big, crazy and terrifying that love seems to be in the still darkness.

You can find more of Betsy’s wonderful storytelling at the Nurture Project.

The Portrait Project {Week 114}

Our Weekly Portrait Project. Something I started over two years ago and have decided to continue on until the kids graduate high school…

I wanted to encourage other parents to join in with their own portrait projects, and here’s how. At the bottom of this post is a spot to link up your own personal portrait projects. There are no rules at all, if you want to do one portrait a month, cool, share it below when you share yours, if you want to do weekly like I do, that’s awesome. When you share your personal portrait projects on your own blogs, just come back here and pop in your link. Each Sunday I’ll have a new link up created. I think it’ll be fun and inspiring for all of us to check out each others portrait projects in the weeks to come.

If you choose to link up, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for participating. Documenting your family is important. Like, super important.

Boy with a cookie.Girl with a paper mustache and beard.Portrait of a happy 5 year old girl.

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