Hey Freebs! In cased you missed it, I'm in Oregon visiting my parents for spring break. While squished between two car seats, ducking down so my head doesn't block the movie for 10 straight hours, I did lots of thinking about the ol' blog here. As many of you have noticed, I've had to scale back a ton. (5 kids in 6 years will do that to you!) I've chosen to cut back so as to reassess my priorities and make sure God, Bubba, and my kids come first. (Plus, I'm just tired of playing the “blogging game”!) But I still want to provide YOU new content, that YOU want to read, that is interesting and helpful to YOU!
How do I accomplish that?
Have YOU tell ME what YOU want ME to say!
…say that 10 times fast.
I've decided to do WAY more Q&A! I spend hours each week answering questions on social media and the blog anyway, why not open it up here on the blog so we can all learn from each others' questions!
Thus, without further adieu, I'm now introducing
Throughout the week I will choose a few questions asked on Facebook, Instagram, or here on the blog (leave a comment with a question!! I read them all!). Ask me anything. I should have way more filter than I do (sorry in advance) so pretty much nothing is off limits! (#YouveBeenWarned.) I will choose a few questions to highlight in a blog post, and I'll try to do this weekly so I can continue to provide YOU with content YOU want to read…since the only reason I do this blog is for YOU. It just makes sense. #Duh.
Ok enough blabber, let's get on with the questions!
Megan asked: How do you incorporate individual time with each child? Any tips or ideas? My babies are 1 and 3.
Hi Megan! Amazing question. Quick background for those who might be new here…
I'm a mom with 5 kiddos (2 boys, 3 girls), my youngest is 11 months and my oldest just turned 7 in January. So yes, my kids are 18 months apart on average, yes, they were all planned, no I don't have any regular help – hired or otherwise – (no family in the state), no, we aren't done having kids, and yes, I. LOVE. IT.
(…and no, I haven't been locked in the looney bin recently, though maybe I should get my mental stability checked here pretty soon…)
The kids are busy enough. But add 4 businesses, sports, dinners, friends over, travel, holidays, school, lessons, practices, sickness, laundry, laundry, and laundry on top…and yes. Giving our kids individual attention is REALLY hard. We, especially me!, are NOT the greatest at it. But we are trying. Yes, we LOVE that our kids roll as a pack and share everything (including beds, some nights). We want them to be best friends and want to be comfortable having family in every aspect of their lives.
It's extremely important to both Bubba and I that our kids grow up knowing that we love them as individuals, and that we make it a point to celebrate THEM and who THEY are.
Here are a few things we've done, or that I suggest, to try to give our kids individual attention:
- Read The 5 Love Languages of Children. Eye opening! Pay attention to what their love language is and focus on that.
- Carve out time during the day. I literally have to say to myself “the next 10 minutes is Give Priya Attention Time”. I have put it in my calendar to get on the floor and play with whoever will play with me from 4:00-4:30. Try to notice those times, or literally pencil in the time!
- Notice moments in the day. What are you doing anyway, that you can give your kids individual attention? I have learned that Beck LOVES to cook with me. I have to cook dinner anyway, might as well do it with him (as shown HERE)! Doing laundry? I'll call a kid in to “help” me, but really it's just to get them one-on-one. If everyone is outside playing but one kid is building legos in the living room, I'll try to notice and drop what I'm doing so I can give them attention, even if only for 5 minutes.
- Do individual “tuck-in time”. I recently did a video on how we got our kids to stop fighting. One of our best tools is that each week, each child gets 2 nights where they get individual “tuck-in time” with mom and/or dad. They can do anything they want for 15 minutes, after everyone else has gone to bed. Watch a movie. Play a game. Build legos. Play with barbies. Cook. Eat a snack. Read books. Do makeup. Practice soccer. Do homework (two guesses…#HutchTheAllStar). Whatever it is, mom and dad put their phones away (so hard!) and focus on that child for 15-30 (we tend to go over because it's so fun!) minutes. We try to make it a point to have a conversation with them. Ask them questions, get to know them, bond! It's my favorite time of day.
- Take them on dates. Bubba doesn't get as much time with the kids during the day as I do, so he will schedule a “daddy date” with one kid each week. They might go get ice cream, go buy something at a store, walk the dog, or get a hair cut together. Doesn't really matter the activity, both the kids and Bubba love it and look forward to it.
- Accept that the dishes can wait. Recently I shared a moment I had doing Priya's hair. She had asked me 8,000 times to curl her hair so she could play cheerleader. I found myself with 8,001 excuses and finally reassessed and realized spending that time with her was more important than steaming my floors or editing a video that's due that night (oops). It took the whole of 10 minutes, and was fun to chat about her day and see how happy she was. I literally repeat “babies don't keep” 10x per day, because it's tempting to put dishes before kids. But before we know it we will only have our dishes to keep us company during the day…and they really aren't all that interesting.
- Hold conversations while in the car. It's easy to crank up the music and let my mind wander. But every day I try to make it a point to get them in the habit of TALKING to me while in the car. I direct individual questions at each kid, so one of them doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
- Notice the quiet kids. Beck is our quiet one. He was also our most challenging, up until recently. We couldn't figure it out! He's so sweet and perfect at school, tender-hearted and wouldn't hurt a fly at home. Content to play by himself, quiet. But BOY! He started having epic meltdowns 4, 5, 8 times per day! It was driving us all batty. We started trying to notice him more. At meals he was getting talked over, couldn't get a word in. We made it a point to give him individual attention by making the other kids be quiet while he spoke. He still doesn't say much, but the meltdowns have stopped! He just wants to be heard, for heaven's sake! (Poor little guy.)
- Ask get-to-know-you questions. Bubba and I love Table Topics, they have one for kids! At dinner, in the car, or wherever, ask your kids individual questions to get to know them better.
- Pray for them. There's no way as parents we can just magically “know” all the answers. So I try to make it a point to pray individually for each child and ask God to help me know what that child needs that day. May seem small, but it's my #1 tool for sure.
Wow sorry that was a long one! But this is something I'm working on because I'm not the best at it, so I'm happy to share what we've been doing!
Julie asked: How do you stay so positive and happy?
Ho boy. Interesting question.
In case you haven't noticed, I've had a bit of a hard month in March. Ok, so actually, it was the hardest month of my life. …by like 800million.
I opened up a bit on a live Instagram broadcast, where I accidentally broke down in tears about it (sorry, the video didn't save so it can't be replayed anywhere! Just take my word for it…I was a sob fest). I also opened up a bit in my Speaking my truth post from a few weeks back. Sorry in advance for the under-share, but it's not my place to fill you in fully. But just know that the last few months have been so challenging and trying, it tested me to my core. I had many dark, sad days, and had to deal with things that I was hoping I'd never have to deal with.
Through it all I found so much joy. So much hope. So many things to laugh about. So many good moments. So many fun times…many of which I loved sharing with you on social media. Yes, even though my month sucked ROCKS (bitter, sharp, muddy rocks…) every joke, laugh, and dance party I shared were 100% authentic, and in the end, helped me pull out of that hard time.
I can't protect you from challenges and hard (even dark) times. BUT…I can give you a few tips for staying positive and upbeat through it all:
- Listen to music. Part of why I love doing video is because I can make people cry. Or laugh. Or want to get up and dance. Why? Not because of me, but because of the MUSIC. It can flip a switch on a mood in an instant. When I'm having a “down” day, I'll put on some headphones and will turn on something that makes me feel happier. We crank music to make chores and housework fun. I'll turn on music to sing to when my kids are being crazy at dinner, and it channels their energy. I'll turn on church/gospel music when I need a spiritual uplift. Music makes a difference! Turn it on and see what happens.
- DANCE. If you know me, you know I live for a good Page Dance Party . But the truth is, dance saves me. It is nearly impossible to be in a bad mood while dancing! It just is! Even on my hardest, darkest days…even on days when Bubba and I had a huge fight, or my kids are driving me bonkers…we can always turn on music and dance it out in the kitchen. Heck, it even helps when I'm freezing cold in Italy! And recently I've started taking a dance class to challenge my mind and body as well. I love the challenge!
- Let it go. (Sing it with me now!…) I'm a control freak. BIG TIME. But over the years I've learned to let. it. go. Sometimes things are within our control. Most of the time, they aren't. So why get upset over it? Why allow it to let us down? No point. No purpose. I've learned to let go of perfectionism, let my hair down, and let more roll of my back. Am I perfect? Nope. But I really really try to keep the serenity prayer in mind at all times:
- Eat chocolate and drink DDP. When I'm feeling stressed or having a rough day, I'll hide myself in the pantry and will eat a whole sleeve of Oreos if I have to. Or I'll run down to Swig to grab myself a dreamy Diet Dr Pepper. Am I suggesting that you become an emotional eater? Heck no. But do Cadbury mini eggs help when you're having a crappy day? YUP! So is it a big deal if you need a break every once in a while? Heck-to-the-no. #TreatYoSelf
- Serve others. I have a reminder set in my phone every day to do one random kind thing for someone. Most of the time it's small, but as a family we try to do something a little bigger for someone on the weekends. Getting outside of yourself and focusing on others instead is one of the quickest ways to boost your spirits.
- Start your day with a conversation. Over the last year I started slacking spiritually. I got out of the habit of praying regularly, and didn't read my scriptures very often. Wow…wouldn't you know…after a time I had the hardest, darkest time of my life. Coincidence? Nope. Not even close. I've had to shift my priorities and put God FIRST…not last. It's been hard. I've had to sacrifice sleep, time, productivity. But it helps so much. If you do nothing else, get on your knees and speak to God (in your own way! There is no right or wrong method. Just have a conversation!) before touching your phone in the morning. I promise – TESTIFY! – to you that it will change your life if you let it.
- Exercise. The last two years I've started making exercise a priority in my week. I go to the gym 3-4 times per week, and have found classes I love and actually look forward to going to! It took about 1 year before this to learn to like exercise. I would drag my feet, would be inconsistent, and looked for any excuse not to go. Now I'm loving it and miss it when I can't go. I get a good workout to great music, I get to shower and get dressed by myself while my kids are having a blast in the kid care, I get to listen to my audio books in the locker room, I'm more confident and healthier, and my body is showering me with endorphins that help keep me upbeat. Happy people just don't kill their husbands! They just don't! (#NameThatMovie)
- Take “me time”. No one can be everything for everyone, all the time. Take a minute! Have your husband watch the kids at night so you can go shopping for a second. Or walk the dog. Or for me, I started getting acrylic nails in January and they are my FAVORITE. Every 3 weeks I have a selfish hour all to myself. I get my nails done while listening to music or a good book on Audible, I will swing by a store and shop a bit on my way home, maybe grab a drink…it's a date with myself and I LOVE IT.
- Go to counseling if needed. I can't stress this enough. I started going to therapy the last few months and it's life-changing. There is no harm or shame in it! My therapist has helped my marriage, and has helped ME. I have a clearer vision for my life, I have hope and strength in my future, and I feel like I have support to help me along when I just don't have it in me to be sparkles and sunshine all the time. Find a good therapist, and go!
WOW! Sorry for the novel. These two questions are very near and dear to my heart, if you can't tell.
Thanks for the great questions! As you can imagine, each week I get TONS of questions focused on finances. While I absolutely LOVE to talk about money on the blog (and will continue to do so), I plan to mix in lifestyle questions like the ones above as well.
BUT…for those who are here for money talk…
…did you know I have a budgeting program that can help answer EVERY SINGLE QUESTION of yours??
Thanks for bearing with me as I throw the blogging rules out the window and use social media more and the blog less. Keep the questions coming, and I'll see you here again soon!