Are Single Parenting Classes a Thing?

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So…. My husband has been out of town this week in Washington D.C…

Now, usually I’m the one traveling for work so when he told me a few weeks back that he was going to be the one gone for 5 days, naturally my competitive self-started singing the song from Annie Get Your Gun “Anything you can do I can do Better” I just thought I would put on my supermom cape and be ready to go.

WRONG!

My husband’s plane is scheduled to land this evening at 6:57 pm … YES, the exact minute is important so I can more accurately calculate the exact moment that he will walk in the door and I can collapse in his arms and thank him for coming home to us.

Like I said, I’m usually the one traveling so I’m used to being the one that packs the bag, walks out the door, sleeps in a huge king bed in my own hotel room, wakes up to room service and the only responsibility I have is getting myself ready, going to great restaurants in fun cities to entertain clients, etc. When I’m gone, I get to call home and hear cheerful voices that are so happy just to be talking to me. I get to be the one that walks into a spotless, clean sparkling house at the end of a trip and be the hero that hands the kids their new magnet from a new city (we collect magnets from each city visited). In other words, my husband seems to have it all together, knows what he’s doing and everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

During the past five days, I have quickly learned three things…

  1. I need to take classes in being a single parent
  2. My husband deserves a round of applause for how well he manages the house/kids when I’m out of town
  3. Supermom capes are earned/given… if you’re rocking one that you put on your own shoulders (like I tried to) it’s no more than a self-righteous accessory

When Daniel left on Saturday morning it was raining and the forecast for the rest of the weekend was rain and freezing rain. I had a sinus infection and didn’t feel well so I let my kids talk me into going to Fastlane in Rogers, AR (think bowling + laser tag + Bumper cars + arcade games and a giant play structure). Selfishly, I thought to myself, kids can play and I can sit still! Well for anyone who has been to Fastlane or anything like it you know sitting still is not an option, especially with a 2 year old. By the time that experience was over I was down $60 and left with a screaming 2 year old under my arm who refused to put on her shoes. I got all the wonderful sympathy looks from other moms as if to say “I feel ya” All I had left in me that night was enough energy to pop the Friday night left over pizza in the microwave for dinner.

Surprisingly, that became a trend for the next couple of days. My well-balanced sit down family dinners turned into anything that I could whip up in 5 minutes or less so they could eat before 8:00 pm…

Saturday – Leftover Friday night pizza
Sunday – 2nd Sunday Pizza night at Tim’s Pizza on the square (tradition with friends that we go to Tim’s pizza every second Sunday for food and fun)
YES…if you’re counting that’s pizza three days in a row – Mom of the year, I know!
Monday – My two year old ate ramen noodles for the first time ever, and loved them. My older daughter choked them down as she knew I was struggling and my son fixed his own PBJ and grilled cheese when he got home from baseball practice… I think I finally ate an orange Popsicle at 11:00 pm for my dinner.
Tuesday – I swore I was going to cook something…. we ended up a Chick-fil-A!!

I can just feel my super mom cape getting farther and farther away as I type all this out…If I kept a food journal it would have grown its own legs and hopped in the trash can by now.

On Monday, I thought we were doing well. We had just used my counterfeit carpool line pick up sign to get my son from school…. yes, that’s right… counterfeit. I can’t for the life of me find where I put that official neon yellow green tag with the school logo and my sons name on it… so I whipped up a counterfeit one with the same color sticky notes tapped together a sharpie and a printer because I didn’t have the extra 5 minutes in my schedule to have to get out of my car, explain and pick him up from the office.  We dropped my son at baseball practice in Springdale and had two hours to get to “Hobby Hobby”… as my two year old calls it… home to feed the girls (yes that was Ramen night) and back up to Springdale to pick up my son. We were almost to the finish line when all the sudden the girls started dropping like flies…. My younger daughter, out of nowhere, could no longer put any weight on her left leg, screaming in pain each time she tried to take a step… So, I had broken the two year old… and my older daughter all the sudden started screaming in pain holding her stomach. When I say screaming I mean holding it, doubled over like her appendix had just ruptured. We raced home, massage the two year old’s leg (because I didn’t know what else to do) and got her in the bed. I then start using WebMD to pinpoint what could be happening with my other daughter… DON’T DO THIS… I REPEAT, DON’T DO this.. there is a reason you cannot get a degree in medicine online. I finally started thinking like an adult and realized that the stellar meals I had been feeding my kids may have had something to do with this stomach pain, so Zofran and bedtime was my solution… not before going to the neighborhood market to get a giant Gatorade and Saltines just in case.

On Tuesday of this week I was trying to make myself feel better by giving myself props for having all three kids to three different schools in 45 minutes. But, then I walked in the door and saw forgotten lunch boxes sitting on the counter…OOPS, one step forward, and two steps back!

I wake up this morning and my oldest daughter comes in with a sad face holding the Ziploc back that contains her tooth she lost yesterday …  THAT’S RIGHT… the jackass tooth-fairy (um… that’s me) forgot to come last night. For two seconds I contemplated telling her right then and there that the tooth-fairy does not exist, that it’s really daddy and I. But, then I came to my senses and realized that’s not the right thing to do and quickly started thinking of all the reasons that she didn’t make it last night and that we would try again tonight. Oh, and if any of you out there have good excuses, send them my way as this is not the first and won’t be the last time I forget!

I had 9 minutes to wake up the two year old and get her dressed, hair brushed and in the car for drop-offs before we would be behind schedule. She insisted that she have 4 blankets to get in the car. After dropping the older two, we round back to her school for the daily separation anxiety episode. I walked in her room and told her teacher, who was looking for my daughter under the pile of blankets she was carrying, “Don’t worry I won’t leave all these with you, she just insisted on bringing them all in.” To which I get the response from the teacher, “Oh don’t worry about it, she actually needs a sheet and blanket for nap-time because you forgot to bring one on Monday for the week.” …I hope you could not see on my face what I was thinking in my head at that point….

As my oldest daughter exited the car this morning she looked back and me and said, “Mom, you’re doing a good job… I love you and I’ll see you after school!” Well that made my day. I started thinking about perceptions. I can’t tell what all goes on back here at home when I travel. My husband may fight the same battles but chooses not to talk about them because he knows that I feel guilty when I have to travel a lot. Or, the mothers that I see on Facebook with 3+ kids that seem to have everything together and perfectly managed. That’s what they want people to see, what they post, not what happens every day, right?

All that said, it’s Wednesday, SuperDaddy comes home tonight and we are ALL excited about that. I can’t promise that the house will be neat and clean, laundry will be done or that there will be a good home cooked meal on the table (oh man, just realized it’s Wednesday night church night and the kids get Chick-Fil-A for dinner at the church…. two nights in a row on CFA now… yikes!), but the kids are still all in one piece, and we will all give him a very warm welcome home!

“Mom…I’m Bored!”

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It’s been two days… 48 hours that my two older kids have been out of school, that’s it! I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard, “mom… I’m bored” over the last two days.

When I was 8 and 10 I used to spend hours outside or down the street playing with my friends. I’m pretty sure it was only when it was too dark to see that we would finally go inside. I remember making up all kinds of games to play or setting up cans to shoot with the BB gun (no, I’m not a girly girl) and my all time favorite memory had to be making a car out of a moving dolly and actually riding it down the street (yes, without a helmet – Please don’t tell my kids).

Kids are overstimulated these days. Screens are everywhere and I think it kills their creativity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as the next person giving in and allowing more screen time to get them out of my hair while I’m trying to work or on a conference call, but I really think I’m doing them a disservice.

I was so tired of hearing “I’m bored” I even looked up a list of 101 things to do when your kids say they’re bored… below are some of the suggestions, I’m sorry but seriously.. is this  a serious list or a list created to just to make me laugh.

  1. Plant a tree – I usually don’t have trees that are ready to plant just lying around
  2. Act out your child’s favorite book – Not sure a book on wrestle mania would be the best one to act out.
  3. Build an indoor tent or fort with couches and some bed sheets – This one’s okay, we’ve done it before but once they’re done building it, they’re right back to being bored… and then I have to wash all the sheets again… dog hair!
  4. Head to the local library – this is a good one… if my son can use his inside voice
  5. Create paper mache –um no, BIG MESS
  6. Plan a scavenger hunt – We’ve done this one before… we made our hunt a video scavenger hunt for added fun.
  7. Learn how to tie-dye T-shirts – Um no, see number 5. BIG MESS
  8. Count how many times you can spin in a circle without getting dizzy – The answer is 5 and then someone falls and gets hurt… possibly me.
  9. Construct an indoor obstacle course – this is a good one for rainy days
  10. Choreograph a dance routine – If you know me, you would just laugh and shake your head no at this one
  11. Take silly pictures with a camera. My kids do this all the time and then I have to delete stuff from my phone because there is not enough memory
  12. Make a paper mache volcano and mix baking soda and vinegar for an explosive reaction – Explosive reaction, really?? No!
  13. Break out the pots and pans and practice drumming skills –
  14. Rearrange your child’s bedroom – afraid of what I may find under the bed
  15. Ask “what do you want to be when you grow up” and then plan your day around that career. Last time we asked my son what he wanted to be he said a “boxer and a diamond digger” hmmm… we may skip this one
  16. Count and roll loose change lying around the house – My dad does this one with the kids… they seem to enjoy it.
  17. Run relay races – We do this one a lot because it also tires them out
  18. Give the family pet a bath – We have a Great Dane… NO WAY…my daughter took it upon herself to do this once… it ended in all of us chasing the wet, soapy dog around the house.

After making it about half way through the list I stopped… clearly this list was not going to give me my magic answer.

I read a few articles about how it’s good for your kids to be bored. Why You Should Do Nothing When Your Child Says, “I’m Bored” and Handling Boredom: Why It’s Good for Your Child.

Being bored is usually what leads to some pretty neat activities that they think up on their own. After I decided I wasn’t going to give them a running list of options and just told them to figure it out, they had the best time! They played a pretty cool wall ball game outside, played in the rain and tried to see if the wind would lift them off the ground if they hit it just right with the umbrellas. They road bikes and scooters and laughed together most of the afternoon.

Next time they come to me and say “I’m bored” I’m going to say “I love bored” go figure it out!

Things you never knew you had to say…

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If you’re a mom like me, I’m sure you can relate to this quote. It’s always the things you never imagined you’d have to say to your kids that will zap your energy…

“No, you cannot clean the new flat screen TV with milk!”

Wearing underwear isn’t optional. You must wear underwear.”

“When you shower you need to use soap, every time!”

“No, we don’t ask random strangers if they’re going to have a baby, especially when they are men!”

I mean, I could write a book of all the things I’ve told my kids that I never thought would have to be explained.

In the moment I get so frustrated that I’m even having the conversation. Then afterward, sometimes LONG afterward, it’s fun to think back about all the things they say and do. I used to think that it was just me, but don’t worry, every mom has a conversation with her children at one point or another that she never dreamed would be necessary. AND I can tell you if you’re the mom of little boys, hold on for the ride as you will have these conversations A LOT!!

My oldest two, who have been the main culprits, are now ten and eight. I fear that our conversations are going to start changing quickly…

“No, you can’t wear that out of the house!”

“No, you are not old enough to have a cell phone yet!”

BUT, with an almost two-year-old….I Can’t wait to see what the next few years will bring!

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O’Brien Girls
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My Fitbit Says I’m Dead…

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Yep, that pretty much sums up what my Fitbit was saying about me. I was thrilled when my birthday package came in the mail this past February that contained my Fitbit. I was SURE that this little device on my wrist was going to magically make the pregnancy weight from all three of children just melt right on off my body.

Well, what the heck, it didn’t! It has taught me a few things. First, that my parents must be walking in circles around their house just to beat me at the fitness games and secondly, my dad is the most dedicated person I know when it comes to personal health. The man has his 10K+ steps in before I can peel myself out of the bed in the mornings.

Of course, when my weight didn’t magically fall off I got discouraged.  BUT, one thing it consistently tells me is I’m not getting in enough steps every day. I sit at a computer in my house (I work remotely as my clients are all over) and pretty much don’t move ALL day.  Pretty pathetic at the end of the day when you are exhausted from working and mothering and you’re sure you have to be close to 10K and when you tap the screen you see a whopping 3000 steps. Really, I should have gotten that many steps in just getting three kids out of bed, clothed and to school on time.

What to do about it… start slow… I’m two days into walking in the mornings and I already feel better. I won’t lie it’s hard to get up when everyone else is still snug in their beds. But Duke (my Great Dane) loves the attention and walking in the morning. So I am working to make this a habit. Everyone says you need to do something consistently for 21 days for it to become a habit. Only 19 days to go!!!