Dear Bethany,

It’s okay.

It’s okay that your dishes from four days ago are still in the sink.  The ones in the dishwasher are clean, and we all know you’ll get to them eventually. You have not one, but two dirty crockpots? No problem. At least you used them at some point.

It’s totally fine that you haven’t dusted in a while. Little children are still running in and out of your house, so even if you did, no one would notice anyway. Don’t worry about the fact that you haven’t done you or your husband’s laundry in so long that he had to wear old underwear to work. He rallies for you and is proud that at least the kids have clean clothes.

And speaking of your awesome husband, it’s no big deal that you haven’t shaved your legs in a significantly long time. He’s also cool with it that you didn’t get the opportunity to shower today because your schedule and children were both slightly crazy. He’s watched you birth babies, and still finds you sexy. Honestly, there’s not really too much beyond that which will make you physically unattractive to him.

It’s not the end of the world that your child, after over a year of efforts, still will not always poop when he has to. This too, shall pass. Don’t stress over the amount of times you have to say, “stop making fart sounds,” “no, we are not talking about poop right now,” or “for the love, put your shoes on!”

You had canned soup for dinner last night? No big deal. A little processed crap never hurt anybody. At least you saved $20 and opted out on going through the McDonald’s drive through for the 85th time this year.

Don’t feel bad that you forgot to pack diapers for your daughter today when you dropped her off in the nursery and she ended up needing a diaper change and had to be put in a diaper much to small for all that junk inside that trunk. She survived, and the nursery workers have extra diapers just for moms like you.

You’re doing great. You’ve got this. Mom power and all that hoopla to you. Because you know what? Sometimes the stars align, your baby takes a long nap, your oldest is actually quiet during “quiet time,” and you get to clean your kitchen and listen to Kaleo at the same time. And, after that the heavens open and it’s 65 and sunny on an Oregon November day and you can get outside with your littles and rake the entire backyard with a 20 pound baby on your back. And despite being hit with a rake over a dozen times by a certain four year old who is very slowly learning spacial awareness, you got the entire yard raked and your kids got some precious vitamin D. Then, your babies entertain one another long enough for you to punch out this letter to yourself.

Don’t worry, mama. If you don’t get it done today, it will be waiting tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that.

You are capable.

Sincerely,

Yourself.

 

Routine Significance.

Wake up. Brew coffee. Turn on children’s show. Pour cereal. Pour coffee.

Get dressed. Walk the dog. Go to the library, or grocery store, or coffee shop, or play date.

Lunch. Clean up. Read books. Nap/quiet time (or attempt one at least). Afternoon snack. Daddy’s home.

Play. Make dinner. Clean up. Laundry. Play. Bedtime routine. Try to get toddler to stay in bed. Crash on couch. Stumble to bed an hour or so later.

Repeat.

Fellow parents, do you ever feel like you’re just trudging through the day, going through the motions, like a song stuck on repeat? I have been feeling that way a lot lately. I know kids thrive on routine, so I try to stick to a basic one, and it’s true–the days that we are off kilter from our normal “schedule” are just not as successful. But my goodness, sometimes I just don’t feel like my days are significant.

I recently joined a church group for moms, recommended to me by a friend. I had tried one last year, and unfortunately due to prior commitments, I couldn’t go. This year, it worked out in my favor, and in Judah’s. During our first lesson, one of the leaders stood up and reminded us moms that what we are doing, where we are right in the trenches of diapers, toys, crafts, and endless amounts of laundry and clean up, these are some of the most valuable days. Yes, we may have paused careers or are shuffling wild schedules in an attempt to balance work and home life. Yes, we may feel like who we were prior to kids is totally lost, and seems impossible to get back. But what we’re doing right now matters. It’s important. It’s significant.

I don’t like looking at motherhood as a “job.” It’s not something that you go to every day and clock out of at five. Parenting another human being is an extreme privilege, and hearing that message was such a good reminder of that principle for me. What I’m doing might seem mundane right now. Gone are the days of spontaneous dates with my husband. I choose my wardrobe based on practicality and comfort over the latest fashions. The highlight of my week is typically our usual Target run. This is my life right now. And just as my kiddo is getting more independent and things like actually eating a hot dinner are occurring more frequently, I’m about to buckle down and add even more craziness to life in just a few short weeks.

But let me repeat what I heard: Parents, what you are doing daily, the investment you’re making in your kids, the time you take to play with them after a long day at the office, the 50th load of laundry that week, and the 800th dish you have washed, they are meaningful. You are investing in the lives of these little humans, and that is something more valuable than you can ever imagine. So don’t be discouraged by the mundane. Embrace this stage of life and bask in the importance of the routine–the work you are doing matters. It is significant. You are significant.

Our Top 10

As I stated in this blog post, being a stay at home mom can sometimes be really boring. Well, after having my pity party about it, I decided that some day, when Judah is older and too cool to spend time with his mom, I’ll be wishing we were right back to those days. So, I decided to snap out of it and get my non-crafty butt in gear and utilize good ol’ Pinterest.

love Pinterest. I mean, seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I also love my new job working here, but if I could be a professional “pinner” I’d totally do it. It would be a dream. I definitely have my fantasy boards of a dream house, but most of the time, I try to be intentional about what I pin, especially when it comes to things for Judah, recipes, photography, or clothes. (Yeah, you better believe when we hit it rich I’m going on a major shopping spree and making that Pinterest closet of mine a reality. 😉 )

Anyway, I got on my “Baby Baby” Pinterest board and started to look at what I had and decided to try a few things out. Judah is a very curious baby, so I wanted to keep that in mind when picking out activities for him. Also, I’m not a big fan in buying tons of things that he’s only going to use for a short season. We don’t have the room, and I’m not made of money.

So far, we have done a few that I’ve looked up, and a few that we’ve thought of on our own and I wanted to share some of our favorites with you, because every year there is a winter where we are trapped indoors for far too long, and every summer there are those rainy, yucky days that you’re stuck inside. And when your child is continually going to the door and pointing at his shoes, you know it’s time to distract them or your in for one long, long day.

1. Simple exploration. I used to get super annoyed when Judah became mobile and would get over to our bookshelves and pull all our books down. Then I realized it was basically his favorite activity and he never damaged them, so why not? So, I moved our favorite books that we want to keep semi decent, in case he gets rambunctious, and left the rest for him to pull off the shelves and flip through. photo4 photo7

He also has a bookshelf in his room that he loves to do the same thing with. Can’t complain that he’s already into reading!

2. Finger Paints. I used a basic recipe from my Pinterest board. It was very easy, and it’s 100% edible, which is good because we definitely did this the first time when Judah was a bit too young. It went from lets paint, to lets eat the paint really quickly. There are several different kinds of make your own paints online, and we are definitely planning on doing this again soon!

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3. Sensory Play. Going along with finger paints, sensory play is great for the curious baby, at least my curious baby. I filled a left over turkey dish from Thanksgiving with some cream of wheat, threw in a few measuring cups and a spatula, and there you have it, a homemade indoor sandbox. Judah really enjoys feeling the cream of wheat and dumping it out of the container. Mind you, you will be vacuuming and cleaning up cream of wheat for a while, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion. And, it’s also edible. As you can see in this picture, my son ate this too.

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4. Laundry basket rides. So, one day I really needed to get the laundry done and Judah didn’t understand, “hey, follow me in here,” so I improvised. I put him in the laundry basket and made a game out of pushing him around our apartment while I got all our laundry put away. I don’t know if it’s the ridiculous train/car noises I make when doing this, or what, but the kid loves laundry basket rides now. Just today, I pushed him around for a solid 20 minutes. And bonus, it kind of works out your butt and quads.

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5. Treasure box. I think this one is Judah’s favorite, and I’m so sorry, but I don’t have a picture. Because he is so curious, he loves to pull things out of a box one at a time. The more stuff in the box, the longer it takes, and the more time I have to get something done! But seriously, this has been a great activity for Judah. We keep a treasure box (just a cardboard box) full of random things in a corner by my desk. It has some kitchen utensils, socks, a flashlight, containers, shoes, and some other fabrics. That way, if I need to work for a few minutes, he’s able to exercise his curiosity in a safe and supervised way. We also have a drawer in our bathroom full of other safe household items that he can feel free to explore while I get ready for the day. And, we keep most of his toys on the bottom shelf in our living room in an easily accessible basket for that very same purpose. It’s also a great learning tool because we can tell him the names of what it is he is taking out of the boxes.

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6. The classic big box. Okay, this one is so true, a cardboard box can provide hours upon hours of fun for a small child. Judah really loves going through tunnels. We happened to get a package delivered in a gigantic box, so we set it up like a tunnel for him and he was over the moon about it. He crawled through it so much that we had to get rid of it, so we did cave and bought him a real one for his upcoming birthday. We purchased this one and are really excited about it.

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7. Water games. Summer time is the best time. Thankfully Judah loves going outside and exploring our yard. Unlucky for me, our yard sucks and there are so many things he can get into, but he has not eaten dog poop yet, so there’s that. Also, he crawls like this outside.

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Anyway, besides the kiddie pool and sprinkler, which are always great, there are other ways to play outside with water. Judah loves splashing in the dog bowl (who wouldn’t? :/) so I created another homemade bin- a water table. I used a storage bin that is relatively shallow, put some water in there, threw in my trusty measuring cups and a few bath toys and there we have it, hours of outdoor water fun with things we had lying around the house.

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8. Coloring. Okay, this is pretty basic and everyone knows about it. Kids love to color. It’s pretty awesome and you get great works of art for your house! Plus, there are tons of free printables online.

9. Sorting. Judah is just now getting into this, but loves it. Anything you have that your child won’t swallow is game. Just put a few containers in front of them and there you go! You can play with different textures, shapes, and colors too.

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10. Bath time. Sometimes, you just gotta do it…a couple times a day. We try to mix bath time up a bit by adding bubbles, blowing bubbles, or adding different effects, like bath paints or glow sticks. When all else fails, sometimes time in the tub just does the trick.

This is our list of activities and we hope to continue to add to it as time goes by. I would love to hear about other things you moms out there do with your littles. Post a comment below with any suggestions, and good luck to you all on those rainy or wintery days!