Create and Self Publish Your Own Book With Blurb

As the holiday season begins many of my friends are talking about how they can make sure their kid has fun time off, but also keeps their mind active. It is so easy as a parent to just set them in front of a screen and let the time pass. I know, I’ve done it! Well what about helping the kids write and publish their own book and/or magazine with Blurb instead?

Create and Self Publish Your Own Book WIth Blurb | muchnessmama.com | self publishing | publish a book on Amazon | create a family yearbook

I’ve been planning to print my enormous collection of photos into books with Blurb, but have just been procrastinating it. You see the artist in me just can’t use pre-created drop in pages or worse yet a blank background. I think that may be a crime. I’ve got o create myself some fun scrapbook pages and journal the memories. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make it a family project! I’m sure their perspective on different events will be a great addition. I think I will scroll back through my Facebook and include some of their best funny quotes as well. Maddy and Ben have really shown an interest in photography lately, so it will be a lot of fun to include some of their images too.

In addition to including our family images I’m going to ask the kids to write out our adventures. For the younger kids I can write as they tell me the story in their own words. This will not only be educational, but it will be an awesome addition to our family history! I’m going to make one for each year. I’m planning to make a nice book for me to keep and an inexpensive magazine for each kid. That way when they grow up and leave the home they’ll have a set of magazines from each year to take with them and show their own children in the future.

Photo books aren’t the only thing you can make. Blurb allows you to create any book you can imagine, and even allows you to self publish for others to purchase. Your children can write a short story or novel, create a cookbook of their favorite recipes, design a themed photo book, or write a graphic novel or comic book. Blurb also has these fun notebooks where you can create your own cover then choose what type of pages to put in it. You can use these to create a journal or an idea book for them to brainstorm ideas for their story. They also have simple online book making tools, so anyone can do it!

Have you printed your family photos and included the stories? What fun holiday projects do you have planned? Come chat about it with some other awesome ladies in the Muchness Mama’s Facebook group!

Overcoming Fear- I Walked on Fire, I Can do Anything

I have spent way too much time letting fear run my life. Fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of losing people, and yes, even fear of success. Why is fear such a powerful force in our lives? To answer that question we have to understand what fear is and where it comes from.

Overcoming Fear I Walked on Fire, I Can do Anything| muchnessmama.com

What is fear?

At the Determined to Rise retreat in Randolph, UT we were given the opportunity to participate in firewalking. I’ll admit I only went to watch. I had absolutely zero intentions to actually participate. What type of crazy person walks on 1200 degree coals?!?! Before we were allowed to move to the fire an amazing instructor spoke to us. He explained how fear is programmed into our brain. Fear is simply put the brain’s way of keeping us alive. Every experience we have is recorded and stored then accessed when we are in a situation so we know if we should fear.

For example a baby is sitting on the floor and is approached by a harmless daddy longlegs spider. The baby laughs. He doesn’t fear that spider. The spider crawls on the baby’s leg. He just giggles because it tickles. He grabs the spider and pops it in his mouth right as mommy walks into the room. Now mommy doesn’t like spiders and she screams “NOOOOOOO!” Well that is a scary noise and baby starts to cry. Mommy runs over and scoops him up and babbles something about that mean old scary spider. You’d better believe that for the rest of his life that baby will now fear spiders. His brain has recorded that experience and now tells him that spiders are scary. That fear overrides reason and logic. The only way for us to get out of that fear is to choose to take control of it.

Fear can be a very real warning of danger, but as often as not fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real. Just like in the story of the spider we often are trained to fear things that hold no real danger to us. Before publishing my post about my husband’s sex addiction I was paralyzed by fear. It took my nearly a year to even write the post and another several days to hit publish. I was afraid others would judge me. I was afraid they would reject me. I was afraid that after sharing my hope it would be dashed by another relapse from my husband. I was afraid that I was a total imposter in the world of healing betrayal trauma, I mean after all what do I know?  Want to know what happened after I published my story. I got messages, lots of them. Every single one of them was from someone who wanted to reach out in support. Not only did my fears not materialize, but the opposite actually came true. I found strength, healing, and support that I didn’t know was possible.

How do You Conquer Fear?

So how did I overcome my fear enough to push that publish button? Conquering fear takes both logical thought and decisive action. Every single one of us has an inner voice that will guide us if we can push through the fear to listen to it. Sometimes it will tell us that the route we are considering is not safe. Our inner voice is very smart after all. Sometimes listening to the fear is the proper choice, as long as we are doing it out of rational thought and not being controlled by the fear. More often though by thinking through things logically we will allow our inner voice to calm the fear and give us the courage to take action. I had to ask myself what if all of these horrible things I am imagining actually come true? What if my husband relapses? Can I live through that? I’ve done it before. What if my friends abandon me? Can I handle that? Well I have two real friends that already know my story and they’ve stuck by me. I also have huge amounts of support in my FB groups of warrior women! Even if the rest of the world turns against me I know I will always have them. What if I get hateful and judgmental comments from the peanut gallery? Well I suppose I’ll live through that too. Not like I’ve never had a bully in my face before. I can survive that too. Not only can I survive all these things, but I can thrive through them! Then, with my inner voice cheering me on, I hit publish, shut down the computer, and went to bed. I wanted to make sure people saw it before I had a chance to back out. That was my decisive action!

We can only conquer fear when our motivation to succeed becomes bigger than our fear. The most important part of conquering fear is knowing your why. What is it in this world that you are willing to fight and sacrifice for? Family? God? Yourself? Find something that gives you the power to keep stepping one foot after the other no matter what obstacles are in your way. Everything starts with why.

I Conquered My Fear

When we got to the fire our instructor told us it was time to set our personal intention if we were going to walk across that fire. He said “Who or what would you be willing to walk across fire for?” He had told us earlier that he usually sees his family. Now maybe this makes me a bad mom or wife, but I can’t honestly say I felt that conviction that they would carry me across that fire. Instead what came instantly to my mind was a vision of myself emotionally healthy, full of confidence and strength. Could I walk through fire to become that woman? Did I believe in her enough? Did I love that woman enough to walk through fire to become her? In that moment I knew my inner voice was telling me that I had to walk. I hesitated a bit. Man this crap was SCARY!! I took off my shoes, squared my shoulders, and got in line. I knew that this challenge was something I had to do in order to propel myself into greater health, strength, and self-love. As I came to the front of the line I said “I am walking tonight because the girl on the other end of this path is worth it!” I raised my hands as a symbol of surrender to the process, and stepped out onto the hot coals with my chin high. I honestly didn’t feel a thing other than a slight crunching under my feet. As I reached the other side I felt a new power and self-confidence. I made a commitment to myself to push through all of the fears that are still holding me back from becoming the person that God created me to be.

COnquering Fear- I walked on fire | muchnessmama.com | listening to my inner voice | finding my strength

I am strong.

I am beautiful.

I am wise.

I am confident.

I am courageous.

I am capable.

I am victorious.

I walked on fire, and I can do anything!

What fears do you need to conquer? Do you know your why? Who or what would you walk through fire for? Come join us in The Muchness Mamas Facebook group and let’s talk about it!

You’re Not Alone- Parenting a Child with Mental Illness

Remember that moment you became a parent for the first (second, third, or eighth) time, suddenly all you could think about was how amazing this tiny human would grow to be. You thought of their future job, spouse, how many children they would have, and all the amazing things they would accomplish in their lives. All of your hopes and dreams for them seemed limitless and I was the same.

I used to think of all the things my sweet babe would need to learn in order to grow into the man I hoped to rear. He would be strong, a defender of the weak, humble, God-fearing, faithful, honest, loyal, and a good listener. I would teach him to cook, and clean and be self-sufficient so his future wife would have a true helpmeet. He would be a man with values and strong moral courage to stand up for what was right. He would be all of these things and more. What I didn’t plan for, is he would also be suicidal.
Parenting a Child With Mental Illness | muchnessmama.com | You're Not Alone | anxiety | depression

Hi – I’m Brandy, and I’m the mother of an 11 year old who has suicidal ideations!!!

I’m willing to bet you didn’t know depression and suicidal tendencies occurred in such young children. It’s a sad fact that more and more preteen boys and girls are having thoughts of self harm. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death in children from ages 10-18 according to the CDC!

I’m not here to give you a list of reasons why this happens, or even bore you with the specifics of the physiology of the human brain. What I do a want, is to encourage you or anyone who is raising such a child and help you understand that you’re not alone. So maybe you can find hope in my story and some normalcy in mental health and raising a child who struggles with major depression and suicidal thoughts. Here’s my story.

Three years ago my son’s father and I divorced. It was a surprise to me, and of course my, then 8-year-old, thought for certain he’d done something horrible to make his dad leave. My ex did not leave us gently either, for lack of a better word, he abandoned us. Left me with all the debt, all the bills, a child, and no way to take care of any of it. We were devastated! With much counsel and support from a loving Bishop we began family therapy with a licensed therapist to work through this difficult ordeal and the feelings that came with it.

During this time I knew I needed to find work that would support us. I had so me college classes but no degree that I could use. So I had some tough decisions to make and ended up going back to school full-time to become a nurse. The school I chose was accelerated, completing a 4 year Bachelor degree in 2.5 years. That meant I needed to make some sacrifices. Time was a precious commodity now. I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to full-time student and part-time employee within a very short period of time. This meant less time for fun and family. I tried as best as I could to only study when Ethen was a sleep or at school, leaving what little time I had left just for him. We talked about the sacrifices we had to make often, but still he struggled. He would cry to me saying how much he wanted time with me but knew how important it was I study. No amount of therapy helped. We persisted though.

There came a point when my ex moved back to the state we reside in and we agreed to a bi-monthly weekend visit. The time off for me was hard but a welcome reprieve. I missed him when he was gone, but enjoyed my time for self-care. Then trouble started really happening! Every time my kiddo would come home, he would be a terror for several days. Attitude, yelling, talking back, not doing homework or chores were constant struggles between us. As much as I assured him he was loved but insisted that rules be followed he would fight me. This only made power struggles more difficult. Come to find out, there’s very little structure and rules at his dad’s, a stark contrast to my home. We had so many conversations between us and with our therapist about the differences between our homes. Things only got worse.

Fourth grade was the worst year. Enter school yard bullies! Don’t get me wrong, my child is no angel, and I fully warned his teacher that year. I asked her to work with me, to help him learn to better control his emotions. That went out the window it seemed, because that year my son was suspended from school FOUR TIMES and the last time they actually wanted to expel him. He would be bullied and harassed at school and told “ignore it” when he would report it. Of course this direction doesn’t work and gives bullies more power, so after ignoring it for so long, my son couldn’t take it any longer and explode (verbally not physically thankfully). On one occasion, he was physically assaulted and yelled at the kid to not touch him. Guess who was suspended… if you guessed my son, you guessed right. When this happened, it broke my son. He had his first real moment of contemplating ending it all. He was 10.

I thank God that my relationship with Ethen is strong enough that he willingly confides in me these feelings. I’ll never forget that first time he told me that, while in his room, he held a knife to his heart. I grabbed him, hugged him, and we both cried. My anger and frustration about whatever had happened previously faded, and so many emotions took their place. I was afraid, sad, and relieved all at once. We went to therapy the next day, and determined he wasn’t currently (in that moment) a threat to himself, so we made a safety plan and continued on with life.

Things did not get easier though. He would spiral out of control emotionally. He was becoming lost to me. It didn’t help I was busy with school/work and he had an emotionally unavailable father. But we kept at it. Over the course of the following year and a half, he would make two more serious threats to his life. He would say to me things like he wished he’d never been born, or could be born over again so he could start over. He would say he wants to be good, but doesn’t feel he can ever be good so he might as well not be here at all.

The final straw was only a few weeks ago. We hit a major wall in this uphill journey. There was some argument about some insignificant topic that sent him spiraling and falling fast! He came downstairs crying carrying his pellet gun and BEGGING me to throw it out. He had held it to his head and was going to pull the trigger. Now a pellet gun is, technically a toy, but it uses compressed air to propel a pellet (about the size of a bb but more oblong shaped) out of the barrel. At close range and in direct contact with the temple (a soft tissue area of the head), it could have been very dangerous.

Panic set in! I threw the gun away and called our therapist immediately. We were at a point of no return! We had an emergency meeting with his therapist, this time he was asked on a scale of 0-10 how likely he was to hurt himself. Ethen responded with “an 8 or 9!” My heart sank! I was told to take my son to the emergency room for an emergent mental health evaluation. That was the longest drive of my life!

My son would spend the next five days in a mental health facility. It was the worst experience of my life, and certainly his. He hated being there, and begged me to take him home. He was there under a doctor’s order which meant I couldn’t take him even if I wanted to. Visits were very restricted and limited to 30 minutes every day, and only at specified times. There was also phone calls, but again, highly restricted time frames. I visited and called every day I could. Each time crying as I left the facility or hung up the phone. Where had I gone wrong?
Parenting a child with mental illness | muchnessmama.com | you're not alone | anxiety | depression

The truth of the matter is I hadn’t done anything wrong. My child is simply one of the millions of Americans and American children who suffer with major depression. The chemicals in his brain do not function properly. It’s as simple as that, and nothing I did caused it. Though it doesn’t feel like that at all! We still have a very long road ahead of us, but he’s on the road to recovery.

We take it one day at a time. We maintain balance, structure, and I ensure he takes his medication as prescribed. I still keep open communication with him, laugh with him, snuggle with him, help him with homework, and everything else a parent does. Just like every other parent out there, but perhaps I’m more vigilant and must take EXTRA steps any other parent wouldn’t necessarily take to ensure his safety. All weapons are locked away with the keys in safes he doesn’t know the combination to and the kitchen knives, razor blades, even staples and glass are closely monitored to ensure he doesn’t use them to harm himself. It’s exhausting and scary!

This is my story about parenting a child with suicidal ideations. It is not at all what I ever imagined for my son, or for me as a parent. I’m learning new ways to parent. I’ve never prayed so hard in my life. I’ve reached out to my support systems and even found new support systems specifically for this. Our journey is far from over, in fact it’s really only begun. But I know that Heavenly Father loves us and he wants us to rely on him. He’s not going to magically take this away from us, but show us how to live with it. I trust the perfect parent, to show me how to be the parent my suicidal child needs!

Learn more about mental health and depression by visiting the National Alliance on Mental Illness website at www.NAMI.org – together we can end the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in our country!

A Huge thank you to my favorite bestie Brandy for this guest post. Have you dealt with mental illness in your child? What resources have you discovered for yourself or your child? What do you wish people knew about parenting a child with mental illness? Come chat with us in the Muchness Mamas Facebook group!

Do you have your own “You’re Not Alone” story to share? I am looking for more guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a post that will help other women who may feel alone in their struggles please contact me.

The 5 Love Languages- Understanding How We Give and Receive Love

Have you ever struggled with feeling like you are loved and appreciated in your marriage, parenthood, friendship, or other relationship? On the flip side have you ever felt like you were showing an overwhelming amount of love only to have someone tell you that they don’t feel appreciated? You might be dealing with a love language barrier. Have you heard of the five love languages before? You can learn all about them in the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, but here’s a little summary for you.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

A Summary of the Five Love Languages

The love languages are the ways in which we both give and receive love. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. You both receive and give love through these languages. Pretty much everyone has 1-2 dominant languages. Some people speak the same language as they hear, while others speak and hear different languages. If you aren’t sure what your language is check out this quiz.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

Are You Speaking Your Loved Ones’ Language?

While knowing your own love language can be very insightful, it is also important to know what the dominant language is for those you love. Whether it’s a spouse, friend, or child if you really want to show them the most love possible you have to speak their language. What is an amazing gesture for you may fall flat if you do the same for a spouse. By not speaking in their language, or worse by punishing in their language, you can really inhibit their ability to feel loved. For example if you have a child who has the dominant love language of words of affirmation a critical statement can cut them far deeper than it may a different child. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service and you are constantly asking them to serve you without returning the favor then their love bank will go into the negative pretty quickly.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Work Relationships

Can You Hear What Others Are Saying?

Even more important than learning to speak another language is learning to hear the language that they are speaking. As an acts of service person it is sometimes hard to feel love from my kids. I mean come on, how often do small children spontaneously clean the bathroom or fold the laundry? I need to learn to hear in the way that they do say I Love you to me. The hugs and kisses, the weeds (flowers) brought in from outside, the pictures they draw just for me. I have the choice to sit here and feel sorry for myself that no one appreciates me because if they did they’d help out with the housework more, or I can choose to feel loved by all the little things my kids do every day that say I love you to me. It’s easy to do with my kids. It’s harder to do with my husband. He’s a grown-up afterall. I should be able to tell him my love language and have him just give me what I want right? Nope. Just like learning Spanish Chinese, Russian or Arabic it takes work to learn to speak a new language, and some languages are harder for us than others. My husband is a words of affirmation adn physical touch kind of guy. I’ve had to learn to accept those things from him as signs of love as well as communicating to him when I really just need a service done for me.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Friendship

Focus on Giving, Not Getting

As a child I was primarily a physical touch speaker adn receiver. I was constantly wanting to be hugged and cuddled. I always wanted to give my friends hugs. I liked to roughhouse. Hubs and I should make a perfect match then, right? Being as we’re both physical touch people. Nope. While discussing love languages a few days ago I had the realization that physical touch is actually second lowest on my list right now. What changed? I realized that it had dropped lower and lower as I felt like physical touch was taken from me rather than freely given. The touches between my husband and I had become focused on him taking what he needed to feel loved, not giving me what I needed. For example he would try to grab me for a big hug and kiss and let’s just hold each other for a few minutes when I was in the middle of cooking dinner and worried that things were going to burn if I didn’t attend to them immediately. I began to resent his physical touch rather than treasuring it. As we have been researching a lot about bonding behaviors he has started using physical touch as a way to give, not just take. Now he does things like give me a massage when my shoulders hurt from carrying a grumpy baby all day, brush my hair, simply sit close enough to touch shoulders at church. By focusing his physical touch on giving not only is he helping me feel more loved and respected, but he’s finding that I am much more ready and willing to speak his love language and engage in nourishing physical touch with him rather than trying to push him away out of irritation. On the flip side I also find that the more I go out of my way to serve my husband (my primary love language, acts of service) he naturally returns the favor. As we’ve each focused more on giving we’ve allowed the other to do the same and we are both finding our love buckets are much fuller than they were when we were both just trying to get what we needed.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Parenting

Learning More About the Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman has written several books about this topic. Start off with the basic book “The Five Love Languages” which will guide you through each language and teach you how you can both give and receive in each language. After that there are several books that are directed at specific audiences such as military, children, singles, men, and teenagers. Dr. Chapman has also written several other great relationship books which you can view here. Don’t forget to check out the official Five Love Languages website and Dr. Chapman’s Facebook page as well.

Do you know what your love language is? How has knowing yours and loved ones love languages helped you or how do you think it can help you in the future? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook Community to join in on the conversation.

Weak Things Become Strong

We all have weaknesses. Character flaws, not yet achieved ambitions, desires to do or be better. We also all have strengths. A big part of self-love and self-care is being able to accept our current state of being while still pushing forward to always be better. With that intent we often quite vigorously hunt for our weaknesses, catalog them, make goals for change, collect accountability partners, then proceed to beat ourselves up over our perceived imperfections and lack of acceptable progress. We all know that God can make weak become strong. He can change and refine us to be more than we ever could on our own.

Weak Things Become Strong | muchnessmama.com | self love | make your weaknesses strengths | weak things of the world | you are unique

What if we changed our perspective a bit? Maybe the things we consider weaknesses can actually be our greatest strengths WITHOUT being changed. Maybe with some things exactly who we are is exactly who God wants us to be.

I was first introduced to this idea when I read the book “Parenting the Ephraims Child” by Jaime Theler and Deborah Talmagde. In this book they talk about traits that are often considered weaknesses in children and challenges parents to reframe them and strengths in need of refinement. For example stubbornness is VERY annoying when your 3-year-old won’t stay in their bed. That same trait, however, can lead them to say no when they’re a teen and their friends offer them drugs or alcohol. A child who is very sensitive and always having hurt feelings can become incredibly compassionate and charitable. 

Weak Things Become Strong | muchnessmama.com | self love | make your weaknesses strengths | weak things of the world | you are unique

Take a moment a jot down a list of your perceived weaknesses. If you’re anything like me things like eating healthy, exercise, yelling at the kids, etc. might be on your list. Some things really are just weaknesses that need to be improved on. What things are on your list that maybe could be strengths if just refined a little? I’ll give you one of mine as an example. I am a very easily distracted person. I have a hard time sitting and completing a task all in one go. I’ve started, stopped, and restarted this blog post three times now! I’ve always thought my lack of singular focus was a weakness. Then I started to really think about why I was so distracted. It was because I was acutely aware of what was going on around me. This awareness leads me to notice things that need to be done, and often allows me to bless others. I am aware of the woman sitting on the edge of the room alone who looks like she may need a friend. I’m aware of the person in a wheelchair coming up behind me who may appreciate having a door opened. I am aware that a child is struggling with a task that they haven’t thought to ask for help with. This awareness allows me to bless others. This awareness also made me a really good intelligence analyst in the Marine Corps. My husband really appreciates it when we are watching movies with complicated story lines and I can point out the small details he missed that pull everything together.

God made each of us unique. We all have different talents and abilities. There is no one else on this earth who has the exact same mix of strengths and weaknesses as you. You aren’t a mistake or an accident. He created each of us quite intentionally. I would challenge you to take some time this week and identify those things that you have perceived as weaknesses that could become your greatest strengths. Celebrate who you are instead of comparing to others and wishing that you had their talents. Now take your newfound strengths out into the world for a test drive and let me know how it goes.

Paparazzi accessories $5 "I am Strong" necklace | muchnessmama.com | self-love | self-care

Come join our Muchness Mamas Facebook community and share what weaknesses turned strengths you’ve identified. We’d love to hear your stories of how you have used them to bless yourself and others.

The Leaky Bucket-Managing Your Daily Energy Reserves

I had always imagined my energy reserves as a big metal bucket full of water. This bucket had holes all over the bottom constantly spitting out water as a small stream ran in. In my little mental cartoon I was manically trying to plug as many holes as I could to make sure my bucket didn’t drain faster than it could fill. As you can imagine that was a rather messy and quite impossible task.

managing your daily energy reserves | mucnessmama.com | introvert | extrovert |energy draining | energy filling | leaky bucket

Then I watched “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” with Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans on CreativeLive. They had the students make a chart. On the chart they were supposed to list their top 10-15 tasks that they typically did every day. Then they were supposed to use a bar to represent whether that task was energy filling or energy draining. Make sure to really think about this part. Draining doesn’t always mean unpleasant. I LOVE our weekly homeschool coop meetings. Being surrounded by 20-30 noisy kids for ~3 hours is still VERY draining for an introvert mom, no matter how much fun we are having. What they said next surprised me. I thought they were going to talk about how to get rid of or reduce the energy draining activities, AKA plugging the holes in the bucket. Instead they started to brainstorm on how you could manage your overall energy reserves by either changing the draining activity to a filling one, or creating a fill-drain-fill sandwich.

Changing an Energy Drainer to a Filler

So how do we CHANGE that draining activity into a filling activity? One example they gave was the daily board meeting. Instead of having it in the boardroom why not meet at the coffee house around the corner before going in to work and have some drinks and snacks while you talk? For those of us who stay at home why not turn on your favorite dancing music and sing along while doing dishes? By pairing a draining activity with a filling one your total energy balance after the activity will be much higher than before.

The Energy Fill Sandwich

What do you do when you can’t change an activity to make it less draining and more filling? Bill and Dave suggested the fill-drain-fill sandwich. In a work setting maybe you go for a short walk before the awful board meeting then treat yourself to a yummy healthy lunch afterwards. At home you may have hot shower, do the house cleaning, then take a quiet moment to read a book. By sandwiching a draining activity in between two filling activities you make sure your bucket is overflowing before it starts draining and then replenished after it’s drained.

Balancing the Fill and Drain Rates

While getting rid of energy draining activities certainly helps self care isn’t all about getting rid of the things that drain you. Fact is there are certain draining things that just have to be done. Living life drains energy. It’s just impossible to plug every hole in the bucket. When I started to shift my focus from plugging holes to increasing the water flowing in my energy level has gotten and stayed higher throughout the day. Instead of a 2 hour laundry marathon I now write a blog post (energy filling), fold a basket or two (majorly energy draining), then take some time to do a little art. I’ve been able to enjoy my kids more, feel more satisfied with my life at the end of the day and I find that I am getting a LOT more accomplished. Washing dishes doesn’t seem like quite the same torture it was before when I know my calligraphy pen is waiting for me when I’m done. The best part is that when the unexpected drains occur (three year old temper tantrums come to mind) my energy reserves are higher allowing me to better handle stressful situations.

What are your biggest energy drains and fillers? What can you do to restructure your activities or schedule to better regulate the flow of incoming energy adn keep your bucket full? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook community to continue the discussion!

Filling Your Bucket with Drops of Awesome

If you are anything like me then most days you go to bed with with a mountain of regrets and a long list of to-do’s that never got done. It’s a little bit too easy to get lost in the negative self-talk of “I’m a failure!” What if instead every night you focused on counting your drops of awesome?

What are drops of awesome? Well they are all the successes, big and small, that you have every day. Stop to think about it and I bet your list gets pretty long, even longer than the failures. Each positive action is a tiny drop of awesome that you get to put in your Super Mom bucket. I bet you’ll find that you need to upgrade to a bigger bucket once you give yourself permission to recognize and celebrate them. Check out the book by Kathryn Thompson on Amazon.

Drops of awesome | MuchnessMama.com | self-care | self-love | you are enough

 

Collect Your Drops of Awesome

Did your kids get fed today? Drop of awesome!

Did you snuggle a sad child? Drop of awesome!

Did you count to 5 and talk calm when you wanted to yell? Drop of awesome!

Helped a child with a school assignment? Drop of awesome!

Pregnant or breastfeeding? Drop of awesome, or maybe ten!

Created something just for yourself? Drop of awesome!

Mopped the floor, that has been dirty for a week or two? Drop of awesome!

Put on real clothes AND brushed your hair? Drop of awesome!

It would be really easy to look at all these moments and say “Suzie homemaker NEVER feeds her kids cereal!” or “Why should I be proud that I procrastinated the dishes until I ran out and had to use paper plates for the third meal in a row?” or “I’m so selfish for ignoring my kids for 5 minutes!” That kind of negative thinking can not only destroy you, but it makes it even harder to succeed tomorrow. YOU ARE ENOUGH!! 

I am enough | muchnessmama.com | self care | self love | drops of awesome | supermom

Focus on the Positive

I have a challenge for you. Get yourself one of those little click counter things. Every day for the next week after you get it carry it around and give yourself a click each time you collect a drop of awesome. At the end of the day write down a few of them in your journal. At the end of one week I bet you will be amazed at how much focusing on your awesome seriously improved your mood and self worth.

YOU ARE AWESOME!!

Why not start here and now collecting your drops? Head on over to our Facebook Community and wave your brag flag by telling us all about today’s drops of awesome.

You Don’t Have to Enjoy Every Minute of Motherhood

“The time will pass so fast. Just enjoy every minute!”

I call big fat BULL$***!!

You Don't Have to Enjoy Every Minute | muchnessmama.com | motherhood is hard | self-care | self love |

Are you seriously telling me that I should enjoy rinsing poop out of my three-year-old’s underpants? I should be whistling a happy tune while scrubbing the make-up off my walls? I should be in the throes of euphoria while repeating “JUST PUT YOUR SHOES ON!!” for the tenth time when we are now ten minutes late getting out the door? Or do you think I should be laughing through every moment my baby screamed and there was nothing I could do to comfort him?

Nope. I don’t buy it. Life is full of all sorts of emotions, and none of them are bad, shameful, or to be avoided. Stop telling moms to stuff their feelings!

Instead let’s tell moms that it’s ok to feel however you feel, this too will pass, and everything will be ok.

Your nipples hurt every time that little chomper needs to eat and it sucks.

Your baby will stop crying eventually and you are not a failure if you feel like ripping your ears off while you wait.

Your hormones are totally out of whack and your emotions may not make sense, get some drugs if you need them!

Lack of sleep is the pits! Being a Mombie is miserable. It’s ok to take a nap instead of washing the dishes and serve dinner on paper plates.

Just don’t bother repainting the walls, they’ll just color on them again. Sorry, you won’t have anything nice that stays that way until you have no more toddlers.

Waiting it out is sometimes the best you can do. You’re still a rockstar.

Toddlers asking the same question for the ninth time are very annoying. It’s ok to be irritated, just try not to be mean when you tell them to please just stop talking!

You don't Have to Enjoy Every Minute | muchnessmama.com | toddler tantrums | motherhood is hard
Mommy took the bag of marshmallows away after she worked so hard to climb up to where mommy thought they were out of reach.

It’s ok not to worry about the dead cockroach on the floor before taking a picture to show your husband (and all of social media too) just how much your day is totally sucking.

Give yourself permission to hate this moment. Cry through it if you need to. Get out for a bit if that’s what it takes. Go ahead and throw that underwear in the trash because you just can’t handle washing one more pair. Eat some chocolate while hiding in your closet. Then pull up your big girl britches and get back to work. Because it is work. It’s rewarding and fulfilling, but it’s still work. It’s going to be ok.

Feeding your child can become a joyful bonding experience, even if it’s because you switched to a bottle.

Your baby will finally smile with tears in their eyes and completely melt your heart.

Hormones will balance and emotions will stabilize.

You will eventually have more time to sleep than you know what to do with.

Some day you can have white walls and carpet if that’s your desire without danger of markers grape juice destroying them.

You’ll make it. You’ll still be a rockstar. You’ll miss those sticky little monsters, but you won’t miss every single moment, and that’s ok.

What are your favorite, and least favorite, parts of being a mom? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook community and let’s chat about it! 

 

Back to School: 5 Self-Care Tips for Mom

Getting the kids ready to head back to school can be a pretty big drain on time and finances. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of back to school haircuts, clothing, supplies, activities, etc. and quickly forget to take a little time for self-care. Whether your kids are homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled this is a busy time of year. Here are a few tips to fit in some self-care for mom as well.

Back to School | Self Care | Motherhood | Surviving back to school | Back to School Shopping | motherhood

 

Moms Need New Clothes Too!

When I was growing up my mom owned two pairs of pants. Just two. I remember asking her why she didn’t get a new pair when there were holes in the knees of one. “It’s just not in the budget, raising kids is expensive.” Yes, raising kids is expensive, but you deserve to be in the budget too! Around this time of year there are usually some great deals on mom clothes as well as kids clothes. Plan ahead and make sure to throw a few $$ in the budget to get yourself a new outfit as well. I’ve got tons of cute things in my LuLaRoe shop that are perfect for the mom on the go at excellent prices and a special back to school sale coming up soon. While you’re at it why not throw in a few $5 accessories as well? You can’t go wrong at a price point of $5 to add a little bling to your wardrobe. And don’t forget a new pair of shoes as well. I recently found a pair of my favorite brand Saucony running shoes at a local shoe store in the clearance aisle for only $7! Can’t beat that.

How About Those School Supplies?

Right now you’re probably stocking up on colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and composition books. All great things to get your kids through the next school year. Well why not get yourself a pretty new pen or notebook as well while everything is on sale and start a personal journal? Journaling has been proven to reduce stress, clarify thinking, solve problems and disagreements, and help you to know yourself better (Check out this article on the health benefits of journaling). Taking five minutes a day to jot down a few things in a bullet journal or maybe spend a bit more time creating a beautiful art journal to pass down to your kiddos can be a huge mood boosting activity. Plus who doesn’t like a pretty notebook or fun pen?

Time to Simplify

Heading back to school means it’s time to pick your classes/activities for the year. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real y’all, and not just for moms. We don’t want our kids to miss out on any opportunity that they have before them. When you have multiple kiddos this means the fees and the time in trekking from one activity to the next really starts to add up. Many kids are now taking an extra zero period before school just to fit in all the electives that they want to take. For my fellow homeschoolers it’s easy to get caught up in so many co-ops, playgroups, field trips, and other activities that we’re hardly ever at home. This isn’t good for the parents or the kids. It’s ok to say no. No you can’t do violin, ballet, advanced art class, 4H and scouts all at one time! You can be truly excellent at a very few things or you can be mediocre at everything. It’s far less stressful to pick a focus and really become excellent at something you truly love rather than thinking you can’t miss out on any opportunity that comes your way. In our family we have decided to limit ourselves to one weekly co-op, one weekly play date, and no more than one additional activity per child. This gives me time as a mom to slow down, spend less, and help my kids become a true master at their chosen activity. When I was growing up in public school my parents were smart enough to have the same rule with me, only one extracurricular activity, and only as many electives as can fit into my regular school schedule. I had to give up drama class after 9th grade because I decided to stick with band. I bet you that if I was trying to manage every school play along with all of my band concerts I never would have made it into the Marine Corps Band when I was graduated. Set the example and teach your kids life is better when you simplify!

Please go to Bed!

Sleep. We all need it, and none of us get enough of it. There is a reason the word Mombie exists! Seriously though it is such a huge part of self-care! I’m sure we all work hard to get our kiddos into bed on time, because we know how much they need adequate sleep in order to be successful learners. Why is it that we struggle to make sleep as much of a priority for ourselves. Now there are definitely times when it’s just out of our control. 2am newborn feedings and teething toddlers can make it rather difficult to get a full 8 hour sleep night. Let’s not even get started on the “Mom, my science fair project is due tomorrow and I need an experiment!” I challenge you to do everything in your power to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night for 1 week and see how your productivity increases. If you could get more done, in less time, and feel better while doing it then why wouldn’t you?

There’s Nothing Wrong With Saying No

Remember that science fair project that’s due tomorrow? Well sometimes it’s ok to tell your kiddo “too bad, guess you should have told me about it earlier!” It is NOT your responsibility as a mom to save your kids from their bad choices. It is NOT your responsibility to make sure that they get A’s at all costs. It is certainly NOT your responsibility to do their homework for them. Not only does this rob you of your well deserved peace and time, but it robs them of the opportunity to learn and grow. I know, it’s hard to watch your kid fail or making bad choices. Ultimately, however, there will come a day when mom isn’t there to clean up their messes. Best to let them learn how to be responsible for themselves now (within age appropriate guidelines of course) by facing the consequences when the stakes are much smaller than losing your job or your house! and speaking of saying no it’s also ok to say no I’m not going to spend that much and a new backpack, shoes you don’t need, the funky colored pencils that cost three times as much as the regular yellow ones, and every single item of clothing your kid thinks is cute. You’re the mom, you get to set the budget. I promise your kid will happily survive the school year without a certain name brand on their butt or a brand new backpack. Plus that leaves more for your mom needs new clothes too budget. 😉

I would love to hear your self-care tips for managing the back to school crazies as a mom. What do you do to maintain your sanity?

If You Take Seven Kids on a Cross Country Roadtrip

Today I have a little story for you. This is a story based on real events that occurred last week.

If You Take Seven Kids on a Cross Country Roadtrip

If you put seven kids in their carseats they’re sure to ask “how long till we get there?”

When you answer their question “three days” they’ll be sure to moan and complain and ask for a snack.

If you give them a snack then they’ll want a drink to go with it.

If you give them a drink they will need to take a potty break…every half hour…for the whole trip.

When you stop for a potty break they are sure to ask for time to play.

If you give them time to play then someone is bound to get in a fight.

When you end the fight and order them back into the car there will be much moaning and carrying on.

As you get back in the car you will discover that the Air Conditioner is no longer blowing cold air.

cross-country road trip| big family road trip | road trip horror story | travelling with kids | route 66 | driving cross-country
When the AC is out and the windows are down you ski the make-up and rock the mom-bun and headband

When you realize that your AC compressor that has been making a lot of noise has finally died you will roll down the windows.

When you’ve had enough of the noisy kids, wind in your face, and sweating you’ll decide to stop for the night.

Then you stop you’ll discover that you are in a tiny town with a less than impressive selection of hotel rooms.

You’ll end up in a not so lovely motel room with a teeny tiny bathtub barely deep enough to cool down the one year old in.

Once you get the kiddos cooled down it will be time to get them in bed.

This will require many repeatings of “LAY DOWN AND BE QUIET!” as they wiggle and giggle enjoying the adventure.

While trying to get the one year old to sleep she will smack you in the face scratching your eyeball.

cross-country road trip| big family road trip | road trip horror story | travelling with kids | route 66 | driving cross-country

After just a few hours of sleep your alarm will go off so that you can get everyone back in the car before the heat of the day really hits.

Day two will be filled with more snacks, drinks, and potty breaks along with about 50 million “how long till we got to…?” type questions.

As the sun comes up you will discover that your eyeball is hurt enough that you can no longer keep it open, and you are now driving with one eye closed.

When you can’t handle any more heat blowing in the window you will once again stop for the night.

As you pull into the parking lot your engine will die and the car won’t restart.

You’ll decide to wait till morning to see if it’s just overheated.

When you get up at 5 in the morning the car will start, but immediately start rattling and smoking.

You’ll call around and discover that there aren’t any mechanics shops open until 8 am.

You’ll go back to your room for a few more hours of sleep only to discover that your children are all wide awake and ready for breakfast.

After you fill their tummies you’ll start calling mechanics shops.

A few hours later you’ll be back on the road, still without air conditioning.

cross-country road trip| big family road trip | road trip horror story | travelling with kids | route 66 | driving cross-country

Then it will start raining.

When it rains you’ll just get wet, because that’s better than shutting the windows and frying.

After another full day of whining, snacking, drinking, peeing, and fighting, you’ll bribe the kids with chocolate if they will just be silent for a few hours.

Once they’ve had enough chocolate they will all fall asleep.

cross-country road trip| big family road trip | road trip horror story | travelling with kids | route 66 | driving cross-country

At about midnight mom will need a potty break. You’ll discover that there is nowhere to stop for about 40 miles, so you will drive 7 miles in the wrong direction to get to a bathroom.

As you are returning to your route you will get pulled over by a policeman who would like to inform you that the light on your license plate is out.

When the policeman pulls you over he will want to inform you that he is also from Georgia, and tell you all about road tripping with his doge and his 6-year-old daughter who likes to beat up her 11-year-old sister.

When the policeman finally stops talking to you, you will continue driving a little over an hour and finally arrive at Grandma’s house at 2AM.

When you try to get your kids right into bed they will be too excited and you will once again have to threaten immediate death to anyone who can not be silent.

After you enjoy your visit to Grandma’s house you will once again be cajoling seven kids into their car seats while listening to “how long till we get there?” and dreading what is going to go wrong this time on the three-day trip home.

It’s All About Perspective

I will fully admit to shedding a few tears and doing a fair bit of “woe is me” complaining in my head. You see the last time I made this trip six years ago my AC and power steering went out during the trip, 2 of my then 3 kids got sick, I also was sick, my debit card got shut off, and our 3 day trip turned into 4 adding a fair bit of expense that we hadn’t planned for. Once I arrived my transmission went out so we just sold the car and flew home. That isn’t really an option this time with seven kiddos, so I’m stuck having to repeat this experience, hopefully with a few less mishaps, in a few weeks.

In both cases I have a choice. I can choose to focus on all that has gone wrong and be miserable, or I can choose to search for the blessings in the midst of trial. When my car dies on me I was in a hotel parking lot. It could have been the middle of nowhere on a close to 100 degree day. Instead of being stuck waiting for a tow I was able to move my children into a safe comfortable place with very nice and helpful staff. We were blessed to find a local mechanic who was fair, honest, and got us fixed up and back on the road as quick as possible. I was INCREDIBLY lucky to have my father driving with me. He helped pay for expenses, drove when I couldn’t keep my eye open, and kept me cheerful and laughing when things looked their worst. It also doesn’t hurt to have him say “Do you want Grandpa to be mad at you?” and have the 2-year-old instantly quiet down and go to bed! The biggest blessing has been seeing just how much people in this world love and care about my family. There has been so much concern and support expressed. My mother started a GoFundMe to help get our car fixed up before heading home and the overwhelming outpouring of monetary support has been overwhelming. Not to mention all the beautiful sights we got to see along the way.

cross-country road trip| big family road trip | road trip horror story | travelling with kids | route 66 | driving cross-country

With every trial we face in life we have the choice. We can sit and complain and wallow, or we can look for the lessons and the blessings. I have had to learn to be a bit more humble and accept service and help. I have been blessed with love and assistance, both emotional and financial. I can’t change what happened, but I can definitely choose how I react. I choose to react with gratitude for all that went right, despite this trip going so horribly wrong.

I’d love to hear about your worst, best, funniest, etc. road trips! Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook Community and let’s chat!