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{MINDFUL MONDAY} Guest Post: Taking Time To Make “Me” Time

22 Aug

Sit back and relax with your Monday morning cuppa while the two Sarahs of Salt & Nectar let us in on their secrets of how to carve out precious “me” time during the busy hustle and bustle of motherhood.  Enjoy!

When chatting with The Outlaw Mom about her transition from working full time to life as a stay-at-home mom, we thought it would be fun to offer “sage” advice on how to carve out “me” time when one lives, works, eats, sleeps, and plays in the boundary-less world of one’s home where the days have no beginning and no end. Although our words of wisdom are probably anything but wise and profound, we’re pretty certain they reflect the reality that we all struggle with when trying to maintain a sense of our former selves while also being our new selves and mothers. With that in mind, my partner in crime at Salt & Nectar and I sat down and got to talking about how we actually make it to yoga, go out with girlfriends, or make it to date night.

The Other Sarah (TOS): Hello, darling! After much ado, we’re finally able to sit down and have our chat about making time for ourselves.  I guess it’s hard to make time for oneself, right?

Sarah Stewart Holland (SSH): Amen. Although I have no room to complain today, my amazing aunt volunteered to clean my house and watch my kids today! Reason #49028 why I love living near family. That’s something I’ve learned. Making time for yourself is not a solo endeavor. The key is reaching out for help.

TOS: So true, but so difficult when one is a single parent or temporary single parent as was the case for me. I think I’m still recovering from the lack of “me” time when my husband was away working each week for 14 months. But thankfully it’s a new day and he’s bending over backwards to make sure I have the ability to do things for myself, which I really appreciate.

SSH: I really can’t even imagine. Even if Nicholas were away, I would still have my parents.  I know a million different people have said it a million different ways but I am a better mom when I have my own time.

TOS: It was tough, especially because we were new to LA and I didn’t have an established network either. But things are so much improved. And I completely agree that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

SSH: We are so lucky to live with technology that can make that possible – even if you can’t “get away.” I was just talking with an older friend whose children are grown. She was saying how isolating it was to be a stay-at-home mom when she was doing it. Now, even if I can’t get out of the house, I can take some me time during naptime to plug into my online mommy community and vent/laugh/relate. Dear Internet, I love you.

TOS: I know, what would we do without the Internet!?!…

…So, we initially came up with the idea of interviewing each other about how we make time in our wacky WAHM schedules, when you said that you and Nicholas had a fight about making time for yourself. What was that fight about?

SSH: I had lined up my stepdad Ron to watch Amos while Nicholas took Griffin to swim class and I went to yoga. Nicholas was upset because he needed help getting Griffin ready and I was on my way out the door. I had just started going back to yoga and it was so important to me to keep going and not miss one. The word selfish was used, but I just had to stand my ground. This summer I’ve spent a lot more time in just solo mommy mode and I needed a break.

TOS: Were you surprised by that reaction since Nicholas is usually so much of an equal parent/partner?

SSH: Definitely. But hey, having two kids is stressful and he gets way less “me” time then I do. In fact, we’re currently working on getting him some alone time, too. Just because he gets out of the house doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a break to explore his interests, too.

TOS: Very true.

SSH: How do you and your husband strike that balance?

TOS: Striking a balance is always a work in progress. Now that my husband works primarily from home, we initially hit some road bumps until we figured out a system that works for both of us. When he got his new job and didn’t have to travel anymore, we nevertheless maintained the status quo where he would work during the day and enjoy time off at night, and I would be “off” during the day watching the Little Dude and then working into the wee hours of the night. Then one day, I woke up and said the arrangement was no longer fair or healthy. He agreed. So, as long as he doesn’t have inflexible client meetings and the like, he usually works in the morning and takes the Little Dude after naptime, and I then work once our son goes down for a nap. Then, we both have free evenings to enjoy (on most nights anyway)…

…We’ve also reached out to family more. While we don’t have family that lives in Los Angeles, my husband’s mom lives about an hour away. So, we’ll arrange to have her come down for a day or two at a time and babysit. During her visits, we work, do independent things, or even go out on afternoon movie dates (although the latter has only happened once).

SSH: I wish Nicholas worked from home. That would be so amazing.

TOS: It’s a double-edged sword. It’s actually a lot harder to maintain boundaries and remain efficient.

SSH: I can imagine. Something else I struggle with when it comes to the whole “me” time debate is feeling pulled in both directions. Sometimes the most convenient time to take time for myself is the same moment Nicholas and the boys are doing something fun or just hanging out. And I want to spend time with them too.

TOS: I totally commiserate about wanting to hang with the fam and wanting to have me time. Often my husband takes the Little Dude somewhere fun to give me a break but then I feel like I miss out on the family bonding. Like I said, striking a balance is always a work in progress.

SSH: Definitely. But I think me time can be whatever replenishes you.

TOS: Even though you occasionally joke about living in a small town, do you think your return to Paducah has made it possible to have more “me” time than living in DC? You do have the greatest thing on earth called Mommy’s Day Out.

SSH: In the infamous words of Mr. Big—abso-f@#ing-lutely!  Mommy’s Day Out is cheap, cheap, cheap daycare from 9am-2p, on Tuesday/Thursday which has allowed me to teach part time and write and run errands and do all manner of other things. Plus, like I mentioned before, I have a long list of family members willing to help out.  Days like today—when I went to yoga, met with an inspiring local writer, and spent the rest of my afternoon writing in the local coffee shop simply would NOT be possible if I had stayed in DC.

TOS: How has baby number 2 changed making time for you?

SSH: Well, it’s tough starting back at zero as far as breastfeeding and how long I can be away. I hate pumping with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But I do it for that all-important me time. Plus, I have less down time generally because there is only that small nap window with Griffin and there’s no guarantee that Amos will go down at the same time, although I’ve been very lucky and they usually sleep at the same time.

TOS: Well, we’ve established that family is the key to carving out time for oneself easier. Do you have any other last minute tricks for other busy moms out there?

SSH: I would say just do what you can. Some days me time is just a hot shower. Other days it’s an entire afternoon out. Be flexible and kind to yourself. The last thing you want is for “me time” to become another chore or stressor….

…What about you?

TOS: I second what you said. And I also have found that making a standing commitment with friends is helpful — it’s a weekly motivator, my husband has agreed to the timing so there are no surprises, it seems to always be the perfect little recharge at the end of the week, and it’s obligatory me time.

SSH: I totally agree. I have a standing coffee date with one of my favorite people in the world. Never ceases to lift my spirits….

…So, sadly, my me time for today is coming to an end.

TOS: I think that’s a wrap. Thanks for spending your “me” time with, well, me.

The Outlaw Mom thanks the Sarahs of Salt and Nectar for taking the time out of their busy schedules to guest blog today.  Sarah and Sarah first met as staff members of their law school’s only feminist legal publication, otherwise known as the “Gender Journal.” After stints working in Big Law and on Capitol Hill, the Sarahs said goodbye to DC and hello to CA & KY to swap lifestyles and start families. Now, their imperfect but sweet lives as moms makes for good blog fodder at Salt & Nectar.

{Guest Post} Curious Mom Questions About Kids’ Programming

25 Jul

The Outlaw Mom’s Disclaimer:  The views expressed in the following review of children’s television programming are not necessarily those of The Outlaw Mom.  In The Outlaw Mom’s household, Special Agent Oso is king and it is clear to us that he has cleverly devised a foil of the fumbling, bumbling, cuddly bear in order to hide the undeniable cunning that lies beneath.  But go ahead … read on if you want to laugh your socks off.

Okay, so sometimes I wonder about things that some people might find odd. Sometimes, I might ponder what it would be like in a quantum parallel universe where our reality is reversed – would people eat their corn on the cob from top to bottom? If there are 11 known dimensions in the multi-verse, which one are we in? How in the world did that amazing young female scientist figure out where all the missing matter in the universe had been “misplaced” after all these years – and can she find my missing socks?

But, admittedly, some of the most vexing questions since having children seem to pop up when watching PBS Kids, Nick Junior or Disney Junior. Here are just a few that have been bugging me over the last few years. If you’re an exceptional parent whose children have never seen a television, none of these may make any sense to you. And, Bravo! But, if you’re a normal parent who, well, just-needs-half-an-hour-to-do-the-dishes-or-laundry-or-read-a-book-or-cook-or-pay-bills-or-no-it’s-not-a-babysitter-I-just-freaking-need-30-minutes-to-do-something-that-I-want-to-do-for-just-thirty-friggin’-minutes, okay??!!!, then maybe you can send me some that I’m missing.

And here they are:

1) The omni-present question: Where are Max and Ruby’s Parents?

BUNNY-PROTECTIVE SERVICES (BPS) HAS BEEN INVESTIGATING FOR YEARS

2) How did Mama Bear give birth to Sister Bear, shower, change, get her newborn to sleep and lose her distended uterus while Papa and Brother Bear were out chopping wood?

MAMA BEAR HOLDS THE WORLD RECORD FOR FASTEST FUNDAL MASSAGE

3) How did that one-eyed pimply orange cylindrical monster on Yo Gabba Gabba ever make it past the Parent’s Television Council?

DO I REALLY NEED TO EXPLAIN WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE?

4) Who lets their kid play with a baby jaguar? And, for that matter, where is baby Jaguar’s momma?

YEAH, THINK WE’LL STICK WITH PERSIANS

5) Why doesn’t YehYeh buy Kai Lan another outfit?

6) WTH is a “Uniqua?” ….yeah, yeah, I know, a play on the word “unique”, a tip to diversity…but, I think I’ve figured out the formula:

I CRACKED THE CODE

7) And since, we’re talking Backyardigans, what the heck is Austin supposed to be?)

YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE

8) Why are Goofy and Pete dogs that can talk and walk upright, but Pluto barks and walks on all fours?

YOU KNOW YOU’VE WONDERED THAT SINCE YOU WERE FIVE!

9) Who laced Dino Dan’s carrot sticks with hallucinogens?

I’M SURE THAT WITH A LITTLE THERAPY AND A LOT OF LOVE,

HE CAN LIVE A NORMAL LIFE

10) How did such an intellectually-challenged bear become a Special Agent?

SCREENING STANDARDS DEFINITELY NEED TO BE

RE-EVALUATED FOR PUBLIC DEFENDERS

11) Why hasn’t Buddy the T-Rex ever tried to eat Tiny the Pteranadon?

RIGHT. LIKE BIPEDAL CARNIVORES HAVE EVER GOTTEN ALONG WITH FLYING THERAPODS. WHATEVA!

12) And who do you think hates themselves more? The Fresh Beat Band or The Imagination Movers?

THIS IS A CLOSE ONE

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’ve gotta run. SuperWhy is about to come on!

Today, we’re going to unlock the mystery of why Sleeping Beauty can’t wake up

by using our super reading powers. 🙂

The Outlaw Mom thanks Tricia, the hilarious and ever-insightful woman behind Critters and Crayons, for guest posting today.  After serving as a U.S. Army Officer for nearly ten years, Tricia worked as a research analyst and technical writer for another four.  She chose to take a break from full-time work to raise her two toddlers and now tries to put her skills to use as a mom and freelance writer.  She writes, researches and reviews family and kid activities in her small border town of Laredo, Texas.  It’s a place just minutes away from the extreme violence plaguing Nuevo, Laredo, Mexico and she hopes to bring a little positivity and levity to the sister cities through her blog.  She also writes about greener living, cooking, literature, and other things that bring happiness and laughter.  Want to read more from this fabulous mom and blogger?  Hop over to Critters and Crayons!

{Guest Post} Surviving Five Kids and Fundraisers

13 Jun

Hello there, would you like to buy a $3 candy bar? How about seven pounds of frozen cookie dough? Not much of a sweet tooth, huh? That’s okay, how about a pepperoni roll, tickets to the pancake breakfast—or maybe the spaghetti dinner? Oh. You’re on a diet. I understand—I would be, too, if I didn’t have kids. Maybe you would be more interested in a magazine subscription? Or a high-fragrance, flameless, candle substitute? Maybe a discount card that offers insignificant savings from places you rarely visit? Ooh, better yet, forget the card; I’m selling a whole discount book. Where are you going? Wait! Don’t forget to swing by the carwash so kids who have never washed a vehicle in their lives can scratch up yours! Just drop your spare change in the can on your way out!

Most of us would never dream of asking our coworkers for money and are naturally averse to peddling subpar ware to our friends and loved ones. But, as always, our children can lead us to do crazy things. As soon as those babies are born, you find yourself abandoning civilized banter around the water cooler in favor of pressuring everyone to buy Bingo cards for basketball, coffee mugs for Cub Scouts, and potted plants for PTA.

My children and their non-stop roster of activities have turned me into a one-woman mini-mall of useless, overpriced purchasing opportunities. Not only do the kids bring them home from school, fundraising is a part of every sports team, club, and organization that they join. Some are optional, some are mandatory, but all come with a healthy dose of guilt to show your support by sacrificing your friends. I used to try to participate in every fundraiser that my children were asked to join, but it didn’t take long to realize that not only was this an impossible task, it was also the quickest way to alienate my entire peer group. I needed to choose my sales carefully.

School fundraisers are sneaky. They claim to be optional, which leads me to chuck them out, along with all of the fliers, advertisements, and other folder spam that seems to come home with my children every week. But, without fail, within a few days, the kids begin to ask how much “we’ve” sold so far, and I’m stuck like a deer in the headlights. Telling them that “we” aren’t participating leads to whining and fear that they are going to be the only children in the school who won’t win a fluorescent plastic yoyo boomerang for every hundred dollars’ worth of coffee they sell.

I was once suckered into a school fundraiser that “just” required me to fill in the names and addresses of 15 innocent friends and family members so that the company could hound them mercilessly (but with no obligation!).My son begged me to participate; he had already been primed at school that he would get a prize just for turning in those addresses, and he couldn’t bear to miss out on a prize. So I gleaned names from my rolodex and solicited for contact information on Facebook, pointing out to friends that my sweet little boy would win just through their cooperation. I compiled the list, sent it off to school with my son, and waited anxiously to see what kind of little trinket he would score from my hard work.

He walked through the door that afternoon with a huge smile on his face. Oh boy! He dug through his book bag for his prize and proudly pulled out… a piece of butterscotch candy. And they didn’t even spring for the Werther’s Originals! It was just a tiny, generic piece of hard candy wrapped in clear cellophane, as though the Fundraising Gods had fished it out of the pocket of their grandmother’s sweater, blew the lint off, and dangled it in front of my child like a carrot.

I was later guilted into participating in the school’s annual candy bar sale. Once committed to selling a box, if you couldn’t peddle all $50 worth of the chocolate, you were obligated to foot the remainder of the bill yourself. But the box featured name-brand candy bars of a decent size, so I figured we could probably manage to sell a box to put a smile on the kids’ faces. But what we didn’t take into account was the fact that every child in a 20-mile radius would also be selling the exact same thing. Our student-saturated neighborhood became a ridiculous display of children nagging their parents for money and selling candy bars to each other, all happy to have not only sold their entire box, but to have purchased a pile of candy in the process. Never again.

Sports teams and dance classes, however—now those are fundraisers I will sell my soul (and dignity) for. These sales don’t earn my kids plastic knick-knacks that I’ll step on in the middle of the night. Instead, the sales’ profits chisel away at the mountainous accumulation of tuitions, fees, and uniform purchases that threaten to bury my family and move us into a luxury refrigerator box downtown. Every nickel or dime I can squeeze from my loved ones is less dough that I have to shell out to every extracurricular institution in the tri-county area.

So the next time you see your friend coming toward you with a guilty grin, trying to interest you in some lollipops for Little League or raffle tickets for racquetball, pull out your wallet and contribute what you can. Putting out a few bucks not only helps a friend in need, but when the time comes for your child to bring home a catalog of wrapping paper and stationary to sell, you will have a list of people who are already indebted to your cause.

The Outlaw Mom would like to thank Leigh Ann Wilson of Surviving Five for guest blogging today and for her incredibly helpful – and hilarious – insight into the world of children’s fundraisers!  At Surviving Five, Leigh Ann blogs about her “crazy, often chaotic” life as a stay at home mom with 5 small children (ages 7, 6, 4, 3, and 2).  For more pricelessly heartwarming and humorous posts on family and motherhood, hop on over to her blog now!

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