Friday, September 25, 2020

The 7 Secrets to Happiness on Mondays as a Working Mama

Being a working mother is a beautiful thing. And yet, it does not look like it on Mondays. Sometimes it doesn't look like that on other days of the week either. 

Mondays are like the first game of the season for the week. It seems to layout a certain flow to the rest. That's why having it go well is a wonderful gift. 

I used to hate Mondays up until just about recently. Funny enough, these are also the years that I have accepted more responsibility in my home life and in my professional career. By all accounts, I should be having miserable mornings full of spilled, cold coffee on business casual clothes, multiple diaper changes, and dramatic scenes at maximum volume.

And while those Mondays happen as well, I am pleased to say that my mornings typically function smoothly. Or smoothly enough. Here are 7 secrets to finding that elusive happiness on a Monday morning.

1. The No-Brainer Secret

This one is a baseline secret, but here it is, Get into Your Flow.

Here is a good video on what is flow and I will try to paraphrase it in Mama terms with concrete examples. Flow is being completely involved in the task at hand with the ego forgotten. Flow is being really good at sorting laundry when you focus on it. Flow is listening to your child talk about a story and bonding. 

Flow can happen on Monday mornings. 

My Flow is borrowed from habits established from wearing many hats and the wonderful and very helpful Jordan Page's Block Schedule idea.  

It is much easier to be happy, relaxed, and focused when you know exactly what you have to do and how to do it. 

I find my Flow from knowing my what I need to do in the morning. There is a checklist in my head that I go through before anyone leaves the house. And there are so-called blocks or periods of wearing certain hats, like my make believe firefighter hat or my chef hat. 

I call this the no-brainer secret because there is no overthinking involved. People reach a state of Flow when they are doing tasks and activities that are second nature to them in that moment in time. 

2. Your Phone is Not Your Friend

There are so many things to unpack here. I am not saying that browsing social media and connecting with people is wrong. Checking email first thing in the morning is also not inherently wrong. 

It is the habit for habit's sake that is the problem. It creates an odd family culture in your household where your child might learn very early on that being physically there is not the same as being mentally or emotionally present.

So if you can be there mentally and emotionally for your child while looking at 3 screens and making dinner, then all is good. 

I know for myself that my minutes can escape me as I scroll through social media.

I try my hardest to avoid this. 

It is also a lot harder to do things in the morning when you are not mentally and emotionally in your same space.

I am trying to cutback on my phone use and when I do, I notice my mind come to a healthier place. I am not curious to know what 800 of my closest friends--some of whom I've only met once or haven't talked to since high school--are doing. And my phone transforms into a pocket reference to the rest of the world instead of an invisible net that is tying up my morning routine. 

3. The Morning Routine

Speaking of the morning routine, it is crucial. 

And here I am a stereotypical mother who loves her morning routine. We all recommend a good morning routine because it works. 

It's not really a secret, but it is detrimentally underrated that it might as well be one. A routine is not meant to remove any spontaneity from your life, but instead is meant to take out a lot of the bad possibilities.

4. Not Starting Behind

It is a wonderful feeling not running behind on chores, social obligations, or work deadlines. It is an amazing feeling not drowning in tasks, but instead having the time and opportunity to enjoy them in a state of flow. 

A very easy thing that you can do is to prepare bottles ahead of time or meals ahead of time as much as possible. Another thing is to take care of one weekly chore per night. And yet another thing is to complete some reading either for personal growth, a book club, or for professional reasons.  

The next aspect of this secret is one that unfortunately cannot be changed with just an "abundance" mindset. It's about having resources. There is a certain amount of basic resources or necessities you need like food, clothing, shelter, and safety that is necessary. 

For example, if you do not have food in your home, then you are behind sustenance for the morning. And in fact, it is usually the tangible and intangible resource deficits that make us miserable on Mondays. I hope that everyone reading this has their basic necessities on every day of the week. And same goes for people not reading this entry as well.  

5. Planning for Something Fun, Exciting or Comforting

It is good to look forward to something. So it makes my Monday better to look forward to a visit from family or catching up with a friend. 

I don't know who needs to hear this, but you should not reserve a bit of a reprieve from your daily grind ONLY for when everything is perfect. Chances are that perfect will never come. It is necessary to keep your bucket full. And filling your bucket is just as important as making sure your children are well-fed, clothed, and have their emotional needs met. 

I enjoy reading for enjoyment, catching up with friends, and taking bubble baths. You might enjoy something else. 

6. Make it a Game

As a Mama, I know what it is like to have your days melt together. With everyone spending more time at home on zoom calls instead of physical events and meetings, it is a lot easier to lose track of time. That is why I have a simple mental tool for how to avoid the old adage of "the years are short, but the days are long," Make. It. A. Game.

While this is not the best analogy, add some way to quantify an aspect of your day and make a goal. Then, give yourself a reward for it. Did you have nothing but patience as your child had a meltdown at a park after you spent hours planning and buying tickets? And did you not lose your head? Great! Give yourself a sticker, add a dollar to your savings account. Something. Find a way to measure your progress on your journey and most importantly celebrate each step.

7. Practice and Repeat

I am borrowing a lesson that was passed onto me from a very brilliant woman. And I am going to do my best to paraphrase it.

The first time that you do something that you have true talent in, you think you are going to be awesome at it. But no, the first time you do anything, even if you have talent in it, you are going to blow it and it will go horribly. 
Life takes practice. And the funny thing about being a mama, a mommy, or a mom, is that the title might stay the same, but our lives might change drastically from one week to the next. And as parents, we keep having these "firsts" that go horribly because we did not have enough practice of these new firsts. 
So practice and repeat. It will get better. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Our Experience with the Montessori Floor Bed


What is the Montessori floor bed? 

It is just what it sounds for the most part. It is a bed on the floor. It can be just a crib mattress with linens or it can have a wooden frame, canopies, and even be a part of a bunk bed arrangement. If you have the imagination, the sky is the limit if you start at the floor.  

Aside from the teaching methodology, a floor bed is typically the go-to solution in cases were a bed frame does not fit or is cost prohibitive. These beds are very common and it would be simply a lie to suggest that they did not exist before Maria Montessori. 

The novelty of the Montessori floor bed is that it is meant for a baby or a toddler. It is used as a teaching tool to help a child build confidence and independence by not needing a caregiver to put him or her into or out of the bed as with a typical crib. Being on the floor, it also alleviates the risks of babies falling from its height or the bed itself toppling on an unsuspecting baby. 


Why should you use a Montessori floor bed?

The generic answer is that it provides your growing and developing child a degree of independence to move around in and out of bed without a worry for child safety. 

My personal answer is that while I love the built-in independence and an opportunity for child development while maintaining safety, I also love it for night time feedings. Neither of my children slept through the night no matter where they slept. I often woke up for night time feedings and found it was easier to lay down next to them and feed them. It was comfortable and did not require lifting the child over a railing.  

Our Montessori floor bed story

I always thought that I would have a Pinterest ready room. I always wanted to have matching colors, a crib, all of the typical nursery items. And then, I got exposed to Montessori education and realized that a floor bed might meet my family's needs a bit better. 

I get a ton of questions about using a Montessori flood bed in my home. So I wanted to write an article to answer some of the most common questions and describe my experience. 

I also considered building a more structured bed so that it felt more official, but I soon decided against it since a base raised the bed off the ground, and any framing could cause a potential injury to my baby. We ended up setting up a crib mattress on the floor with a fleece blanket next to it for accidental falls or movements in the middle of the night. 

Was it cheaper than investing in a crib, yes.

Did I do it for all of my kids despite difficulties in room sharing, yes. 

Would I do it again? In a bigger house, yes. 

The floor bed was very helpful when my son would wake up early and play with toys in his baby-proofed room while my husband and I could stay in bed a little longer and know that he was safe and entertained. That alone to me is worth it. 


If you are considering a floor bed, I want to make you aware that children adjust to it differently depending on what they are used to. That said, my oldest was exposed to our floor bed and pack and plays and it was more of the environment than the bed that determined his sleep quality.

Along the same note, it is hard to have your child adjust to the floor bed when the environment noisy. 

Some babies experiencing separation anxiety may leave the bed and try to find you when they would simply cry for your attention inside their crib. The floor bed does not fix separation anxiety.

I also wanted to speak up and say that while most people have found no issues with the floor bed, especially after presenting them with its role in teaching independence and safety, I have received a few comments from family along the lines of a proper toddler bed being more "classic" and a default-- ahem-- I mean, a better choice. And to some, the floor bed is too much of a new or a different concept, and that is okay. I for one, would not change it since it brought so many good things to my family.

Floor Bed Update

We have shifted to using a floor bed in a SHARED nursery. Space is at a premium in a house that we had over-grown. And that is okay. 

I want to take the time and say that extra measures are necessary to ensure safety for babies is maintained. After all, they will first learning to crawl out of their floor beds in shared spaces where they might come across things that belong to other family members. 

We have had to use some creative baby-proofing to ensure that some of our shared furniture met met our standards. We wanted to create a space that was safe and interesting for our child to explore and we did that by making sure sharp edges were guarded. I will say that it was a bit heartbreaking covering some beautiful tables that were masterfully refurbished by skillful family members, but it is worth it. I will say this, it not much more difficult to have a floor bed in a lone, completely baby-proofed nursery than it is to have one in a shared nursery.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Thoughts on Gender Disappointment

If I didn‘t talk about this, I would feel like a liar. 

Why Write Such a Triggering Article?

One reason why I got into mom blogging is because of an honest video created by the delightful Emily Norris on Youtube. She had initially put out a gender disappointment video on her channel where she discussed the known sex of her third and final child. She unpacked her feelings and did not sugarcoat the periods of emotional adjustment that a mother or a parent can go through when it is time to say goodbye to a future that will never be. It was genuine and it helped me at the time to process my feelings and get over the initial shock.

Emily was grieving the potential little girl that she was most likely not going to have based on the dynamics of her family and her lifestyle. She, like many other moms, might not get the family she imagined all that time. I then watched other videos on the same subject. Some varied from frustrated boy moms who would go through any measures to remedy their family balance deficit to those that adjusted to their reality and just cared about a  healthy baby. 

It were these stories that got me through a tough time so I wanted to pay it forward and possibly do likewise for someone else.


It is 2020. Views, research, and modern mores on gender and biological sex have shifted to be less rigid and more supportive of lived experiences instead of assigned roles. And as a disclaimer, I am using the term "Gender Disappointment" in order to make this article easier to find at the expense of accuracy and a lengthy probability explanation for the child's sex and the child's gender. For those interested in the breakdown between biological sex and gender in our society and how young children can be supported on their journey, please refer to Coursera courses (like this one) that are free and were created by experts in their field.  

My Story

I really wanted my first child to be a little girl. I knew what girls were like because I was one myself. I knew the ins and out of hormones and growing up, and I could almost anticipate what my child might experience. It was familiar and I was looking forward to reliving my favorite parts of my childhood. 

Most importantly, I wanted to share baking with her the way my grandmother shared with me. I still remember the times that we baked and I wanted my child to have the same relationship to this inevitable activity in my home. I figured, you had to be a little girl to fully fall in love with baking.

After trying to conceive did not yield the most efficient results. I was hoping for a child of any sex and gender. I thought that the monthly disappointment of still not being pregnant eroded this initial hope for a baby girl. I was ready to go to all sorts of sports tournaments if it meant I got the honor and the privilege of being a parent. While nature and nurture are always debated, at the time I anticipated boys to contain testosterone and energy requiring steady physical activity. On the other hand, I imagined girls would have less need for physical activity and would use their imaginations instead for pretend play involving tea parties, baking, and lots of dressing up.

And then I got pregnant. I was hopeful that it was a girl and when I was told that it looked like I was having a little boy, my dreams of what my family was going to be like just burst. I felt like my world was shaken up. I had an older brother, and while he was a decent human being, I always thought that an older sister to a brother would be better based on the experiences of my friends and acquaintances as well as my own lived experience. I’m sure there are gentle souls out there, but from testimonies and lived experiences that I have, these gentle souls are outnumbered by accounts of broken bones and permanent injuries partially created by big brothers. 

That Mom Guilt

Now the mom guilt for my feelings felt really hard to bear. Nausea hit me hard, and I was not used to being sick every day. I had trouble completing my demanding tasks at work as well as taking care of myself. Looking back, I am surprised I was not more depressed than I was or that I had not taken more time away from work.  

I would sometimes find that I thought my pregnancy and the child I was carrying was just a place holder. And then the feelings of guilt would sink in. My child did not have a choice of having a specific body or human experiences. My child did not have a choice in making me sick with nausea. Even if my child "chose me" to be his mother, which I do believe, I doubt this part of the package was chosen. 

This was the routine before my nausea went away. I would eat something, throw up, resent my child’s sex and potential gender, then cry because I felt the guilt, and finally swear that the child would never get the sense of being a placeholder. Then, I would walk out of the bathroom stall motivated to never let my child suspect that I was holding onto these feelings.

Arrival of My Baby Boy 

"I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any idea of a child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy." 


The baby arrived, and at first it did not matter. I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy. He had the personality of the eldest child. He was the center of my world. For the first months he was a cute newborn. Independent of cultural gender. He refused to nap, loved to touch things, wasn’t afraid of new places, and loved balls and balloons. Those were his favorite things when he became verbal. Balloons were his first favorite, and he called me a balloon.

Even as I write this, I am thankful that I had this experience and the honor and the privilege in my life to be called a "balloon" by my baby boy.

No theoretical child in my mind can match the loving, high pitched, assignment of “balloon.” There is a good chance you will love and bond with your child and you will sign up for anything gladly. Hours of energy expelled at back to back baseball games instead of baking? DONE. I then felt like I could have many, many boys. They were delightful so far. My eldest is now in the toddler years and it is a bit rough and I see energy  in my child that my mother swears was always absent from my childhood experience. And that's okay.

He keeps me on my toes and I was one active toddler mom, until...

The Second Pregnancy

I then became pregnant with my second child. My husband was hoping for a girl, in part because he probably wanted to stop having kids. We could then have the stereotypical nuclear family, perfectly balanced and not too crowded.

I once again had this theoretical child in my mind. All ready to go. My mom skills were going to get sharpened for girl things. I was going to have the family that I always envisioned. 

Well, that did not happen either. 

I got the disappointing news through a blood test result. It's very impersonal to read your test results late at night in arial style print.

It said, "A male fetus was detected."

I was very disappointed and mourned my theoretical child once again. The sad feelings came back. One boy was tolerable, but two sounded like a nightmare. Broken bones, mud, bugs, high adrenaline sports, love for dangerous activities. I wanted none of that. None. 

I once again felt guilty. Here I was further enraged by the previous mom-shaming attitudes of the internet. The smug trolls willing to tell parents to be happy and just want  a healthy baby were repulsive to me. People need to learn to read the cyberspace room. Everyone is entitled to their feelings or at least to the processing of their feelings.  

It was okay that I was mourning the loss of a future that I thought I had within reach. Those feelings were valid and are still valid.

My second boy was difficult to bond with at first, he was like a sleeping potato. And then he started laughing and smiling. This alone melted my heart and I once again thought that I could have another child, another boy even. I could have a dozen boys and be forever happy because they were or would be my precious babies. 

Before his birth, I went through the same exact storm of disappointment. My past experience had not prepared me for this almost exact experience. And I will tell you why. 


And Now

I never envisioned having a cap on having children based on the health of my body or the contents of my bank account or the blowback from my local culture. It was confusing to get these odd and probably unintended comments such as “one of each” since one of my children took after my husband and my other child took after me. 

I even went through some light research into the costs of medically swaying for a girl at some point in the future, but as it stands now, the growth of my family is greatly limited by my reality. It is expensive and it is the type of commitment that requires a series of medical procedures. Sheer probability sounds so much easier. And it might be a great future route, but as my life is turning out now, I am excited to recover from postpartum and enjoy my time with my two kids.

There is a difference between biological sex and gender, not just a distinction. And there is an even bigger difference between biological sex or gender and the actual character and personality of the child. My two children can play and do whatever they want as long a they are kind and safe. If that means gymnastics or soccer instead of baking and painting, then I get it. I will buy the cleats and yell loudly in the stands. 

I still mourn moments that I have missed and might miss forever. Talking to other boy moms, I learned that a lot of times, boys end up bonding more with their dads and getting advice from their dads on topics that they would not dream of talking to you about. I realized that thus far, I had as gender neutral of an experience as I could have given the ages of my kids and their initial spikes in energy. 

I know mourning of the moments will only get worse with age as I see more of my friends become parents and embrace stereotypically girly kid activities that are not compatible with the high energy that my two little ones have, regardless of gender. There will likely be less playing with doll houses, having tea parties, making sand castles, having pretend spa days, getting manicures, doing hair, and playing dress up. And there is nothing wrong with embracing everything about your children while also leaving the "what could have been parts" behind, mourning or not included.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

10 Love It or Leave It Montessori Concepts

My main goal as a parent is to enable my children to thrive in their time, place, and culture—everything else is secondary at best.

There are many Montessori concepts that I cannot live without and many that were not even considered. I wanted to share the 10 Montessori education concepts that we adopted or left behind in my home.

#1 Kept: Follow the Child 

This is a big one, every child is different and every child will find joy in their own way. 

#1 Left: No Movement Hindering Devices

Movement hindering devices are said to slow down teh growing and developing process for the child. They are restrictive and are made for the convenience of the parent rather than the benefit of the child. I know. 

I love my piece of mind and my 4Moms Mamaroo more than I love the Montessori Canon concepts. I love putting my child in the Mamaroo as I complete small tasks. It is wonderful to watch your child get some rest after being fussy from gas or teething. It is wonderful to see your child being soothed to sleep when you yourself are not in the best shape of your life from missing months of sleep.

#2 Kept: Weaning Table

I love our weaning table. It was a place of so much fun and love when it came to trying new solids for the first time. The table has seen a series of messes, but it was also the place where my child learned to sit at for meals. It was also the place where my child learned to get a bowl or plate. 

All of these things were completed with relative independence and I do not believe that a high chair can offer the same level of control for the child. 

#2 Left: Breakable Glasses Right After Bottles

The concept is great in theory, children need to learn to treat things will respect just like they will have to do when they are older. Using the glasses made out of actual will teach them in a safe and controlled environment that they need to be its stewards. 

Well, we had a few incidents with cups and mugs both on purpose and by accident. Cleaning up is not fun and it is important to understand for yourself when the risk of cuts and embedded glass shards in tiny feet is not worth the reward. This was our case and our experience.

#3 Kept: Floor Bed

I don't know what it is like to have a crib. I had babysat children who had cribs when I was younger, but honestly, I cannot even comment on that experience because children are all different. 

We chose the floor bed because it made sense. It was the bed that could not topple over from a climbing or rocking of a toddler. It was a bed that allowed my baby to wander and explore the entire room at his own will. 

#3 Left: Not Mixing Uses for Objects

I have heard from many teachers that the purpose of an area or an object should be singular to avoid giving your child mixed signals. For example, a bed space is for relaxing and not for jumping. 

Well, while some aspects of this concept make sense, like using a spoon in food, it did not make a lot of sense for other things. My child taught himself how to jump on his bed. He uses his bed trampoline with lots of joy that even suggesting that this bed should have a singular purpose goes against following the child. My child is also a very clever problem solver and often uses objects not for their intended original purpose.

#4 Kept: Meal Preparation

My toddler loves to use knives, forks, and spoons. Sometimes when the meal includes lots of vegetables, I think he enjoys preparing it much more than eating it.

#4 Left: Potty Training Style

I was one of those mamas that thought that if I followed guidance and direction from a book, that it might all work out with my child. I had a basket of diapers, wipes, changes of clothes in case of accidents, etc. I had two kids of potties. I did not bribe. And not one thing worked.

Well, it just so happens that my child is just as stubborn as I am. And that's okay. It just means that sometimes he wants to use the potty and sometimes he will do everything possible to avoid using it. It is hard to keep a potty routine with him because his intake of food and liquids changes from day to day and nothing has really helped.

#5 Kept: Personal Care

One of the things that I love about Montessori is that it helps children become independent. This is a huge focus and I love how my child has been able to do this. 

#5 Left: Personal Hygiene Toddler Sized Area

I love all of the spaces, I must have looked through all of the Montessori personal care areas. I love them all, but after trial and error, we had to pass on a toddler sized space. 

We had no room. And I do not mean that we had not room for the setup of our dreams where my children love. We had no room, our bathroom was super small and we were already storing the baby bathtub and a stepstool, so it make no sense to have another setup. And it also made no sense to have something in my child's bedroom either.  

At some point, I think I might do a roundup of Montessori personal hygiene spaces that I loved, but will never be able to replicate.

#6 Kept: Nursery Mobiles

One way that I prepared for my babies and their development was to make mobiles based on Montessori principles.

#6 Left: Walking Learning Aids

There are several items in the Montessori world that are adopted as enabling tools to help babies and toddlers develop walking skills on their own. The two items that come to mind are a walking aid wagon and a model stairs to help children learn how to go up and down stairs. 

These are all great and I'm sure some children will love them, but I cannot justify having them in my home. They occupy space and are bulkier than other products. Also, I believe in teaching a child on a real stairs. 

#7 Kept: Toddler Chores

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the amount of chores that I had completed before my baby learned new skills to take care of himself. It was just like taking care of a baby  who happens to be the size of my toddler. 

It is a game changer when your toddler starts taking care of themselves like never before. This might be developing emotion intelligence, or learning to make breakfast, putting toys away, etc. I was awed by the interest and I was very happy when this happened because I got a break to them be able to do other things like support their emotional development, coping skills, meal preparation, potty training, etc.

#7 Left: Montessori Classroom Education

This is a lot to unpack here. I love Montessori schools and I have many Montessori teacher friends who believe in this education. 

I am not against it, but it does not fit my family right now. We had limited options in our area for an infant Montessori classroom in our area and we were not interested in switching schools or separating our children to go to different schools. Due to these logistical issues, it was not in the cards.

A reason why I am completely okay with this, is because to make a message consistent or to make it stick it's necessary to bring some of the same concepts into your home so your child is surrounded by consistent messages. I already knew that I was going to replicate some classroom concepts in my home, and this change in our education plan was just another reason to do a really good job with the materials and setups I bring into my home.

#8 Kept: Toy Rotation

Kids behave better when they aren't bored. If I give the same thing for my toddler to do or play with every day, then that thing or toy turns into a sculpture. It might as well not be there. So as a result we try to do gentle cycling through.  We solve a lot of the problems with storage rotation, this way the majority of items are within reach for my toddler, while my baby has a more structured play environment.

#8 Left: Having Things on a Tray or a Basket

The purpose of preparing the space for your child and preparing the necessary objects, materials or tools all on one tray or all in one basket is to prepare your child to then succeed on their own. Ideally, there is minimal direction. 

I do like this, but it is not possible to complete this in a small space, I would have an infinite number of things in storage to meet the footprint requirement. 

And what's more, is that I like our children learning where everything "lives" in our home. I do not want to send any mixed signals to my child who is just figuring out that shoes go on the shoe rack and not on a "tie your shoes" tray.

I can say similar things about food preparing utensils, sensory play toys, etc. 

I have used baskets for strategic sensory toy storage, so maybe I am already doing this without knowing.  

#9 Kept: Choices 

Choices are a part of life and becoming a responsible person in our time, place, and culture involves making more of them as we grow and develop. Choices work themselves into Montessori education by providing children with limited and open-ended choices. 

We love this concept and have adopted it through offering different choices for food, outfits, books, and activities within reason.

#9 Left: Not a lot of books

We have a children's bookshelf where all of the books live although book rotation is great, a part of me is very thankful that I never made the commitment to make an elaborate book rotation schedule.  

#10 Kept: Concentration

This one is very simple, unless we have a doctors appointment or something of similar importance, we let our children concentrate on their chosen activity. 

They are learning focus and being able to focus for increasingly longer periods of time. And that in itself is a precious gift. We do not interrupt their happiness.

#10 Left: Minimalist Classroom-like Play Space

This is an aspect that is partially controlled by finances and the mechanics of our small home, but we do not have a classroom space. We do not have an area in our living room or their bedrooms that functions as a learning classroom space alone.

Instead, just like in most homes, our tools are in their logical spaces. 

The toy kitchen with functional equipment is next to our real kitchen and the toddler sized gardening tools are in the shed next to their larger counterparts. 

We love it this way because our children live and learn in the same space where we live so that once they are big enough to use the grownup tools, they are right there for them to use.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

About Your Corona Parent Friend

I had a child during the early stages of COVID-19 and am slowly adjusting to life with a bigger family. I quickly found that many of my go to activities and what I envisioned my Spring and Summer to be had evaporated. As I write this blog, cooler temperatures after some much needed rain are reminding me that Summer is just about finished.

Other parents and families may have adjusted to the same demands and new demands seamlessly, but my home life and my Mama life have shifted towards something different. I made the list below to be honest about my experience and also give those that have asked a brief window into a slightly different walk of life.

1. Things take turns being okay. 

Rooms take turns being clean and organized. Chores take turns being finished. Email chains take turns about being read through. If there are siblings or pets in the home, attention is divided and family members take turns getting attention.

 The living room might be immaculate, but the kitchen has dishes piling up, a trash can that is fun to the brim, and recycling is overflowing because we are still trying to save the planet with our small choices. Parenting in my home means that the planet will have to wait its turn to be saved. 

This might also mean that my home is ready for the very few visitors we are recommended to have, but my bedroom has piles of clean clothing that has not been folded and put "where it lives."

Taking turns also means that sometimes I am two weeks early to contribute to a Corona birthday present, but I can also be months behind another emotional labor endeavor. It happens. It is the wheel, or more accurately the expanding spiral of the mama or parent career.

2. Kid milestones happened and no one was here.

Speaking of the expanding spiral of the mom career, my small child came into this world quite alarmed and now adjusted so much that he is now trying to stand, walk, eat solids, sing, talk, and play--just like a big baby. His needs and interests have expanded to never ever again be that sleeping baby burrito. 

And almost no one was here. There were very few visitors that got to interact with my baby burrito. And while I know the interaction only gets better and better with age, I feel bad that those around me that have wished for a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby did not get to enjoy this version of my baby. Learning to cry, learning to sleep, first funny faces, first intense eye contact, first smile, first giggle, first surprise, first raspberries, first baby crunch, first standing attempt, and first interaction with siblings were only witnessed by my immediate household.  

This all means that I, like your Corona parent friend, had to work extra hard to document the milestones that are otherwise shared with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

I strongly believe that even adults and teenagers have microseasons of their lives where they might try a new hobby, routine, or lifestyle. Learning new lifelong skills is an especially ongoing process with younger kids and all it takes is a few blinks and a stage is gone.

3. Your Corona parent friend wants to know how you're doing

Your Corona parent friend is rooting for you from afar. Are you learning bread baking from scratch? Did you buy a ball gown to wear inside your home? Did you get a new beard oil you're in love with? Was that COVID-19 social distancing date full of amazing chemistry? We want to hear about it. 

Also, we would love to have a zoom call with you where WE. DO. NOT. TALK. ABOUT. KIDS. AT. ALL. After 20 diaper changes or trips to the potty-- I want to clock out from wearing my mom hat (joking--like that happens) and would prefer ANY OTHER TOPIC! Are you passionate about the history of dental floss? Did you try something new in a videogame? Please share!

Most parents know that relationships are harder to keep up when you have kids. COVID-19 added an extra layer of complexity. It's another layer of exhaustion and unmet needs. I cannot have several skype or zoom calls in a row. Or it might be that I am super tired and cannot be there 100% if I am tired, but was otherwise available from a logistical point of view. 

It is this exhaustion that fuels a feeling of mild social isolation.

4. Your Corona parent friend has less references to pull from.

There are many resources online and offline, but the majority of resources circulating-- and these circulate for good reason, they're awesome-- were developed without a  pandemic in mind. Many solid articles include interacting with others without social distancing and visiting heavy traffic areas.

 As a result, parents are adjusting most answers they find to their current comfort level regarding venturing out into the world and requirements issued by public and private places. 

5. Children are missing social experiences.

Having loved playgrounds when I was a preschooler, I couldn't wait to take my toddler to a playground. He was super young and could not climb the steps very well, but he loved the slides. He then grew to enjoy other playground activities with newfound physical agility. His interest then expanded into parallel, followed by mild interactive play. 

I took all of this for granted, and now we don't go anywhere. Although we are starting to form social distancing pods, this is a new development due to medical reasons. My eldest child who loves to use his imagination and play with others is missing weekends full of interactive play and games that teach cooperation, taking turns, and eventually sharing.

We have not had a playdate in 6 months, and while we may be an extreme case, I do not believe that we are unique. 

I am not sure if I have the stamina for the rigorous social calendar that my toddler used to have before this Spring. I am out of practice and now have to adjust to new social distancing and different policies about shares spaces like playgrounds. Venturing out to fun places is less fun for parents.

Likewise, your Corona parent friend may be in a similar boat and is adjusting to the COVID-19 world after trying to wait it out completely. It is stressful to leave the house, but waiting years for a reliable vaccine seems inconceivable.   

6. Standards have gone down.

Everyone's world is different, but as a general trend, the quality of life for your Corona parent friend has gone down. It might be because of a lack of babysitters, or remote learning for a school age child, or it might be just the toll on mental health. In any case, standards have slipped. And while that is sad, chances are that your friend couldn't care less. 

Right in line with the first point of things taking turns being okay, things are also taking turns being less okay. 

It might seem that I and others around me have changed our personalities based on how we act or live our lives. So, I wanted to remind everyone that responding to stress is not a personality.

I am now less detail oriented. I am now less inclined to start conversations because I'm saving my strength for middle of the night wake ups, night terrors, and nightmares. I am now less likely to try new or challenging things. I do not have room for my full personality right now. 

7. We see you trying to connect with us and live your best life with us in it.

 Your Corona parent friend had plans for the future that are now on a definite hold. Whether big like a vacation overseas or small like organizing a low key birthday party, all plans are on hold. And it is often friends with more bandwidth and creativity who offer a silver lining in the shape of alternatives.

We see you gauging interest and availability. We see you planning. We see you organizing virtual events. We see you producing videos or podcasts. We see you hosting drive by events, social distanced events, separate, but together events. 

We see you and we are trying our hardest at setting aside time and being more present and less tired.


And Then We All Got COVID

Every day felt like we were just getting the life sucked out of us with no light at the end the tunnel. And then we all got COVID. Cover art...