Monday, June 7, 2021

The Great Outdoors with Toddlers

 The Great Outdoors with Toddlers


One great way to ensure that toddlers appreciate out beautiful planet is by giving them increasingly more outdoor and wilder experiences.

I want my kids to try to leave the world better than it was. This is what I try to do, although things get hard day to day to be mindful like that. 

One way to get them motivated to save the world and to conserve the wild spaces and the plants and animals that inhabit them is to show it to them, and in time immerse them in it. 

Where the Wild Things Are

I am here to step on my soapbox and declare that you don't have to go far, from vegetable garden and the front steps to local puddles and parks, the wild things are right there. And right now, the cicadas are having some notoriety in Virginia with brood X. That's the magical thing about toddlers, if you just point out how "close" the wilderness happens to start from your front door, they will get it. 

And I am here to also say that I hate bugs, but they are a part of nature. There will not be an ecosystem that we know today that does not rely on a bug, or a bug looking creature to do something very important. It takes all kinds. 

What I love about these wild spaces, as limited as they can be at times in suburbia, is that it shows children how much we and our actions are in balance with nature. They don't have to go far. 

And unlike the zoo or farms, the creatures are free to do as they please. 

It's Harder to See Creatures in the Wild

One thing that I have taken away exploring local parks with little ones is the appreciation for little creatures and their ability to play hide and seek. 

My oldest had a hard time at seeing frogs, snakes, and turtles in the wild because their bodies blend into the background of pond, dirt, and leaves. Here is a turtle that was a lot more obvious!


I think it's a matter of safety to keep the little ones aware of what may be especially dangerous growing in the local area and how to avoid it. 

My overall goal is to eventually see most of the national parks in time as a family; however, the little ones will not get much out of it if they are not prepared to look at the details. 

For this reason, I love the different day camps and classes offered to tinker in nature and really get close to the funny creatures lurking under leaves and in shallow ponds. 

Teaching Children Outside

In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the great outdoors is showing my kids the things in real life that they normally see in books, art, toys, and movies. 

It's one thing to see a fox on a page, it's another thing to see one down the street!

One consistent theme of the Montessori method seems to be to avoid adding too much fiction to children earlier on. It is one thing to help preschool children broaden their imaginations, but it is not useful to have cartoon-like animals in baby books since they are not like that in real life. I think that by removing what kids will unlearn later on, we are saving them and ourselves trouble for later. However, following learning of the "real" animals, the books and cartoons are super enjoyable and I don't mean any harm by this delay in using them. 

Another aspect of teaching children outside is that not every animal is like it is in the books and some animal are not your friends. We as grownups avoid wasps and snakes and it is important that children learn to do likewise. 

You Don't Have to Go Far

I wanted to end this update on a note to say that you don't have to and should not go far in order to have a good time. Kids can only walk a handful of miles comfortably and this number gets much smaller with higher temperatures and hill inclines. If you wanted to conquer some personal records, it might be a good idea to leave them with a babysitter and head for the great outdoors on your own for now.

Staying close will not eliminate their sense of discovery. They will enjoy looking under rocks, lifting up leaves, and following every dead-end trail. In fact, one of the things that I enjoy is that they are easy to keep track of when they are not running around my home or the backyard, but instead concentrate on looking at a new bug or plant. It's quite nice and I don't have to carry tired kids as a result. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Duktig and Meal Prep Finds for the Montessori Toddler

Duktig and Meal Prep Finds for the Montessori Toddler

One of the many things that I love about Montessori is that one does not give to the mind more than the hand in the early years of development. Even as an adult, I would say this is still a great concept to follow. 

So naturally, I gravitated to the idea of having a play kitchen be a functional play kitchen. 


With inspiration brought on by books, websites like Montessori Services, and other Montessori blogs (The Kavanaugh Report), I was excited to start exploring meal preparation with my little one!

One reason I fell hard for the Montessori teaching method was the use of increasingly more “real” tools in the kitchen to complete meal prep.

Updating the Duktig 

To say that the Duktig from Ikea is an amazing toy would be an understatement. There are so many ways to customize one and many Montessori parents had made modifications including water dispensers and functional sinks in order to have a sense of "realness" to the play. 

We had completed the very minimal of taking out the stove top component and substituted it for a functional cutting board with the use hot glue, and eliminating the non-functional faucet. We had a water dispenser, but it lead to a creative perpetual wet mess with our oldest child that we took it out and haven't used it in several years. We had, however, adopted the use of a filtered water dispenser for the entire family that our kids have started to use. 

One thing to keep in mind is that some of the Ikea items that are child size are not intended for contact with food and therefore it is highly not recommended to use them as utencils, pans, etc. I didn't just want the play thing, I wanted a real thing and I think this is something that many other parents feel as well, especially on the Montessori educational path.

Instead, we had adopted only the cups, plates, and bowls from Ikea. Other things were acquired from Montessori Services and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. 



One of the things that many find amusing about the Montessori method is that it does not shy away from small children using knives in a safe manner. Having once cut myself and earned a small scar when I was younger, I wanted to ensure that the same issue could be avoided with my kids. 

Practice makes perfect, the same applies for knife use. The very first knife that we had used as almost comic looking, an avocado knife from Zyliss. I had found it in Bed, Bath, and Beyond and immediately knew that it was perfect for practicing because the edge was not sharp and the grip was easy for a small child. 


Cutting Utensils

Instead, we had adopted only the cups, plates, and bowls from Ikea. Other things were acquired from Montessori Services and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


Monday, May 31, 2021

Moms Need to Spend the Big Bucks on Themselves Sometimes

This is another money-conscious entry, but this time, it's about moms.

I want to spend a lot more of my very limited funds on my own happiness this coming year. I want to be in the present and celebrate the present. I am tired of the quarantine and the looming threats to my quality of life. I am also tired of the life that I want to live and the life which I currently live being two separate things. 

I am here to try to sell you on the idea that moms need to spend the big bucks on fun things for themselves once in a while—and of course their families.

1. You have a rainy day fund, don't leave your sunny days out the plan

I am not saying that if you build it they will come, but it might help. We tend to prepare for bad surprises. If the brakes need replacing or the tree needs a trim, or if that house needs  a roof, we don't hesitate. We pay up. 

Why don't we allow ourselves to have a sunny day fund for good surprises like a great book, a stand-up paddle board, a new pet or a trapeze class. So many moms have done everything humanly possible to escape debt, myself included, and have managed to create a reality devoid of fun plans. 

2. You Wouldn't Think TWICE if this was for your Child

Sure safety is first and age-appropriate activities are important, but for the most part, if it seems like a good idea for our kids, moms make it work. Just the other day I signed up my youngest for a gymnastics class. Do I want him to become a professional gymnast when he get older? Not at all. Not even a college athlete. I just know this activity sparks joy. It was that simple. 

Why is it that hard to say yes to a similar class that sparks joy for moms? 

3. You Wouldn't Think TWICE if it was required as part of work or social norms

This is one of those things that might be different for everyone, but for the most part, most people have a required uniform, dress code, or appearance standard of some sort. I will not lie, mine is lax. And thank goodness for that. But for the most part things like a business casual wardrobe or having clean appropriate shoes are either required or strongly encouraged. In fact, someone can calculate how much a job actually pays after subtracting the time and the money required to fulfill these prerequisites. 

Yet, moms don't think twice if it means putting food on the table. 

4. You Shouldn't Let Life Pass You By 

There are no guarantees for the future. Some of our goals naively take our bodies and our minds for granted. These two very important parts of ourselves will not always be the same, and it is important to honor ourselves. We should all live our dreams so that we don't have to grieve later those futures that never became fact when we had all of the control for their actualizing.

 I'm not saying using up your life savings is a good idea, but that a sunny day fund is a good idea if life allows it. 

High Risk Pregnancy Survival Guide

I want to be very open.

If your pregnancy has been deemed high risk because of statistical prejudices like number of previous pregnancies or your age (more on that in a later entry), this entry is not for you. 

This is for those Mamas who have been told some news about themselves, or their babies, both, or somewhere in between. This is for the Mamas who are apprehensive about discussing their pregnancies with friends and family, or declaring it at work. This is for the Mamas who have to spend lots of time, energy, and emotional labor on additional doctor's visits. It's for the Mamas with negative or near zero PTO balances because they have to see a specialist every other week. This is for the Mamas who are isolated while literally sharing their bodies with another little human at all times and being kicked in the ribs enough. 

Having received the confirmed biological sex of my child through an email right before midnight a bit after the start of the second trimester, my husband and I walked into 20-week ultrasound appointment ready to get it over with. We were not nervous. 

In fact, my husband had fallen asleep on the most uncomfortable chair invented by the human race as the ultrasound technician typed and clicked with different black and white images showing up here and there. 

I was used to being uncomfortable, but then we were notified that I might have to come back. 

I had yet another ultrasound and this one confirmed the initial images and they would have to monitor growth throughout the weeks with an ultrasound machine. 

Most expecting parents wish they had more ultrasound pictures to get a glimpse into the life of their baby and here I was practically filming a reality show. 

So here are my lessons learned in case it is helpful for anyone else out there. 

1. Read up on the reason for the high risk pregnancy 

Yes, knowledge alone doesn’t fix the situation, but being prepared can help. Also, for anxious parents to be this may come natural following reading some more confusing names on the reports.

While learning about a previously unknown medical term does not necessarily reduce stress and anxiety, it might help to recognize some treatment options and approaches. Even better, you might find a few articles on WebMD not only about the condition, but also about successful medical treatments and trends. Treatments that were out of reach of science and the typical medical care consumer years ago are now possible and the future might be even better. 

2. Talk to a professional councilor, therapist, or life coach

Or, another option is to talk to a very patient and caring friend. You and your baby may be the only ones going through the pregnancy, but you need a village because it takes a village. 

It is also good to let others know that what you are going through is not typical, so that they should not be caught off-guard when you don't react to medical appointments with the same enthusiasm as a first time parent without any diagnoses.

3. Save as much PTO as possible

My single and childless days included staycations and time off for long lunches or more pleasant road trips. I hate to say it, but almost no one has the time off required to meet the requirements of high risk pregnancy appointments. It was very embittering using up days that would ideally be vacation days, being spent from the emotional labor, and feel like I had to make up for my absence at work. 

4. Don’t expect any medical intervention following birth

I assumed that once the baby was born that it was time for medical intervention and everything would be behind us by the time we reached 12 months of age. It was profoundly naive because doctors don’t want to take undue risks. 

How Many Shoes Do Little Kids Need?


Toddlers need at least two pairs of shoes for the same every day purpose.

The Feels

Today I'm all in my feels about shoes. 

Yes, There are a ton of other pressing matters not only in the world, but also in my neighborhood and my home. There are these slow burning proverbial fires that need to be addressed. 

But here I am, having feelings about shoe shopping. 

Let Me Explain

I don't get shoes for myself. I am lacking shoes for many essential tasks and instead have several practical pairs that minimalist parents have (or just those parents who gave up on mimicking the latest genz trends). One day I hope to change that, but until then and for always, I want to equip my kids with seasonally appropriate and fitting shoes. 

This is sometimes hard given that kids have growth spurts and seasons can change abruptly. 

My youngest has perfectly CHONKY feet. They're not long or too wide, but they are perfectly pudgy so shoes have a hard time getting on and the ankle is the roundest part for the size. He had managed to not fit in his first set of water shoes, so I had to take measures for getting him his summer sandals. I took my child into the real world for this and he loved every minute of it. 

I ended up getting him two pairs, one for those playground, hiking, sandbox days, and one for times when he has to dress up a little more for the 90 degree or hotter days.

And there is nothing more of a hint that your child is growing up than shoe shopping. Crib or soft soled shoes are no longer good enough and the more practical and real the shoes are, the more of a reminder it is that your little one is growing up. RIP the cutest soft soled shoes ever! And I mean ever!  

Robeez are the best crib shoes ever

And for the first time in a while, I got shoes that were not Merrells. I swear I might as well be a salesperson for Merrells because I keep getting them for my eldest, but in this case the ability to try on actual shoes in real life really helped me out in the journey to finding shoes that actually fit my difficult to fit child. Having gone through several return and replace pairs this year, this was a plus that cannot be beaten by the broad selection cyberspace has to offer. Max and Jake and Dr. Scholls won!

Formal Toddler Sandals

Fun Climbing and Hiking Toddler Sandals

I got this question from some people and I want to go and explain why little kids need two pairs of shoes if the budget will allow it. Little kids get dirty, splash in puddles, and manage to fall into bodies of water if they have a chance. Between mud, sandboxes, and the ovation all pond, there will always be a reason why you need to wash their shoes. That’s why having two pairs really helps. I know other parents who love rain boots, flip flops and other things. And those are great options if they work for your family, but my kids manage to lose their shoes too often to make these a real option for some situations. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Being a Toddler Parent is Rough on a Former Gifted Kid

Being a toddler parent is rough on anyone. I personally love toddlers and even I can only hear "but why, Mama?" so many times before I start getting annoyed. I can only have my child put his whole hand in his poop filled diaper so many times before I want to scream. I can only have my child run into the street without looking once in each direction so many times before enunciating through my teeth as I try not to lose it. 

 Clearly this would be below standard if there was a grade for parenting. 

It's extra tough when you grew up being able to ace the rubric. There's a difference between inherent intelligence, being able to problem solve, gain knowledge, and score well on tests. For the sake of this opinion piece we can be as oblivious to this as many of the school systems during my youth. Let's go ahead.

I used to love the rubrics and being able to deliver or over-deliver. I was used to having to prove to be proficient at multiple things at all times. I was used to being above average and having statistics on my side indicating this to be true. 

As someone who did not get a lot of family support for my academic achievement, because I was not the golden child (more on that later), I used good grades and being the in gifted classes as a compass for myself esteem. I knew what success was for that early age and I had it. 

Now fast-forward to 25 or some years later. There's no rubric or test answer key. There are actions and consequences. The probabilities of different outcomes underscore how much of human life is a continuous gamble. 

I will also be honest and say that, I was a better parent to one child than I am to two children. The divided attention is required and I really hope that the teamwork and social development that my kids have as siblings will compensate for my inability to look at either of their lives under the microscope on a continuous basis. 

One unfortunate truth about parenting is that just like you can have an A in English and a D in Physics, you can succeed in some parenting areas and fail altogether in others. And the awful thing is that I am too close to know the real gaps in my knowledge or talent. Sure I know that I have to say "no" with more conviction, but I am missing the big picture. There’s a chance that there is something big that I am missing that will be so obvious in 20 years when the little ones are not so little anymore.

Former gifted kids have anxiety down pat because we are used to rubrics, roadmaps, plans, recipes, standards, statistics. All of the comforts of the ivory tower that only provide a false sense of security in the modern world.   

The other hard truth is that we have to either watch our kids struggle with the same things that we struggled with or we watch them struggle with things that we found easy in our youth. And then other times when they happen to figure something out seemingly out of nowhere, we have to wonder if they're going to be just fine. 

And here’s the thing. They will figure it out. The world that we grew up with no longer exists. And in a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter if you can live up to your own expectations or if you end up giving yourself a lot of grace.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Momming Mindfully

Sometimes, it's more fun to invent or borrow invented words from other moms. Forgive me, dear reader. 

Having the time and the mental spoons to think and function in a meaningful way is a privilege. And therefore it is a privilege to get to raise your children mindfully and spiritually. 

Having this ability and this privileged to be not only spiritual but also mindful is a true gift. It’s a true gift anywhere you are in life if you’re in a happy place. And for me this happy place is motherhood. 

Being a mother in our current day and age is not a passive process. Yet, the variety of requirements from homemaking, parenting, and working can eliminate the last mental spoon and render a person missing a vital component of the daily routine let alone their spiritual journey and living in the present. 

Life seems to reward meticulous planning and flawless but passive execution of those plans instead of living in the present. Most of our daily life is a physical and mental distraction unless we pay attention and live in the present. Inside each and every one of us is a piece that wants to be back with the whole. And we feel best in our journey when we are not lost or strayed from our path. 

As a mother, I often find that I have to make myself an expert in the working knowledge of a psychologist, natural scientist, doctor, and religious leader. And I’m also teaching my child his heritage, our human story and all that I know about it.

And in a way, through the present, the stress of such a calling goes down! I feel lucky to be summoned to such a vital role in the continuation of our human story.

I want my children to have the gift of writing their own story as much as possible through personal experience and living in the present so they can experience enlightenment, truth, peace, happiness, joy, and love.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Moms are Sick and Tired of Cutting Corners


Moms are sick and tired of cutting corners.

Moms cut corners to make food last a little longer. 

Moms cut coupon corners to save a little bit of money.

Moms cut corners in personal care when their kids look like they have been in hair, makeup, and wardrobe for hours. 

Moms cut corners to afford that car, house, vacation, extra-curricular, babysitter, dessert. 

Moms cut corners by erasing meaningful relationships from their calendars. 

Moms cut corners on their work outs, because they just take too long and everything hurts so much. 

Moms cut corner in personal hygiene--that dry shampoo is a dream. 

Speaking of cutting corners, even my dog has dry shampoo. 

Moms cut corners to get the time for errands. 

Moms keep cutting away corners until there is very little left. 

Being a mom is a gift and a privilege. And it's also important to acknowledge that this privilege comes with so many challenges even today. So if you have been struggling, please appreciate everything that you do. 


Monday, February 1, 2021

5 Money Saving Methods that are Trash

Okay, confession time, I listen to Dave Ramsey and I also follow Jordan Page. Additionally, if there was a money saving tip of any sort, from any mama or lifestyle blog, there's a good chance that I have listened to it, clicked on it, or read it depending on the media format. Sometimes, I just like to have things on in the background while I'm cleaning.

I wanted to dive into some "user" feedback for some of the advice bits that feel profoundly out of touch to me. It felt right talking about these things seeing as the financial industry is witnessing a bit of a small ripple. 

If anyone has a money blog, or if you are an avid reader of these blogs, my general TLDR message is that most advice is out of touch or not relatable to most families. 

Here is my artwork for my rant: 

Moms are tired of cutting corners, and these recent bits of money advice are trying to make cutting corner a full time job. 

1. You are the Problem--So Change Yourself or Your Habits

There is this unwritten rule that if you are reading these resources or seeking these resources, there is something inherently wrong with your approach or your practices or you are merely a believer in constant improvement (I am like that too and it's okay, this isn't what my rant is about). There is a perceived proverbial something that a "money expert" will see in a few minutes that can change your life within a short amount of time. 

"Stop being silly and ordering avocado toast and that latte!"

Problem solved, I now have access to generational wealth. 

In reality, most single people and families that I know, are doing the best they can. The mentality that it's the 4$ latte keeping you from owning a home in America and not the 50k of college debt in a stagnant job market has been disproved. And, yet, despite this, there is a culture of "fix what you are doing wrong and everything is going to fall into place."

This mentality is very attractive. It gives the reader the perceived control over the situation. And while that is romantic thinking that you are only 3-10 steps away from a private island of your very own, the reality is that there's a good chance that struggling families are doing the most they can. Already. There's a good chance struggling families have been doing the best they could for years without significant changes.

2. The Money Fasting Technique

If removing a bad habit that costs a small bit of change, but adds comfort is not doing the trick, it is important to double down and do it for longer periods and on as much stuff as you can. Yes, let's turn buying nutritious food for your family into a sin that is keeping you poor. 

Does "No Spend November" actually help you if you need to fix your car in November? Or does it really help to miss on the reoccurring expenses that keep your household running and keep you living a certain quality of life?

Spending is one way to avoid long-term issues in ares of life like your home, your car, and personal health. In fact, one thing that becomes pretty obvious is that someone who lives a comfortable middle class lifestyle spends a certain amount of money for general repairs to avoid replacing appliances and tools.

The money fasting technique was introduced to reduce costly spending due to self-control that one could argue is a necessity to replace "time" (i.e. convenience shopping or getting take out) or  comfort (i.e. a bath bomb and a bubble bath to replace the discomfort of bad weather). Money fasting is great to some degree for nearly immediate gratification, for example, paying off a loan, or saving up for a PS5. That's great. 

In contrast, more often than not, spending fasts are used to try to tackle a fundamental problem with personal or family finances. Usually, the problem that needs broader strokes like significantly more free time, money or comfort, is instead treated with metaphorical band-aids in the form of spending freezes. And quite frankly, it doesn't make sense to have a lifelong spend freeze on an essential need.

3. Making Everything from Scratch

Let's be honest, not many of us possess the skills to make bakery level bread. Not many of us have the time needed to make that bakery level bread. So apart from extra time during quarantine or a super awesome bread machine, I can't think of a good excuse to adopt making staple baked goods from scratch week to week. 

May I also remind you that you reader are also not a food scientist. Sure, you might get away with bread here or there, but it would help to know how to make something nutritious as bakery bread. 

Maybe I will get there, but I don't like this solution full of hypocrisy. After all, many people don't make their own pasta sauce or salad dressing. Not everything has to be from scratch. So why choose something that takes so much time and skill? 

And as far as time goes, many people reading these articles are just as worried about every minute of free time as every dollar.

Perhaps a better way to re-word this tip is to suggest honing in cooking, baking, foraging, and gardening skills to be able to make more with less and make ingredients stretch across several meals for the week? 

Maybe something like, "find enjoyment in cooking again," is a much better goal than trying to cut down on a food bill. After all, finding enjoyment in cooking may mean getting some base ingredients and slowly but surely moving away from higher price, pre-made, less healthy choices.

4. Taking on Extra Jobs

Money is time, and time is your one and only non-renewable mystery resource. You do not know how long you have left. If we all knew that, we would live each day very differently; however, an overwhelming amount of suggestions include taking on formal work, one-off gigs, or completing effort that might as well be an extra job. Even something as romantic sounding as foraging or gardening equates to added hours that cannot go towards something else. It's not all bad, kids love watching things grow and with enough instruction they might water the garden or do something else on their own. 

The issues come when adults in the home are stretched way too thin. Way too thin to complete the big emotional labor tasks, teach life lessons and skills to their children, and take care of their emotional and mental needs in a way where they are thriving.  

I understand sometimes it has to be done, I have done this too, but I wish this was not the easy solution. Truth be told, time is too precious. 

5. Sacrificing Comfort

Comfort goes a long way. I should know, I had spent an overwhelming amount of my life without it. So once I had found it and worked to keep it, I cringe at the awful advice of "getting out of your comfort zone." Here's my secret, I thrive in my comfort zone. Most people thrive in environments that are conducive to their own long-term growth. 

Your mind, body, and soul are their best when you are comfortable. Sure, stressful situations may bring out “your best” here and there; however, they are typically not sustainable and the lack of comfort is noticeable.


Monday, January 18, 2021

8 Approaches for Reaching and Surpassing Your 2021 Mama Goals

It's a new year! And I'm happy to be back and ready to make my 2021 goals not only a reality, but a happy reality. I want to run a few victory laps. 

But, it's difficult to do when you're a mom. 

2020 was a hard year during which many doors had closed and I wanted 2021 to be different. This is why I had gathered up resources to help my bring my goals and dreams for 2021 to fruition. 


1. Hour by Hour


There are so many cliches that come to mind about parenting such as "they're only little once," and "the days are long, but the years are short." All true, which only makes these sayings more cringeworthy. 

And yet, why do we as moms, and parents in general, sometimes find ourselves craving a stressful minute to just be over, for bedtime to start, or a babysitter to get here? It's because being "on" 24-7 is hard as a new parent and I bet it gets more stressful with age as the kids get older.

The hour by hour tracking system budgets each hour like a currency in a budget. Each hour was made for something. This way no longer does a day just slide out from underneath a tired caregiver, but the day can be tracked and documented. Each hour needs to work. 

I found this approach to be helpful when going for better habits like better communication with my kids.

I also found this approach to be useful when breaking down schedules that were weather dependent. For example, if it was going to rain around 3pm, the objective for a weekend was to complete a walk and take the kids to a playground before 2:30.

2. Try Something New


Being a new mom often has days that just blend together in which the new and all important responsibilities dance around in a 24-hour cycle around the different squares of the calendar. To combat this boredom from repetitive responsibilities, I enjoy adding something different to the mix to make each week stand out a little. 

Ruts still happen, but they are much fewer than they were before. My first choice would be to go out into a new place in nature. While that only happens weather permitting, my second choice is to find a nice audio-book or a good movie to watch. My favorite morsels of creative entertainment have been "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Bridgerton, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. 

Trying something new gives new life to the most standard and mundane tasks.

Yes, having a beautiful and well-kept home is a wonderful thing if you are summoned by the divine for this endeavor, but some days, it's just hard. This helps so much. Maybe this tip is only for extroverts, but maybe it's for everyone a bit. (Side note: I prescribe to the opinion that  extroversion or introversion is not "how social you are," but how much you prefer to interact with your environment.) 

3. Mom Report Card


This one is for all of the habit trackers out there, myself included. In the business world, I prefer ground truth data over feelings and Deming principles over "going with the flow." As moms or parents or caretakers, we have to make our own flow or the day makes us. 

This is a great approach to crushing goals because they are about honesty. First, goals should be realistic. If you created a lofty goal and its demoralizing watching it be further and further out of reach, replace it with something more realistic. Next, it's important to document wins and setbacks. Both are natural and a part of life. 


4. Make it a Game


This one is great for competitive parents out there. Yes, competition between parents is toxic and not the foundation to true friendship, but competition between you and your past self is fair game and fun. The old you did not have the same experience and mindset that you have now. Your old personal record is about to be crushed over and over. 

You can make either completing your smaller goals a game or you can make the journey to get to the goal a game. Take for example a clean kitchen floor. You can either do it super fast, on time, and mark that task done, OR you can give yourself point for every square foot of space that you clean.  

My personal favorite is a throwback to mall arcades. I write a to-do-list where every distinct task has its own number, then I designate how many complete tasks correspond to prizes and what the prizes are. While this sounds a tad like treating yourself, it is, but there are also ways to do this while also being fiscally conservative by either buying things that you will need later earlier (e.g. tooth paste, you will hopefully always need toothpaste), or paying down a debt, or adding to a savings account. 

5. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


I love the approach to happiness as the approach to the happiness of the whole family. And that's why I love the Maslow's hierarchy of needs approach. It's easy to follow, it just goes from the ground up. Every great building is built on good solid ground or a solid foundation. 

This is often second nature, but we sometimes forget to continue moving up the hierarchy of needs. 

As a disclaimer, I have seen people thrive while not having some of the basic needs met. There are always exceptions, but for me and many people I know, and modern psychology would side with building up. 

For me, I cannot excuse crafting while my home is dirty. I once came across the partial hoax, partially doctored message "from a Singer manual"--debunked here. It emphasized having all other affairs in order before undertaking sewing. This meant nothing in the physical or mental space was to be a bother. While the origin of the story was a hoax, the author of the linked blog follows through with exerts of the original doctored work with its good message preserved. 


6. Mind, Body, Heart, Soul


Okay, this one goes to all of those past studious students who would study in the library until finals, live there, then spend summers outside to make up for lost rays of sunshine. N

No. Extremes don't work in a family structure. You cannot, not bathe your kids, or not prepare bottles and pump. You cannot ignore the emotional needs of your children while making sure they can get a partial football scholarship. You can't ignore these important aspects of your life, because if you ignore them, no one else will take care of them. 

 I chose mind, body, heart and soul because those are the various areas of my family life and my focus. 

It's my focus for 2021 to care about all of these areas instead of just the mind and heart. Those were the 2020 objectives, but this year is going to be different. 


7. Continuous Improvement

One of my favorite words of all time is Kaizen, meaning change for the better. We have goals because we want to improve our lives in some way. 

This approach is perfect if you have BIG goals. You can break them down and try to reach small milestones without looking at the big goal all at once. 

Chances are that if you break down your big goals into small tasks or baby steps, and commit even one full minute to it everyday, you will move forward with enough focus if you have the necessary resources.

A big goal for 2021 is to write more and live more fully. As a result I have monthly goals for how often I write. My BIG goal is to write a book by the end of 2021. We will see how that unfolds. 


8. Accountability 

A lot of people say they want something, they tell everyone, and then they never do it. That happens a lot and in order to avoid this, you have to be accountable to yourself or others. Talk to those who want to see you succeed. Truly succeed. 

Maybe figure out a way to be accountability buddies or to give yourself consequences for not meeting certain goals. This sounds harsh but could be a great motivator. 

Did you not complete that one work email that you really wanted to? I guess that ice cream can wait, ice cream is for closers. 

What I like about this approach is that you can have flexibility when you need to. Being accountable to yourself also means not abusing your energy. All of your being is accountable to all of your being. And that is truly beautiful.


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...