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Why I’m Still A Stay Home Mom

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As you know, my last baby went to Kindergarten this year. And immediately the comments and questions started from friends, family, strangers….

“So when are you going back to work?” 

“I bet you’re so happy that you can go back to work now.”

“Have you found a job yet?”

Sigh. I thought about it. Matt and I talked about it. We gave it some serious consideration. The extra money from my income would be nice and really help out. We weighed the pros and cons of what it would mean for me to go back to work full time. And in the end we decided that I would continue to be a stay home mom for the foreseeable future, for several reasons that are important to us. 

1. Life is busier now than ever before. Seriously, I thought life was busy when the kids were little. Life is crazy busy now. With 4 kids in 3 different school systems this year with 3 different school schedules and calendars I don’t know how I could hold down a full time job. 

2. We don’t want latch key kids. I like being here when my kids get home from school. I like helping them with their homework and talking with them about their day. I like knowing what they are doing afterschool. We have so few years left with them at home and I don’t want to miss any of it.

3. It makes our marriage easier. We don’t have to fight over who has to stay home when a kid is sick, or whose turn it is to make dinner, or who forgot to drop off the dry cleaning. We have very clear roles in the household. And everything runs smoothly.

4. I am always available. Even when Matt is not available to attend every school function, I am. I’ve never missed an award ceremony, honor roll celebration, school play, school party, football game, basketball game, soccer game, volleyball game….I volunteer at the schools, I take my turn as room mom, I chaperone field trips. I do all these things to be involved in my kids lives and to take some of the burden off of Matt. 

5. It teaches a valuable lesson. We’re teaching our kids that everyone in the house plays a role and every role is important. Without Matt going to work every day we would be homeless. Without me staying home and taking care of everything else this whole house would literally fall apart. 

I don’t know how many more years I’ll be at home but I would love to stay home until Zoey is at least in high school. I’m enjoying this time in our life and I don’t want to be stressed or rushed or feel guilty for missing out on stuff. On the flip side, that means we make sacrifices. We don’t take the big expensive vacations, we don’t spend $500 on new clothes every other month, we don’t eat out several times a week, we don’t buy big ticket items that we don’t need. We shop frugally, I cook 7 nights a week, and we stick to a strict budget. We make sacrifices so I can stay home and we’ll continue to do so. But people don’t see that. They see that all my kids are at school during the day and assume I must be sitting at home watching Dr. Phil and eating ice cream. I wish! I love me some Dr. Phil and mint chocolate chip is my favorite! 

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5 Ways Sports Parents Lose Their Minds

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Sports parents are crazy, y’all. Did you know that? We are totally crazy. And it goes beyond the wild cheering the stands and heckling the referees. It’s an all consuming thing. The following are just 5 of the ways we absolutely lose our minds. There are more than 5, believe me. 

1. The money. Unless you have kids who play high level sports you have absolutely no concept of the amount of money involved. I thought rec sports was expensive. Ha! I scoff at my previously naive self. I played club soccer so I knew it was pricey but I had no idea how expensive varsity sports were going to be. Tyler played varsity football and basketball this year. So we had a pay-to-play fee of over $100 per sport just to be on the team. Then we had the costs for team shoes, personalized gear such as shooting shirts for basketball and warm up shirts for football, the matching team bag, all of the gear needed such as knee pads, wrist braces, compression leggings, etc. Tyler went through 2 pairs of cleats during football season at $175 for each pair. It’s ridiculously expensive. Between football and basketball we forked over well over $2,000 this season. 

2. The time. Because Tyler doesn’t drive yet I spent a whole lot of time in the car. First, we had summer off-season work which meant I sat at the field for several hours during the mornings and then in front of the weight room in the afternoon for a couple of hours. Every day during the summer. Then the season began and they had practice every afternoon until after 6:30. Practice was supposed to end at 5:30 so that meant a lot of time sitting in the car waiting. Then game days. Home games meant arriving early to help set up, then tailgating, then watching the game, then waiting for the team meeting. Away games meant rushing to pick everyone up from school and drive to the games- some were well over an hour away- then driving back to the school and waiting for the bus to arrive. Sometimes they would stop for food on the way home and we’d be waiting in the parking lot for 3 hours. Then they had weights and practice on Saturday mornings. Y’all. Varsity sports is a family commitment, not just the athlete. 

3. The team spirit. The moms went all out with team spirit. We all bought team spirit shirts for the whole family, we all chipped in to make sure the guys had Gatorade, water, snacks, etc available for them. And the tailgating. Oh man, the tailgating. It was as elaborate as a NFL tailgate. We’re talking tables of food, coolers of drinks, huge tents…it was amazing. And we did it for every home game.

4. The emotions invested. Have you ever seen a group of angry parents run off a bad referee? I have. Ever seen the amount of drama that 3 overly involved moms can cause? I have. But I get it. We’re putting in as much as our kids and we want to see the rewards from all the effort. And heaven help the poor coaches. They put up with a lot. I have a rule- if my kid’s actual health and safety are not impacted then I do not get involved. I don’t ask the coach about playing time, or a switch in position, etc. Nope. Not my job. But there are many, many…many parents who don’t feel the same way!

5. The family. I have never experienced varsity football the way I did this past season. Some of my best friends right now are the other moms of players on the team. We cheer for each other’s kids, we cringe when they take a big hit, we drop everything to help if needed, we know what is going on with everyone’s kids. We’ve become family. There’s nothing like watching your kid pick up a teammate off the ground after a vicious hit and then go after the player who dished it out. That makes you family. 

So yes, we’re all nuts and crazy and a lot of people do not understand us. That’s ok. We understand each other. 

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Challenges of Parenting Multiple Stages

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Parenting is hard, y’all. I don’t know if you got the memo. But it’s hard. And it seems like I begin every new stage of parenting thinking “it will get easier”. But it doesn’t. I thought the baby stage was hard with the sleep deprivation. The toddler stage was hard with the tantrums. The Pre-school stage was hard with the stubbornness. And so on and so on. But you know what is really hard? Parenting kids in multiple stages at one time. 

1. Bedtimes for the younger kids are fluid. And by fluid I mean practically non-existent. I remember when Tyler was 6. His bedtime was 7:30pm. Every night. Without fail. Because he was the oldest and we didn’t schedule anything after 5pm. Zoey is lucky if she’s in bed by 9:30pm some nights. Because how we have big kids who have sports and meetings and stuff. 

2. The little kids spend a lot of time in the car. They’re not old enough to stay home by themselves so they get dragged all over creation. We keep bags packed by the door for them to grab when I know we’re going to be in the car for awhile waiting for big kids to be done with practices and games. 

3. The bigs don’t want to do Disney. And the littles don’t want to do camping. Well to be fair, I don’t want to do camping either. But the point is that they are all in different stages and vacation means something different to all of them. The little kids would love to go to Disney but I have a hard time justifying spending thousands of dollars on a trip that the big kids don’t want to take. And I can’t bring myself to force the little kids to spend a week in a tent because that will suck for all of us.

4. My brain cannot keep up with the homework range. No, seriously. It cannot keep up. I’ve thrown in the towel with helping the big kids. They’re on their own now. 

5. Littles end up having play dates at football games. Poor little kids. Zoey best friends are Tyler’s teammates siblings at the football games. Because that’s where we spend half of our life. At football. The only play dates Zoey got to have from July through November were at the varsity football games. 

I know that this too will pass. I just feel bad that they are all getting the shaft in one way or another. I guess I can just say that I’m raising resilient kids, right? That sounds good….

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6 Rules For Being The Hangout House

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We are really very blessed to live in a neighborhood with so many families in the same stages of life as we’re in right now. We’ve lived here for almost 12 years now and a lot of these families have been here about the same amount of time so our kids have all been friends for over a decade. It’s awesome. They come and go from each other’s houses all the time and it’s no big deal. This holds true for Tyler’s crew, Maia’s friends, and now Mason’s gang. I’m sure Zoey will get in on the action too now that she’s older. All the kids in that picture above? I have known them for years and years and I love them. But. BUT. Being the hangout house for more than one group of kids means that I’ve had to create some new rules to save my sanity. 

1. They bring their own food and drinks. Seriously. And lest you think I’m just a cheapskate, let me give you a lesson. 5 teen boys can consume more food in one hour than the rest of our family consumes in a week. I do not provide snacks anymore unless it’s a sleepover. Sometimes the older kids chip in money and order a pizza for themselves. Or they walk down to the grocery store and buy snacks. What they don’t do? Raid my pantry. 

2. There are no shoes in the house. Between my own kids and 3 dogs I spend enough time vacuuming and washing floors. So the rule is that shoes come off when they come in the front door. Period. If you come in my front door on any given weekend afternoon you’ll probably trip over 15 pairs of shoes. 

3. There will be no name-calling, taunting, fighting, or bullying. None. I have a zero tolerance policy in this house. Now obviously this does not include the copious amounts of trash talking that go on when you have a group of teen boys in the house playing video games. Because that trash talk is intense, y’all. I ignore all that mess. But having 3 kids with 3 different sets of friends in the house at the same time sometimes leads to disharmony. I do not allow the girls to heckle the boys or vice versa. I have sent kids home before and I will do it again. And when their parents text or call wanting to know why their kid came home upset, I tell them the exact reason. And they never have an issue with it. This is my house and I reserve the right to set the standards of decorum. 

4. No boys allowed in girls’ rooms and vice versa. The kids are allowed to have sleepovers but boys and girls cannot have a sleepover on the same night. This is a more recent rule. We’ve reached the age where some of Maia’s friends are coming over because Tyler’s friends are here. Sigh. Now, Tyler’s friends have zero use for a group of 12 year old girls but that doesn’t stop the girls from wanting to flirt. And I know it won’t be long before Mason’s friends are here because Maia’s friends are here too. So there are no girls in boys rooms and vice versa. And I do not allow Maia’s friends to sleepover if Tyler or Mason already have friends sleeping over. That’s just common sense. There will be no teen pregnancies on my watch, y’all. 

5. They must clean up after themselves. Throw trash away, put dishes in the sink, pick up after yourself. So basically, don’t be a pig or a sloth. And the consequences for not following this rule are swift. I’ve had 5 teen boys raking my yard before because they left trash all over the driveway after playing basketball. They learned quickly that I’m not kidding. 

6. No sports in the house. Yes I actually had to make this a rule. But after the second lamp got broken in the living room because of a football game I put my foot down. Last week I even banned air hockey in the living room after a picture frame was knocked off the wall by a particularly strong puck hit. I mean, really? 

These rules are making it just a little bit easier to be the hangout house. I want my kids to have their friends over, I enjoy their friends and I like knowing what my kids are doing. But not at the expense of my sanity. 

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5 Lessons Learned From Varsity Sports

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I’ve managed to get 7 or 8 really nasty comments lately on some of my older posts talking about Tyler’s football season. All from the same person who called me a horrible mother, a joke of a mom, a clueless idiot, and some other unrepeatable things. She just could not believe that I would allow my child to play such a “barbaric, dangerous, and stupid sport” and flat out told me I should never have been allowed to adopt a child. She’s a lovely person, obviously. The comments didn’t bother me but they did make me think. We encourage our kids to play sports. We make the sacrifices necessary for them to play sports. I fully believe that there are lessons to be learned from playing sports, lessons that you don’t always learn from other things in the same way you learn them from sports. And those lessons are valuable and necessary. And the lessons learned from playing a varsity sport are immense. 

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1. Perseverance. There is no quit in varsity sports. There is no quit. Tyler never missed a practice with the exception of the ones he had to miss because of the concussion. And the coaches practically had to lock him in the classroom to keep him off the field. He practiced through 2 stomach viruses that had him puking off the side of the field. He practiced hurt, he practiced tired. There is no quit. And there’s no slacking off. If he slacked off there were 8 guys waiting in the wings to take his starting spot. Period. They were working as hard to take his spot as he was to keep it. 

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2. Toughness. There’s nothing like varsity sports to teach you the difference between pain and injury. Pain is something you deal with. You sack up, gut it out, and keep going. That’s varsity sports. Injury is something totally different. Tyler shed blood this season, he played hurt and in pain, he took a lot of Advil. It toughened him up. 

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3. Teamwork. The bonds formed on the football team this year were amazing. These guys fought through a tough schedule, lots of injuries, and some terribly difficult practices together. Bonds are made over blood shed on the field. It’s been great watching them become great friends off the field now that the season is over. 

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4. Sacrifice. Varsity football is an all consuming thing. It is a year round sacrifice. Tyler had zero free time during the season, he barely saw some his friends from outside school, he hardly played the xbox, and any free time he did carve out he spent sleeping. He practiced in 100 degree heat in the middle of the summer in full pads for days on end. He knows what it means to sacrifice to be the best. And it didn’t end when the season ended. He’s in the middle of off-season football workouts right now on top of playing basketball. 3 days a week he does weight lifting with the football guys in the afternoon, then they do some wrestling or some field work, and then he goes to basketball practice. On Saturdays he does football field practice in the morning and goes straight to basketball practice afterwards. It’s year round. 

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5. Commitment. Varsity football demands commitment. There are no days off. At his school playing varsity football means you are expected to uphold the standards and image of the team and the school. There are no exceptions. It’s not just a commitment to play football. It’s a commitment to be a good role model in the school. 

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I’ve seen the changes in Tyler from the end of his freshman year to right now after just one season playing varsity football for his new school. He’s a different person. He’s more confident, he’s more self-assured, he’s more personable, and he’s more mature. And those lessons have been continued through basketball season. I’m pleased with the lessons he’s learning from varsity sports. He’s learning lessons that he’ll use throughout his lifetime. And that’s priceless.

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