A recent conversation in a Facebook mother’s group got me thinking about balancing housework and kids. The conversation went something like this:
“I feel like a horrible mom because I can’t just let the housework go and focus on my kid. I want to spend more time playing with them, but I stress out when the house isn’t clean. I know I should just let it go and focus on my kid, but I can’t or I get anxiety! I try to turn it off, I try to not care, but I can’t!”
“uggg, me too! I just can’t relax in a dirty house!”
“I also struggle with this, I know my kids need all of my attention right now, but I need to get my work done too!”
“Just relax ladies. They’ll only be small for so long. Your kid needs you right now, just be ok with it being messy.”
On and on an on. Mommy guilt galore and advice to just learn how to relax if it’s messy. Well I call shenanigans! Having a clean house is important. Doing what is healthy for you as a mother is important. If our lives revolve around our children to the point of neglecting ourselves and our homes that is not a good thing! Our children need a well-organized clean home just as much as they need face to face with mom time. Also contrary to popular belief your children do not need, or in most cases even want, unlimited “mom plays with me” time (that’s a new post for a new day).
Now my house is no Martha Stewart magazine, but it is neat and clean. My laundry isn’t folded, but it’s washed. My sink has dishes in it, but they are rinsed and stacked neatly. My living room has toys all over, but there isn’t any trash and it gets swept regularly. You do have to accept a certain amount of clutter as a mom, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to keep order and avoid filth!
1. Timed Tidy
When Cameron feels like the mess is getting to be a bit much he will set a timer for 5-15 minutes (depending on how much time he has and how much of a mess there is) and just tidy the one room that is bugging him the most. When the timer stops he’s done. He feels better that the room is cleaner and he hasn’t got caught up in a whirlwind of deep cleaning that takes away from the other things he needs to accomplish. I don’t usually set a specific timer, but I will do a quick ‘pick up the junk’ shallow clean of a room then move on to something else guilt free.
2. Full Hands In, Full Hands Out
Every time I walk from one room to another I check to see what needs to go with me. Is there a plate in the living room? Toys in the bedroom? Dirty clothes that need to go to the laundry room? Just grab a handful of things that are out-of-place and put them away on your way from one room to another.
3. Make it a Challenge/Game
Kids love it when you give them a challenge and they succeed. There are so many ways to make cleaning a fun challenge. You can set a timer and see who can pick up the most things. You can give rewards for finishing in a certain time frame. You can see who can balance the most toys on their head while carefully walking to the toy box. You can pretend the floor is hot lava and they have to walk along the couch and chairs in order to put all the toys away. With smaller kids you can practice counting, shape sorting, and color identification as you put each toy away Get creative and make it fun.
4. Have a Schedule/System
It is really easy to walk past that sink of dishes stress free when I know that I have budgeted time in my day to do them after dinner. Having a system and schedule in place helps me to be more efficient. I start the dishwasher right before bed, I empty it in the morning, then we put dishes in it all day as we are done with them. This keeps my sink and counter relatively dish free and saves me time on having to load the dishwasher later. I know that right before bed is toy pick-up time. I can happily walk through the minefield in the living room knowing that in the evening it will all be picked up so I can enjoy my quiet time with my husband in a clean room.
My mother would say that this should be tip #1. Growing up there was a sign taped on my closet door that said “When in doubt, Throw it out!” As a kid it always drove me nuts, but as an adult I may be an even better de-junker than my mother was! The less you have the less there is to clean. Kids don’t need ten million toys. Haven’t you ever noticed that most toddlers prefer to play with the box? In our home we try to stick with open-ended imagination encouraging toys such as dolls, cars, and building supplies. Clean-up doesn’t take very long when you only have about 20 toys on the floor instead of 200. Observe which toys get played with the least and get rid of them. If you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of most of the toys then sort them into boxes of about 5-10 toys per child and put all but one box away. Every few weeks you can rotate the boxes, getting a new one out and putting the current one into storage. It’ll be like Christmas, all new toys to play with!
6. Ditch the Chores
I know, that doesn’t sound like something that should be on this list, but ditching chores was the best thing we ever did for our home. Instead we do family work. Everyone, including mom and dad, work together to complete on task. This doesn’t mean I’ve hovering and supervising. This means I get down on the floor and help my kids. While working together we are spending time together and having fun. They are learning life skills and they also feel like they are on the same team with Mom and Dad. Work gets done quicker with a lot less fighting and complaining. For example, last night our living room and dining room were way messier than usual. Daddy and Maddy were out on a date so the rest of us got to work. Ben was picking up all the trash, Leah and Rachel were picking up toys, and I was picking up all the other random odds and ends and then swept. Even Jack at age two was able to help pick things up and put them away. While we worked we talked about their day, answered lots of random questions, and sang a few songs.
As a mom have you ever felt mommy guilt over spending time cleaning instead of playing with your kids? What are your top cleanliness tips?
Early in the morning on Sunday March 29th the world lost a very great man. Cameron’s father, Jerry T. Smith, passed away peacefully at home with his loving wife Martha. The funeral was held the following Wednesday about 7 hours away from us in North Carolina.
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that it goes with us wherever, and whenever, we want to go. We didn’t have to stress about missing school, getting assignments from teachers, excused absences. We just packed up our family and hit the road. Being able to spend this time with our extended family was such a blessing for us and our children. We didn’t attempt to do any sort of formal lessons. We were able to simply allow the children to feel what they needed to feel regarding their grandfather’s death and be a part of the family.
As Cameron has reflected on his father’s life the most important things he remembers are the lessons his father taught him. His father taught him to work with his hands and work hard. He taught him to keep his eye on the ball and always follow through. He taught him to face his fears and his pain and never be afraid to follow his dreams. More than anything Jerry taught Cameron that he was important, he mattered, and he was loved. These are the most important lessons in life. These are the lessons that aren’t taught at school. These are the lessons that come from living a good life and loving others.
Jerry you will be missed. I will always be grateful to you for the lessons you taught your son, without which he would not be the husband and father that he is today. We love you.
(A poem written by Cameron when he was 20 years old)
Today there’s a man
Who I wish would feel honored
For the wonderful things that he’s done.
He never was lucky to have any daughters,
But he sure has one hell of a son.
I look at this man
And see blood, sweat, and tears
From trials of life now gone by.
I’m grateful that I’ve known
All these twenty years
A man far more wise than am I
Who sacrificed pleasure
And worked through much pain
To keep me alive and well fed,
Who shaded me from
The incorrigible sun,
And helped me to keep a straight head,
Who taught me quite early
To tie my own shoes,
And helped me with loving to learn,
Who threw balls with me
And bought me a glove
And a bat. I never did yearn,
For he is a man
Who cared when I hurt,
Whose word I could take to the bank,
Who selflessly, endlessly
Went off to work–
A feat that I never can thank.
I look back at my life,
And through all that I cried,
I realize it wasn’t half bad!
I always had love and a friend standing by.
I thank the good Lord for MY DAD.
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I (Emily) am a photographer. I have always loved photography, but hadn’t felt confident in myself to actually do more than take pictures of my own children. Educating myself on both the art and technicalities of good photography is the #1 thing that allowed me to find the confidence to take the jump and go pro. Here are a few of my favorite resources for the aspiring photographer.
Amazon is having a special right now on the Adobe one year subscriction to the photographer’s bundle ($9.99 a month billed monthly for Photoshop and Lightroom). If you purchase by April 11th they will give you a $25 Amazon credit.
I read many books on Photoshop while pursuing my BFA in Digital Design. Adobe Photoshop for Photographers is the most comprehensive nitty gritty how to book I read. It is my Photoshop bible! It is always on my shelf and I pull it out whenever I need a reminder on how to do something or inspiration to try something new.
For learning the basics of digital photography and editing anything by Scott Kelby is going to be good. I have read several of his books.
The Photographer’s Eye is the best book out there for learning the artistic side of photography. It discusses different artistic principles such as rule of thirds, leading lines, and utilizing triangles and circles that you can use to improve the composition of your shots. The author discusses different lenses and how they affect your image. He also gives several examples of one scene photographed in several different way and discusses the pros and cons of each shot.
If you only ever read one book about photography it has to be Understanding Exposure. This book will teach you how to get your camera off of auto and fully take control of your images. It discusses how different apertures and shutter speeds affect your images. It will enable you to see in your mind what you want your image to have (motion blur, depth of field, etc.) and actually achieve it! Also by getting your exposure correct in camera you avoid editing problems that degrade the quality of your photos such as overexposed highlights and excess noise from underexposure.
One of my favorite resources for continuing my education is Creative Live. Creative Live streams live classes by professionals on every topic from shooting to editing, posing to documentary, and more. If you watch the class live then it is free and you can jump in the chatrooms to interact with other students and ask questions. They also have a small live studio audience. I have been blessed to be in that audience twice now. Attendance is free, you just have to cover your own travel costs and hotel stay. There are two studios, Seattle and San Francisco, so if you live near one of those areas then you should definitely apply to attend some classes.
There are a million and one other resources out there. The most important thing is to just jump in and learn all you can then get your camera in your hands and shoot everything until you feel comfortable with what you are doing.
What other photography resources do you love? What photography questions would you like to have answered?
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One of the digital art services that I offer is custom painted portraits. I believe that these portraits are a beautiful way to liven up your traditional family photos. I can take a simple snapshot and transform it into a wall worthy work of art. Every photo session I do I paint at least one of the images for my client’s gallery and can paint more on commission.
Each portrait is painted by me using both Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. I take a reference photo, either one I’ve taken or one sent to me by a client, and turn it into a beautiful painting. Each image is color corrected and styled in Photoshop to prepare for painting. They are then taken into Corel Painter and painted by hand utilizing my Wacom tablet as my paintbrush. Each image is a completely unique custom work of art. I can then send digital files or have your painting printed on fine art canvas and gallery wrapped. I believe these portraits are the perfect mother’s day gift and I would love to paint one for you!
I am able to do many a few different styles of paintings. My specialties are watercolor and oil/pastel. Corel painter has an amazing selection of brushes that allow me to mimic pretty much any medium I choose! I do most of my paintings with the oil and pastel brushes.
As you can see each image is a one of a kind custom work of art. I can deliver a digital file alone or have your image printed on fine art canvas and gallery wrapped ready to hang on the wall. If you purchase the printed product you will also receive the digital file.
These painted portraits make the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas and any other event you can think of. Mother’s day is only 6 weeks away, why not get your mother a custom work of art she will treasure forever! You can order your image in my etsy shop.