Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Goodbye Carpool Line…

When you’re a mom, job security is still a thing.

A few years ago, I worked in a Pre-K Special Needs Classroom with one of my favorite people in the world, Debbie. When daylight savings time came around, she teased that she was the ONLY one who knew how to accurately adjust the time on the classroom clock. “Job Security” she declared, hoisting herself on a chair to take down the clock.

So when my two oldest kids drove off to school in our “new to us” car, I saw a bit of my mom-job security circle the drain. No need to take them in early or pick them up after meetings. IMG_1115.jpegThe “always late” bus complaints will be a thing of the past. Here’s the bus today…guess they’re right.

Wait, should they be out there on their own? I’ve heard discussions both ways…there are those parents who are SO excited to have their kids drive themselves to school, practice and “to the store for milk”.

Not me.

Since the get-go, I’ve been the mom who lugged everyone everywhere…storytime, grocery store, soccer. Outings just made the day better. On our drives to elementary school, we built our stories. There’s the time I accidentally rolled over a rabbit and told the kids, “Yup, missed it!”

Sorry.

Or during morning prayers when we’d say, “Good morning sweet Jesus our Savior…” and our young Zavier would laugh and laugh thinking we were praying to him.

Even now that the kids are older, I relish our time in the car.

Fine.

I despise the arguing, poking, seat adjusting, music changing craziness that goes on, but the conversations can be pretty good, the singing mostly on key, and the stress level relatively low…since I’m at the helm.

Over the years, I’ve discovered change truly is our only constant and it’s up to me to loosen my hold and afford them the chance to share their experiences with each other.

Wow, those words really sound better than they feel.

Naturally, I worry as I stare at the bouncy faces I see on the Life 360 App zooming down roads, and I am crazy stressed about the late-to-work-speeders, moms-on-the-phone, and texting-teens circling them like sharks. But now it’s their responsibility to figure out the best time to leave in the morning. It’s their turn to find the most strategical place to park to avoid long carpool lines, and most certainly their turn to watch the gas gauge closely.

As I stand on the other side of the driver’s door in the morning, I give Cora the international “roll the window down” sign by moving my fist in small circles. I kiss her again on the forehead, reminding her to be careful and to let me know when they arrive. “If you need anything, just call.” They drive away and I feel anxious and proud like I’ve just handed them the keys to a Nissan and the world.

This is the cross-country course of parenthood. Full of roots to stumble on, downhills to relish and inclines to power through. I suppose if there were operating instructions for  kids they would say:

  • care and coddle when they are young,
  • provide a cozy, loving chrysalis as they grow, and
  • eventually, release them and let them fly — THE SPEED LIMIT!

So what if my job security was threatened this week? Thankfully being a mom has about 3 million other duties — ha, I’m suddenly reminded they are still just kids as I imagine them belly laughing as they blurt out, “You said duties!!”

I suppose the DMV can continue to issue permits and licenses to our teenagers but my kids know my “helicopter mom” license never expires, so I’ll be watching.

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

20 – 2-minute activities to relieve stress

LENTEN REFLECTIONS #31

I took this picture after I walked with my kids to the bus stop this morning. The trail our feet imprinted was a snapshot of each of us. One set of footprints was my daughter’s, straight and defined, mine seemingly magnetized to each child and my son’s looping around, making his own way to the same destination. The walk took less than two minutes. Two tiny minutes to solidify their after-school plans, gush over the Dogwood blossoms and tell my kids I loved them.

Two minutes.

The walk reminded me of yet another article I read in the Orthodontists office (three kids in braces). The author discussed how sometimes the little tasks in life have the potential to overwhelm our day and push big jobs further into the peripheral. These mental to-do lists can clutter our minds and impose unnecessary stress, so why not just take time to do them?

I wanted to rip out the article and pin it on my shirt like a grade school reminder for picture day. Instead, I thought better of it and simply retained what I could for sharing.

So to remember what I gained from it, I developed a mantra :

Take two minutes to accomplish tiny tasks AND savor meaningful moments.

2-Minute TINY TASKS:

When I see a job that can be completed quickly but requires more inclination than sweat equity, I count through it, literally. Here’s what I mean: I count out loud and time how long the job REALLY takes. One morning, I opened my unorganized bathroom drawer and got that annoyed vibe where instead of just cleaning it out, I want to remodel the entire bathroom. NOW.

After talking myself off the Home Depot ledge, I started my count. 120 seconds later, I had thrown out old lotions, random rubberbands I pulled from my hair when I couldn’t find a hair tie and old make up I swear I’m going to use, but realize it’s easier to look in the mirror without my glasses on than to start using makeup.

After the short 2 minutes, I felt great and the next time I opened the drawer, I felt the cathartic joy I experience when something is done. Ever count through emptying the dishwasher? 2 minutes. Making your bed, 2 minutes or less. It’s the little things we can do NOW rather than later that help make the big picture things like studying for a test, or cleaning the garage or tackling paperwork more doable.

2-Minute MEANINGFUL MOMENTS:

Now those two minutes can also bring immediate joy, like walking with your kids to the bus, snuggling with your partner or petting your dog. In those instances, the tiny two minutes IS meaningful and memorable. A WIN, WIN.

So in an effort to tackle the tiny tasks and embrace the moments that count, I’ve researched and crafted my top 20 things you can accomplish in just 2 minutes.

  1. Floss and brush. Your teeth will thank you at your next checkup.
  2. After washing your hands, wipe off the sink and mirror. Almost clean is sometimes close enough.
  3. Turn on music and dance with your spouse or kids. The natural boost of dopamine will inject your mood with joy.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs. Then go for a walk. Sometimes the 2 minutes it takes to put the leashes on the dogs seem so laborious. They’ll love you for it.
  5. Empty the trash and recycling. Then reline the trash cans. Pull in the bins for the curb also if it’s trash day. Done!
  6. Clean out your purse or backpack. Throw away receipts, tissues, and (if you’re like me) take out the 9 Sharpies. You just need two in a Sharpie emergency…one to give away and one to keep. Wipe bag with a damp cloth.
  7. Shake out all the carpets in your car. You can use a scraper or your hand to help the dirt off. Ahhh…a semi-clean car.
  8. Go through the mail you’ve piled up. Recycle the junk, file the rest.
  9. Clean out the garbage disposal. Combine one part baking soda and two parts vinegar, pour in the disposal, let sit for 30 seconds, add a handful of ice and run the disposal.
  10. Clean out the microwave. Since the vinegar is out, fill a mug with 1/4  cup of vinegar and the rest with water. Heat for 1 minute and let sit for 45 seconds, wipe the oven clean.
  11. Play 52 pick up with your kids. Who cares how old they are? Flip the cards up and let them fly. Pick up quickly and maybe you’ll have time for another game!
  12. Give one of your children a piggyback ride. Here you might care about age and size. If you’re my size, ask your kids to give you a piggyback ride instead. Good luck.
  13. Sweep the front steps. Make the entrance of your home look welcoming and happy.
  14. Untangle all of your charger and other device cords and plug in your phone. It will relieve the stress later.
  15. Declutter your email. Unsubscribe to as many unwanted emails as you can in two minutes!
  16. Check texts and voice mail. Make sure you’ve responded to calls and texts.
  17. Pay your bills online. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can be done.
  18. Comb through your credit card bill. Make sure all charges are legitimate.
  19. Sit down and relax for two minutes. Listen to your breathing. Close your eyes.
  20. Ask your children to tell you the best and worst parts of their day. I like to use open-ended questions in the hopes of having more than a one-minute conversation with them after school. Although frequently their response will still be “GOOD”. I think it’s just the teenage script they read from. If the stars are aligned, it could lead to a great conversation.

Take two minutes. To do the little things. Whether they are weighty and mundane or fulfilling and memorable. You will experience delight in knowing you accomplished them.

My two-minute walk to the bus stop and perhaps over-analysis of the footsteps in the grass brought me a day of joy knowing our kids will ultimately go the way their hearts lead them and always know their way home. 

Life is fleeting, find joy in it even if it is two minutes at a time.

Spiritual Workout – my thought for today:

I wish I could push a bobby pin through the little hole in life’s doorknob, shove the door open and reveal all the answers we are so desperate for.

Workout: Get outside today and walk or run – oh! take those dogs with you.