My husband Christian is a pretty fit guy. He runs a little, lifts weights, and has completed three Tough Mudder events.
When we started dating, I had already gained the Freshman 15 (er, 20), and he was thin as a rail. His cheekbones jutted out, his eyes were sunken in. Truth be told, he looked a little sickly. Like, he would go to Wendy’s (EVERY. DAY.), but throw away half his burger and leave his fries practically untouched. This was strange behavior to me, the girl who was raised to devour everything on her plate, whether she was full or not.
Through the years his palette improved and he gained weight, especially as I learned the hard way how NOT to provide for our family food wise (Hamburger Helper anyone?). We both made terrible choices by way of chips, sodas, and the like. Breaking up with bread was one of he hardest things I’ve done, but it’s been beneficial. We have a few one night stands here and there, the bread and I.
He lost weight after I gave birth to our children, causing me to give the good old WTF. But the truth was, he didn’t have time for late night snacks when we were dealing with infants. I stress eat; he doesn’t. It’s totally not fair.
Now in our mid-30s, both of us have hit that point where we know that unless we start making better choices now, our health isn’t going to do us any favors in the future. For me this has meant running and making better food choices through my new best friend, My Fitness Pal. For him, this means working out and obsessing over things. Like watching YouTube videos on various routines, finding just the right pre- and post-workout supplement combo, and carb backloading. And talking about them incessantly.
Oh my God, the carb backloading.
The idea is simple – you wait until you’ve been awake for at least 2 hours before you eat, then you shun all or most carbs and sugars until the evening hours, preferably after you’ve worked out. He sent me articles, videos, websites, all on carb backloading, and how it would help burn fat faster. Words like “glycemic index” and “insulin spike” were tossed around the house willy nilly. The carbs you eat at night spike your insulin, which burns fat overnight. The CBL website claims you (meaning MEN) can eat ice cream, cookies, even strawberry tarts (!) as long as they do it at the proper time.
Also if that’s not really how it works, then it’s Christian’s fault. Or mine. I may have tuned him out after a few seconds because OMG stop talking about the carb backloading.
I tried. I’m willing to do anything with a partner, especially if it will get me “effortless abdominals!” simply by “eating the foods you love!” Unfortunately we are not the best team outside of being married and raising children together. I felt that every bite I took, every carb I ate, he’d be watching me. Like a little carb obsessed Sting.
The carb backloading? Gave me all the ragey feelings.
I can technically do without bread carbs. It’s fine. I’ve given it up before. But when you tell me I can’t have agave nectar in my coffee, or dressing on my salad or fruit with my yogurt….thems fightin words. I was hungry all the time (which means I probably wasn’t eating the right non-carb things to keep my body satisfied in the first place), and Bitch Leigh Ann was in full force.
The constant carb backloading talk didn’t help. Honey, I love you, and I want to support you, but you have got to stop talking about the carb backloading before I backload my foot into your pretty mouth. JK Love you!
After about 3 days of Bitch Leigh Ann, I gave in. I started putting agave nectar back in my coffee and now dance a little happy dance with my mug in the kitchen each morning. I still keep my carbs to a minimum. I gave up sandwiches a long time ago (unless it’s Thundercloud or Jimmy John’s, because I am not a complete animal) and only eat sprouted grain bread if I have toast. We have the occasional pasta. It’s whatever.
My husband looks great. But he has much stronger willpower than I. The thing is, I cannot stick to a plan that I hate. I was completely miserable while doing whatever version of the carb backloading he had me trying, even if it wasn’t 100% according the the plan of the guy who made it up whose videos I didn’t watch (sorry babe, I meant to?). And if someone popped up and told me exactly how to do it? I probably still wouldn’t be interested. Not my thing. You can promise me rock hard abs, a fantastic butt, and a trimmer waist than I have ever seen, but if I’m miserable… well, I don’t really care about that. I’ll stick to My Fitness Pal, who got me through a quick 6 pound loss before a voice started saying “Oooh! You lost 6 pounds! GET YO’SELF SOME CAKE!”
I just need to figure out how to squash THAT guy.
Have you every tried something “extreme” and seen results?
I could make this short and sweet by saying sciatica SUCKS! and that would be sufficient.
Seriously, y’all. The pain. The limping. The wincing. The doctors.
This started about November. Some mild back pain sent me to bed with a heating pad for several nights, but all it did was warm me up from some unusual frigid temps. The pain worsened until one night, in pure desperation, I googled “back pain left side,” and sciatica was the number one hit.
How did I not think of this? I suffered from sciatica pain in pregnancy. My lower back and left leg would ache, and the back of my left knee would be so warm to the touch that the children often huddled around my leg for warmth. True story.
[Clarifying side note: After writing about strange pregnancy ailments for allParenting, I learned that sciatica in pregnancy is often really pelvic girdle pain. Yay learning!]
Anyway, back to my debilitating and horrifying pain.
Here’s how my day goes:
Get up. Kind of.
Hobble to bathroom.
Sit/fall onto toilet. Check email and Facebook, AKA procrastinate having to stand up as long as possible.
Wash face, kicking left leg to side and bending slightly at the waist. To rinse, bend neck just until you are just on the verge of passing out from the pain. Slosh 96% of counter surface with water.
Limp into girls’ room to wake for school. Luckily bending over to wake them with hugs and kisses is well worth the pain.
I could go on and on, but it’s more of the same. There’s no comfortable position. Stand: pain. Sit: pain. Sitting to standing: PAIN. Standing to walking: MEGA PAIN, SOMETIMES TEARS.
A former physical therapist friend recommended that I skip my general practitioner and go straight to an orthopedic doctor. Luckily on the day of my appointment, my ibuprofen had worn off, so my pain faces were totally legit, and he could tell I was truly hurting. Unluckily for him, I was wearing sexy X-ray shorts and hadn’t shaved since long about November.
X-rays were inconclusive, so he ordered an MRI. While waiting for the MRI results, Christian insisted I go see a chiropractor (also heavily recommended by lots o’ friends, including a doctor friend. We all trust doctor friends.)
The chiropractor took one look at me and said, “Well. You are royally f*cked up.” Maybe not in those same words.
She asked to see me every day that week, where we did adjustments followed by therapy. Let me tell you, true intimacy, like your ortho doc seeing your incredibly hairy legs, is a therapist reaching into your pants to place little electrodes on your ass. I consider us to be very close now.
By the end of the week I was feeling good, moving around with minimal pain, and having a great hair day. I was starting to beat this. Or so I thought.
My MRI showed that I have a bulging disc that is compressing my sciatic nerve. Dr. B at Texas Orthopedics explained how the condition occurs. Something having to do with fissures and bubble gum consistency and “you are getting old.” I AM NOT A DOCTOR, PEOPLE. But the main thing I remember is that he said “It will get better,” as in the pain will go away, but the disc won’t go back into place. Possibly related, “You’ll likely be dealing with flare ups for the rest of your life.” He prescribed physical therapy, and if there was still no relief, cortisone shots.
I’ve had cortisone shots in my heel years ago for plantar fasciitis. SUPER FUN. NOT AT ALL PAINFUL. LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.
I know there are many differences of opinion between medical doctors and chiropractors. I talked to each of them about my seeing the other, and for the most part they were supportive. My chiropractor, Dr. M, was honest and up front about her own issues and how she herself has gotten cortisone shots for neck pain. Dr. B (the ortho) admitted that some of his colleagues lump chiropractors in with voodoo witch doctors, but he didn’t see the harm in it, as long as I wasn’t being taken advantage of with procedures that weren’t really going to help me.
And that’s the problem. I don’t know what’s going to help me. I want so badly to be done with this. Being in pain in pretty much all of your waking hours is miserable, to say the least. It affects every single part of my daily life, from the cleanliness of my house to my patience with my children. I literally cannot find a comfortable position unless i am lying in bed. And I miss jumping on the trampoline, dammit. But the thing is, everyone seems to have a different opinion on what the “right ” thing to do is. Dr. B may tell me that my bulging disc will never go away, but someone else may say that’s not true. I just need someone to be straight with me because Y’ALL, THIS SUCKS.
So as of right now, here’s where I am. Per Dr. B’s orders, I now own a copy of Treat Your Own Back (affiliate link), and I’m scheduled to see a physical therapist specializing in McKenzie method on Monday. I’m also seeing my chiropractor 3 times a week for adjustments and therapy. I’m popping ibuprofen like crazy, stretching and foam rolling twice a day, and wearing a sexy back brace when I don’t have to be seen in public. I have good days and bad days, but the thing is, none of the days seem to correlate with anything in particular.
[now a photo of a Birthday Princess Ninja Chihuahua. Or something.]
Zoe had a birthday last weekend. She turned four, and like all little girls between the ages of 0 and 103, she naturally wanted a Disney Frozen-themed party.
Pro-tip: Always say DISNEY before FROZEN, unless you want to get weird looks from people when you say you looked everywhere, but you couldn’t find any Frozen stuff. They’ll give you the side eye and be like “Um, there’s a whole section right over there. You know, ice cream? Pizzas? Pancake-wrapped sausages on a stick? It’s really cold?”
And you’ll be like “DISNEY FROZEN. ANNA, ELSA, ET CETERA.”
Say it with me DISNEY Frozen. DISNEY Frozen. DISNEY Frozen.
Anyway. We found a pack of napkins. That’s it. I wasn’t sure how the rest of the theme was going to go down, but God as my witness, sugar-hyped children were going to wipe their sticky, frosting-covered mouths with Anna’s smiling face.
So we decided to go “Disney Frozen-esque.” Lots of blue and white. Sparkly tulle on the table. Cupcakes decorated with blue and white frosting, adorned with little sugar sprinkles, candy pearls, and blue rock candy. They were, if I may say so myself, THE BOMB.
I love decorating cupcakes. It seriously takes almost no skill. But this time I wanted to take on a new challenge.
The ombre cake was calling me. Ombre is fancy talk for a fade or gradation of colors, usually from light to dark. I have an art degree, therefore I felt suited to take on this challenge. My professors would be so proud.
One thing you should know about me: I’m a closet Pinterest mom. Like, I totally suck at planning parties (SUCK) and my house is rarely appropriate for even the most casual of photographs. But I love making stuff. I am not a incestual pinner; I only pin what I really intend I to go back and refer to. I don’t always get around the the actual making of the actual stuff, but cakes and cupcakes are kinda my thing. I just love being able to fulfill their requests on my own. Like, I did this. You know?
(Not that there’s anything wrong with buying a cake because store bought cakes are DELICIOUS.)
So if you are looking to make an ombre cake, here are some things you should know, from the standpoint of a non-professional and completely unorganized woman who often messes things up. Also, I have almost no process photos, because 1) I really wasn’t planning on blogging it. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat; and 2) when I bake, it looks like a tasty, powdered sugary bomb went off in my kitchen. It doesn’t make for appealing photos. I said I USE Pinterest. I didn’t say that I was actually Pinterest worthy.
Anyway, the tips. A realist’s guide to making an ombre cake.
• I made a 3-layer cake with blue, light blue, and white layers. Get this whitest cake mix you can. I used vanilla cake mix, which was not exactly completely white, so it made the blue cake look a wee green. Don’t even think about going for yellow cake mix unless you have a color wheel-related death wish.
• I’d love to tell you how many drops of food coloring I used in each layer, but I can’t take on that kind of responsibility. Just start with 2 drops in one, 1 drop in another, and obviously your white later needs no drops. Adjust accordingly, depending on how deep you want your blues. Don’t go too deep on the middle layer. You may think it’s too light, but it will look great once stacked between the darker blue and the white.
• If you are into planning ahead (I scoff at the thought), get as many pans as you have layers. Even if you can’t cook them all at the same time, you’ll at least be able to pop the new ones in when you take the done ones out.
• Your layers are thinner than the average cake, so tell the cook times on the box to go to hell. I divided one box of mix into 3 pretty thin layers, and they cooked in about 15 minutes or so (the box called for 28ish minutes). Mine looked a little, er, done when I took them out. That’s what frosting is for.
Now for the frosting.
• Unfortunately (for me) frosting a cake is not nearly as simple as frosting cupcakes. Also, do you frost a cake? Ice a cake? No idea. [puts third spoonful of frosting in mouth]
• I make my own buttercream frosting like a boss. Over the years I’ve used about 8 different recipes, and this one here is probably my favorite. It’s the salt that makes it eat-it-with-the-biggest-spoon-you-have YUM. I recommend making 2 batches. You’ll need some to, um, taste.
• Two words: CRUMB COAT. This is a thin layer of frosting that serves as a base for the actual frosting. Think of it as primer for your cake. Frosting cakes (icing cakes? GAH.) is not for the impatient or rushed. Girl, get the crumb coat on there and you can thank me later. Stick it in the fridge so it can dry before you apply the real frosting. What I wish I had known: thin the crumb coat frosting a little with water, to make it easier to spread.
• Now you may notice after stacking your layers that your cake is lopsided. You will come to accept this, because that frosting in between is as good as glue. Don’t try to unstick the layers. No good will come of it. It just creates more work for you.
• I separated the frosting equally into 3 bowls. I started with 2 drops of color in one, 1 drop in the other, and I left the third bowl white. I eventually added another drop to each of the blues.
• Put the cake on a flat surface. Starting at the bottom, I slathered on the darker blue, then the lighter blue in the middle, then the white around the top. Tiny Elmo rubber spatulas come in great use here.
• No, adding more frosting on that side will NOT even out your lopsided creation. The sooner you fail to care, the sooner we can just eat this damn cake.
You’ll notice that my cake is not going to win any beauty contests. The frosting is what I like to call “messy chic.” Like women who spend half an hour trying to appear as if they just rolled out of bed. My Frozen-esque theme is minimal at best. But lucky for me, mediocrity is kinda my thing. I can’t make myself care too much about this stuff, because I have no more damns to give about perfection. I just want my kids to remember that making their cakes is something I love to do. It’s important to me. Just not important enough to freak out over a little lopsidedness.
So. The moral of the story is: Lower your expectations. Eat some cake. Be happy.
As you may have read, I’m in training again – kind of. I’ve signed up and should be training for the Biggest Loser Half Marathon, but I’ve hit a snag with my annoying back pain. Sciatica’s no joke, yo. But that’s another story for another day. I’m hoping to get on board with someone who can help me train through it. If you are looking to run it, you can use the code BLOGGERLEIGH to get 20% off the Austin registration!
In the meantime… It’s time for another running playlist!
When I CAN go for a run, I’ve changed up my music a little and have been listening to the 80s Alternative Pandora station. It rocks my hot pink scrunchy socks. Please to ignore the crazy lady running down the street and doing the robot.
Here are a few of my 80s favorites to run to these days. What’s your favorite 80s jam?
Let’s Dance // David Bowie
Don’t Change // INXS // Best band ever *throws drumsticks in the air*
And she was // Talking Heads
I’m so sorry // The Smiths
Everybody wants to rule the world // Tears for Fears
I come from the land down under // Men at Work
Never let me down again // Depeche Mode
Beds are Burning // Midnight Oil
The ghost in you // Psychedelic Furs
How soon is now // The Smiths
Fascination street (extended version) // The Cure
Alive and kicking // Simple Minds
Want more running music? Take a look at a running playlist (for the music snobs).
This is meant to be humorous, but there’s nothing humorous about those in the southern states who are truly suffering from this icy weather. I may make fun of myself as a Texan, but please, if you regularly deal with these types of conditions, please go easy on those who don’t.
Icy weather is not our friend here in Texas. We’re always kind of surprised when it gets cold enough for a real coat – not a hoodie, but a real, honest to goodness COAT. That has probably been in the closet collecting dust for about 358 days. We’re constantly checking the weather here because we never know what we’re going to get. Case in point:
It was 78 on Friday, January 31, 2014. Claire claimed on the walk home from school that it was summer again and asked if we could go swimming. I got stinky pits from my sweater – my sweater that is pretty much a loosely crocheted piece of yarn thrown over a tank top. But then! On Sunday we had a high of a blustery 45! And a low of 34! And then back to 70 on Tuesday and the effing freezing temps again. Just another week in the life of Texas.
Now let’s look at the weather up north.
I don’t understand these numbers. Are those single digits? What’s that little dash in front of the 9 on Saturday? Seriously, y’all, I cannot compute these kind of temps. HOW DO YOU SURVIVE?
Cold weather days go a little something like this: We open the door and swear mightily at the frigid temps (which to be fair, our teeth chatter in anything under 60). Then we hunt for the gear. Our winter “gear” consists of a jacket, maybe a scarf. Gloves if you’re feeling swanky. My “coat” isn’t even a fleece-lined number. It’s pretty thin. On really cold days I opt for my fleece zip up. I only know where my gloves are because I keep them in my “coat” pockets year round. My kids don’t even have gloves, and none of us have hats. I only think about it when it gets really, really cold, which to be fair, could be 47, but let’s not talk numbers. It’s the feeling. “Put your hands in your pockets!” I say excitedly, because acting like it’s awesome makes it better, right?
And then there’s the ice on the car phenomenon. Did you know that when it gets really cold, you could go out to your car and find it completely frozen over? Well believe it. It happened to me. In fact, it’s happened to me several times, but do I learn? No. We Texans are a stubborn breed. We don’t automatically associate freezing weather with ice. Don’t ask questions. We gave you Dell, Whole Foods, and Gary Busey. Cut us some slack.
I don’t have a scraper. When my car is frozen over, it takes buckets of warm water and attacking the windows with a putty knife to make it drivable. I rarely think to even check it ahead of time, so it’s always a last minute adventure. Time to go! Oh wait! The car is frozen! And then we spend 20 minutes trying to procure a small patch in the windshield through which to see. Totally safe.
When someone says “You need a scraper!” this is what I envision:
Here’s what they were actually talking about.
That’s for some serious scraping. Probably the kind that will give you a safer, ice-free panoramic view from the driver’s seat.
Thanks to a sprinkling of ice, the kids were out of school on a Friday. Our “snow days” aren’t snowy. They are icy, and we’re not built to drive in this weather. Our cities don’t have fleets of salt trucks because we just don’t need them. The city spread out a sand/salt concoction on certain intersections “in preparation,” and what happened? Cars started spinning out on the sand that was there to prevent them from spinning out on the ice. I can’t even make this up.
But because we don’t want buses full of kids slipping on the ice and crashing, or parents trying to get kids to school on time spinning out and getting in an accident, the whole city pretty much shuts down, or is at least on a delay. Years ago during an ice storm – and I use the term storm loosely here – that kept Christian and I both home from work, we got crazy cabin fever and tried to go to the movies, only getting there to find out that they were also closing due to the ice. So we begrudgingly skidded back home. If only I had known the kind of cabin fever I would later get while home alone with preemie babies. Young self, you were such a fool!
Tuesday I kept going back and forth between checking my phone for alerts to admiring the nice, frozen sheen my front walk was taking on. We cancel school for an icicle. How in the world were they not going to at least have a delay?
I got everyone ready as usual, and thanks to Icy Car Condition (see above), we were running a little late, for safety’s sake. I’ll take a tardy over a spinout any day.
And when I walked them into the school and to their classrooms, do you know what I overheard?
Yes. We were now on a two hour delay. School starts at 7:45. The phone message came at 7:43, the email at 7:48, both of which occurred while I was in the throes of getting my children to school.
The teachers were there. A sprinkling of children were there. Rachel’s teacher shrugged and said, “I guess we’re just going to play for 2 hours!” We all sighed longingly for the sleep we could have gotten.
When I got back to my car, my windshield had frozen back over, and I could barely see on the quarter mile drive home. By the time I pulled in my driveway, the sleet was coming down hard and fast. Drinking coffee and checking Facebook, my entire newsfeed flooded with parents outraged over the fiasco. A friend said she picked her kid back up, I was all, “Uh…. should I have taken them home???” Seriously, queen of the dense mothers over here.
It was a bit ridiculous on the outside, but in truth, the district just wasn’t ready for the unexpected turn the weather ended up taking. At 9:30ish we got the call to come get our children when it was safe to do so. I welcomed them home excitedly, agreeing how cool it was that they “got to watch a movie!” and then come home without even eating their lunches! I was ready for fun! Infinite playtime! Reading! Making construction paper princess crowns!
I was completely done by 2. I threw Despicable Me in the BluRay player and promptly fell asleep on the couch.
So yes, laugh all you want about our inability to withstand temperatures in the range known as “must wear sleeves,” or the fact that I used a credit card to clear ice from my windshield last week. Just remember, without our ice-ignorant ways there would be no this:
My girls jump on their trampoline in the backyard almost daily. Thankfully that’s possible most times here in Texas. Except for the recent snowpocalypse when it was covered in a sheet of ice.
Inevitably when I shoo them outside, they utter the same request: Will you come jump with us? Their three tiny voices so full of hope.
Hope that I regularly squash in the palm of my hand because hahahahaha! My plan is not to go jump. My plan is to get them to go jump so I can have some peace and quiet. Because they’ve been home all of 45 minutes, there are socks and shoes everywhere (how many feet do they have?) and I can no longer see the surface of my dining room table after the twin homework fiasco. But I’ll give my kids this: they don’t give up. They ask and ask and ask and ask until I say OMG fine! I will come jump with you! Only I’m a little nicer about it, because seriously, it’s just a trampoline.
I’ve given every excuse in the book. I’m working. I’m tired. I have a headache. My back hurts (totally legit excuse right now that actually does make trampolining impossible).
I recently had a chance to read Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, author of the popular blog of the same name, and I realized that I don’t want to be the mom who makes excuses anymore. Because sooner or later, my kids will start to think that I’m brushing them off. I mean, I am totally brushing them off, but I need to make them think it’s their idea.
When I step out onto the patio, it’s like a party in my honor. Mommy’s here! She’s going to jump with us! Their excitement digs its way into my heart. Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they want you to play with them.
So we jump. They sit on the trampoline while I jump close to them, sending them sailing into the air, their faces full of delight and just a little bit of terror. We play Ring Around the Rosie, everyone anticipating we all fall DOWN! We collapse in a fit of giggles and they all pile onto me and we lay there, looking up at the sky.
Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they just want to be with you.
And it never fails that after a few minutes of jumping, my headache is gone and my fatigue is dashed.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Rachel’s book and the message it delivers to let go of distraction and be with our children. I freelance from home. I try to do most of my work during hours that my kids are all in school, but there are times when I need to attend to something while Zoe draws next to me or plays on her tablet. Those times don’t worry me. It’s the times that I deliberately choose my distractions over my children that I need to work on.
That’s what Rachel’s book does. She reminds us of the beauty of every day life. Like do I really need to check my phone while I’m on a walk with my kids? Probably not. Can I survive a trip to the park without my phone? Can I completely shut down my computer one the kids come home from school?
I think about Rachel’s book every time I’m checking social media while waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Zoe to finish her dinner. I think about it when someone is talking to me, but I’m not quite hearing them because I really need to find a place to put this Q in Words with Friends. And more than once someone has gotten impatient about the morning and insisted that I’m NOT making breakfast, I’m just looking at my phone. Ouch. (FWIW I AM making breakfast. Waffles, thankyouverymuch.)
I’m working on it, with great results. Sure, if the kids are happily playing together, I allow myself some time. There are three of them involved deep in a game of Ninja Turtles. I admit I’m not a player. Give me all the crafts and all the puzzles, but make believe is not my thing. Especially when they have such distinct rules of what’s going on. No, Mom. Leo doesn’t say that. WELL.
But I still need reminders. I need reminders to just sit and watch a movie with them, no matter what I can “get done” in that time (newsflash: you’re not doing anything important). I need reminders to sing an extra round of the twins’ bedtime lullaby. I need reminders not to sigh heavily when Zoe asks me to scratch her back, then her left arm, then her right arm, now stroke my nose, Mommy, and now my eyelids.
Someday I will ache for this ritual.
Hand Free Mama is on sale now! If you enjoy her wildly popular blog, you will love this book. Here’s where you can get it:
Amazon (affiliate link)
I was graciously given a copy of Hands Free Mama for review. All words and opinions and typos are completely my own.
I told you guys that if I ever found a successful post-kindergarten day routine, I would shout it from the rooftops. Well here I am! Shouting! On rooftops!
Also, this post is kinda long, but with GIFs! Kindergarten life should always be described with GIFs.
We’ve gone through a great many phases of change from the start of kindergarten until now. At the beginning of the school year, they were so, so, SO tired when they got home, they didn’t know what to do with themselves. I didn’t know what to do with them. Sometimes their tired translated into them being too rowdy, which always resulted in someone getting hurt. Sometimes it translated into them wanting to do nothing but stare blankly at the TV. Playing was too hard, eating a snack was too laborious, and don’t even ASK us to flush the toilet, Mom. We’ve had a hard day of coloring and ABCs.
Truth be told, the day is long for them. We get up at 6:30 in order to get them to school by 7:45, out at 2:40, all with no nap or rest time. It’s rough on the 5-6 year old set.
My girls are each given a folder on Monday with the week’s homework inside, along with a little instruction sheet telling us what worksheet and/or reading to do on which day. Sometimes we deviate from the schedule; if Claire really wants to do a certain worksheet one day, NBD. As long as it’s all done by Friday, and we’re not hurrying to finish it all Thursday evening.
So here’s what we tried, along with why it did or did not work FOR US, with two kindergarteners. What works for you and your family may be totally different, and that’s cool. But if you have kids who are new to school and you find yourself struggling with the afternoon routine and homework, this might give you some options.
Okay. You’ve picked up the kids from school. You walk in the door. Now what?
First things first, they take off their shoes and socks and hang up their backpacks. Now it’s time to choose your own adventure.
Routine #1: Grab a snack, because lunch was at 11:15 and they are starving. Famished even. WITHERING AWAY BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES. Then it’s off for some play time, because you figure they’ve been cooped up in a structured classroom environment all day, so they need a little time to cut loose. After a little playtime, have them sit at the table for homework time.
Why it didn’t work: This may work for older kids who are a little more, ahem, responsible? But for my girls, it meant intense play time that soon went south. Someone always got hurt. Plus it was really hard to bring them back down to a more Ross-appropriate level when we needed to move on to homework.
Routine #2: Grab a snack. Talk about their day, getting a run down of approximately 6 minutes worth of their 7 hour school day. Head to the living room for a 30 minute show to provide some much needed down time after a long day of activity. After the show, turn off the TV and head to the table for homework time.
Why it didn’t work: Once they settled in to watch TV, it was very difficult – surprise, surprise! – for them to transition back to learning mode without getting all Amber on me.
Routine #3: Grab a snack. Have free playtime until dinner. After dinner, it’s straight to homework. This plan is great if you have and need a spouse or partner there to help with the work or to distract other children.
Why it didn’t work: I’ll admit, this was never an option for us. Dinner is around 6, and after that it’s usually short playtime with Christian (they beg to wrestle him as soon as he walks in the door), then bath, then bed between 7 and 7:30. I just can’t imagine trying to squeeze homework in there. They usually have the hyper-tireds by this time anyway.
Routine #4: aka THE WINNER!
Grab a snack. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is ALWAYS the first option. Always. After hanging up backpacks and shedding footwear (at least in our house), get yo’self straight to the kitchen and let them face plant into a Costco sized bag of Pirate’s Booty.
After snack, it’s straight to homework. They always ask to either go jump on the trampoline, watch a show, or play on their tablets, but it’s just too difficult to get them to transition back to homework mode after they’ve gotten a sweet taste of freedom. MOST of the time, there is little to no resistance, and they get right to it, my eager little learners.
Sometimes we deviate from this plan, if we have an after school play date or errand to run. Since their assignments are fairly short, it’s not hard to make it up the next day or do it quickly after dinner.
Since my girls are not reading completely on their own yet, I have to help them quite a bit with their work. And since they are in separate classes, they don’t often have the same homework, meaning I have to help them one at a time. That means that I have to find something for Claire to do while Rachel does her homework, and vice versa. On a really good day, they will sit and draw or color quietly while the other works. On a SUPER day, one of them has a worksheet that needs minimal help from me, like cutting and pasting, and we are done super quickly.
Once homework is finished, they can do whatever they want, BUT… tablet time is restricted to 30 minutes, and I really try to hold them off of watching TV until 5 or so when I have to make dinner. However, every day is different. Some days they will literally play on the trampoline or in the backyard until dinner time (January so far here in Texas has proved fairly mild.)(Watch, we’ll get a snowstorm now.). Some days it’s a mix of outside and inside play time or drawing. Other days I can tell that they are tired and ornery beyond repair, and I let them veg for longer than usual. Because it beats having to break up fights or listening to whining for 3 hours.
This routine seems to be the norm for other parents of young kids that I’ve seen around. But do what works best for your kids and your family. Then you can relish in your totally awesome after school parenting abilities.
I am currently suffering from ginormous snot globules stuck in my face (cedar fever) and excruciating back/leg/butt pain (sciatica). My days look something like this:
Wake up. Attempt to sniffle, but nose is completely blocked. Smack completely dry lips around cottony mouth and take a swig of water that almost helps the parch. Swallow water, which pops ears, because BLOCKED NOSE. Blow approximately 1/3 cup of mucus out of nose. Still blocked.
Roll out of bed and attempt to stand up. Hobble to bathroom – OW! – hunched over – JESUS! – with left leg kinda bent – SH!T! – grabbing onto anything you can along the way – MOTHERF*@^ER! – for support.
That’s just the first 5 minutes or so, but the rest of the day is more of the same. Snot and pain. Pain and snot. I can’t breathe, I want to scratch my eyes out, and there is no comfortable position for my body. Mainlining ibuprofen and Zyrtec-D like a boss.
I’m still training for the Biggest Loser Half Marathon (4 miles in the books on Saturday and 4 more due on Monday). My back and allergies don’t really bother me when I run; I can breathe easy and run pretty much pain free. It’s the after that kills. I’m trying to remember to stretch more – I hate stretching, but I know my back and legs need it – and I’m busting out the foam roller now and then.
Soooo….I guess I should go see a chiropractor? No information online says exactly where the best place is to start doctor wise. I’m not thrilled about going to see my general practitioner, even if she may be able to correctly diagnose me. I don’t want to just be given a prescription, you know?
But take it from me — nothing ruins your day, or your attitude, more than being in constant pain. The constant snot blockage just adds insult to injury.
The upside is that I’m currently laying in bed on a Sunday afternoon with an ice pack on my back. Something tells me I need to get up soon, lest my family starts to think I’m milking this?
SPECIAL NOTES OF SPECIALNESS:
1) I have discount code for the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Use the promo code BLOGGERLEIGH and get 20% off your race registration!
2) MomCom is happening THIS WEEKEND! Great speakers, great fun for women of all types. Register here (affiliate link).
Things I have actually said:
This guacamole is just too spicy. #ayecaramba
My fingernails are too long and it’s interfering with typing on my iPhone. #claws
I’m having trouble syncing my Google calendar with my Mac’s iCal with my iPhone. #whatdayisit?
When I wear a long sleeved running shirt, I can’t thread my earbud cord through the sleeve. #runningwoes
The 80s Alternative Pandora station is good. But it’s not great. #spinmerightround
I forgot to order my Sonic drinks “easy ice.” #happyhourhaschanged
I tied my shoelaces too tight. I tied them again, now they are too loose. There is no perfect middle tie. #needvelcro
The worst part about getting a new computer is not knowing any of my passwords. #thanksautofill
I can’t decide between soccer or gymnastics or dance for the kids. #notadecisionmaker
What’s your first world problem?