How to be the hot mess on the school yard in five easy steps

From my Facebook page.

1. Don’t wash your hair. I mean, wash it sometimes, but never before taking your kids to school. Dry shampoo is fine, but make sure it leaves that ashy dust on your hair so you end up looking even dirtier than before. Also, make sure your yoga pants have that subtle look of maybe-being-slept-in. People enjoy a little mystery.

2. If you DO wash your hair before hitting the school yard, make sure you show up with it sopping wet. You will not have makeup on, because you spent five minutes washing your hair and there is obviously no time for both. This is what sunglasses are for. Be frazzled, because that shower really threw you off schedule. Haha, kidding, you were never on schedule.

3. Forget at least one important thing per week, like a photo for the classroom family tree or your daughter’s pizza day forms. Bonus points if you forget something charitable, like that Terry Fox run sponsorship stuff. Also great: forgetting a themed clothing day, so your children get to walk around as a visual reference to your incompetence. Sorry, kids.

4. Ensure that one of your kids is crying, whining, yelling, or all three. If you have more than one child, this becomes almost inevitable. If they all freak out at once, you’re really winning. The only thing that really tops any of this is if you cry yourself – rare, unless you count breaking down in your car as you drive to Starbucks, but it does happen. I’ve seen it, and one day I will do it myself. Godspeed.

5. Don’t be on time. I cannot overstate this enough. There is no better way to look like an absolute shit show than doing all of the above and STILL not getting your kids to school before the bell. Walk into that office exactly four minutes late and wear that tight, defeated smile like it’s your job. You live three blocks away and everybody knows it. You just disrupted the school secretary’s morning AGAIN because your kids hate socks and you can’t figure out how to get them out the door like a normal, functioning adult is expected to. At this point, your best bet is to give each child a hug, mumble an apology to the office staff and run for the nearest coffee shop. There’s always tomorrow.

Good luck and solidarity, disasters of the school yard. I’m with you.

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

September was crazy. It always is – the insane annual sprint in the marathon that is motherhood – and I am definitely feeling it. The chaos, the struggle to fall back into routine, the exhaustion and the relief. I’m tired, and I’m ready for things to chill out as October hits. While so many people are hanging on the summer, I’m dreaming of crisp autumn air, fall colours and Thanksgiving at the cottage. We’re almost there.

I’ll be honest: summer kicked my ass. Yes, we had some good times, but it also totally, completely ran me into the ground and now, in the unexpected heat of its dying days, it continues to throw me or a loop. By week three of school, we all had head colds and my oldest was throwing up. I’m having issues with my kids’ after school program. Our appliances keep dropping dead without warning. The cat won’t stop destroying everything I own.

I didn’t write as much as I wanted to last month, but here are a few new things I shared on The Mabelhood and SavvyMom over the summer. I loved writing these posts, which were all fairly personal and therapeutic, and I hope you’ll like them, too.

My Secret Weapon Against Mom Guilt is School – The Mabelhood

I’m a Good Mom, But I Suck at Playing With My Kids – The Mabelhood

Let Them Be Wild – SavvyMom

Life may return to a healthy rhythm soon, or it may continue to be crazy. Either way, I’ll write about it here, Instagram it here or tweet about it over here. Follow along with me, won’t you?

 

 

 

A shout out to every struggling parent on a Monday morning

(Posted on my Facebook page earlier today)

Shout out to all the parents who simply cannot get their shit together before 9am on a Monday morning. Whose kids were late for school again, or barely on time, or on time only because you lost your patience and threatened something unimaginably terrible, like taking the Bear Paw cookie out of their lunch box unless they put on their damn pants.

Shout out to all of you who know that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday probably won’t be any better.

Shout out to all of you who had every intention of being Mary Poppins this morning but instead, sounded like Mother Gothel. I know you tried.

Shout out to every parent who has a routine that works well sometimes, but fails spectacularly other times, with no obvious rhyme or reason to it all. The parent who does everything right on paper, but still can’t get their kids out the door without an epic battle at least twice a week.

Shout out to the parents who aren’t morning people AT ALL but fake it as best they can, because school starts at 8:30 and you’re powerless to change that.

Shout out to all of you whose children are not morning people, either. God help us all.

Shout out to to every mom and dad who feels terrible rushing their kids out the door every damn day, herding them like cattle in order to beat some stupid bell that means nothing in the grand scheme of things but still stresses you all out to no end.

Shout out to the school secretary, who is kind but stern as hell. She sees your weekly shit show and knows exactly how many times your kids have been late this week. She is the one person you’ll never fool, and you know it.

Shout out to all the parents who love their kids more than anything, but dream of the day when they’ll be responsible for getting themselves out the door independently.

And finally, shout out to the parents who wish their children all the joy, love, success and wonder this world can bring – the sort of unbridled happiness and security we all dream of for our kids – but also sort of hope that their own kids will pull this shit on them one day. I hear you. I get it. We all get it. You’re not alone.

Happy Monday, everyone. Four more mornings to go.

That weird job where you write about your feelings on the Internet

Oh hey, friends. Nice to see you. How’s your summer going?

My latest excuse for not updating my website is that it’s August, and I’ve been very busy with camp schedules/work/road trips/family/reading and then binge-watching Big Little Lies, but let’s be real: I can use those excuses year round, in one form or another, and I will.

But there’s always Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, which I actually use, and these posts that I’ve had published recently. I’d love it if you’d take a look and share any that hit home for you or make you laugh. If my life can’t be perfect, at least it can be funny.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

When Did Birthday Parties Get So Pinterest? (Urban Moms)

Summer is a Special Kind of Torture for Working Moms (Urban Moms)

8 Reasons Baby Wipes are Still Magical Even When Your Kids Are Out of Diapers (SavvyMom)

Realistic Road Trip Hacks (SavvyMom)

No, I’m Not The Nanny (YMC)

I’m a Hot Mess Type A-OK (YMC) (This is not what I titled it and I don’t even know what it means but people are really connecting to this article so let’s just go with it)

I’ve got some other things coming up soon for The Mabelhood, YMC, Urban Moms, SavvyMom and Our Homes Magazine, plus a piece on Scary Mommy (my first on that site). Busy times and plenty of excuses in the making…plus, I still have three episodes of Big Little Lies left. (I can’t name a single show I’ve watched more than two episodes of in like, the past five years, but I’m obsessed with BLL right now. I blame the book for getting me hooked.) I can probably be counted on for an update sometime before Christmas, I guess? Place your bets.

(And thanks for reading. xo.)

 

 

The Latest!

It finally feels like summer is actually going to happen. I’ve ordered teacher gifts online, started pulling out shorts for my kids and donating the endless pairs of pants they outgrew over the winter, and am readying myself for summer camp. You can read about that here, on The Mabelhood.

Have you got a girls weekend planned this summer? I don’t – just a slew of weddings and children’s birthday parties that fill my Saturday and Sundays, plus a family road trip that will be both amazing and incredibly exhausting. But a girl can dream. Here’s a post I did on why Mom Friends Make the Best Travel Friends.

Do you want to read about how I swear all the time, but talk like a nun in front of my kids? Here’s a post I did for UrbanMoms.ca – please check it out, and let me know what the worst thing you’ve said in front of your kids is! I also wrote this post on raising adventurous eaters, and how it was a total fluke that involved no parenting skill whatsoever.

Thanks for reading, and please follow my new Facebook page – I’d love to connect and appreciate your support. Have a great weekend!

Published: A whole bunch of stuff

Oh hey there, stranger. Where have I been? Around, thanks for asking. Really busy, actually – writing everywhere but here. Remember when I made a New Year’s resolution to update my own website consistently, and not just write for other publications? Yeah, I meant well.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately, should you be interested:

On The Mabelhood:

Six Things That Are More Relaxing Than a Vacation with Kids

Sweet Six(teen): A Love Letter to my Daughter

I’m That Hot Mess Mom in the School Yard

To Dads With Sons: Please Don’t Stop Hugging

On Urban Moms:

Hey Working Moms, You Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation

Motherhood, and All The Ways I Plan on Failing

Our Homes Magazine:

Home Feature: Halton Hills Chateau

In other news…I’m working on a LOT more. Stay tuned, and I’ll try to post again sometime before Christmas. And in the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, where I’m actually consistent!

Published: Come visit me in The Mabelhood

mabelhood

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I started writing for The Mabelhood this month. This is exciting for me for a few reasons:

  1. I love Mabel’s Labels. I have them on everything. Seriously, if they wanted to pay me in labels, they could. (My husband is pleased that they pay in money, but I could probably be swayed.)
  2. It’s a good blog. I read it and I like it. You’ll like it, too.
  3. It’s something new and allows me to switch things up, which is always fun.

So, I’ll keep ranting and raving on here and have an article coming up for Our Homes Magazine, but in the meantime, check out my first post for the ‘hood, here. Thanks for reading!

Mondays.

7:30 am: I’m awake but I’m not, really. Good lord, my children are loud. Off I go to feed them breakfast and engage in another argument about pants.

8:40 am: Kids are dropped off at school, wearing pants. Success! Now, I must acquire coffee.

8:50 am: Hello, Starbucks, my old friend. I’m hungry and we’re low on groceries. Let’s get a breakfast sandwich, too.

9:15 am: Back home, at my desk, ready to take on the work day. Mmm, coffee. Let’s do this.

9:15 – 11:30 am: I take a conference call, review my to-do list for the week, handle some daily tasks and get organized for my next call. Mondays are busy. I have like 12 tabs open and I need all of them. Am I forgetting anything? No? I should probably make another list, just to be sure. Lists are good.

11:45 am: I’m hungry. But why? Didn’t I just eat a breakfast sandwich?

11:46 am: Wait, did I?

11: 47am: Oh hey, there’s a breakfast sandwich in my purse.

11:55 am: Not hungry anymore. I guess that was lunch.

12:00 pm: Conference call #2. Squeeze in emails.

1:00 pm: Conference call #1. More emails.

1:30 pm: Check calendar three times to ensure I haven’t forgotten a call. Aaaand we’re good.

1:30 – 3:00 pm: Work, work, work, work, work. Write, edit, post, plan, think, consume more caffeine, congratulate self on productivity. Good job, me.

3:05 pm: Drive to school, pick up kids. They are dirty and tired and hungry. I have promised to bake cookies, so we have to do that or I’m the worst. Let’s grab another coffee on the way home. I’ll need it.

4:00 pm: One child is screaming and the other is crying. Why? Because Monday.

4:30 pm: Making cookies has never been less fun. I shove the second and final batch into the oven and then turn on cartoons SO FAST. Thank god for Wild Kratts. They’ve seen this episode at least three times and they don’t a fuck.

5:00 pm: Dinner is in the oven. The kids are shockingly quiet, since I’ve tucked them in with the nice new throw blankets that I got for Christmas. I hope they don’t wreck those…they probably will. Why can’t I have nice things?!

5:15 pm: My husband gets home and I rejoice because SOLIDARITY, right? The kids do their home reading exercises at the kitchen table and I fist pump because they actually WANT to read and are getting really, really good at it. PARENTING WIN!

5:30 pm: My daughter eats her salad and breaded fish like a champ. My son complains loudly, dramatically peels the breading off the fish before eating it, and has snap peas instead of salad because “ew”. Whatever, you ate protein and vegetables. I still win.

6:00 pm: Homemade cookies. Damn, we’re good at baking. Let’s snuggle up and watch that Mystery Files show on TVO, because everyone is tired and grumpy and baths are overrated.

7:00 pm: BEDTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:00 pm: The kids are asleep. My mom (who lives downstairs in an in-law suite) is home for the evening. The dishes are done and the floors are swept. We should probably drop those old toys at Goodwill and get groceries and maybe swing by the bookstore because we have a shared addiction to books and books are good.

9:00 pm: I have a new book. I am happy. Let’s buy some fruit and call it a night.

10:00 pm: We’re home, with groceries and new things to read. It’s couch time, y’all! Let’s get lazy.

10:30 pm: Husband decides he is old and goes to bed.

10:45 pm: I may as well blog while I watch HGTV.

11:00 pm: I should make school lunches now. I should make them before midnight. I really should do that. That would be the smart thing to do.

11:01 pm: Hey, what’s on Food Network? This blanket really IS comfortable. I’ll make lunches later. I haven’t looked at Instagram in a few hours. Oh look, my new book is right here. Maybe I should just get my computer out for a minute…this couch is so soft. I want to paint this room. Maybe just a darker grey? Or cloud white, with lots of art, like a gallery. Let’s look at some design blogs. Wait, it’s WHAT time? It was just eleven…I should make school lunches…

Forcing myself to do what I love

It’s a new year and oh God, there is so much blank space on this screen. When did I get so bad at blogging for my own site? I write every damn day and love this tiny little corner of the Internet, where I rant and rave and pour out my feelings. And yet, for the past few months, I’ve stuck to Instagram and Twitter and, uh, work. Yeah. Now I remember why I can’t find the time to  blog. Between motherhood and full-time employment, plus side gigs, I’ve lost a lot of my personal time (and energy, if we’re really honest). But guess what? If there are resolutions to be made, I’m going to blog more, write parts of that book I’ve been trying to write for ages, force the women in my book club to READ THE DAMN BOOK and conversate about it, and all the other stuff on my list…you know, learn needlepoint and start/finish family photo album-making and take on those home organization and decor projects. Easy. Get ready for all of the winning I’m about to do!

Here’s another secret/excuse: I’ve been forcing myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour (midnight). No more 2am blogging because I’m up for no reason! As a mature adult with two kids and many jobs, I decided over six months ago to prioritize sleep, and it’s mostly worked. As in, I sleep about 5-6 hours a night – sometimes even 7 – but usually between midnight and 6 or 7am. I’m so mature and functional, it’s scary!

I still live on coffee and feel like a zombie until the caffeine hits my bloodstream, but whatever.

So here I am at 2am, blogging. What happened? Christmas holidays, dammit. My dreamy/loving husband has been getting up with the kids and letting me sleep in, which results in me feeling less exhausted and staying up to do “one more thing” or watch “just one episode of that late night talk show/The Curse of Oak Island/Dateline” (murder TV is the best TV).

And you know what? IT FEELS LIKE HOME. Sort of like a traumatic childhood that you know was bad for you, but feels comfortable because it’s all you’ve ever known? That sort of home. But cozy nonetheless.

Anyway, 2017 is here and I’m going to attempt to demonstrate adult sleep habits AND write things and be a good mom and a good professional and maybe even do all that other stuff on my very doomed to do list. Wish me luck! I’ll need it, but if you can stick with me, there’s a 70% chance it will be worth the ride.

 

The thing about bloggers who are moms.

As a copywriter, I spend my days helping clients express themselves in a way that feels natural, authentic and engaging. I write and discuss and revise until everything is just right – the perfect package, tied up in a neat little bow, ready to go off into the world. I work hard to make my clients happy because it genuinely matters to me, and I love what I do. And then I collect my paycheque, cash it out in small bills, and roll around on a bed of money because my life is basically an ’80s movie.

(Part of that was untrue.)

I also write for magazines, and love it. No matter how far we move away from print media, I still feel a rush at the sight of a hard copy article with my name on it. There’s something about a magazine or newspaper byline that feels more special than a digital one – more permanent? – and I’ll happily work on editorial projects whenever I can, no matter how busy I am with work, family, and life in general.

And then, there’s blogging, my personal outlet. I love writing, though it feels strange to say it that way. Of course I love writing – it’s what I do professionally, how I record the happiest and most impactful moments in my life, and how I comfort myself in hard times. It’s therapy and freedom. I write letters to my children, my friends, the world. I capture snapshots of my life and emotions in scribbled messages in notebooks, or captions under a photograph. I read articles and books and feel my heart swell with the desire to write my own narratives. Any writer will tell you that this is not a job or a hobby; it’s a compulsion. I never stop writing, because I cannot stop writing, and would never want to.

So why do I suck so much at updating my blog? I don’t have a lack of inspiration or stories to share, or any sort of anxiety about what people may think about me. There’s nothing ominous lurking in the background, giving me anxiety or even thoughtful pause. But oh my god, kids. I have kids. And that’ll do it.

Mommyblogger is a phrase that I hear often and mostly hate. I’m a writer, and I have a blog, so I’m a blogger, I guess…and a mom. That always comes first. I blog about my kids, in a deliberately vague sense, and more often, I blog about being a mom…among other things. Can I not just be a writer? Like, a human writer with a family and a life and an interest in many things? I don’t need to cutesy label anymore than Beyonce needs to be a Mommy-Singer or Sheryl Sandberg is a (Bad-ass) Mommy-CEO. And yes, I’m clearly on that level.

Anyway, back to why I suck, and blaming my kids.

My days are long and busy and punctuated by a to-do list that never ends. I work full-time, manage my household, co-chair school council, volunteer when I can, and attempt to have a social life, among other things. I barely sleep and can’t remember the last time I ate a meal uninterrupted, got my nails done or sat quietly and read a book (unless you count on the train to work). Which is to say that I’m a normal mother of young children, and live a totally average, typical mom-life.

So hats off to the writers who make it happen, publishing not only for work but for themselves on a regular basis. You clearly have your shit together better than I do, and I bow down. I may be able to Instagram the hell out of my days, but when it comes to writing more than a caption, HOW IS THERE TIME? I find it sometimes, at midnight or 1am, when the space around me is finally silent and undemanding. But more often, I feel these moments just beyond my grasp, and the words stay locked away until they fade into the recesses of my mind. I like to think I have a brilliant project tucked in the back of my memory, waiting to be pieced together after about five years of catch-up sleep.

So writers, bloggers, moms and dads, everyday people who have their shit together and make it all seem so organic and seamless – keep on kicking my ass. Maybe one day I’ll join you, but for now, expect more of my trademark binge-posting-then-silence pattern while I scribble in notebooks and write novels in my head as I fall asleep. These locked away missives will be out in the world one day, I know…probably after the kids graduate college, or if I go to jail. Is jail an option? I’m thinking I’d get more sleep there, too.