Sunday, March 8, 2015

You're a Stay at Home Parent?....Oh how lucky!

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to stay at home and be a mom and wife to a large family.  I had other dreams as well, to be an Actress, Fashion Designer, Corporate Diva, Doctor, Forensic Scientist, you name it.  Unfortunately, I lacked the motivation and drive to follow through back then, so I ended up going to College to study International Business and Marketing. It seemed like the logical choice since I am bilingual in English and German.  I did ok, in the business world.  Fast forward several years and I came to a cross roads after being newly married in my 30's and being pregnant with my second child.  My husband and I discussed it, and we thought it would be best for all for me to stay home with the kids....he has a son and so did I, and we were awaiting the birth of our little girl. 
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to stay at home and be a mom and wife to a large family. I had other dreams as well,  to be an Actress, Fashion Designer, Corporate Diva, Doctor, Forensic Scientist, you name it. Unfortunately, I lacked the motivation and drive to follow through back then, so I ended up going to College to study International Business and Marketing. It seemed like the logical choice since I am bilingual in English and German. I did ok, in the business world. Fast forward several years and I came to a cross roads after being newly married in my 30's and being pregnant with my second child.  My husband and I discussed it, and we thought it would be best for all for me to stay home with the kids....he has a son and so did I, and we were awaiting the birth of our little girl.

Like I said, I have always said I wanted to do this.  My last day of work was a week before my little girl was born. It was an interesting transition.  Granted, dealing with a newborn, a 7 year old and 5 year old wasn't easy but at first it did feel liberating not to have to go back to work!  I could do things at my own pace (which those who know me is slow unless I actually have a deadline).  I enjoyed making dinner, taking care of us, and spending time with the kids. I missed that with my oldest son, I went back to work when he was an infant. The biggest adjustment at first was the lack of income from me. I was used to making my own money, and now there were things that I would have to forego on because we were a one income household.  After 3 years, we added another son, so now our family consists of 6 people.

Now, let us jump a few more years ahead to the present. I have not been employed for 6 years. Our household consists of myself, my husband, 13 year old son, 12 year old step son, 6 year old daughter, and 3 year old son.  On most days, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. While my husband is the sole "bread" winner, and I the sole individual that is responsible for our household. I wrote an earlier article on time management, because I literally manage time for 6 people!  When I was a part of the workforce, I had a set amount of time to accomplish my tasks, I dealt with adults, albeit not always reasonable or rational.  After 8 hours, my work day ended and I could head home. My weekends were free. Now, as a parent, my job didn't end, I still had to handle dinner, and take care of things, but the kiddo was gone at daycare all day, so there was no extra mess that was made, it was left the way it was earlier that morning.

Now, since I am the stay at home parent, I am responsible for everything and that is 24/7.  I don't "work" for a living, so anything outside of providing income has fallen on my shoulders. If you have little ones at home, there is no daycare. So they get into whatever they can, when you are trying to accomplish another task. I don't get a break unless I literally take one, and it's hard to get out of "mommy and wife" mode in order to focus on me time. I have to make time out for me in advance and there is always a chance that there is a sick kid, or busy husband that will change my plans. Truth is, it's not glamorous, I don't sit around eating bon bons, playing on my phone all day long and watching tv.  I run around daily, between the doctor appointments, the grocery shopping, the errands for all, and making sure I am back in time for the school bus, there isn't whole lot of time left over for frivolousness! My house is a mess the majority of the time, I feel overwhelmed most days, and sometimes I feel as if everything and everyone is out of control.

The lucky parts, yes, there are some. I get to spend the most time as I can with my kids as they are growing up. I have  flexibility in my schedule to go to school events and sporting events. I don't miss special moments in their lives.  I know I am blessed for all of these things. I can capture all these moments to memory!   I just wish the perception of these blessings did not include that I do not work or that I have no sacrifices.  It's frustrating that some see it as a day at the beach and that it is not a job to stay at home and be a full time parent.  On the flip side, working parents make sacrifices too and no, if a parent works full time, parenting still continues when they get off work. I have done both, I have been a working parent and I have been a stay at home parent.  Both have their positives and negatives.  I can honestly say it's a draw......so please if I tell you I stay at home, please don't make it out like I am lucky, lazy, or spoiled.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blended Family....No longer a Brady Bunch Era! Must read before blending two families together!

I remember watching the show "The Brady Bunch" in reruns on AFN (Armed Forces Network - for all Non Military folks) when I was a kid.  I grew up in a traditional family, with me being the only child.  So the concept of divorce and blended families was pretty foreign to me. The show provided entertainment, not only because six kids, two parents, and a maid were living under one roof but they had normal funny situations that I found myself able to relate.  Unfortunately, it was a Hollywood sitcom that depicted the best of life in this type of arrangement. 

Fast forward 30+ years (wow, that just made me feel slightly old for a moment) and I am married with a blended family of my own in 2014!  Can I just say that watching this show, in no way, prepared me on the journey I was about to embark on!   I came into the marriage with a son, now 13.  My husband came into the marriage with a son, now 11.  Since we have been married (7 years), we have added a daughter, 5 and a son, 2.

I don't remember much reference to the Brady Bunch when it came to their previous spouses.  There may have been hints to death and divorce but they never addressed the issue of past spouses and how it effected the kids and current couple.  Real life today, they are a big part of it.  They never had an episode that I can recall, where "you are not my real parent" came into the picture.  I don't remember them arguing about "my kid."

Blended families are hard.  Even if you have two rational, loving, realistic adults with no mitigating circumstances.  You are not only dealing with two adults coming together for the first time but also children that were once strangers and now are expected to be "family."  In my circumstance, we were dealing with two boys, one 5, one 4.  Two different mentalities and character, two different upbringings.  In one circumstance both biological parents being amicable and the other barely speaking for the sake of the child.  I could have just as easily mixed oil and water together.

Word of advice, those who have grown up in the Brady Bunch era, thinking it is all about love and coming together to be one big happy family, discuss everything upfront with your future spouse.  Ask questions about his or her relationship status with their ex.  Find out what their parenting style is, whether it has to do with structure, punishments, rewards, etc.  Discuss expectations for family...kids and spouses alike.  The key word is expectation!  What is your expectation from the marriage, spouse and kids.  Are you on the same page?  Do you handle discipline together or separately?  Is "your child" only "your" responsibility?"  And how far does that responsibility go?

I grew up na├»ve.  Yes, I am an educated modern woman, but I was duped into believing that love conquers and fixes all.  I thought I could step in and be "Carol Brady" and that all would fall into place.  Didn't happen that way at all and every day has been a struggle.  There is a fine line between taking care of all the children when you are a stay at home mom and when one of the parents disagrees with one's parenting methodologies. 

What have I learned from my personal experience?  I have learned that you are responsible for all "your" kids.  You can not make someone respect you, no matter what you do, how nice you are, or how structured, and strict you are.  If your "step child" views you as their "non parent" you are 100% screwed!  Now, from personal experience, I have never tried to "replace" any parent, and have respected the wants and wishes from the biological parents, but as a blended family, while at home, you are in fact a "family."  The same rules should apply for all  and when you do things it should be in the best interest of everyone in that new blended family.  Once that no longer applies, the "new family" begins to disintegrate.  Imaginary lines are drawn and you have two separate households living under one roof. 

So what do you do?  Pray, family counseling, separate, divorce, all of the above?  Guess it depends on everyone's circumstances and how dysfunctional you want it to get.  It starts with the adult parties being on the same page, if that can't happen, then you have to determine the best course of action for you and the rest of the family.  Number one priority is the children and how it will effect all of them, in addition to the mindset of the two parents.  Sometimes, there is no easy solution and you have to do what's best for the majority.  Sometimes, it is best for the two families that blended into one to be separate. Not everyone blends well together.

That's what I miss about that fictional non messy Brady Bunch Era......it all fell into place with minimal effort!  That no longer holds true today.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Posting is a personal choice....

We live in a time where social media is often the main source of communication.  Many use Facebook, Twitter, and various Blogs as ways to keep in touch, share joys and sorrows, offer helpful advice, and yes, buy and sell items.  I, personally, use facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and share about my personal experiences both good and bad.  The key word is personal....it is up to me what I chose to share online and with how many people.  I try to be respectful, and I do consider the fact that I am also "friends" with my 11 year old son.  Nothing, that would be offensive to him will be shared on my postings.  I have my "privacy settings" set accordingly to my personal preference.

This being said, my preferences may not be the same as someone elses.  I am sure some out there have their sites set to public viewing, but that is their personal choice, not mine.  I have to laugh at some of the posts I see that divulge the most intimate details, sometimes delivered in the most obvious of drunken states (sometimes postings disappeared the next day).   Again, it was their personal choice to post it, not mine and really none of my business, regardless if I saw it on facebook or not.  I have seen couples, literally fighting back and forth with each post for all "friends" to see.  Inappropriate?  In my opinion, yes, but that is my subjective viewpoint, so, I don't fight with my husband online.  I have posted things about my personal life....it helps me when I need to vent and share my joy (with pics and good news).  I make comments about myself, my kids, my husband, and my friends.  I don't share anything that is intentionally hurtful, spiteful or embarrassing to anyone.  I don't use facebook to be secretive (its on the internet folks).   Anything, I post, my immediate family already knows or has access to it. 

Which brings me to my point...if you see someone's post and you think it's too private...move on.  It was their personal choice to post it, not yours.  Perhaps find some humor in it or find a way to relate to a person's pain or happiness.  If someone's postings regularly offend you, "unfriend" them, problem solved.  Remember, each of us are different, and our individual choices are just that......personal!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Real Housewives of .........

.....well,  in my case, Tallmadge.  So the other day my husband turns on a show called Storage Wars, another reality tv show,  My two older boys and him are glued to the tv and watching the marathon that was on.  I just got to thinking, reality tv, this is now entertainment?  Which, of course, got me thinking of another reality tv show...Housewives of.....Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, take your pick.

I have only seen a few bits and pieces of these shows and I can honestly say I can not relate at all.  I am a housewife now, that is the only thing I have in common with these shows.  I do not have a personal assistant, a maid, a nanny, a cook, or a driver.  In fact, I solely have the responsibility of all of these professions.  Not too mention being a wife and a mother to four kids ages 11 years to 11 months.  Most of the "Housewives" that I know, do not have daily lunch meetings, spa appointments, etc.  In fact, generally speaking, are appointments include, drop off or pick up for school, dentist or doctor appointments, grocery store rendezvous, or after school activities. 

I believe the title of "Real Housewives of...." is misleading.  Why not just "Housewives of..." of "Outlandish Housewives of...?"  Real to me means more of the norm or what is realistic.  I wasn't always just a stay at home mom or housewife.  I was part of the regular workforce, both before and after I had children.  I was a working mom for many years and yes, it wasn't always easy.  And truth be told, I always hoped that one day I would be able to stay home with my kids.  I don't know where I got my perception of a housewife exactly, maybe books, movies, tv shows, etc., but let me be the first to tell you....the reality of it was definitely not as easy, nor glorified as the perception I had.  It is funny, I am not the only one that had this perception, many still think of what I do as not a job or how lucky I am not to have to work.  Let me clarify, I do work but my work does not end at 5 pm or after an 8 hour shift.  Weekends are no different...there are no days off or really any breaks.  People, expect more from me because I must have the time, because "I don't work."  I should be able to do things at a moments notice because I am just a housewife.  How did we get to this point as a society?

I wonder why the reality show doesn't cover a more realistic "housewife?"  Would that be too boring or perhaps not entertaining enough?  I can honestly say, I am never bored and I am entertained throughout each and everyday.  I get a shout out every 15 minutes some times, how cool is that!  I also am well versed in matters of science....that would be an educational program.  Today's science experiment, as conducted by Miss P and Lil Cullen, showed the effects of  combining red sprinkles with water in the play kitchen.  Be warned, do not try this at home and only under close supervision with protective gear on. 

Yes, lets get "real!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time management for one or six?

I have had many conversations about time management and multitasking with friends, family, and previous coworkers over the years.  I have to face it, when it comes to managing my time, I have made some mistakes.  I have been to seminars and read various articles in order to improve this area but I have to face the fact, I am a procrastinator by nature, always have been.  In school, I always waited til the last minute to get papers done, study for tests and it worked for me.  Deadlines are fine, but, you will find me handling the situation right before the due date. This is how I handle my time.

Scroll forward several years, I am now a stay at home mom with four kids (Ages 11, 9, 4, and 11 months) and a husband (48) in the house.  With six of us, time management has been a bit of an issue.  I have been told I can do better with managing my time (yes, I am writing this blog while I could be working on something else, but I have to have some outlet).  So, the question of the day is...does my time management encompass one or six?  Let me give you a scenario from this morning....typical, boys up and get ready for school.  Jeff up and gets ready for work.  I get breakfast for them and make lunch. I get the baby changed and give him a bottle.  Peyton is also up by now but she won't have breakfast until everyone leaves.  Kiss all goodbye and go to start the rest of my day.  I notice when everyone leaves the bags of trash by the door (we had a second Christmas the night before).  Three people have since walked past the trash leaving the house, not one of them made an effort to take any of them out.  The kids took their bowls to the sink, one wasn't rinsed out and still had rice crispies stuck to side and the sink had rice crispies in the bottom.  My husband's breakfast dishes were still on the table.  One of the boys left their light on and shades closed and the hair gel was left out on the bathroom sink and the bathroom light was left on.  All things that could have been and should have been managed by someone else, but I had to handle.  These are twenty minutes I could have used elsewhere.

So again, is it "my" time management that needs tweeking or am I coordinating for six?  See, if I am judged on my inability to manage my time wisely, is it a fair assessment when there are additional factors?  Just food for thought.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life According to Ren....Welcome to Blogging

I decided today to start a blog site.  Mainly, I think as an outlet for me to be creative and also to help me through trying times.  Life according to Ren seemed an appropriate title, since I tend to have a quirky view on a life, as I have been told many times by friends and family. I have a feeling that many of my topics of discussion will have to do with what is currently happening in my own life.  Perhaps later, the blog will take a different direction.  On some days, it may be sheer venting on my part, on others I will share a lesson I have learned (generally the hard way), or maybe I can offer some advice on something that will help others.

This is new to me, so I am sure I will make mistakes along the way.  Please know that I will be frank, as I have always been an open book.  There may be personal experiences that I share that some may feel that I should not be discussing them publicly.  For those of you that feel this way, you don't have to follow or read what I write.  I will try to be tactful as best I can.  Perhaps I should change the names in some of my stories to protect the innocent or guilty (whichever is more appropriate at the time).  But those of you who know me best will likely be able to figure it out.

I am looking forward to this new project of mine.  I will develop the site as I go.  Can't wait to see where it takes me. 

Later,

Ren