Balancing Kids

We have two big milestones in our family this week.  Today, our oldest daughter, Audrey, turns 17.  Tomorrow our youngest son, August, goes in for surgery.  Trying to make sure they both get all the attention they deserve or need has proven to be challenging.  So, how do you make it all work?  I don’t have a good answer.  But I can tell you what I have done to make sure they feel like they are mom and dad’s #1 priority when they need it most.

Most importantly, I want my kids to know that they are loved.  Not just on their special day, but every day. When I kiss them as they walk out the door for school or when I tuck them in at night, they know that their mommy thinks they are the center of her world.  By doing that, you are solidifying the fact that even though they may not get 100% of your attention on their special day, you still love them.  I want my kids to know, without a doubt in their minds, how much they truly mean to me.

balancingkidsI like to set aside some time in my day and week to create special moments and memories. Today, on Audrey’s birthday, we had a whole slew of events planned. We start planning her birthday in March because Audrey LOVES her birthday.  But with August’s surgery tomorrow, she’s not going to get an entire day from us like she normally would.  We have a bit of prepping to do for Gus’ surgery. But by creating extra special moments today, we will have created memories for her.  And that’s more important than an entire day spent doing nothing.

I love to let them help with the planning or prepping of their big day.  I ask them what is important to them.  I let them choose dinner on their day.  Take them shopping for what they think will make their day special.  Like I said before, Audrey starts thinking about her birthday as soon as New Year’s has come and gone. August was excited when we he got to choose a toy to play with after his surgery.  By including them in the preparations, you are helping them realize that this is their day and that their opinion matters.

By helping your kiddos know that they are your center of your attention on their one big day you will have created those moments and memories that they, and you, will cherish forever.  Balancing kids is tough work.  But by letting your kids help with the balancing and prioritizing, you will find it’s more fun than challenging. You may not get it right all the time, but that’s OK.  We all have wins and losses.  I’m not even sure how today or tomorrow  will go, but I’m hopeful that I’ve done just enough to make two of my kiddos feel special. But I will be adding in a few extra hugs, kisses, and “I LOVE YOU’s” for good measure!

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Thinking About the End

What do you want your kids to be when they grow up?

I don’t mean what they should do for a living.

I mean, what kind of person will they be?

Who will they be?

Why are these questions important?  Because as parents, we get busy focusing on what is going on right now–or in the near future.  We tend to think about what is immediate, what will most matter in their pre-adult years.  So we watch their grades and do everything possible to make sure they do great in school.  We obsess over their childhood friends and arrange playdates.  We ensure they play the right sport or focus on the right artistic talent.

And we’re doing it completely wrong.

All those things are fine, but if that’s we are focusing on, we’re not focusing on the one thing that matters most: the end.

We get so busy focusing on who are kids are now that we forget to think about who they will become.  Who will your children be when they are your age?

You want your kids to love others?  You need to model that.  Want a child who realizes that marriage is awesome, but it’s a lot of work?  Then show your kids that.  Hope your child values relationships over things?  People over work?  Then show them that, every opportunity you can.

Respectful adults had parents who modeled respect.  A man who honors his wife probably had a dad who did the same.  A woman who knows the value of hard work most likely had a mother who taught her that.  Honesty, a sense of fun, responsibility, creativity, genuineness–these are all things we learn from our parents.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Teach kids that work matters more than family by working too much.  Model for kids what matters most to you by what you devote your time to.  Want your kids to grow up angry?  Be an angry parent.  Want kids to be disrespectful or rude?  Show them that.  Is football more important than church?  Is blaming others more important than personal responsibility?  Your attitude toward these things will set the stage for your kids.

After all, the things you saw in your home growing up helped fix your feelings on things like marriage, money, church, relationships.

The kind of person your children grow up to be is only minimally determined by their school, the sports they play, or the friends they had playdates with.  It’s you who has the greatest potential to determine how your children act when they grow up–you are the biggest single influence in your child’s life, and what they see you do is what they will eventually do themselves.

I’m not perfect by any means, but parenting with the end in mind means I’m going to make sure I hang out as often as possible with my children.  I’m going to kiss my wife in front of them.  When we do argue, I’m also going to be quick to own up to my mistakes and ask forgiveness.  I want my sons to honor and respect their wives.  I want my daughters to expect kindness and gentleness from a man.  I want them to be parents who enjoy being with their kids and create as many memories as possible with them while they can.  This is what it means to think about the end.

When you think about the person you hope your child will be at your age, remember the one thing that matters most: think about the end.  Remember that what you model for them today helps determine who they will be tomorrow.

There are Enough Hours in the Day.

How many times have you heard or even thought, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” I have. Usually daily. And I’m sure most of us like to think, “Yeah, but I really do have more to do than most moms.” There goes my hand up in the air.  I don’t know what makes us think that our lives are busier than the person across the street or next to us in line at Costco. Let’s face it, as moms, or dads, we all have busy going on.

imagesSo, how do you make enough time for your kids, spouse, pets, house, work, self, etc?  Honestly, I don’t know. But I want to give you the 5 top ways that have helped me stay organized and able to tackle the chaos that comes at me daily. If I can do these, you can, too.

1. PREPARE.  I am a note taker and list maker. Sometimes to a fault. I have lists for everything from meal planning to grocery shopping, from workout plans to vacation preparation. Preparing and planning helps me stay on top of my game and helps me feel like I have some sort of control in a sometimes chaotic environment. So, what’s the best kind of list? Whatever it is that helps YOU feel like you’re in control. Personally, I like the old-fashioned clipboard, paper, and pencil method. But you can use anything. Use your notes tab on your smart phone. There are now even apps you can download to help with whatever planning you need. But use whatever best works for you. I’ll have more on menu planning, shopping, and saving money on next week’s blog.

2. STICK TO A ROUTINE.  This one is not easy for me. As much as I love routine, I thrive on spontaneity. So often I want to ditch all my housework, keep the kids home from school, jump in the Montague van and just drive to somewhere remote for a milkshake. Obviously, this isn’t daily reality, so keeping to a routine helps me feel like I have control. So, when a day does come and no one has to work or go to school, we can do something fun and spontaneous. We live by the rule “Work Hard, but Play Harder.” Keep your routines tight so that you can have even more fun on those days off.

3. EXERCISE. You had to know that was coming. Why is exercise so important? Well, for one, it keeps our bodies healthy and when we have healthy bodies, we have healthy minds, homes, and kids. Exercise also, believe it or not, gives you more energy. All it takes is an extra 30 minutes out of your day. I know 30 minutes feels like an eternity when we already have such full days. But think of it this way. You could get up just 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later. If you’re not exercising, you’re probably tossing and turning in bed at least that amount of time. Exercise helps you stay more rested at night and focused during the day. So, you’re not actually losing 30 minutes of sleep, but gaining 30 minutes of activity. Exercise is also where you can blow ofF steam or stress and pull yourself together when you may feel like things are falling apart.

4. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF . Please hear me when I say how important this is. You are giving most or all of yourself to your family. But who’s giving to you? Sometimes you just need to spend an afternoon at the movies or take yourself out to lunch. Maybe you like a warm bath, a book, and a glass of wine. Sometimes a massage hits the spot. One of my favorite things is just to sit on my back patio, listen to music, and scroll through Pinterest. Whatever you enjoy doing, treat yourself weekly. It will recharge your batteries and help you realize that you are more than your kids’ mommy or daddy, more than a house cleaner, more than a paycheck.

5. SLEEP. Yes! You need to sleep! Most doctors will recommend at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Sometimes you can get by on 6 or 7, but don’t make it a habit. Set your body clocks and get in the routine of getting a full 8 hours of sleep per night. Again, this will help you get to your full potential during the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, then try to power nap during the day. I’ve trained myself to shut my brain off for about 20 minutes during the day if I need a little boost of energy.

I also want to add that I have an amazing support system in my husband and kids. I certainly couldn’t do anything without them. If you don’t have a support system at home, then find one somewhere either a moms or dads group, church group, best friend, or counselor. Parenting is hard, but you also want it to be fun.

Over the next 5 weeks, I’m going to break down each topic even further, so watch out next week for what my prepping and planning looks like!  And thanks for reading!   – RM

Two Is Better Than One

IMG_1343There are lot of great blogs out there written by moms.

There are a few great blogs out there written by dads.

Our goal at Montague Adventures is to give you the best of what we have both learned in our nearly 18 years of marriage and parenting, together.

What has made everything work for us, through a lot of good and some bad, is that we realize we are in this together.  And when we work together, both as a couple and as a family, we are able to actually accomplish a lot.  The verse from Ecclesiastes makes clear that we all need someone to help us make it through this crazy thing called life, and we certainly aren’t in this alone.

Two is better than one, and at Montague Adventures, you won’t just get a mom’s perspective, you’ll get a dad’s.  You won’t just here what a dad has to say, you’ll hear from a mom, too.

We’re just a crazy couple who love each other deeply. We really enjoy being with our kids.  We don’t sweat the small stuff, and try to make every moment of our lives count for something.   We can’t wait to have you join us for the fun.  We aren’t perfect, but we are fun.  And we think you’ll have fun, too.

If you join us, then that will make it even better!  Because if two is good, three has to be great!

Welcome

Welcome to Montague Adventures!  Over nearly 18 years of marriage and parenting four kids (ages 7 to 17), we’ve learned a lot about what it means to be married, be parents to kids in nearly every stage of life, make it through the bad times, really enjoy the good times, and create lasting memories along the way.  We want to share what we’ve learned with you.

Starting tomorrow, you’ll find out what’s in store here.  We can’t wait to have you join us on the adventure!