Category: Home Organizing

Meet a Mom and Certified Stress Management Coach

Meet my friend Lisa Zawrotny!

Lisa is an amazing conversationalist, stress management coach, decluttering expert and mother of two. She loves coffee, making music and spending time with her family. After living through the overwhelming experience of juggling her combined roles as a wife, mother, care taker (for her mother) and business owner, she founded Positively Productive Systems LLC. Lisa is now a Certified Stress Management Coach specializing in Productivity & Organizing and the host of the Positively Living Podcast. She shares the powerful healing of simplifying, self-care, and structure through speaking engagements, and offers coaching to overwhelmed moms and women everywhere.

Lisa Zawrotny is the owner and founder of Positively Productive Systems, LLC.

How do you help overwhelmed mamas make positive change? I offer personalized coaching and content relating to stress management, time management, decluttering/organizing, gratitude, and more!

Where are you located? I just moved from the Hudson Valley region to Finger Lakes area of New York.

Who are you looking to help? Caregivers, nurturers, the overextended, the overwhelmed, the ones who give until they hurt, the mamas, the multitaskers, those with chronic conditions, those who feel like there has got to be a better way, those who believe in simplifying and not sweating the small stuff, the ones who are daring to dream again and define who they are, the empaths who feel the weight of the world and still show up.

How do you serve others through your business mission? It is my mission to be the antidote to stress, not simply another task on a todo list, to encourage action in a way that is livable, and a guide to true and lasting change that fits each person’s life.

How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? I adore the non judgmental “we’re all just trying to make it through here” philosophy. Why does it matter *how* we do what we do? Unity is key.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I get it. I’ve been there. And even when my positivity is flying high, my heart still feels your weariness and pain. I’m here to help and encourage…to highlight Hope in your life. 💗

What makes you stand out as a mom? I respect my kiddos and laugh a LOT with them. I am real with them. I show them I am human and I think they respect me all the more for it.

Where can other moms find you? My website: Positively Productive Systems, My Podcast, Facebook and Instagram.

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Spring Cleaning During a Pandemic? Leave it to the Professionals!

This post contains sponsored content.

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the thought of yard work and exterior home clean up? Between crisis schooling the kids, cooking every meal, sanitizing protocols and working from home I am so exhausted. I am ready for a nap by 2:30 p.m. every day! By Saturday, the last thing I want to do is spend hours on yard clean up and power washing the deck. I feel like as a family we work hard during the week on school assignments, cleaning and chores that I feel guilty doing more work on the weekends.   

As my husband and I made our list of springtime chores, we realize at our current pace and weather patterns, we are so behind. Even when we include our kids in the work, it takes us triple the time to get it done. So, now we are working through the week and on the weekends checking off our springtime cleaning tasks. I am a firm believer that professional help is worth every penny especially when it saves my sanity! So, I want to share with you a family run business out of Clifton Park, NY that I recently discovered, E&J Cleaning and Floors.

Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today 518-419-4683

Hiring professionals during this COVID crisis can feel uneasy. We want to make sure they are following safety protocols and social distancing practices. Thankfully, E&J Cleaning and Floors has adapted to create a no contact service call to help knock those big cleaning tasks off your list and free up your time. They offer power washing for your siding, deck, fences, driveways, patios, etc., and window washing. All these services can take place at a distance on the exterior of your home, and can be arranged via email, phone or text. Estimates are free and payment handled over the phone before work is completed. That means no face to face, no hand shaking and no pen sharing. This is perfect for families overwhelmed by working, educating and isolating at home, or older homeowners who need the extra help. And, getting these chores taken care of safely will be a huge relief.

Photo credit: E&J Cleaning and Floors

You can visit their website for details and to see before and after photos of all their individual cleaning projects on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Speaking of the details, I notice they also clean home interiors and are providing a unique sanitizing system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help businesses and homes safeguard against the COVID-19 virus, they are using a special Electrostatic Disinfection technique. The technique includes using a designated applicator that administers a negative charge to the EPA approved cleaning solution as it applies an even coating of the solution onto surfaces and into hard to reach places. The E&J Cleaning crew is already using the system inside campers and offices and adapting for residential use. Staff will arrive wearing masks and gloves and keeping a distance from anyone in the house. This service sounds ideal for homes of essential workers who may be worried about exposing their families to the COVID-19 virus, doctors’ offices, families who may be more vulnerable to contracting the virus, etc. I did some quick research and find that it is most effective after a deep clean of your home. E&J Cleaning and Floors also offers in-home deep cleaning and sanitizing those high-touch surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs and handrails.

As a local, small business E&J Cleaning and Floors is ready to serve the greater Capital District area of NY with dedicated and individualized service that includes keeping your health and safety in mind. You can also grab a gift certificate for a cleaning to use when this stay at home life is over. If your house is anything like mine, after four humans living here 24/7 for two months it is probably screaming DEEP CLEAN right about now. (Ahem, Mother’s Day is in 11 days! And nothing says thank you like giving mom the day off from any chore!).

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A Parenting Book Every Kid Will Want to Read!

Working book title selected by The Whatever Mom. Not up for grabs.

For years friends and family have asked me to write a book about my life as a twin mom. How do you survive two babies at once? How do you handle raising two girls the exact same age? That’s a damned good question, because I am not sure my cursing and personal tantrums set the parenting bar very high. Surviving for me, looks like a lot of running to another room to hide from my family, so that I can curse into a closet and come back a wholly refreshed human being.

Nearly every minute of the day, I am writing a book inside my head. Or I am at least ear marking a moment to share later. I really believe we each have our own struggles as parents, and we all think we are the only ones struggling. I can GURANTEE YOU, you are not alone! And I think we can also agree, parenting would be so much easier if it weren’t for the kids.

And that’s why I’ve created this book just for kids! A simple strategy guide for making their lives easier and moving up the ladder to become their mom’s favorite child. By chapter 3, EVERY kid will be able to usurp their siblings place in line as the family favorite. It is filled with real stories of all the times my kids lives would have turned out much better if they had just listened to their mother.

Perhaps you can relate, and are looking for a solution? If your child is old enough to read, they are old enough to follow this easy guide!

How many times do you tell your kid not to do something because they could get hurt, and literally before your very eyes they are doing it and getting hurt? Or how many times have you asked your child to finish a simple task, only for them to throw a 20 minute tantrum and get a consequence they could have avoided if …. they just listened to their mother?

Childhood would really be much easier for kids if they just read my book and follow the cautionary tale of a set of twins refusing to listen to their mother. It could help them avoid countless hours of punishment and countless tears. Gift your child with my book today, and set them on the path to thriving, not just surviving.

Other titles from the author’s child series you might recognize: Just F$#@ing Do It! – A Simple Guide to Clarifying Your Intentions.” “Because I Said So – How to Avoid the Wrath of Mom!” “I Swear to God I Will Throw the Xbox Away! – And Other Ridiculous Things Moms Say.” “Just Get Out of The Car! – How to Be More Efficient With Your Time.”

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom
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The Mom Gear You Didn’t Know You Need!

The Whatever Mom pre-sale logo travel tumbler and V-neck t-shirt.

My fondness and love for Rosie the Riveter began with one simple poster I hung on my wall in college. I hung that poster by my door, so it was the first thing I’d see before leaving, and the first thing I’d see upon arriving. The words, “Yes, We Can!” were written across top, her arm flexing with sleeves rolled up just below. She was ready to believe in me and now, so was I!

I have carried some form of that poster with me for over twenty years to remind myself that no matter how hard things get yes, I can do this. So, when I became a twin mom overcome by fear, confusion and exhaustion, I carried that image on my cellphone and would look at it on my hard days.

It only made sense to me while designing a logo that I incorporate Rosie’s inspiration from my life. She is one-part Rosie the Riveter, one-part me. Ultimately this little logo represents me cheering on every mom. Sloppy bun – check! A tasty cup of motivation – check! And the attitude that yes, we can do whatever it takes to get through the day with our crazy little human tornadoes – check!

Thing is, after I had the logo in hand and slapped it on every social media platform I own, it kind of sat there. Waiting for bigger things. Well that day has come. I am launching some exclusive The Whatever Mom gear this week and showcasing my logo! You can get all the details and pricing options here —->

I selected a sleek 30 oz insulated tumbler to keep your coffee warm no matter where you leave it and a wash and go V-neck t-shirt to kick off my selection of mom gear. It’s all about the lifestyle. I hope to create additional fun and useful pieces to add to my shop very soon. Right now both of these items are in *pre-sale* which means once I reach a minimum quantity of orders my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts can begin production! This sale will shape all future swag found in my shop, so no pressure! 🙂

My oath to you is that I will not promote anything that I do not use or want for myself. I ordered the tumbler and t-shirt for myself to test out how it fits into hectic mom life. My kind of hectic may not look the same as yours, but at the very least, owning one of my logo pieces will be like having a little Whatever Mom alongside you through the day reminding you that YES, YOU CAN do whatever the day demands from you.

To treat yourself to something JUST FOR YOU, click this link to grab your order form. This pre-sale closes on November 1st 11:59 p.m. EST. When minimums are met and forms complete, invoices will be sent between November 1st and November 4th, 2019. Invoices must be paid in full by November 6th 11:59 p.m. EST. (If for some reason the minimums are not met any paid invoices will be refunded and you will be notified accordingly).

I am deeply grateful and incredibly excited to show off our solidarity and connect our mutual mom philosophy – just do whatever works for YOU!

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Parenting in Survival Mode

My husband traveled every week for the entire month of September and it sucked. It felt like he was home for a day or two with just enough time to unpack before repacking and leaving again. That left me to manage my kids, the house, the chores, the lunch packing, my blog and gave me zero time to take care of myself. Let me tell you, working from home isn’t easy when you’ve got last nights dinner dishes calling you from across the house. And of course it doesn’t feel like I’m winning mom of the year when I forget to pack an extra snack for my daughter’s long bus ride home. Ooops!

Chaos coordinator reporting for duty! When I am left alone to hold down the fort, I go completely into survival mode. Every parent knows survival mode. It’s what gets us through those lengthy stretches of teething and middle of the night vomit. There is nothing glamorous about survival mode.

For the first three years (or four – it’s kind of a blur) after my twins were born, I lived in survival mode. I mostly remember my husband working 17-19 hours per day while I was home alone with two infants and not a single extra helping hand. I cried a lot because I was so exhausted and in constant management mode. I actually made an appointment with a neurologist because I was convinced the exhaustion and dizziness were signs something bigger was wrong. She simply looked at me and said, you’re perfectly fine. You just need more help. And that’s when I realized perfection cannot exist in survival mode. I was trying too hard to make every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and it was only hurting me in the end. Those early years really taught me how to live life with the bare minimum and that even the hardest days will pass. 

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t travel often and today he only works around 9 hours a day, but there are times those survival skills come in handy! It’s what gets us through a rough week, kid sickness or when things go a little off kilter. It’s good to have those skills, but survival isn’t a place you want to live in for too long. Believe me, there isn’t much joy in it.

I know there are plenty of you out there doing this gig solo every day. Whether you are divorced, widowed or maybe your spouse travels routinely for work. No matter what the reason, carrying the parenting load all alone is incredibly exhausting. My hat goes off to you! I’m sure you are familiar with survival mode, but I hope you are finding the support you need!

It has been a chaotic month for sure. It is also amazing how quickly I can slide right into trading perfection for whatever works. If I slow down and focus on each moment as it comes and not think too far ahead (and extend myself a little grace), I find it easier to survive when the wheels fall off the track.

How are you surviving this week?

Tips if your spouse travels for work:

If you know your spouse is traveling, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by writing a simple menu for the week so you aren’t caught off guard at dinner time.

Use paper plates to eliminate the big clean up.

Line up the help you need – a cleaning lady at the end of the week, or a baby sitter during the week so you can run errands or grocery shop kid free. Order your groceries online and pick up at the store to save time.

Being out numbered by picky eaters and time, I try to keep dinner super simple. I will sometimes call a DIY sandwich night and round everyone up for a picnic on the living room floor, or I might put out a picky platter like this and let everyone chose what they want.

Use your calendar and sticky notes to keep you on task. I try to look at my calendar each night and make a list for the next day of the most important things I need to accomplish (lunches, phone calls, emails, etc). I write my list on a sticky note and I leave the note on my kitchen counter to review again in the morning.

Lower your expectations. Do not expect to fit everything into one day, or make all the ends meet. Your perfect plan will be destroyed by kids with a stomach bug, or a sudden school event you forgot about. Just keep things basic and aim for survival until help returns.

If you want to see what’s happening on the blog before I hit publish, or get a sneak peak at discounts, reviews and giveaways before they hit my social media – sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter (it only publishes two Mondays a month!).

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Here’s Why I am Such a Terrible Blogger

Probably not the title you want to see from someone trying to become “profesh.” But most days I feel completely terrible at my job as a blogger. It isn’t for a lack of trying, or working hard, in fact I write stuff all the time. I am usually writing it all in my head while I’m driving the kids to gymnastics or to the grocery store. I am always taking snap shots of the craziness that happens in my day, but then forget to upload them later. If only I didn’t have to mom all day I’d be a much better blogger, I say to myself every night as I turn out the light and pull the covers up to my chin.

I attempted to work outside the house for about 9 months and it totally threw off my blogging flow. I thought I’d get back into it during the summer and that was harder than I thought. I barely had enough time for my morning coffee before the kids and I were off an running. It was an amazing summer, but not much proof of it in the way of blogs and photos.

The truth is I love blogging and I love writing. But the kid noise and household demands always come first. Call me crazy, but I do enjoy having fresh undies and a clean glass to drink my wine from. #priorities I am often choosing between writing and holding it all together. It feels unfair at times because this is my creative outlet AND chance to make an income for my family. It isn’t that I don’t make it priority, it’s just that there aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t know how my favorite bloggy moms do it!

On top of all the mom guilt I have, I can now add blogger guilt. The guilt of letting time pass without sharing. The guilt of not connecting enough. Then there is the anxiety (and reason I don’t sleep) that everyone has moved on because I’ve been too busy to stay on top of things. My blogging mission has always been to share the “realness” of my my messy life as a mom. I think I am the same as any other mom just trying to keep up with life and squeezing in a little self-care.

Maybe you can relate to this feeling even if you aren’t a blogger. Do you ever feel like you fall behind in some part of your life? How do you handle it? I wanna hear from you in the comments below! Leave me your best tips and ideas for getting back on track with your creative pursuits, self-care and general flow of life.

I hope you have a great week!


The World’s Okayist Blogger

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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What to Pack for Your Next Family Road Trip

Car with map

Summer is here and for us that means a lot of time on the road. The kids get so bored in the car, even after their fill of movies and electronics. Having a few extra activities on hand can help maintain sanity and squash boredom levels.

There are times I travel solo with the kids to see my family which makes me the ship director and the activities coordinator all in one trip. I discovered filling up a basket of new-to-you activities for the kids makes a really great co-pilot. I can pull out a new distraction with a free hand and pass it back to the kiddos before they begin their first argument. The trick is to not use all the stuff up before you get to the end of your road trip. Then you drive back home empty handed and that is no bueno.

Here is what I keep in my basket of tricks:

Books – especially ones with stickers my kids can peel off and stick again. Those keep them entertained and won’t stick to the inside of my car. Trust me, a lesson you learn only once.

Snacks – and lots of them! I’m talking the rare treats they never get like gummy things, barrels of Goldfish crackers and sticky, sweet granola bars. Kids can’t argue if their mouths are full. Rare treats also work well for bribery, “Simmer down back there or the gummies get it!”

Wet wipes – to take care of the sticky granola bars.

Bubbles – this is great for younger kids. I use them at the rest stop when we get out to stretch our legs, or to give the other kid something to do while we are in the bathroom (besides complaining sister got to go first).

Art supplies – my kids love the adult coloring books. I keep a few on hand with a mega set of colored pencils. Not only does this give them color options, but it means I won’t have to go digging for the only blue pencil they just dropped under the seat for the 10th time in the last five minutes.

White board – to use the dry erase markers to play games like Pictionary or hang man. This of course only works if they are in a amicable mood. Otherwise you’ll have to endure listening to high pitched whaling, “she drew a picture of me with 3 eyeballs!” Also get the washable, dry erase markers. (Another lesson you only need to learn once).

Patience – it is typically somewhere near the bottom of the basket. I have to rummage around under all the other stuff to search for it and eventually I find it. Traveling with kids is stressful at some point. You have to manage emotions, attitudes and temperaments along with hunger cues and bathroom breaks. Not to mention defend everyone’s personal space. Being prepared with favorite comforts can really help. But what works best is dropping any expectations for a tranquil journey. And if you pull out the electronics to find a little peace – go for it! Driving with screaming kids can contribute to road rage, so really handing your kids an iPad is a simple safety measure.

Happy travels!


The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 


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5 Emergency Preparations Your Family Should Work On This September

If your social media news feed looks like mine you are seeing a lot of coverage regarding the hurricanes blowing up the coast and destroying small islands. It’s scary and families often do not know what to do to prepare. Hurricane season is typically August through October, and it isn’t something we prepare for regularly. But I do find myself routinely worrying about the security of my home. When the folks at SimpliSafe reached out to share tips on how to prepare my family for disaster, or an emergency, I thought it would be a great idea to share their tips with all of you.

This post contains #affiliate links that are safe for you to use. This does not change the price of the product, nor am I in any way responsible for your interactions with the seller.

5 Emergency Preparations Your Family Should Work On This September

In a world where it feels like there’s an official month, week, or day for everything, here’s one more occasion to add to your list of things to celebrate. September is National Preparedness Month – a month to get your family and home prepped for emergencies. Here are some ways you can begin making sure your family is prepared this month.

1. Find resources that could help you. The first resources you can set up are emergency alerts. They’re quick to set up and will send text updates to your phone to make you aware of any emergencies that may affect you. Try to follow accounts on social media like BBC World NewsSimpliSafe, and AccuWeather for quick updates on safety and weather. Put together a list of phone numbers, websites, and addresses of resources for emergencies in your area such as the local police and your doctors. Keep this list in a place where everyone in your family can easily access it. After putting together this list, get started on creating an emergency kit. Kits like these are good to keep both in your home and cars. Think about including items like batteries, non-perishable food, and a tool kit.

2. Teach your family about natural disasters. Natural disasters are unfortunately something you don’t have much control over and are often quick to happen. The best you can do to prepare for these is to educate yourself about them and create plans in the case that one occurs near you. Learn about natural disasters that could possibly take place in your area. Find resources for them if there are any near you and share what you learn with your family. Now that you know about the disasters, create a unique plan for each of them. Be sure to keep your family’s needs in mind while creating them. For example, if you have pets, it’s important to consider how you can keep them safe in these situations. Write down your plans for everyone to review and do practice runs of each of them.

3. Practice fire prevention and safety in your home. Just like natural disasters, house fires are typically unexpected. Exercise fire prevention in your home by making sure you all know how to properly use appliances that could lead to fires. Test your smoke detector at least once a month and always have batteries on hand in case they need to be replaced. Create an escape route for every room in the house and practice this plan randomly a few times a year. In the case that a fire does occur, it’s important that your children know how to safely escape and how to react if their clothes catch on fire. There are plenty of resources to make teaching fire safety more fun for kids, like Firefighter Says and coloring sheets. Try calling your local firehouse as well. Firefighters there might have time to teach your family fire safety and show you around the firehouse.

4. Get your older children ready to stay home alone. If you have a child that is old enough to stay home alone, take the steps to make sure they understand how to stay safe. Teach them to safely use potentially dangerous appliances in your home and what to do if someone knocks on the door. Make sure they know where the emergency phone number list is and in what circumstances they should call each number. It’s essential that they know how to correctly lock up the house once you leave as well. If you have a home security system, teach them how to properly arm and disarm it.

5. Make a safe word for your family. Safe words are often overlooked, but are important and have many uses. A safe word can be used to let a family member know that something is wrong or that they need to talk about something bothering them. Create a safe word that others wouldn’t be able to guess – perhaps one of your favorite teacher’s last names or a random city. Talk about instances in which your family might need to use it and what to do if the word is said. Quiz each family member occasionally so no one forgets the word and the plan is in their minds.

What are some ways you prepare your family for emergencies?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 


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Helping Kids Develop their Leadership Potential with Cool Cats

Do you ever worry if your child will be a leader or a follower? When I was growing up my parents always told me to be a leader and inspire other people to do the right thing. If I just followed along with the crowd I’d miss the chance to be my own person. Being a leader is the one characteristic that has helped me walk away from bad friendships and pushed me through promotions while climbing the corporate ladder. I actually had two amazing careers before I started my third career as a mom all because I learned early on to follow my own lead.

One of the most important things for me to instill in my kids is the ability to be be a leader, not a follower. I want them to follow their own desires vs. following along with the crowd. Leadership doesn’t always mean becoming a CEO, or high level manager, but rather thinking for oneself and making wise choices with confidence. That requires learning to lead. So, when I received this unique leadership playing deck from Cool Cats, I was thrilled to introduce it to my kids. Each card defines a special characteristic for kids to understand. It isn’t about memorizing the definitions; it’s about exposure to leadership language. These cards label each characteristic for success and defines them in short, kid friendly sentences. As kids read them over and over, they begin to internalize these characteristics. As they see themselves as being successful the language now becomes the script for how they describe themselves.

My kids are only in the 1st grade so their attention span for going through the entire deck of cards at once is minimal. To incorporate some fun into our morning routine, we like to select one card at a time to read aloud and talk about as we walk to our bus stop. My kids like to play card dealer and suggest, “Draw a card mom, any card!” then we carry it with us while we walk and discuss. This is a really great way to introduce things like integrity, perseverance and patience. It sets a great tone for the day and sets my kids up for a positive mind set. They may be learning math and reading at school, but at home (and bus stop) they are developing character and values.

I love how the definitions are short and the key concepts are highlighted in yellow. This makes it easy to sprinkle learning moments throughout the day; whether we are running errands, talking at the dinner table or on our way to catch the bus- these cards get the conversation started!

Using the cards at the beginning of a new school year is perfect for us. My kids are starting over at an entirely new school with new teachers and new peers. They need now more than ever to recognize their own strengths, courage and confidence. They need to receive the message that they are capable and can do great things even at their young ages. Reviewing a new card each morning fills their emotional back packs for the day.

Cool Cats playing cards were created by Judith Addington who has an impressive amount of degrees and experience working in childhood development. It is her vision to help kids recognize their own talents and strengths as early as they can, to be our strong leaders of tomorrow. Addington created a variety of tools to help parents and teachers cultivate leadership skills that help children to thrive and grow. The Cool Cats award winning team is comprised of skilled childhood development specialists, brain development specialists, cutting edge media designers and family and child counselors. A lot of expertise goes into creating these tools with parents in mind.

You can find additional Cool Cats leadership products available to use at home, or in the classroom on their website or on Amazon.

I did not receive financial compensation for this review. All honest opinions are my own and are given in exchange for a sample product of Cool Cats playing cards. The links below are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission when used to purchase these products. #affiliates #Amazon

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 


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Building Confident Kids One Project at a Time

I can’t believe we are half way through August and winding down our summer already. Before I know it I’ll be sending the kids off on the bus again. This summer didn’t go exactly as planned, but I am glad that we are able to slow down a bit and enjoy so many new things. I wish we could take a splashy vacation or spend more time traveling, but we are more focused on projects around the home. This is what works for us this year. And even though summer is flying by, I feel like this is the most connected we have been during a summer break.

This year we included our kids in finishing our home projects. Now to be fair, we didn’t crack the whip. We let them work beside us for as long as they could focus, which isn’t super long at age 6. But they helped us for a significant amount of time and there was a good mix of play time in between all their hard work. They helped us install a pool, trim the hedges in our yard and repaint furniture. I know it may sound crazy to hand your 6 year old hedge clippers and say have at it, but that’s kind of what we did. We didn’t just give them free range we gave them a lesson first, and then hung out with them while they trimmed. Instantly, I could see their confidence soar. Knowing that we trusted them to do “grown up work” gave them a tremendous confidence boost. And by treating them like they are capable of doing things that require skill and patience, helps them see those qualities in themselves.

You are probably thinking including the kids in home projects sounds strange, or even dangerous, but it feels perfectly natural to me. I was around age 6 when I was enlisted to help paint and wallpaper in our home. By the time I was 10 I was learning to refinish furniture and how to do simple landscaping. That is what my family did for fun, we renovated together. By the time I was 19, I was so super confident in my abilities that I surprised my mother by repainting her dining room. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she came home from work and stepped into her new putrid rosy pink dining room. She tried really hard to shelter me from her horror and to look thankful, but looking back I think a small piece of her soul cracked that day. It was a horrible color, but she didn’t want to squelch my good deed. I was clearly very proud of my work. But my point is my mother gave me the space to learn new things and to practice them, even at the expense of losing the sanctity of her own space. Learning to complete these kinds of projects made me feel confident and capable. (And I think I learned a lot about color selection that day).

Working on homeowner and DIY projects with my kids helped me realize I am a good teacher, and that I can be patient. I can offer guidance without being demanding. As a mom I typically bark commands and set the rules. But home projects by nature require patience. By slowing down and taking the time to guide vs. demand really created a joyful experience. I hope when my kids look back they remember how patient I can be, and how hard I work to teach them so many different things.

My number one goal as a parent is to raise kids who become confident, self-sufficient and capable adults. So I am delighted they accepted these new challenges. Whether or not they continue to enjoy doing DIY projects when they grow up is entirely up to them. But for now, there is much deeper learning happening than learning the skill itself. Now they will get to reap the rewards of their hard work by swimming in the pool they helped build and sitting in the dining room chairs they helped paint. I hope they remember they can do anything they set their minds to; except when it comes to repainting my dining room in an unauthorized color

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 


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