Category: Parent

I Just Won’t Make This Decision Until I Have To.

The one question invading every mom’s group on social media, every conversation I overhear at the park and in line at the store is, “How are you feeling about sending the kids back in the fall?” Even my own child asked me tonight, “what will school look like in the fall and how can I be ready for it?”

Parents, we are facing some tough choices about sending our kids back to school safely, while living through a raging world-wide pandemic (because parenting just is not challenging enough is it?).  We are now living with a virus so brand spanking new that we are not entirely sure how it affects us long term, or the most effective way to treat it. At least with the flu, we know what we are in for and it comes with a healthy side of chicken soup and all the tea one can drink.  

The truth is, I have no idea what back to school will look like for us. And to be honest, I have too many feelings about it and not enough time to sort them all out. My mind is already fatigued from managing the last four months of virtual school and remembering where we last saw our masks before leaving the house. Not to mention the mental gymnastics just assessing our risk exposure before running errands. I am also the new cruise director making the schedule to keep everyone from getting bored. I feel like a regular mom, but amped up on steroids raging through overtime shifts I never signed up for. I am so consumed with managing our daily life as it is right now, with our new guidelines and safety measures, AND making up for lost summer camps and cancelled vacations, that I just can’t muster the mental energy to make one more decision.

So, I won’t.

I just won’t make this decision until I have to.

I do not know what our school’s reopening plan is yet. 

I do not know if our state will reopen schools in the fall yet. 

I do not know what to do right now, and I am not planning to ‘make a plan’ for at least another month when the new school year begins.

But…

I do know my kids are craving connection with their friends and family.

I do know it is hard as hell to write while kids are screaming for sandwiches.

I do know my kids are tired of being home for days on end.

I do know my kids are tired of talking to people through a screen.

I do know that whatever the upcoming school year holds, my kids will need to be ready to handle it. In person school will not be the same as it was when they left in March. Remote learning is not what they are looking forward to. And homeschool, will be entirely different than what they love about classroom learning. Every back to school option on the table right now requires some amount of adjustment and anxiety for all of us, not just our kids.  

So, instead of imagining every potential scenario and stressing about which one I am going to choose, I am going to spend this time focusing on my kid’s mental health and investing in their resilience. The only way I can do that is by focusing on the present. The summer sun is calling, the pool is primed, and we live in an amazingly beautiful area of our state. We can spend time outdoors exploring and seeing friends from a distance. I cannot control this virus and I cannot control how schools will open up again, but I can control our day and how we learn to deal with this new challenge.

Giving myself permission to not make a choice RIGHT NOW, truly relieves a lot of the pressure to decide what happens in the fall. I am going to stay informed. I am going to watch the numbers. I am going to prepare my kids with school supplies and new outfits, just like I would any other year. But I am not going to make the final decision about how I am sending my kids to school until I must.

Until then, we are taking a break from the stress and anxiety by pressing pause on overthinking. I am confident this decision will help build our resilience to deal with whatever school looks like for us a month from now.

To stay up to date on how we are spending our summer, and getting ready for back to school in the fall, follow The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.

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Meet a Mom and Energetic Entrepreneur

If you haven’t met Jenny Yeung, you haven’t met her creative vibe and non- stop energy. I’ve watched her (through social media updates) build and create two Asian/Mexican fusion restaurants and two satellite Bunsen Tea Lab locations for her amazing bubble tea and bites. I may also eat my fair share of shrimp pad Thai on a regular basis.

Jenny owns and manages two brands and several restaurant locations while she works hard raising two young children. Her food creations and flavor combinations are unique and just plain yummy. I seriously asked if her secret to this kind of energy comes from drinking bubble tea, because I’ll have what she’s having!

Meet Jenny!

What is your business? Crazy Bowls, a Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant with two locations, Kingston and New Paltz, NY.

Who is your ideal customer? Anyone who appreciates good food!

How would you describe your business mission: Serving the community quality food fast and at an affordable price. A better alternative than fast food chains.

How do you relate most to the Whatever Mom Philosophy: Wine before coffee. Coffee before the face of my kids.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I think all moms are strong and unique in their own way.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I built a restaurant from scratch during my pregnancies and then grew those businesses while dealing with two little demons at day and angels at night.

Where can moms find out more about your business? Feel free to drool along with Crazy Bowls food updates on Facebook and IG.

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Summer Grilling Made Easy with Foil Packets

Perfectly delicious when topped with grated parmesan cheese.

I really rely on our grill to get me through the diner time rush during the summer. Everything seems to cook easier, quicker and cleaner on my grill. Plus, the heat stays outside and not inside where I have the air conditioner running.

A friend of mine introduced me to foil packets years ago and it is one of those things I question why I never thought of it before. Super easy clean up! You can wrap almost anything in foil and cook it on the grill and get amazing fast food!

My picky eaters are currently into asparagus and tomatoes, so I made both!

Seasoned asparagus topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Start by pulling enough foil to be wrap around the food you will place inside.

Drizzle oil directly onto the foil, layer on the veggies, drizzle on more oil and sprinkle with seasonings. We like to add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once the veggies are grilled we shake on some parm cheese. Nice and simple.

To wrap, bring the short edges together (folding the long rectangle into itself) and roll them downward in one direction. Next, fold the sides or roll them up to create enough of a seal to keep the oil and steam from escaping.

Secure the edges of your foil packet to avoid dripping.

Put the packets over a medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, flipping half way. You’re done! Super easy side dish with very little clean up!

How do you like to grill your veggies? Got a recipe you’d like to submit? Please email it to me at [email protected]

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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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Meet a Mom and the Owner of Olive & Elm Crafts

Meet my friend Kelly Fears! Not only is she a mother and business owner, but she also donates her time to supporting other moms. She runs a support group for moms surviving infant loss and a group dedicated to helping other moms run a businesses.

Kelly started her own business making customizable gifts, shirts, tumblers, totes and more, as a way to express her creativity while staying home with her two adorable children. She built her business from scratch and is dedicated to helping other small mom run businesses succeed.

How did you come up with the name for your business? Olive & Elm is a mash up of all my children’s’ names. My twin daughters Ellie & Emma past away on their due date, and I really wanted to make sure all my children were included in the name.

What types of products do you offer through Olive & Elm? Signs, Gifts, Décor, Shirts, Tumblers & more. I also co-admin a local, small business mamas group on Facebook. I put several hours in each week curating content to help small business mamas navigate being a mom & running a small businesses.

Where are you located? I have two locations, one in Dutchess County NY an one in Saratoga County, NY.

Describe your business mission: I create customized items people need with a personalized touch, and offer them the experience to talk to the creator of their products.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom Philosophy? Honestly, since reading your blog it has helped me to let go of the imperfections that I felt were a character flaw and my failures as a mom/wife etc. So, Identify with your struggles and the reminders to sometimes just say “Whatever” and embrace the messiness.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I also run a support group for moms who have lost mono/mono twins. I started the group in early 2014 after my mono/mono twin loss. It is an extremely rare and extremely high risk pregnancy survival rate, at best it’s about 50%. It was hard to find groups that understood the rare nature, the high risk and then the loss. I created the group in hopes of connecting families who have walked the same path as we did for support and understanding.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think I’m fairly funny and easy going despite having gone through some of the darkest pain most parents could ever imagine. And, I love owning my small business. I try to help other moms find the in’s and outs of owning a small business as well.

Where can moms find you? Olive & Elm Crafts Facebook Instagram and TikTok.

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What is Going Right During this Pandemic?

Several weeks ago, I asked the moms in my Whatever Mom Circle private group what is working for them during quarantine. What is something positive they are gaining from this time at home? Almost everyone said, slowing down has made a big difference in how they feel.

Normally, as moms, we are rushing from one drop off to another, running errands and racing through our day in a blur. Now that we are home more, that hectic pace has shifted. Yes, we are now handling more educational tasks than before, but there is less pressure to get everyone out of the door by a certain time. Most of us are letting the kids sleep in a little longer. It is sad our favorite activities are on hold, but it’s also nice to not have to crack the whip to get through dinner on time for soccer practice.

What else is going right?

Well, I for one feel less anxious about sending my kids off each day into the unknown. Will they be bullied today? Will they be afraid during a lockdown drill and I won’t be there to comfort them? Will they eat their full lunch today? Will they feel ill and sit in the nurses office? Now that we are home together all day, I don’t have to worry so much.

Then there is not having to pack lunches! Shout out to the gods above because I HATE packing two lunches every night. Lunch planning is the bane of my school year! I count down to every Friday because the cafeteria serves pizza. The one school food my kids willingly eat. God bless the lunch ladies! I haven’t met them, but I hold each of them in my heart.

My kids are connecting more with each other. The hectic pace of the school day, shuffling from one classroom to the next and using manners seems to wear them out entirely. This leaves very little patience for one another. As soon as they return home it is non-stop bickering and arguing. They still argue in quarantine, but they are a bit more patient and more accepting of each other in their respective spaces.

Overall, this pandemic at home thing is not ideal. It’s not my favorite experience. But, I am grateful my kids are home with me where I know they are safe. I like that we can slow down and we have less obligations on the calendar. I like that we are eating better. I like that we are using our local farms more, have more time to grow things and my kids are learning life skills.

Plus, there is a lot more wine in the house lately. Perhaps one silver lining to this pandemic.

What is working for you during this pandemic?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom
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Meet a Mom Monday

This post kicks off my new weekly series, Meet a Mom Monday! I thought it might be a fun way to introduce some moms already in The Whatever Mom community. I put out a call to moms already following along to introduce themselves and tell us more about how they are making a difference within their communities alongside being a mom. It’s easy to lose ourselves in motherhood, especially in those really early years. It’s hard to remember that life will get a little easier and there will be more time for ourselves. I hope the amazing women you are about to meet will inspire you to keep your own dreams alive! I know they inspire me. So, without further ado, meet Nakeyia!

Nakeyia Jones is an author and owner of Uniquely Purposed, LLC a publishing company focusing on children’s books and novels. She has authored children’s books, family devotionals and a recent novella of her own. Her first book, Super Spots shares the story of a young girl living with a skin condition known as Vitiligo, a condition Nakeyia herself lives with. Her hope is to inspire others living with this condition and to raise awareness and acceptance.

Describe your mission: To inspire children to embrace their differences and those of others. I want to reach moms of twins, children with special needs and rare diseases and adults that want a little suspense out of a book.

How many children do you have? Two children and one grandchild.

How do you relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We are not given a handbook on how to raise our children. The Whatever Mom helps us all to know we are human, will make mistakes and we are not alone on the parenting journey.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am passionate about the future of young people and it’s my calling in life to help them find purpose and keep them motivated.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I raised a hyper-active child successfully, that is my super power!

Where can other moms find you? I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Virtual Activities to Keep Your Kids Feeling Social

I know moms miss having the kids in school right now, for obvious reasons. There’s no time to work and teach and there is no time to work and teach and cook a million times a day.

Not being in school is incredibly hard on the kids too. Especially the kids who really love going to school each day to see their friends. My kids are social creatures and look forward to conversations with their bus drivers, their teachers, school staff and friends every day in school. There just aren’t as many people to talk to at home. So, we have to get a little creative with how we participate in our friendships from home.

Thank goodness for technology! We use Zoom and Google Meets to keep in touch with teachers and classmates and to have individual virtual play dates. My kids are young so they still like to play on play dates. Here is what they’ve loved so far:

Bake Some Treats – pick a recipe you both have ingredients for (we chose chocolate chip cookies). Follow the steps together and show off your progress. Kids can keep the conversation going while they are waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Once the cookies are cool enough to eat, it’s time for both friends on either side of the screen to grab some milk and get to dunking. There is something so comforting in sharing fresh warm cookies and chatting with a friend.

Play games – There is a whiteboard feature on the Zoom screen. Kids can use this to play tic tac toe, hangman, Pictionary or share the screen to take turns completing a drawing project. This one is so much fun because both kids can participate and no one needs to rummage for the same game pieces.

Watch funny videos together – Zoom and Google Meets allows you to share the screen so you can load up some funny pet videos from the Internet, or share a movie experience together. Everyone can grab their own snacks before they sign on and pick a video or movie to watch together.

Build things – If your kid loves to build with Legos, Blocks or magnetic tiles, or scraps of recycled materials, they will love building something along side a buddy to show off when complete. Kids absolutely love show and tell and sharing their creations.

Get artsy – my kids love to paint or draw or make their own books. Grab all the supplies you need, log on and let the kids brainstorm their own themes and get to work. This is a great way for kids to share in the creative process together while socializing.

Read together – it can be hard to encourage kids to read outside of classwork and school time. But if they have a reading buddy it makes it more fun and feels less like work. Have your child grab a favorite book to read to their friend (and their friend’s pet if they have one). They can chat together in the end about the books, or just about life and connect.

Host a virtual sleep over – we haven’t tried this one yet, but it is on our list! No need to leave your kid logged in all night (mine would never go to bed!). Just hop into some comfy pajamas and get ready to eat some snacks and play some games! You can throw in homemade facials, or chit chat while painting nails. Maybe watch some videos together or make your own silly videos to capture the memory of this really unique slumber party.

Even with the use of technology, it can be hard not seeing people up close and personal. So, we’ve had a few creative socially distant get togethers too. One morning we called our friends and told them meet us outside. We drove to our their houses with music blasting and had a dance party in our car while they were in their yard. We’ve dropped off surprise gifts and we’ve had friends do walk-bys and stand at the end of driveway to offer hellos and air hugs. Just parking 6 feet apart with our cars side by side so the kids can talk across the divide does wonders for their social emotional health.

Now that spring is here and we can be outside, it doesn’t mean we are ready to rush getting together. We still need to keep our socially safe distance apart to keep everyone healthy. We can’t participate in our friendships and socialize the same way as before, but with a little bit of creativity, we can find some new ways to stay together even while we are apart.

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Being The Mom During COVID-19

It sucks.

Don’t get it twisted that I don’t love my kids and appreciate the extra time we are spending together, because I do. I love my kids more than anything and I am kind of happy to be home with them. It isn’t perfect, but we are together and that’s the only place I’d rather be right now. But… being THE MOM through all of this is a royal pain in the arse.

In my household, nothing gets done with out my planning and prep work. Literally nothing. I’m not down playing my husbands efforts, he is the main bread winner and without him we wouldn’t have a roof over our heads. I do appreciate his hard work, but that’s mostly what he is doing 98% of the time. Working for someone else. He pitches in with laundry and dishes and mows the yard and takes out the trash when asked, but the kids schedules, home improvements, vacations, appointments, meal plans, shopping, holidays, doctors, emergency room visits, middle of the night kid anxiety, that’s all me. Before this lockdown, I was already tired and missing out on my own essential self-care. But during lockdown? I wonder if I even exist most days.

I mean obviously, I do exist. In the same way Cinderella exists. Overworked and unnoticed.

As soon as my alarm goes off, my feet hit the floor and take me out to the kitchen to make the kids breakfast. I sling their fresh made pancakes in their direction while they rub the sleep out of their eyes in front of the TV. I take five minutes to get dressed for the day before settling each kid in front of their respective lap tops to log into their online classrooms. Then I spend the next half of the day bouncing between both kids playing tech support resetting WI-FI and helping them with writing assignments. We break for a quick PBJ before we do it all again for the next two hours.

Besides my new career in tech support, I’ve become a virtual assistant scheduling their online classroom meet ups and virtual play dates. So far, my kids have a better social life in quarantine than I do. Tuesday’s one kid bakes cookies, or paints online with a friend. On Thursdays the other kid meets online with a friend to play Minecraft. I stare longingly at the people walking by my house and wonder how weird would it be if I whipped open my front door to yell, “hello, hello, hellooo!!!”

The six hour work day I had before, is now filled with non-stop caretaking and managing other people’s needs. Yes, before the virus I was doing this too, except I was limited to only a few set hours each evening. There were only 4 or 5 hours of the day I was taking care of other people, cooking and cleaning and organizing take out to get out of cooking. Now, I’m on duty from sun up to sun down. And it is exhausting. The last time I was this exhausted, my kids were toddlers waking through the night.

It’s hard being THE MOM during the life and times of COVID-19. All I really want is a little mental space. A little time to do something more than brokering my kids social life and meticulously planning a two week grocery haul so I can avoid being in public.

I miss public.

I had some of my best times there. Talking. Chatting. Laughing. Taking a walk untethered from complaining children who never seem to be happy with anything I do.

For now, I will steal away the even smaller moments in the day to unplug from the motherhood grind. I will give myself grace when I’ve failed to put myself first. I will remain grateful for this time with my family. And I will give myself permission to admit that some days, it just sucks to be THE MOM.

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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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