I am a stay at home mom. I don't work from home. This blog makes me no money. I just raise babies and clean messes and write about those things on my blog. And while I know that being a mom is a full-time job, I am not with my babies at all times. One of my babies goes to school. My other baby is in a childcare program twice a week for a large chunk of the day. And in case you didn't already notice, my "babies" are not really babies. They don't wake up nine times a night needing to be fed. They wipe their own butts. They put on their own clothes. They can grab a Kleenex and blow their own snot. Sometimes, they even make themselves their own snacks.
I guess that makes me a lazy mom. That's cool. I've accepted that--and God knows I've worked really hard the first several years of their lives keeping them alive and molding them into competent, butt-wiping little creatures, so I figure I can cut myself a little slack every now and then. But I would be lying if I said that the guilt didn't seep in sometimes.
Back in the day when the babies were more like actual babies and didn't go to school, I started hearing all the moms in my circle talk about Pinterest. I had no idea what Pinterest was. I devised my children's activities completely oblivious to the fact that kids needed more than a pencil and paper to learn to write their alphabet. I made their lunches look like piles of food instead of works of art. And we were growing. And we were happy.
Then one dark, late night when my husband was deployed, I made the fatal error of asking someone to invite me to join Pinterest. All at once, I realized that I had been depriving my children of a real joy-filled childhood. How can I expect them to craft when all that we have on hand is paper and crayons?! How come I didn't know we were actually supposed to be using the crayons to make melted wax art and the paper to make runway dresses?? Who knew you could do that with a piece of cheese and celery sticks?! Your kids will actually EAT the celery sticks?!?! Man oh man! Was I ever slacking! Not wanting to be nominated as the worst mom of the year, I began actually trying some of the activities I pinned. Of course, our projects looked nothing like the ones I found. They looked more like this:
Soggy paper art, anyone?(The butterfly nets weren't for anything cool. They were used as weights to keep the paper from blowing around.)
This one was supposed to be put up so the rain could streak it like a watercolor. It never rained in El Paso, so we just did this instead...
The expression on my son's face says it all.
Lazy Mom Freedom #1: Now I just pin free color sheet downloads on my "kid's board."
Unfortunately, somewhere in all of my messy and failed crafting attempts, I really sparked a love of art for my eldest. One of the biggest complaints she has about her new school is that she doesn't have an art class. Not wanting my child to go without one of her favorite activities, and not wanting to be disappointed in yet another ho hum Pinterest project, I've tracked down sources for projects that I think are no-fail and legit.
Here's a fun fact for you. I've married into a family of smart people--geniuses, really. One of my new cousins has probably the sweetest kid-centered blog I've ever seen. (I didn't ask her if I could share it, but we're family so I think I'm allowed.) Anyone with preschoolers should check out happilyevermom.com. I even love the darling name. It's a gentle reminder to me that I should not yell at my daughter as she attempts some of these amazing projects. :)
One of my favorite things that Katie does as she details the projects is to reiterate that these activities are not about the finished products, but rather the process. It's as if she somehow could tell that our finished product would look like this:
So you know, this was supposed to be done with fall colors, glue, and sand. I did not want to enjoy the "process" of cleaning up sand afterward, so I used paint. And I was too lazy to go to the store to get fall colored paint, so we went for more of a swamp palette. I also definitely added extra leafs where I thought my kid's tree looked a little sparse. Whatevs.
Lazy Mom Freedom #2:When your child's project doesn't look like you intended, blame it on not having a fancy camera--or knowing how the heck to put those adorable fonts on the bottoms of your pictures.
I've really given up on the whole "artsy mom" thing. I've been scouring the Internet for deals for art classes for my kid. The bulletin board in the playroom is full of adorable crafts my kids did in MDO or Story Time and were in no way concocted or discovered by me. Instead, I just work on teaching my kids games like Uno, Dominoes, "Jackpot," and Tag. Sometimes, I just give them a plastic bucket and shovel and let them dig in the dirt in our garden bed and play with the doodle bugs. I know...so lazy.
On occasion, the creative bug will bite me, and I'll do something like this:
I developed this gem using the Dark Ages method of dog-earring a good idea in a magazine and making it work for me. It took literally two minutes to put together. We have been writing back and forth in it now for a month.
If I'm feeling really crazy, I will do something like this with it:
I think it kind of channels the Elf on the Shelf stuff. Not all acquired ideas are bad!
Lazy Mom Freedom #3:You do what works for you and your kids. You let go of what doesn't.
When I had my first child, I asked my mother-in-law for advice. She said the best thing you can do is to love your child, and everything else will fall into place. (See?? Geniuses.)
People call it the "Mommy Wars," but I think there is only one thing we are warring with. And that is our own realization that we have no idea what we're doing--None at all. And we love our children and think they deserve the very best. So we try out our theories and we test them to make sure we are on the right track. The problem that usually stems from this is that our success rates are measured by the wrong kinds of feedback. Validation comes through a series of likes or repins or blog traffic, when really, it should just come from the answer to two simple questions: Are we growing? Are we happy?
Lazy Mom Freedom #4: Validation comes from inner fuzzies, not outward projects. Added bonus: Less cleanup that way.
I am not in any way, shape, or form saying that creative moms are not good moms. To the contrary, they make lazy moms like me aspire to step outside of their comfort zones--if only for split millisecond. All I am saying is that if you are a lazy mom, at least you are in good company ;)
Lazy Mom Freedom #5:You make no excuse for how awesome you are. (It requires too much effort. As detailed by this astronomically long post.)
Much love to all the mommas!