Sunday, March 16, 2014

All Quiet on the FAMK Front

Maybe you have noticed that it's been half a month since we last posted - and you know what, we're sorry! But not super sorry because our main business is conducted on our Facebook page anyway. Besides, both Lyndsi and I are well into our third trimesters of pregnancy while wrestling the two-year-old results of our first pregnancies and frankly, we just don't have the time that we used to. One day things will settle down and we'll post more regularly - but for now, keep on supporting your fellow moms by answering questions on our Facebook page, and if you're interested in a few laughs you can follow us on Instagram: @forallmomkind.

If neither of those options are good enough for you, why not consider guest posting for the blog? We love to hear from other moms! Seriously, think about it. You would be so good at it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

How to Make Friends // Married with Kids

A little while after we moved to our new home in North Carolina, I had a bit of a breakdown. It might have been partly pregnancy hormones, but I sat sobbing, cross-legged on the bed with my husband tickling my back as I told him my sad, sad story of not having any friends. This, of course, wasn't entirely true, but I sobbed for a good hour about it anyway. I asked him between nose-blowings why people didn't seem to like me, why no one would give me a chance, why I was so hard to be friends with anyway - heaven knows I was trying! It was all so pitiful. So embarrassingly pitiful that I apologized to my husband like ten times during this hour of sobbing. I knew I was being ridiculous to some degree (thus the suspicion of hormones) but I just couldn't help feeling lonely. So I decided I wasn't going to spend the next three years as a sad sack - I was going to do something about it. After lots of observation, trial and error, I have put together a list of 5 essential tips for making friends when you're married with kids:

1. Lose Your "Resting B$%&# Face"* 

You've heard of it, right? I promise I didn't make it up. It's the face you make when you're not making any face at all. If you want to make friends with strangers, you have to consciously think about what your facial expressions are saying to them. I know for a fact that my resting face makes me look super grouchy, because people ask me what's wrong with me so often. I've had to really practice lifting my eyebrows, turning the corners of my mouth slightly upwards, and smiling with my teeth instead of just lips. People want to be friends with people who have a pleasant look about them.

*somehow this doesn't apply to guys. huh.

2. Cut the Crap

Even when we lived in Utah we didn't have a whole lot of friends. Our friends were our family, so we didn't feel the need to go out and socialize. But there was one particular acquaintance that basically shoved her way into our lives, bringing her husband and baby with her - and looking back on that today, I'm so grateful she did! She is one of those people that just knows everyone and everyone loves her. And even though we were sad to leave them behind, there was a family just like them waiting for us in Carolina. People like them don't beat around the bush. If they like you, they'll invite you to hang out. They'll give you second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh tries if they want. They don't seem to worry about whether or not they're "being annoying" or "coming on too strong" or whatever other games people tend to play when developing new relationships. If you want to make friends fast, you have to take charge. 

3. Take Chances

It doesn't matter if someone is much older or younger than you, has more or less money than you do, or seems to have completely different interests, you never know who is going to end up being a lifelong friend. If you restrict yourself to those in your same life situation, you will be disappointed - because nobody has the same life situation. Broaden your horizons! 

4. Big Talk

If you're looking to not waste any time at all, you might as well skip over the small talk. Now, this can be risky - but again, you have to take chances. And sometimes big talk is the thing that can solidify a relationship between people who have no common hobbies or interests. If you start the evening with the question, "So, what's your stance on Obamacare?" You can avoid dancing around potential friendships that would ultimately end up crumbling apart anyway.

5. Include the Kids

Even if you don't have kids, if the people that you want to be friends with do, understand that they're not always going to be able to run out and find a babysitter every time you want to hang out. Beggars can't be choosers, and if you're desperate for friends you should be more than willing to be accommodating. Of course, "adults only" date nights and activities can happen, and are super fun, but make sure you plan them well in advance. As annoying as kids can get, a parent will always choose their family's best interests over their friends. 

Basically, the age old adage holds true: If you want a friend, be a friend. You can't just hang around waiting for people to reach out to you all the time - if you want friends, sometimes you're going to have to pick up the phone, initiate the conversation, and extend the invitations into your home. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why You Are the Most Judgmental Mom You Know

When my little girl was born, I was very fortunate to be able to stay at home with her for a year. I loved it but when people asked me what I did, I suddenly realized I possessed the amazing gift of mind reading. Yup, you heard me. I could read their minds. When they found out that I was a SAHM, they started wondering to themselves what I did all day. They assumed that I just laid on the couch watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy and sipping on Diet Coke. (Except for that hour during the day when the maids come because that’s when I would leave to go shopping.) I would read articles and blogs on how people think stay at home moms don’t do anything but really, it’s the toughest job in the world. They would offer up suggestions on how to deal with those judgmental people…and I would feel a little better.

When my little girl turned 1, our student loan bills started rolling in and it soon became time for me to go back to work. Enter: those pesky mind reading abilities. NOW, when people asked me what I did and I told them that I am a teacher they started assuming what kind of a mother I was. They guessed that I was a career driven woman who is selfish to leave my child. I only cared about bringing in a pay check and having nice things to the point that I am willing to let her be “raised” by someone else. So again, I found myself reading articles and blogs on why it is okay to be a working mom and again, they would offer up suggestions on how to deal with those judgmental people…and I would feel a little better.

But here’s the really odd thing.

When other moms would tell me about their situations, whether they be a SAHM or a working mother, I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t find myself assuming anything about them, good or bad. Their situation just is what it is in my mind. And come to think of it, I had rarely heard other women commenting about what they thought of stay at home moms and working moms.

Here’s another odd thing.

When I would tell my close friends and family about my mind reading abilities, they assured me that they had never thought any of those things about me.


Do you see where I am going with this? The greatest common factor in these different equations always came out to be the same thing.


I think I have mentioned my goal for 2014. So here’s an idea. How about we start with ourselves? How about we start giving OURSELF as mothers the benefit of the doubt and stop assuming that people care so much about the choices we make?

When that happens, you may just stop being the most judgmental mom you know.

Monday, February 10, 2014

3 Reasons I Probably Won't Tell You My Baby Names

At 27 weeks, I am pregnant enough that friends, family and random strangers feel comfortable pointing it out and asking me about it. One of their first questions is always, "What names are you thinking about?" and it always puts me in a sort of awkward situation because it's not really something I want to talk about. So I squirm and fidget and mentally analyze whether or not they are the kind of person to be offended by a blunt "Nunya Business." But ultimately I end up saying something like "No names at all! Can you believe it?" or giving a watered down excuse as to why I'm not going to tell you.

There are many people that don't understand why I don't want to talk about it, and for those people I present to you this:

Reasons I Don't Want to Talk About My Baby Names

1) "Hey! That's the Name of..."

When I was about two months pregnant with my first child, my husband and I decided to do something fun with all the names we liked - we made a March Madness bracket and handed one to each of our family members to fill out. It turned out pretty well, but I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of "Ew, you like that name?" and "Hey, I know like three kids named that" and "That's the name of my grandma's dog / favorite sports team's mascot!" While none of them meant any harm by their comments, it was then that we decided we'd rather not tell anyone the names we were thinking about for any of our subsequent babies.

Maybe it's just a personal issue, but I hate hearing that my favorite names are everyone else's favorite names, too. I don't know, it might go back to my childhood - where kindergarten through my senior year I was known as either Jess C. or Jessica C. (I've confronted my mother a number of times about my name, and to this day she swears she didn't know that Jessica was the number one most popular name from 1985-1993)

I guess I can forgive her for "not knowing," and so if it turns out my child's name becomes super popular it stands to reason I can expect the same level of forgiveness from them... right?

2) "Oh No, You Don't Want Him to Go Through Life As..."

Sure, I was just as guilty of it as anyone else, but for whatever reason people have the natural inclination to "protect" your unborn baby from any undesired name that they, themselves, have deemed undesirable. They do this by voicing their opinions loudly and proudly while your baby is still in utero. Funny enough, when your little bundle finally arrives screaming and pink into this world they seem to quietly keep their opinions to themselves. Because, gosh, don't wanna offend the cute little guy.

And let's not forget all the people that feel it their duty to come up with the terrible nicknames your baby's future elementary-aged peers are bound to come up with...

3) It's Not Your Name, Your Kid, and Frankly, it's None of Your Business

When our first baby was born, he didn't have a name for a few hours. We spent that time pouring over him, kissing him, counting fingers and toes and wondering who he would grow up to be. We decided early on not to pick out his name until we saw him. We had a handful of name ideas, but we wanted his name to fit him perfectly. We wanted him to own his name, to come into the world and declare to us with his little personality, "I'm Jonah!"

Of course, this drove some of our family members crazy, and some even accused us of knowing the name and keeping it a secret just to spite them - but eventually we realized that it's not anyone's business but ours what or when we name our baby. It's a pretty special, sacred experience; birth. It's no time to be worrying about what anyone else thinks. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Stuff that Saves Us - Sticker Book

FAMK has decided to try a little something called "the Stuff that Saves Us," where we tell you all about the latest life-saving / sanity-saving products we have tried and found to be true. Hopefully some of our discoveries will help to make your life a little easier. 

A little while before Christmas on her personal Instagram feed, Lyndsi shared her discovery of these reusable sticker books by Melissa & Doug (do they make anything that isn't fantastic?) and suggested that moms everywhere with young toddlers go out and buy them:
(Click on the picture to see the product details - and probably better quality pictures too)
The picture is crappy, but let me tell you what, these sticker books are awesome. No more peeling and scraping and scrubbing days-old stickers off of my furniture, and Jonah can still have endless amounts of fun. He loves these things, and they keep him quiet when I desperately need him to be! Though the pad is on the larger side, if you usually heft around a big old tote or diaper bag (like I do) with supplies for changing diapers and distracting your child from public tantrums, it's pretty portable. 

There are several different sticker books - from food to cars to dress up - and they're not expensive either. When Lyndsi first recommended them they were one of Amazon's extra special Christmas deals for only $3! Right now I think they're about $6, but still - that's six bucks that will buy you more quiet rejuvenation time than you've probably had in a while. Worth it. 
Just check out the creativity this toy allows - the possibilities are endless!

He can seriously play with these all day long. So if you're on the hunt for the perfect inexpensive gift for that little sticker-lover in your life, or planning a lengthy road trip, or booking some cross-country airline tickets for the whole family, Jonah and I (and Lyndsi and Charlotte) give these babies two huge thumbs up. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Things Happy Women Do

Sometimes happiness feels unattainable and out of our control. I have been thinking lately about happy women in my life and WHY they are so happy. Consequently, that has led me to think about what also makes women unhappy. What are happy women doing that set them apart from everyone else?

1. Happy women surround themselves with happy women

How’s that for stating the obvious? Sometimes it’s the most obvious things that are the hardest to realize. I will never forget one night when I was venting to my husband about relationships in my life that felt toxic and poisonous. Friendships that felt very one sided, negative, and were making me feel stressed out with the amount of “nurturing” that I was needing to put into them. He looked at me and, as if he were telling me the sky is blue, very simply said, “You know that you can CHOOSE who you are friends with, right?” I decided right then and there that from that point forward, I would choose which relationships in my life were priorities. I would choose to surround myself with friends who are happy, positive, and genuinely want the best for me. Since that time, I have drawn a hard line of what I consider an acquaintance and what I consider a friend.

2. Happy women know when to say yes

I am a firm believer that serving others makes you very happy. Some of the happiest women I know are constantly putting others first and doing things for other people. This is not a new concept. Feeling unhappy? Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about what you can do for someone else.

3. Happy women know when to say no

Let me preface this by saying, I have a hard time telling people “no.” This has been an “ah-ha” for me recently and something I have become fairly adamant and a firm believer in. Say it with me ladies, “NOOOOOO!” Man, that feels strange doesn’t it? As women, we tend to take on everything. Everyone’s problems, everyone’s emotions, everyone’s troubles, EVERYTHING. It is a heavy load, isn’t it?

I overheard a conversation the other day. Two people were talking about a woman and how they felt sorry for her because she was constantly being taken advantage of and being walked all over. People were using and abusing her good nature and inability to say no. Do I condone people who milk the system and take, take, take? No. Do I feel sorry for that woman who is being taken advantage of? NO! She allows it to happen by not setting boundaries and saying “no.”

A woman in MY life, whom I adore and has a heart of gold, once made a goal to stop saying yes to everything and everyone and instead started saying, “I’m so sorry but that won’t work for me” and just leave it at that. No made up excuses to justify it. Simple enough, right? So if the only thing that has been getting you through your week is the thought of putting the kids to bed and turning on Grey’s Anatomy with a carton of Ben and Jerry’s in your hand... then maybe watching your neighbors kids “is just not going to work for you tonight.” And that’s okay!

4. Happy women celebrate others success

And they do it without feeling envious or less than.

I remember one night scrolling through Instagram and seeing post after post about people’s accomplishments. So and so just built a gorgeous, brand new home while another so and so just landed an awesome job that pays big bucks. And there I sat in my small apartment, with my small paycheck, feeling…well…small. I disliked the way their pictures made me feel but sat there “liking” all of their posts because that’s what you are supposed to do, right? It took a couple pity parties and a large dose of reality to make me realize that praising others accomplishments has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. We are a self-centered society that doesn’t like anything unless it benefits us or puts us ahead of the game and blah, blah, blah, me, me, me, I, I, I.

Hate the taste of humble pie, love the growth and lessons learned from it.

5. Happy women give others the benefit of the doubt

Let me introduce you to one of my resolutions for 2014.

We’ve probably all been in a conversation with Lucy where you say something negative about Suzy.

“Suzy is avoiding me and won’t return any of my text messages.”
“Can you believe that Suzy said that to me in that tone?”
“Suzy has bailed on me the last 3 times we had plans.”

And then, at the end of your rant, Lucy tries to shed some light on Suzy and says,

“Well maybe her phone wasn’t receiving text messages.”
“I don’t think she meant that the way you took it.”
“I know that she is swamped with her job and 3 kids. She probably feels like she can’t keep up.”

And then you want to punch Lucy right square in the nose.

It’s hard to assume that people really have good intentions when you feel wronged by them, I know. But in the end, the only person who it ends up hurting is YOU.

For one week, one day, or even in one conversation, try to give the women in your life the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. Your positive thinking will turn in to habit and you (and others!) will be happier because of it.

Be the person who spreads happiness WHEREVER they go, not WHENEVER they go.


Friday, January 17, 2014

4 Ways to Stop Caring what Others Think

Most of us like to tell ourselves - and especially others - that we don't care what anyone thinks about us.

Truth is, we do.

All of us are afraid of being judged wrongly by another. This is why there is a difference between getting "Walmart ready" and "Target ready." This fear of wrongful judgement is what motivates us to post only the best pictures and order take out instead of dining in when our children are in grumpy moods. We do all these things while professing not to care how we are perceived by others, or even IF we are perceived by others.

But we do care, because we do it too.

The other day I saw something on social media that made me cringe just a little bit. Apparently, one mother saw another mother on a cold wintry day with a son who had no coat on. Mother #1 then expressed to the online world how disgusting this was, how this other mom was dressed to the nines but didn't seem to care if her son froze to death, how some people should probably not be parents, how even if the child had thrown a fit about wearing a coat who was the adult? Most of the comments on the post were similar, and only a couple offered up the fact that nobody knows what the situation really was and there was probably an explanation.

When I first read this, the only image running through my mind was a mother who needed to run some urgent errands and who's stubborn child wasn't willing to listen to reason. So, maybe she let him learn for himself whether or not he needed a coat. Maybe they were going from car to store straight back to car and she knew he would live.

I'll be the first to admit that I've done something similar - on several occasions. My toddler likes to take his shoes and socks off in the car, and if my hands are already full I'll just throw them in a grocery bag and let him walk the 50 ft. from the car to our front door in bare feet. Sometimes it rained. Sometimes it was at night and the brick pathway was cold, and he did not like it at all. But you know what? After a few times of walking barefoot he has stopped taking off his shoes and socks in the car.
I'll bet, though, if I had neighbors who were ever home, I would've been a lot more conscientious and worried about being labeled an apathetic parent. I would have still made him walk in barefoot, but I would worry. Because I know it happens.

So what can we do? As fellow mothers and parents, what can we do to stop this unfair judgement of each other? And what can we do to stop ourselves from subconsciously fearing it? Here are a few ideas:

1. Try to leave their appearance out of it 
We all make assumptions based on appearance. We all do it - the totally disheveled young mother with the tramp stamp peeking out of her sweatpants. The well-dressed parents that seem oblivious to their child's stained t-shirt and filthy face. There are so many scenarios where it's easy to make quick judgments based on a single glance. But remember: clothes do not make the man. Besides, there's always the chance that your own hair is sticking up in some weird place, or you have spit up or strawberry jam on your sleeve, or a giant spiderman sticker on the back of your thigh.

2. Give the benefit of the doubt
That disheveled young mother could be trying to undo years of mistakes and is attempting to get her life back on track for her kids. That's praiseworthy, right? The filthy faced child could have been given a sucker by the bank teller without his parent's knowledge. The mom that is blatantly ignoring her screaming child has probably been dealing with her all day and has resorted to just trying to get home as fast as she can. You can never know the whole story that motivates others to do the things they do. So, unless they are beating their child right in front of you, it's best to give them a break (their kids rarely do).

3. Empathize
Even if we don't all have kids, we all know a kid. We've all been kids - and if you can make it to adulthood without cringing at some of the things you did as a child, well, I have no words for you. The fact is, almost all of us know the average behavior of the average child. So when you see that young frustrated father dragging his kid on the ground because she refuses to use her legs, just think to yourself, "I remember when [I] [my child] [my grandchild] [my niece/nephew] [my best friend's kid] [that kid on that TV show] went through a similar phase. It was so annoying. Poor guy."

But if, for whatever reason, your soul just aches to cast judgement upon others, try this:

4. Just ignore them
 Think of the big picture - chances are you will never see them again. The way they choose to live their life probably hasn't, doesn't, and won't ever affect the way you choose to live yours. Besides, ignoring them is giving them one less pair of eyes to burn a hole through them - which is what these frustrated parents are undoubtedly feeling - it's really just about the nicest thing you can do for them.

The most sure-fire way to truly stop caring about what others think of you is to stop yourself from being part of the problem. If you judge others, your brain becomes wired to think that they are judging you. Ideally, by putting to practice one or two or all of these ideas, you'll be so focused on others' feelings that you won't have any time to worry about yourself - therefore, you won't have time to care what others think about you. It's sorta simple, really :)