Lessons I’ve Learned Over The Last Six Years

by HEAB on February 5, 2017

This past November, Summer turned six, and Hannah turned three.  Charlie and Katie are four and a half.  Can you even believe it?!?

We celebrated Summer and Hannah’s birthdays with a pirate party…

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So, yeah, my four babies have morphed into four little people overnight, and I wanted to share several important lessons learned along the way…

STAINS – We have encountered some pretty gnarly stains since becoming parents, and I have quite the arsenal of stain treatments ready to go at all hours in our laundry room cabinet. For mud and dirt, I try and attack the stain as soon as I can.  I find that if you can get to it before the stain sets in, you’ll have a much easier time getting rid of it.  First, I’ll rinse off any excess mud or dirt using the kitchen sink sprayer, and if we’re completely covered in mud, I hose off the clothes in the driveway.  Then I’ll either wash immediately or soak in a bucket of water + OxiClean and launder as usual.  For tough grass and dirt spots, I’ll rub in OxiClean gel or Dawn dishwashing liquid soap.  For blood (we get a lot of bloody noses around here), my #1 stain fighter is ice.  Cover the stain in ice as soon as you can, and just leave it.  The ice will get out the majority of blood.  I then treat with OxiClean gel and wash as usual.  If the stain doesn’t come out after the first wash, do not dry it.  Treat again with OxiClean gel and set out in the sun for a few hours.  The sun works wonders when it comes to stains and is my favorite “bleach”.  For general day-to-day dirt and food stains, I keep two 5 gallon plastic buckets of water + OxiClean powder in our master bath tub and throw extra-dirty clothes in there until I can launder them.  I love using this method to get out spots in our mattresses (potty training – oh man).  The spot itself may not be completely gone, but it definitely takes care of any odors. Oh, and the ice trick works great for spot cleaning furniture too.  If I notice a dirty spot on our furniture, I’ll rub it away with an ice cube and then allow the spot to dry.  Easy peasy.

Stomach Bug – When you hear this phrase, STAY FAR AWAY.  That is all.

Mondays – keep them open if you can.  Several friends have shared this tip with me as well as a few blogs that I read.  Monday is a great day for catching up after the weekend.  I usually have a list of phone calls to make and/or random errands to run, etc., and I find that when I make plans for Monday morning, I often feel behind before the week has even started.  Hannah is not yet in school, and so if I get through my list, we try to head to story time at the library or to a playground, but sometimes, Mom just needs to get the boring stuff done.

Fresh Air – Get some every.single.day.  Even if it’s just for ten minutes, go outside.  When the weather is bad, and we stay inside all day, my mood is usually awful by the end of the day.  Nature does a body good – something I have to remind myself of often.  Take a walk, sit on your front porch, go jump in a puddle or climb a tree.  Just get out there.

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Stay in Touch – Send letters and notes.  To me, there is nothing like receiving a letter or card in the mail, and I want our kids to enjoy this experience as well.  So, we often send short notes or thank you cards to our friends and loved ones.  It’s a fun activity for the family to do together.  You don’t even have to buy stationary.  Just make cards out of school or home art projects…

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Bangs – Never cut yourself some new fringe after a rough day. Take it from me, that is a very bad idea.

Skip Starbucks – Give me a grande almond milk latte with two pumps of sugar-free vanilla, and I am a happy camper, BUT, those coffee shop trips can really add up…to a not so pleasant conversation when it’s time to go over the monthly budget.  Instead, get yourself one of these and start making your own version at home.  Warm 1.5 cups of almond milk on the stove.  Froth until foamy and then add about .5 cups of your partner’s leftover brew, and five to seven drops of vanilla stevia drops or sweetener of choice.  Froth again and voilà!  It’s delicious, especially with a TBSP of raw cacao powder and a dash of cinnamon.

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Potty Training – All I got: be patient and be prepared to clean up pee, anywhere from a few days to a few years.  It’s different with every child, and I still don’t know what the best method is.

Crib to big kid bed – Keep them in the crib as long as humanly possible. If they’re happy and not attempting to climb out, why mess with a good thing? All of our babies were good sleepers until we transitioned them out of their cribs, and I don’t think we’ve slept through the night in about three years now.

Toys – We’ve cycled through a lot of toys, and they usually end up sitting unused, taking up space in the playroom.  Our kids love building forts with pillows and blankets, playing outside (nothing better than sticks and dirt), and coloring.  We leave paper and markers + crayons within reach at all times, and the kids are able to make art whenever they want.  The one toy the kids love, and that I wished we owned more of are these.  They are not cheap, but the kids use them to build the most amazing structures, and if we only had one toy, it would definitely be Magna-Tiles.  Oh, and we also have a trampoline, which gets used pretty much daily.  Love our trampoline.

Memories – Take more photos of your kids with their grandparents.  I treasure every picture I have of my mom with our children, and I always wish I’d taken more.

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Thanks again for taking this one, Emily.  I love it so much.

Stuff – Clutter has always bothered me, but my aversion to stuff was truly confirmed once we had kids.  Big messes give me anxiety…okay, small messes do as well.  I wish this wasn’t the case and that I could relax a bit more when it comes to an untidy room, but I can’t.  My mom raised me to really appreciate a clean house, and it’s just the way I am.  So, our solution is to try and keep the toys all upstairs in the playroom and a few in the kids’ rooms as well.  The downstairs is mostly a toy-free zone, and we keep our decor fairly minimal.  It’s not just for me – Chris has always been anti-stuff, and the kids tend to get overwhelmed with messes just as much as we do.  They seem to do a lot better with just a few choices of things to play with rather than a whole room filled with toys.  Try it.  Less stuff will change your life, or at least allow for a little more breathing room.

Clean-up time – And speaking of stuff, one important lesson I’ve learned over the last few years is that kids can clean up their messes, but really young ones tend to get overwhelmed.  Yes, they can turn a room upside down in less than five minutes, but tell a two-year old to clean up, and it will often end in tears and frustration.  Summer, our six year old will clean up the entire playroom by herself, putting everything back in its proper place, and Charlie and Katie are pretty good about this as well.  However, Hannah still needs help, and the best way for her to learn is for an adult to do it with her.  Kids will model their parents’ and teachers’ behaviors, and if you help them sort and put away, they will gladly do it with you, especially if you sing a fun song while you do it: “Now it’s time to tidy-up, tidy-up, tidy-up…”

Okay, this post has gotten way too long.  That’s all for now.  Parenting sure is wonderful, yet humbling at the same time, no?  And I don’t even have teenagers yet.  😉

{ 24 comments }

Ameena February 20, 2017 at 8:23 pm

I am a huge fan of sending and receiving things in the mail. I especially loved the handmade card you sent me.

Potty training was a nightmare I can’t ever, ever repeat.

Stuff? I hate stuff. I get rid of things on a daily basis. The fact that we have such a small place helps.

Memories…love this picture. Love it. You look just like your mom and you are all beautiful.

HEAB February 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Thanks Ameena – one of my favorite photos of my mom and me.

Potty training – so happy to be done (well for the most part anyway!)

And I believe it was Hannah who made your card – it was an art project using food coloring and shaving cream. Glad you liked it! 🙂

Health Bee February 10, 2017 at 10:42 pm

It’s great to see you posting again, Heather!

So glad to hear that you’re doing well and thanks for the great tips!

HEAB February 13, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Thanks Health Bee. Good to be back when I can be! 🙂

HJ February 6, 2017 at 3:47 pm

It’s great to see you posting again! All the best of health and happiness with your little ones!

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Thank you HJ. Good to be back every once in a while. 🙂

K February 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

So excited to see a new post from you! Great advice!

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Thanks K. Good to be posting again. 🙂

Marcia February 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Ahh. So much wisdom here.

We are recovering from the tummy bug here too – started with the 10 year old, onto the 4.5 year old, then daddy. I’m sleeping on the couch and bleaching the house daily.

Stuff and clutter! The bane of my existence. I have a problem getting people to toss stuff. My husband is great at it but ONLY when he’s in the mood. So I just wait until he’s in the mood and let him go! School. So much stuff from school.

I do love the painting and art work you are doing!

Ah Mondays. I’m always back at work on Mondays and it’s a hard transition. Maybe not this Monday. Glad to be free of barfing.

I just try to roll with it. We’ve had sickness of varying kinds in the house for 3 straight weeks. I’m pretty tense right now – PMS, plus a lot of lost work, plus caring for sick people for 3+ weeks, plus sleeping on the couch for 3 weeks (I’m the only one who hasn’t gotten sick…yet). It’s hard to just roll with it sometimes but I do try!

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Hey Marcia,
Over three weeks? Gosh, that’s awful. I’m so sorry! My friend was just lamenting about the amount of papers her kindergartner brings home every day. Our kids aren’t in school full-time yet, and so we haven’t been hit with that yet. Hoping I can roll with it and not get too overwhelmed. You try and do the same. Sending healing healthy vibes your way!!

Susannah February 6, 2017 at 9:38 am

These are all great tips, even for those of us without children! So glad to see everyone growing up happy and healthy. You have a beautiful family 🙂

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Hi Susannah,
Thank you and how are you??? I lost touch with so many people when I deleted my Facebook account. Hope all is well.

Susannah February 7, 2017 at 10:43 am

Doing very well! Still in 12South and recently engaged! YAY!

HEAB February 7, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Congrats!!!! 🙂

Scott in Ohio February 6, 2017 at 7:53 am

Always great to see a HEAB post in my inbox. 🙂 How is Miss Summer 6 years old?
Fantastic picture of the kiddos in the snow!

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Thanks Scott. No idea myself. It’s all going by way too fast. Hope all is well with you guys. 🙂

Rachel February 5, 2017 at 11:27 pm

This is so wonderful and refreshing to read. If you ever have any advice on feeding little ones, I would be so grateful. I have an extremely picky toddler and I feel such dread at mealntimes. I hope we get on hear more from you! I miss your posts dearly!

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Hi Rachel,
thank you, and I wish I knew the secret to getting picky kids to eat! I do have a few tips and will try and do a post soon, but it’s something we struggle with at our house too. Trust me, I feel your pain.

Liz S. February 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Ahh, you’re posting! Love it! Thank you for sharing these life lessons.

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 5:48 pm

liz,
Hope you’re doing well friend!!!

Natalie February 5, 2017 at 9:11 pm

I love this!! I love the picture too. All all of your pictures!! And the part about why mess with a good thing? I think our youngest will be in her crib until college. 🙂
xo

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Haha, I feel ya. We had to switch around rooms, and Hannah is now sharing a room with Katie. There was already a big girl bed in there, and so of course Hannah wanted to sleep in it…if you could have seen what I walked into at 1 AM the night she realized she could get in and out of bed. Wow. Just wow.

Pat February 5, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Love your musings…beautiful picture of you with your mom and daughter! Carbona Stain Devil…works amazingly on stains. Come in small, yellow plastic bottles; each one for specific stain type. The red wine one is scary it’s that good. My holiday table cloth looks brand new after I use that one.

HEAB February 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Hi Pat, Thank you and Carbona Stain Devil, huh? Will definitely be on the lookout for that. Sounds like something I need to add to my laundry room arsenal. 🙂

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