Overstuffed Overstuffed

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

How Much Sleep Does Your Family Really Need?

If you and your kids are cranky, you may not be getting enough sleep. Find out the sleep recommendations for each age group. #overstuffedlife
The other morning Sophia was having an emotional meltdown before school. In fact, I could probably write that sentence on any given day because on most mornings Sophia has an emotional meltdown before school. Usually it's because she is feeling rushed (the bus comes awfully early), and she doesn't like The Maestro and me nagging at her to get her before school tasks done.

On the particular morning I am thinking of, she didn't want to brush her teeth. She was in full blown meltdown mode—if you have a 4th grade daughter, perhaps you are familiar with it—which meant she wasn't listening, she wasn't being reasonable, and she was crying. A lot.

I couldn't take it anymore and I snapped. I yelled at her to get herself into the bathroom and brush her teeth and to stop throwing a fit. Needless to say, my yelling did nothing to help the situation—all I did was exacerbate it.

Funny enough, this post is not about how to deal with tantruming children without melting down yourself.

This post is about how to prevent the tantrums in the first place.

And when I say tantrums, I mean tantrums of both the child and adult variety.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Why Family Traditions are Important {and a list of our favorites}

Our children look forward to family traditions with great anticipation and excitement. Why they are important and how you can create new ones. #overstuffedlife

I got home from work today absolutely exhausted. While I'm having more and more good days, there are still plenty of bad ones, and today was one of the bad ones. As soon as I got home, I went straight to bed, hoping to magically find some energy for mothering my children once they hopped off the bus.

Sophia was the first to arrive home and I was dead asleep. She woke me up with her usual boisterousness and told me she wanted to surprise everyone else and get the house all decorated for Halloween before they came home. I couldn't tell her no, but I am pretty sure she had no idea how big a job that actually was.

Before I had Lyme disease, I would have the house decked out in fall decor on the first day of school so that the girls could come home to it. I didn't even try to bring up the bin this year, and I realized today that Sophia had been waiting for that. Normally, I would be all up and running for Halloween as soon as the calendar changed to October. This year I was thinking I might put up a couple things and leave the other three bins downstairs and worry about it next year.

But Sophia wasn't having any of that. She dragged all three bins up all by herself and told me she would just start without me and I could come help when I was feeling okay. I let her work for about 20 minutes, and then I got up to see what she had done and help her finish the rest.

We had a great time together finishing up the Halloween decorating, and I'm so glad that she made me do it.

Family traditions are important.

I have found it somewhat amusing how quickly my girls deem something a "tradition." I'll try some cute idea I find online and then when I don't do it the next year they are asking what happened to that one tradition? Needless to say, I've learned to be a little more careful about what cute Pinterest ideas I try, especially around the holidays.

But I have also learned why families need traditions.

Monday, October 05, 2015

How to Date Your Husband When You Don't Have Time to Date

Are you and your spouse having difficulty finding time to connect? How to date your husband when you don't have time to date. #overstuffedlife

A few years ago The Maestro and I felt more like roommates than we did husband and wife. He was going through a particularly stressful time at work and I was at the height of my busy-ness working two jobs, serving on two boards, and trying to keep my head above water with the kids and the house. We barely saw each other, and when we did see each other our conversations were more logistical than anything.

It was a hard time. We argued more than we ever have and I think we both felt really lonely in our trials. We weren't really there for each other the way spouses should be. We were just two people sharing the same house and bank account and that was about it.

Our 15th wedding anniversary and our 40th birthdays were coming up, so we decided to plan a trip to New York City together—both to celebrate and to remember why we were married in the first place.

We came home from that trip completely renewed as a married couple. We remembered how much we love spending time together, and we had so much fun spending ten whole days of time together. Time that was just about us, completely uninterrupted by work schedules, kids, board meetings, or exhaustion. (Except, of course, the wonderful kind of exhaustion you experience after running around NYC all day every day.)

We also came home determined to never let that kind of lapse in our own relationship happen again. We have put dating each other at the top of our priority list, and are committed to doing it.

Except, we still don't have time to date.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The One Secret to Finding a Chore System That Really Works

I've tried 30 different chore systems, and they all eventually fail. So does a chore system exist that actually works? I finally figured out the secret! #overstuffedlife

Ever since Bria was old enough to do a few small chores I have been looking for the perfect chore system. We started with pictures of the jobs she had to do, and that worked great for a while. But then it stopped working, so we tried a sticker chart along with the pictures. She was newly motivated and that worked well for a while, too.

Until it didn't.

So, I came up with something else, and well...you know what happened next.

For the past twelve years or so the pattern has continued, and I was frustrated! Why couldn't I just find a chore system that worked forever? Why was it so difficult?

Why was every single chore system I found ultimately a failure?

They always started out the same. The kids would be so excited by the stickers or whatever gimmick I had chosen this time. They were even more excited by the rewards system. They would be wonderful little workers for several months, and I would start to get excited and think that this was finally it. I'd finally found the perfect chore system.

And then, gradually the kids stopped doing their chores consistently. They stopped caring about the rewards. I started becoming the nagging, crazy mommy that I hate being, just to get them to make their beds every morning.

Thus marked the failure of yet another cute and "pinteresting" chore system.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

4 Reasons to Say Yes to Your Kids More Often

Want happier kids? Say yes to them more often. If you do it right, you won't end up with spoiled and entitled kids, instead you'll end up with responsible and trustworthy kids. #overstuffedlife
"Mom! Can I invite Elizabeth over?"

"Mom! Can I make myself a snack?"

"Mom! Can I watch a movie on Netflix?"

"Mom! Can you please buy me new shoes?"

"Mom! Can I use your markers to do an art project?"

"Mom! Can I ride my bike outside?"

I am bombarded with hundreds of requests from my children every day. Frankly, they are exhausting. My knee-jerk reaction is often to say no because I don't want to have to deal with the aftermath.

If Sophia has a friend over, I know that they will play dolls and create an elaborate doll world and getting them to clean it up when they are done will be difficult if not impossible. It's so much easier to just not have a friend over in the first place.

If the kids make themselves a snack, they will also make a mess in the kitchen. Same with using my markers for an art project, only the mess will be all over my office, and they will not put the markers back into the organized and color-coded order I prefer.

I don't have money budgeted for new shoes, I worry about them riding their bikes outside, I don't like them to spend too much time in front of the TV.

And the list of reasons for saying "no" goes on and on and on.

But should I be saying no to my children all the time?


Friday, October 02, 2015

Make Your Home Happier With a Family Calendar

4 strategies for using your family calendar effectively to keep the entire household's schedules synced. #overstuffedlife
My kids are super busy. It is not uncommon for all three of them to have to be somewhere completely different at the exact same time—often when The Maestro and I are not even available to get them there. Despite my efforts to make the schedule more sane, I simply don't have control over the whole world.

Why don't I have control over the whole world?

Suffice it to say, I spend a lot of time figuring out how to get my kids to and from their various activities and even more time in the car driving them back and forth. I am essentially a taxi driver, though my children have yet to tip me a single penny.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

31 Days to a Happier Home

I've been thinking an awful lot lately about how I can make my home happier. Not that it's necessarily unhappy, it's just that it could be happier. Little things like idleness (ahem, electronics), snapping at each other, disobedience, and not enough time spent together as a family make us all a little grumpy.

And you know what they say:

"If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

They also say:

"Happy wife, happy life!"

And, in all seriousness, I believe that the most important thing that they say is:

"The mother sets the tone of the home."

I've been thinking a lot lately about the fact that it's up to me to make sure my home is happier. I mean, I can easily blame the kids or my husband or the clutter or my lack of time or PMS or the kids' busy schedules or a million other things. But when it comes right down to it, if I want it all to change, the change begins with me. The mom.

Last year, I did my first 31 day series on the blog (31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace) and it changed my life. I have a new appreciation for the ways that clutter makes us unhappy. I also know that getting rid of clutter is one of the more freeing things a person can do. The time and energy spent managing all of our stuff is simply not worth it. Before school started, I finally got around to doing the biggest decluttering job I had on the list—one I wasn't able to get to last October. You guys, I finally decluttered my craft and scrapbooking supplies. It was hard, but it felt so good! And my office has actually, finally, stayed clean. I am more productive in here now. That alone is worth the loss of beloved patterned paper and embellishments.

So, I am going to do another 31 day series this month. This time I am going to study in depth the ways that I can make my home be happier. Each day I will focus on something that I as the mother can do to up the happiness quotient over here. I will link each day's thoughts and experiences on this page.

I hope that you'll follow along and join me in the challenge to make your home a little bit happier, too! By the end of the month I want you (and me!) to be able to say that you have a happier home, happier kids, a happier husband, and a happier YOU!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday Photo and a Spooktastic September!

This past weekend we took a road trip down to Ann Arbor to see our alma mater (BYU) play the University of Michigan. While the game was disappointing—okay, it was more than disappointing—we had so much fun being with family in that stadium and watching good football. Even though it wasn't our team that was actually playing the good football! My dad and two of my brothers came out to watch, too, so that made it even better.

Our Sunday was spent driving the ten hours back home to the UP. We stopped to eat in Mackinaw City and walked around the bridge park for a while. So beautiful. So that's my September Sunday photo of the girls.

In other news this week, I made a Halloween wreath!

The other day I sat in front of the TV and made my very first Halloween decoration of the year. I love making tulle wreaths for Halloween, so that is what I made and I LOVE how it turned out!

If you want to actually see what I made with all of the above supplies, you'll have to head over to visit my friend Heidi's blog at One Creative Mommy, because I'm posting over there for her Spooktastic September celebration. If you haven't read Heidi's blog before, I'm pretty sure you'll love it. She's a bit of a kindred blogger: She has three daughters, she is a gluten-free blogger, and she posts about many of the same topics and crafty things that I do. I get a lot of inspiration from her, and I know you will, too.

So head over to see my fun Halloween wreath and the rest of her Spooktastic ideas right now!