“F” is not for fun! 

Ever have one of those days where you think “Why can’t I just have fun with my kids?!” A simple task turns into an epic power struggle between mother and child – sometimes I catch myself saying  “all I wanted to do was have fun with you!”

I am the mother of two extremely strong willed girls – 12.5 months apart. My daughters’ endearing personality traits will help them be emotionally strong adults someday; but in the meantime “having fun” can be extremely overwhelming, and at times, disastrous.

Us moms scroll through our social media feeds and see pictures of our friends (and sometimes strangers) having perfect fun with their kids. We even say “Aw!” and wisely think to ourself, “I think we will try something different and fun!” like a normal family. After we convince ourselves (and sometimes our significant other) to go for it we ambitiously embark on our quest for fun.

For some moms these ventures go off without a hitch and a fun picture is subsequently posted.

For other moms, that brave idea of fun turns into a hurricane of children saying “no” or “I don’t want to!”. A mixture of toddler talk and preschool personalities seem to more often than not end in epic frustration. “F” is not for fun.

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Bedtime fun. Here’s a picture perfect moment at my house taken by my laughing husband.

The other day I decided to take my daughters for a fun trip to pick out Valentines. “It’s a girls trip! The boys are staying here!” I chanted with a jig. My 3-year-old responded “I don’t want the boys to stay here. I want a boys and girls trip.” Her scowl foreshadowed our evening. By the end of our fun time together I was ready to pull my hair out – and I didn’t even get a fun picture!

I was almost in tears. Why can’t I just have fun with my kids?! 

Our generation habitually posts successful parenting moments. When we see other moms’ shining moments, we subconsciously judge ourselves based upon our own lack of perfection. It’s a vicious cycle us moms put ourselves through.

My husband (an educator) put everything in perspective rather quickly – “F” the fun!”.

Life will be incredibly less stressful when we stop getting conned into having picture perfect moments. This means don’t worry so much about what we as parents want and  consider more about what our kids need. Do we want the kids on a schedule – heck yeah I want quiet time – but sometimes kids need extra time to eat; sometimes kids need extra time to play; and sometimes kids really need extra mommy time. Usually what I want and what my kids need are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While I’m pushing my version of fun, my kids don’t understand and need their version of “fun”.

So instead of thinking “Why can’t I have fun with my kids?!”, let’s shift our perspective during moments of frustration and ask our self “What do my kids need at this moment?”. I’m pretty sure if we go with the flow a little more (I’m not talking about crazy chaos!) and follow queues from our kids life will just happen and fun will follow. Then we can teach our children “F” is in fact for fun.

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Let’s have it all?!

Men cannot have babies – just in case there’s any confusion (my husband promised he’d carry baby #2 and that did not happen).  Women obviously are physically meant to carry children and emotionally equipped to raise them. But somehow during feminism’s evolution, the line between family and ambition became blurred.

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My friend, Brooke, recently gave birth to a little girl. Her and her husband both have college degrees and notable work experiences.  Before the birth of their daughter, Brooke and her husband made the decision for Brooke to stay home after their baby was born.  After an extremely rough delivery and even more difficult recovery, Brooke was still trying to make peace with their decision.  She felt like she needed to work because of her education. During a visit Brooke’s aunt made a comment along the lines of “I just don’t know how people have any value if they aren’t making money?” Good job of putting guilt and stress on a woman who is a new mom trying to find her way through motherhood and hormones! Brooke’s aunt happens to be a big wig at a good sized company and never had kids. Maybe the comment was interpreted out of context, but regardless, what the hell does that mean?! And why do people think they can say whatever they want?! Brooke’s aunt actually doesn’t get an opinion about kids and working – she never lived through it.

Very few mothers are able to stay home in today’s modern world due to financials.  A 2012 Gallup Poll surveyed women to get an idea of how many women are staying home to raise their children (Follow the link if you want all the specifics – Gallup Poll for stay at home mom’s). The numbers are staggering compared to the 1950s.

Women’s rights have evolved immensely in the past century.  Bra’s have been burnt, girls have been beaten, and women have been killed in an effort to gain the same rights as men. But have all these efforts, sacrifices, and breakthroughs resulted in serious unintended consequences?

A woman’s traditional role is wife and mother – the family caregiver.  The traditional female role has made an earth-shattering evolution that has reshaped morals and altered family values.  In this always progressing digital world women are now expected to have it all; get an education; have a full time career; maybe get married; maybe have kids; maintain a perfect physique; have a perfect house; homemade dinner on the table; etc, etc, etc! The list is so lengthy it’s impossible and exhausting to even attempt to complete!

Feminism has given women the right to choose to – participate in sports; achieve a higher education; to excel in the workplace; have children; get married; buy a house; wear what we want. We are no longer just baby factories. Hallelujah!!

However, the evolution of a woman’s role has changed society’s perspective on women who want to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM as many call it).  “I’m just a mom” is not good enough for society, everyone wants more. But woman again, should have the right to proudly choose. A woman can have a college degree, follow a career path, then choose to stay home and raise her children. Being a SAHM, let alone a career woman, is a full time job with no sick days or vacation days. And guess what, we can even choose to go back to work after our children are in school or stay home!

No matter what kind of pressure society, or in most cases, family members put on us – choosing to work or stay home is our choice. Raising children is truly the most valuable thing a woman can do, even if we don’t make a cent in the process. The return on investment is priceless.

The most important thing is to make peace with whatever you or your family decide is best for you and your children. This means – WE CAN HAVE IT ALL!  But be ready, whether you decide to work or stay at home – it’s going to be an exhausting ride!