Real Talk With Real Moms / Chores

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It's so crazy to me that I'm writing a post about Sailor doing "chores" right now when it just feels like a matter of months ago that this child was a blob of an infant who did nothing but nurse, sleep, and poop. How can she already be put to work as an actual helpful member of the family? Well we're definitely on the young end of kids' ages that would make sense to be covering this topic alongside the rest of the Real Talk With Real Moms bloggers but much to my surprise (and delight), Sailor has been starting to do things that could sort of be described as chores, so here we are. But we're definitely very new to this one, so I'm surely going to be looking for insight from my fellow moms who are also posting on this subject today! Be sure to check out their thoughts too:

Hey Mama / Ave Styles / Design for Mankind / The Effortless Chic / Design Addict Mom

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Growing up, my chores were very much a part of my daily routine. I was expected to make my bed, keep my room clean, and help out around the house. On weekends my sister and I had more involved chores like folding laundry, helping with cleaning, and whatever else my parents needed done. Not that we were put to work all weekend, but we'd definitely have a list of a few chores that we did NOT want to do, and then we were able to enjoy ourselves for the rest of the time. Now I see how valuable those rules were to making me a contributing member of the family, and someone who understands as an adult what it takes to run a household.

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Sailor is at an age where she loves to mimic what she sees us doing, even if she doesn't quite understand the purpose of everything. Her new thing just this week is pushing the kitchen chairs up to the sink, and getting up there to do "dishes" which entails trying to drink the soapy water out of whatever cups are in there and splashing everywhere. She'll do it for an hour and LOVES it. We've discovered that if she feels like she's helping out, she's much happier than if she's just being told to play or read her books. So I've started actually asking her to help me out. Picking up the makeup brushes and putting them away. Gathering all her books on the floor and putting them in the basket, etc. Having little receptacles around for her toys and books has been perfect because she will start to clean up on her own as an activity. She's perfectly happy to spend her time taking toys out of a bin only to put them back in. Obviously this is awesome. I try to let her know how much I "appreciate her help" and she's pleased to get the affirmations. She may be too young to understand what it really means to help out but I feel like we are teaching her how to make herself useful and for right now that feels like a win.

If any of you mamas have older kids I would love to hear how you start to incorporate chores as they become old enough to actually get stuff done, and what it means to do chores in your family!

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Dress by Elm Street Textiles (my mom)

Photography by Ashley Burns

Mini Me and Me

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Me and my baby girl. I never thought I'd be this person, wearing matching outfits with my toddler in a field. And now I honestly can't imagine anything better. Her 2nd birthday is right around the corner and I can't believe we've gotten to this places. Sometimes I look at myself and think, "remember when you were scrambling to understand yourself as a mother?" There are days when that still feels like the position I'm in, trying to navigate my conflicting feelings of being so in love yet still frustrated and confused by all that comes with it. But with each passing day, it makes more and more sense, and it becomes more clear that there is no better thing in this world than being her mom.

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Dress / Bag / Sunglasses / (Sailors outfit is from H&M)

Photography by Ashley Burns

Real Talk With Real Moms / Adult Time vs Family Time

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The concept of "adult time vs family time" is one that can leave new parents marveling at how different their current life is from the one they had before. The second you cross over into a life with kids, it becomes painfully obvious that finding time together with your spouse one-on-one is like finding a unicorn. Sure, you can get a babysitter but remember when you didn't have to pay someone or ask for a favor just to be able to go to the movies? When the kids are in their young years (which everyone says go by fast but can also feel like an eternity when it comes to certain things), being able to freely wake up on a Saturday morning after sleeping in til 9 and stroll down to brunch is something that's now only normal on vacation (one where you left the kids at home, of course)... which is a whole unicorn in itself. Yet, more than ever, when you become parents is exactly when it's the most crucial to feel connected and on the same page as your spouse. That's why for us it's been super important to make sure there is both family time AND adult time in each day...

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The mornings are natural family time. We wake up and try to have some quality book/play time while also working together to get everyone fed and ready for the day. We did a whole post about morning routines with Real Talk With Real Moms, which you can read here. The adult time is harder to find. Ian comes home from work around 6:30 or 7, which is in the middle of Sailor's evening routine of dinner, bath, and bed. So he either jumps right in and takes over with her while I try to finish watering the plants outside (sprinkler system problems), clean up, and start dinner, or we switch. If we're lucky, we fit in a family walk. Then we put her down around 8 (well one of us does while the other one finishes making dinner), and only at that point do we get to relax as two adults. But unlike the days when the night was young at 8, we get to bed by 10:30 on most nights so we can be ready for the 6:30 human alarm, and do it all again.

We usually spend these two hours eating dinner, talking about our day, and continuing with a show binge (right now it's The Handmaids Tale - OMG, have you watched?). So, we ALWAYS eat dinner as adults after she goes to bed. This is partly logistical, but also because we see dinner as a sacred grown-up ceremony of sorts (VERY poorly chosen word, if you're watching the aforementioned show). This time to just sit and relax together is a lot shorter than it used to be, but that makes it count even more. What's hard is when it doesn't really work out. Sometimes we're exhausted, making dinner doesn't even get started til after 8pm, and I'm still needing to get some work time in before the day is over. Those are the days where our adult time is eaten up by other things, and the whole day feels out of balance.

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Right now my current mom challenge is to be extra efficient with my time during the day, to make SURE that our adult time is solid. That means getting Sailor's ducks in a row for the evening needs to start around 5:30: dinner, plants, bath, and our dinner started all before Ian gets home. It can be a tall order when also trying to get my work stuff done for the day and everything else going on, but we notice a HUGE difference in how balanced the day feels when these things happen. It just makes the evenings less stressful. Making it a priority and carving out the time makes us better parents, and recharges us for the next day. The next parent challenge: schedule more adult vacays. Even if it's just a weekend somewhere an hour away, that time together just us every once in awhile is non-negotiable!

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And what about adult time with friends? I'm a big believer in double date nights, Bachelorette night with the girls, and lunch dates sans kid. They may not happen quite as often as we'd like, but I try to take as many opportunities as I can. I genuinely feel that it's not possible to give your friends the attention they deserve if you bring your kids, unless they also have kids that can play with yours. After she was about 7 months old, I stopped bringing Sailor to lunch dates because I know that it would turn into the Sailor show whether the adults like it or not. She's at an age where she is all consuming (frankly just not a great lunch date). So I wait for the days I have someone to watch Sailor to set up friend time. I know my friends love Sailor, but trying to catch up over lunch doesn't really work too well with a toddler in tow. If my friends want to hang with Sailor too, I'll have them come over to play with her on a day where we can also leave some time for the adults to chat during nap or after her bedtime. I find it incredibly frustrating to constantly be dividing my attention or trying to talk over a child's yelling, so even if the friend doesn't mind, I do mind, and I prefer to be present for one thing at a time.

So what's your philosophy on kid time vs. adult time? I'd love to know how other families balance their time! I'm excited to read how the other moms do it too:

A Daily Something / Design For Mankind / The Effortless Chic / The Refined Woman