Yes I have 4 kids and yes my house is clean!

Yes I have 4 kids and yes my house is clean!

I’m not superwoman. I’m not a miracle worker. I’m just a mom who likes a clean home… and likes the value it brings in raising our kids!

I’m not going to lie.. there are days and times when it’s NOT the neatest. Muddy footprints. Dog hair. Spilled milk. Pencil marks on the wall. You name it.. our kids have probably done it.

So when I say I’m a mom who likes a clean home… I do… but I work my butt off cleaning up after everyone on a daily basis. (And have come up with a whole bunch of life hacks along the way!)

Here’s how I do it. I’m giving you all the secrets!

1. Make the kids help. (And hubby too!)

One day when our kids are married their spouses are going to thank me for training them so well! The truth is I can’t maintain this house all on my own! It’s a team effort. Unloading and loading and washing dishes are a daily chore for our kiddos. Laundry? Uh yea they do their own! And from time to time they vacuum and sweep for me!

2. Set expectations in your household.

All humans who live in my home know how I like my house. They know if they track muddy prints in I’m not going to be happy. They also know if I walk by their room and see dirty clothes all over the floor, I’m definitely going to stop and say something about it. They know better than to leave dirty dishes on the table. Once you set these expectations and don’t let them get away with failing to uphold them, life will be a whole lot easier. Think about how much of this you don’t have to worry about because they will just do it… without you having to ask!

3. Do something each day.

I was getting overwhelmed on the weekends trying to do everything in one day or sometimes just a few hours. It’s so hard when your weekdays are busy with work and after school activities. I was waiting to do it all on the weekends which most working mamas probably do! For me, it’s much easier to break my household chores up and do a little bit every day! Find things that will help you accomplish this such as a Swiffer Wet Jet or by keeping your favorite multipurpose cleaner out in an easy to grab spot. My biggest challenge is keeping my floors clean. I chose that to be my daily priority. The Swiffer has made keeping the dog hair to a minimum and saves me a lot of time! It’s a quick and easy way to go over the floors in the evening either with the wet pads or dry pads. Pick something that’s feasible to do every day and commit to it!

4. Have a take-your-shoes-off at the door rule!

Hands down the easiest way to maintain clean floors is by making sure no one wears shoes in the house. Our home is definitely a no shoes zone! If you think about everywhere your shoes have been… public restrooms, mud puddles, stepping in dog poop… then you would jump on the opportunity to enforce this rule!

5. Declutter often.

Don’t let things pile up! Dedicate a weekend every few months to go through kids’ rooms and discard broken items or trash and donate toys and clothes that are no longer wanted! Do the same thing with the other closets such as the coat closet, linen closet, and YOUR closet! Recognize “clutter hot spots” in your house and rearrange or change things up to force you not to leave “stuff” laying there. For us, the kitchen bar always gets piled with random “stuff,” including mail, wallets, can coozies, pens, and the list goes on. I put a cute wire tray there with a basket in it for mail and a lamp beside it to deter my peeps from piling stuff up on an empty counter. Trust me it works!

Being neat and clean isn’t just me being seriously OCD! It’s teaching our kids how to be independent and responsible. It’s also teaching them how to give things up, because having an abundance of material items isn’t necessary to be happy. It teaches them compassion when they choose which of their old toys to donate to Goodwill. It teaches them teamwork. Have you ever seen THREE kids unload the dishwasher at one time? Our kids have it down to a science! It allows them to contribute to running our home. Acceptance. We aren’t just the mean ol’ parents fussing at them to do stuff. We value their hard work! They aren’t just spoiled rotten and lazy… which don’t get me wrong sometimes they are! But they are being taught to work hard for rewards. They are being taught that we work for what we have and that things don’t always come easy to us in life. We are teaching them that life is full of “I wants” but first we have to do the “I musts.”

I’ve read blogs where mamas believe in spending less time worrying about cleaning. That the dishes can wait because they are only going to be little once. And those mamas are completely right. It’s NOT always all about keeping things neat and tidy. There are times we say “screw it,” let’s enjoy staying outside a little later than normal because it’s a nice evening. Oh, we definitely do that too! But keeping a clean home is more than that. Our time with them as kids is going to go by so fast. And we will always, always make time to enjoy them. I’m also looking at the big picture. I’m thinking about teaching them these values. I’m thinking about what they will be like when they are raising their own families.

I am proud of how we are raising our big family. So yes, my house is clean and neat… even with four kids living here!

Xoxo,

MK

Pregnant during the pandemic

Pregnant during the pandemic

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is aware of the worldwide pandemic that is the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The media surrounding this virus has provoked fear, panic, and skepticism across our country. Schools are closed, events are cancelled, sports seasons are halted, and grocery stores have cut back their open hours. We have been encouraged to stay at home, refrain from going to the park or have play dates with friends. It seems the internet and news programs have forgotten about much else besides this virus. The average healthy person may or may not be worried about catching the virus, but what if you’re pregnant?

The CDC tells us that because COVID-19 is a new disease, we do not know yet if a pregnant woman has a greater chance of contracting the virus nor do we know how the virus impacts pregnancy or whether it can be passed on to the unborn baby. The CDC website states that there have only been very few cases in pregnant women and that much is still unclear. Read more here – (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fpregnancy-faq.html)

In a way the data is positive in the fact that the numbers of pregnant women who have had the Coronavirus are very low. There have only been a small number of complications with pregnancies in women who have had Coronavirus and those outcomes cannot be solely blamed on the virus itself, according to the CDC. Overall, pregnant women should still be cautious and stay away from anyone who is sick, just as they would treat the flu or strep throat, or the stomach bug.

Does this information take my fears away? Absolutely not. I was anxious and nervous about birthing a healthy baby before I even had knowledge about what this virus was and way before the virus came to America.

Does this information increase my fear at 8 months pregnant? Absolutely. The fact that there is so much unknown is scary. However, what’s more scary to me is how people are reacting to all of this. It’s a pandemic of panic.

My biggest fear is that I would have the virus and have to be separated from my baby after delivery. (This happened in England!) Although I would never want to get my newborn sick, I am more concerned that because of the hype surrounding this virus and the precautions that have been put in place by hospitals to protect us due to the hysteria, that those special first few minutes, hours, and days with my newborn could be compromised if I were to test positive for the virus. What if this virus could affect me simply as a bad cold and not harm my baby at all? I get it. So much is unknown and we can’t take any chances. Can you imagine not being able to immediately bond with your baby?

I am not trying to downplay this serious virus by any means and these precautions may be necessary and in our best interests… But I can’t help but be prematurely disappointed in how this may affect our delivery. I have been looking forward to spending those first few days with our baby in our little hospital room bubble since the day we found out we were pregnant. I have been looking forward to seeing our other children’s faces as they walk in our room to see the new baby for the first time. Granted, I’ll still get to see their reaction, even if it’s not until we get home since our hospital has now implemented new visitation rules stating no children may visit a patient. And we will still be in a little hospital bubble at some point, but so much is unknown and out of our control because of the craziness that has been provoked recently that it does cause us to be anxious and nervous about what will happen when our baby decides to make his or her entrance into this world.

I will heed all precautions and avoid people and public places and the Lord knows I’ve been washing my hands like crazy. I will sadly stay away from Target. (Internally crying) I will continue to be the germaphobe that I have always been when it comes to trying to avoid any kind of sickness. But the only way to get through this with a peaceful mind is to have faith in God. This is all out of our control and there’s nothing I can do about the hospital policies or when the baby decides to come. There’s nothing I can do about the way the entire world is going ballistic. I can only have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s. All. I. Can. Do.

When the fear sets in, I have to remind myself that we have overcome SO MUCH to get this far… surgery to remove my IUD, over a year of trying to get pregnant, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, and everything in between… After many negative pregnancy tests… after we had stopped “trying,” and those two little pink lines appeared out of the blue… We have made it through every ultrasound and every prenatal appointment with flying colors. We have spent 9 months worrying and hoping and preparing for… now.

The world can’t hurt this joy.

I will do everything in my power to protect this baby, as I would do if there wasn’t a pandemic outside my front door. All that’s left for us to do is keep the faith and trust in God, praying that this too shall pass.

Stay healthy my preggo friends!

Xoxo,

MK

Ways to spend your two week quarantine!

Ways to spend your two week quarantine!

Is it ironic that yesterday I wrote a post about how to pack lunchboxes and today I’m writing about how to spend two weeks at home with your children?! Yesterday, I never would have thought when I was packaging food up for next week’s lunches that I would be sitting here today thinking about spending the next two weeks at home with our kids.

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken over our lives. It’s all we see and hear about. Now our Virginia schools are closed for two weeks. Our Rec baseball and softball seasons have been put on hold. So what will you do if you’re going to be home for two weeks with the fam?

Here are some ideas to make this a positive experience!

Put down your phone and read! Grab that book you’ve been trying to make time for. Read to your kiddos! You won’t have to rush to get them home, fed, and in bed so take a few extra minutes to read them a book. They will love you for it!

Watch movies instead of the news. Rent a movie, check out Disney+ or log into your Netflix account. We know the world is going crazy.. distract yourself from the chaos by watching some good ol’ family flicks instead.

Start a project. Use the resources in your home that you already have and get creative. Spray paint that old chair. Paint your front door. Rearrange your closet. Declutter toys and go through clothes. Take that project you haven’t had time to do and dig in! What better time that two weeks at home?

Get outside. It may not be a good idea to travel or leave your home but you’re safe in your own yard! Go outside and play. Challenge your kids to a game of tag or have them play kickball. Swing. Take a walk. Get those flower beds ready for spring and pull those weeds! Make the kids pull weeds! Or just sit outside and read a book! At least we are having nice weather in VA!

Deep clean your house. Coronavirus brings a new meaning to spring cleaning! Get down and clean those baseboards! Clean the showers, flip your mattress, clean your ceiling fans, or wash windows! Do some of that cleaning that you often put off for another day. It will also mentally make you feel better about the sickness that is constantly being discussed in the media. A clean home always makes me feel more comfortable!

Cook dinner and actually sit down with your kids to eat it. How many days out of the week do we actually cook dinner and sit down as a family to eat? For us it’s never. Honestly. I think it’s been since Thanksgiving. Have your kids help cook or bake something! Take the extra time you have to prepare a dinner. Sit down with your kids and enjoy the meal!

Get out those board games! Has it been a hot minute since you played Clue??? How about Monopoly? Everyone has a board game hiding somewhere. Engage your kids and encourage them to put the electronics down and play the game!

Rest. It will probably do your crazy, busy, mom bod some good to get some rest. Binge watch your favorite show. Take a nap while your littles nap. Sleep in if you are as lucky as me and have sleep trained your kids!

We are constantly complaining about not having enough time or being super tired with the every day stresses of life. How many times have you said “Oh I didn’t have time.” Look at the silver lining! You will never regret spending time with your family. The world can be scary. Coronavirus or not, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Let’s try not to live in fear, but to look at every day as a blessing and take advantage of it. Take care of yourself and your family and enjoy them while you’re doing it!

Stay home and stay healthy!

Xoxo,

MK

Learning to let them go

The teenage years. Oh, honey we’re just starting. The boyfriends. The girlfriends. The hormones. The attitudes. The DRAMA. And we have double the trouble with TWO teens in our house!

They can be absolutely dreadful. They are awful to get up in the mornings. They are careless at times. They are quick to give a sassy answer. They leave clothes on the floor. They forget everything.

But through all of that I see them finding themselves. I see them trying too hard. I see them taking chances and being afraid. I see them creating their own style. I see them trying to fit in. I see them being creative. I see them being independent. I see them. I truly see a glimpse of who they will become.

I see what they want me to see. But I also see what a mama sees. Our babies are growing up and learning to fly. How in the world do we let them go?

In a recent conversation with a good friend of mine, we were sharing about our kids and she sang these lyrics to an ABBA song from the movie Mamma Mia!…

“Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing”

Every time we get to a point as mamas where we think we have a routine and we know what makes our kids happy, sad, or mad… they change in the blink of an eye. And it’s that fast. And we’re just trying to keep up.

The scariest part is not knowing what’s going on in their crazy little minds. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a baby girl who told me everything and now that baby girl is taller, prettier, and quieter. It can feel so incredibly lonely when you realize they have a mind of their own and don’t need you as often.

These teenagers… they want what they want. They want to do what they want to do. And as much as I feel like they’re slipping out of our control more and more with each passing day, I know that I have to let it happen. No matter how much it scares me. No matter how much I will worry about them. No matter how much we preach. No matter how much I pray they will make good decisions.

They will be okay.

They will be okay because we have been raising them in a good home from the start. We have instilled values in them and tried to teach them respect. We are hard on them about everything but we make sure they know we love them too. We have made them do their own laundry and get along with their siblings. They’ve learned how to do yard work and keep up with their responsibilities like washing dishes. We’ve made them apologize and learn how to talk to people. We’ve taught them to empathize with each other. We’ve taught them to care for one another. We’ve shown them what real love looks like.

Now all we can do is love them. Love them and let them make mistakes. Pick them back up when they fall. Listen to them when they allow us to. Be there when they need us.

What they don’t know is that in the process of them finding their own way and figuring out who they are, they are still showing me who I am, too.

Just like them, I’m afraid but also taking chances. I’m trying to find my way in this thing called motherhood. I’m going to forget everything too, and I’ll probably, definitely be dreadful at times.

They will be okay. I will be okay. We will spend these days together just like we’ve always done… but when it’s time for them to fly, we’ll let them go.

Xoxo,

MK

Miscarriage Grief Doesn’t Just Go Away

Miscarriage Grief Doesn’t Just Go Away

It’s been one whole year since we sat in that ultrasound room waiting to see a little bean and hear a strong heartbeat. After just recovering from a chemical pregnancy just a month before, I truly was not expecting to hear the words, “I’m so sorry. There is no heartbeat.” I don’t think anything can prepare you for how you feel in that moment. Sadness, shock, guilt, confusion. You can’t even comprehend the next steps, much less process all of your feelings.

You had a baby. You were pregnant. Then you weren’t. It was over that quick. And your life was forever changed.

What you once knew about being pregnant is gone. All of those butterflies, and excited feelings, the immediate planning, and eagerness to share… becomes nonexistent. Because from now on, you have lost a child. Your baby died. From the moment they told you, your experience with pregnancy has completely changed. In the days ahead, doubt and worry will have a new meaning. This kind of loss truly changes you. After losing a baby, you start to live in fear of losing everything else around you.

Pregnancy after miscarriage has allowed me to be happy while hurting, and healing all at the same time. It has still allowed me to feel excited, happy, and so grateful, especially the further along we get! But in the back of my mind, there are always the “what ifs” and knowing what could happen. Thoughts that might would have skimmed my mind the first time I was pregnant, now consume me. What if our baby dies? Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t do this, or that. Have I felt the baby move enough? The internal questions are endless and constant. Pregnancy after miscarriage has been a strange mixture of feeling hope again and feeling completely terrified that something could go wrong.

I had no clue how common miscarriages were until it happened to me and I shared our story. Most women grieve silently. And I can see why… You feel broken. You feel not good enough, fragile, and completely heartbroken. You feel like your body has failed you. You feel the most lonely that you could ever feel. It is so very painful. Miscarriage is so unfair.

We have had a rough time. We have experienced heartache that no one should have to experience. We lost a baby. And that is not something to be compared to anyone else’s losses, anyone else’s grief, or anyone else’s struggle to move on. I had to come to terms with the fact that yes, there are other people who have experienced horrible tragedies, but I needed to accept that our grief is real too. That is harder than you think.

Our story is one that we will continue to tell. Not because we want people to know, but because I know how reading stories like this can help comfort you if you’re going through it. Now, one year later to the day, I still feel that grief. I still wish I could have seen that baby’s squishy face. I still wonder ALL of the things… what she would have looked like, what her first word would have been, whether she would have sucked her thumb, and the list goes on. I grieve for the entire life we had planned for that baby. All of the firsts, the lasts, and the in between.

Miscarriage isn’t something you can just “get over” and anyone going through it deserves for that to be acknowledged. To those of you who have been through it or are going through it right now, I see you. I have felt your pain. Although there isn’t a rule book on grief and how long it takes to move on or how you are supposed to feel… one thing has been certain for me… and that is it’s okay to feel how you’re feeling. There will be hope again.

Xoxo,

MK

Read our full miscarriage story here: https://maryfaison.com/2019/02/17/our-miscarriage-story/