Cherishing Time with Your Kids

I remember the day we brought Isabella home from the hospital and I had her in my arms. I was doting over her and in complete awe of how beautiful she was. And my mother said “Enjoy it, soon she’ll be starting kindergarten.” I looked at her like she was crazy, “Ma, she’s a newborn, kindergarten is a long way off.” That was almost 8 years ago. Isabella will be 8 years old and four days after, Emilia will be turning 2. And ever since I became a mom, I keep asking myself:

“Where has the time gone?”

2 month old Isabella

When my daughter first started kindergarten, I knew exactly what my mom meant that day four years previous. She warned me about this, time going by so quickly. It’s unbelievable how fast time can go by once you have kids. I cry every year on my girls birthdays, the start of a new school year, and any significant milestone. But I’m realizing just how important it is to cherish the day-to-day as well.

In her big girl bed

Throughout the day I find myself waiting for the day to be over. “I can’t wait to put the girls to bed and relax” is the usual thought in my head most days. But I don’t want to be like that anymore. I want to appreciate all the moments I have with my girls, even the not-so-great ones.

Sisters

I know that one day from now, honestly not that far into the future, my girls will be grown and out of the house. There won’t be toys for me to trip over, messes to clean up, or the sound of them screaming and laughing as they play. And honestly, the thought of that breaks my heart.

They get along… mostly

So I’m going to play with them more, hug them more, kiss them and memorize how they look at this age. I’ll gladly read another story, change the poopy diapers, and cuddle my girls as much as they’ll let me. They will never be this little again.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be with my girls.

-Toniann

Spending One on One Time with Your Children

My oldest daughter was an only child for 6 years before her baby sister came along. My husband and I referred to her as “the baby” up until that point, and we’d probably still refer to her that way if she was an only child. I am happy about the age difference between them. I feel that Isabella had a lot of time as “the baby” and got my undivided attention most of the time. So when I got pregnant with Emilia, I was very worried about Isabella getting jealous of her baby sister. I remember talking to other moms who had more than one child and the one thing they all told me was to make time for her once her sister came. That having one on one time with her is important so she doesn’t feel jealous or feels that she has to compete for my attention.

Then Emilia was born. Fast-forward to now.

I was recently scrolling through old photos and videos on my phone and I came across a video I took of Isabella meeting Emilia for the first time. I made it a point to record this moment because I knew how special it would be. And it was special. And then Isabella looks at her dad and says “Daddy, Daddy, you were holding me when I was a baby too.” I didn’t notice when she said it but watching the video recently, I realized there have been so many more moments like this since her sister was born.

Isabella does compete for my attention. I’ve noticed it a lot more lately with her baby sister getting older. Emilia is doing new things, adorable things like talking and being silly. And when we all dote over Emilia for being cute, Isabella will rush to do the same thing.

So even though my goal was to make sure I spent one on one time with Isabella, I’ve been failing at keeping up with that promise.

It’s difficult to get one on one time with Isabella. My day usually consists of making sure Isabella gets to school, cooking, cleaning, work out, getting Isabella from school, grocery shopping, then home to complete homework (which gives me the most anxiety), then cook dinner, hubbs comes home, eat dinner, bath time and then bedtime. And when both of the girls are together, I yell A LOT. A lot more than I would like to but I’m working on it. Anyway, during my weekday, there really isn’t much opportunity for actual one on one time. And admittedly, I need to try harder.

I make it a point to have one on one time with my husband by going on date nights. I should be doing the same for my daughter.

She needs to have me to herself sometimes and her dad to herself as well. Emilia is almost 2 years old and during these last 2 years, we’ve probably had less than 5 planned one on one outings. And she still talks about them. She loves the time when the two of us went to get our nails done. I had a great time too. So yesterday I made sure to take her out to lunch, and it was great. Smoothies and quesadillas.

I want to continue having one on one time with Isabella. It won’t always be lunch or getting our nails done, it might just be the two of us jumping on the trampoline together. But my goal is to have one planned outing a month with Isabella, and her dad and I will trade months.

First Daddy daughter dance!

Its important to make her feel special and try to keep her from competing for our attention. My hope is that spending more one on one time, not just monthly, but even 10-15 minutes each day will help strengthen our bond. And not only Isabella’s bond with my husband and I, but also her sister. She might be less resentful towards her sister if she feels that she doesn’t have to fight her sister for our love.

Isabella and I have a good relationship. But my hope is that our bond only grows stronger, and that when she’s a teenager and an adult, she will still want to spend time with me. And I’m realizing more and more that I need to lay that foundation now. To make and effort to spend time with just her so she knows without a doubt that she is loved and she is special in her own way. I know that I love her, but she needs to know that by me showing her. And I’m promising myself to be better at spending one on one time with my daughter.

-Toniann

I’m Vegan and my Children ARE NOT

Yes folks, you read that right. My daughters are not vegan and that’s ok. My household is not a vegan one. My husband eats meat and my girls eat… a varied diet. I mean, they’re kids. They go through phases of foods they like and then hate, willing to try and not try. It’s all trial and error, and they each have their own preferences just like anyone else does. I’ll admit it took me a while to accept my girls eating dairy, and rarely eating meat, and sometimes it’s still a struggle but in the end, they will make their own choices when it comes to food.

The girls eat a mostly plant-based diet since that’s what I cook at home. They love tofu and almost every fruit they’ve tried. There is the rare occasion where I’ll make pizza and get regular cheese for them and the hubbs. Because, honestly, vegan cheese is nothing like dairy cheese. And there are probably a few times a year that the girls will eat meat, and that’ll usually happen at a family barbeque or some special event at school. There are many birthday parties they will be going to and the last thing I want is to tell them they can’t have any treats or cake because they’re not vegan. Their diet doesn’t need to be so strict.

Like I said before, my kids go through phases with food. When my oldest was 2 years old, she never ate meat, even though she was offered at every meal. Her favorite food for almost a year was a peanut butter sandwich. But she’ll try meat now when she sees her father eating it, the same with my toddler. I forgot how tricky toddlers are with meals. One day she’ll love oatmeal and literally the next day will not eat it. But she loves fruits, both of my girls do. Since I’ve become vegan, there are lots of foods that we’ve tried that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We love to try new vegan restaurants and go to vegan food festivals as often as we can. My husband even went vegetarian for a year and vegan for 3 months (something he claimed he would never do. Love you baby!) So when I actually think about what my girls eat, I would say they have a healthy diet.

I have been vegan for almost 6 years now, a decision I made happily on my own. The last thing that I want is to force a vegan diet on my daughters and they, in turn, never want to be vegans when they get older. I have had many talks with my oldest daughter about where meat, cheese and eggs come from and she knows I went vegan because I love animals so much. In my opinion, being vegan seems like the most natural and logical way to live. And it was hard for me to accept that I had to let my daughters choose for themselves, the same way I did. It’s only fair. What you eat is a very personal choice. And while I can guide my children with what I serve them at home, in the end, they will be making their own food choices. I’ll love them no matter what.

-Toniann

The Reality of Parenting Failures

Being a parent is hard work: you’re in charge of raising a tiny human being into a functional, hopefully self-sufficient, adult. And if you have more than one kid, that makes it a lot harder. Especially if they have totally different personalities like my daughters do. It’s an adventure to say the least.

I feel like more parents nowadays worry about EVERYTHING! Well, I know I sure as hell do. Sometimes, the tiniest mistake I make as a mom crushes me, and it shouldn’t.

Living in this online age, where information is so readily available is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I can check to see if my daughter’s wart is indeed a wart (which it is), and on the other hand find out that I’m probably scarring my children by yelling at them so much.

And then you have social media.

We all have that one friend that makes motherhood look like a fucking breeze. They’ve got an amazing outfit on, their hair is done, house is immaculate and their kids look just perfect. They also work and still have time to make these fancy individualized little lunches for their kids. I mean, how the fuck? I haven’t cooked dinner since Thursday and last month, one of our dinners was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And bless my husbands heart because he was so excited that night. But to be honest, I feel bad when I don’t cook for my family. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I should no fucking excuse, right?

I know that most of what those moms post is just a façade. I’ve also been guilty of posting gorgeous pictures of myself and my kids, but for the most part I try to keep shit real. I’m not afraid to open up about some of my struggles as a mother. Mostly, I hope not to isolate other mothers who might be facing the same problems as I am.

There was more of a village mentality back in the day when it came to raising kids. There were many family members and trusted friends who would help and ease the burden. But that seems like a rarity now. And I know in a lot of cases, that’s for good reason.

But can we just stop with all the judgement? Being a parent is hard enough without people offering unsolicited advice and criticism. I beat myself up enough on my own, I definitely don’t need anyone else doing it too. I have so much anxiety now, wondering if I’m doing right by daughters. I want to make sure I don’t yell too much, feed them healthy meals, raise them to be strong and stand up for themselves, to come to us whenever they need help, to love themselves and each other. Most of all I want my children to be happy and to feel loved by my husband and I.

There is the rare day where I feel like a bad ass mom, but most days I feel like an epic failure. My daughters mean the world to me, and I go to bed every night and I hope that I haven’t fucked them up in some way. And I promise myself that the next day I’ll do better, but sometimes it’s difficult. I’m not perfect. But the shit of it is, no matter how horribly I think I’m doing as a mom, my kids still love me. They give me the biggest hugs and make me feel like the best mom in the world. I hope one day soon, I can see myself the way they see me.

-Toniann