Category Archives: Single Parenting

Military: A Few Ways to Support Your Military Community

Man in U.s. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag

Several people have recently asked me, “How can the “average Joe” support the military community? In particular, they want to know the best ways that they can be helpful to a military family whose service-member is deployed. My first thought was buy the spouse a bottle of wine! But then I thought seriously about it and realized it’s kind of a tricky question: while we (military spouses) certainly appreciate and could totally use a helping hand, it’s hard to coordinate. When I am trying to keep the house in working order, keep the cars in working order, keep the kids in –somewhat- working order, figuring out how to let my neighbors be helpful can get kind of overwhelming. And when I’m already overwhelmed, adding another bit of overwhelming-ness isn’t awesome.

So, I decided to sit down and try to come up with things that were/would have been helpful to me while my husband was on his 8-month deployment. They start out easy and get a little more complicated, but even the smallest acts of kindness go a long way… My List starts here…

Motherhood: Happy Labor Day

Today’s Labor Day: the day to rest from your hard work. We’re all out BBQ-ing, relaxing, enjoying the last of summer. I appreciate this holiday, I really do. No, wait, sort of I don’t.  I appreciate that my husband had the day off of work and we were able to spend extra time with him.  However, my “rest from my hard work” was pretty much non-existent.  I still did laundry (yes, if you read a few posts ago, I am back to having constant laundry), I still made lunches, and I still cleaned up after the kids.  Labor Day for Stay-At-Home Moms is hardly a holiday.

In honor of LABOR day... a belly shot of me in 2006. This was my view the night before I had my daughter. Happy Labor Day!

In honor of LABOR day… a belly shot of me in 2006. This was my view the night before I had my daughter. Happy Labor Day!

I don’t write this from a place of cranky bitterness.  This is my 6th Labor Day non-holiday, so my expectations are realistic and I’m fine with that.  I just think it deserves to be put into writing that the one day of the year that is specifically a day to celebrate laborers isn’t much of a celebration for me.

The day is called “Labor Day”… you would think that mothers would get a little extra something special since they are the ones that actually labor. First they grow the little beans into a child… a human child. That’s crazy. But if that wasn’t enough, they also labor… literally labor… to get the human safely into the world.  That deserves a holiday. Okay, so maybe there’s the kid’s birthday and that’s like a holiday, but that doesn’t really count because it’s the child who gets the presents and attention… not the momma who grew and birthed the kid.  Lame.  Oh, right, there’s Mother’s Day too. But, c’mon, Mother’s Day is celebrating the awesome mothers we happen to be after the child is in the world.  Labor Day should be a holiday to celebrate the fact that women bring humans into the world.  Everyone should have the day off of work too, but let’s just acknowledge that mothers earn the right to claim the “labor” for which we celebrate.

I should probably openly admit that I never went into full labor. I had some serious braxton-hicks for weeks (months) and started labor with the first two.  However, my first child ended up being breech so we planned a c-section.  My second pregnancy was in California where they did not allow VBACs, and finally my third pregnancy had to be a c-section since I already had two… plus he ended up being 10 pounds, so I was happy to go ahead with a c-section on that one! So, I didn’t actually labor, only a little bit with all three.  I’m going to claim some rights to Labor Day though because c-section recoveries are no picnic. They are laborious, too.

So, can we agree that Labor Day should really give more credit to the mothers in this country. Good.

Can I address one more thing about Labor Day? Yes, yes I can, it’s my blog.

I’d like to openly and publicly give big props to all the mothers (who labored) who also have a husband on deployment today.  (I also give props to all military spouses who are celebrating this holiday without your loved one, but a special one to the mothers because of the whole “labor” thing.) The military spouses who are home with the kids will be laboring like always; no husband getting up with the kids so she can catch an extra hour of sleep, no husband to wrestle with the kids or throw them in the pool, no husband to give an extra hand doing dinner dishes, no husband to lounge on the couch with during the middle of the day.  Today is a national holiday, but for many military spouses it is just one more day of deployment, pulling double-duty as mom and dad, seeing all those families together doing family things… together.  Of all the people in the world who deserve a day off, it is the military spouses who are holding down the fort at home and trying to entertain the kids on their day off of school.

No matter if your husband is on deployment or just on a short work-up, missing your spouse on a national holiday is an extra blow to your enthusiasm.  The whole country gets the day off of work and if they don’t they are most likely earning extra over-time or some such incentive, except for the military who are deployed. They’re working right through the BBQs.  While they made the choice to serve in the military and that’s what they signed up to do, I would still like to give all those military members – especially mommies who are deployed and away from their kids – a special salute for laboring an extra day this year. 

So, Happy Labor Day to you all…
… especially to all you mommas who labored to bring your beautiful babies into this world.
…. especially to all you mommas who c-sectioned your beautiful babies into this world and labored through recovery.
… extra especially to all you mommas who have a husband on deployment today, thank you for taking one for the team today, ladies.  I’m sure I have a Labor Day without my husband sometime in the next few years, but please know I appreciate the hard work you’ve put in today. Because of you cherished the extra hours I had with my husband today. Cheers to you!

Military Life: A Deployment Trick “Blue Line Time”

This post is in special honor of all you out there who are single-handedly parenting your children and trying to keep sane. In particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to Emily C. who commented on my last post and mentioned her husband is on a year-long deployment. Yikes. 

Imagine this: It’s meal-making time. You have hot stuff on the stove top. Your oven just beeped telling you it is 350 degrees. You have a sharp knife in your hand. You have already put in a full day of work (either at home or out of the house). You look at the clock and quickly calculate that you have at least 3 more hours in your “work day” (5 minutes of meal prep, 25 minutes of meal cook time, 30 minutes for kids to eat, 1 hour of bath & bed-time routine, 30 minutes of kitchen clean-up, 15 minutes of house clean-up, 15 minutes of of re-tucking kids into bed), and you are already pretty tired.

Now let’s make it interesting….  we’ll add five Lego pieces laying in front of the refrigerator, a Bitty Baby sitting in the very exact middle of the kitchen floor being “fed” by your daughter, and your toddler son sprawled on his belly repeatedly saying “mom mom mom momomomomomomomomomom!!!”

Yeah……. you’re going to lose it.

But you don’t have to!  I got a little trick for you that saved MANY meal-making times during my husband’s 8-month deployment.  And the best part… all you need is some painter’s tape!!! Say what?!


Setting boundaries in the kitchen

Setting boundaries in the kitchen

1. Take a look at your kitchen layout and find a good place where you can make a boundary line. Generally, the entry way(s) will work best.

2. Place a long piece of tape across the floor at the boundary. We have an island, so I have a Blue Line on each side of the island… make as many lines as necessary.

3. Wrangle your kids and tell them to put their toes on the line (outside of the kitchen) while you stand on the opposite side of the line (in the kitchen) and tell them:
“This is the Blue Line. When I say “BLUE LINE TIME” you need to get on your side of the line and I will be on my side of the line. You will need to take all of your toys with you. Please do not leave them on the floor in the kitchen where I can trip on them. It’s not safe for you (or your toys) to be on my side of the line until I tell you BLUE LINE TIME is over. Let’s practice.”

FYI… My kids (ages 5, 4, and 2 at the time) really liked to race across the line and see who could get out the fastest. My kids also stood at the very very edge of the line and would lean over into the space above the line just to see what I would do. Me silently staring back at them like I was confused and had no idea what they were doing usually got them to smile and walk away.

Of course, always make sure you can still keep an eye on your kiddos and that they are safe… use your best judgement. 

4.  You now have personal space while you are cooking and will be able to move freely around your kitchen.

5. If you find yourself calling “BLUE LINE TIME” during non-meal-prep times and sitting on the floor behind your kitchen island just to get a moment of personal space… do not be ashamed. I did that a time or two… or twenty.

We still use Blue Line Time even though deployment is over… it really works. 

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