It’s Okay If You Don’t Enjoy Moms’ Night Out

When my first child was born, I joined a local moms’ support group. One of the big things everyone kept going on and on about was moms’ night out and its importance for keeping mom sane, having fun, enjoying “me” time, saving the planet, and promoting world peace.

Okay, maybe not those last two. But, they certainly made a huge deal about it.

So, when Agent E was three months old, I gave it a try. And I absolutely hated it.

Darkened shadow outline of a mountain at sunset.

I came home {early} to a hysterical baby who wouldn’t take a bottle and simply missed her mommy. I tried attending moms’ night out again two more times over the course of the next couple of years. While the second attempt turned out okay—toddler Agent E did fine with Dad and Momma didn’t have a panic attack—I came home {early, again} from the third attempt to nurse baby Agent J. 

To sum: I did not have fun, I missed my baby as if a part of my own body were cut off, and I spent the entire evening uneasy. This was early in my mothering and a lot of my parenting philosophy hadn’t really come together yet. I assumed the problem was me.

Why Did I Feel This Way?

I felt guilty for having gone, and more guilty for coming back. Every message I had received insisted I had to leave my baby, I had to teach her to get along without me, I had to do this for myself. This was great for moms and I needed it! Right? Why didn’t this work for me? Why wasn’t I looking forward to this? What was wrong with me?

Turns out, nothing. It’s just how I’m wired: I am an attachment parenting introvert, and I erroneously let other people define that as a character flaw.

I always assumed that being an introvert meant you didn’t like to be with people, and being an extrovert meant you did. It made perfect sense that I wasn’t that into mom’s night out as an introvert, but there was more to it. I don’t dislike being with people. I enjoy family gatherings, small group discussions, meeting other moms at the park, and joining friends for coffee. However, that’s not how I energize myself when I’m feeling low.

Being an introvert versus an extrovert is more about how you refuel when you need to recharge your batteries. Somehow I had managed to find myself in a group of extroverts who thrived on being able to go out once a month {or more} for moms’ night out and let loose, have a few glasses of wine, and be part of a big group in a festive atmosphere. 

However, I much prefer to schedule get-togethers with one person {or just a few people} during the day. I am not a night person. I don’t drink. Crowds make me shudder. This wasn’t fun for me; it was something I endured due to outside pressure. 

Combine this disdain for the partying atmosphere with an attachment style of parenting, and you have a basic recipe for a moms’ night disaster.

I absolutely hated leaving my babies at night. It did not make me feel energized or like I finally had a break. It made me feel worse, and ignored my own self-care needs. 

What Do I Do Instead?

Even now—with my “babies” currently 13, 11, and almost 9—I still  prefer to be home in the evenings. When I do go out later than usual, I don’t feel recharged—I feel on edge and restless. I need “reset” time, just like every mom does, but in a different way. 

When the Agents were little, I would arrange breaks that didn’t involve me leaving them completely, such as having a mother’s helper come to the house so I could feel productive in some other room while the kids played. I did occasionally enlist the help of close friends with children of similar ages, leaving to run an errand for just a short bit while they were distracted. I never made it a goal to “make” them stay without me for any arbitrary reason.

Now that the kids are older and I have the benefit of hindsight, I no longer worry about what I “should” be doing, and that includes declining invites for moms’ night out. I do the things that help me {not any other mom} to refocus and enjoy parenting with a clear, relaxed mind. 

My self-care methods have changed now that I am not longer in the thick of babies and toddlers and the Agents are more independent. I get up early to have some quiet time for reading, writing, and thinking. When I meet with friends it is during the day, not in the evening, and certainly not near the time I’d be normally going to sleep. I arrange mom/kid meet ups with one or two other families at a time, and avoid big, organized events.

Of course, I make exceptions. I go out. Sometimes even at night and to places that I know will be filled with people. I stay awake {and out} too late on vacation. It’s not that I never socialize after dark. I just choose to minimize these times, and honor my limitations.

Self-care will look different for every parent, and that’s okay.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

10 Comments

40 Essential Life Skills Everyone Should Learn

What would you consider to be essential life skills for your child to learn? What basic competencies do you believe everyone should have before reaching adulthood?

I organized the list into four main categories: self-care and emotional intelligence; personal and community safety; communication skills and critical thinking; and household and financial management. I realize there will be folks for whom these “essential” life skills do not apply. Also, many could easily overlap, but I tried to put them where they made the most sense to me. 

Blank list with checkboxes being checked off with a pink highlighter.

Self-Care and Emotional Intelligence

  • Setting personal boundaries and respecting the personal boundaries of others
  • Taking charge of your own health {including preventative care}
  • Comprehensive sexual education {including consent}
  • Managing emotions and appropriate ways to de-stress
  • How to prioritize responsibilities and goals
  • How to win {and lose} gracefully
  • Basic understanding of human psychology and child development
  • How to read body language and social cues

Personal and Community Safety

  • How to stand up for oneself
  • How to de-escalate conflicts
  • Recognizing signs of abuse, gaslighting, and bullying
  • Maintaining situational awareness {in public and at home}
  • Water safety {not necessarily swimming skills}
  • Transportation navigation and safety {walking, biking, driving, public}
  • Maintaining privacy {online and in real life}
  • What to do in an emergency
  • Basic first aid knowledge

Communication Skills and Critical Thinking

  • Basic social manners and etiquette
  • Speaking clearly {in person and over the phone}
  • Listening to understand {and with empathy}
  • Basic negotiation and mediation skills
  • How to apply and interview for a job
  • Appropriate use of social media 
  • Effective writing skills {formal and informal}
  • Basic knowledge of civics and good citizenship {including when, where, and how to vote}
  • Scientific literacy {including recognizing pseudoscience}
  • How to evaluate information sources 
  • How to spot a scam
  • How to read legal documents {including contracts and leases}
  • Making a realistic assessment of one’s abilities and limitations

Household and Financial Management

  • How to move in/out of a home {including signing/breaking a lease}
  • How to buy and maintain a vehicle {not necessarily doing the maintenance yourself}
  • Setting up utilities {including evaluating providers and rates}
  • Home and lawn maintenance and safety {including how to find outside resources}
  • Updating personal documents {will, power of attorney, insurance, license, passport}
  • Daily maintenance skills: Cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, minor clothing repairs
  • Creating a realistic budget {that includes both future planning and present enjoyment}
  • Understanding the basics of interest, credit, loans, and long-term investing
  • Paying bills on time {including setting up automatic payments}
  • Taxes {how to file your own or how to find resources}

What essential life skills would you add to this list? Anything that you would eliminate?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

6 Comments

You Don’t Need To Be Busy All the Time

It is hard to have a conversation with—well, anyone—without some mention of the number of tasks they have on their plate and how much they wish they did not need to do All The Things and the dread of More Things to come and by the way how is Your Personal Brand Of Overachieving doing, anyway?

In case you need to hear this today: It is okay to not be constantly overextended. You are not inferior because you are doing less. Relaxed About Life is an acceptable state of being. You do not need to feel guilty because you want to enjoy a slow-paced existence.

Woman sits alone on a dock overlooking the water.

For the most part, our family lives in relative simplicity, and I consider this a worthy achievement. This might seem surprising given that we are an active duty military family, moving every few years, dealing with deployments, raising three kids, homeschooling multiple grades, and traveling frequently. We have a lot going on that outsiders might look at and say “I don’t know how you do it.” Simple does not equal easy. But our day-to-day lifestyle feels un-rushed and un-complicated. 

I do not engage in activities I don’t love just because I feel like I should. I prefer to choose fewer pursuits that are more meaningful. But the truth is, even when I feel immersed and productive and occupied, I’m not necessarily getting more done—I’m just spinning faster.

We intentionally have lots and lots of breathing room in our lives. Oh, we still Do The Things. But, we are extremely selective about what makes it into our routine.

Quite honestly, our unhurried homeschooling schedule is pretty sweet. We don’t mind staying close to home most days, and we like the steady rhythm of our days. Our general rule before adding any regular event to our calendar is to ask, is this activity worth disrupting our week?

This is an anomaly in a world where non-stop busy-ness is worn like a badge of honor. I’m not saying what we’re doing is better. I’m saying many people forget they have options.

I am also acutely aware of how fortunate we are to be able to orchestrate this lifestyle. My husband is our sole income provider and I am our primary childcare provider and home educator and this works out well both financially and logistically. I must acknowledge how privileged it is to be able to say, we choose to do this or we choose to not do this when our family dynamics are what they are.

I realize some folks truly do not have a choice. People for whom “busy” is a way of surviving—the ones working two or three jobs, raising kids without a partner or family support, taking care of aging parents, juggling childcare, just trying to make ends meet and get by.

Let’s be honest, though: for most people, having too much to do is actually a privilege. A self-imposed, too many good choices, take advantage of every opportunity, can’t say no, luxury. People confuse I have to with I get to. We whine about having too many extracurricular activities to choose from, and then expect empathy for our purposely over-scheduled lives.

We cannot forget that “I need to simplify my life!” is an extremely privileged complaint.

Of course, I am not trying to imply it is impossible to choose simplicity unless your life is relatively carefree and basic necessities are not a worry. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt. I am also not going to argue the merits of individual activities and schedules, or suggest that everyone needs to personally go all minimalist.

I just want to lend a voice to the {apparent} minority who do not over-schedule, do not stress fitting it all in, and do not mind the silence—all while being cognizant of the circumstances that make such “choices” possible. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

0 Comments

Pretty

Yesterday was the Agents’ last in-person class through their charter school, so I spent that part of that time getting some maintenance. I now have newly cut hair, brightly painted toenails, and freshly waxed eyebrows.

When I leave the house, I put on makeup {usually just foundation and powder and lipstick}, brush my hair {it’s long and thick and doesn’t really do much}, and put on “nice” clothes {i.e., something I wouldn’t nap or exercise in}. 

In warmer weather I wear a lot of dresses and/or skirts, and I shave my legs regularly. {You needed to know that, right?}

I do these things for me. Not because other people might see me. Not because I care what strangers judge me on. I do them simply because I like the way I feel when I do.

If you identify as a woman—which I’m assuming is true for most folks reading this—think about how many times in your life someone has given you one of the following contradictory messages:

No need to get all fixed up to do {fill in the blank with any activity outside of the house}! It’s not like you’re going to see anyone you know! No one will care if your {hair isn’t done, makeup isn’t on, clothes don’t match}! It’s a {fill in the blank with any random event} not a fashion show! 

Are you going out looking like that? What if you see {literally any other human being} while you’re there? Why don’t you {fix your hair, put on some makeup, wear nicer clothes}? Don’t you care who sees you like that? You should at least look presentable! 

So, which one is it? Am I supposed to look a certain agreed upon appropriate way when I go out? Or am I not supposed to care?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

0 Comments

Morning Routine

Having a basic morning routine will make your days less stressful. Knowing what to expect when you roll out of bed each morning puts you on a kind of relaxed autopilot. It allows you to physically and mentally ease into the day instead of worrying what to do next.

Keep in mind this does not mean you need a detailed itinerary of how you are going to save the world before 6:00 a.m. It simply means you need a morning routine that works for you, however mundane.

Drawing of a dark yellow morning sun against a lighter yellow background.

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and services I have personally used and enjoyed. For more information read my complete disclaimer here.

I’m an early riser by most standards. On a typical day I’m downstairs making coffee {and feeding/entertaining my feline buddy} before 5:00. Of course, when one gets ready to go to bed at 9:00 p.m., that is do-able. I’ve never been much for night life, although I do make exceptions for Disney visits. Because, Disney. 

Generally I have at least an hour before Hubby comes down to eat breakfast, and two hours before the first Agent is stirring. My introvert self appreciates this timeline. Over the years my morning routine has shifted somewhat, but it tends to return to the same basic elements: coffee, books, podcasts, social media, writing, stretching.

Currently I’m in the middle of two books. The first is Happiness the Mindful Way by Ken A. Verni. This is very much a page-a-day self-help style book designed to encourage being in the moment and a calmer disposition through daily reflections and tips. My only complaint is that in the publisher’s efforts to contain each individual topic to one page, the font size suffered; even with reading glasses I find myself longing for a large-print version. The second is Hope and Other Superpowers  by John Pavlovitz. This is more of a call-to-action, we’re all in this together, be a good human type of motivational read. I’ve followed John’s blog and social media presence for a while now, and his writing in this book remains true to what I’ve come to expect and appreciate. 

While I subscribe to several podcasts, the only two I’ve been listening to with regularity lately are Up First from NPR and Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist Podcast. Up First is a 10-12 minute news update every Monday through Friday. Friendly Atheist is a weekly hour-ish discussion of current events as they relate to religion and politics. 

Social media puttering takes up more of my morning routine than it probably should, as I’m guessing is true for most. Then I write. And stretch. Because, old person hips. 

How do your days start? Do you have a specific morning routine? Are you a morning person in general? 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

6 Comments

End of content

No more pages to load