laid off and learning to love it… my journey from corporate sprinter to life marathoner

the sweet spot: look at them 08/12/2013

Filed under: General,Parenting,SAHM Choice,Uncategorized — ccatet @ 6:47 am

usually i am right next to my kids, walking and talking with them. but this summer, i have been able to watch them from a distance a little more – and they amaze me.

last summer they both wore life jackets EVERY TIME we hit the pool. now they both swim like fish (or a mermaid in the case of my daughter). this week, they were each practicing flips in six foot water, my son was cannon-balling off the diving board and my daughter was swimming across the width of the deep end – and she did it easily. she bobbed and flipped between front crawl and backstroke, taking her time and enjoying the water. my heart swelled with pride.

i have to stand back, and not cling too tightly. they are ready to do it alone.  i am not quite ready for it, but i won’t hold them back. i watch them move through the water with such happiness and grace. and while they are good swimmers, they are also new swimmers. they aren’t aware of all the things can happen. true to my motherly duties, i watch around them constantly and keep them in spots where they can have fun and be safe.

the process of teaching a child to swim is in stark contrast to my old work life with deliverables and deadlines. you cannot rush any child to swim, or put him on any kind of deadline. you can offer lessons, expose them to water, make them feel safe, and make the time fun. and based on how frequently you do this, your child may or may not swim in the next ten years.  it can be a long road, or a shorter one. it all depends on the kid, and you.

nobody tells you this out of the gate, but most aspects of parenting are like this: a very long road. there can be so much day to day minutiae, especially as they get bigger and more autonomous, that you forget to just look at them and take it all in.

i don’t get sentimental very often. yet this summer, more than ever before, i am aware that they are becoming big kids and we are sliding into the sweet spot. my baby turns 5 and starts kindergarten next week. the minutiae is in high gear with birthday events and school coming, piled on top of the end of summer activities. even though i still need to get a lot done to be ready for each event, i will find a way to actually take it all in – by their side and from a distance. i don’t want to miss a thing.


sahm: summer bucket of fun 2012 06/06/2012

Filed under: Activities,Parenting — ccatet @ 6:46 am

it’s summertime, and i have a plan.

although i can’t believe it, this is my FOURTH year and my fourth summer home with the kids. i have learned much about myself – and them – in these years. during the summer, one of the things i have learned is that i need a loose framework through which to manage the long days, especially for the times when no formal activities are scheduled.

i can’t help it, i like a plan. you can go ahead and call it a schedule.

and yes, there is a summer daily checklist. it’s a sickness, i tell you.

the checklist essentially is the framework for our daily life during the summer. i won’t bore you with the other four things on our summer daily checklist, but i will tell you about the most exciting part of the checklist for the kids: the summer fun activity.

our full list of summer fun activities shall from this point forward be known as our summer bucket of fun.

thanks to pinterest, i took the bucket idea from here and browsed this list of 100 things to do with your kids this summer. i then asked the kids what they wanted to do this summer. i looked at our calendar with their camps and classes and decided to pare the list down to approximately 40 activities so we would essentially have something fun (and new) to do every weekday this summer – mostly for the days when there was not another activity formally scheduled.

don’t freak out. some of these activities are as simple as doing hopscotch in the driveway – and as big as going to kings island.

here is a picture of our bucket. 

and here are the 40+ items on those clips you see.

  1. tie dye t-shirts
  2. draw self portraits
  3. make oobleck (slime)
  4. have a lemonade stand – donate half money to food pantry
  5. have hopscotch fun
  6. do some sand play at a beach (alum creek, huntington, etc)
  7. go bowling
  8. make puppets
  9. camp out with tent in backyard
  10. make beaded necklaces
  11. donate time / volunteer
  12. make bird feeders
  13. go to a parade
  14. visit cosi – farm days
  15. visit cosi – big machines days
  16. visit youngs dairy
  17. pick strawberries
  18. pick peaches – utica
  19. visit ice cream factory – ye olde mill in utica
  20. pottery painting – clay cafe visit
  21. build boats from juice containers and find a place to test their floatability
  22. swim at friends’ outdoor pool
  23. visit jungle jacks
  24. visit anthony thomas for a factory tour
  25. bike ride to DQ
  26. go to a baseball game at huntington park
  27. go to movie at dollar theatre
  28. make chalk paint and paint up driveway
  29. collect crayon bits around house and melt into large crayons
  30. build an obstacle course
  31. go to kings island
  32. draw a play city on butcher paper, tape to floor – add directionals, cars, etc
  33. go to a fair – ross county, ohio state, etc
  34. visit inside trampoline place
  35. visit santa maria downtown pirate ship
  36. work on an art project with lids
  37. show a movie in the backyard projected onto house – invite friends to bring canned food for donation
  38. make homemade ice cream
  39. go to pb&j jazz
  40. visit olentangy caverns
  41. go to a columbus commons friday funday
  42. have a mini-olympics session

for the summer, in an attempt to fire up my writing again, i will share some of the things we get into. also, i will share what we choose to bag and why, mainly so you can get entertainment from my failures and hopefully avoid my mistakes. we also may add some new ideas in as we stumble on them… i am crazy like that.

in all honesty, i think my kids would read books and play legos every day this summer and not be bored for a minute. and for those days when they ask for this “schedule” and nothing else, i am happy to skip the bucket and let them run the show. but for those days when they are looking for adventure, i am glad i won’t have to think too hard to keep them engaged. the work around this bucket is done so i just can pull ideas whenever i need them.

i have to say, it’s good to be spontaneous – and i do it much better when i know about it ahead of time.


sahm: mama’s night out 01/18/2010

Filed under: Daddy,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 9:41 pm

a few months ago, I was in a rut. although my kids were happy, my husband was happy, our budget was on track, the house was clean and organized, and we had plentiful friends and playdates – unfortunately, i was not really happy. for several weeks i wracked my brain but i could not figure out why.

then it hit me. when was the last time i left the house and spent time alone with a friend? TOO LONG. in fact, when i realized it had been a long time, i looked at the calendar and noticed it had been almost 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS without quality time with a friend. how had i let it happen?

oh, but life got in the way.

being the type A that i am, i knew if i didn’t schedule/dedicate a time to getting out, perhaps once a week, i would never do it and time would continue to pass me by. i love being with my family – the four of us. but i was torn by the need to breathe, slow down, be with friends and feel like something other than a mama for a few hours.

i picked a day that seemed good for my husband’s schedule. for planning purposes, we agreed this would be “daddy-night” every week: he would take care of the kids and i would leave sometime after 5pm to either have dinner or coffee with a friend, run errands or just go somewhere and relax by myself. in my excitement, i immediately sent a few emails to get some “dates” on my calendar. i never looked back.

it’s been over three months and i reflect back on the time i have spent with these amazing friends with a great deal of happiness. they make me laugh, cry and keep me connected to the world with something other than facebook. everyone is busy and i appreciate their friendship and time now more than ever since i am a bit isolated in my new world. however, i am a better mom when i can make the time to do something for myself.

i have some sahm friends who never get away from their kids and rarely take time for themselves. to each his own, but that is not me. not only do i want my kids to see that it’s alright for me to go spend time with friends, but i also want them to know that their daddy is fully capable of caring for them. he seems to enjoy this time with them an enormous amount which makes me love him even more, if that’s possible.

sahms don’t get a break: we’re always on. we also have the same challenge as moms who work out of the home in that there are never enough hours in the day. i never understood this until i became a sahm after working outside of the home for several years. even now, i am NEVER caught up on EVERYTHING, but i don’t know many moms who are. such is life with little ones.

however, later this week when i go out, i will have dinner with a good friend whose company i really enjoy. thankfully, i will forget all about the things i am behind on… at least for a few hours.


sahm: preschool days 01/04/2010

Filed under: Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 10:00 pm

one would think that preschool would be no big deal for someone who put their child in daycare starting at 12 weeks of age, right? wrong. even though he attended full time until he was 27 months old (and i became unemployed), this adventure feels very different.

when i was laid off last year, i quickly sought out a preschool for my son to try to keep him socially engaged. however, i could not find one for kids under 3. i found an “early 3” program but he couldn’t start until january 2010… so i completed an early enrollment in my excitement and wondered where life would lead us in 2010.

since then, i have grown quite fond of spending the days with my two kids. i like our slow, easy mornings. i also like our playdates and new friends. i like letting them relax and explore whatever appeals to them on the days where we have no plans. as the snow fell this morning, it was stamps and ink pads followed by building the tallest cushion tower ever (which of course the kids had to tumble down)!

when november 2009 rolled around, i had to make a final decision on enrollment. i hemmed and hawed. i cried to my husband: i could not imagine being away from my son and would miss him too much! my husband reminded me that it was only two hours, two days a week. plus, it would give our son a chance to learn new things and give me solo time with my baby girl. i took a deep breath, signed all the papers and mailed in our payment.

next week is his first day. guaranteed, i will be the one crying.

the big difference to me is that he is now a walking, talking, potty-using preschooler. he has grown into an observant, loving and articulate little guy who i love spending the day with. i have to remind myself that preschool is not daycare. yes, he will learn new things but thankfully in a small class with a low key setting. also, he will still get to share the majority of the day with his sis and i – for which i am extremely thankful.

he must know change is coming. tonight as i carried him into his room, he whispered, “thank you for taking care of me, mommy.”

i miss him already.


sahm: working all the time 11/06/2009

Filed under: Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 11:40 pm

since i was laid off in february, we have done pretty well getting our family onto a tight budget. no major missteps. however, a few months ago i realized i had fallen short in the “me” category. i found it hard to justify money in the budget for any splurges for me, including dinners out, coffee on-the-go, and my haircuts and color. my gray hair was taking over!

i review job postings regularly and try to stay connected overall. until something fantastic came up in the full-time category, my goal was to find a part-time job that let me work from home while the kids slept: before they woke up, during naps and in the evening as needed. something legit. i did not quite think it was possible.

as fate would have it, something fantastic fell in my lap with all of the above criteria. i started in july and hence, have much less time for this blog. 🙂 however, it pays me – this blog does not! plus, the work keeps my brain moving differently than singing Christmas songs and playing at the local park does.

the content is mildly entertaining, the people i work with are normal and the pay is good. i also never have to deal with office bureaucracy – something i will never miss. however, since i do not have to dress up for work anymore, i do sometimes miss cute shoes. (sigh)

anyways, we use my pay for extras and will fund Christmas entirely with it. i pick up a latte every once in a while with no remorse, save a portion for my retirement, pay for things like the zoo membership, and treat the kids to lunch every few weeks when i think they (and i) can manage through dining out without daddy. this mainly happens when i start to crave first watch…. YUM… first watch.

most sahms i know seem to work FOR PAY in some way – they own a small business, work a few hours out of the home after their spouse is home, etc. it’s not for everyone, as it pretty much means you never slow down and always have something to be doing. i am more productive when i am busy, so it has been alright for the most part. however, it has its challenges too. i am managing pretty well but often have to remind myself to prioritize the work behind the important things.

i am sad for those people who put work ahead of the important things. i was that person once and i hated the feeling that my family was coming behind work. i will never be that person again. even if the shoes were really cute…


sahm: sing it, mama 08/24/2009

Filed under: Activities,Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 10:07 am

i have always liked to sing. i usually sing in the car and around the house, especially when music is on. now that i am home full time, my kids now hear me sing – a lot. at first, my son was NOT a fan. he would often tell me to stop singing. as you can imagine, this did not go over well.

he used to really hate it when groups of people sang songs, especially “happy birthday.” at his 2nd birthday party last november, he actually cried when everyone started to sing to him! my husband and i talked about it and we knew there was something wrong but we didn’t know how (nor did we really have time) to try to figure it out with both of us working full time.

when i was first home with them, i started putting music on a lot: in the car, in the house, and for no reason other than for background sound. i sang along and was often told to stop. but i kept going. i found some tunes for him – silly kids songs that were still tolerable for adults (ex. laurie berkner, justin roberts). i referred to this music as HIS music. i think it worked.

amazingly enough, in the past 6 months, i have been so fortunate to witness my son overcome his social dislike of singing. and to top it off, he sings himself! his mind is like a steel trap so if i stop singing mid-song, he can finish almost every verse. his vocabulary has expanded one hundred times over, just from lyrics.

we now sing constantly. he asks for his music and wants it turned up louder. he yells, “sing it, mama!” if it’s a favorite song of his. we sing together. it’s awesome.

the best part is that for my birthday 3 weeks ago he actually sang to me, by himself, at the breakfast table that morning. i cried. one of my best mommy moments ever.

sometimes you don’t know how to *fix* or work through an issue or phase with your kids… you just live your life and hope it works itself out. i don’t think this one would have worked itself out this quickly or with as much enjoyment (for both of us) had i still been working.

so for this alone, i want to say thank you to my former employer for laying me off. totally worth it.


sahm: let it go 08/14/2009

Filed under: Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 3:10 pm

with two kids under 3 who equally enjoy time in the dirt pit, sandbox and jumping in mud puddles, i have to work very hard to let go of my inner clean freak tendencies. when i was working, i consciously avoided messy activities as we rarely had time for the clean up efforts. now that i am home, i want both kids to have these tactile experiences and feel comfortable getting dirty… but i need to be comfortable with them getting dirty too.

i know many SAHMs who hate messy activities. we’re all entitled to our outlook on kid activities. however, after seeing my kids both enjoy the messes that came out of child care, i know deep down that i need to give them plenty of opportunities to get messy. to do this, i honestly have to take deep breaths and just let it go.

when i say let it go, i mean that i don’t worry about that flying cake mix or the egg that just dripped on the floor. i don’t focus on the chocolate footprints through the kitchen or the milk spilled on the cabinet doors. at least, i don’t think about it for 20 minutes. i look at my kids and their smiles, listen to their laughter and maybe take a few pictures. it’s almost peaceful to me.

thankfully,  most kids’ attention spans are quite short, so by the time i start to get anxious, the kids have moved on and i can do a quick clean up. i have also been known to give baths at 11am if there was a good morning dirt pit session. why not – who says all baths have to happen at night?

my husband likes to remind me that their fingerprints – which are on everything – are a reminder of them. without them, there would be no fingerprints. he’s right. but i don’t get sentimental about it much because every time i wash them away, i know i will see the fingerprints again very soon!